- Address: 35 Baldwin St, Toronto
- Visited: 02/26/2014, Dinner, 2 people
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Rating: 4.0 5.0 Excellent, worth every $
4.5 Good, food & value
4.0 Good, but $$, would re-visit
3.5 Meh, good $, would re-visit
3.0 Meh, would not re-visit
2.0 Did not like $$$ [$] <20; [$$] <40; [$$$] <80; [$$$$] >80
During university, Baldwin St. was one of my favourite places in Toronto. After a year of living on adjoining Beverley St., I basically knew every restaurant menu by heart. Since then, the street has evolved with many exciting new restaurants calling it home such as Kinton Ramen and Noodle Face Co, next to familiar favourites like Konnichiwa. My friend and I had a tough time deciding where to eat with all the new options. We settled on Agave y Agucate with no reservations, walking in around 7pm.
I also forgot my camera, apologies for the terrible picture quality. I’ll just have to go back to take better ones.
Atmosphere: Agave has taken over both the ground and top floor of a house on Baldwin St. The majority of tables are located up a narrow staircase on the second floor along with the washrooms. The layout of the first floor includes the bar and a single long bench along the wall with circular tables at intervals. The upstairs dining room was fully booked so we tried to get comfortable on the bench. It was awkward, you have to either sit on the bench, with you back on the wall and crane your neck to talk to your date or have your body twisted at the waist. I ended up sitting half crossed legged, which for a long meal would not be preferred. I loved the 90’s music that played all night and the lighting was dark. The walls were painted rich colours that added to the intimate feel.
Service: The girl who took care of our table was very professional and friendly. She recommended items on the menu, made sure our waters were refilled and was quick to clear empty plates. This was appreciated as the table surface area was small. The tapas style dishes came out in pairs, which was great as it allowed us to sample the plates concurrently and switch back and forth.
Food: To start, I need to recommend the Stiegl Grapefruit beer. It’s amazing. My friend and I split three beers that night including two Stiegl’s and if it hadn’t been a weekday, I could’ve easily drunk my weight in the grapefruit beer. It has a strong citrus flavour but not overly sweet and so refreshing. This is now the drink I will look for on any menu.
As for food, we ordered 5 dishes to split. The first to arrive were the Ceviche Verde and Chile Poblano Relleno, a blistered pepper stuffed with guacamole and pineapple, topped with pickled vegetables with a tomato sauce. The ceviche that night was cod and served with avocado and tortilla chips. The texture of the fish was firm and the colour was opaque. I thought the balance between the sourness and sweetness was perfect in tandem with the chips and avocado. The pepper had a nice spicy kick but was mellowed by the avocado and pineapple. Again, each bite had components of sweetness, spiciness and sourness from the tomatoes and pineapple, that was perfect.
Next up was the Chileajo, mixed vegetables and lentils tossed in a guajillo pepper sauce, and the Tostada de Tinga, pulled poached chicken in a chorizo, tomato, piquin and chipotle pepper sauce served on a tostada with black beans, avocado cream and pickled red onions (phew). Between these two, I prefered the Tostada de Tinga more. I liked the different textures of crunchy and creamy and the layers of flavour. The lentils in the Chileajo had a nice crunch but the dish was on the saltier side. We ended the night with Albondigas Estilo Guanajuats, meatballs poached in a chipotle sauce and served over black beans. The meatballs were loosely packed, juicy and a great final dish. Five dishes between two people turned out to be more than enough and we both left with our belts feeling a bit tighter.