9-1/2 Church Street
A few weeks ago, when I interviewed Scott and Rachelle Vivian about their take-over of the Wine Bar and Hank’s, the duo let me know about their plans to open Hank’s at night with a menu of southern favourites that Vivian had learned to cook growing up in Atlanta. Hank’s at Night was unveiled and opened to the public this past week, and the menu is indeed a collection of homey and stick-to-your-ribs southern comfort food.
Sourcing all beer, wine and the majority of ingredients from local growers or producers (there’s a chocolate dessert, but no stewed greens until they come back in season locally), the pair are offering up a pretty decent assortment of southern dishes, done really well.
Here’s a few of the things on the menu…
Appetizers range from $7 for the soup of the day to $14 for the pork hock terrine. There’s also a roasted beet salad, black bean chili and this flavourful dish, pictured above, which is smoked lake trout atop sweet potato hash and topped with a poached egg.
As is typical in the south, mains are huge and hearty. These baby back ribs are more than enough for two people, as is the lamb shank below. There’s also a beef brisket that comes in a huge square topped with horseradish creme fraiche (we thought this was cake when it arrived!), the crispy fried chicken with smoky maple syrup pictured at the top, as well as pickerel and perch from Lake Erie. And vegetarians, don’t feel left out, there’s a vegetable pot pie for y’all. Prices range from $12 for the veggie pot pie to $28 for the ribs, but, as we mentioned – they’re more than enough for two.
Where everyone at our table felt that Hank’s really stood out was in the side dishes. All the meats are a la carte, so it is recommended that guests order a protein and one or two sides ($6 – $8 each) to go with it.
Sides includes traditional buttermilk mashed potatoes and organic fries, as well as molasses-y baked beans with pork, and silky smooth grits with smoked bacon and cheddar that delighted everyone, including the diners who had never tried grits before.
You can’t have southern food without mac and cheese, and this version (topping change daily) included sausage.
The dirty rice also impressed, with chunks of sausage and the surprise of chicken livers. Hank’s also offers sides of roast vegetables and roasted northern woods mushrooms.
We especially loved the light and fluffy cornbread, and the biscuits slathered in white gravy might have been my favourite, although they got devoured before I could get a picture.
Although we had to leave before dessert, the selections included Mississippi mud pie, fried apple pies, red velvet cake and buttermilk cake. Like the rest of the menu, desserts will change from day to day as items become seasonal.
Toronto has few good southern restaurant options, so with grub like this, Hank’s is sure to make for some full and happy bellies.