Sunday, 12 August 2007

EIN-STEIN CAFE & PUB ~ Toronto, On

"Guten Tag, and welcome to Ein-stein! Spanning two millennia, the Ein-Stein Cafe and Pub has been serving the neighbourhood and university community since 1996. With our relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff and comfortable environment, you're sure to make Ein-stein your home away from your home away from home..."

That's a great description for this pub I used to venture to in my undergrad. Feeling some nostalgia for the old days, I wandered back to this student watering hole at the bottom of the University of Toronto campus. Above, they describe it as "relaxed atmosphere" and "comfortable environment" - this is because this place is a true dive. The furniture is old, the place looks dingy and that's they ways I's likes it. It serves cheap beer, and even cheaper food - and that's what they care about. They don't want the posh, they want the frosh.

There is lots of Einstein memorabilia, game tables, tv's and even serve-yourself peanuts. They have open mike nights, stand up comedy and some interesting characters around the place. On this warm day, I headed into the air-conditioned, empty inside. Summertime weekend is not a good business time for them, as most of the students have gone home. They have really good cheap pub fare, with two of my favourites, deep fried pickles, and of course, wings.


STYLE: breaded, deep fried
SAUCES: bbq/honey garlic/hot/spicy hot (suicide)/
Cajun/Jamaican jerk/naked with salt and lemon
SIZE: 2 /2
HEAT: 7/10
PRICE: $4.95 for 5, $8.95 for 10, $16.95 for 20
SIDES: 2 (side of fries $1.50 extra - so one point) + 1= 3 /7
WING NIGHT: none, but this is cheap for jumbo wings
OTHER/SPECIAL: wing bucket, patio, free refills on pop, free peanuts
TOTAL: 27/35

Its been a couple of years since I came to Ein-Stein's. Actually, not too much before I started the blog (one of the places that inspired me to really start Lord of the Wings). The big platter came out with jumbo sized wings, a heap'o'fries and a tall order of carrot and celery sticks. This is why Ein-Stein's was voted best wing in Eye Magazine in 2002 by its readers.

I picked up my first wing: it was so big and so wet it slipped out of my hand. This is the size a chicken wing should be. The first bite: crispy - a nice dusting on the outside and some well done deep frying. My problem: the chicken was a bit rubbery. Stringy almost. This might be due to the jumbo nature of the wing.

I ordered 5 spicy hot and 5 bbq wings. The bbq was nice, but it tasted like plain Bull's Eye bbq sauce. Not bad, but we could use a little originality. Before ordering the 'spicy hot', I asked about the 'Champ' sauce I saw in their dip section. It was described as a super heat flavour. I asked the waitress, and she said it was just the spicy hot. I've had this sauce before, but I wanted to clarify with her: "is there a flavour difference between hot and spicy hot? do they taste differently or is it just a heat difference" to which she replied, "the hot is just Frank's and butter. Spicy hot is our own cook's special mix". Spicy hot it was. It was a nice heat, nice flavour and I only wished I had ordered all the wings that way.

My fries were frozen and tasteless (actually, the leftovers I heated up the next day with some spices and they were much better - unusual for fries). The dip for the carrot/celery sticks was a terrible bleu cheese (if that's what it was - I would definitely ask for ranch or something else instead. I didn't order them on this occasion, but Ein-Stein's has de-lish deep-fried pickles. I would have ordered them, but I thought I had more than enough food on my plate. Or platter in this case.

FINAL SCORE: The wings were close to greatness, but the rubbery chicken took a little away. Lots of sides, napkins, wet-naps and free refills on the drinks were also welcomed. Avoid the fries and veggie dip like the plague. Thanks for the wing bowl by the way - the mark of a real wing place. 27/35

Ein-Stein's Cafe & Pub
229 College Street
416 59-STEIN

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