The Kennedy Public House
The 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.
We 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.
Though 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.
Despite 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.
My 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!
We 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.
Between 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.