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- The Kensington Cornerstone offers a gluten-free menu. It has gluten-free beer. It has a cute patio and it’s painted to look like a circus tent. I chose it for all of the aforementioned reasons. It checked a lot of boxes on my list. I won’t be going back.
This past weekend found me turning another year older, and because I’ve been experimenting with a gluten-reduced diet as of late, I decided my birthday dinner should be had at the Kensington Cornerstone. I looked at pictures. I perused the menu. I read reviews. It all seemed positive.
It was a beautiful evening, so I was happy that we snagged a spot on the patio. We had to wait awhile for our drink order to be taken, but at this point we were still taking in our surroundings, people watching (Kensington offers some of the best), and trying to catch passing bubbles being dispensed from somewhere across the street.
Just when I was at the point of helping myself to my neighbouring tables’ pitcher of beer, our waitress appeared. The up side to the wait was that we had enough time to choose not only our drinks but our meals, so we placed all of our orders to make up for lost time. While we had intended to order one of their pitchers of sangria (and/or mojitos, and/or margaritas), we all ended up opting for beer. My girlfriend and my mom split a pitcher of Upper Canada Lager, while I decided to try one of their 4 gluten-free selections. I figured having a wheat beer with my gluten-free meal would be like washing down a pie with a diet pop, so I stuck to my guns. I’ve had what Nicklebrook has to offer in the line of GF beer, so I was looking forward to trying a new one. I asked our server what the most popular one was, and she pointed me in the direction of a red ale by La Messagre that operates out of Montreal.
When our drinks arrived, I took that first sip so full of hope, and for a split second I thought I was going to have the chance to gloat in the face of my girlfriend (I know, I’m nice aren’t I?) that my beer didn’t taste horrible. I didn’t have that chance. Did I just drink beer? Or did I just suck on a penny? Even I was a bit confused at that point. It started off so well, but then finished with a strong metallic and bitter taste that seemed to coat my tongue and the back of my throat. Bitter…just like I was at that point.
So by this time about 30 minutes had passed since we ordered. Our thirst was quenched but we were more than peckish. Thank goodness our server was coming our way! But instead of food, she came bearing bad news. My girlfriend would not be dining on the stuffed peppers that she had ordered as they had run out, and for some reason, they just thought to tell her now. Not only would we have to wait even longer for our food, but our plan to share our meals was scrapped as we now both had the pulled pork sandwich coming to us.
(Sound of clock ticking)
Another half hour passed and our meals finally arrived. As hungry as I was I couldn’t make it through my sandwich ($13). It looked appetizing enough, but the pork wasn’t nearly as tender as it should have been (I’ve been spoiled by the likes of Fidel Gastro lately), and the sauce was a bit of a turn-off, being too heavy on the tomato and cilantro. The gluten-free bread was quite good, and even had a bit of a cheesy crust but unfortunately it had been sitting in pork juice, so it was now more of a sponge. Yes, a pulled pork sandwich should definitely be messy, but you should still be able to pick it up.
My mom was impressed with her salmon ($18), but she wouldn’t complain if there was a gun to her head. It did look good though, and the portion was generous, so not all was lost.
Looking back on it now I wish I had just scrapped the GF diet and stuck with an old faithful restaurant. What was I thinking trying to eliminate carbs for my birthday dinner? Why did I go out of my way to both experiment with a restaurant and deprive myself of something I love on my special day? Who does that? So while I’m not taking the blame away from the restaurant, I will share some of it with them…but only some as the service was really what ruined our experience. Maybe the food wasn’t amazing, but the fact that we had to wait so long for it was the added insult. The servers themselves were lovely girls, but somewhere back in the kitchen, the ball was dropped.
After we begrudgingly paid our bill, I decided to throw the whole GF thing out the window and head to Ronnie’s for a bottle of (gluten rich) 50 to end the night on a positive note. As we sat there on the patio I couldn’t help but stare across the road at The Grilled Cheese. Oh, what could have been.
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