Canada: Load My Canoe

Tea N Bannock – 1294 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4L 1Y7
Country: Canada    
Seating: Only indoor seating
Dinner guests: Sandbagger
Must-try dish: Taco Slider/Bear Paw
The high: A great place to eat game meat (elk and bison) in the city. 
The low: The limited hours that the restaurant is open make it difficult to go for lunch or dinner. 

What is Canadian cuisine? Poutine is the answer that the majority of Canadians will give, but this is in fact a French Candian dish from Quebec that’s been adopted by the rest of the country. Before the Europeans arrived to Canada, there were other populations living here and their food would in reality be the true Canadian cuisine. So we’ve decide to explore these dishes that are unlike any other that we’ve tried so far on our dining adventures. 

It’s no surprise that Tea N Bannock serves a variety of teas with flavours that someone could forage in Ontario’s forest – cedar, rosehip, and blueberry. The menu stays on a similar path with elk and bison dishes, pickerel and salmon options, vegetables from the current season, and deserts centered around wild blueberries. Before the meal commenced we started off the lunch with cedar tea which is exactly as it sounds, dried cedar leaves are steeped hot water and has been used in Indigenous medicine for centuries.

Despite all being Canadian citizens for several generations past, a little help from the staff members was much appreciated. 

Taco Slider/Bear Paw
Seeing as this was a last minute addition to the order and it was the unanimous favourite dish, it deserves a terrific explanation. Miniature pieces of bannock are topped with chili sauce, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and salsa. Although it’s not the most traditional dish on the menu, it certainly is worth ordering. There’s also a larger meal-sized portion available. To make a bear paw shape the bannock fry bread and roll it in cinnamon, cute and tasty.

Bannock is a flatbread made from flour that was a popular staple among indigenous communities in the past, and even today. It tends to come in a circular form, which is why it’s the perfect base for a taco. 

Pickerel Dinner 
This local fish is pan fried and served with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. It’s a lighter fare from the heavier meat options on the menu.

Stew of the Day
It was our lucky day because the elk stew was waiting for us. If you didn’t know, it could be mistaken for beef but it tends to be more lean and tender as a whole. It’s not a common item on menus, so if you see it, then jump at your chance to eat it. 

The stew has root vegetables and chunks of meat smoked in-house that’s cooked in a clear broth. It quickly warms the entire body on a cold Canadian winter day. The bannock is a delightful vehicle for dipping. 

Bison Stir-Fry 
This is simply a fresh and healthy dish made up of strips of bison steak, seasonal vegetables, mashed potatoes, and coleslaw. The natural flavours of the meat and the vegetables is strong because there is little seasoning nor sauce. It makes you appreciate the quality of each bite.  

Blueberry Dumplings 
These doughy delights are topped with warm wild blueberry compote and ice cream. It’s a reminder why everything dumplings and everything dumpling is amazing, and even better when fuzed together. You’ll want to save room for this! 

The service is friendly, and can be involved in the ordering process if you invite them. The recipes have ingredients that would have once been easily foraged across Canada, and bannock is a staple in Indigenous cuisine. Tea n Bannock is an excellent example of true Canadian food that has been passed down for generations. 

Eat with you soon, 

Mandrea Bike
(Mat & Andrea)

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