Yesterday, my friend Steph took me out to lunch at a brilliant gem in the heart of downtown Toronto called Bannock. Right on the corner of Queen St. and Bay St., it’s in a former corner of the Bay store. The first thing I mentioned when I saw the menu was that this is what Le Cellier in the Canadian Pavilion at EPCOT should be. Don’t get me wrong, I love Le Cellier. It’s just that now the whole “Disney Parks” thing has taken over, it’s lost much of the authenticity it once had due to corporate homogenization. Bannock on the other hand is pure authentic Canadian food & drink. We’re talking Chinook Salmon, PEI Mussels, Alberta Beef, Butter Tarts & Canadian Wines. I mean they garnish their Caesar with maple glazed bacon! You don’t get more Canadian than that.
Described as “part grab-and-go café, part coffee shop, and part dine-in restaurant. The architecture reflects the menu – eclectic and approachably Canadian – featuring antique pine and hemlock reclaimed from one of the Queen’s wharfs that sat under the waters of Lake Ontario at York Street for over a hundred years. Bannock’s honest approach to food is rooted in familiar, wholesome ingredients that are reflective of Canada’s rich regional and cultural diversity, delivered in an innovative and playful way. Everyday classics are revitalized as the Chefs pay homage to traditional Canadian comfort foods, putting our cultural favourites front and centre. Bannock breads are integrated throughout the entire menu including sweet breakfast bannocks, artisan sandwiches and pizzas. Bannock garnishes are also added to soups, salads and main courses.”
We started with the Bannock bread basket, which has a garlic-goat cheese spread at the bottom to dip the artisan breads into. Very tasty and not too overwhelming in size. I had the Bannock Caesar made with vodka, sherry, clamato, salsa and a candied bacon garnish. Steph had the HBC, which was a concoction named after the Hudson’s Bay Company made with vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice, peach puree and fresh lime. For her main, she had the Mac & Cheese, which she said was fantastic and much too big to finish. I had the Free Run Turkey Burger with heirloom tomatoes. It was garnished with a dill mayo, onion ring and avacodo spread. While a bit too salty at times, overall delicious.We also shared sweet potato fries with dill mayo. Also delicious.
While the decor may be a bit too city-chic for the Disney crowd, the food on the menu would definitely please. This menu was inspired by Canada in every aspect. Maybe Le Cellier can learn a thing or two about how to showcase authentic Canadian food in a fine-dining setting. Overall a fantastic experience that I will be sure to visit again. What do you think of Le Cellier compared to real Canadian cuisine? Leave a comment and let me know! Also, check out Yelp for reviews on the rest of the menu.