If one phrase could describe the opening party at Schnitzel Hub European Bistro and Bar, it would be the following: It hits the spot! Everything from the dark wood décor to the attentive wait staff, even the generous servings of food, was warm and comforting. The entire experience at Schnitzel Hub was so entertaining that it made guests forget the snowfall and blistering cold that befell the city that Wednesday evening (November 19).
Rita and Yan Khalfon, the owners of the Schnitzel Hub restaurant, recently opened a second bistro in the bustling Yonge and St. Clair area. To celebrate the launch of this new restaurant, they hosted an intimate sit-down dinner party to a handful of lucky guests and media personalities. What makes Schnitzel Hub stand out from the other restaurants within walking distance—with at least three of these restaurants and bars serving pub fare— is its modern twist on traditional central and eastern European cuisine and their selection of infused vodkas.
On the night of the opening, guests were greeted upon arrival by gracious hostesses, chilled glasses of champagne, and pierogies (potato and cheddar and sauerkraut mushroom). Looking around the restaurant, there was a very strong wood motif in its decor, which does give the place a cozy atmosphere and compliments the dark brown leather seating and forest green painted walls. Over at the bar, there was a very impressive selection of premium hard liquors and spirits, European wines, and craft beers from Belgium, Germany, and Austria.
Seven of Schnitzel Hub’s infused vodkas were served on tree slices wood slabs for the guests to enjoy. Their infused vodkas are organic, made inside the restaurant, and based on Smirnoff triple distilled vodka. All forty bottles of their infused organic vodka proudly were displayed like trophies on a shelf behind the bar. It was fascinating to see so many exotic and rare flavours such as Seaweed, Chili Honey, and Pomegranate and Black Currant. For the adventurous foodies, the Horseradish vodka is a definite must-try because of its incredible spicy aroma and very similar flavor profile to a Bloody Mary. For those who prefer sweet and fruity tastes, the Strawberry Mint vodka is refreshingly sweet, a smooth mouth feel, and has a cool mint flavour on the finish. There are certainly enough vodka flavours to please every palate.
The dinner portion of the evening began with a beet and butternut squash salad with feta cheese, pine nuts, and honey mustard dressing ($10.95). While the feta cheese nicely complimented the arugula and beets, the pine nuts didn’t bring much to the dish in terms of flavour. The goulash ($6.95) that followed the salad was flavourful and hearty. The soup has a nice and even thick consistency and didn’t really need the recommended dollop of sour cream, that’s why the thoughtful staff served it on the side.
The Oktoberfest sausage board ($16.95) featured two pieces of bratwurst (made in-house) and a very generous serving of sauerkraut. The restaurant’s famous Jaeger schnitzel ($19.95) was definitely a hit with the guests! One of the guests actually exclaimed, “Holy schnitzel that’s huge!” when they saw the large (lunch-sized) portion of their dish brought to their table. Roasted root vegetables and spätzle (traditional German pasta) accompanied the Jaeger schnitzel. For the schnitzel, guests had the option of choosing veal, chicken, or eggplant for the vegetarian diners. The veal schnitzel was tender and juicy but could have used just a bit more of the bacon-mushroom-red wine sauce. The spätzle was also delectable.
Throughout the night, the wait staff frequently checked to make sure that every guest were enjoying their meals, made excellent wine recommendations with the food, and always had full glasses of water on their tables. The meal ended with a plate of warm cherry-filled pierogies with whipped cream served on the side. The cinnamon sprinkled on top of the pierogies saved what was otherwise a very plain dessert. Also, the lingonberry vodka paired with cherry perogies elevated the dish to a whole new level by bringing out the cherries’ juicy flavour and cinnamon to the fore. Specialty coffees made with Kahlua and Baileys were top-notch and a perfect sweet and warm night cap for a cold night.
Schnitzel Hub provided really good food and wonderful and attentive service on their opening night. Their hearty, traditional, and polished cuisine and extensive selection of vodkas makes this restaurant the go-to place for beating the winter chills.
(photos by Tanya)
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