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Food & Drink

What’s on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren’s new Eastern European bar in Parkdale

By Caroline Aksich| Photography by Caroline Aksich
What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale

Name: Tennessee Tavern Contact: 1554 Queen St. W., 416-535-7777, @tennesseetavern
Neighbourhood: Parkdale Owners: Grant van Gameren (Bar Isabel, Bar Raval, Harry’s, El Rey, PrettyUgly), Max Rimaldi (Pizzeria Libretto), Alec Colyer Chef: Brett Howson (Parlor Foods and Co.)

The food

A menu that travels from the Baltics to the Balkans, stopping in just about every Slavic-speaking nation along the way. While some plates are straight-up traditional, including the goulash and schnitzel, others—like ćevapčići (Bosnia’s national dish) or the cabbage rolls—stray from babcia’s recipes. (Also: a corn dog.)

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
A couple of gigantic pretzels ($7.95 each) are flanked by a duo of mixed pepperette cups ($9 each).

 

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
The most interesting pepperette to come out of the cup.

 

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
This cucumber salad is topped with feta cream, sumac and dill. $7.95.

 

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
The assorted pickle plate includes mouth-puckering beets, carrots, tomatoes (green and red), and onions. There’s sauerkraut and dill pickles, too. $10.95.

 

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
Boiled eggs crowned with kielbasa, dill pickle and grainy mustard. $4.95.

 

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What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
Cheddar potato pierogies. $11.95 for 12. Photograph by Caroline Aksich

 

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
Tennessee’s ćevapčići are made with straight-up beef. These skinless sausages are typically made with a mix of meats—some folks from the Balkans have called blasphemy on these all-beef links. “Everyone always thinks their version of something is the best,” says Colyer. “Ultimately, we’re a Canadian tavern, so we aren’t beholden to any one way of making something.” $11.95.

 

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
The cabbage rolls went through a bunch of recipe testing as van Gameren worked his way through the different variants before settling on his favourite, the super-saucy Croatian kind. $12.95 for two.

 

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
Why order a basket of fries when you can order a basket of sausages? $10.95.

 

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
The smoked fish plate comes with eel, salmon, trout and mackerel. $27.95.

 

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What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
Servers affectionately refer to the Tennessee Platter as “the pile”; it comes with two giant veal schnitzels, debrecener sausage (a paprika-spiced pork sausage), smoked pork loin, ćevapi, dill pickles, hard-boiled eggs, sauerkraut and carrot salad. $39.95.

 

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
A spread.

 

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
Chef Howson.
The drinks

The extensive wine card is dedicated to cold-climate grapes. “Basically, I only chose bottles from cabbage-eating countries,” Colyer says. (Even the French and Italian offerings are from the Alpine regions.) Beers—and there are a whole bunch on offer including a dozen rotating draughts—are mostly hyper-local brews from the likes of Blood Brothers and Bellwoods. There’s also a super-short cocktail menu and a much-lengthier whiskey list.

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
On the Money: brandy, Byrrh and Cointreau. $13.

 

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
Don’t Mention the War: gin, elderflower liqueur, lemon and soda. $13.

 

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What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
And of course, there are Eastern European fruit brandies (rakija) on offer, because you can’t start a feast here without a few shots.

 

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
The space

The 88-seat restaurant is decked out in an eclectic assortment of antiques, including rocking horses, taxidermy and oversized birdcages. The trio of owners rounded up every tchotchke they could find and experimented with whether or not it worked in the cavernous room. And of course there’s custom-made neon signage, like a sausage-eating Pac-Man on the back patio.

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
The dining room.

 

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
Some nooks have been given special names. This area is called the cathedral.

 

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
(You can see why it’s called that.)

 

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What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
Van Gameren found this bar, originally built in the late 1800s, in Buffalo; it was originally from a Polish steel workers’ bar.

 

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale
Here’s the back patio.

 

What's on the menu at Tennessee Tavern, Grant van Gameren's new Eastern European bar in Parkdale

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