Have you seen our most recent restaurant review in the Waterloo Region Record?
Check it out on the Record’s website or read it below.
“Defining the word ‘gastropub’
The word “gastropub” is getting thrown around a lot these days. What exactly does that mean? Loosely defined, it’s a pub that serves high quality, better-than-average food. But then, what defines a pub, exactly? And who decides what food is better-than-average?
Downtown Galt’s Kiwi is one of the latest to bill itself as such. Until last fall, it was The Golden Kiwi, owned for nearly 21 years by New Zealand expats Len and Judie Owens. Cambridge natives Aaron Drever and Scott Hagedorn reopened the spot early this year as Kiwi, a pub with a fairly extensive menu and an interest in sourcing local ingredients.
I’d never been to the Golden Kiwi, so I can’t make comparisons. To me, I must admit this feels more like “restaurant with an extensive bar list” than “gastropub.” Atmosphere plays a pretty huge role in making any pub feel like a pub, and while this is a cute and cosy spot, it doesn’t have a typical pub look. No matter. With a mix of booths and tables, a street-facing patio and friendly service, it’s clean and comfortable. Who cares what you call it?
We chose from a dozen or so appetizers, going with pork satays ($11) and, perfect for my carb-fearful companion, Thai chicken lettuce wraps ($11). The former were marinated, pan seared and served with lime-peanut sauce. They hinged on being dry and were a bit underseasoned, but pleasant. The Thai wraps were better — served deconstructed, the platter included minced chicken stir fried with water chestnuts, shiitake mushrooms and bamboo shoots, iceberg lettuce, thinly julienned carrots, mango salsa and crispy chow mein noodles. The idea is to make your own wraps. Bibb lettuce seems a better choice for this type of wrap than iceberg, but the iceberg did provide a fresh crunch to the whole affair. And the flavour was good. A fun idea.
It was tough to decide on an entrée, simply because there’s quite a bit to choose from and a lot of variety. Everything from fish and chips, curries, chicken fingers and nachos to steaks, pasta and even pho. Blackened salmon ($18) was my companion’s choice and, because it was a hot night, I opted for what seems to me an optimal sticky weather meal — Cobb salad ($13).
The salmon, Cajun seasoned, seared and topped with guacamole and mango salsa, was served with featured veg (asparagus, green and yellow beans and corn) and rice. The fish had a nice crust to it and was cooked just right. The veg was seasonal. Too much salt, though — on the fish, in the guac, and on the veg, too.
The Cobb salad was prettily displayed, with its chopped ingredients laid out in rows over a bed of greens — avocado, havarti (instead of the traditional blue cheese), grape tomatoes, sliced beets, and chopped egg. I opted for chicken, which had a spongy quality to it, but the salad overall was fresh and carefully prepped.
To finish, I couldn’t resist the lure of the feature Bacon Lovers menu, which included something called bacon crumble apple pie ($6). It boasted of a flaky crust, rich warm apple filling, a bacon and cheddar crumble and salted caramel ice-cream. It was insanely rich, to be sure. The cheddar was a bit lost and the ice cream had chocolate chunks in it, so I’m pretty certain it wasn’t the salted caramel advertised.
As for the bacon, I’m not sure I loved it in pie, but I appreciated the opportunity to try it. Gastropub, restaurant . . . call Kiwi what you want. But your average neighbourhood spot probably wouldn’t offer bacon in apple pie, so for that reason, “better than average” seems an appropriate description.
Monday to Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
A bit of everything: pub food plus pizza, pasta, fish, curries, stir fries, salads and steak. Many ingredients are sourced from local farmers and bakeries.
Probably not needed, unless for a large group.
Simple and casual with a slightly classier-than-your-average-pub vibe. Nice outdoor patio plus live music some nights.
A dozen appetizers (tempura shrimp, flatbread, samosas, sliders); entrées like curries, a New York strip, make-your-own stir fry; pub fare (wings, ribs, chicken fingers, fish and chips) plus salads, pizza and a couple of pastas. Most menu items are under $20. Check for daily deals (Tuesday Wing Night, Women Own Wednesdays. There’s also the “Black Menu” for changing feature specials.
A good place to drink; lots of specialty cocktails, plus a long list of draft beer, including lots of Ontario options. Close to a dozen reds and whites are available, including a couple vintages of each.
Quick and eager to please.
Dinner for two including two apps, two mains, one pint, one pop and one dessert came to around $70, including tax (but not tip).
In a nutshell
Friendly atmosphere, lots of cold beer and a kitchen with ambition.
Assessing food, atmosphere, service and prices. Dining Out restaurant reviews are based on anonymous visits to the establishments. Restaurants do not pay for any portion of the reviewer’s meal. Leigh Clarkson can be reached at email@example.com”