Restaurant review: Karelia Kitchen

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We have a great new find – Karelia Kitchen, a Nordic smokehouse cafe/restaurant. When you walk in, you are warmly greeted by Donna, one of the co-owners. She opened this restaurant with her husband, Lief. Donna makes you feel right at home, and does a fantastic job of explaining all the choices (there are many ways to make a meal at this place).

I started off with a rose hips Kombucha ($4), which  is a lightly effervescent fermented drink of sweetened black or green tea. Hubby and I decided to wander up to the hot counter to check out the food items not on the sit-down menu. While there, we learned about their open-face smoked fish sandwiches, but what really caught our eye were the platters. We opted for the herring two-ways platter ($12), which was delightful! It came with imported pickled herring, and herring that was smoked in-house. I enjoyed both, but the herring smoked in-house was better in both flavour and texture.

After licking the plate clean, hubby and I decided to order from the hot counter. It’s a great deal because you get to pick your meat and two sides. Again, there are many side options. I ordered the oxtail with curried wheat berry and buttered rutabaga (15). The oxtail was incredibly tender, but I have to be honest and tell you that it’s tough to beat the flavour of Chinese style oxtail. The curried wheat berry was creamy, but not heavy, and the cauliflower worked well with it. The buttered rutabaga was delightfully buttery. Hubby ordered the meatballs, golden wheat berry and parsnips ($12). The meatballs were done right and not at all dry. It came with sour cream and cranberry, but I found myself using more of the sour cream. I enjoyed the parsnips, though I think hubby should have picked one hot side instead of two cold sides.

After the mains, we ordered tea and their version of a red velvet cake. I loved that the cake was not sugary sweet; however, the cake is not your usual fluffy cake. Donna explained that she didn’t want to make a cake with red dye #5, so instead she naturally coloured the cake using beets. By doing this, the cake was quite dense, with a tasty cream-cheese icing. It’s definitely a good cake, but after a big meal, I’d prefer to end with a lighter cake. If cake isn’t your thing, they have many other treats to choose from.

Would I go back? Most definitely! I’m already thinking about how their sandwiches would be a great brunch option!

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