Jamie Kennedy. If you are Canadian and love food you have to know who this man is. A Canadian culinary star, Jamie Kennedy has been a large part of the food scene in Toronto (and Canada) for years, running a slew of restaurants, starting with Palmerston's. (He now does catering too, so if you are looking for someone fabulous for a special event check him out!) Two of my siblings are home for the holidays, so for a fun Christmas treat, the three of us and my dad decided to go out for lunch! My dad had been here before and knows how much I adore new places so he decided to take us to Jamie’s Gilead Cafe + Bistro.
Tucked down a little street in Toronto’s Corktown, you are walking into a café full of passion, Canadian flare and love for local and delicious food. The atmosphere is extremely cozy and inviting, I really just didn’t want to leave! At night the place is transformed into an intimate dining room, a perfect place for two or for a fun smaller group party. There is no menu – it is only written on the chalkboard, and the specials change daily depending on local produce. The food is seasonal local modern Canadian cuisine with French influence.
The food is fun, bistro rustic lunchtime (which I’m sure is converted perfectly for brunch and dinner) fare, from the typical crispy JK frites to a beautiful Ploughman’s lunch with house made pâtés and Niagara Gold cheese. The food is simple yet complex all at the same time, leaving you wanting more. With the café walls covered in jarred to-go preserves, beautiful loaves on rustic breads on display and a bounty of cheeses, pâtés and desserts on the counter, I think it is impossible to leave there empty handed. With a dinner party on the Sunday night horizon, I was thinking appetizers. I walked away with a great circle loaf of bread, the Niagara gold cheese and a great pâté Oh and I also had to have a jar of the beet soup – the vibrant fuscia colour was seriously calling my name, and I do love beets.
Our lunch menu yesterday consisted of quite a few sharing plates. A simple winter salad, the Ploughman’s lunch filled with cheese, pâtés grainy mustard, pickles and fresh bread, and the “special” poutine – JK frites with cheese curds and then pulled pork and cider vinegar. I also had the celeriac soup, so winter, so rustic, SO delicious. Nothing is better then a warming soup on a cold December day and this one just hit the spot.
So if you are looking for a cozy, cool and food loving place for dinner, lunch or brunch, Gilead Cafe is for you. The atmosphere alone is enough to keep you going back, and with Jamie in house frequently – who doesn’t want to see Canada’s all-star chef in action?!