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Lunch at JK Gardiner - review

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I had lunch at Jamie Kennedy's spot on the third floor of the Gardiner Museum on Friday. Party of 2, managed to get a reservation the day before for 2pm. Most tables were busy in the street-side half of the resto, and about half of the other side. Not too busy, but definitely hopping - it took us a while to get water, etc, but otherwise the service was courteous and quick.

The menu isn't huge, and is a nice mix of salads, app-stye seafood stuff, and bigger mains like burgers and sandwiches. All the items have a paired wine which can be ordered by the 3 oz, 6 oz, 1/2 litre and bottle. Prices range from $8 for a small soup or salad to $18 for a full lamb chop or seafood dish. The room is lovely at mid-day, with a nice view, lots of light, and simple tables nicely spaced out so one doesn't feel crowded cafeteria style. Plus, it has pretty much the fanciest bathrooms I've seen since Boiler House.

The food! The spread that come with the artisan bread, to start, is divine - cumin spiced and chickpea based I think. My friend and I split the beet salad with mustard green that very tart and lovely. My friend had the smoked salmon, which really was a app sized portion. She said it was nice though. I had the signature hopper dish, which they describe as a mild Sri Lankan curry, with the halibut filet. It comes with a dosa/injera-like bread lining the bowl, then a veggie curry on top, then the halibut on top, also treated in the curry sauce, and it came with a platter of haka-style condiments to sprinkle on top (ala Saravanaa Bhavan). Stunning, stunning, stunning. Such complexity of flavour, paired perfectly with a Malivoire Gewurtz.

I can't say enough about the overall experience and the quality of the food. I really appreciate the attention to Ontario wines, in particular. All told, came to $70 with tax and tip for one salad, two 3oz glasses of wine, the smoked salmon dish and the hopper. For a lovely lunch in mid-town, well worth it!

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    Jamie Kennedy Gardiner
    111 Queens Park, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

    1. What a great review, LemonLauren! Thanks for providing so much detail and, well, passion! Will def give JK a try.

      And the bathrooms too.

      1. Thanks for the review. I've seen the space during Nuit Blanche, but haven't had a chance to drop by for lunch. Hopefully that can be remedied soon.

        1 Reply
        1. re: xtal

          Yes thanks LL, great review. Based on your post, I have now bumped it up the list. Hope to try for lunch very soon. Happy new year.

        2. one more thing i should mention is that my friend was wearing jeans, and i khakis, and we didn't feel out of place at all. there's no snob factor,which is nice.

          1. Thanks for the review - was pondering trying JK @ Gardiner for lunch sometime - this review sealed the deal for me.

            I have a side question: if we only want to go for lunch, do we have to pay to get in the museum or is there a separate entrance to the restaurant?

            1 Reply
            1. re: led2

              you don't have to pay for the musume if you're there for the restaurant.

              the spread that comes with the bread is absolutely divine, i agree. it was a pickled beet spread when i went in the summer and it was delicious.

              the frites were great too!