Caribou’s home-style Canadian comfort

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Caribou pizza and Caesar salad. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

“I was born in Canada and got a kick out of the eclectic interior which Leeroy has designed around what he misses about being back in his North American birthplace.”

YOU can’t miss the theme at Caribou – Canadian through and through.

Wendy getting her Canadian on with a clamato juice cocktail.

The famous Canadian saying “Eh!” is painted, graffiti style, here and there. Photos of the west coast, east coast and every bit in between are a major feature, as are vintage tourism posters and elk and caribou artwork. 

And then there’s the ice hockey playing on oversized screens, and a section of one wall honouring “The Great One”, hockey player Wayne Gretzsky. 

If Canadian-born owner Leeroy Petersen is in the house, you won’t miss him. Just look for the guy with the ear-to-ear grin and mega outgoing personality (often wearing a Canadian sports shirt or cap).

Just before Canada Day (July 1), we headed to Caribou for “home-style Canadian comfort food with some classic twists”, which is how Leeroy describes the menu.

Famous clamato juice cocktail… the glass is rimmed with Montreal spice salt. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

We began with a famous clamato juice cocktail, the glass rimmed with Montreal spice salt and garnishes including smoky bacon jerk, jalapeno, dill pickle, celery, green beans and lemon. It went down super well. 

I was born in Canada and got a kick out of the eclectic interior which Leeroy has designed around what he misses about being back in his North American birthplace. The menu is nostalgic for Leeroy too, with dishes he experienced on a trek across the vast country. 

We didn’t have the poutine ($15) which originated in Quebec – hot fries loaded with squeaky, chewy cheese curds (no cheating with mozzarella) and covered in hot gravy which melts the cheese. 

Instead of the moment-on-the-lips-lifetime-on-the-hips poutine we shared other starters.

Barbecue pork belly bites… soft and tender, with Canadian maple syrup glaze. Photo: Wendy Johnson

The soft and tender barbecue pork belly bites with Canadian maple syrup glaze were yum, if you like sweet with your meat ($16). 

Deep-fried pickles… panko crumb, dipped into chipotle aioli, with indulgent hand-made mac’n’cheese balls. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

We dived into the deep-fried dill pickles in a panko crumb, dipping them into chipotle aioli ($12). Eat them when they’re hot so they don’t go soggy. 

Cauliflower poppers… deep fried and served with an American ranch dressing. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

The cauliflower poppers are also deep fried and served with an American ranch dressing, often made with buttermilk ($12). Then we indulged in hand-made mac’n’cheese balls ($12), stuffed with macaroni and cheese. 

Caribou pizza… loaded with pepperoni, red onion, mushrooms, chilli and topped with peppery rocket. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

We were getting full so shared the Caribou pizza ($12) loaded with pepperoni, red onion, mushrooms, chilli and topped with peppery rocket. 

With wines, the “whites like the snow on the Rockies” are $30 to $53 a bottle. The “reds like the maple leaf in the Canadian flag” are $30 to $80.

Caribou is super relaxed. You can shoot some pool, play darts, hang out on the outside wooden picnic tables, or settle into one of the quiet zones away from the bar, if you don’t want to be in the thick of it.

Caribou, Green Square, Jardine Street, Kingston. Open seven days.

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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