Since opening up several months ago, Canis seems to have captured the hearts of all of its customers. Serving up their interpretation of Canadian cuisine, there’s plenty to love about this new restaurant.
The restaurant is located on Queen West, a stone’s throw away from Trinity Bellwoods Park, and is designed in a very minimalist Scandinavian manner. There are thin wood panels down one side of the space and a concrete wall on the other side. I loved the pendant light fixtures hanging above the tables and appreciated the fact that the tables weren’t very tightly packed. The entire space, while not particularly large, had a very light and airy feel.
Chef Jeff Kang (previously of Bosk at the Shangri-La) has created a menu of dishes that are his take on Canadian fare with a strong emphasis on seasonal ingredients. The menu itself isn’t very descriptive – each dish consists of a list of ingredients with the primary ingredient listed first, so you’re left to wonder what you’re going to get.
The menu is separated into snacks (from $3 for an oyster to $9 for cured meat), starters (from $15 for beets with goat cheese and almonds to $22 for the foie gras with apple and walnuts) and mains (from $28 for sablefish to $49 for the duck for two). They also offer several desserts which are all priced at $8 each. As for beverages, they only offer wine and beer, so don’t expect to drink any fancy (and overpriced) cocktails here. Such a rarity these days.
Shortly after ordering, we were presented with a plate of complimentary bread (sourdough bread from Clarke’s), some whipped garlic butter with chives and ricotta topped with chimichurri. I’m so accustomed to paying for bread at restaurants these days that the complimentary bread was such a pleasant surprise. Not only that, but it came with some really fantastic spreads. The ricotta with chimichurri was amazing – something I’d easily pay for.
The first dishes to arrive were from the ‘snacks’ section of the menu. Since there were four of us, we ordered two orders of the Cauliflower Falafel ($5) which come with two per order. Instead of the typical round falafel balls or patties, these ones were long and narrow in shape. They were topped with pickled cauliflower and a delicious eggplant puree. The falafel themselves had a nice crisp exterior while still maintaining a moist interior. A very unique take on the falafel!
The other ‘snack’ we shared was the Chicken Liver Parfait ($6) which was my favourite dish of the meal. It was the ultimate sweet and savoury combination with the smooth, creamy liver mousse sitting in a sweet tart crust and topped with a concord grape gelee. I thought about ordering another for dessert. It’s really a must-order!
From the ‘starters’ section of the menu, we ordered the Beef Tartare – parsley, sunflower seed ($18), which at first glance looks like a dish a vegan would eat. Rest assured, there really is beef tartare underneath all the vibrant greens.
Many people aren’t big fans of parsley and if you’re one of those people, don’t let it steer you away from this dish. My friend commented that she normally doesn’t like parsley but didn’t mind it in this dish. Give it a good mix, and you’ll get pops of flavor from the garlic aioli and a nice crunch from the sunflower seeds. It was another nice dish to start off the meal.
Up next was the Ricotta Stuffed Pasta – yolk, kelp oil, mushroom broth ($17). It’s a pretty large portion considering it’s a ‘starter’ on the menu, so I recommend sharing this. The fluffy agnolotti sat in a lovely mushroom broth. The broth was quite light which I thought complemented the pasta nicely as stuffed pastas are typically heavier.
The last starter we shared was the Pork Jowl – chili, Brussels sprouts, pickle ($18). I love this fatty cut of pork and chances are, if it’s on the menu, I’m going to order it. Canis’ version consisted of sliced pork jowl topped sour pickles and shaved Brussels sprouts. The tender pork jowl had a nice kick to it from the chili and the pickles were a nice pairing but overall, I didn’t think this was a very memorable dish.
From the mains, we ordered the Beef Short Rib – shiitake, leek ($31). Short ribs are one of those dishes that seem to be on every menu around the city. I’ve had my fair share of them and I must say, these guys make a killer short rib. Paired with a delicious shiitake marmalade, these tender, meaty bites were another favourite of the evening. For such a (typically) hearty meat dish, I was surprised to see it presented in such a beautifully delicate way. The meat was cut into four pieces which made it perfect for sharing.
Our server recommended the Sablefish – beans, mussels, radish broth ($28) since our other mains were on the heavier side. It was a very clean and simple preparation and much lighter than what I’m used to. Sablefish is often prepared with a miso glaze and since it has a naturally oily texture to it, it has a richer mouth feel, especially when topped with a sweet glaze.
Being so accustomed to having sablefish with a miso glaze, I thought this was a very refreshing take on the fish. Served in a light broth, it allowed the fish itself to shine. But having said that, if you’re looking for something that will punch you in the face with flavor, you should probably consider ordering the beef short rib instead.
The dish that everyone’s talking about these days is the Duck for Two – onion, wheat berry ($59). Your server will bring it out to your table first before they carve it up so you can admire its beauty. Just look at that crispy skin!
It’s quite a bit of food. What you see in the picture below is a quarter portion (we shared it amongst the four of us). The dry-aged duck had a crispy skin and the breast meat was wonderfully succulent and juicy. They confited the leg and serve it with wheat berry and an onion puree on the side – this mixture was insanely delicious!
On the evening we visited, they were offering three desserts priced at $8 each. Since we were all pretty tapped out after the duck, we decided to share the Fermented Grape – buttermilk, brown butter ($8). I couldn’t think of a better way to end our meal. The buttermilk was reminiscent of frozen yogurt and the fermented grapes underneath were so refreshing. It was such a light and refreshing dessert which left us feeling a lot better after our meal than we would’ve if we had eaten a decadent chocolate dessert.
Service was excellent throughout our entire meal. Our server was so warm and genuine. She also provided excellent recommendations on both the food and wine front. You’ll be in great hands at Canis. I can see why it’s been a favourite amongst foodies as of late. Come see what all the hype is about!
At a glance:
- Located on Queen Street, just east of Trinity Bellwoods Park
- Chef Jeff Kang is in charge of the kitchen; serving up his interpretation of Canadian cuisine
- Excellent food and service
- No cocktails; wine and beery only
- Open Monday to Saturday from 5:30-10pm; closed Sundays
- Highlights: chicken liver parfait, beef short rib, duck for two
Ratings (out of 5):
- Food: 4 stars
- Service: 4 stars
- Atmosphere: 4 stars