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Bannock‘s was the name on everyone’s lips. Every toronto-based magazine I picked up seemed to have some mention of the new restaurant. Many of my Torontonian friends – old and new – would sparkle with enthusiasm, eagerly gushing about the latest Oliver & Bonacini offering (Peter Oliver and Michael Bonacini have opened a number of popular restaurants in Canada).

Duck poutine pizza!”, my friends cried.

Sometimes they’d vary it up with,”Oh my god, Simika – it’s Duck poutine pizza!” 

Or as I heard it, Duck poutine pizza!”

Poutine, for those of you who are curious, is a traditionally Acadian/Canadian dish that comprises of fries, cheese curds and gravy. You can experiment with the toppings, and types of gravy – but ultimately, it’s a gooey, cheesy, potato mess that tastes divine. And so, it was fitting somehow to start of my Project 101 with a Canadian “comfort food” restaurant that just opened around the same time that I moved back home. I love poutine and pizza as much as a nerd loves his A’s, as much as the Brain loves global domination, and as much as the French love fresh baguettes and wine.

The menu featured a lot of “common” favourites, with a Canadian twist 🙂 Pad Thai, Noodles, Mac and Cheese, Burgers. Pizzas. Typically hodge podge. Typically Canadian. Their Caesar salad had strips of bannock bread, fried, and a horseradish-infused dressing. You could also choose, as two of my friends did, to have it as a drink – the Bannock Caeser that was served as a Clamato, sherry mixture with maple bacon as garnish. Serious business indeed !

 The rustic looking presentation of Chicken pot pie I ordered – served in an oblong dish, with a healthy helping of creamy mashed potatoes – tasted as good as it looked. Their lobster roll – in all its buttery goodness – was satisfying enough to temporarily satiate my craving for California, and the awesome lobster sandwiches you can get at Half Moon Bay.  We also had the pickerel tacos and the lamb rump (yes, i said rump! 😉 ) with pilaf and rosemary at the table.

For dessert, we had the S’more pie  in all its chocolatey, marshmallowey goodness. Does it get better than this? Oh all right,  may be a creme brulee with candied orange would be the ultimate comfort dessert, but let me tell you, that s’more pie transcends comfort the way dessert heaven would transcend home. And I’m saying this as someone who loves both her home, and creme brulee with candied orange.

And that duck poutine pizza? It’s exactly as it sounds. Tender slices of duck meat, laid over a flat bannock bread base, topped with chunks of curd and drizzled with Bannock’s own gravy.  Delicious. Heavy. And definitely meant to be shared. It’s large, filling and perfect to share with a group of 6. Any more, and you’ll feel gipped. Any less, and you may not be able to order anything else.

Since my first visit, I’ve been to Bannock a couple more times: once to have dinner, another to take advantage of their cafe style section at the back, and meet up with friends for coffee. It feels comfortable, easy going and reminds me that I chose to come back home to Canada. And why.