Arriba, Arriba!

Apr 17, 2009

We arrived in Toronto fairly early – we made good time, thanks to a combination of speed mania and pregnancy.

For our stay, we rented rooms at the Renaissance which is attached to the Rogers Centre. We checked-in, settled in our rooms, and proceeded to Arriba for refreshments.

Arriba is a self-described Modern Mediteranean Restaurant and Lounge.  Seems like an odd choice for a place with a view on the Rogers Centre, but hey, what do I know, perhaps baseball fans visiting Toronto are also fans of Mediteranean fare.  The view is quite neat, and having a good meal is enticing, but if you do make reservations for game time, please be aware that you need to spend at least $50 per person – $75 if the Red Sox or the Yankees are in town.  No charges for the Expos, though.

We sat just in time for the pre-game warm-up, as the A’s players slowly crawled out of their dugout to stretch, run around, play catch and do some batting practice while the Blue Jays were wrapping up their own warm up.

From our seats, right by the window, we could see very well. It was quite neat to sit in this loungy environment, and I proceeded to have a quick look at their beer list.  Not a bad selection, a bit pricey but better beers and better prices then in the stadium, no doubts.  So I ordered an Okanagan Spring 1516 Bavarian Lager.

So the beer is brewed according to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516.  The Reinheitsgebot stated that only four natural ingredients were to be used to brew beer: barley, water, hops, and yeast.  Okanagan Spring claims to follow the true four ingredients recipe, which makes the 1516 a classic Pilsner.  Of a golden clear colour, it is more flavourful beer than the usual commercial Pilsner, but it is pretty low key, the malt being much stronger than the hop. It is pretty close to a Helles, I would argue.  It has a fairly crisp and clean finish, slightly bitter-sweet.  I had a couple more before the game.

As we kept watching the Athletics warming up, using a weird cone-system to measure warm-up distance, my attention was attracted by the tapas menu – half-price from 5 to 7, Monday to Friday.  I smelled a deal.  The tapas selection includes mussels, calamari, quesedilla, bruschetta, chorizo and shrimp.  But we selected, to share, the Yam Fries and the Chicken Wings.

Yam fries and chicken wings

The fries were served with a garlic aioli, which was very creamy and not too garlicky, with a subtle touch of dijon.  Now, they did call them Yams, but really, they were sweet potatoes. It is interesting as a french fry because it is sweet and very dense.  You have to cut them julienne-style, which is what Arriba did.  They were quite salty, probably an attempt to compensate for the sweetness, but it was not overpowering.  It was a pretty big bowl, and at $2.50, a pretty good deal.

The wings were surprising. I have got to admit that a guy at the table next to us ordered them before we did, enticing us by doing so when he gulped them quickly and happily.  He in fact had ordered more by the time we received our order.  Eight wings for $4.50, not a bad price at all.  They came in a fancy rectangular plate, all neatly lined-up and garnished with green onions.  The sauce was a barbecue-type one, spicy but with a low heat level.  The breading was fairly light, crispy but not hard.  They were fairly meaty, and they sustained Scott and I until the game.


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