Sunday, October 25, 2015

Serve Ping Pong Bar and Lounge

Last Monday, we were very lucky to have been invited by Kristen and Chanry from The Generator to attend a tasting at Serve Ping Pong Bar and Lounge. Mr. HitH and I were really excited. We've been watching Serve's tweets as they prepared to open and wanted to head in and check it out. However, before we did that, we had to go vote. We took the dogs in an effort to get 5 votes instead of just 2. Unfortunately, that didn't work. As you can see, our Parson Russell terrier was really upset that her voice carried no weight.

I am absolutely embarrassed to admit that we arrived late. I had the event in my calendar as beginning at 7 p.m. - and it really began at 6:00 p.m. We missed the amazing charcuterie platters, but did have the chance to sample the 3 mustards. All 3 were house made - in fact, everything we were served was house made. To be honest, I wasn't expecting that level of commitment to food from a Ping Pong bar. Instead, we found that chef Stewart Byfield has made a delicious menu.

Soon after we arrived, the apps came out. We were served Curry Vegetable Spring Rolls (pic above) and Breaded House Pickles (pic below). Truth time. I hate curry. I hate the smell so much, I cannot even contemplate eating it. Yes, that does make me the world's worst vegetarian. When we were served these, I tried one, thinking I would loathe it - not because there was anything wrong with them, but just because it had curry. Instead, I really enjoyed them. Made with Yukon potato, green peas, leeks and coriander,The flavours were fresh and the dipping sauce, a mango and sambal olek chutney, was extraordinary. On the other hand, I love pickles. Love. The breaded pickles were also excellent. The outside was crispy crunchy with panko, the inside was tender. The dipping sauce, a buttermilk and dill aioli was also top notch. It was so clear that the dipping sauces were made from scratch and with as much thought as any other piece of the food.

The last appetizer was Ping Pong Arrancini, made with saffron arborio risotto, mozzarella, crispy basil and served with a tomato puree dip. They were absolutely excellent. I am a sucker for anything with tomato, mozzerella and basil, and the arrancini were made perfectly. I could so easily consume a dozen of these.

Once we were done with the apps, we moved onto the flatbreads. We were served the Cardiologist Special, which had asalingo salumi, classic pepperoni, dry cured coppa, San Marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, the Three Little Pigs, with whisky candied bacon, pulled pork, mango habanero BBQ sauce, white cheddar, scallions, and crispy onions and finally G.A.S.P., with roasted garlic, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, pesto, and mozzarella.

I'll start with the vegetarian flatbread, the G.A.S.P. The toppings were great. The roasted garlic was perfectly creamy, the artichokes were heaven (who doesn't love artichokes on pizza?) and the pesto made a great sauce. However, I did think the crust could have been a touch more crisp.

Mr. HitH tried the other two. He has a cold, and is not waxing eloquent, so his current comment, full of eloquence, is "They were really good". I know he particularly enjoyed the Cardiologist Special, and loved all of the meat. He also enjoyed the crispy onions on Three Little Pigs and really liked the mango sauce (he is a sucker for all things mango).

Then the sliders came! We were treated to 3 different ones, the Hogtown, made with slow roasted pulled pork, golden mango BBQ sauce, creamy slaw, crisp onions, sweet roll, the Fish & Chip (above), made with Rickards red battered sole, hand cut fries, spicy remoulade and Ultimate Serve Slider (below), made with candied bacon, aged white cheddar, oven roasted tomato, fried onion rings, and special serve sauce. My vegetarianism made it so I couldn't taste these, so Mr. HitH pinch hit for me. His personal favourite was the Ultimate Serve Slider. He found that the serve sauce had just the right bite and the composition of all the elements made for a great little bite. He also really liked the Fish and Chip, but he personally needed more sauce. He's a saucy kinda guy.

For dessert, we Bucket of Balls. The balls are house made old fashioned donut holes served with espresso cream dunk. The dunk was to die for - creamy, thick and clinging. The only complaint I can make is that the donut holes were big enough that it required a double dip - not ideal when being shared. Fortunately, food bloggers are a sharing bunch.

I needed a drink, so I tried the Lawrenceburg Lemonade. It was delicious, but if I drank more than one, I couldn't have driven home. This is a DRINK - and a damn good one.

Between courses, we played ping pong. We had a ball trash talking each other, and then showing off our skills. So much so, that two of our bunch are planning to join league night.

This contraption picks up balls. It's fun. I don't know why it is fun, but it is.

The decor is spot on. Comfy, with tons of seating for when you need a break from playing ping pong. Huge windows overlook King Street. The art, by Hamiltonian Paul Elia, is stunning. The above painting of Beasley Park is a beautiful piece. One day, I'll own a house worthy of it and buy it.

You can even rent a private room (with more art by Paul Elia, this time of the downtown arch).

In summary, we will be back, both to play and to eat. The food was very good, and while the price point is a touch high, when you are sharing with your fellow players, it becomes a bit more reasonable. We're even considering renting out the private room. How can you go wrong for $50 for an hour?

Serve Ping Pong Bar and Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato