A roundup of weekly food events in Toronto
As an alternative to regular fare, restaurant events are becoming increasingly popular in Toronto. If you're tired of just going out to restaurants and ordering from the menu, there are a number of options to cater to your ever-growing appetite for adventure.
If it's social dining you crave, there's Dishcrawl, Foodies on Foot or Social Feed, where you can hit up new restaurants or enjoy food events with a group of complete strangers (or new friends, depending on how it goes). Or maybe you'd like some live music with your brunch?
On the other hand, if all you want is the chance to enjoy some great food and drinks off the menu, you can find enough to satisfy your taste for novelty, or just your appetite, most days of the week.
86'd Mondays - The Drake
An event strictly for the intrepid, 86'd Mondays at the Drake comes complete with cheap drinks and host Ivy Knight to guide you through a different culinary adventure every time. Upcoming nights include a butter tart contest (hint: everyone wins) and a contest to decide Toronto's hottest chef. From 8pm onwards.
@TheBellevue - The Bellevue
The grand poobah of the guest chef night, @TheBellevue features a four-course meal with dessert for $35, with owner Chris Dardarian pulling in some of the most talented chefs in the city. You already missed the all-bacon meal by Anthony Rose and David Givon (and I can vouch that it was awesome), but upcoming dinners include Lemo Han (Swish by Han) cooking up modern Korean, Robbie Hojilla (formerly of Woodlot, Ursa) executing modern Filipino food, and Jonathan Poon (Chantecler) dropping in. It's not a regular fixture, so check their Facebook page for info on dates and menus. From 5pm to 11pm.
Drop-in dinners - The Depanneur
Owner Len Senater aims to feed the multitudes by cooking up a big pot of food (fresh from the Kawarthas CSA), and selling it by the bottomless bowl at a bargain price. Past dishes have included pasta with garlic scape pesto, chèvre, and fresh peas for $10. If you'd rather try cooking your own specialty for a crowd, check out Friday nights when the Depanneur does Drop-in Dinners with a guest chef. They'll even split the proceeds to cover your costs. Check their Facebook page to see what's on offer. From 6pm until the food runs out.
French Tuesdays - La Société
Bringing the concept of the apéro (basically pre-dinner booze and snacks, but French) to your Tuesday evening, French Tuesdays consist of $7 Grand Marnier cocktails paired with hors d'oeuvres to ease the way into dinner. From 6pm onwards.
Sausage League - Marben
Running every Wednesday from May to August, Marben plays host to the epic battles of the Sausage League, where Toronto chefs face off until one wins the crown of Sausage Champion of Toronto. Who will emerge victorious in sausage warfare? For $25, you can find out. From 5:30pm onwards.
Back Door Donuts - Beast
Every Thursday morning, Beast's pastry chef Rachelle Vivian opens up the back door to sell fresh, house-made donuts in drool-inducing flavours like Maple Bacon, Strawberry Basil, Double Chocolate, and Balsamic Hazelnut. Check her twitter for the flavours on Wednesday night, and show up Thursday morning at 8am to make sure you get them before they run out.
Barbecue night - The Depanneur
If you feel like you don't have enough pulled pork in your life (as if that's even possible), barbecue night at the Depanneur is the place for you; this is where the Pork Ninjas' leftovers end up. From 6pm until the pork disappears.
Bar Gilead - Gilead Café
Bar Gilead is the brainchild of chef Jamie Kennedy, who recently replaced Gilead Café's dinner service in favour of more community-based events with his usual emphasis on local food. Bar Gilead is billed as an exploration of tapas and cocktail culture, but it's also a good place to mingle with the neighbours and passers-by. From 5pm onwards.
Back Door Burgers - Gilead Café
If tapas and cocktails are not your thing but you're still hungry, come around to the back door of Gilead Café to pick up the best lunch deal you'll get in the city that day: $5 for a burger straight off the grill. It doesn't take place every Friday, so check the website for dates. From 11:30am to 2pm.
Patio BBQs - Midfield Wine Bar
Not your average wine bar, the Midfield features a Sunday series with guest chefs manning the grills on their patio. Expect an eclectic mix of food (a recent Sunday featured quail and whole branzino) paired with excellent wines. Check their Facebook page for upcoming menus. From 5pm onwards.
Lettuce Sundays - Chantecler
Every Sunday, Chantecler clears the menu for lettuce wraps. For $19, you get a variety of meat (including slow-smoked pork and braised beef short ribs), pickles on the side, and all the lettuce you can handle, with extras like soft-shell crab appearing when available. From 6pm to 11pm.
Pig roast - Marben (once a month)
The last Sunday of every month, Marben turns into a pork lover's paradise. For $25 you get a platter of pork that's been brined for a week and lovingly roasted all day, with two sides. From 5:30pm until the pork runs out.
Lucky Gnocchi Day - Piola
On the 29th of every month, Piola carries on the tradition of Lucky Gnocchi Day by offering all you can eat gnocchi with a variety of sauces for one low price. You can only get this offer for a limit of two visits per day, so try to have something else for breakfast. From 11:30am to closing.
Local Food Movement series - Gilead Café
Jamie Kennedy continues his commitment to local food with this monthly series. The Gilead Café presents a food producer, artisan, or winemaker at each event to highlight the best in Ontario. July's event is the Rosé Soirée, highlighting local makers of rosé wines, perfect for summer sipping. The price and the day vary so email firstname.lastname@example.org to get on their mailing list. From 6:30pm onwards.
Group of 7 Chefs
A tradition that's well into its second year, the Group of 7 Chefs get together at a different locale every month to make something delicious. Their events have included a Valentine's Day dinner at Beast, and the upcoming Fish and Beer event at the Bellwoods Brewery. Why should you care? Because the Group of 7 Chefs includes Scott Vivian (Beast), Matty Matheson (Parts & Labour), Chris Brown (The Stop), Mark Cutrara (Cowbell), Mark Dufour and Kevin Mckenna (Earth/Globe Bistro), Bertrand Alepee (The Tempered Chef), and Nick Liu (Gwai Lo). You can find event updates on their Facebook page, as well as links to ticket sales.
Guest chef afternoons - Cold Tea
Kensington Market's most hidden gem invites guest chefs to flaunt their skills on their back patio. Past editions have included Steve Gonzales roasting a whole pig for Cinco de Mayo and Jeff Claudio cooking up a feast to celebrate Philippines Independence Day. It happens sporadically, so check their Facebook page for upcoming events or just drop by and see what they're up to.
Writing by Alleen Mirakian