What a day. Not only was I out of the office all day at a work retreat, but we went out for an unofficial end-of -year social at the pub. Close to campus, we headed to The Duke of York. The Duke is part of a chain of pubs in the city like the Duke of Kent, Duke of Richmond etc.
It has been a long time since I had been to the Duke of York - maybe 7 years or so. Walking inside it was just as I remembered it (but I won't lie, I didn't remember a lot). The Duke of York is a big former house that has been converted and broken into many different rooms big and small for dining and drinking.
There are two patios (used in much warmer weather), three bars, three floors. On this Friday night we had the front room reserved (see photo above) for our group. Although there were only a few of us to start off with, the room quickly filled up.
After a long day of sessions for improving student life at the university, several of us were feeling the need for some food. Our waitress April was looking after the whole room and it didn't take too long for us to start nibbling.
Sarah from my office went with the sweet potato fries. They were a medium cut, crispy outside but soft inside. They may have had a bit of a flour dusting before they were fried. Served with a maple dijon sauce, they were great for sampling.
Helen, from one of the residences on campus was sitting with us when she noticed a delicacy from her homeland, Nova Scotia. A special treat, deep fried pepperoni. On the East Coast, there are two pepperoni makers for deep fried pepperoni: Brothers, and Chris Brothers. The Duke of York serves Chris Brothers pepperoni, which is diced into I would say a medium cut, and then deep fried.
When Helen ordered the deep fried pepperoni, April was afraid they may not have it. Everyone was worried. As it turned out, they were out of deep fried pickles. My boss Josephine joked that it was a good thing the Duke did have it because "we have a pregnant Nova-Scotian here who needs her deep fried pepperoni!"
I have never had deep fried pepperoni. This was a very mild salami; some pepperoni has a very strong flavour that can overpower the taste buds, but this had just a nice pork taste. And by deep frying it, it created a nice and crispy skin, but maintained a soft inside. I was told it is traditionally served with a honey mustard dip - which accents the pepperoni very well. I love trying new cultural cuisines! But of course, I fell back on my love of wings.
The Duke of York does traditional pub wings. There were about 10 wings in a pound, which are deep fried and then lightly sauced.
It came with a side of carrots and celery and blue cheese dip. The dip was creamy with a few chunks of blue cheese.
The wings were medium in size - not too long, not too big. They weren't particularily meaty. As a piece of chicken it wouldn't wow you, but it's possible for them to do the job. The skin was nice and crisp and they were deep fried just right.
I ordered the medium level of heat (I know - bizarre for me, but bare with me) so that anyone at the table that wanted to sample could. I was pretty disappointed in the medium, simply because I couldn't really taste it. There was no real evidence of sauce. In the photo you can see the wings are mostly dry.
For my own benefit I ordered a side of suicide. It had a kick to it, but not a lot of taste. It certainly piqued up the wings.
FINAL SCORE: I like the actual pub - the rooms, the atmosphere, the feel of the place. The sweet potato fries were good. The deep fried pepperoni was a novel addition to pub grub. The wings . . . the wings were ok. There was nothing that stood out. Not that big, poorley sauced, and flavours that were forgettable. The skin was nice and crispy. They weren't bad, but not that great either. 4/10
Duke of York
39 Prince Arthur Avenue, Toronto ON