[REVIEW] Kalendar Toronto Restaurant Review
Open:Brunch, Lunch, Dinner
Well, I gave it a good, long, every-muscle-engaged push. My little wheels were spinning 120 km/hour, but no matter what I did, I remained stuck in the rut. I wasn't getting anywhere, and I wasn't getting out, and we all know how frustrating that can be. Eventually my little engine conked out and I was left to wonder why I tried to go that route in the first place. I had laid things out quite nicely for my dreams to come true, and I had put them all on hold thinking I had to move through a series of specific, structured motions.
I haven't even bothered to hide it. The past two months have been hell for me, and everyone else that have been brave enough to step into my life. Being the hard-working, goal oriented person I am though, I stuck it out because I knew I should, and I prayed that one day... whenever that may be... I would be happy. Kind of a vague concept, now that I look back, but I suppose that was just because I put all of my energy into the concrete goal of a degree, without any thought into the seemingly abstract goal of my happiness. Happiness is hard to measure, and I guess I like tangible things.
Well, this past weekend, I embarked on a reflexive journey, filled with a lot of crying and uncertainty, but I came out clearer than ever. I finally came to the realization that as abstract as it was, happiness should be the goal, and the process of getting there does not have to be miserable. It's not like math where two negatives always make a positive. Two negatives are probably more likely to yield a negative in this case, and I just am no longer willing to risk that.
So, without this sounding like a re-print of my diary (ha, who am I kidding, this is my diary), I will just get to the positive moral of the story, and then, more importantly, the food. Grad school out, full time Abbey's Kitchen in. Do I ever have a hell of a lot of exciting ideas on my to-do list. Ha, and that to-do list may be even longer than it was when I was in school, but I am just jumping to get at each item. Can't say I felt the same about each new Marx essay.
This is going to be my year, and now I finally have the time to enjoy it. So definitely keep your eyes on the website, facebook, twitter and blog for updates on all the mischief I get myself into.
Okay now onto food. Well, reflexivity makes a girl hungry, so some friends and I headed out for a casual meal on College St at Kalendar. I had been to Kalendar once before when I moved back to Toronto after high school (so, ages ago), and all I could really remember were that the scrolls were pretty delicious. So as a last minute dinner option, we figured we'd give it a try.
The room is old, a little dark, but charming enough. The chairs aren't particularly comfortable, but it wasn't a long, lingering type of meal, so I didn't mind too much. Our server was friendly, but a little absent. It often took a while to track someone down, but the timing of the meal was still appropriate.
Their cocktail list is playful, and extensive. They definitely had a variety of options that I could easily entertain, but I opted for the South Beach (vodka, banana liqueur, mango juice, orange juice) because once I saw the banana liqueur (my favourite flavour for anything), I knew it was for me. Well, it's definitely an easy-drinking cocktail, basically tasting like juice, which I must say can be dangerous for some of us who are in a tender state of life-goal-confusion. As tasty as it was (and therefore, maybe a good starter drink), it was probably even a little too sweet for me to drink throughout the night or with food.
Food wise, we started with a couple of shared appetizers:
Hummus Plate (with carrots, apple slices, olives and naan)
I wasn't a fan of this hummus. It was too "gritty" for me (not the smooth consistency I prefer), and while I prefer a more pronounced lemon flavour, was almost bitter from an excess of garlic. Also, because of the strong garlic aroma, I definitely did not think the apple slices worked.
Baked Camembert (wrapped in phyllo, sprinkled with walnuts, served with berry puree, sliced pear and apple, and naan)
This was a much more successful appetizer. The Camembert was creamy, and mild, which was complemented nicely by the sweet puree and tart apples.
We all opted for half scrolls with salads, which were massive despite being the half size. I also like that you are able to sub any other cold salad for a $3 up-charge if desired. I only sampled mine and my partners, as I was a little sick and didn't want to spread the bug.
Scroll Three (Oven roasted chicken, sugar snap peas, carrots with sweet yellow curry sauce) Honey Roasted Beet salad (with chevre, walnuts and arugula)
First of all, I love the roti-like wrap on these scrolls. It's got a really satisfying chew, it holds up to significant weight and moisture, and it isn't heavy or tough. I did really like the flavour of this filling, the curry was aromatic and substantial, without feeling too rich. However, I did find the texture a little off putting. There was a little residual grittiness that I tend to experience if I haven't cooked out or really dissolved curry spices/paste well enough in a sauce. Regardless, it was an enjoyable dish
The beet salad was good, but not great. I found the honey dressing a little bland, and very sparse on the greens, so I was looking for a little more acid and a bit more salt and pepper.
Scroll Five ( Oven Roasted chicken, avocado, plum tomatoes, feta and herbed mayo) Black Bean Quinoa salad (with corn, tomatoes, cucumber)
Scroll Six (Roast Beef, portabello mushroom, caramelized onion, asiago cheese, plum tomatoes with horseradish mayo) Honey Roasted Beet salad (with chevre, walnuts and arugula)
This one was the best dish of the night (that I tried, at least). The beef was a touch dry, but still, was not at all leathery or chewy. All of the vegetables were well cooked and appropriate- the mushrooms were really meaty, while the onions and tomatoes lent a balanced hit of sweetness. It was well lubricated with aromatic mayo, and bound together by a healthy helping of salty pungent cheese. That poor roti was seriously packed full, but I actually ate it all.
Scroll Six (Roast Beef, portabello mushroom, caramelized onion, Asiago cheese, plum tomatoes with horseradish mayo) House salad
While the dessert menu looked extensive (and there were quite a few offerings that I would have been pleased with), I thought it might be more fun to change up the scenery and head to Yogurty's for frozen yogurt. Mmm.. self-serve anything is a little dangerous for me. But the pumpkin yogurt (especially with Skor bar on top) was definitely a good choice.
So for the 2 apps, 5 cocktails, and 4 dinners, I think the bill was about 175 including tax and tip- very reasonable for us. Would I return? Probably only for another last minute/ week day dinner or lunch, or in the summer, when the patio is open.
So- where does that leave me? Well, after Friday night, I spent the entire Saturday in reflexive mode, pretty much made my final decision, and then drove all the way to Peterborough in the storm to see my psychic (don't you roll your eyes at me, this guy is for real). After our chat, I felt WAY better about my decision, and super excited for the months ahead. I don't want to give you any spoilers, so let me just advice you to check back regularly.
Have a wonderful week y'all, and for those out with the kids (or friends) tomorrow for Halloween, indulge in a little childish pleasure (yep, that means a couple "fun sized" chocolate bars).