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The Kennedy Public House

Posted by Emily Burke / Reviewed on January 10, 2012 / review policy

Kennedy Public House TorontoThe Kennedy Public House is a stylish, bright restaurant in the heart of Bloor West Village that celebrated its grand opening last month. Many restaurants have opened in the area over the years with a similar vibe to Kennedy's — a clean, modern interior paired with semi-fancy menu offerings at a reasonable price. But often these restaurants are all glitter and no gold, luring diners in with their shiny veneer but sending them home unsatisfied by the mediocre food.

So when my friends and I headed to Kennedy's for a casual Saturday lunch, we weren't sure what to expect. But Kennedy's is a refreshing change for the neighbourhood, serving up dishes that are interesting and well worth paying for.

Kennedy Public House TorontoWe started with a round of Caesars (why not? It's Saturday!), garnished with a pickled green bean and a rim of celery salt that's a tad skimpy and fails to satisfy the sodium-gluttons among our group. Salt rim aside, it hits the spot.

Kennedy Public House TorontoThough I'm not usually a big fan of burgers, I order the Kennedy Burger ($14), and I'm not disappointed. The juicy patty is slathered in horseradish butter, tomato relish and garlic feta. It's packed with a juicy punch that hits every corner of my mouth and impresses my taste buds. It comes with a side of sweet potato fries that are plump and are neither too soft and greasy, nor too crisp.

Two of my friends opt for the polenta burger ($14), which was most certainly not a burger at all. There was no bun or condiments. There was no picking it up with your hands, steadying it in front of your mouth and sinking your teeth in. It was a plate of polenta and veggies. The menu mentions that it's not a traditional burger, but really Kennedy House, the word "burger" has no place in this menu offering.

Kennedy Public House TorontoDespite false advertising, the dish is delicious. Much like its cousin cornbread, polenta can be tricky to get right, often either too mushy or too dry and granulated. This has a firm but creamy consistency that is a great base for the toppings, which include marinated vegetables, silken tofu, goat cheese, tomato relish, a tangy balsamic reduction and pea shoots that give the dish a fresh, crisp finish. Along with a fantastic side Caesar salad, garnished with a cheese crisp and a slice of bacon, it's a hearty and fairly healthy lunch.

Kennedy Public House TorontoMy other friend orders the king of all club sandwiches ($14). Step aside processed cold cuts and make room for large morsels of juicy braised chicken and crisp, smoked bacon. The meats are paired with white cheddar, lettuce and housemade tomato relish, piled inside a fluffy, white bun. The fun surprises continue with a side salad that's topped with toasted macadamia nuts — what a treat!

Kennedy Public House TorontoWe also get an order of bruschetta ($9) that's served on a focaccia bread (or something quite similar) rather than a baguette, as is listed on the menu. It's tasty though so we have no qualms with the change in breads, and we pick away at the chunks of marinated tomato and roasted garlic that are left behind on the plate.

Kennedy Public House TorontoBetween the tasty food, the elegant presentation, and the fun music selection, including a little Van Morrison and Neil Young, it is a great place to enjoy a leisurely Saturday lunch. I've made a note to come back for dinner next time I'm in the neighbourhood.

Kennedy Public House Toronto



harvey / January 10, 2012 at 09:13 am
The correct use of apostrophes really lends credit to the persuasiveness of one's writing.
toobehere replying to a comment from harvey / January 10, 2012 at 09:33 am
grammar Nazi
harvey replying to a comment from toobehere / January 10, 2012 at 10:14 am
Do not improperly punctuate the glorious drink that is a Caesar.
Welshgrrl / January 10, 2012 at 10:47 am
Kudos to the photographer; every plate looks delicious.
Adam / January 10, 2012 at 11:01 am
It's a pub so why not talk about the drink selection beyond caesars? The drink menu is available on the website and is horrific. The same beers as everyone else, lychee "martinis," ho-hum wines.

Pubs must try harder! You're spending this much money to open, hire a damn consultant to get the drinks right!
Matt replying to a comment from toobehere / January 10, 2012 at 12:11 pm
I would prefer "defender of the written language."
Tina replying to a comment from Adam / January 10, 2012 at 12:43 pm
Are you unemployed, Adam?
Adam replying to a comment from Tina / January 10, 2012 at 12:53 pm
Quite the contrary. I'm a guy who works really hard, often just to get the details right. And then when it's time to unwind, I get stuck in mediocre pubs owned by people who really ought to put more time and care into what *they* do.

Again, if you open a pub, you really should put serious thought into the drinks you serve. This place turned on the auto-pilot and cruised to mediocrity.
me / January 10, 2012 at 01:35 pm
What a bunch of snots you are! What ever happened to real people?? Looks like a nice place, blogTO - thanks for the article.
susan replying to a comment from Adam / January 10, 2012 at 02:15 pm
hey man, they could have sold vintage clothes and PBR in here and called it a day. that seems to be the norm in this city now.
Hepman replying to a comment from harvey / January 10, 2012 at 02:17 pm
How many hours do you spend before a mirror each day?
Jen / January 10, 2012 at 02:17 pm
My husband and I tried this place out over the holidays and enjoyed our meals. We were disapointed in the beer selection. They should offer more craft beers instead of the boring main stream brands. There are many amazing craft brewers near our city that would suit this place much better.
Jim / January 10, 2012 at 02:21 pm
Although the food does look delicious, I think 14.00 for a burger and fries is grossly over priced, then again, that's fine for those who have allot of money to burn a hole in your pocket..
Ron / January 10, 2012 at 03:02 pm
Hey Jim, want a cheap burger? Go to Wendy's, buddy. Or better yeah go gran an angus combo from McDonald's for 10.00.
David / January 10, 2012 at 04:15 pm
I popped in here on the weekend to have a beer and watch some football with a friend. The service was bad (like Yellow Griffin bad). We left after 15 mins of not even getting a sniff from a waitress. I've heard they hire for looks, not service, but the food is good.
burgs / January 10, 2012 at 04:36 pm
overpriced yuppie bullshit. welcome to the neighbourhood!
Chris / January 10, 2012 at 04:57 pm
I have been to The Kennedy many times since I moved to the area last spring and I'm proud to call this my local favourite in Bloor West Village. It has the best food in the neighbourhood, pretty much the only establishment with an actual cocktail list in the area (Swan and Yellow Griffin are an embarrassment in regards to both food and drink) friendliest service and best atmosphere. To Jim - what good restaurant can you actually go to in the city that doesn't charge at least $14 for a great burger? You pay for good quality and at The Kennedy, you get it! My favourites here are the Pork and Bean Cassoulet and the Lamb Shank. Keep it up Kennedy. I am proud to call you "my local spot".
Lianne / January 10, 2012 at 04:59 pm
Do you realize they've probably put every cent they had into opening this business and are working day and night to make YOU happy ... and hope to survive where so many others fail? How about if they don't serve the beers you like, you ask if they might consider getting them in? Lift them up, don't bring them down. These are human beings just trying to make a buck, like you.
Mike replying to a comment from Chris / January 10, 2012 at 05:10 pm
Interesting how you've been there "many times since last spring" to a place that opened in late Novemeber. Since you're clearly on the payroll there, may I ask what it is you do?
Mike replying to a comment from Mike / January 10, 2012 at 05:10 pm
Chris replying to a comment from Mike / January 10, 2012 at 06:17 pm
Mike - I've been going there since it used to be Sharkey's which is why I said last spring. I still go there because it is such an awesome place. I've been working in the hospitality industry for many years and can appreciate a good place when I see it. I do not work there. I work at a restaurant downtown.

I agree with Lianne - don't hate, appreciate!
Adam / January 10, 2012 at 06:32 pm
Susan, Lianne, putting in enough effort to be good and different isn't some crazy new hipster idea I just came up with. I can't go around to each new business and be like, "Hey guys, you know you're actually allowed to be better than the very low standard set by the average Canadian bar?"

It doesn't really cost anything – just a bit of passion. Sorry, but I simply won't be trying this place out unless I hear they've reinvested in their drinks menu. I'll go to the Queen & Beaver, where they care. My money goes where it is deserved.
Alex / January 10, 2012 at 06:35 pm
I, like Chris, have been going to this restaurant since it was Sharkey's. I love eating at the Kennedy and even went there to ring in the New Year. The food they serve is fantastic- new takes on old classics, creative new dishes and comfort food that makes your belly happy. The Chef's Mac and Cheese is so delicious it makes me want to stay in a perpetual food coma. In all honesty, if you want a great meal at a restaurant with a wonderful atmosphere, go the Kennedy Public House. It is all a product of love and I have never, ever regretted spending my money there. Bon appetit! I guarantee you'll be back.
Teena replying to a comment from Adam / January 10, 2012 at 07:25 pm
I was wondering about the beer since there was no mention of it (strange considering it's a "pub"). It would have been more exciting had there been craft beer.
Kevin / January 10, 2012 at 07:46 pm
I like the food, I like the beer, I like the wine, I like the decor, it makes me happy. People like Adam don't make me happy. Get a life. and no I don't work there.
Sandman replying to a comment from David / January 10, 2012 at 07:55 pm
Great addition to the 'hood.
The burger looks delectable, plan to check it out.

And, if there is eye candy, even better (it's not as if Sharkey's didn't have the same approach).
Lianne / January 10, 2012 at 08:00 pm
So Adam, you haven't even tried it and you're writing it off? That's pretty closed-minded. How do you know they don't have passion if you haven't met the owners? Maybe someone got a grumpy waitress one day. I'm sure they didn't open the store just for fun and don't even want to try to make you happy ... c'mon. I haven't tried it either - moving back to that area in May and I will then, and I'll do it with an open mind.
Swansea / January 10, 2012 at 09:26 pm
My girlfriend and I have been to Kennedy's for drinks after dinner, Saturday lunch and NYE Dinner. We have loved each experience. They did a great job with the space, bathrooms, atmosphere and menu. The food was delicious....the calamari is to die for and probably the best grilled calamari I have ever had! We did the Wing and Pint special, and sweet potato fries. The draft beer was down that day, so my girlfriend had a dirty martini and I had a bottle of Canadian. Our only recommendation would be to expand the beer selection. On NYE we went with a big group based on our recommendation, so we took a chance. The food was great, fast and easy. The drinks were flowing all night. The live band was fun, and there were people dancing. The owners were going around passing champagne to all. This is our new "local spot" . Great job!
Jim replying to a comment from Ron / January 11, 2012 at 12:46 am
Ron: I'd gladly take either one minus McDonalds. And To:Chris, the Woody's Burger Rainforest Cafe, Licks,and even licks sings you the home burger song when it's ordered so you get some form of entertainment.. all of them for around 9.00 Not saying these guys food is bad, just saying not everyone wants to spend 14.00 on a hamburger..Cheers!
Samson / January 11, 2012 at 11:57 am
Kennedy will be introducing a proper Brunch menu this weekend! Can't wait to try their spin on it !
Adam replying to a comment from Lianne / January 11, 2012 at 01:37 pm
Kevin and Lianne: So what is your position exactly? Hooray for mediocrity? I owe every pub that opens a visit, even when it clearly spent all of 10 minutes figuring out what kind of drinks to serve (i.e. the same ones as everyone else?).

Hell no! Once again, I will visit pubs that TRY to be good. I can tell this place isn't trying because it has the same beer selection as a restaurant at the goddamn airport.

Kevin, people like me *do* make you happy, because when I'm in a position to do something well, I do! I'm considering opening a bar someday and if I do, the beer selection will BLOW YOUR MIND. Promise!

God! Some BlogTO commenters and their aggressive defences of apathy! Why live with the hassle and expense of living in a big city and then put up things that suck when there's so much choice?

You make me want a beer in the afternoon!
Zed / January 11, 2012 at 03:24 pm
Great food, great service, reasonable prices. Only been the one time, but will be going back for sure!
Steve / January 11, 2012 at 11:33 pm
Going there since it was Sharkey's? Rookie. I've been going there since it was Future Bakery.
Linas replying to a comment from Steve / January 12, 2012 at 05:24 pm
I agree, rookie. Lol. The food there hasn't disappointed in my two visits with my gf. The wings are great, crispy and the, what I think is housemade, crazy hot sauce is awesome. The pulled pork sandwich is a real treat. I agree with the reviewer that the club is awesome.
Ronald McWendys / January 14, 2012 at 12:57 pm
Jim: how old are you?
C.R / January 14, 2012 at 01:57 pm
 I hope that idiot that wrote the comment about Licks singing your order for $9 gets disintary. 
j-rock / January 22, 2012 at 06:10 pm
I lived in High Park until recently, and went back to the old neighbourhood today to check this place out. I had the best Eggs Benedict I've had in recent memory, and the staff were quick and helpful. The selection of beers was pretty average, but I can't wait to go back in order to sample some more of their menu. the KPH is much better than Sharkey's was and I suspect that come patio season, there will be lines outside this place on weekends.
Nathan / January 26, 2012 at 12:23 am
The decor and design look good, probably the most refreshing in the area. That's where the positive stops.

The food was terrible. Menu options are limited for something that looks so upscale, but most of all, the food was terrible.

The Chicken & Waffles was three balls of deep fried chicken in some spicy batter. They were way over done: dried out and hard. The batter stuck to the chicken in a disgusting manner.

If you go, stick to going for beers only.

Catalpah replying to a comment from Nathan / January 26, 2012 at 11:10 am
"The batter stuck to the chicken in a disgusting manner." My, are we sensitive. I bet you steer clear of KFC and McD's.
Reuben Sutherland / February 23, 2013 at 01:57 am
Hey Harvey...Your a total idiot and I know deep inside your well aware of that. Trying to sound all sophisticated with smart aleck remarks about grammar. You miserable idiot. Kudos to the blog and I loved the review though about the lovely food experience. :)!
Dave / July 23, 2014 at 02:09 pm
The food here is generally ok, but somehow they managed to fuck up the pizzas - they are literally disgusting. There's one called Summer Daze that is literally a cold salad on top of greasey bread. When I asked the waitress her reply was "oh we serve it fresh" - which I followed up with "freshly made? I hope so. Why is it cold?" and the answer I got was "It's meant to be like that." If I wanted a salad, I'd order a salad - and $17 for a margherita? Get the f**k outta here.
mariaannette / August 22, 2014 at 11:44 pm
I went to this restaurant to have early dinner. I am 64 year old lady and I was alone. I spoke to the receptionists and asked for the menu. I was seated at the very end of the restaurant per my request. I sat there waiting for service which took quite a while. It was not very busy at all. There were lots of empty tables and chairs. Most of the customers were young and I felt a little out of place. I felt I made a mistake coming here but I was hungry. The waitresses were very young and snobby and unwelcoming except for one who refilled my pop. They looked at me strange perhaps because I was alone and old. I thought I should have gone to bread and roses or Mcdonald's but I wanted to try something new. I was finally served by a waiter who seemed okay enough but I waited very long for my bill which I asked for after I finished my meal. The chicken was tasty but the coleslaw and cornbread were so so. I don't think I will go back nor recommend it to friends because of the not so great experience.

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