Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Grandly Electrifying Dining Experience

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I am constantly on a mission to find the best bang for my buck when it comes to dining out in the city of Toronto, aka El Toro aka The Big Smoke aka The T-Dot.

This city has made a real name for itself on the North American restaurant scene in recent years. The success of local chefs such as Susur Lee, Jamie Kennedy, and Mark McEwan has helped put Toronto on the map for world-class eats and top-level dining experiences.

So with that said, the latest buzzworthy resto to hit the scene is Grand Electric, a diminutive, 29-seat "taco bar" run by ex-Hoof Cafe chef Colin Tooke, located in the city's Parkdale neighbourhood.

I'd been hearing a lot of great things about GE, both from friends who have eaten there, and also from a handful of glowing reviews. I was eagerly anticipating my chance to check it out.

So Wife and I ventured down there on Wednesday (she was treating me to a birthday dinner), with the intention of getting a prime seat before the line up started.

That's right folks....Grand Electric does not take reservations. So with the doors opening at 6pm nightly, seeing a mile-long lineup form outside is a regular occurence.

We arrive just before 7pm, and as we anticipated, the hostess informs us that we've got at least a 2 hour wait on our hands. At a courtesy to waiting patrons, the hostess takes down my cell number so she can call us when our tables ready....Off to The Beaconsfield, then the Cadillac Lodge for cocktails as wait to get in.

The 2 hour wait passes, and we're finally seated at the bar.

The atmosphere is, well....grandly electrifying! Old school hip hop beats blare from the soundsystem (in this case, we have the pleasure of dining to the sounds of Outkast's ATLiens). I initially thought the tunes were perhaps too loud, but 5 minutes after sitting, my ears have no problem adjusting.

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We order a couple of shared plates to get things started.  The chunky Tuna Ceviche is piled high on a deep fried tostada and garnished with (what I think was) some kind of green cilantro sauce.  The calamari is also piled high on a tostada and drenched in some kind of spicy red hot sauce.

The tacos, priced at $3.50 a pop, represent incredible value.  The Baja Fish, Beef Cheek, Spicy Arbol Chicken, and the Fried Queso & Poblano tacos are all stuffed to the gills, but are served on a mini tortillas, so you're not filling up on the shells, only mounds of incredible flavour!

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Not even half-way through our meal, I'm already thinking about coming back.  That's how good this food and this atmosphere is.

Grand Electric has brought a truly energizing culinary experience to the Toronto food scene.

The way I see it, if you're gonna wait 2+ hours to get into a restaurant, the food, the service, and atmosphere had better be worth it.

And in the case of Grand Electric, it delivers on all fronts.



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