February 4, 2012

Last weekend while in Toronto I got to visit some great restaurants, but my favourite was Bannock.

Bannock is located on the corner of Queen and Bay in Downtown Toronto and has actually carved out space from The Bay next door. I passed it while on the streetcar, and the graphics immediately caught my eye. I had put it on my potential hit list for my visit, since someone had instagrammed an image from the restaurant a week prior to my trip, and I was intrigued.

The restaurant's focus is on Canadian comfort food. Here's how it's described on their website:

Bannock’s honest approach to food is rooted in familiar, wholesome ingredients that are reflective of Canada’s rich regional and cultural diversity, delivered in an innovative and playful way. Everyday classics are revitalized as the Chefs pay homage to traditional Canadian comfort foods, putting our cultural favourites front and centre.

The menu is also surprisingly affordable. Everything was well priced considering the quality of the food.

I started with the soup special of the day, which was a Cream of Field Mushroom soup. It was perfect for the cold blustery day outside.

Choosing a main was difficult, as there were so many great choices on the menu. In the end I went with my first instinct, which was the Pickerel Taco with Cucumber Apple Salad. The taco was served on a steamed bun and featured pickled rutabaga and caviar tartar. The tacos were awesome. I could have eaten twelve. The salad was a bit lame. My recommendation would be to substitute the salad with another taco. And the presentation on the plate was a bit lacklustre.

To finish, I had the Canoe Fireweed Butter Tart. Since they make the tart with honey rather than sugar, the centre is more liquid than a typical butter tart. It was delicious and was served with a berry compote. It paired excellently with my Earl Grey tea.

The room was nicely outfitted but didn't blow me away. Although I am so over the barnboard thing, it did make sense in a Canadian restaurant. Maybe they could have tried something different with the application. The antique wood is actually reclaimed from one of the Queen's warfs that was submerged in Lake Ontario for the past 100 years. So that's cool.

My favorite feature was the brown wool blankets that were rolled up to act as a window treatment. You can just see them in these pictures.

Here's the view from inside the Bay. The restaurant is actually a joint venture between The Bay and the restauranteur, and this location is hopefully the first in a chain of locations to open in Bay stores nationwide. The best news is that the first city they are hoping to expand to is Calgary!

I also have to mention my server, Marcel, who was absolutely fantastic. He had such enthusiasm for the food and made for a very pleasant visit.

So next time you are in Toronto, I highly recommend a visit. Or maybe it will be coming to your city soon.


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