First Look: The Grove, a new Dundas West purveyor of modern English cuisine
“It’s definitely not pub food!” laughs Ben Heaton (Colborne Lane, One), chef and co-owner of The Grove, one of the latest additions to the Dundas West food scene. Joined by co-owners Fritz Wahl (Senses) and Richard Reyes (One), the trio offers up something the city’s palate is unfamiliar with: modern English cuisine. Siphoning the stodginess out of English fare, Heaton lightens up classic dishes and elevates them to a whole other level.
Situated next to Churchill, this glass-fronted eatery has taken over the space previously occupied by a dentist. During extensive renos by S333, the kitchen was built from scratch, resulting in a complete addition to the building.
The atmosphere is casual, with exposed brick and plenty of wood accents: a harvest table crafted by woodworkers Brothers and Sons; mismatched chairs Reyes plucked off Craigslist; an L-shaped bar that makes use of wood from an old Humber College squash court.
The tightly-curated menu favours seasonality. Currently, it’s rather meat-heavy, but expect more seafood and vegetables come summer. A starter features two seared scallops from Hooked ($16), paired with pickled walnuts, lightly sautéed beech mushrooms and stinging nettle done two ways (first as an emulsion, then battered and fried). The lot is perched atop scallop roe foam and decorated with neat batons of Granny Smith apple.
A main of duck ($24) stars a confit leg and seared breast paired with sunchoke — both puréed and as chips — and Brussels sprouts. An elderberry purée adds some sweetness to the dish, while nasturtium leaves lend a peppery zip.
For dessert, the lemon curd ($8) is a mash-up between the classic lemon pudding and the Eton Mess (a blend of strawberries, meringue and cream, which has its roots in the posh Eton College). Heaton tinkered with the idea, resulting in a lemon curd surrounded by a pool of elderflower liquor-infused cream, punctured with shards of dehydrated meringue and served in a tea cup.
Meanwhile, bartender Mike Bradley plays off the British flavours with his original cocktails. The Collins ($9) pairs elderberry-infused gin with lemon and soda; Rhubarb Fizz ($15) is a medley of sparkling wine, rhubarb simple syrup and rhubarb bitters; The Meadow ($15) blends lavender-infused gin with rosemary, lemon and soda ($9).
The Grove, 1214 Dundas St. W., 416-588-2299