The Kennedy Public House opens on Bloor West
By Meri Perra
(Image: Ted Yarwood)
When owner Mike Derbyshire took over the old Sharkey’s Village Café a few months ago, his plan was to ride out the summer with the old business and launch a new restaurant during the slower fall season. So after closing for six weeks of intense renovations — during which countless passersby tried to peek in through the covered windows — The Kennedy Public House opened its doors to reveal a space that is completely its own.
And so far, Bloor West is happy. In its first week, the Kennedy had a wait list for tables from Tuesday to Saturday night.
The line up may be because of the women.
“Women often (chose) where a couple will go,” says general manager, Larry Clarke. “And women will not go to a crummy washroom.”
Ditching the former (we assume crummy) basement loo, the Kennedy now has a glamorous, sparkling-clean unisex water closet, with five spacious private stalls. The space is so fine that we took our time washing our hands and fixing our hair. We felt like we were somewhere special.
The wood on the table tops and flooring at the Kennedy, on the other hand, really is special. It's 1000-year-old fir, reclaimed from a 250-year-old barn in western Canada. The carpenter came from out west with the wood and did his work on-site. If you look closely, you can see antique, hand-forged nails in the table tops.
Derbyshire scoured the Toronto Archives and covered his walls with old pictures of the neighbourhood. Favourites are an image of an old local bath house and a large mural showing the building of the streetcar tracks on Bloor West.
And then, of course, there’s the food. Head chef Tristan D'Souza, formerly of the Toronto Hunt Club, has created a menu that combines traditional comfort food created with chef expertise.
Take the macaroni and cheese ($16), which is about as far of a cry from the stuff in the box as you can get. D’Souza makes a porcini asiago cream sauce — which includes a medley of shiitake, button and crimini mushrooms — and tops it off with lemon-thyme bread crumbs. Then there’s the smoked pork belly and bean cassoulet ($12), which Clarke says people at the grand opening went nuts over, and the fried chicken with jalapeño waffles, covered in a housemade chicken gravy and garnished with peppered watermelon ($18).
Fun sides include the black and tan onion rings ($6) which are drizzled with Guinness and have a sweet flavour, and the smoked nuts. D’Souza smokes almonds, pecans, cashews and roasted corn and serves them in a Mason jar. ($7, or $4 for a refill.)
A major supplier is Gordon Food Service, and there are many local craft beers on tap. (Though brew from the big guys is also served.)
Regardless, those smoked nuts sound like they’d go great with anything.
The Kennedy Public House, 2199 Bloor St. W., 416-769-3888