‘The Pile’ at Park­dale’s Ten­nessee Tav­ern

This quirky new Grant van Gameren haunt of­fers up a smor­gas­bord of eastern Euro­pean fare

Bayview Post - - Food -


When Park­dale’s scruffy wa­ter­ing hole by the name of The Ten­nessee came on the mar­ket, there were only two op­tions.

“It was ei­ther go­ing to be­come an­other re­ally bad bar,” says co-owner Alec Colyer, “or we could take it and do some­thing a lit­tle more fun with it.” Colyer, along with part­ners in crime Grant van Gameren and Max Rimaldi, opted to snap the space up, trans­form­ing it into an eastern Euro tav­ern that has lit­tle to do with Ten­nessee.

In­side, the caver­ous space acts as a back­drop to a hodge­podge of an­tique cu­riosi­ties, reach­ing from a col­lec­tion of wall cru­ci­fixes to a gi­gan­tic bird­cage to a gor­geous wooden bar that lived a for­mer life as a Pol­ish steel work­ers’ bar in Buf­falo, New York.


“The great thing about be­ing Cana­dian, be­ing a tav­ern and be­ing an easy­go­ing place in Park­dale is that we don’t have to be true to any coun­try or re­gion or style,” says Colyer, who skipped over to Ten­nessee af­ter man­ag­ing Bar Is­abel for years.

Al­though Colyer, van Gameren and Rimaldi all have ties to Europe (Lithua­nia and Poland), there was never any de­sire to do an en­tirely au­then­tic eatery. “The style of food that comes out of the Balkans and Poland are very dif­fer­ent,” says Colyer. Pick­ing and choos­ing regional favourites ex­cited the team, mak­ing for a far more dy­namic menu. And al­though there was no doubt that there’d be cab­bage rolls and per­o­gies an­chor­ing the of­fer­ings, a car­ni­vore’s dream plat­ter was an­other must.


Charm­ingly dubbed “the pile,” the Ten­nessee Plat­ter boasts a heav­ing mass of meat that skips from re­gion to re­gion ($42.95).

In the kitchen is Brett How­son, who hopped into the tav­ern thanks to his en­thu­si­asm. “Brett was re­ally in­ter­ested in ex­plor­ing a style of food that none of the chefs in the city are play­ing with,” Colyer says.

The plat­ter be­gins with schnitzel, six-ounce veal cut­lets that are dried out overnight, pounded un­til su­per thin, dredged in spices, egg yolk and flour and fin­ished with bread crumbs. Next up, the smoked pork loin is brined and cured, smoked and then sliced per or­der.The Hun­gar­ian-style de­bre­cyna sausage isn’t made in house. Af­ter many a gru­elling test­ing ses­sion, they set­tled on the Siko­rski’s ver­sion of the pa­prika-spiced pork links.

“I ate end­less amounts of sausages,” How­son says and laughs. He notes that the smoke lev­els on the Siko­rski ones are what ce­mented the love. Fi­nally, the house made će­vapi (which are found across the Balkans) are case­less sausages made with a ground beef mix from lo­cal pro­duc­ers.

Lest we forget, pick­les, car­rot salad and hard-boiled eggs are also housed on the plat­ter.

Ten­nessee Tav­ern, 1554 Queen St. W., 416-535-7777

All the meat, meat, meat with a side of ‘veg’

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