Gilt has an interesting reputation in the KW young professional community. Depending on who you talk to some have really enjoyed the food and others have walked away unimpressed but the general consensus is that something is “off” about the place.
Firstly… if you haven’t tried it yet PLEASE STOP READING.
I don’t want to influence anyone’s thoughts and believe that everyone should make their own decisions, especially when it comes to food and enjoyment because the only thing that matters is if it makes YOU happy.
With that preface I will explain further for those who want to keep reading. I have been to Gilt several times for breakfast, lunch, wine and dinner (yes, wine is a scheduled meal for me) and have mixed reviews myself. What I will say is that it has immense potential. But unfortunately it seems a little unfulfilled.
Gilt has a nice, modern decor which they have clearly put a lot of effort into however it is missing that “it” factor by sitting somewhere in between of a fine dining restaurant and a more relaxed, laid back gastropub. They have an open kitchen which I love but it is hidden away in the back of the restaurant. They’re also super on trend with their modern yet rustic lighting and herringbone floor yet with the large space and high ceilings, many of those special touches get missed. In my opinion, it is the small design oversights that make a big difference.
The first example is the bathrooms. Although the restaurant area is very polished they typically have store bought plastic hand soap and extra supplies are visible on a nearby shelf which some people have noted takes away from the fine dining experience. Another issue I encountered while spending a night there to write and enjoy a glass of wine is that they have the most uncomfortable barstools ever. They have a metal backing with no padding that digs right into your lower back. Thank god they have an excellent wine list or that would have been a deal breaker. Finally, water is a big thing for me and their evident tap water had that Kitchener twinge which left a bad taste in my both (both literally and figuratively).
As for the food it has been hit or miss over the past two years that I’ve been going. That being said, I am always willing to give places a second try and am on a mission to get Gilt back on my go-to list.
So on a Tuesday I decided to give it another chance. Initially I went to write and for a glass of wine but it had a busy atmosphere and a cool new chef so I scoured the menu for something to try. Because I am not picky I enjoy getting recommendations from the servers however on this night my server was not helpful at all and I ended up picking my own meal and having to walk up to the bar to order.
Tuesday night at gilt
Beautiful oysters, marrow + tartare main
Ordered the steak tartare and bone marrow to give them a second chance… and was still not fully impressed. The tartare was doused in soy sauce which completely took over the flavour. Crunchy peanuts gave a nice pop and when I mixed in the egg and got an even bite with the chips it was better but still too salty for my preference. The beauty of a tartare is being able to taste all the different elements with each bite. It also came in a very large portion and even though I can eat a ton and hate to waste food I couldn’t finish it all. Steak tartare has such potential for a creative, beautiful, formed presentation however this one was just smattered in a line on the plate with chips stuck into it.
I have dreams of fluffy marrow clouds in my sleep so understand that I can be a tough judge for this meal. That said, there were a few things that were really disappointing. The marrow was topped with panko crust which is only really needed if it doesn’t caramelize itself and it takes away from the beautiful, silky texture. I love spreading marrow on a crispy baguette or crostini and having some greens on the side for freshness however this only came with the fried chips included for the tartare. The combination of fat and fried was far too greasy. I asked for bread and they brought out brioche which due to it’s egg and butter content didn’t help my situation. I left feeling like I only wanted to eat salad for days. The marrow itself was good and with a crispy baguette and a side of lemon dressed arugula I would have been in heaven.
After 2 glasses of wine, oysters and a full meal I still had not been offered water.
On a positive note, they have $2 oysters every Tuesday so I was able to enjoy my favourite snack with a delicious glass of wine. If you are a wine connoisseur, definitely check it out on a Wednesday when all bottles are half price.