Charred veggie antipasto, chili chicken pad thai, charred lamb kofta, tofurky scallopini – none of these are distinctly Canadian, yet they all have a place on the menu of Bannock, a restaurant that specializes in Canadian comfort food. The 'Canadian' part is debatable but the comfort part isn't – the dishes are rich and filling. Made up of a grab-and-go café, coffee shop, and dine-in restaurant, Bannock is part of the Oliver & Bonacini Restaurant family and has a prime location across from the Eaton Centre at Queen and Bay.
Pickerel Steamed Bun ($13)
We ordered the Pickerel Steamed Bun ($13) and Roast Duck Poutine Pizza ($16) to eat and The Mighty Canuck ($9) to drink. Originally our order was a lot larger but we were warned that the poutine was filling so we cut back. Our waiter promised that we had chosen his two favourite dishes.
The Mighty Canuck was made with polar ice vodka, maple lemonade, and maple syrup. While good, the maple flavour was almost non-existent.
The Mighty Canuck ($9)
The Pickerel Steamed Bun is an interpretation of a taco, filled with chili-tamarind-maple glazed pickerel, rutabaga slaw, and caviar tartar, piled high in a bun reminiscent of a Chinese steamed bun. It was served with a slightly acidic apple cucumber salad. Drawing flavour inspirations from China and Thailand, but made with fresh Canadian ingredients, it was definitely one of the more interesting concoctions on the menu.
And of course, you can't go to Bannock without trying the Roast Duck Poutine Pizza. This is their most popular dish, a bannock topped with roast duck, caramelized onions, fries, cheese curds, and should probably be ordered alongside a coffin. Sadly, neither the poutine nor the bannock were particularly well-made but as a whole, is definitely a novelty item worth sharing (it is a whopping 2160 calories). In all of Bannock's history, only a handful of people have ever finished the dish, to no surprise.
Roast Duck Poutine Pizza ($16)
Like most Canadians, we were curious to see what constituted true Canadian food (besides beaver tails, poutine, and maple syrup) and our experience was very anti-climactic. Although it's a little disappointing that Bannock is the representation of our cuisine, it's definitely worth trying.