- The Food
- The Decor
- The Atmosphere
Bannock has gained quite some popularity as a great place around the financial district to have lunch with friends, or to bring a prospective business client. I’ve heard some good things so wanted to try it out, particularly the BLT Bannock that my friend praised for some time. Whatever the case, I was quite excited when my boss suggested going to Bannock for lunch. Located advantageously at the heart of Toronto, the restaurant is beside Old City Hall and the Eaton Centre. From Mondays to Fridays, the restaurant caters to the professional population working in the financial district. Saturdays and Sundays see a different crowd, more laid back and less snobby. I happened to visit on a Wednesday early afternoon for lunch, so I had a chance to experience the restaurant, hustle and bustle, surrounded by business professionals.
401 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M5H 1W2
The seating area was small. Half of the establishment was dedicated to serving quick foods. Sandwiches, salads, wraps and soups were pre-made so that people in a rush could grab and go. The quality of the food looked pretty good, but the prices were high. My boss and I were seated in the main dining area that I noted to be tightly packed. The tables and chairs were placed very closely together so we had trouble shifting around. I also noticed that the décor looked extremely familiar. I had a sense of déjà-vu that brought me back to the other week when I went to…what’s that restaurant…oh right, Jump. Or maybe it was the O&B Café Grill at Yonge and Front. Whichever one it was, this placed looked familiar. It makes sense because Bannock is one of the eight Oliver & Bonacini restaurants dotted around Toronto. They all look nice. Bannock was no different – it looked chic and urban and new…just like the rest of them. The decor was nothing to write home about. Bannock falls under the category of “casual fine dining” but in my opinion, just “casual dining” is more suitable.
The menu options were really heavy, which played well into Bannock’s punch-line, “Canadian Comfort Food”. There was chicken pot pie, bologna + eggs, mac & cheese, the classic burger; pretty much anything you can name that will give you itis for the remainder of the afternoon. I was very adventurous and went for the Onion Glazed Pork Shoulder. My colleague went for the St-Canut Pork and Belly Tourtière. This is a very traditional French-Canadian dish so I was excited to see how Bannock lived up to its boast to serve this staple Canadian food. My pork shoulder was a clear winner! The pork was pulled and slow-cooked, leaving the meat soft and tender. This complimented well with the spaetzle, spinach and other vegetables scattered around the perimeter of the pork shoulder. Did I mention that the meat was slightly dabbed with Steamwhistle beer? I couldn’t particularly taste the beer but there was a curious distinct jus flavouring that left me quite satisfied. As for the tourtière, I must compliment the intricacy of the dish. The outer pie crust was solid enough to hold together whilst cutting with the knife and fork, but crumbled softly with each bite. Other than the slightly dry and overcooked diced pork on the inside of the pie, I must say the tourtière tasted quite authentic.
Both dishes were fairly filling, and after my lunch I had an hour or two of inefficiency at work. I was literally falling asleep my desk. It’s a good sign though because the meals were obviously big. Some of you will know that I value “bang for the buck” in my meals. I want the price to match the experience I receive. Bannock definitely delivered on this front. The restaurant gave me the impression of providing good value, standardized quality (so I know I will get decent food every time), and a casually presentable, not “over-the-top” interior. This was expected, as Bannock operated under the much-larger Oliver & Bonacini banner. I’d likely come back for more meals, but not in a rush to do so.
The Damage: $40 after tax