Keriwa Cafe


What? Keriwa Cafe for dinner
Where? 1690 Queen st w (505 from Dundas west station // 501 Queen streetcar)
Price? $30-$60
The skinny: Chef and owner Aaron Joseph Bear Robe's Keriwa Cafe in Roncesvalles Village is garnering more and more attention. It's Toronto's only Native Canadian restaurant, taking inspiration but not always sticking strictly to it's Aboriginal theme. Their brunch is hailed as one of the best in the city!
Stepping into the dining room at Keriwa Cafe is walking into a mosaic as rich as the heritage of Canada’s people, Aboriginal and non-aboriginal, that make up the culinary landscape of our country today.”

In April, I barely blogged even though I did go on a decent number of food adventures. It was a stressful month with finals and moving, etc. Needless to say, I had a lot on my mind and I figured I’d get back into the swing of things once the storm died down. :D 

The décor of Keriwa Cafe (@KeriwaCafe) is really welcoming and distinct. I love all the wood details, the semi-open kitchen, and the giant metal eagle feather light fixture. 

It’s just a very comfortable space so my friends and I were definitely stoked to have dinner here. Keriwa Cafe made many “top” lists in recent magazines such as No.4 on Toronto Life's April edition of "Best New Restaurants 2012" and top spot for brunch in NOW Magazine

Keriwa Cafe takes inspiration, both in and out of the kitchen from Aboriginal culture. 

As is very prominent nowadays, menus are one-pagers on a piece of stock paper. I like how they still have a sort of “menu holder” with the thin wood sheet and the photo corners. It’s nothing huge but a nice touch!

They bake their own bread—this one, red fife sourdough. Here the Aboriginal/Canadian connection is very apparent. Accompanying the bread were butter, sea salt, and Berkshire pork fat (?). Needless to say, we all went for the pork fat. So much flavour! 

Appetizer: Confit Pork Belly (14)
Fish broth, sunchokes, fennel, watercress, carrot. The pork belly was really tender! The veggies were perfectly cooked. Everything worked together. Well…the bread is a point of disagreement. 

It was toasted on the grill so you get the crunch. But then to have it sit in the broth and get soggy? I wish it was sitting on top of the veg so you can soak up the broth at your own discretion. 

Appetizer: Whitefish Fritter (10)
Adobo aioli, apple and red cabbage slaw. Seems like certain things that I thought would appeal to everyone…doesn’t. So although I loved this appetizer (one of the specials that day), my friends thought it was only alright. 

I’ll admit there isn’t much discernable whitefish in the fritters, but the combination of the crunchy and the soft textures throughout the app really appealed to me. And the sweet, slight tang of the slaw + spiciness of the adobo? Winner. 

TIP: Order what’s right for you & definitely take the recommendations into considering. Remember, the servers have eaten the food before so they know what it’s like!

Main: Rainbow Trout (25)
Sea buckthorn, fiddleheads, nettles, celeriac. The menu is really focused on seasonal, local ingredients. My friend said the fish was very fresh and cooked perfectly. Skin-on means extra flavour + texture!  Such a beautiful presentation. 

Apple, dandelion, bacon, spaetzle. The nice presentation was definitely a theme that evening. The friend that got this, when he goes all quiet and has that ghost of a smile when he eats, oh yeah he’s enjoying it. ;D Sweet, and fall-apart good. 

Eggplant, wild leek, red pepper, Yorkshire pudding. I love how there are purees of every sort of root veg (and more) these days. Eggplant puree?! Yes please. 

I was surprised that the bison was served as pink as it was. But it wasn’t tough at all! So delicious. The Yorkshire pudding was a different way of preparing the meat. It was nice to experience both. :) 

Huckleberry, pear, apple, shortbread. We decided to each get our own order of this sorbet trio. Good call because it was so refreshing. I couldn’t stop eating it! ^_^  (Yes, I'm such a pig...but I don't care. :( )

All three were very smooth but I preferred the apple the most. Perfect cap to our very delicious dinner. 

As if this weren’t enough, our server asked if we had a minute before we left. He disappeared for a few moments and re-emerged with a brown paper bag. The take home goodies turned out to be cinnamon rolls! 

That was super nice of him! 

The Stop For Food campaign (@TheStopCFC) ran from April 1st - 30th. Essentially, by adding $5 to your bill, you are helping support The Stop's anti-hunger programs as well as other their other local community endeavours. Pretty cool eh? :D

"The Stop strives to increase access to healthy food in a manner that maintains dignity, builds health and community and challenges inequality."

Verdict: So when can I come back?! I can't quite pick a favourite but the whitefish fritters are pretty tops I must say. I’ve heard good things about their brunch so if ever I find an excuse to be back in the area, brunch time it is!

5 out of 5 NOMs
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  1. I've been to Keriwa for dinner once and it was amazing. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me (this rarely happens) so no blog post :( Will visit again soon now that I've read your post!

    1. yeah, that practically never happens! Are you gonna try their brunch? :D