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May 17, 2012 02:21 PM

Gilead Cafe review - The food is EXTRAORDINARY! A must for any foodie!

I had the pleasure of attending an event at this restaurant where we learned the ins and out of pickling and canning with Chef Jamie Kennedy himself in his kitchen! We also had the pleasure of sampling a 4 course meal specially prepared by the chef and his team and let me tell you -the food is unbelievable!

We started out the evening with beer battered Cheddar cheese beignets with mustard pickle – so tangy, crunchy and oozing with cheese, a great amuse bouche!
Next we were served a simple squash soup that was the perfect consistency, not too heavy and very flavourful.

The main course was a roasted, stuffed organic chicken with beer and onion sauce served on a bed of mashed potatoes – now this is comfort food at its best and the perfect pre-Thanksgiving treat! The chicken was cooked perfectly, the onions and beer working perfectly together to make what can only be described as a delicious jus for the chicken and the mashed potatoes… well who doesn’t love mashed potatoes!

The meal was topped of with chocolate mousse served in a vanilla cone with raspberry coulis – heavenly!

I loved the food and the atmosphere – set in a little alley between Eastern and King St E, this place is one of Toronto’s best kept secrets. I can’t wait to go back!

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  1. cute location. crappy "service". long wait times for food. expensive for cafeteria-style atmosphere. occasionally very tasty, sometimes just good but not great.

    I feel like JK's ship sailed a long time ago.

    4 Replies
    1. re: atomeyes

      Exactly my reaction.
      Disappointed the first time, but went back as two visitors wanted to try it.
      They don't want to return either - adequate food at premium prices (considering the in gredients).

      1. re: estufarian

        I third this sentiment. I enjoyed it when it first opened but I happened to go a few months ago and was sadly shocked on how the service went down hill. The staff was inattentive at best. It took nearly 5 minutes of flagging someone so we can get menus.

        Considering we went there for a birthday brunch, it was a big disappointment for the birthday boy.

        1. re: Nevy

          Haven't been there for brunch, but I do like the Gilead Bistro as a pre-Soulpepper theatre alternative to the cartel that runs the Distillery District restaurants. Service at dinner has been attentive and professional and the food has been good if somewhat unexceptional.

          1. re: Nevy

            i've been trying it off and on since it opened.

            i admit that i really dug the manhattan feel of walking down that alley to get to the resto.

            i wish i could remember what happened, but they once really botched up our lunch. it was a relatively unpleasant dining experience. i was on their butts about the food that they had forgotten to bring out. i think they served us our lunch over a 30 minute period (i.e. first lunch dish came out and 30 minutes later, the last came out). no apologies, no "let me remedy that".

            we've been there a few more times for various reasons and, while its a quick drive from our house, we have no desire to go back there. I'd rather hit a place like Beast for brunch instead.

      2. Totally agree! Haven't been in a while, so must go back. I keep forgetting about it because it's off the beaten path.

        13 Replies
        1. re: currycue

          hmmm... in fairness I was there for an event so they have been trying harder. I've been meaning to go again for just a regular dinner - perhaps will get a more realistic experience.

          1. re: Sophiasolange

            My experiences there were with weekend brunch only.

            1. re: currycue

              Yes, the kitchen is slow and the service is barely adequate because they are keeping the prices down by understaffing for peak hours. However, the quality of the ingredients, especially the fresh vegetables in season, is exceptional, and the value is good for what you get. Artisanal food and lovingly grown veggies cost more. Go off-peak, bring a book, and relax even though there are no table cloths. I imagine that for a group event with a fixed menu (no waste, total predictability) they are able to bring in staff and foods to solve the service and speed issues. Look at the poster's menu again. Everything except the deep-fry done in advance, just four items, nothing a la minute. Then look at the usual 20-30 item blackboard for walk-in dining. No wonder the kitchen has to pace itself.

            2. re: Sophiasolange

              I'm confused... the menu, preserving theme and mention of "pre-Thanksgiving treat" all sound like you went there in the fall. Are you posting a late review?
              I've been for post-theatre snacks, and even with a groupon, it was too much money for just OK food for me. Other than the poutine nothing really came together flavour-wise.

              1. re: Sophiasolange

                Saturday June 9 will be your last chance for à-la-carte dinner -- it will be opening in the evening as a "special event venue" thereafter.

                1. re: caviartothegeneral

                  I concur with just about everybody else -- It's a caterer's kitchen, JK is only open because of public pressure.

                  1. re: Dean Tudor

                    JK is good at catering but not good at restaurant. This has been known in the business for decades.

                    1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                      how about wine bars...i still think that was some of the better food you could get at reasonable prices in a great space. went there many times and never a bad experience

                      1. re: downtownfoodie

                        Wines were indeed good.
                        Food - less so - in particular, the open kitchen meant aromas from different dishes wafted across - spoiling the dish I had ordered.

                        1. re: estufarian

                          i always enjoy reading your thoughts but i find it surprising that open kitchens are that big of an issue for you. what about george? perigee? to each their own i guess as some of my favourite meals have been sitting at chef's tables where, forget the danger of mixing aromas, you might get splattered with food as it's being cooked. i admit that JKWB was even more open than most, but I found most of the guys/girls on the line there were happy to explain things as they went...techniques, ingredients etc

                          1. re: downtownfoodie

                            Actually it's a REAL bugbear of mine.
                            Hated Perigee as well.
                            George is way off to the side, so not an issue with me.
                            I had a longish discussion with Grant Achatz (of Alinea) about his 'burning leaves' dish (and lavender pillow) - having burning leaves wafting by a half dozen times destroyed the dishes I was supposed to be enjoying (aromatics are extremely important to me - maybe because I originally came to finer dining from the wine side).
                            Having said that, my best meal this year (so far) was at Momofuku Ko - essentially a single counter - however, there most everybody gets their dishes almost simultaneously.
                            And the smell of bacon goes with everything!

                            1. re: estufarian

                              fair...two of my meals at george were at the "chef's table" that sits in the corner of the dining room that almost juts into the kitchen. that's a shame you didn't enjoy is still near the top of my list of favourite dinners in toronto (2 of my top ten dishes of all time coming out of the same restaurant)

                              my gf is a sommelier and enjoys the kitchen table experience as well but i can certainly appreciate why you feel that way...different strokes for different folks :D

                  2. re: caviartothegeneral

                    Interesting.. Guess there is probably a niche for a smaller type of space for events... Wish him well.