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I Got Taste

DINING OUT at KING WEST’S KIWE KITCHEN

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KiWe Kitchen

587 King Street West

Restaurant

KiWe Kitchen is short for King West Kitchen—not some tribute to New Zealand as I first thought when I saw its sign pop up back in 2006. Located on the southwest corner of King and Portland, it’s right in the hub of Toronto’s nightlife, which makes it a perfect spot for dinner before a girls’ night out—which is exactly what I was there for last week. The restaurant manages to pull off trendy and cozy simultaneously, which is a feat in itself. Up front, plaid-patterned booths sit beneath dimly lit chandeliers and next to windows that look out over King West’s stylish club crowds. Along Portland, the patio is packed on the night we arrive, patrons enjoying one of the final remaining summer evenings. MS-KB King West Kitchen - king blue condos We opt for a table in the back room, where the mood is dark and romantic (shame I wasn’t there on a date). A heavy chandelier drops from a skylight, candles light the table, and shades of purple emanate from the bar along the side of the room. It’s pretty, stylish—and hot. Literally. The pizza oven, where KiWe’s well-known pies are cooked, faces out to the room, wafting scents of dough and cheese and tomato—and heat. And while it's good fun to watch the chef delicately prepare the pizzas, the heat takes some adjusting to, and I’m frantically whipping off my sweater as soon as we sit down (although, maybe that would be an advantage on those date nights).

KiWe Kitchen bar

First up, of course, are cocktails. I order the King West Mule and soon find out where it got its name. The drink—a mix of ginger beer, gin and cucumber packs a wallop on your taste buds. It’s definitely not for everyone—I love it, my friend hates it. It’s tangy, refreshing (to me, at least) and only for the most serious of ginger fans. Drinks taken care of, we’re on to the food menu for appetizers. For me, it’s a roasted tomato and olive soup topped with feta ($7). It’s thick and heavy, almost more like a tomato sauce than soup. It’s delicious, but filling, and I find myself feeling stuffed before the mains even arrive. It’s a good, hearty soup for the coming winter months, but watch out if you’re wearing tight pants.

Roasted tomato soup, KiWe Kitchen

My friend Shannon orders the caprese salad ($13), which is a simple arrangement of tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and basil layered atop arugula, and drizzled with balsamic dressing. Simple, crisp, refreshing, much like the restaurant itself, it’s a good choice for a pre-outing taste.

Caprese salad, KiWe Kitchen

For the mains we opt for pasta and pizza (how could we not with the oven tempting us just a few feet away?). I order the calabresi pasta, tossed with chicken, rapini, olives, roasted red peppers and plenty of garlic ($15). The sauce is a light broth, which offers a welcome break from the tomato soup. The chicken is a bit plain, but the red peppers and olives are flavourful, and I love the garlic-rich broth.

Calabresi pasta, KiWe Kitchen

Meanwhile, Shannon dives into her pizza, topped with tomato, arugula, artichokes, goat cheese and mozzarella ($13). The pizza is perfectly thin and crispy, and despite saying she’s going to save half the pie to take home, she soon polishes off the entire thing.

Pizza, KiWe Kitchen

KiWe Kitchen has definitely established itself as a stronghold on King West’s restaurant’s scene, thanks to good food, warm ambience and prime real estate. Best of all, perhaps, is that the prices are affordable—so you can still make the most of the night out ahead. 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