Location: 1194 Bloor Street West, Toronto
I feel like ordering cured fish at a Nordic restaurant might be a bit on the nose, but I suppose there’s a reason why we so closely associate that stuff with Scandinavian countries.
Karelia Kitchen has a pretty bustling brunch crowd — the only reason my dining companion and I were able to get a table is that someone had skipped out on their reservation. They were about to flat-out turn us away, without even the option to wait. Suffice it to say, reservations are advised.
I ordered the potato pancakes, which come with hot-smoked trout, beet and horseradish cured gravlax, and a poached duck egg.
The highlight was easily the gravlax. I’ve certainly had a pretty healthy amount of smoked salmon over my lifetime, but gravlax has eluded me. It’s similar, but instead of being smoked, it’s cured in a mixture of sugar and salt (and in this case, beet juice and horseradish).
It was fantastic — the texture was silkier and more melt-in-your-mouth tender than any smoked salmon I’ve had before, and without any strong smoky flavours to get in the way, the flavour of the fish itself was much more pronounced. It also had a really subtle sweetness that complimented the fish perfectly without overwhelming.
I don’t think I tasted any horseradish, which is a shame — it would have been a nice addition, but the gravlax was so good on its own that it’s hard to complain too vigorously.
The trout was pleasant, but nowhere nearly as transcendent as the gravlax. It had a pleasantly smoky flavour, but it was a bit dry.
The potato pancakes were about on par with the trout — they were crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, but nothing about them stood out.
The poached duck egg had a pleasantly runny yolk, and a richer flavour than the typical chicken variety. It all comes together quite well — and of course, that gravlax. It’s so good.