Keriwa Cafe, now
So, in fall Keriwa Cafe changed from a la carte dinners and Sunday brunch to prix-fixe menus in order to give the Chef/owner time with his family. I think the prix-fixe didn't end up being profitable so they've rolled back over to the a carte menu, slightly pared down from its previous iteration and more casual (there's venison kielbasa and a bison burger and only one fish choice for mains). The menu is divided into "Snacks" which are really appetizers, salads and smaller mains ($11-16), "Vegetables" which are really sides ($8-12), and "More" which are really mains ($19-26). They have a beefed up craft beer selection and continue to offer excellent cocktails and a good number of VQA wines by the glass. All good things. BUT.
We arrived for an 8pm reservation at 8:10 (thanks 501) and were seated at the deuce by door. Great, but it was cold, and I wanted to get the feel of the open kitchen and bar, so we asked to move to a different table further back in the room. There were about 4 or 5 deuces that weren't full so we were okay. So we moved. There were two servers doing everything: hostessing, bussing food, bussing drinks, taking orders, etc. Neither one was consistent in visiting our table, and we didn't have drinks until after 8:30pm. We took a while with the menu but ordered by 8:30, and the starters didn't take too long, I would say we had them by 9. The beet salad was good, hearty with hazelnuts and cheese. I had the borscht, which was, I am not exaggerating, at most a half-cup of beet liquid with at most 6 sliced beets and some cabbage and a huge wallop of dill creme fraiche with some seeds and mustard. The flavours were excellent but for $11, I don't want half bowl of soup.
We ordered bread after our starters left, in the past it was comp at Keriwa, but now apparently you have to order it. It's delicious housemade bannock and fine, I'll pay for that. But here's where the trouble started. We had finished our starters and our first drinks. We ordered second drinks because neither the bread nor mains were coming. It was 9:15. The drinks came. Then it was 9:30. No word from servers about the delay. We asked again for the bread and one server said, "it's in the order". I didn't want it WITH my main, I wanted it before! The bread came at about 9:35, then the mains at 9:45. I wasn't hungry anymore, and my Ontario pickerel, a fillet the size of a deck of cards, but half as thin, didn't look appealing. The other flavours on the plate were delicious, succulent and fresh at the same time, as was the side of brussel sprouts (sic) with maple and walnuts. Yummy. But the actual fish was pretty uninspired, and I can have good/great fish for $19 or less lots of places in the city without the 2 hour wait. My partner's bison burger, though TINY, was delicious, so he was happy. After all that, there were no apologies, no comps, and we declined dessert.
I'm sorry to say that I won't return to Keriwa Cafe. I want to support them very much but with my time and money there are so many other meals I can have in the city.