Chi-Ko-Roo is a relative newcomer in the ever-evolving restaurant landscape in Church-Wellesley Village . The neighbourhood has seen popular dining establishments come and go, prime examples being the departure of Zelda's (which moved to Yonge and Isabella) and the arrival of the subject of this review, which replaced outgoing Il Fornello two months ago.
An eclectic mix of music is part of Chi-Ko-Roo's multifaceted personality and ranges from 90's new jack swing, 70's disco, soul to more recent dance music.
More diverse than the tunes even is Chi-Ko-Roo's menu, which, while anchored on solid Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern fare, offers a diverse assortment of food. Breakfast, wraps, burgers, Spanish paella and an impressive selection of grilled meats and seafood are just a few of the dishes available.
The beverage list is equally deep, with plenty of selection when it comes to wine, mixed drinks and international beer on tap. Rotating cocktail specials such as $5.00 margaritas and Bellinis served in ginormous glasses are available on weekdays.
The moment we sit down, we're offered a basket of bread and a selection of baba ghanoush, a sweet tomato-eggplant sauce and hummus, which is a great but filling prelude considering what's to come.
For starters, we decide on the tiger shrimp appetizer ($11.00), which consists of five hefty shrimp marinated in fresh garlic sauce that are sautéed to firm perfection in white wine and butter. The dish is served with grilled zucchini and large strips of homemade garlic toast, the latter of which are ideal for sopping up the buttery sauce.
The Mediterranean filet mignon salad ($12.00, pictured at top) is a formidable bowl of crispy lettuce, radicchio, peppers, onions, asparagus and grilled beef tossed in a generous portion of homemade vinaigrette dressing. Avocado ($1.50) can be added and also barbecue jumbo shrimp ($5.00), but the salad is plenty filling without the additions and manages to be both refreshing and savoury.
When the grilled chicken shish kabob special ($16.00) arrives, it becomes apparent to us that Chi-Ko-Roo's servings are all enormous. The side Caesar salad is big enough to be a main dish in your typical restaurant, and while a little heavy on the dressing, the garlic element is subtle and not at all overpowering.
The large skewers of char-grilled chicken are bang on. These kabobs have a moist interior and notes of lime, roasted garlic and parsley and are accompanied by a garlic mayo dip, thinly sliced beets and served on top of a large bed of fries.
While the chicken was excellent, the fries were bland. You can opt for mashed potatoes or steamed basmati rice, which in hindsight might have been a better companion.
We're stuffed beyond words when we finish our mains, and thus opt to skip the dessert and coffee. But Chi-Ko-Roo's made a good enough first impression, and there's plenty more on the menu that we're keen to discover the next time we've developed a healthy appetite.
Chi-Ko-Roo's hours are Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Breakfast is served on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.