Monday, June 1, 2015

Church Key Bistro: London's Gourmet Bistro-Pub

Nestled in a prominent heritage building across from the Grand Theatre on Richmond Row in downtown London, The Church Key Bistro follows the British gastro-pub tradition specializing in comfort food favourites prepared with gourmet flair. Warm and comfortable, with a lovely interior of brick, stone, and wood, the opening of The Church Key in 2009 was the culmination of a long-time dream. “We are definitely pub people,” says Vanessa. “We like an uncomplicated place where you can talk and have good food and beer and wine.” A commitment to using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients — organic when possible — and a diverse menu to present “the best of the best” are both part of this process. The Church Key cures all their own meat, including a stellar corned beef, and they also produce their own smoked salmon. Overlooking both St. Paul's Cathedral and St. Peter's Basilica, The Church Key was named in defence to their ecclesiastic neighbours as well as the nickname for a simple bottle opener — a "church key". Legend has it that when the first cast iron bottle openers were developed in the early 1900’s, the shape reminded people of large, old fashioned church door keys. Considered by many to have the best patio in the city, The Church Key's lush quiet outdoor courtyard with bubbling fountain and friendly professional service, is the ideal spot to enjoy a leisurely afternoon with good friends, some chilled wine and descend into their decadent menu of gastro-pub offerings.

Church Key Bistro owners Peter and Vanessa Willis

The Church Key Bistro Pub menu

A glass of cold red Sangria

Curry Chips: fresh cut fries topped with a delicious curry sauce and garnished with fresh cilantro

Beef on a Bun: Marinated and grilled beef tenderloin piled on a house made sourdough bun with caramelized onions and fontina cheese sauce

Panko Crusted Grilled Cheese: thick cut sourdough stuffed with bacon, arugula and tons of cheese, then dusted with panko crumbs and pan fried until crispy and gooey

Chicken naan-wich

Rueben: House smoked beef brisket, sweet braised red cabbage, Russian dressing and aged cheddar all piled on a toasted pretzel bun — a recipe created by sous-chef Cliff Briden

Panko Crusted Bacon Grilled Cheese
Serves 2
Recipe courtesy Executive Chef Michael Anglestad

4 thick slices of sour dough bread
4 tbsp arugula chimichurri (see below)
6 slices cooked bacon
4 oz grated fontina cheese
4 large eggs
2/3 cup 2% milk
12 oz panko bread crumbs
3 tbsp melted butter

Arugula Chimichurri: Makes 1 litre
3/4 pound baby arugula
1/4 cup fresh chopped chives
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
3 tbsp fresh chopped oregano
2 small garlic cloves
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 or 2 finger hot peppers
1-1/2 ounces malt vinegar
1/4 litre canola oil

Put all ingredients for the chimichurri in blender or food processor and blend on high until smooth. Cover and set aside. Assemble the bacon, cheese, arugula chimichurri between the bread slices. Lightly beat the eggs with milk and pour into a shallow dish. Pour the panko into a second shallow dish. Carefully dip each sandwich into the egg mixture, coating both sides. Firmly press each sandwich into the panko, coating both sides. In a flat bottomed pan, heat butter over medium heat. Add the two sandwiches to the pan and cook until the first side is golden brown, turn over and continue to cook until the cheese has fully melted.