Anyone who knows me or who reads this site regularly knows my feelings on donairs. Particularly that we don’t have any good ones here in Toronto, and that it’s a crying shame because we do so much to celebrate the street food of other cultures, but we seldom, even within the realm of “local”, celebrate the food of Canada. That goes for all Canadian foods, actually, not just street food, and it’s truly a delight to see restaurants like Keriwa Cafe, and Acadia to some extent (Chef Matt Blondin has a specific niche but there’s definite Canadian influences) and now Hopgood’s Foodliner (325 Roncesvalles Avenue) picking up on Canadian regional cuisine.
Geoff Hopgood has been very quiet about his recent restaurant opening. Few people knew it was even happening until news of the soft opening broke on Twitter and an exclusive with the Globe and Mail’s Chris Nuttal-Smith ran the following day. A website with the most basic info was made in late January, but wasn’t getting indexed by Google as Toronto food freaks desperately searched for more information last Friday.
I seem to have amassed a sizeable collection of photos of recently-eaten meals that I’ve never gotten around to posting. In part to share the food porn love and to clear out my files before year-end, I’ve got a couple of Smörgåsbords for y’all.
Above, the gloriously luxurious foie gras parfait at Splendido where Greg and I spent my birthday in September.
We talk a lot about seasonal, local food, but the ultimate in this type of cuisine has to be the food of the First Nations people, who predate the rest of us by thousands of years. European settlers relied on help from First Nations communities when they arrived in Canada, but a lot of what we look at as being “seasonal and local” really isn’t at all, it’s comprised of foodways that were imported.
Toronto has never had a restaurant featuring Aboriginal cuisine that I’m aware of, so Keriwa Cafe (1690 Queen Street West) has both a clean slate, and a lot to prove. There is little precedent for Aboriginal dishes in fine dining, but can Chef Aaron Joseph Bear Robe make it high-end enough to bring in an upscale clientele (who will “rough it” into the wilderness of Parkdale for the novelty and trendiness factor, but need to be turned into returning regulars to keep the business running), and rustic enough to keep the cuisine true to its roots?