When I hear the word ‘gastropub’ the immediate thought that comes to mind is comfort. Thankfully, Habits Gastropub (928 College Street) serves up just that and more. Owners Michelle Genttner and Luis Martins have taken every consideration into heart since opening up their establishment (in 2012) to ensure not only did they serve quality food but they provided a warm, homey atmosphere.
The interior features beautiful exposed brick, reclaimed and refinished wood tables and warm lighting. The bar is stocked (to date, Habits has 300 bottles of whiskey, giving it the third largest collection in Toronto) with some of Toronto’s finest craft brews and wines. Each week, several different events and live performances take place – so depending on the evening, you and your friends could enjoy something new.
So how does the food at Habits stack up? Well the best way to describe everything here is high-end pub fare and for that, it is impressive. We started off our evening with some Buffalo Sweetbreads with homemade blue cheese & spicy BBQ dipping sauce. This little gem of a nugget was tender and delicious. I’m a huge fan of sweetbreads and found it perfectly cooked. Paired up with the blue cheese sauce, it was fantastic.
Next up we were treated to another high-end comfort food of their Salmon Duo (Cured Salmon & Pate) with Homemade Mustard and Pickles. It was simple and properly executed with all the richness of the salmon marrying well with the saltiness of the grainy mustard. Also: a beautifully plated dish.
As mentioned, a huge trend that I’m seeing at a lot of Toronto restaurants right now is Cauliflower. To be honest, I am not complaining one bit. Habits introduced me to their Cauliflower salad marinated in anchovies and chili. It was probably one of my favourite dishes of the evening: perfectly sized florets and outstanding tastes. Just the right amount of heat.
Another thing I’ve been treated to a lot lately is Bone Marrow and sure enough, Habits has it on their menu as well. What I can say is this: Habits does it well and just a bit different. The dish we had this eve was Bone Marrow on Toast with a Cucumber and Radish Salad. It was so rich and delicious with the salad atop giving it an extra crunch and feel. This was probably my favourite dish of the evening.
We were then treated to Chicken Livers and Sage Pappardelle which was absolutely divine. All the pastas are made in-house (which comes through) and the dish was rich.
You cannot go to any restaurant in the city without having a good ol’ fashioned Slider. The Habits slider was mouth-watering. A huge ol’ slice of bacon atop that mini-patty with a Putanesca relish, crispy onions and a toasted brioche bun. Come to mama.
Habits Gastropub had everything that eve that one would want in a high-quality pub with high-quality pub-grub. If you’re looking for somewhere to watch the game or have a casual and relaxed date night while also indulging in your finer dining side, then Habits Gastropub is the next hidden gem you should visit.