Canteen, the newest addition to 124 Street dining scene, is the sister property to the popular Red Ox Inn but there’s no need for any sibling rivalry because each offers something unique. Canteen presents elegantly plated dishes in a modern, minimalist space, while big sister Red Ox Inn features high-end comfort food in a rustic setting.
While its menu is diverse, where Canteen really shines is the meal’s bookends, both the appetizers and desserts. The chickpea fries and ricotta fritters come in paper cones nestled in wooden boxes – the presentation’s great, but the taste is even better.
One of my dining companions swears the fritters are like mini doughnuts, but a million times better, especially when dipped in the smoky maple syrup, which adds subtle sweetness. Another appetizer with the edge to compete with entrees is the spinach and radicchio salad, which is topped with a thick disc of goat cheese, twists of sweet and smoky bacon, spiced walnuts, dates and mild bacon vinaigrette.
While there are only three desserts, each one stands out. The bread pudding lies in a pool of caramel sauce and resembles gourmet French toast. There’s even a hint of maple syrup taste – Canteen channels not only our favourite fair foods but also our ultimate breakfast picks. (10522 124 St., 780-485-6125)