Located in the space that used to be the home of Brant House, The Citizen (@thecitizen_to) is the newest addition to King West. I’ve been to the Brant House a number of times but it was always for night-time festivities and never thought of it as a foodie destination. So, I thought this new spot would be largely the same…but I thought wrong.
Before I get to the food, let’s talk about the space first. I love the old school feel of it – with all the wood paneling, leather tufted stools and vintage sporting equipment hanging on the walls. Despite having a space that throws you back in time, they’ve got some modern elements too. They offer phone charging stations (a big plus for me!) and complimentary wifi.
The Citizen is centred around a large bar with tv’s mounted on top of it. The space also features comfy couches in the lounge area at the front of the restaurant as well as a dining room at the back. The various spaces can be separated by a retractable screen which makes it a great spot for private functions.
The Citizen’s goal is to “take you back in time when great food was approachable, mixologists were called bartenders and everyone in the joint knew your name”. With an extensive menu of comfort food classics which focuses on local and seasonal ingredients, they’ve certainly made their food very approachable.
In the kitchen you’ll find Executive Chef Amanda Walti (@AmandaWalti) who was previously Chef de Cuisine at Origin. During our dinner, she came around to describe all the dishes we sampled and we could tell that she takes immense pride in the food that comes out of her kitchen. For good reason too! And let’s not forget about the drinks. Waseem Dabdoub is in charge of the bar program here and he’s created some pretty darn tasty cocktails.
On Tuesday, I was invited to their media preview to get a sneak peek at the space and menu offerings. So, without further ado, here’s a look at what I tried:
The Florist –a sparkling wine cocktail
Strawberry Fields – tequila, muddled strawberries & vanilla syrup
The Metropolitan – vodka, lemon, lime & elderflower
Beef Tartar – with salsa verde and pickled peppers on a crostini (full order: $18)
Popcorn Shrimp – fried shrimp with tartar sauce & hot sauce (full order: $10)
Grilled Cheese – triple decker, aged cheddar with apple butter (full size with fries & coleslaw: $14)
Smoked Trout Lettuce Wraps – with cucumber, chili, cilantro sour cream & bibb lettuce (full size: $12)
Root Vegetables – with sherry vinaigrette, smoked crème fraiche & dill ($12)
Fried Chicken – thighs, chicken liver, crispy skin, sweet potato mash, coleslaw & a scallion biscuit ($18)
Pork Belly – with smoked mac n’ cheese, roasted broccoli & pickled chili ($20)
Braised Brisket – with mashed potatoes, kale & horseradish crème fraiche ($22)
Warm Butternut Squash Salad – with smoked blue haze cheese, oyster mushrooms, kale & a pear vinaigrette ($16)
Chocolate Chip Cookies & Milk
Drooling yet? Like I said, chef Amanda has a lot to be proud about! My favourite dish of the evening was the Fried Chicken which had been prepared 3 ways. The thighs and liver had a nice batter and was wonderfully moist. As for the crispy chicken skin…need I say more? People who say they don’t like chicken skins are lying in my books ;) The sweet potato mash perfectly complemented the chicken and the scallion biscuit was perfection. I loved everything on this plate.
Another highlight for me was the Beef Tartar which was one of my favourite hors d’oeuvres of the evening. The salsa verde was quite flavourful but didn’t overwhelm the meat and the pickled peppers on it was the cherry on top for me. Pickled anything always wins me over!
Another favourite was the Pork Belly dish. The pork belly had a delicious glaze and wasn’t the least bit dry. Served with an incredibly cheesy block of fried mac n’ cheese, this was the ultimate comfort food dish.
While the meat dishes won me over, the Warm Butternut Squash Salad was also noteworthy. I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of blue cheese but luckily, its flavor wasn’t too overwhelming (as long as you don’t get a mouth full of it). I particularly enjoyed the fried kale and the delicious pear vinaigrette which had a nice sweetness to it.
We ended off the meal with a delicious bite-sized chocolate chip cookie which was a fitting way to finish a feast of comfort food favourites.
Overall, we had an excellent experience. If you’re looking for a King West spot with an approachable menu and delicious cocktails, The Citizen is definitely worth checking out!
*This was a complimentary meal. The opinions in the post, as always, are my own.*