I've been wanting to try Canteen for a while now, and I was finally able to cross it off my bucket list this past Sunday with a belated birthday brunch with the besties.
Alliterations. It's what I do best.
Canteen is a somewhat-casual and modern 50-seat restaurant nestled on the ever-revitalizing and trendy 124th street. They're open from Tuesday to Sunday, offering a variety of different menus depending on the time of day.
At 12:30 on a Sunday morning, the restaurant was bustling and filled to the brim with equally trendy brunch-goers. They say that walk-ins are always welcome, but it's a good thing we made reservations as a table cleared out just as everyone arrived in our party.
Prior to coming in, I made quick study of the brunch menu on their website and narrowed down my choice to 4 out of the possible 7 mains. Their brunch menu reads that good. They could do with updating their website though, since there were a couple of small changes I noticed when scanning their actual menu in the restaurant.
Our friendly waitress sold KN on the special of the day, which was a halibut and potato cake ($18.00) served over a bed of sautéed broccoli, with two poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, and a bit of crab. Those were her exact words -- "a bit of crab" -- which translated into maybe a few small pieces here and there. It's almost not worth it to include it in my opinion. It also wasn't the most attractive dish to photograph, but KN thought that the dish was quite savoury and good overall. I had a bite of the halibut and potato cake and thought it was well-seasoned.
AL decided to go for the Dutch baby pancake ($17.00), which comes topped with rhubarb compote, back bacon, two farm eggs, walnuts, and smoky syrup. The Dutch baby pancake reminded me of a yorkshire pudding, as it's baked in a cast iron pan and then falls as soon as it comes out of an oven. I had a bite of the pancake and it seemed to be just a blank canvas, highly dependent on the syrup and compote for sweetness and flavour. AL liked her dish, but thought that it got soggy way too fast.
SC ordered their chicken and waffles ($18.00) which is a dish that changes weekly in terms of flavours. This weekend, it was a whole wheat waffle with buttermilk fried chicken, smoked syrup, and chunks of apples, pears, and persimmon. Very autumnal. I like how they do weekly variations on the dish since it shows how creative their culinary team can be. You can order chicken and waffles every single time you come in but still get to try something new. And why wouldn't you? The chicken was absolutely amazing with its well-spiced crunch. KN thought that Canteen's variation was better than the one at the Common (review here), and I'd have to agree.
For the sake of my blog, I wanted to order something different from everyone else, and so I chose their crispy pork belly ($18.00) which came with two eggs, sweet potato hash (underneath the eggs), creamy grits, and three slices of toasted baguette. Can we just take a minute to appreciate that runny yolk and slab of pork belly?
Okay, minute over.
I've heard of grits before (thanks to my obsession with Food Network back in my elementary and junior high days) but I've never actually tasted or seen it. It seems like it's a staple in Southern U.S. but unheard of in Canada. The only way I can describe it is that it's almost like a porridge, with no real distinguishable flavour other than that it's savoury. The sweet potato hash was a nice balance to it, while the egg was perfectly cooked and almost silky in quality. But the best part of the dish -- definitely the pork belly. I've always wanted to use the word unctuous (in a good way) to describe something and I feel it applies here. Highly recommend this dish just for the pork belly.
Good eats at Canteen with good friends. You can't ask for anything more.