Sunday, January 27, 2013

Karelia Restaurant: Finally, Smorrebrod in Toronto!

Since the closure of the Copenhagen Room at Bay and Bloor, the GTA has been waiting patiently, for years, for a good resto to provide the community with smorrebrod, Danish style, open-faced sandwiches.

Karelia Kitchen has arrived on Bloor Street. Their kitchen does all it’s veggie and fruit drying, smoking (with hickory shavings) and brining, in house. Mayo for the various dishes is house made, with duck egg yolks for a richer flavour. The ingredients of the sandwich menu rotate with the seasons. The base of all sandwiches is a very good, classic, dense, dark bread, spread with butter.

Although the resto does some very good baking and provides a range of wonderful looking desserts made in house, I skipped desserts to experience the range of sandwiches. I also skipped the interesting hot dishes that were available.

A very good range of house pressed juices, beers, “healthy” soft drinks, Scandinavian aquavit, etc, are marked on the black board.

Delicious, dill redolent potato salad, loaded with the wonderful house made mayo flavoured with white wine vinegar, finely diced pickles, parsley, sweet red pepper, plated with golden beets and barley flavoured with chopped parsley, roasted garlic, sunflower oil, orange juice and ginger. 

Very lighly smoked salmon was topped with fresh house made cheese, quail egg, chives, salmon roe and caperberries. A very pleasing combination of ingredients. I also enjoyed the firm texture of the salmon. The sandwich on the right is roasted organic chicken with mustard and tarragon mayo, topped with house smoked bacon and red Swiss chard.

“Smushilicious”, a small scale selection of sandwiches that changes daily. Today, wonderfully fresh and sweet, baby shrimp with a lemon flavoured mayo and lots of chopped dill, topped with julienned radish; house smoked salmon on a slice of egg, topped with a bit of lemon and dill; a very lightly smoked, chopped whitefish topped with chopped chives. This version of whitefish was perhaps one of the best smoked whitefish experiences that I have enjoyed in Toronto because of the moist texture and the light application of smoke.

Mildly smoked chicken salad with mayo, chopped parsley, finely diced celery root, dried apricot and topped with cranberry citrus compote. This was my favourite open-faced sandwich. The sandwich on the right is beetroot rosti: beet and potato cakes, roasted garlic aioli, pear and ginger compote and dandelion leaves.

Lighly smoked, thinly sliced pork loin, topped with rosemary apple butter, crispy shallots, baby watercress and cape gooseberry. The sandwich on the right is roast beef topped with pickled beets, finely diced red onion, horseradish mayo, gaufrette potato chips and chervil. 

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