Every year for my birthday, I go out for dinner with a group of girlfriends to celebrate. There was 8 of us in total this year and two weeks before the date, I started calling my short list of restaurant choices. It was surprisingly difficult to secure a Friday night reservation at a decent time. Many restaurants also only did set menu for groups of 8 or more. Thoroughbred was able to accommodate us at 7pm and we took over their big communal table.

Atmosphere: Since opening in September this year, Thoroughbred has won plenty of acclamations for their cocktails and inventive food menu. The restaurant was dark, cozy and relaxed. There were flannel shirts and thick rimmed glasses but the feel was subtle, more backdrop than in your face. I loved the long open shelves, lined with bottles of liquor, behind the bar. By our third decanter of wine, our group was lively and Thoroughbred was a great venue to catch-up, relive memories and gossip.

Service: All of the servers, bartenders and wait staff we met at Thoroughbred were excellent. Friendly, patient while we debated on what to order (and ended up ordering everything) and professional. At dinner, Thoroughbred offers a bar menu and a dinner menu. 80% of the items overlap and diners are able to order from both menus, which made the two menus confusing and somewhat redundant.

Food: Along with copious amounts of wine and a couple of cocktails, we nibbled through 10 dishes. All of the dishes at Thoroughbred had strong flavours, intricately assembled with playful presentation. Simple, fresh ingredients were transformed and elevated with spices and innovative technique.

Kung Pao Cauliflower, Chicken Liver Mousse and Roast Broccoli Marrow were the first three dishes to arrive and all delicious. I loved the heavy seasoning on the cauliflower and the richness of the liver mousse. Broccoli is my least favourite vegetable, but deconstructed and cooked perfectly, I could become a fan. The stalks were roasted and the broccoli head shaved, creating a bed of quinoa like beads.

The Roast Mennonite Lamb and Duck Confit nachos were both meaty with crispy elements. There was little gaminess to the lamb and the shredded duck confit was lean. One of my favourite dishes was the Sweet Potato Mac n Cheese. I don’t recall all the toppings, but each spoonful was creamy and rich. With the heavy hitter starts, I found the Miso Poached Pickerel and Brussel Sprout Caesar to be forgettable. Still solid plates, but not the ones I’m raving about.

On the other hand, the Assador de Chorico was hot in spice and presentation; the sausage was served on a flaming pig and then carved at the table. The platter was presented with roasted vegetables, toasted crostini and a whole grain mustard; perfect for sharing and a great accompaniment to Thoroughbred’s drink menu.

Dinner ended with a platter of dessert selections including decadent homemade truffles, tart lemon meringue and a classic apple crumble. If I had to choose just one, the truffles would win.

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