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Kokopelli's a new flaming treat
|Four Stars (out of five)
Kokopelli's Southwestern Cantina
391 Richmond St
By Molly Duignan
The bar/nightclub formerly known as Varcity's has a new look, new taste, new name and new owners. Kokopelli's Southwestern Cantina has moved in and it's about to take over.
Drop into Kokopelli's and you may find the crowd to be small, but that's only because this casual dining establishment just opened in mid-August. Kokopelli's boasts a spacious, creative decor, great ambiance and speedy service. Even the music complements the Southwestern theme of the food.
Ordering is a difficult task because of the wide variety of meals. Kokopelli's offers an impressive selection of unique food at reasonable prices, especially considering the large portions. Although the most expensive item is a full rack of ribs for $16.95, the average entree price is $8-$10.
Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere by starting off with a drink. Kokopelli's prides itself on killer margaritas and daquiris, but these festive drinks do come at a high price (approx. $7). The four fruit blend daiquiri comes with a garnish of fresh fruit and a thick, perfect blend.
For appetizers, the staff recommends the Camembert quesadillas and the tortilla soup. The beautifully presented quesadillas were hearty and had a full bite. The server warned how spicy some of the dishes can be, but from someone who likes a lot of spice, the degree of heat was perfect.
The tortilla soup is full-bodied and unique. Although its green appearance may be weird or unconventional, there is nothing odd about how it tastes.
The special was a chicken chimichanga, baked not fried. The veggies and chicken stuffed in a flour tortilla and served over a bed of jalepeno rice made the chimichanga a hard dish to beat. The Santa Fe chicken came in a close second, but it was dragged down by the home-cut fries which were too greasy.
The grilled vegetable skewer was tasty, while the chicken with corn was superb. A glass of Wolfblast Chardonnay added a nice dry addition to the chicken.
While you may be too full for desert, Kokopelli's has a delectable Death By Chocolate cake, as well as a butter cream cake to soothe your sweet tooth. Highly recommended is Kokpelli's own Mexican Candle. Although this after-dinner drink which consists of frangelica and flambeed zambuka can be too sweet for some, it's worthwhile for those who can handle it.
The only downfall is the unconventional heavy weight of the meals, so be prepared to hit the weight room before pouring your own water.
Kokopelli's schedule of events also has great potential. Monday night is "Kokopelli's Quarterback Club," when guests can win free stuff. Kokopelli's also promises a "Live Retro DJ" on Thursdays, "Pop Salsa Night" on Fridays and "Mardi Gras" Sundays.
There are many restaurants in London with less ambiance, worse food and a less expansive menu than Kokopelli's and some of these places even have lineups or require reservations.
Kokopelli's is the sleeping giant of the downtown core, so take advantage of its new-comer's status, before it's too late.