What’s on the menu at Curryish Tavern, chef Miheer Shete’s innovative Indian kitchen on Queen West

What’s on the menu at Curryish Tavern, chef Miheer Shete’s innovative Indian kitchen on Queen West

Photo by Ebti Nabag

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Name: Curryish Tavern
Contact: 783 Queen St. W., curryishtavern.ca, @curryishtavern
Neighbourhood: Queen West
Chef and owner: Miheer Shete
Accessibility: Not fully accessible

The food

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 technique borrowed from his European culinary training. A year and a half later, he paused the pop-up to set up shop on Queen West.

Chef and owner Miheer Shete

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.

For this salad, Shete deploys tadka—oil infused with spices (in this case, garlic, curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin and ginger)—which he pours over house-made stracciatella to imbue the curds with flavour and colour. That same oil is the base of a lemony dressing poured over gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. It’s served with house-made tapioca papadams seasoned with a secret twelve-spice blend and finished with mint and a touch of Ontario honey. With Shete’s focus on seasonality, it’s safe to say you won’t find this dish on the menu come November. $21
Shete’s eggplant bharta is a wonderfully smoky blend of charred eggplant, ginger, Anaheim chilis, garam masala, lime and mint. A medley of seasonal veggies keeps it bright: the selection will rotate, but here we have heirloom carrot, celery, watermelon radish and snappy asparagus. It’s finished with crispy plantain and taro chips, pomegranate, fennel fronds, and a vivid chili oil. $17
This street food–inspired dish is a take on pani puri, a stuffed puri shell typically filled with veg and spicy, sour mint water. (Though, like all street foods, it’s available in countless variations.) Shete’s version stuffs crisp squid-ink-dyed semolina dough with a sharp and sweet yellowfin tuna tartare, Ontario peach chutney, and a juicy mint and tamarind sauce. It’s a good thing you only get a handful of these bites with every order—they’re borderline addictive. $21
Here, aloo gobi, the classic potato and cauliflower dish, becomes aloo gnocchi. Shete flavours gnocchi dough with tadka and serves it with a stunning hunk of cauliflower, brined and steamed before being roasted at a high temperature to caramelize the sugars in the vegetable and its tamarind glaze. Pretty frills of romanesco, fennel fronds and edible flowers finish it off, and it all sits in a daffodil-hued coconut curry. $26
Whole branzino is stuffed with coconut vatan, an almost pesto-like blend of fresh coconut, mint, cilantro and a secret spice blend. The fish is grilled and served with a buttery, lemony sauce spiked with curry leaves, ginger and mustard seed. $36
Duck confit with the innovation turned up to 11. Ghee-confited duck leg is served with a foie gras curry (you read that right) flavoured with goda masala—a heady spice mix close to Shete’s heart since it originates in Maharashtra, his home state. Where does the foie come in, you ask? Shete subs it for butter in the beurre monte—that is, the French process of “mounting” a dish with butter. It’s served with delightful house-pickled grapes and charred kale; the acidity and bitterness, respectively, balance the richness of the duck- and foie-infused curry. $39
For dessert, try the Madras kaapi mousse cake. Light, tender mousse infused with Madras coffee sits on a chocolate sponge base soaked in espresso syrup. Tangy sour-cream crème fraîche balances the sweetness; cardamom-salted caramel plays beautifully with the coffee. Finished with height-of-summer raspberries and a dusting of cocoa powder. $14
The menu’s bestselling dessert is a creative take on gulab jamun. Your standard gulab jamun is quite dense; here, tweaked technique makes it airy and light. It’s infused with an aromatic blend of lemon and orange zest, cardamom star anise, cinnamon and Newfoundland Screech rum. The topping is whipped mascarpone, spiced pistachio praline and rose petals. Served warm, it’s absolutely blissful. $14
Shete and his team
The drinks

There’s an all-Ontario wine and beer program (with the exception of a few Quebec brews) showcasing favourites 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 the pretty-in-pink Gulabi Mood, a gin-and-tequila-based drink made with house rose syrup.

The floral, easy drinking Gulabi Mood pairs house-made rose syrup with gin, tequila and rose petals. That pink hue is quite the mood indeed. $17
This delectable take on a mojito adds spicy ginger to the standard lime-and-mint muddle. Instead of simple syrup, the rum-based bevy is sweetened with jaggery, or unrefined sugar cane. $15
To the right, we have the Sour Blue Lady, a Bombay Gin–based tipple made with blue Curaçao, lime juice and cinnamon. $16
The space

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, colourful 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.