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Review: Wvrst

In a world of acai berry shakes and “steamed veg on the side” it takes stones to open a beer and sausage hall like Wvrst on King West. Equally, in the world of Google, intentionally misspelling your restaurant’s name–that second letter is a v and the restaurant’s web site demands the name be pronounced “verst”–is about as useful as subbing numbers for letters. But with high praise from my brother who lives in the neighbourhood I traveled down there (and went back) to give it a shot.

The Wvrst menu of sausages and fries. Click on the image for a version that can be zoomed.

The Wvrst menu of sausages and fries. Click on the image for a version that can be zoomed.

Distilled to its important components the menu is excellently simple. Just sausages, fries, a few wines, and a lot of beer. No salad, no grilled chicken wraps, and not even onion rings.

That being said there is still a vast opportunity for a sort of masculine tuning of every order. The sausages either come on a bun (white or whole wheat) or served currywurst style in a suprisingly fragrant tomato-based sauce. With the first option they get a choice of two of the four toppings (caramelised onions are good, sauerkraut isn’t pungent enough).

The plain fries at Wvrst.

The plain fries at Wvrst.

For the fries the much-hyped duck fat ones were over-cooked, and bland on my first visit. I was much more impressed with the plain ones–even if their seasoning is calibrated to sell beer–on a subsequent visit. Small orders come with one dipping sauce and large with two. Highlights are the miso and the Jason’s BBQ.

The sausages themselves have a delicious coarse texture, are properly seasoned, use what appear to be natural casings, and taste prominently of the two or three named ingredients. Those looking to add to their lifetime meats list will be happy to find bison, pheasant, and kangaroo amongst the $9 game options. Both the guinea fowl and duck are good options but I think the best bets lie among the traditional sausages where I’ve especially liked the pork and marjoram Kranjska and the fennel-flecked Sicilian.

Wvrst's beer list includes some good Ontario craft beer options. Avoid the cans. Again, click for a larger version.

Wvrst's beer list includes some good Ontario craft beer options. Avoid the cans. Again, click for a larger version.

The beer list offers an impressive mix of local craft beer and premium imports. Many of the bottle or can options are criminally over-priced (among them both Gosser and Tecate–which are both $2 from the LCBO–go for $7 and $8, respectively here) so stick to draught selections like Grand River’s Galt Knife Lager ($6.50) or the Netherworld Black IPA from Flying Monkeys ($8).

With long, communal tables served by benches and stools I’m sure the decor is meant to recall German beer halls and I’m sure I can’t be the first to have the red-and-black tile mosaic recall a Toronto subway station. The service is professional and friendly with the level attentiveness calibrated based on where you’re sitting: At the bar the first check-in comes after bite one; sitting by the King Street windows I’m left alone with my book. On my visits traffic seemed to ebb and flow but I worry that at peak times the single ordering station will become a bottleneck and slow things down considerably.

The location in the Thuet-Susur Strip will invite comparison, I’m sure, but unlike theirs this is a restaurant about volume, simplicity, and convenience. (Particularly convenient that the kitchen stays open until 10 PM Monday to Wednesday and 12:30 AM Thursday to Saturday given my brother’s growing number of condo-dwelling neighbours.) At less than ten dollars for a simple meal, before tax, tip, or alcohol this place would be welcome in many neighbourhoods and stands among the best options for value on King West.

Wvrst: 609 King St. West (west of Portland); 416-703-7775;  Mon – Wed 11:30 AM to 11 PM, Thu – Sat 11:30 AM to 1 AM; eat@wvrst.com; @WVRSTbeerhall

Wvrst on Urbanspoon

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