So, like all things media related, the protests and protesters are grossly over reported. Nor is it anywhere near Pidgeon Park. And we walked out of the DTES without a peep.
The place is good...a work in progress and a ways to go before I'd slap an unvarnished recommendation but good with hope for the future, having eaten our way through 1/2 the menu over a pleasant 3h decompression dinner with a good friend.
There were some highlights: The rice cake with tomato, pork belly and furiake was a real winner...a true example of where fusion (in this case Japan/Italian) works with the rice cake like a rice gnocchi. The beef tongue and cheek needs work but a generally very good dish with an upside for future visits. The soy mushrooms with poached eggs was an excellent and attractive starter but the beef tataki needs work in presentation (Gruyere, potato crumbs, beef carpaccio, unagi) to bring out too many subtle flavours. The calamari yakiudon style needs work but the calamari itself was excellent (not rubbery but dense) although it is blatant cheating if you need a dollop of bacon to save the dish.
Some spiffy cocktails and the right ingredients, including the Botanist gin on offer. There were a couple of good cocktails, especially the Asian-y Deighton with Bulleit bourbon and the Van Horne gin and fizzy jasmine tea (awesome CPRailway reference!) which fixes a lot, as does the pleasant and open staff, who addressed openly and encouragingly, defiantly, the protesters and their misguided efforts.
The room is noisy, but with a pleasantly low hipster-ia quotient. Pidgin is an earnest place worth supporting, with some upbeat hope and optimism, something that this town needs to embrace for more than as a bastion against PC madness.