Kalendar has been on my radar for ages. Just the exterior of this small restaurant and bistro is enough to entice: simple, elegant lettering, a relaxed patio and large windows give the space a cool yet unpretentious vibe. It’s also been heralded as one of the best places to eat in Toronto by critics, friends and family alike, so I just had to check it out, and when I did, it lived up to the buzz.
When you walk into Kalendar, the eclectic and classy interior decoration hits you first. Adorned with sumptuous red and blue hues and engraved with fine hardwood touches, the bar immediately feels warm and engaging. You’re quickly greeted by an approachable hostess who welcomes you inside and, most likely as it’s a popular place to be, requests that you wait at the bar until your table is ready. After about fifteen minutes, you’re ushered to the laid back second room and seated at a candlelit table. I was lucky to experience an exceptionally funny waitress whose humour matched her service. Water was refilled often and she did her best to serve food in a timely fashion even though the restaurant was packed.
The food itself actually matches the quirky and calm atmosphere where the lights are dimmed throughout the evening until numerous candles are the only things illuminating your meal. It’s a neat trick that relaxes patrons and probably provides a romantic atmosphere for those on dates. I was dining with friends, so the romantic aspect did not quite compute, but the couple beside our table certainly seemed to enjoy the atmospheric mood lighting.
After choosing from the excellent and varied menu, we started with some devilishly good bruschetta, followed after a bit of a wait by our entrees. I ordered off the specials menu and enjoyed a dinner sized portion of a ‘scroll’ (a roti in the style of a crepe) filled with sun dried tomatoes, melted Havarti cheese, asparagus spears, grilled chicken and artichoke hearts. Both it and its accompanying side salad were excellent. A friend ordered a pizza without cheese (she’s lactose intolerant) which the restaurant easily accommodated and another friend chowed down on the wild mushroom risotto.
Everything was declared decadent and divine and we all plan to return to sample some other options from the expansive menu that includes naanettes (naan bread used as a wrap of sorts), pasta dishes, soups, salads, and meat based dishes like pork medallions.
There’s a reason Kalendar was so packed the night I finally perused its fine offerings: it’s just a wonderful restaurant. So, if you enjoy great food at decent prices, you really have to check it out.
Kalendar is located at 546 College Street, three blocks west of Bathurst, just at the start of Little Italy.
It is open Monday through Thursday 11:30AM – 11:00 PM, Friday from 11:30AM-1:00AM, Saturday 10:30AM-1:00AM and Sunday 10:30AM-11:00PM, with brunch served Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 10:30AM – 3:00PM. Appetizers cost about $5-$10 each and entrees about $15-$20. Kalendar does not allow reservations.
Picture is courtesy of Kalendar.com.