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Restaurants

Bannock

Posted by Libby Roach / Reviewed on July 4, 2012 / review policy

BannockBannock opened about a year ago, marking an effort from Oliver and Bonacini to revamp the food options at the flagship Bay department store on Queen Street. While some people have fleeting nightmares about the horrid mall food that used to be found in such places, the slick-looking restaurant takes a page from glitzier counterparts such as Bloomingdale's, which introduced an upscale dining component years ago.

With a stranglehold on the local "casual fine dining" scene, the O & B team do something at least a little different from their other restaurants here, if only on the surface. In addition to a focus on comfort food, there's enough Canadian references scattered about the dining room to give Brett Lawrie a maple boner.

june23-bannock-interiorED.jpgBannock, as we all (should) know, is a flat-style bread the recipe for which can be traced back to Native Canadians. It's a good name for a restaurant structured around the idea of Canadian comfort food, but it's probably not a good idea to put too much stock in the promise of aboriginal-inspired fare here. While there are gestures to such cuisine, if that's what you're interested in, more interesting — and in certain cases, authentic — offerings can be found at Keriwa Cafe or the more recently opened Tea 'N Bannock.

bannock torontoWith a decent selection of cocktails, wine and beer to tempt us, we settle on a good and proper Canadian tipple, the Bannock (Spicy) Caesar ($9). The salty rimmed glass and small dose of fat from the bacon offsets the heat, and makes for a promising start to a meal. When paired with Poutine ($10) smothered in Monforte cheese curds and chicken gravy it was a tad gluttonous, but isn't that the point of poutine?

Bannock PoutineAt $10, the portion is quite generous: we ate and ate and the bowl felt almost bottomless. Never-ending poutine sounds good in theory, but after 10 or so bites, you're ready for what's next. I did appreciate the addition of crispy green onions, which added a nice texture and pop of colour.

Our sociable server guided us in choosing our mains, and with a subtle nudge in the right direction we opted for the Chicken Pot Pie ($16) and the Pork Shoulder ($18). The pork shoulder was a massive loaf of slow cooked tender pork, draped across handmade spaetzle (think German gnocchi) which was scented with a Steamwhistle beer jus. This was the clear winner. The pork literally fell apart at the slightest poke of a fork, and the slightly wilted, buttery spinach was a delicious accompaniment.

bannock torontoThe Arcadian Chicken Pot Pie, however, was disappointingly and unnecessarily salty. The bland mix of peas, carrots and creamy velouté sauce were topped in a buttery crust, and even a small pop of herbs would have brought this pie back from mediocrity. The pairing of mashed potatoes and gravy only offered more of the same — overly salted and rather beige food.

Bannock TorontoWe skipped out on sweets but were definitely tempted by the canoe fireweed butter tart ($8). The takeaway counter also serves swish food on the go, which makes the idea of picnic lunch at Nathan Phillips Square an appealing idea.

I would likely make a return visit to Bannock, as its tiny little Queen Street patio seems like a perfect spot for people watching and the service and cocktails exemplify the easy vibe that the restaurant strives to exude.

Discussion

9 Comments

GA / July 4, 2012 at 10:14 am
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I went 2 weeks ago and absolutely enjoyed my meal. We had the poutine to share. My wife had the chicken pot pie. I had one of the bannock flatbread sandwiches. Everything was delicious! The portions were quite generous. The service was excellent. I'll go back for sure. There was so much on the menu that I still want to try.
spit_fire / July 4, 2012 at 10:41 am
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"there's enough Canadian references scattered about the dining room to give Brett Lawrie a maple boner"...hilarious!
Sebas / July 4, 2012 at 12:17 pm
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the bacon in the caesar gives me a maple boner!

i love this place. It's a shame they got rid of the meat lover pizza with venison chili sauce instead of tomato paste. it was my fave!

the glue / July 4, 2012 at 07:51 pm
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Ate there back in May. Had the duck poutine pizza and while supremely awesome was enough rich food for 3 of us to share in retrospect. Had a good time and definitely would go back.
Adam / July 5, 2012 at 09:50 am
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Yeah, that duck poutine pizza is probably the best starchy near death sentence I've ever received. And I loved every second of it.
Louisa / July 7, 2012 at 03:29 am
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Been looking forward to this!
Sounds like its going to be a neat place!
Raki / July 13, 2012 at 09:58 am
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Went last night before a show and had the poutine and the pulled pork + mac & cheese quesadilla. Service was friendly and the food came quickly. Next time, definitely give into temptation and get the butter tart. Very very sweet but the pastry just melted in your mouth. Their brewed coffee, however, was awful. We'll go back for sure, minus the coffee.
Patrick M / August 16, 2012 at 12:00 am
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The best turkey burger I've ever eaten! Clean, fresh environment and some of the nicest service I've had in Toronto. I'll be a regular this fall.
Kate / April 27, 2014 at 10:19 pm
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Been going here occasionally for 2 years. Consistently delicious. I also love their menu: small but well curated, and seemingly something for every mood. Reasonably priced. Stylish interior and friendly professional service.

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