Sometimes we make exceptions for our best friends (because otherwise best friends wouldn't exist), and one of those include stepping out in torrential rain to go to a restaurant to celebrate a birthday. But heck, I would do anything for my friends and really good food.
As soon as I wrapped up my eight-hour work day, I was en route towards Big Crow from my downtown office. Google Maps insisted I take the bus there, so when I got off I searched for visual signs of 'Big Crow' and happened to find a large mural of a black crow against a brick wall leading into an alley way. I realized I had stepped into the backyard of Rose & Sons, which turned out the least bit sketchy.
Big Crow is an outdoor BBQ backyard-style restaurant with long communal picnic tables lined up vertically towards the kitchen with an open fire. The cocktails were highly spoken of, and among their celebrity cocktails is the Emma Watson. It was light, refreshing and sweet - which, might be characteristic of the real Emma Watson? Either way, I eventually helped myself to a second. It's also worth noting that they have a small but phenomenal beer selection; something I always love at a restaurant.
The atmosphere is lively and down-to-earth, and all the dishes are primed for sharing. The dinner menu is split into different sections: "Crow Start", "Little Crow" for smaller plates, "Big Crow" for entrees, and "Eat Crow" for sides.
My party of 4 went off to a "Crow Start" with the roast garlic bread ladled with smoked mozzarella. The picnic potato salad with buttermilk ranch dressing, eggs and radishes is as exciting as a cornfield at a farm in the outskirts of Norfolk County, so it may be worth passing over to another dish instead.
One of the Tuesday specials we ordered was the Barese sausage, quite different from your typical Italian sausage. It is topped with rhubarb chili aioli and garnished with green onions and a slice of lemon.
It was interesting to try the Chinatown Miami ribs sprinkled with sesame and a side of dill cucumbers. As tasty as they were, the ribs turned out to be a bit lackluster in texture.
The staff were very knowledgeable about the dishes, which came out in a rapid fashion that you had to hastily dig into as many as possible before they were gone. The pork and beans is a comforting dish that features kabanosy, a Polish thin dry sausage that are often smoky in flavour, and cranberry beans mixed in a wet broth of ancho chili.
The restaurant is locally famous for its version of BBQ ribs, smeared with cherry tomato basil pesto. You can get a 1/2 slab for $17 or a full slab for $32. As anyone else would say, passing up the opportunity to try the ribs is like going to Rome and not having a pizza. They're impeccably flavoured and tread the line between chewy and fall-off-the-bone tender.
If Big Crow won the Most Epic Dish of the Year award, it would go to the smoked Hawaiian 3lb ham with pineapple salsa and smoothed in a honey glaze. It was enough to make four hungry people swoon with "mmm" and "ahhhs". Sadly it's no longer featured on the menu but it goes to show how creative you can go with campfire cooking and I think it might just become their best kept secret.
There was no better way to end a vibrant evening than with the S'mores ice cream sandwich with a sparkler for the birthday boy. One bite into those soft brioche buns and you've got a medley of ice-cream, chocolate fudge, and graham crackers melting like pudding in your mouth. For a second I was transported to the cottage, happily sitting by the bonfire melting marshmallows on branches and sandwiching them between crackers.
For a group dinner, Big Crow is just about perfect. It's where you'd take your friends. Be sure to book a reservation, they're open everyday for dinner starting at 5pm, and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. It's still impressively bustling even on rainy days and you can now get the campfire cooking experience year round, even during the winter. *Cheers*