A Unique (and Loud) Dining Experience at Grand Bizarre Supper Club

Grand Bizarre Supper ClubLocation: 15 Saskatchewan Road, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.grandbizarre.com/

I very randomly got an email about a month ago inviting me to the media preview of a new “supper club” called Grand Bizarre.  Anything with the word “club” in its name doesn’t particularly sound like my jam — but you know what is my jam?  Free food.  I quickly found a friend who was willing to go with me (the promise of the aforementioned free food made this an easy enough proposition), and I was off to the races.

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

The place is a bit odd; it opens once a week on Saturday nights, and it’s somewhere between a nightclub and a food court.  It’s an absolutely massive space, with several food vendors, a whole bunch of bartenders, and a DJ playing loud, thrumming dance music that makes it nearly impossible to talk (though thankfully, my dining companion and I were able to find a spot near the sushi bar that wasn’t quite as ear-splittingly loud as the rest of the joint).

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

One of the main gimmicks is that instead of paying cash for the various foodstuffs, you buy “Bizarre chips,” which look like poker chips and which act like currency to buy food.  I believe you still have to pay regular cash for the drinks, though I’m not entirely sure — it was an open bar during the media preview, which made me super glad I drove there instead of taking public transit.  I did, however, manage to have several free soda waters, so who’s the real winner here?  (please don’t answer that.)

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

They gave everybody nine Bizarre chips, which is worth 30 bucks, and which was enough to get a decent amount of food.  I managed to try a few things.

The first thing I tried (and easily the highlight of the night) was the fried chicken bao: “pimento cheese, bacon onion jam, pickled carrot slaw, bacon onion jam, steam bun.”  It cost five Bizarre chips, or about $16.50, and comes with a side of potato chips.

It was a solid sandwich.  The only real issue (though it was a big one) is that the fried chicken patty was way overcooked, and had clearly been sitting out for a while.  It was tasty, with a nice crispy exterior, but the meat was dry and lukewarm.

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

Everything else was quite good, with the amazing bacon onion jam easily being the star of the show.  It was an absolute taste bonanza, with a perfect combo of sweet and savoury.  I want to buy a big jar of this so I can eat it on everything.

Between the rich pimento cheese, the vinegary bite of the slaw, the spice of the jalapenos, and the sweet/savory combo of the bacon onion jam, it was a great balance of tastes and textures.

The bun was interesting.  It was somewhere between a Chinese bao and a hamburger bun, and was actually quite good.

If the chicken were fresh and not overcooked this would have been a fantastic sandwich, but even as it was it I enjoyed it.

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

Next up: the sushi area was selling a few dim sum classics along with the raw fish.  We tried the har gow (shrimp dumplings) and siu mai (chicken dumplings); each order came with four, and cost three Bizarre chips.

They were both horrifically bad.

The shrimp, I guess, was the better of the two.  It had obviously been sitting in a warming tray for way too long, because the wrapper basically disintegrated in my mouth, and the filling was off-puttingly squishy, with a few rock-hard shrimp bits.  The whole thing was absolute mush through and through (aside from the tiny little shrimp bits).  The flavour was fine, however.

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

The pork, on the other hand, was flat-out disgusting.  It was dry and tough and took a distressingly long time to chew.  And something about the flavour was just off.  I’m not gonna lie: it was barely fit for human consumption.

They’re also hilariously overpriced.  Each order was three chips (or ten dollars in human currency) for four pieces.  That’s more than double what you’ll pay for an infinitely better version of these at literally any dim sum place in the GTA (seriously: they’re the worst version I’ve had of both dishes by far).  So please: do not order these.  They’re bad and they’ll make you feel bad.

There were a handful of other savoury options (pizza, sushi, salad, etc.), but at this point we moved on to dessert.  We only had two Bizarre chips left between the two of us, so we found the one thing in the whole place that cost two (pretty much everything was between three and twelve chips).

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

I can’t remember what it was called and I forgot to take a photo of the menu at this particular area (I’ll bet they’re really glad they invited me to create this quality content), but whatever it was, it was fine.  It was chocolately, with a texture somewhere between a brownie and pudding.  It was a bit too gluey, but it had a nice chocolate flavour and some interesting spices that gave it an almost gingerbread-like taste profile.

There was also an area selling Cheesecake Factory cheesecakes and cupcakes that were free during the media night, so of course I had a slice of cheesecake and a cupcake.

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

This was actually my first time trying the cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory, and it was fine, I guess?  Even by the standards of boxed cheesecake it wasn’t that great (I think President’s Choice is better), but it was cheesecake and I ate it.  It was tasty enough.

The cupcake was about in line with the cheesecake.  There wasn’t anything blatantly wrong with it, but it’s safe to say that the cupcakes at basically any bakery will be tastier.

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

And that was that.  As I mentioned, the whole format isn’t really my thing, and the food wasn’t nearly good enough to make me ever want to come back here again.  But if you’re into nightclubs and you’re also hungry, it’s a thing you could do, I guess?

Amazing Cupcakes at Prairie Girl Bakery

Prairie Girl BakeryLocation: 150 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.prairiegirlbakery.com/

Prairie Girl Bakery might just serve my favourite cupcakes in the city.  There are some other contenders (the Cupcake Shoppe comes to mind), but Prairie Girl is right up there.

Prairie Girl Bakery

I like that they actually have three different sizes — standard, mini, and cutie.  The mini size is absolutely perfect if you’ve just had a big meal and you want something sweet that isn’t going to make you feel completely sick.  It’s still a couple of decent bites’ worth of cupcake, so it’s enough to satisfy, but not so much to make you question the way you’re living your life.

Prairie Girl Bakery

On this particular visit I got the banana peanut butter, which features peanut butter frosting with banana cake.  Not surprisingly, it was great — the cake basically tasted like a lighter, fluffier banana bread.  It had a really distinct banana flavour that worked perfectly with the very creamy peanut butter frosting.

The whole thing was sweet, but with enough of a balance to not be a complete sugar overload.  It’s good stuff.

Delicious Cupcakes and Cookies at Short and Sweet Bakeshop

Short and Sweet BakeshopLocation: 111 Richmond Street West, Toronto (in the Assembly Chef’s Hall)
Websitehttp://shortandsweetcupcakes.ca/

Are you a cake person or a frosting person?  Because the cupcake I had at Short and Sweet is making me doubt myself.  Generally I prefer a cupcake that’s a bit heavier on the cake in the cake-to-frosting ratio, but Short and Sweet goes hard in the other direction.  And yet I quite enjoyed it.

As you can see from the photo of its midsection, between the injected sauce and the icing on top, it’s something like 35 percent cake, and 65 percent sauce and frosting.  It’s pretty intense.

Short and Sweet Bakeshop

I got the Dream Team cupcake, which is a vanilla cupcake that’s been topped with vanilla buttercream and a swirl of caramel and chocolate sauces.  It’s also injected with the aforementioned sauces.   It’s an intense, in-your-face sugar bomb — and yet it somehow isn’t too sweet.  All of the flavours go together so well.

Short and Sweet Bakeshop

It helps that all of the individual components are great — the cake is moist and fluffy, the buttercream is smooth and velvety, and the two sauces are great.  In particular, the rich, dulce-de-leche-esque caramel sauce is absolutely fantastic.  But everything is so sweet, and altogether you’d think it would be way too sweet, but it isn’t.  It works.

Short and Sweet Bakeshop

I also tried the s’mores cookie sandwich, which consists of two above-average chocolate chip cookies encasing a whole bunch of chocolate frosting and marshmallow sauce.

Do I even need to say anything else?  Or does it go without saying that it was delicious?  Because it’s just as good as you’d hope it would be.

Short and Sweet Bakeshop

I should note that it’s incredibly heavy, both figuratively and literally — the thing must weigh like half a pound, so eating this all at once isn’t advisable unless you have a particularly large appetite.  But it’s so, so good.