Keriwa Cafe had been on my list of restaurants to try for over a year now, however when they switched from a la carte to a tasting  menu format in October, the price range was a little high for a non special occasion dinner. So when I heard that they were switching back to a la carte options, I made a reservation with the first excuse I had.

Atmosphere: The interior of the restaurant was very spacious, there is a lot of wood texture and the space is well-lit. I liked the large pieces of art on the wall, with an industrial feel using metal and dark colours. Much of the serving ware was also natural wooden pieces and clay pottery.

Service:I had originally made a reservation for 2 at 6:30. It had begun to snow pretty heavily that evening and both my friend and I were running late. I called Keriwa at 6:00 to advise them of this and they said, not a problem, but to be aware that our table was to be re-seated at 8:00. That was fine and we made it through the door at 7:00 sharp. I have no issue with our table having to be re-seated, and the hostess did let us know that when 8:00 came around, we had the option to move to the bar but that we could “figure it out when the time came”. She advised us to order only one course because of our limited time. We were a little disappointed there but it was understandable.

Coincidentally, the table next to us were 2 friends that we knew. We were able to push our tables together and try a lot more dishes, however we were again reminded that we had to leave at 8:00, and that the tables would be billed separately, again totally understandable. Except, 8:00 came and went, people came, were seated and no one needed our table, yet we were still rushed with the bill, we weren’t even offered the dessert menu but waited long enough to pay that our friends’ dessert order arrived. Our server rarely checked in on us and didn’t refill wine or water glasses. All in all, I felt like I had to scarf down my food unnecessarily, and then when it came time to pay, we sat and waited, when we could’ve been enjoying our own apply crumble. The servers seemed spread thin and the service wasn’t all that I expected.

Food: My table ordered the Duck Confit Dumplings, Pork Confit Belly (served on rye flat bread) and Bison Jowl. In addition we were able to sample from our friend’s table, the Smoked Trout, Brussel Sprouts, Whitefish, Smoked Hen and the Apple Crumble for dessert.

The stand out dishes for me were the dumplings, bison jowl, brussel sprouts and apple crumble. The broth the dumplings came in was very flavourful and the dumpling wrap was thin and chewy. The presentation of the bison jowl was unexpected, it came almost like a giant ravioli and was very creamy. The white cream sauce on this dish was amazing, we were ready to lick it off the plate, it was so creamy and buttery. This was my first time having brussel sprouts, and if they always taste like this I’ll need to have it more often. The sprouts were crunchy, fully cooked and buttery (that’s probably what made it), with candied walnuts and pear.

All of the dishes we had were great and the bottle of rose went well with everything. I loved the apple crumble dessert with toasted marshmallow topping and buried berries. The balance of sweet and sour was perfect.

I definitely need a re-visit, one that will allow me to savour and enjoy the meal at a more even pace.

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