The September Menu: Keriwa Cafe, Toronto

Monday, 10 September 2012

As the fashionistas pore over their fall bibles (also known as the September issue of every major fashion magazine), this foodie has decided to take on a different devout course of study: The September Menu!

Each week I'll be visiting a new restaurant that features a seasonal menu to showcase what's cooking on the streets of Toronto. Am I crazy? I prefer to just say that I'm hungry :) Let's begin! 

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On Friday night, I was lucky enough to celebrate my belated birthday at Keriwa Cafe and the seasonal fresh food and unique flavour combinations did not disappoint!

The dining room is spacious yet cozy, with a long bar and banquette running along one end the room and a small grouping of tables laid out neatly on the other side.


The rustic food at Keriwa is not specifically First Nations, but rather it's inspired by local ingredients and Chef Aaron Joseph Bear Robe's experience growing up on a reserve and cooking in professional kitchens in Alberta and Ontario.

Nevertheless, aboriginal ingredients and heritage grains play a prominent part on the menu offering seasoned diners an opportunity to try something new.

Without further ado, here is what was on our plates that night!


For starters, we selected a butterleaf lettuce salad with red fife, cucumber ribbons, and eggplant and a cantaloupe gazpacho with yoghurt, jalapeno and pumpkin seeds. (The salad is usually served with crackling too, but we opted out since my dining partner had food restrictions.) 


Both dishes did an amazing job at balancing a myriad of different tastes and textures. The salad was refreshingly tangy with large sprigs of dill acting as robust counterpoint to the creaminess of the softboiled egg. 

Similarly, the cantaloupe gazpacho was not melon-sweet as expected, but instead provided a smooth base for the yoghurt, jalapeno, and pumpkin seeds to cool, heat, and crunch. 

Moving onto the mains, my friend chose the smoked chicken with corn, poblano, green beans, and lobster mushrooms...


...while I opted for a bison skirt steak, with bull berries, almonds, kale, and parsley, sitting atop a giant rich pemmican ravioli.



I only grabbed a couple of bites off my friend's dish, but everything was flavourful and working well both independently and in tandem.  

As for my entree, it was like each layer was more delicious than the last! Although most steak plates let a large hunk of meat steal the spotlight, my plate was piled high with healthy sauteed greens, crunchy nuts, and bright red berries.  

The bison came on the pinker side (which I love) and even though I realize an office-worker like myself has no reason to consume large portions of pemmican (historically reserved as a high-energy food for fur-traders and Arctic explorers), I really felt like I could eat that stuff for the rest of my life.  

If you're a meat lover like I am, I would highly recommend this entree for you as it was a true forest feast!

Drinks and desserts unfortunately didn't happen on this visit since we were stuffed by the end, but Keriwa did kindly sending diners into the night with a complimentary pair of mini cinnamon buns. (No photos taken since the buns were pretty standard but a very sweet gesture nonetheless.)

Appetizers on average ranged from $10-15 and mains from $25-30, so don't be afraid to save up and splurge for a special meal or occasion :)  Keriwa Cafe is located in Parkdale near the corner of Queen West and Ronscevalles. 


Happy Monday!



PS - Keriwa's September menu is not currently posted online, but if you'd like to see a copy of it, please let me know and I would happy to send you a pic :)


(Photo 1: Keriwa Cafe, 2-5: Lai Mai Ng)

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