My husband, Geoff, and I have lived within walking distance of Kalendar on College Street ever since we rented our first tiny apartment together a few blocks away. Naturally, we became regulars. But it wasn’t just a question of proximity – we frequented the romantic little restaurant as much for the food as for the location. Kalendar’s cuisine is fresh and flavourful, with a subtle Indian flair. We’d pop in for lunch, a pre-movie dinner or lazy weekend brunch where I’d order Scroll Three: oven-roasted chicken, sugar snap peas and carrots in a yellow curry sauce, tucked in a chick-pea flour roti ($12 for half, $18 for a full one. Of course, I’d make Geoff get the Banana Stuffed French Toast ($14), just so I could have a bite.
Then… we had kids. The word “lazy” dropped from our lexicon, and brunch became one of those things we used to do. We can’t say “romantic dinner” without laughing out loud. Until one day I suddenly had a craving for Kalendar. It was mid-week (and there was nothing in the fridge anyway, so we decided to reprise our Kalendar experience with the brood in tow.
When we arrived, Charlie, 6, and Maggie, 4, headed straight for a snug little booth at the back. The busy restaurant, which dates back to 1912 when it was a barbershop, is all dark wood, softly lit chandeliers and claret-coloured walls lined with ornate mirrors and old clocks (none of which work). We arrive armed with our restaurant staple, a travel hangman game, but there was no need – a friendly server instantly materialized with paper and pencil crayons, and the chorus of “I’m thirsty” and “Do they have chocolate milk?” subsided. (They do have chocolate milk, $2.)
The kids were tired and hungry (read: cranky), so we ordered fast, starting with a hummus plate (regular, $8), which came with warm naan bread, sliced green apples and carrots. That kept everyone happy until the mains arrived. Maggie, a smoked salmon aficionado, ordered Nannette Two: oven-baked naan topped with cream cheese and lox ($10). Charlie, somewhat less adventurous, went for a straight-up cheese pizza ($11) on a crisp, dhal-puri crust. (Cheese pizza isn’t officially on the menu, but the kitchen is very accommodating.) I opted for Nannette One – naan with pesto, plum tomatoes, fresh basil and feta ($8). Geoff was tempted by several fresh pasta dishes, then a Ginger Butter Swordfish entrée ($21), but finally chose the pizza special with smoked bacon, peppers and tomatoes ($16).
Any lingering doubts about the kid-friendliness of Kalendar were erased for good when Maggie and I discovered the framed artwork in the bathroom, drawn by the owner’s eight-year old daughter, Teya, who sometimes even helps host brunch on the weekend. In the end, everyone ate so much that the only downside to our evening was that no one had room for dessert. But that’s OK, because we’ll be back. And we’ll be sure to save room for the Triple Fudge Pie ($8) next time.