Toronto's Best Shepherd's Pie
James Chatto, beloved Toronto food critic and native Englishman, knows his shepherd’s pies
GRAND PRIZE WINNER
THE POUR HOUSE, 182 DUPONT ST.
Chatto’s standard for a good pie is his mom’s. His grade school cafeteria also served the dish and sits at the opposite end of the taste spectrum. The Pour House’s pie (called the “cottage pie” on its menu) is the last one he tries. After admitting that none of the pies he’s tasted have “really wowed” him yet, he’s holding out hope for this one remaining dish. “The potato looks much richer,” he says. “This seems as though it’s actually been baked in an oven, rather than assembled.” Chatto is pleased to see carrots, peas and corn mixed in with the meat. And these veggies are cooked to Chatto’s liking: not overdone and adding “textural interest.” As for the meat? “It’s nice, moist, with some tanginess to it. Yeah, I think that's quite well done.” It’s not a “wow,” but we’ll take it.
Butler’s Pantry — 591 Markham St.
“Here’s another shepherd’s pie with a lovely crusty top,” says Chatto. “There’s a good inch and a half of potato there. And the meat's been mixed with plenty of other vegetables.” Although he likes the “peppery seasoning,” Chatto says this dish is a touch “too dry.”
Britannia Pub & Grill — 7359 Yonge St., Thornhill
“This almost looks more like a moussaka,” says Chatto, who enjoys the “flavourful meat” in Britannia’s shepherd’s pie. The uber-whipped potatoes, however, are “too close to liquid” for Chatto’s liking. Still, he likes the overall seasoning of the pie.
Daiter’s Fresh Market — 3535 Bathurst St.
“That’s a handsome-looking shepeherd's pie,” says Chatto. “It’s finished under the grill to get a little crust on it, which is nice.” Unfortunately, Daiter’s dish doesn’t have “any oomph” to it — although Chatto does like the sweet kernels of corn sprinkled on top.
MEAT AND GREET
McEwan — 38 Karl Fraser Rd.
“There’s almost too much potato here,” says Chatto. “And they’re not using ground meat, which is really unusual. There are great big chunks of meat. The meat itself is quite tender — but here’s a lump of fat.”