by Steven Doyle
Southern Comfort is no more. In fact, so is Ku Da Ta. Make way for the freshened up Toad in the Hole that is officially open for business located in Southern Comfort’s digs, and weeks before it was actually to open for business. Here you will find the magnificent bars inherited from its former self, but with a much more relaxed vibe. The crowd is as interesting as the cocktails being poured, and the food is reflects the name and has this amazing Brit flavor right down to the house-made HP sauce.
For the kitchen portion of Toad they brought in TK Culinary. For those not familiar, TK is Terry Kranz who has been operating hs own catering business for some years now after working or so long with Kent Rathbun. Kranz brought in another Rathbun alumni, chef Sean Frye who has developed a menu for Toad in the Hole that is fairly remarkable. Think Scotch Eggs wrapped in a made-from-scratch Cumberland sausage and drizzled with a roasted garlic aioli.
Creamy Scotch Eggs
Toad in the Hole
Everything is made in this largish kitchen behind the walls of the front bar. That same sausage is used to make the kicked up bangers and mash, and tucked neatly into the eponymous Toad in the Hole. And that Toad in the Hole is pretty special. For those unfamiliar, the Toad dish is a Yorkshire pudding with the sausage nestled inside and drizzled with an apple cider onion gravy. A Yorkshire pudding is nothing more than an eggy popover that is tender and light.
We had a chance to sample the burger, which we were excited about. This is a double handful of house ground beef laid onto a brioche bun with a double dose of HP sauce. HP is a brown sauce that is a bit piquant, and made with tamarind, malt vinegar, dates tomato and spices. In Britain the sauce is used much like we would use ketchup. It goes on everything. You can get the sauce on the side, or eliminate it altogether if you wish, but it definitely brightens this burger.
Bangers and Mash
Fish and Chips
The ultimate test is always the Fish and Chips. Let us go on record that you will enjoy the fish, which is a beer battered Arctic Cod. For the batter chef Frye uses Newcastle beer which makes the crust ever so light to hold the fish intact while you savor each bite. The chips, which you know are really fries, are thickly cut and creamy inside. They get a little herbed butter treatment for a slight bit more of decadence.
Coming soon will be an assortment of house sausages, charcuterie and cheeses. We are also told Spotted Dick will be added to the menu. Spotted Dick.
Will this menu intrigue our British expat friends? Most likely so.
As for the adjacent space to Toad in the Hole, Ku Da Ta is no more. Very soon you will see the pool and cabana space that was formerly a hang out for the beautiful bikini bunch, a space that was extremely discriminatory on who they allowed in, will now be a more laid back Salt. Salt will have a menu of its own, most likely lighter fare to its Toad counterpart. We were told seafood and other light options are in store. The space will get a makeover, and make better use of its surroundings. In the back of the building is a huge parking lot that will be available for tented private parties.
Chef Sean Frye
There is so much more that awaits that section of Ross Avenue, including an adult playground similar to Truck Yard. We were told some off the record type details, but it will be every bit as fun as you can imagine. There are some other playful bars in the works. One in particular will more than amaze you.
Go check out Toad in the Hole tonight, and keep that section of Ross Avenue on your party radar. Toad in the Hole will be open tonight, and closed for a private party Sunday. After that, expect the new Ross Avenue highlight to be open nightly.