Cafe Gilead

1 Oct

Cafe Gilead

4 Gilead Place
Toronto M5A 3C9
Jamie Kennedy’s Cafe Gilead

I came here with angelichigo and conartiste actually back in the beginning of summer, after hearing the rave things a foodie friend told me, all 4 of us came down to Cafe Gilead to have a good meal. I wasn’t too knowledgeable of Jamie Kennedy before this and all I’ve heard was all from my foodie friend.
Everything my foodie friend has told me has yet to really steer me wrong, so I took his inituition on this one and gave this a try.  This was a meal for 4, so this will be a relatively long review because we had a very good sampling of their seasonal menu.  So grab a glass of wine or whatever floats your boat.  Let’s get going!

First impression is that this is a resturant that tries to delight its customer everytime one gets a chance to experience it.  Menu is hand written, which is a sign that the menu changes every now and then, and it does because I’ve been going on their website to check it.

Appetizer as follows, I apologize about the white balance of the shots, should’ve done a custom white balance, o well, too late now =(

Gratin of Agria Potato: nothing super special, but at no point did it feel heavy 3/5

Fiddleheads with steamed greens: I wasn't even too sure what Fiddle Heads were until I saw them, I admire the use of local ingredients, and the spicy dressing gave it a bit of a kick, but not overtook the ingredients, 3.5/5

The cold dishes were a big suprise, the au gratin honestly was rather normal, the big redeeming feature though, was that it did not feel as normally would, au gratin felt light and easy to eat.  Nor did it make me feel I had just absorbed 2000 calories.  Something I’ve never really felt before.

The Fiddle head with steamed Greens looked rather plain as well, but, try it.  The spicy sauce gave it enough of a kick to make it interesting, yet not take away from the freshness of the local fiddle heads.  The vegetables probably were cooked simply by salt water, it felt clean, yet with the spicy dressing, it gave it quite some character.

Now, I’ve had a bite out of the following dishes, but I won’t cover everything except the one dish I did have fully, which was the Pork Burger

Name sounded strange, but oh my god. Absolutely stunningly good, read below to find out why!: 4.5/5

The Pork Burger was a very small piece for alot of money, so value wise, this will never win big points.  However, this was a stunningly well executed dish, and despite its small size, it does fill your stomache.  The burger itself is wrapped in fat, and punch through that outer layer and you have an explosion of juices cooked inside the pork itself.  It was tender, and never felt dry.  The beet base around the outside also complimented the burger piece very well.  Overall a nice winner, unfortunately, due to its diminitive size, I almost feel bad giving it a 4 of 5.  Still, if Jamie Kennedy decide to do it again, do try it.

Navarin and Roast of Lamb with spring vegetables: Excellent, the lamb was just soooo tender, but it had a bit of a gamey taste to it which really made it stand out 4.5/5

The Lamb was tender… very very tender.  I don’t even think I’ve had better lamb than the one I had that evening.  It had a bit of a gamey taste to it too, the sauce was the perfect compliment without being harsh.  Absolute winner right here I think.

Poached Pickerel with soubise and crispy Shallots: nothing really special, though I do like the 2 sauces sitting underneath the veggies, one is a sour one which is likely based on the beets, the other is a buttery cream soubise, 3.5/5

Two of us had the Poached Pickerel, which I felt was a bit plain, the fresh ingredient theme continues here, the two sauces which surrounded the fish however gave the fish a bit more innovative flavor with each bite, and I also tried to pair it with the bottle of white we ordered.  The two sauces gave each bite of the fish a bit different taste every single time.  Maybe a bit plain, but I liked the execution.

To finish off, since everything sounded good on the dessert menu, we tried 4 of them again.

Warm chocolate cake with cinnamon custard sauce and rum cherries: 5/5!!!

I don’t give 5/5 very often, because it had to be absolutely fault-less.  This was one of them.  angelorita couldn’t stop licking the dish after she’s done, it was THAT good.  The warm chocolate cake had a light bitter taste, enough to satisfy a dark chocolate eater like me, yet won’t offend milk chocolate lovers like angelorita.  The cinnamon custard sauce danced with the light bitter flavor of the cake, and simply created an absolute symphony of your taste buds.  The rum cherries of course just added icing to an already perfect dish.  I tried hard to fault it, I really tried to, but I couldn’t, it was one of the best dessert I’ve had for quite some time.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Rhubarb Compote: 4.5/5

If appearances turns you off, you might get turned off by this.  I have rarely had Panna Cotta, in fact, this is probably the very first one I remember having.  And wow, it was an amazing mix of creamy flavor, from the panna cotta itself, and of course, the rhubarb compote did not fight against the sweet milky flavor, instead, it just complimented it, reinforcing the creaminess, yet not take it away nor make it seem too much.

I did not try the following 2 desserts, but seems like the other guests at the table really enjoyed it as well.

Blueberry Fiancier with Honey Ice Cream and Preserved Summer Fruit

Ice Cream Sandwiches, home made cookies, with maple syrup, and honey ice cream

The above 2 had the right idea, the execution is also excellent.  The Ice Cream Sandwiches were very nicely done too, the home made cookies were crispy, which really complimented the soft and light taste of the ice cream perfectly.  Gave it a very nice texture and finish.

Overall Verdict: 4.5/5

It started with a relatively plain appetizer, which were much better than they look, followed with stunning main dishes, and finish off with even more stunning desserts.  I came away impressed.  I love the quality of the food, the use of unique and most of all, local ingredients, not exotic far away stuff. The lamb was an impressive piece because it was gamey but not overpowering, on the other hand, my pork burger turned out alot better than I thought, With the juices almost wanting to gush out the moment my knife punched through the surface. It is certainly far from the norms.  The desserts were a great way to end an otherwise perfectly executed formula of flavors.

I liked the relatively relaxed design of the interior and open kitchen too, as the name implies, it felt more like a high end European Cafe, instead of trying to impress with lots of glam, it let the food do the talking, which is really as it should be no?

Staff is well trained and they knew what they were doing, it did not felt like he looked at us like customers, instead they treated us like human beings.

Final bill came up to approxmiately 60 per head, but keep in mind, with 2 appetizers, 4 main courses, 4 desserts, bottle of wine and tip.  It was not expensive, I felt the price was very well justified for the sheer taste alone, before we even consider other factors.

I would love to go back sometime, and really wanted to elevate this place to a 5/5.  I liked it that much.  The resturant is a hidden gem outside of the distillery.  It is an absolutely wonderful place to go and have a pleasant meal, whether it is just a fun evening with friends, or a romantic evening with someone you love.  Gilead’s first meal delivered everything I’ve wanted a resturant to deliver.  I am looking to go back sometime soon, so keep your eyes peeled for the all important 2nd review.

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