Thursday, June 12, 2014

Gabardine Fine Grub & Libations on Bay Street

Cozy and unpretentious, this popular neighbourhood gastro-pub in the heart of the financial district stands out from the other restaurants in the area that cater mostly to the Bay Street 'smart-set' with its reliably long lineups, boisterous chatter and carb-intensive cuisine. An airy room with white washed walls, faux tin ceiling, marble counters and drooping filament bulb lighting, becomes the backdrop for Gabardine’s chef Graham Pratt's comfort food classics, inspired by good old-fashioned home cooking with no obvious concerns for the waist-line. Pratt's hearty fare is made with plenty of love and just a hint of butter, and pair up well with the 'Gab's' selection of boozy cocktails, Canadian craft beer and ever changing wine list from Ontario and beyond­. Although the menu is a bit too 'carby' for my liking, Gabardine's Grilled Cheese with smoked ham and sweet onion and tomato jam is a stand-out. The most requested favourites are unquestionably the Mac and Cheese with breadcrumb crust and hunks of smoked ham, and Chinese BBQ Pork Sandwich with mayonnaise, scallions, napa cabbage coleslaw, served with a heaping mound of crispy golden fries. Judging by all the satisfied smiles, too much of a good thing is apparently just fine with them.

Gabardine is busy every day for lunch with the Bay Street suits
and smart looking shoppers needing comfort food fix

A vase of gorgeous fragrant roses sits on the windowsill just beside our table

White washed walls, faux tine ceiling and hanging filament bulb lighting add to Gabardine's casual and friendly ambiance 

Okanagan Springs Beer

Japanese Sapporo

Gabardine's Grilled Cheese with smoked ham and sweet onion & tomato jam 
served on mis-matched china 

Mac and Cheese with breadcrumb crust and smoked ham

Chinese BBQ Pork Sandwich with mayonnaise, scallions, and napa cabbage coleslaw 
with a heap of frites

Fried Chicken n' Waffles with sausage gravy, iceberg lettuce and buttermilk dressing,
or rather 'Heart Attack on a Plate'

For those who decide to grab-and-go there's a menu of take-out Hot Chocolate, Latte's and more

Gabardine Mac & Cheese
Serves 4 to 6
Recipe courtesy of Graham Pratt

3 cups dry macaroni

Bread Crumb Crust:
1/4 cup butter
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp chives, chopped
1 tbsp tarragon, chopped
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated

2 tbsp butter
1/4 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 3/4 cups whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup chèvre, crumbled
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
1/2 cup cheddar, cubed
1/2 cup mozzarella, cubed

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes. The noodles will only be partially done. Then drain the macaroni, and turn back into the pot. Leave at room temperature for at least 45 minutes, allowing any residual heat to finish cooking the noodles. They will dry out a little.

To prepare the bread crumb topping, melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic, chives, tarragon, salt and pepper, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 minute. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes until toasted. Remove from the heat. Add the Parmesan and stir to combine, then let cool.

To prepare the sauce, melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, salt, paprika, garlic, nutmeg, mustard, pepper and bay leaf. Cook for 2 minutes until onions are translucent. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring for 2 more minutes until lightly golden. Slowly whisk in 2  cups of cream and all of the milk. Cook for 5 to 8 more minutes until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble, then remove from the heat.

When the macaroni is ready, preheat the oven to 450°F. Add 1 cup cream, Parmesan, goat cheese and half of the cheddar and mozzarella to the warm sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 2 minutes until the cheeses have melted and are smoothly incorporated. Stir in the remaining cheddar, mozzarella and 3/4 cup of cream, then add the cooked macaroni and stir for 2 to 3 minutes until the cheese begins to melt.

Turn the sauced macaroni into a small baking dish. Sprinkle with the bread crumb topping and bake for 6 to 8 minutes until the sauce starts to bubble and soak into the noodles, and crust turns golden. Serve warm.