The Tallest Poppy
Neighbourhood: West Broadway
Address: 103 Sherbrook St
When The Tallest Poppy opened its Sherbrook St location in late September, line ups stretched out the door. Now, months later, the eagerly anticipated eatery is still in hot demand, satiating its loyal following with plate after plate of a hearty, housemade blend of local favourites and comforts borrowed from the deep South.
Originally a tiny morning spot on North Main, the cozy restaurant led by Talia Syrie has blossomed in its new location in the Sherbrook Inn to include lunch and dinner options as well as several more tables.
Hearty breakfasts are carried over from the previous location, many accompanied by a personal gravy boat. Even the most ardent green smoothie supporters will be wooed into indulging in a spread unapologetically packed with eggs, cheese, fried foods, and bacon. Buttermilk-fried chicken and waffles is savoury and sweet with a drizzle of maple syrup, the chicken a stand out for its tender steaming meat and crackling, well-seasoned crust.
The lunch menu bursts with sandwiches, burgers, and soups with wide appeal. In the suddenly sharp competition on Sherbrook Street for tastiest sandwich (those in the ring include Stella’s, Boon Burger, and newly opened Sherbrook St Deli), Syrie holds her own with succulent and tender beef brisket piled with tomato and horseradish aioli on thick cut bread.
The space itself is equal parts living room and gallery. Paintings by local artists, wall-sized murals, and a colourful tiled ceiling reminiscent of Mondrian are thrown into the mix with mismatched chairs and decorative antiques that transform this pre-loved, hard living space.
The penchant for soul food is clear on the dinner menu, which radiates comfort. Brisket and crispy fried chicken make an appearance in entrée form, as do Southern styled cornbread-topped tamale pie and roasted ham served with baked beans.
Bison meat loaf blends this homestyle cooking with local flavour. Beautifully juicy, thick slices come drizzled in rich signature gravy, with a boatload more on the side. A bean and pepper loaded sausage stew, served over rice, riffs on jambolaya, hitting all the right smoky notes.
Swoon-worthy collard greens, rarely seen this far North, are perfectly prepared, the sour, tangy notes of the greens balanced by salty cubes of pork.
A seductive glass dessert case is loaded with oft-changing varieties of pie, like mellow sweet potato, shot through with brown sugar and cinnamon. The perfect end to a hearty, homestyle meal, a generously cut slice imparts the happily overstuffed feeling that signals good hospitality.