- ingloriouseater Jun 24, 2011 06:55 AM
It hasn't opened yet but....as of last night....
very very soon, they put the address above the door yesterday and the actual sign is lit up....when i peeked in last night it looked like they needed to do some organizing and last minutes stuff, so maybe this weekend-i hope, at least for a soft launch...
it is a nice room with nice people working....still learning....good start and i am sure it will grow stronger. food was ok, out of some things, not paired with sides as listed on the menu....still learning but i will give them a go in a month or so-once they have ironed out the small stuff
I was fortunate enough to be taken there last night and had one of the most unforgettable meals ever.
The room itself is really lovely. I will admit, I found it a bit loud but I am a bit more sensitive to sound than some. For the quality of the food I found the prices pretty fair. Apps were in the $10-$16 range and mains were under $30. Washrooms were really nice with fun design to them.
Service was attentive and careful. When we asked for ice tea we were initially advised they didn't have it but then the bar offered to make it fresh for us. After the table was cleared the crumbs were deftly removed from the table. It was a small touch, but one that too many restaus neglect.
Appetizers were smoked whitefish fritters and the pemmican with frybread. The pemmican was INCREDIBLE. More like a braised beef with Saskatoon berries and a really amazing fry bread. I would go back for this dish alone. The fritters were coated in almost a cornmeal type crust and served with a really beautiful sauce.
The main for me was pheasant with sunchokes, plum and corn. Again beautifully cooked and really lovely presentation. My dining companions had bison which looked lovely. It comes automatically quite rare. We split an order of the beans with a brown butter hollandaise. And yes, it was even better than it sounded!
The dessert selection was small. Choice was apple pie, plum cake or a cheese platter. We shared the plum cake. Really interesting spicing that I couldn't quite place. Reminded us a bit of Christmas though. The really nice touch was the bag with a cinnamon bun that everyone was given to take home. It was delicious and again a really lovely touch.
I am already looking forward to going back! Based on one of the earlier reviews that was concerned on growing pains, I think Keriwa has managed to hit its stride and is a great addition to the culinary landscape.
I had the pleasure of dining there last night. This place is definitely a winner. I like the atmosphere which, yes, is a little loud and the food is fabulous. I had the pickerel and a bite of a dining companion's bison brisket that were both outstanding. The brisket was marvelously spiced with, I believe, cardomom. Delicious!
Really excellent place. I went with a bunch of friends last night and tried the entire menu. Every dish was good to great, which is a real rarity. The chef has really mastered the art of balancing flavours and each dish had it's own flavour profile, though there was some nice repeating notes from the bullberries and cardamom. The December menu is full of comfort food (see below).
Standouts for me were the borscht (and I hate beets, so go figure), the bison pierogies (give me a dozen, please), the pork belly (chanterelles!), the pickerel (great quinoa crust), the bison brisket and the surprise of the night was the totally delicious roast turkey with stuffing. Oh, and the duck fat potatoes in the roasted veg salad kinda rocked my world.
The surprise winner in the dessert category was the sorbet trio. Last night was concord grape, bullberry and honeydew melon. The texture of the concord grape and the bullberry was so smooth and the flavours were deep and lovely. The honeydew was a bit icier, but I personally like that. The honeydew was super refreshing and would make a perfect palate cleanser between courses.
The only weak point in the whole night for me was the chocolate beet cake. I thought the texture was off -- a bit tough (we thought maybe overworked in the mixer?) and the beet combination didn't do anything for me. But I hate beets, so...
The service was friendly and very tolerant of our boisterous table. My cocktail (the Parkdale Pusher) was delicious. The room has a really nice feel to it, though as with so many restaurants today, the lack of soft surfaces makes for a loud atmosphere (not as loud as many, though).
I'm looking forward to going back, though I wish it were more centrally located downtown. Parkdale residents are totally lucky to have this as a neighbourhood place.
Keriwa's December menu:
DAILY OYSTERS (malpeques and one other that I can't recall)
MUSTARD GREENS SALAD PEAR, PARSNIP, CARDAMOM
ROASTED VEGETABLE SALAD DUCK CONFIT POTATO, SUNCHOKE, LEEK, BROWN BUTTER
CONFIT PORK BELLY, WHITEFISH DUMPLING, CHANTERELLES, BUTTERMILK, BACON BROTH
BISON PEMMICAN PIEROGIES, SASKATOON BERRIES, CELERIAC, CREME FRAICHE
BORSCHT, BRAISED CABBAGE, RED FIFE, CREME FRAICHE
SMOKED RAINBOW TROUT, RED FIFE BERRIES, PICKLED PEACH, ADOBO
PICKEREL, RUTABAGA, CARROT, TURNIP, QUINOA
TURKEY BREAST, STUFFING, BULLBERRY, PARSLEY, WALNUTS
BISON BRISKET, APPLE, PUMPKIN SEEDS, KALE
PORK SHOULDER, RED CABBAGE, CELERIAC, SQUASH, ELDERBERRIES
MINCEMEAT PIE, APPLE, PEAR, CRANBERRY, VANILLA ICE CREAM
CHOCOLATE BEET CAKE, COCOA, CANDIED BEETS, BULLBERRY SORBET
Oh! I can't neglect to mention the amazing bread plate that we started with. House made red fife bread that had the perfect texture and flavour -- a little chew, but with a dense, tender crumb and just a bit sour with a slight hint of sweetness. It was served with a spiced, whipped Berkshire pork fat and smoke grey sea salt (that they smoke in house, as well). There was butter, too, but seriously, with whipped pork fat in front of you, why would you want butter? I could have eaten a LOT of that bread and fat, but held myself back for the rest of the dinner.
A couple of comments to add to what TJo said:
The strength in the kitchen seems to be a great grasp of flavor combinations and balance. Nothing was too sweet, or too salty or too sour or too anything, but all of the flavors had depth and complexity and complimented each other well.
The best example of keeping things in check was probably the caramelized squash that came with the pork -- that dish is often way over-sweetened, but it was really nicely done here. Sweet without being too sweet and with a great texture to the squash.
The best flavor balance was probably in the roasted vegetable salad -- it was just a series of great flavors that blended well.
If there's a weak spot, other than the desserts which were kinda eh (though as much because neither dessert was something I like as because they were bad), it's that some of the dishes were a little overdone. In particular, our second go round on the pickerel, and the pork shoulder. Not disastrously so, just 'could have come off the heat a little sooner'.
I also loved the bread -- it was really great bread, and I would happily eat loaves of it. I didn't so much love the spicing on the pork fat, so I did eat the butter. I also really loved the cookie that came with the sorbet trio. It was like the most perfect little chocolate chip cookie ever. I assume they bake them in house, since they said they make their own bread, but damn I want to buy them by the dozen and then eat the whole dozen.
If I had to pick a standout dish, I'd say the Turkey, for sure. It was beautiful, and tasty, and both the dark and white meat were well cooked, and the bits of crispy skin were unbelievably good.
Loved those pierogies enough to order another batch for dessert. Yum. Agreed with the pickerel and turkey as highlights. I think the other oysters we had were caraquet from New Brunswick. Service was great. Nice gesture with the next morning cinnamon buns. Will definitely return for another outing.
Went to Keriwa Cafe last night and had a fantastic meal. Great flavours, interesting dishes and friendly service.
Almost all of the meal was very good, but there were a few things that stood out as negative - suprising given all of the rave reviews the place has received. Nothing that will keep me from going back however - in fact I'm already thinking that I need to try their brunch, and then arrange to take some friends for dinner.
Anyhow - here is my review:
Atomosphere - The smell of smoke hits you as soon as you enter and for me it feels comfortable and homey. Others may find it too strong of a smoke smell. The room is lovely with all of the wood, and light, and it's easy to feel right at home.
Drinks - I'm not really a wine drinker so I asked what non alcoholic alternatives they had. I was hoping for maybe an interesting iced tea, or a juice based drink or something - but all they had were standard soft drinks, and cranberry or orange juice. Not a huge deal, so I had a soda. Although I wish overall that restaurants would start to provide more options than just beer or wine.
Bread - Yummy! Amazing earthyness, and chewy and crunchy texture. The whipped pork fat definitely benefitted from a good dose of the smoked sea salt that they include. Otherwise it was somewhat bland.
Starter - I had the pork belly starter that comes in a bacon broth with a white fish dumpling, and a dill buttermilk sauce. Amazing! One of the highlights of the night. My first few bites of just the pork belly in the bacon broth were pure porky heaven - but as the buttermilk dill sauce got mixed in and I had a bite with the whitefish dumpling it took it to a whole other level of delicious. It's a good thing they give you a spoon with this course because you will want to scoop up every last bit. The one complaint I would have about the starter was they it also had small black chanterelle mushrooms and I didn't feel like they added much flavour. Worse - they were gritty, which really puts you off. And it wasn't just one mushroom that was gritty, I gave a spoonful to my partner without mentioning the grit and he immediately said - 'yummy but gritty'. My partner had the bison perogies that he really enjoyed and the bite that I tried were awesome.
Mains - I went for the turkey with stuffing served with parsnip puree, bulberries, parsley and walnuts. The flavours were holiday inspired for sure, but the unique ingredients took it to a new level. The bulberries comned with the parsley and walnuts with the turkey was an amazing combination. I may never be able to eat turkey with plain old cranberry again. The turkey was all breast meat, and they also included a piece of duck confit that had been crisped up. I have to say the duck was the best flavoured meat on the plate, even though it was a bit dry and stringy. The turkey just didn't seem to have a lot of turkey flavour. It was moist and tender and went well with the stuffing, but it didn't seem to stand on it's own. No crispy turkey skin to be found on the plate either. It was a very good plate of food, I enjoyed every moment - but it wasn't amazing either. My partner had the bison brisket served with apples and a romesco sauce. It was very tasty, good flavours, tender meat that had a nice gameyness to it. But he also had two big chunks of floppy fat that he left in his bowl. Shouldn't that have been trimmed off?
Desserts - I had the beet chocolate cake and I loved it. It was a square of cake served on top of a bed of small cubes of sweet pickled beets, also came with some bulberry ice cream. The dessert was a very homey taste and I thought the combination was fantastic. The bulberry ice cream was tasty as well - but I'm not sure that it added anything to the beet and chocolate cake combo other than a refreshing way to clear your palate after the intense cake and beet combo. I definitely want to go back for more of the cake and beets!
My partner had the sorbet trio and seemed to enjoy it. I was getting so full by this point that I didn't bother to try it.
Cost- the total for 2 starters, 2 mains and 2 desserts with soft drinks, no wine was 150 including tax and tip. Not bad for a fun night out!
Has anyone else been recently? Other reports?
Just went back last night for my third dinner. Another excellent meal. It was a first visit for our friends and they loved it. The current menu is the same as the December menu. The next new menu will come out Feb. 1.
I wish they were more centrally located so I could visit more often. It's just got a lovely vibe and I've enjoyed all my meals there.
Got myself out to Keriwa on saturday for dinner around 8 pm. We arrived in perfect time for our reservation and were "greeted" by the hostess who seemed to take about 10 minutes to locate my name on the reservation list. She never smiled, or spoke really, and when I requested a table that was not right beside the door (it was drafty, and there were plenty of empty tables), she did not offer any type of pleasant reply, but rather, just spent another few moments looking back and forth at the seating chart, and at the available tables. Back and forth. Back and forth. And then finally showed us to our seats, again silently. Hm, okay then. Our server was at least pleasant, though not particularly personable. We like it when servers can joke a little bit, or make conversation, or give some more detailed information about offerings. In short, the service was fine, but nothing more.
Okay, onto the [very] good news - the food.
I didn't take a photo but they served us a beautiful red fife (house made) bread with unsalted butter, salt, and smoked pork fat. I would LOVE a pot of that pork fat for home. It was deliciously smokey and smooth on the bread, and I could just imagine how nice it would be for cooking.
Roasted Mushroom Salad with Shallot, parsnip, red fife crouton, poached egg- Delicious parsnip puree that added a hint of sweetness to the very savoury mushrooms and egg.
Confit Pork Belly, Red fife fry bread, maple, chili, spruce shoot, pickles- This was for sure the best dish I have had this year, maybe best dish I have had in Toronto ever. MAYBE one of my top dishes I have tasted of all time. The pork belly was perfectly crispy, with no unrendered fatty bits. The aoli type sauce was sweet and spicy. The crunchy shoot and pickle salad really helped cut the richness of the pork. But nothing could beat the delicious fry bread. It was like a savoury doughnut that was fluffy on the inside, crunchy on the outside from a nice sprinkle of coarse salt, and still warm from the fryer. We asked if they could sell us a couple bags full (and we were very serious), but they only had enough for service. Next time I am in the area I am absolutely going to call them ahead to make arrangements for this.
Duck Breast, Butternut squash, whitebeans, hazelnut: A perfectly cooked tender duck breast that sat on a bed of deliciously sweet and spiced butternut squash. The beans were a tad too al dente for my liking, but that could be personal preference. I also loved the hazelnut fruit preserve-type accompaniment that garnished the duck. It gave that sweet element that I love with in sauces for duck, but also a really nice texture contrast.
Bison Brisket Bullberry, rapini, sunchoke, barley- Having had my fair share of tough bison (it is just so lean!),I was skeptical how they could pull of a tender bison brisket, but I was pleasantly surprised. I loved the bison with the sweet bulberry sauce, and the barley's nuttiness was a satisfying accompaniment.
Spiced Crème Brulee, Sultana raisin, gingersnap cookie- This was a much better creme brulee than the one I tried last weekend at Le Select. They used a nice shallow dish, and thus had more surface area of burnt sugar. The raisins burst with freshness, and the custard itself was flawless. It had all of those winter baking flavours that I associate with the holidays. Very aromatic.
House Baked Cinnamon Buns- When the bill came, a sweet little brown bag also made its way to the table filled with two good-sized house baked cinnamon buns for us to take home. It wasn't the fry bread I so badly wanted, but it was pretty good. The buns were soft on the inside, and flaky on the outside. I would have definitely liked more of that gooey filling you get in cinnamon buns, but hey, these were free so I guess I can't complain!
So for 2 apps, 2 mains, 1 dessert, 1 cocktail, 1 glass of wine and a [really good] cappuccino, the bill came to 175$ including tax and tip. I say a really great deal considering its been one of my most memorable meals in the city in a long time. It is quite a trek for us out to the west end, but I would do it again in a heart beat for another bite of fry bread. Can-not-wait.
Given the chef's experience, the positive reviews, and that it was something different from a regular bistro, namely an Aboriginal cafe, I had some expectations. We were seated and there was no place to hang our coats, or at least none that was offered or in view. The room was nice and smelled of wood smoke. Bathrooms were even nicer. My heart kind of sank when I saw the menu. Having 6 apps and 4 mains was fine for me since I was happy with the choices. 2 desserts with one of them being a molasses polenta, which may quite possibly is the best thing in the world, meant that there was really only one choice, the apple galette. Wine choices was even worse, 3 whites and 3 reds by the glass, a very limited number of bottles and only two beers. We settled on a bottle of wine, the soup, bison pemmican dumplings app, chicken main and the pork shoulder main.
The bread with the whipped pork fat was excellent. The pork fat was spiced but still managed to have some pork flavour. All the plates were well presented. The potato soup was good, a little sweet, but nothing special. My pemmican dish came with 2 dumplings in a broth, shaved carrot, pickles, pickled cabbage, and shaved bison. I like tart, sour foods but I found this dish vinegary. The problem was the broth with mustard seeds was tart and when combined with the other pickles, it was too much. I also didn't get the point of the broth, it wasn't like anything was dry and if something was you still had two quarter pieces of (Stubbs ?) pickles. The bread dumplings were tasty from the spicing but the amount of braised bison in each amounted to maybe half a teaspoon. The two thin slices of bison were fridge cold on an otherwise hot dish. Not much point in drinking wine with this type of dish.
I didn't taste the chicken dish but the amount of chicken was visibly small, maybe 3 oz. I was told the dish was fine but nothing special. The pork shoulder was a little more generous and came with sweet spiced cabbage, creamy celeriac puree, large pieces of parsley, matchstick cut apple and and walnuts. The pork was braised with molasses and lacking pork flavour. If the shoulder had been oven roasted and with crackling, it would have stood up better to the supporting elements, as such it was a little lost.
Cheese, a sorbet trio, and chocolate truffles were also available. We both settled on the apple dessert which I thought was excellent. Nicely cooked apples with a little bite left in them, flaky pastry and the right amount of cardamon. My girlfriend thought the cardamon was little too much, I obviously disagreed and it was much better balance than the apple dessert with cardamon I had at Frank AGO a week earlier.
Service was efficient and there were no awkward waits for food. A brown bag with two cinnamon buns was brought with the bill, a nice touch. The total for 2 apps, 2 mains, 2 desserts, a $55 bottle of wine and a tea was $180 before tip. Given that it was mostly misses and that the ingredients were all inexpensive, I don't really consider this a deal. I'm glad that Toronto has an Aboriginal cafe, which on paper sounds good, and granted I know nothing about Aboriginal foods, but this restaurant struck me as like any other bistro. I doubt I'll be back.
I also found it a bit more expensive than anticipated. However, the food was good enough that I returned several times.
But now that the 'novelty' has worn off, I find the menu is a little too similar - I understand the small menu, but after having the same (or similar) dishes each time (because of the few choices) has meant that it has fallen way down the list of places I go.
I just don't see the 'value' - although I'd still take 'out-of-towners' there - once!
We went last night for the first time. Service was friendly and fairly attentive - our table was wiped off several times.
The menu has changed a bit since the last posts above, although there were some similarities. In general we were impressed with the flavours, the ingredients, and the combinations. Portions were on the smaller side so we each ordered two appetizers, a main, and a dessert and were full afterwards. Cost of that plus one beer and coffee was $190 including tax and tip.
We started with delicious red fife sourdough bread, accompanied by smoked salt, butter, and Berkshire pork fat whipped with various spices. We would have easily eaten a full loaf if it was presented to us - tasty, dense, and a bit chewy.
We then had a half dozen oysters - 3 Malpeques and 3 from New Brunswick. The accompaniments were fresh horseradish, lemon, a rhubarb mignonette, and a smoky chili paste redolent with cinnamon. We also had a delicious mushroom soup (non-cream). My wife would have liked more mushrooms, but I really liked the rich, sweet broth and the mixture of greens and mushrooms. We both really liked the agnolotti filled with creme fraiche that came in the soup.
The best appetizer was the bison tongue pemmican on red fife fry bread - tender meat with elderberries and pea shoots. The other one we had was a riff on chawanmushi, so we were told. It was an egg custard topped with pickled leeks, bull kelp, and cold smoked whitefish. This dish needed a bit more work. The custard was bland and the fish was quite salty. If the fish had been cooked in the custard, some of the flavour and saltiness might have been better distributed.
One main we had was bison tenderloin, cooked a ruby rare, served with a saskatoon berry sauce, asparagus, pureed smoked eggplant, and bannock stuffed with pemmican. Great all the way. The other was rainbow trout, with crispy skin, with a nice sweet medley of herbs and greens.
Dessert featured a chocolate cake with saskatoons and some ice cream. It was a bit dry and needed more chocolate flavour. The other was a pavlova, with rhubarb and creme fraiche. This was more successful.
So we were quite happy with our meal overall. Worth a return trip.
Any recent comments from CHer on this place? Ingloriouseater's comments make me very hesitant to go now... That does not sound good at all.... I could understand at the end of a night, but, at the start of one??
I was planning to go in a few weeks to celebrate birthdays for what has become a "once a year" event.. I am treating some family and I want them to really enjoy the meal and have something different....
go, enjoy and experience and decide for yourself..hopefully you won't suffer the same fate as we did. many others seem to enjoy it. i sooooo wanted to love it-my spouse is of aboriginal heritage and it so very close to home but alas we have been let down to many times to bother trying it again.
Thanks, because in the meantime I also saw a Yelp review that said that they tend not to have all of the menu items during the week or substituted out other items and were keeping the ingredients to use on the weekend.... Anyway, I will give the place a shot still and post about my experiences in a few weeks.
A follow up on my previous post. I did end up going last night and enjoyed my meal as did my guests. One of them was late so we started with 1/2 oz portion of the cheese on their cheese platter. Served with Red Fife cracker made in house.
For apps we shared (copy and pasted from online menu, sorry for Caps!):
BISON CLOD TENDERLOIN - HOPS, RICOTTA, SPRUCE SHOOT
GARDEN GREENS SALAD - SUMMER HERBS, KOHLRABI, SASKATOON, CANOLA SEED
Both delicious, one of my guests wasn't a fan of bison before but really liked the flavour of the app. There were a lot of things in there that my guests hadn't had before (like Kohlrabi) and a few things that I hadn't tried before (like canola seeds)
For mains the table had ordered Pikerel, Bison Skirt Steak and Pork Loin. All very good. My dish was the bison skirt steak. It was served in an unusual way though, in a bowl with a broth in the bottom with the potatoes,etc. I wasn't expecting that but enjoyed the dish. I had tastes of the fish and the pork loin as well and nice flavour on both.
For dessert the table shared an order of the sorbets of the day. Plum, Crabapple and Elderberry (I think... forget the 3rd, some kind of berry). I really loved the crabapple one. I think I will try making sorbets more often. We also has an order of the butterscotch tart which was served with Lavender ice cream. I had made a lavender ice cream before so it wasn't unusual to me as a flavour but I thought their version was delicious. The tart was really nice too with a bit of maldon sea salt on top.
Service was generally excellent. Cleaning off table, re-folding napkins when someone went to the washroom, checking in on us at the right time. There was a little bit of mix up with one of my guests lattes (she found it to be lukewarm) and she asked about it but the server didn't seem to acknowledge it. I want to believe that the server didn't understand or got distracted because overall he was very good.
Overall I would go back but since I have a long list of places I want to try it might be a while before I make it back :) Most likely if I had a visitor in town I would bring him/her because I did find the food and use of ingredients pretty unique and interesting flavours all around.
Went to Keriwa with a friend tonight. The ambiance was lovely - subdued but with a nice bar and a lovely smell of wood smoke. The food was fantastic - rainbow trout seviche and pork belly confit starters were fresh, innovative and extremely well seasoned. The bison skirt steak main which was also served on a bison ravioli was amazing. Dessert - a sorbet trio - was phenomenal with a trio of peach, saskatoon berry and elderberry sorbets. Red fife bread was on offer as well - so good. In short, probably the best meal I've had in Toronto this year. What marred the evening was the service. While most of the other staff were lovely, our principal waitress was graceless and at times rude, when she wasn't ignoring us. We had to flag her down to order as she was generally preoccupied with not looking at us in a resto that was only 2/3 full. She was sometimes friendly, but had no clue how to interact with customers. For example, when we asked her about whether we needed to say how we wanted the bison cooked (not too familiar with skirt steak), she said "no, we decide that" and walked away. Uh, ok. (Lucky for them it was perfect) But the weird service went on from there. She really ruined our evening when she was around, although happily another waitress often stepped in. On top of it all, when we went to pay the restaurant refused to accept our Opentable dining reward cheque - the same waitress dropped it back on the table saying that they had not agreed to participate in that aspect of the Opentable program and flatly stated "we refuse to accept this". Pretty embarrassing, particularly since all restos that are part of OT are required to accept them. Aside from the service, my only other quibble is that the wine list is all Ontario, too short, and in my view overpriced. I have complained to Opentable about the dining cheque situation.
I was there last night and experienced the same bizarre, nearly hostile service. I tried to give the server the benefit of the doubt - we all have off days - but if this is a pattern of behaviour,, she may not be tempermentally suited to serving. We enjoyed the food so much, though, that we'll try the place again, if only for another taste of the sublime pork belly and the Red Fife bread.
Actually, come to think of it, there was one misstep from the kitchen. Our oysters came to the table at room temperature - has anyone else experienced that? I can't remember ever being served room temperature/warm raw oysters.