Billed as a gastropub, The Rowan offers sophisticated British/ European food, and it does this very well. It’s owned by Simon and Ross Fraser, the brothers who brought Fraser Café to New Edinburgh over 10 years ago, but it’s Kyle Decan, formerly souschef at Fraser, who holds the reins in the kitchen here.
Adding a unique twist to every offering, Decan elevates his food to the delightfully unexpected. Moreover, he goes beyond typical British fare by bringing culinary influences back from his travels — for instance, by adorning a starter plate of chickpea panisse and grilled zucchini with a sticky treacle-chili sauce, which, our server explains, was picked up while cooking at the Olympics in Korea this past winter.
A particularly notable dish is the roasted cauliflower salad with coriander yogurt, chickpea hummus, cress, and pine nuts: perfectly balanced, deeply savoury, and with just the right touch of bright herbs and creaminess. The green pea soup is lively and fresh with mint and cucumber, while crispy fried quails, served atop a deeply savoury sausage ragout, is an adventurous and delicious dish.
Expect an extensive selection of beer and spirits (it’s a pub, after all), but its wine list is impressive, too, with a varied selection of not overpriced international and Ontario vintages.
Pubs have traditionally been lively, bustling places for gathering with others, and with its large front windows and bright, spacious interiors, The Rowan creates a neighbourhood space in which to see and be seen.