We are so pleased to welcome Kevin’s Bistro to the neighbourhood! A gourmet mac n’ cheese bistro, created by the owners of the much-loved local restaurant chain, Stella’s, brings a unique twist on a classic dish.
The bistro-style restaurant became what it is today in part because of its unique location. Built between two exterior brick walls, the space was a carriage-way back in the late 1800s. That meant the space had challenges that inspired the owners to think creatively.
“Based on the size of this space and feel of this space and the fact that there is no opportunity for exhaust or a make-up air system, we had to do a different concept. So if we wanted the space, we knew we had to do a different type of restaurant,” says Kevin’s owner, Grant Anderson.
Constraints often breed the most creative results, and this is certainly the case with Kevin’s. Finding the right fit for their new space got the owners thinking outside the box.
“Way back when— in 2010— when we were talking about bringing in specials to Stella’s, I was watching a culinary show and the contestants had to prepare a dish to qualify for chef Canada. And one of the contestants did a gourmet mac n’ cheese.…it really piqued my interest, taking something that was so basic and giving it an elevated stature based off of ingredients. It wasn’t just mac n’ cheese – it was mac n’ cheese on steroids, as it were.”
And that’s just what you get at Kevin’s– dishes that are gourmet and unique, with the tradition, comfort and accessibility of a classic dish that’s in keeping with the Stella’s brand.
“The idea is that you take something very simple and elevate it, and that dichotomy works very well. Because no matter what, Stella’s was never going to be about anything too frou-frou. We really wanted something that would be elevated but still pay homage to the Stella’s brand— which is fairly basic.”
This is where the idea of divine comfort food came in. With dishes made with fresh macaroni and béchamel sauce there are a multitude of delicious choices, like the Canadiana with maple syrup, bacon, and baked cheddar cheese, or the Hops & Blue with mozzarella, ground hops, and caramelized onion. But as essential as the Mac n’ Cheese dishes are to the Kevin’s experience, Anderson says that sides and salads like Minty Peas, Vegan Sprouts, and Spicy Cauliflower bites, as well as an extensive wine and cocktails list, are just as important.
“The shareables and the salads become just as important as the actual mac n’ cheese to create that roundness to the experience. If we were going to be defined strictly by mac n’ cheese, it was going to be really difficult for us to satisfy every single individual as well as not create fully rounded experiences. So the shareables and the salads become just as important,” he says. “We also put together a great wine list and extensive list of cocktails that we feel fit with the mac n’ cheese experience.”
And you can finish things off with one of their unique and decadent desserts like beignets with praline sauce or even a blueberry mac n’ cheese!
“We really tried to be cognisant of pricing things according to people’s ability to try a number of things. So you don’t have to over-commit on one dish and think that you’ve blown the budget. We really encourage people to share.”
That mix of style and accessibility is reflected in the name, which has a story as unique as the restaurant itself. Both Stella’s and Kevin’s were named after the owner’s cats!
“When choosing a name for Kevin’s we really wanted to go with something that was going to be memorable and in choosing a name you want it to be something that has positive connotations to it. Everybody has a friend named Kevin. It’s a fairly non-descript name, it’s not tied to anybody in a really negative way. When it comes down to it, it’s just that Kevin is a pretty cool guy and an approachable person. Someone that you like to hang out with. He likes the finer things but he’s ok with jeans and a t-shirt as well.”
And Anderson is excited to have his unique little bistro in the Exchange District, with its vibrant and growing community. He looks forward to helping continue that growth.
“We know that restaurants are a good way to really build and foster good community and safety and vibrancy. Restaurants have that ability to create destinations. Not only for the people that live here, but also for the people on the outside. That excitement is great. And being part of something that we didn’t start, but you can definitely feel that the Exchange is becoming an area to be in. It’s where people want to spend their time. And it’s more-so about restaurants and experiences, it’s about dining and cool shops. Its becoming a true destination.”
To find out more about Kevin’s and check out their menu visit kevinsbistro.ca.