ADDRESS: 303 King Street W., Toronto, Ontario M5V 1J5
Well, it’s finally happened: Chu On This has broken out of the U.S. borders and gone international. It’s been four years since the blog started, and this is just a quick aside to acknowledge the milestone. But now, back to what you probably came here for: a restaurant review.
It’s not very often that I find a place to eat solely on reading the menu posted outside their door. I’ll usually look at a few reviews of the restaurant on either Zomato or Yelp, look over their menu online, and see if there are any photos of their dishes. In the case of HUSH Restaurant, it was a bit of an exception.
My friends Bryan, Katie, and I had been walking around Toronto for a good portion of the day and we had lined up tickets to see the comedy club Second City that evening. However, the restaurant we had picked out for dinner ahead of time was a bit of a hike away from the Second City location, so we decided to go with the backup plan instead and find a restaurant closer to the venue. When we picked up our tickets for the show, we asked the box office attendant where was a good place in the area to eat. She mentioned that King Street was only a block away and we couldn’t really go wrong with whichever restaurant we chose on that street.
After a brisk walk through a parking lot, we were on King Street’s main strip and started passing by a number of different types of restaurants: Indian, pasta, pizza, sandwiches, sushi, there was quite the mix. The menu for HUSH caught Katie’s eye when she saw the place had some burgers; our original plan for the night was to go to another restaurant uptown that served burgers, so I guess that was still fresh on everyone’s mind. Once we liked what we saw on the menu, we ventured inside to ask for seating.
The restaurant’s ambiance is nice, with an open air storefront that lets in plenty of natural light. A black color scheme envelopes you as you venture deeper into the restaurant: the walls, the booths and chairs, even the dress attire for the staff. The lighting was also dimmed down to give the restaurant more of a sense of elegance. In a way, however, with my bright-colored polo, shorts, and sneakers, the décor of the restaurant made me feel underdressed; a button-down and jeans (or slacks) would probably jive better, in my mind.
There is a wide variety of items offered on the menu, ranging from soups to sandwiches & burgers to salads. While in Canada, we all felt that one of the “must-order” items was the poutine: French fries covered with gravy and topped with cheese curds. When I was growing up in New Jersey, the local diners had a variation of poutine called “disco fries,” where instead of cheese curds they would throw shredded mozzarella cheese on top of the fries instead. Now it was time for the real thing, so we ordered their poutine as our appetizer.
We had initially come into the restaurant for some burgers, and I was pretty torn between ordering two of them. On one hand, you had the Manhattan Smokehouse, topped with vegetables, bacon, smoked cheddar cheese, and a crispy onion ring. On the other hand, you had the California, topped with vegetables, arugula, Parmesan, avocado, and a spinach aioli. Two coasts of the U.S., two very different burgers. But, in the end, I decided to ditch the healthier option and indulge to get the Manhattan Smokehouse. How can you say no to bacon?
The burger arrived not too long after we had finished devouring the poutine, and the presentation looked great. The bun was freshly toasted from the grill and there was even a chipotle aioli served on the side. The sweet potato fries that complemented the burger came on the side in a little fry basket, which I thought added to the presentation. I had to first compress down the burger a little bit before taking a bite since it towered with all the added toppings. But man, did that burger really hit the spot. The meat was cooked to about medium-well (I usually prefer my burgers medium rare, but this wasn’t a huge deal) and the onion ring coupled with the lettuce and red onion gave the burger a bit of a crunch. The bacon and smoked cheddar flavors really blended well with the chipotle aioli that I added on. The sweet potato fries were also fried just right: nice and crisp on the outside, still soft on the inside. I think everything on the plate came together for a balanced meal.
I’ll have to admit that HUSH was a pleasant surprise, given that we wandered in and didn’t read any reviews about the place beforehand. The food, both quality and selection, were good, the service was great, and the atmosphere seemed really nice for a place to enjoy drinks or a meal after work. There were even stairs up to a rooftop bar near our table, but we didn’t get a chance to take a look. I could only imagine the rooftop bar would be a nice place to hang out on a cool evening. Even though King Street is already packed with quite a few restaurants, if you happen to pass by HUSH, don’t hesitate to stop in and give it a try.
Let’s now take a look at the HUSH Restaurant Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
And finally, here are my rankings for HUSH Restaurant:
Food: 4.75 / 5
Good quality food with a wide selection. Some options might take a dish and “dress it up” a little (prime example being a lobster grilled cheese sandwich).
Atmosphere: 4.5 / 5
Nice decor mix between glass and leather, coupled with dimmed mood lighting to give the restaurant an upscale feel.
Service: 4.5 / 5
Our waitress was very accommodating to answer some of our questions about the food, and returned periodically to ask us how we were doing with the meal.
Price: 4.25 / 5
From what I saw on the menu, none of the burgers topped over $20 CAD. The only baseline I have to compare that against is eating in U.S. cities, where restaurant might upcharge you just because of the location. I think mine turned out to be around $14 CAD, which was pretty good value for the portion size.