Located downtown in a beautiful, historic building, Woodwork describes itself as a "contemporary kitchen," offering elevated, yet approachable fare. The food menu is notably small, emphasizing quality over quantity, with a distinct focus on wood-fired meats. Probably more impressive is their drinks menu which boasts a large variety of unique, handcrafted cocktails. Hand in hand, the philosophy behind Woodwork sounds like it would deliver the perfect recipe for a night out.
We came to Woodwork on a Friday evening to celebrate SC's birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY SC! (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧). Reservations are probably recommended, as we arrived to a pretty packed house.
The restaurant space is long, narrow, and dimly lit. A dark curtain was hung in front of the door to try to alleviate the cold winter air, but let's be real, it probably didn't do much to help those sitting nearby whenever somebody new walked in.
The bar is undoubtedly the main focal point of the restaurant, featuring shelves of liquor and a built-in ladder. The kitchen is open-concept, albeit tucked in the back corner of the restaurant, nearby stacks of firewood along another wall. Very rustic-hipster-chic.
Instead of ordering mains, SC and I decided to share three smaller plates to get a better feel of the menu. One of the items that we chose was the aquavit cured char & toast ($10.00). The dish featured three slices of rye toast, layered with crème fraîche, cured char, crispy capers, and shallots. Basically a fancy, dressed-up version of smoked salmon and cream cheese. It was decent, but I think we were both surprised by the small portion. The picture is a bit deceptive of its size, but I guess to be fair, it is listed as a 'bar snack,' so we can't really complain on that front.
My favourite dish of the night ended up being the caramelized brussels sprouts ($9.00) cooked with Woodwork bacon, pumpkin seeds, and julienned apples. It's funny because I've never had brussels sprouts growing up, but I have such a intense love affair with them now as an adult. It really is a misunderstood vegetable as they're delicious if prepared right. At Woodwork, the brussels sprouts are nicely caramelized with charred leaves and a tender core. I didn't taste much in the way of bacon but the dressing was tangy and almost creamy. Even if you're a bit iffy on brussels sprouts, get these anyways. They might convert you.
Our last dish that we shared was the housemade meatballs ($14.00). We ended up ordering three portions, since KN and AL both got one as well. Each order came with three large meatballs cooked in a chunky tomato sauce. The dish was studded with roasted peanuts and finished off with a smear of local goat cheese. Boasting good flavour, the meatballs were soft and tender, though a tiny bit crumbly around the edges. I thought the addition of the peanuts was a bit random, but I did enjoy the healthy dollop of goat cheese. The others were a bit indifferent due to the gamey taste, but I thought it lent some much-needed creaminess to the dish.
To round out their meal, AL and KN also split the hickory frites ($7.00). KN thought the fries were very reminiscent of hickory stick chips, since they were nice and crisp and had that familiar smokey flavour. On the side was a pickled carrot ketchup which they also enjoyed, as it tasted fresh and had a nice texture.
Since a birthday meal isn't complete without cake, we also got the sticky toffee pudding ($9.00) to share. The dessert featured three slices of warm, dark sponge cake, topped with a quenelle of whipped cream and a generous drizzle of salted toffee sauce. The cake itself was surprisingly not that sweet, rather relying on the deep rich caramel to finish off the bite.
All in all, it was an enjoyable time for everyone at Woodwork. Even though it wasn't mind-blowing or particularly memorable after the fact, I'd say the food was pretty good. Service was also friendly without being over-bearing. Our waitress was always quick to top off water glasses and welcomed any questions about the menu.
If you're looking for a night out on the town, consider Woodwork as your next destination.