Before D and I were married, I lived in four different downtown apartments all within about 4 blocks of each other and I came to know the area south of Portage Ave. as my neighbourhood. I went to school, worked, grocery-shopped, dined and attended a myriad of artistic events all within walking distance. For much of this time, I didn’t own a car but I could perfectly manage to obtain everything I needed and wanted, without one. Every once in a while D and I are tempted to choose this lifestyle again and now a days there are even more reasons to draw us back to downtown living. I have had an opportunity to tour The Avenue apartment building recently including their splendid roof top space and could easily see myself nestled in, right on Portage Ave.
This fantasy might mean that Arkadash Bistro and Lounge could become our neighbourhood hang out.
As soon as I walked into the sleek space, I was reminded of the long and narrow bistros of the East Village of New York city. The decor of Arkadash is so sophisticated that it could easily hold its own in the Big Apple. I understand that the husband of the chef was the designer/architect for the make over and my high praise goes to him and his space.
But to the food!
Lunch began with a little basket of focaccia bread with olive oil for dipping and this delicious soup of the day. Too much time has past since this visit to remember what it was, but I do recall a spicy chili taste.
One friend chose the pulled pork. Even though this photo doesn’t do the dish justice, I am happy to see that Chef Karen doesn’t disguise the savoury taste of slow cooked Berkshire pork with an unnecessary barbeque sauce. The moist taste of good pork is velvety and distinctive when prepared properly and this was. The meat was served with corn tortillas to wrap it up.
Another friend selected the Turkish grilled chicken which she enjoyed with the couscous. Both these dishes were accompanied by baked vanilla pumpkin which received kudos.
I tucked into this lunch feature of grilled scallops with a simple pasta. It was just my cuppa tea as the sweet meat of the scallop was all I needed with a spear of butter- tossed pasta (no sauce required). Everyone agreed that the local ingredients and preparation was exceptional but we all wondered why the food was not piping hot. In all honesty it was luke warm. This is in the small points department, but hot food is a basic dining expectation. I look forward to visiting again when I am sure this will be different.
I will return as I am eggplant obsessed and intrigued by the starter of “Toenail of a Dog”, and the entree of “Imam Baldi”. I had the pleasure of meeting cousins and restaurant partners Karen and Kelvin and we spoke at length about their commitment to local ingredients and serving the neighbourhood. They have exciting plans ahead for the service of High Tea along with their continued offerings of jazz on Friday evenings in the lounge.
“Manhattan is a narrow island off the coast of New Jersey devoted to the pursuit of lunch.”-Raymond Sokolov
Love-that is all.