Spotlight On: SpiN (Winter)

SPiN, located in the heart of King West, exceeds expectations right from the start. Located in a semi-basement it simultaneously evokes the memory of your family’s rec room, and a trendy hidden club.  There is no lack of tables, so play in teams or have a cozy date. The best part (in my opinion) is that you never have to go chasing after the ball when you miss – they roll around like mad, while staffers work unobtrusively to collect them and restock you.  You’ll only want to stop playing to eat and drink.  Toronto has turned blisteringly cold and I was brought out in the chilly evening last week for some summer-style fun and a brand new winter menu.

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If you were tasked with creating the menu for a ping pong social club, what would you come up with? Probably wings, maybe poutine – something warm and filling but uncomplicated. But Chef Jon Lovett has taken the opportunity that is SPiN and has developed a menu that could not only stand alone anywhere, but also complements the surroundings in an elegant way.  Bar food classics become trendy offers that still satisfy.

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Oysters come with horseradish, but also ‘caviar’ made from pearls of hot sauce that burst in your mouth (3/$8). Pretzels come as little two-bite knots that are equal parts crisp and flaky (9/$9).

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Beet-root flavoured deviled eggs (6/$9) are a unique take on a picnic favourite, and go great with the perfectly crispy fried pickles ($8).

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There is both a charcuterie board and a veggie board, with terrines in both ($12/each).

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You can have King Capon drumsticks ($3/12), or bacon-wrapped lamb chops under Nutella ‘snow'(3/$18). There was also a cured trout I nearly finished myself ($12).

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For the heartiest options there are a number of sandwiches, or you can go all-out and order the Chicken & Waffles. But lest you think it’s anything pedestrian, the chicken is again King Capon and the waffles are Stuffing flavoured ($19).

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There is no shortage of desserts, all with their own modern yet homey style. I’m a fan of anything served in a jar like the banana pudding ($8), and with shortcake you can’t go wrong ($8), but cookies with bourbon milk can’t help but stand out (3/$8).

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And through it all are the drinks. A large group would do well to dive into one of the boozy bowls of punch ($54.50 for a bowl that serves 4), but the cocktail menu deserves a serious look as well (2oz/$12.40).

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SPiN is a fun idea with great execution, and so it should be no surprise that it’s been going strong since 2011. Chef Lovett changes the menu seasonally, so while the ping pong is enough to bring me back, the food alone will ensure my return.