My first visit to The Wilcox gastropub in Mississauga, Ont., came in 2015. At the time, I was impressed with the kitchen’s contemporary spin on pub fare. A recent visit, however, showed a confident kitchen that has evolved in exciting ways, bringing a sophisticated global influence to its food.
Case in point: Feather-light croquettes (essentially a deep-fried fritter) stuffed with Korean kimchi and topped with a translucent slice of melt-in-the-mouth raw yellowfin tuna accessorized with a dab of spicy XO sauce and smoked aioli. A knockout!
Another case in point: Albacore tuna paired with jalapeno salsa, its quietly subtle heat melding perfectly with kicked-up lime-based marinade, crispy shallots and cilantro oil to animate the slices of buttery fish. Another knockout!
And good news: The menu still features the kitchen’s brilliant take on a pub classic, a pillowy soft-boiled egg wrapped in deftly spiced pork sausage and complemented by spicy tomato jam. This is the best Scotch egg I’ve encountered, period.
Chunks of mahi-mahi along with jicama slaw, poblano cream, pico de gallo and tomato are stuffed into soft tortillas in three generous and satisfying tacos.
Among mains, there’s moist grilled duck leg confit paired with a succotash of diced chorizo sausage, corn and lima beans, the whole complemented by passionfruit sauce. The kitchen also does a clever Korean take on lasagna built on pork Bolognese, cardamom-perfumed béchamel and kimchi-spiked tomato sauce.
To finish, there’s a Spanish version of French toast anchored by huge slices of thick-cut, cinnamon-dusted brioche drizzled with anise-scented syrup and partnered with housemade maple ice cream. Poached rhubarb accompanies understated strawberry mouse.
The bright, multilevel room, done up in a clever contemporary Canadian theme (earth tones, tree trunks, antler-themed fixtures), is hugely inviting and attracts a crowd early in the evening.
Seating 100 people, the indoor restaurant is available for buyout, which can also include another 60 seats on the patio. An upstairs private room seats 50.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 30 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,300 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.