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Cafe Unwind

Posted by Staff / Posted on July 1, 2011

Cafe UnwindCafe Unwind sits tucked away in a quiet residential section of Kensington Market on the corner of Wales and Leonard Avenue. I was initially quite sceptical about the awkward location and decided they were really going to have to impress me to make up being out of the way. After a couple visits to Cafe Unwind though, I realized that a two minute walk (if that) from Bellevue Square park is not actually that out of the way and getting away from the obscenely crowded summer streets and into a quiet residential area is actually charming.

Outside, the bright yellow facade that was once home to La Tortilleria remains while everything else about the shop has been redone leaving no sign of its predecessor. Wood crates are propped up beside tables making for a quiet street patio while inside framed black and whites of old Parisian cafes hang on the pale blue walls. The shop is owned by a perky and heavily accented Australian, Anna, who runs the front of the shop, and her business partner, Libin, who does all the cooking in the back kitchen.

Cafe UnwindAnna explained to me that both of them worked at other restaurants downtown before deciding to open their own place. Along with regular service, they have been keeping busy since their opening with an ever growing amount of catering orders.

On my first visit, I ordered a small soy latte ($3.10) and a small bean salad ($3.50) and settled in with a book. The cafe is quite small with only a handful of unique but somewhat uncomfortable seats lining the windows; I quickly discovered it's not the kind of cafe that doubles as a library/writers office like the similarly styled cafe Pamenar at the other end of the market.

Cafe UnwindMy soy latte had a smooth, thick layer of creamy foam on top, just how I like it. The bean salad was probably the best I've ever had. The mixture of beans, including chickpeas, kidney and flava beans, are lightly tossed in an inexplicably creamy yet savoury secret dressing that Libin, the master behind this creation, won't even share with Anna. While I didn't get the recipe, I was assured that the it contains no animal products so vegans can dig in without worry.

I came back a few days later to try out the chicken, avocado, tomato and garlic Havarti sandwich with a side of beet and mango salad ($9.95 combo) and a classic Americano ($2.24). Their coffee is a blend of Ethiopian and Peruvian beans all locally roasted, fair trade, sustainable and organic from the Fresh Coffee Network. The Americano was on the lighter side but I rarely find coffee on this side of the Atlantic that I deem strong enough for my liking.

Cafe UnwindThe sandwich came on toasted Italian bread filled with juicy, tender pieces of chicken, thick slices of avocado and mixed greens all under a smothering piece of melted garlic Havarti. Everything in the sandwich came together perfectly and was simply delicious. The salad was similarly scrumptious with hefty chunks of beets and mangoes in a light dressing sprinkled with goats cheese.

Cafe UnwindJust steps away from Toronto Western Hospital, I saw doctors and nurses both times I was in the cafe. They aren't allowed to advertise inside the hospital, but Anna hopes that word of mouth will bring more foot traffic to their residential location. All their food has a rustic, homestyle inspiration with salads and fresh pastries changing daily. Large, fluffy muffins sit on the counter still in the trays in the morning; it's hard to get any fresher than that. I was at first weary of this oddly placed shop in an area already saturated in cafes, but the quality of their food and coffee, along with the peace and quiet of a residential street so close to noisy Kensington Market, made me change my mind.

Cafe UnwindOpen Monday 8-3pm, Tuesday-Sunday 8-5.30pm

Vegetarian sandwiches and salads, soy drinks. Vegan salads and sometimes
cupcakes available.

Writing and photos by Kaela Greenstien



Caasi / July 1, 2011 at 10:12 am
Looks/sounds great - hope they do well off the beaten path with the hospital traffic next door.
As the last place in this spot had real authentic homemade mexican food, delicious, but didn't survive.
Fig / July 1, 2011 at 10:24 am
Love the menu - will definitely check this cafe out.
Nat / July 1, 2011 at 10:40 am
The food here is really delicious - highly recommended.
Brandon replying to a comment from Caasi / July 1, 2011 at 10:56 am
Actually La Tortilleria (or however you spell it) moved into Kensington. They're now on Augusta next to Roach-o-Rama in a bigger location.
Eric / July 1, 2011 at 12:45 pm
I've been to Unwind several times now and it's become a Saturday or Sunday afternoon staple. The food is amazing, (the 3 meat grilled cheese is unbelievable) and I make sure to always get a pink lemonade as well as a coffee. If they've got them when you go in, don't miss out on the Peanut butter and chocolate muffins.
Patricia / July 1, 2011 at 06:22 pm
Unwind has become one of my regular weekend spots. It definitely has the best cappucinos I've had in a while and I can't get enough of the prosciutto and brie sandwich! All the muffins are delicious - no oily factor that you get from store-bought muffins.
kylie / July 2, 2011 at 02:20 am
You guys are all very lucky to have Anna in your area. She had a huge following in Australia, and really knows her coffee. We miss Anna's awesome coffee, smile and "accent" back here in OZ.
Well done Anna. XX
Kate / July 2, 2011 at 05:21 pm
These two awesome ladies know what time it is! The espresso is excellent, perfect crema. The grilled veggie sandwhich and fresh barley acocado salad was amazing. A true gem of a spot!
Diane / July 3, 2011 at 07:34 pm
I crave the coffee when I'm away from it too long. And their sandwiches and salads always fill the spot. Can't believe the reviewer missed out on the outdoor seating; there's always great sun & people watching to be had.
Daddy / July 4, 2011 at 08:54 am
Daddy loves going to Unwind.
Mr. Seaton Village / August 8, 2011 at 10:27 pm
Great coffee!
Coralie / January 13, 2012 at 04:08 pm
From one foodie to others, I love the coffee & the company at Cafe Unwind. The two ladies that run the shop are delightful.

The sandwiches are to die for, and the chef is happy to oblige when it comes to special requests, making Cafe Unwind a hit in my books.

Robert / March 9, 2012 at 07:28 am
Great coffee and food. i love to hang over the great latte and chat with Anna and Libin when she manages to poke her head out of the kitchen.
I've used them twice for catering and it was great!
tdubya / May 9, 2012 at 03:37 pm
The food here is ridiculously good, as well as the coffee and Libin's hot sauce. Catering was impeccable at an office function. GO GET IT.
Joe L / May 22, 2012 at 07:38 pm
I have been all over the city searching for a great cup of coffee ..and I have found it, however it is usually accompanied by a "to cool for school" attitude. Cafe Unwind is the EXACT opposite. Although they take their coffee (and food) very seriously, you will never be met with the pretentious attitude. The patio is great, you can taste the TLC put into each batch of baked goods and the staff are always great. I really hope more people catch on to the good coffee without a side of snob! because the experience is much more enjoyable!

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