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Restaurants

Kensington Cornerstone

Posted by Kaela Greenstien / Reviewed on July 17, 2011 / review policy

Kensington CornerstoneThe Kensington Cornerstone is a 100% gluten-free restaurant but you can forget about noticing that, in fact, most people wont. The only indication about it's status comes from a small message at the bottom of the menu reading: this entire menu is gluten-free (and delicious!). If you happened to miss the memo, you would never guess.

With a sizable sun-drenched patio and a refined but relaxed interior, Kensington Cornerstone offers the market a family restaurant with wholesome, fresh market sourced ingredients. The menu features staple dishes like calamari, steak, ceaser salad, pulled pork sandwiches and chicken fingers, along with three kids items for those bringing the wee ones along.

Kensington CornerstoneI came in for lunch on my own on a scorching hot day looking for a nice patio to read the paper on. I found a good slice of shade under one of the large umbrellas and quickly ordered a Stewart's Cream Soda ($2.50). If it weren't for the fact that it was noon and I was dining alone, I certainly would have indulged in the $12.99 pitchers of sangria.

I decided to try the mushroom melt ($10) with fries on the side. As I waited, I guzzled up an unhealthy amount of water. The server was happy to come out to keep refilling it while joking that the answer was "probably a number from 1 to 9" as I worked away on my Sudoku.

Kensington CornerstoneMy sandwich was filled with hearty slabs of portobello mushrooms and caramelized onions under a thick slice of melted provolone. The cheese was a little too heavy for my liking, but overall the sandwich was pretty good with nothing about it revealing its gluten-less makings. The bread, sourced from Molly B's bakery, is a perfect combination of flours for a light, white bread and is also available for sale in the restaurant ($9/loaf).

The small side of coleslaw was creamy and fresh while the fries were of the standard
thick sliced variety and darn tasty. The atmosphere on the patio however felt very, uh, 1993, and disjointed from the rest of the market with Boyz II Men style jams coming from the stereo.

The next day, I brought along my friend Allie for some morning brunch. The morning sun was strong and filled the entire patio but luckily the bendable umbrellas allowed us to create some shade. The music, and subsequently the whole atmosphere, had changed dramatically since my last visit with the Ya Ya Ya's replacing the R n B. A bit of employee deejaying going on I suspect.

Allie ordered a decaf drip coffee as did I for the first time in my life-I'm still a little embarrassed.

We both wanted to order the big breakfast platter ($13 - top photo), but I decided to let Allie give it a try while I went for the garden vegetable omelet ($9).

Hash browns are my favourite part of breakfast and I was excited to see diced sweet potato mixed with chunks of seasoned grilled potatoes on both of our plates. Perfectly seasoned and delicious, they were pan fried rather than deep fried so the market fresh potatoes were well highlighted.

Allie's breakfast platter was a combination of hash browns, two eggs, veggies and 3 mini pancakes. The pancakes were the star of the plate. Dusted in cinnamon with real maple syrup on the side, Allie described them as "almost like real cakes". They were easily some of the best pancakes we had both tried, and again, all gluten-free.

Kensington CornerstoneMy garden omelet came out a fairly dark from the pan and, being sourced from an Ontario Eco-farm, a deeper yellow than most restaurants. The eggs were folded on top of large slices of zucchini, cauliflower and eggplant. I chose a generous side of fruits, rather than sausage or bacon.

Kensington CornerstoneWe popped inside to check out the interior before we left and found a small, cozy sofa lounge a couple steps up from the polished and intimate dining room. My two visits were great and I appreciated the calm that resonated in this end of the crowded market. Kenginton Cornerstone is rustic, unpretentious, home style food and quite lovely at that.

Kensington Cornerstone

Discussion

19 Comments

Ashley / January 5, 2011 at 06:08 pm
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We just found this place this week and it is AMAZING!!! It was so nice to go to a restaurant where I didn't have to worry about anything containing gluten. My husband loved the food and he's not gluten free. Great place- great menu!
karina / July 17, 2011 at 01:39 pm
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i being there so many times and I LOVE IT!!!
one of my favorites places in kensington
the food it's amazing and the service it's really good
also they have gluten free beers!!!
go and try it!!
Amy & David / July 18, 2011 at 05:18 pm
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Thanks, Kaela! From the sudoku comment, I think your server was David, the Owner and my husband. He says the same thing when I'm doing them.

And thanks to the commenters too. We're so glad you enjoy our restaurant.
Carol / July 18, 2011 at 05:35 pm
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This is definitely my favourite place in/near to Kensington! Especially since I've discovered I'm gluten-intolerant. But I loved it even before that.
LJ / July 19, 2011 at 09:30 am
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is gluten allergy a new phenomena? I dont recall anyone suffering from this when i was younger. food looks yummy
Mike / July 19, 2011 at 10:35 am
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LJ, it just might be.

I'm 30, and developed my allergy around 5 years ago... it came out of nowhere!
John replying to a comment from LJ / July 19, 2011 at 11:25 am
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It certainly is not a "new phenomena". I never knew anyone growing up with a peanut allergy but it certainly was still around.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coeliac_disease#History
Donna / July 20, 2011 at 11:21 am
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My favorite place to visit when in Toronto!!! :)
Ted C. replying to a comment from LJ / July 21, 2011 at 01:49 pm
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Coeliac disease isn't new, but scientists only just discovered the link with gluten about 50 years ago. Before then, children would just mysteriously die, and no one suspected it was being caused by feeding them bread.

After the discovery, it took a while to work its way into the medical textbooks, which is why it's only become popularly known about in recent years. Younger doctors, educated more recently, are more likely to know about it. Pediatricians, in particular, are quite aware of it, as it affects children much worse than it affects adults. (The disease can first appear in childhood or in adulthood.)
Dale B / July 22, 2011 at 03:57 am
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Wondered back in for a pitcher of Sangria last week with friends.. Fantastic! great spot to sit on a patio and CHILL.. food fantastic.... Gluten free or not>> TASTY!!
Dale B / July 22, 2011 at 03:58 am
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While wondering thru the "hood" stopped in for a pitcher of Sangria with friends... fantastic place to grab a drink have a bite to eat and "chill!"...pardon the pun..LOVED IT!
John H / May 11, 2012 at 10:11 am
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Just had dinner here last night after finding this review.

The wife has suffered from celiac for 15+ years, and most restaurants who claim to have "celiac-friendly" items aren't really knowledgeable or serious about cross-contamination from wheat. Either that, or they're extreme vegan/raw food joints with a menu and food preparation that was safe but didn't appeal to our taste buds.

The reviewer kinda downplays the celiac angle, but if you have the disease, it's just about impossible to eat anything in any "normal" restaurant that most of your friends want to eat at without risking a bad reaction. So, you adjust: you don't eat out, or you bring your own cold, crappy food in a plastic container with your own knife and fork so you can at least enjoy the company while watching everyone else enjoy hot, great-smelling, freshly cooked food that just happens to be contaminated with something your body treats as a poison.

This joint is the real deal: totally, seriously gluten-free and with excellent, yummy food to boot. AND, they serve MEAT (yay meat!) (although they do have vegan selections too). This is IMPORTANT: it means you celiacs now have a place you can take your non-celiac friends and family to, and they don't have to put up with eating weird, unappetizing food just for you. Everybody's happy.

We had the salmon filet, the cheesesteak sandwich and the saffron rice with chicken. All top-notch preparation and flavour. Washed down with gluten-free beer. Very friendly waiter / owner. And all perfectly safe for people with celiac disease.

Yes, the menu is more expensive, and that's because sourcing ingredients that are certified gluten-free is more expensive. Wheat is EVERYWHERE in our food and pharmaceutical products, and gets into unexpected places (No-name table salt. Dry spices. Canned chicken stock. Toothpaste, fer crissakes!), and only a few suppliers take the trouble to guarantee a wheat-free supply chain. But it's worth the extra cost.
Jules / June 6, 2012 at 08:47 am
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I have celiac disease and can attest to the fact that it is near impossible to eat at a restaurant with friends. Also, worked in the rest. Industry for over 10 years which means i'm aware of the cross-contamination issue being a huge problem. Have eaten at Kensington cornerstone several times since it's one of the only places I can go....was impressed the first time only. After that the quality of food went significantly down-hill for me. I would say the chef is getting lazy and it's very disappointing to me since this place has such great potential. The owner needs a bit of a wake-up call. Too bad there's no way to let him know that his staff is sabotaging his clientele with poor-quality craft.
Wish / June 28, 2012 at 04:55 pm
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Look, I know that this isn't the biggest blog around, but please hire a copy editor. This is just embarrassing.
Maureen / July 23, 2012 at 11:45 pm
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Im going here tomorrow and im very excited!You cant go to a GF restaurant anywhere!
Katie / August 20, 2012 at 07:43 pm
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Popped in here a few weeks ago for some pictures of freshly made Iced Tea and Sangria!! They were excellent! Loved the little mod art work and couch set up also. My new favourite place! Had no idea the place was also gluten-free.
gluten free gift / January 23, 2013 at 12:01 pm
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Must try asap !! I just wrote a post about the number of gluten-free places in the Junction... will be hitting Cornerstone with my pal Pina next!
Saad / July 29, 2013 at 04:23 pm
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My wife cannot eat gluten so we were really looking forward to going to this restaurant. We arrived in a group of nine, which included two kids. Everyone ordered burgers or sandwiches, with the exception of myself and one other friend -- I got the stuffed Chicken and he asked for the steak. 45 minutes later and food had not arrived. Nor were we given an apology or explanation of any kind. Everyone was getting really hungry and restless. The server then brought out an appetizer and the grilled cheese sandwiches for the kids and said she was sorry about the delay when asked if the food will be coming soon. When the food did come, it was very mediocre. One sandwich which was not supposed to have cheese on it, came with cheese and we just scraped it off because we didn't want to wait anymore. And to top it all off, they forgot to cook the streak. My friend decided to cancel the order and just share a sandwich with his spouse. The manager was not happy with this decision. There were no apologies from him, he did not offer any price reductions or a free appetizer or anything and was generally matter-of-fact about the whole thing. When we finally left, he came running after us and accused us of leaving a 2 cent tip. We had left 10%, which is lower than normal but given the experience I cannot believe he expected greater generosity. We simply said that we had left just over 10%. He was again not happy. The restaurant was not even busy at the time, and the staff were standing around while we waited for an hour to get our food. There is no way I will ever go here again and given how average the food was (chicken was overcooked, sandwiches were corner deli quality, mushroom burger was thrown together) neither should anyone else.
Sam replying to a comment from Saad / October 26, 2013 at 07:45 am
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I am terribly sorry to read about your experience at the Cornerstone. While we do strive for excellence, and mostly do achieve it, there are days in any small business where things simply go wrong and it could be from any number of factors that our visitors may or may not be able to see. A wrong delivery, an accident in the kitchen, ill-timed bad news to an emotional chef...
any of which could lead to a poor reflection of the standards we try and hold ourselves to.

That being said, you can see from the comments here and elsewhere that yours indeed was a rare event. Our food on an average day is excellent by any standard, and I urge you to try us one more time to see if your sentiments are warranted.

When you do come in, ask for me. If we're not too busy, I'll be happy to spend some time with you and discuss where you feel we might have cause for improvement.




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