Kensington Market is one of those parts of Toronto you have to check out if you’re in Canada’s most populous city. If you don’t stop in for the ambiance, then at least traipse through the area for a bite at one of great eateries you’re sure to come across. A distinct and vibrant neighbourhood in downtown Toronto (boxed in between Bathurst, Spadina, College and Dundas Streets), Kensington Market is filled with bustling open air markets, eclectic shops and quaint cafés. It also borders Chinatown, the funky Annex and Harbord Village neighbourhoods, as well as the always hip Little Italy. Suffice to say, it’s a place where it’s hard to be want for anything given that the multicultural environment offers up so many things to choose from.
On the southern edge of Kensington Avenue, right at the mouth of Dundas Street, is a fantastic bohemian diner that claims to be “family-friendly, vegetarian-friendly, celiac-friendly,” and manages to deliver on all three. Using wholesome, locally sourced and often organic ingredients, Kensington Cornerstone serves up lunch and dinner almost every day of the week and makes vegetarian and gluten-free eating easy and…well…kinda fun. I mean, it’s not often that a restaurant caters to meat eaters, those with celiac disease, gluten intolerants and vegetarians all in one go; and with dishes like vegan stuffed peppers, pulled pork sandwiches, roasted chicken breast and gluten free french toast you’d be mad to pass this place up.
On a rather bleak Sunday morning, the Intolerants rocked up to Kensington Cornerstone shortly after noon to meet a vegetarian friend who had recommended the place. We made ourselves comfortable at a corner table where we proceeded to order two helpings of French toast (I was so excited – not having had French toast in years – it hurt) and poached eggs with melted brie and a side of back bacon.
One word can easily describe our experience: yum.
The server was charming and patient while I rattled off a couple food allergies and asked if he could double check my order with the kitchen. Once the “all clear” came through we gossiped over our pots of tea and coffee until the food came out a short while later. By that point the restaurant was bustling, but the wait staff were on their game and never missed a beat. Plates were slipped in front of our rumbling bellies and the visuals did not disappoint. The portions were generous, extremely so in fact. My serving of french toast, for instance, included four thickly sliced pieces of gluten free bread, a serving of fruit, a good sized ladle of freshly made home fries and – of course – a 1/4 cup of Canadian tapped maple syrup to fuel my consequent sugar rush.
It was enough to keep me satiated the whole afternoon through, and happily so.
The poached eggs, I’m told, were wonderfully delicious, and we each devoured our home fries as if we’d been deprived of food for months. I revelled in the cinnamon-laced french toast (though it was a tad sweet) and made sure to sop up every last drop of maple syrup from the edges of my plate.
While Kensington Cornerstone is a great place in terms of food quality and value for money, it also gets points due to the food allergy-aware staff and great service. We never felt rushed (a nice change from the countless places that expect you to eat and run) and we were each able to enjoy a meal that spoke to our wildly different eating habits and dietary restrictions.
It’s an establishment where there is something for everyone…which is the perfect kind of place for me.
2A Kensington Avenue
Tel: + 1 (647) 343-1597
Monday, Wednesday and Thursday: 12:00 – 20:00
Friday: 12:00 – 21:00
Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 – 21:00