Posted on January 15, 2015 by Lisa Ng | in

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By: Natalia Dziubaniwsky

I recently visited East Thirty-Six for a menu tasting on a cool, wet evening. As I set foot inside the small space, I was instantly grateful for its cozy and softly lit interior; a comforting refuge from the outside elements. It’s a good thing I came with a large appetite, because I was beyond spoiled at this tasting. With so many appetizing plates to choose from, I left the evening’s culinary journey in the hands of the staff and ordered some of the dishes they were most passionate about.

Serving a large selection of hand-crafted cocktails and sophisticated share plates of rich and delicate French food with a Northern American influence, East Thirty-Six is an ideal spot for a social gathering, an intimate dinner or an after work drink. The plates range from smaller sized bites to heartier fare.

Here’s a look at what I feasted on:

Pork Caillettes $9 – Sitting atop of a small piece of toast and a dollop of mustard, their house-made pork sausages may be petite, but each bite is rich, savoury and delicious albeit a wee bit salty.

Buratta $15 – Topped with heartnuts and crispy sage leaves, the creamy buratta sits on a yummy bed of sweet and slightly spiced pureed butternut squash, brown butter and sherry vinegar caramel.

Cauliflower $9 – A light dish with a subtle nutty flavour; the cauliflower florets are topped with capers, preserved lemon, brown butter, and a sprinkling of hazelnuts and parsley. This was a nice contrast to the richness of the Pork Caillettes.

Bone marrow $16 – This was my first time trying bone marrow and I was a little hesitant; however I liked it more than I expected. Mild and buttery, the roasted marrow can either be scooped and slowly savoured on its own or spread over the accompanying toast. The dish also comes with a small helping of smooth chicken liver parfait.

Smoked sweetbreads $15 – A popular menu item of theirs, sweetbreads are not something I typically order (I am not the most adventurous of eaters). Encased in a light batter, the meat in the centre was incredibly delicate, tender and creamy.

Octopus $23 – This was hands down, my favourite dish of the evening. The octopus was meaty and tender; cooked sous-vide for four hours then finished on a grill. The combination of fingerling potatoes, olive spread and mouth-watering tonnato sauce that come with the octopus are as just as pleasurable. Given the portion size, I believe this would be best enjoyed between two.

In addition to their food menu, East Thirty-Six has an impressive list of intriguing libations. The Rum Row $13 (rum, apricot liquor, lemon juice, ginger syrup and tonic) cocktail piqued my interest as it is mixed with a home-made spiced rum. This unique blend is a combination of Havanna white rum, spices such as cinnamon and clove and citrus zests that are left to sit and harmonize together for two to three weeks. I found it to be a refreshing and enjoyable beverage with lemon and ginger as the dominant flavours.

Lemon custard with shortbread and macadamia $8 – A nice way to finish off a decadent meal, the lemon custard had just the right balance between tart and sweet flavours. As a bonus, the chunky and crumbly shortbread cookie pieces can be used for dunking and as an edible scoop.

The menu will change seasonally in efforts to use fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Cocktails range from $12-14, while dishes are priced between $4-24.

East Thirty-Six is open for lunch Tuesdays to Fridays from 11:30am and open daily from 4:00pm to 2:00am.