Last week I was attending a "Business Meeting" (like a mini-conference) at Humber College for one of the associations I belong to for my work. It's a great chance to meet up with my colleagues from around the province and compare war stories and discuss the future of our work. After a social was organized at Jack Astor's and I couldn't turn down the chance to eat and socialize.
Jack Astor's is a chain across Ontario (and elsewhere) that went from crazy-wacky family restaurant to more casual-chic. This was actually one of the earliest wing reviewed joints I did back in 2006. I liked the wings, but I was looking for a Buffalo-style wing more so then. You can always identify them by their sign where the 'tor' flashes on and off, as if broken, which makes the sign look like 'Jack As s'. Get it? Huh? Huh?
The location I was in on this visit had our large group sitting in a kind of plain open space. But the main part of the restaurant looks nice. The above is a screen capture of their website which has a stylized and interactive version of their restaurant. If you look at my picture below, it really is very similar (look at the chandelier).
|It's not the best photo, but you get the idea.|
It's also Movember, and they have this cool coaster going on. Not only that, but the mustache actually pops out of the coaster for you to use! Not only that, you'll notice that there is a number on my coaster. That's because they gave everyone a number so that they could do separate bills for us all. This is awesome because usually when you have a big group, you pay as a group, then some people don't put in enough for tax and tip, and others have to put in more, and I just hate it. So this was awesome. Not shown is the cherry Coke that went on the coaster. You heard that right, cherry Coke.
Our Humber hosts got appetizers for us all. Our table had a plate of Roasted Garlic Bruschetta ($8.97). I don't care for bruschetta, but this one looked good. I didn't try, and they didn't last very long either.
They also got us a plate of Jack's Ultimate Nachos ($13.44). This platter was emptied in minutes (we were really hungry) but it was pretty good. What really stuck out for me was the Layered melted cheese (yes, not just cheese on the top layer) and chopped up jalapeno that actually had some kick.
Most of those sitting near me had the chicken fingers. My boss Sarah went for the Shanghai Lettuce Wraps ($9.97). This was a cool dish of sliced chicken, veggies and deep fried noodles tossed in a "sweet chili-hoisin sauce" that you spoon into a lettuce leaf cup. She said it was ok, but low on chicken.
With my dinner, I added Jack's Garlic Pan Bread ($5.98 regular, $7.93 with cheese, $2.96 to add to an entree, and $4.34 with cheese added to an entree). This is a loaf of bread, covered in cheese, and soaking in melted garlic butter dip. It is soft, delicious and heavenly. There is a slight yeasty taste, but otherwise this is a dangerous indulgence.
My dinner: The Sauced Up Chicken Fingers ($12.96). "Fresh chicken tenders, marinated, seasoned and breaded in-house to order . . . tossed in your choice of Buffalo Wing Sauce (mild, medium, or hot) or zesty chili honey sauce." You can get it with fries, soup or house salad, or upgrade to sweet potato fries for $1.79.
The fries are just slightly crisp, mostly limp, but seasoned well. They were pretty greasy, but I don't mind them.
I'm a little embarrassed but I don't remember if this was a blue cheese dip or a ranch dip. It was thick and creamy and was excellent for dipping fries or chicken into. You can't really make it out, but the swizzle stick actually has a donkey on it (a Jack ASS if you will).
I really love these chicken fingers. They are fresh not frozen, then breaded and deep fried. Toss that in hot sauce and you have some awesome 'boneless wings.' They are not uniform in appearance and about 4 pieces come in an order.
I went with the hot sauce. This sauce actually has a kick. Hot is hot, and my mouth has a nice sting that attacks the tongue and lips, but also has a lot of flavour from the cayenne hot sauce and butter. It's very buttery sauce.
The chicken is crispy from the breading, but the meat (breast meat) is tender. Even after being tossed in sauce and being saucy, the chicken maintains its crispy structural integrity.
This is the only place I will pick chicken fingers over actual chicken wings. I'm sure the wings are good, but this dish is just too good. With the pan bread, this is a killer dish. Spicy, saucy, crunchy - how can you go wrong? With a cherry Coke on the side, I am super content and barely miss the bones.
25 Carlson Court (Toronto Airport Hwy27 & Dixon), Toronto ON