What’s on the menu at Curryish Tavern, chef Miheer Shete’s innovative Indian kitchen on Queen West
Yam: Curryish Tavern Contact: 783 Queen St. W., curryishtavern.ca, @curryishtavern Neighborhood: Queen West Chef and owner: Miheer Shete Accessibility: Not fully accessible
Curryish started life as a popular pandemic pop-up and meal service. Shete—who was born in Mumbai and cooked in London and Memphis before moving to Toronto in the mid-aughts—garnered a following for his fresh interpretation of Indian cuisine, heavy on seasonal produce and freewheeling with a technique borrowed from his European culinary training. A year and a half later, I have paused the pop-up to set up shop on Queen West.
In Shete’s world, aloo gobi—a traditional turmeric-spiced potato and cauliflower dish—is transmuted into deeply spiced gnocchi served with fried curry leaves and tamarind-basted cauliflower. His take on bharta pairs deeply smoky eggplant with a sunny array of heirloom carrots, celery, watermelon radish and asparagus.
While French and Italian technique, honed over the course of his culinary career, are part of his toolbox, Shete doesn’t see his style as fusion. Rather, he considers it a natural evolution of Indian cuisine modified to embrace the seasonal swing of Canadian produce.
There’s an all-Ontario wine and beer program (with the exception of a few Quebec brews) showing favorites like PEC’s Lighthall Vineyards and our very own Burdock, Rorschach and Blood Brothers, among others. A creative cocktail program borrows heavily, as you might expect, from Indian cuisine, like a pretty-in-pink Gulabi Mood, a gin-and-tequila-based drink made with house rose syrup.
Serendipity played a part in the selection of this location. When Shete came across the address, it turned out that, decades ago, it used to house Jaw, a restaurant owned by his former mentor, O&B’s Anthony Walsh. “It felt like more than a coincidence, so I had to go for it,” he says. It’s a cozy, colorful space outfitted in vivid yellows and greens that evoke Shete’s focus on fresh produce. The paintings, commissioned from Shete’s sister-in-law Yesha Thakre, depict Indian women decked out in saris with modern touches; for Shete, the spirit of the work is analogous to his forward-looking culinary style.
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