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Eat & Drink

Fressen will reopen as renewed, renamed restaurant

Posted by Robyn Urback / December 19, 2012

Fressen TorontoGood(ish) news, herbivores. While you might have heard on Twitter or Facebook that Fressen will be serving its last Moroccan stew on December 31, it's not exactly the end for this beloved vegan sit-down spot.

Owner Steve Gardiner will take several months in the new year to craft an entirely new concept for the restaurant, that which will include a new name, look, and menu. The food will still be vegan, of course, but that's about all that will linger from the existing Fressen prototype. Even the current staff has all been let go, with the promise that some may be asked to return when the new restaurant is up and ready.

I chat with Tanaz at Fressen, who tells me Steve's plan has actually been about a year in the making. "He's just been so busy with Urban Herbivore," she says, "that he really hasn't had the time to make [Fressen] what he wants it to be. But the sister restaurants are now running smoothly, so I think now is a good time for him."

Fressen's basement is already in the mist of being gutted in preparation for the day after serving its final meal. No details have been released as to what to expect of the new space, though the transformation is expected to take about two to three months.

Photo from the Fressen Facebook page.



steve / December 19, 2012 at 07:32 pm
maybe he will tke the time to learn about the food chain............
Me / December 19, 2012 at 09:26 pm
I have no idea what's on that plate but it looks nasty.
Jackie/Jake / December 19, 2012 at 09:47 pm
"in the mist" or "in the midst" ??
Ken replying to a comment from steve / December 19, 2012 at 10:12 pm
Riiiiight, because everything about the 21st century industrial animal industry model is perfectly natural, just like the food chain. You can take off the dunce cap, it's obvious enough without it.
Meera / December 19, 2012 at 10:17 pm
Looking forward to whatever's coming next. I've never visited Fressen, as I heard through the vegan grapevine that it was costly for tiny portions. They could look to Hogtown Vegan for a model of good vegan food -- delicious, plentiful, filling, affordable, and non-pretentious.
seanm replying to a comment from Ken / December 19, 2012 at 10:22 pm
Not to defend the industrialization of animal farming, but humans have been eating meat for millenia (far prior to the advent of factory farms and meat additives). Comments here will inevitably devolve into the same black/white argument for and against eating animals, but let's try to keep things realistic and in perspective for as long as possible.
Sherry / December 19, 2012 at 10:36 pm
Do you think that making the (tired) grandpa jokes about meat eating on an article about a vegan restaurant makes you sad, little internet trolls? Because it does.
I'm really excited to hear about Fressen rebranding. Their food is superb.
Emily / December 19, 2012 at 10:45 pm
Terrible service and they refused to do separate bills, that's why I stopped going. Hopefully they'll get this right with the new restaurant.
Allan / December 19, 2012 at 11:58 pm
By far the most rude and obnoxious staff i have ever experienced in Toronto. You would think. Vegan restaurant would be extra sensitive to its customer's dietary needs. But after requesting a dish without mushrooms (an anaphilactic allergen to someone in our party) they proceeded to serve a dish with a big whole mushroom right on top of the plate. We left without even a genuine apology from the manager, more like an annoyed snarl. You would think vegans would be happier people.
trees / December 20, 2012 at 12:54 am
I've ate there with some work mates, left hungry for something more...
moonshine / December 20, 2012 at 01:53 am
Big brank, I loved it every bit. Every bit.
Colonel / December 20, 2012 at 09:18 am
Surprised by all the invective here. I am an omnivore who eats more than his share of meat, but every time I've been to Fressen it's been a great experience. My wife in particular loves it, and this coming from a woman who'd never eaten a vegetarian (let alone a vegan) meal. We look at it as a great restaurant that just doesn't happen to serve meat. Looking forward to the next iteration.
steve / December 20, 2012 at 09:39 am
damn shame! I hope he opens soon. This was some of the best vegetarian in the city. the photo is a portabello mushroom burger, damn tasty. this place will be missed!
b.craftie replying to a comment from Allan / December 20, 2012 at 09:53 am
Allan, I totally agree. I went to Fressen exactly once. My friend and I were plunked in that little hallway passthrough right outside the kitchen, with servers' elbows and plates swooshing literally right past our noses. And they glared at us like it was our fault for sitting there! I heard they made a wonderful dessert at brunch and when I asked if we could order it, they said they never had that at brunch, look how busy they were, how could they possibly make it? Yeah. Food was not good enough to be classified as 'meh', and expensive to boot. Never went back. However I did try and order a muffin from Urban Herbivore, stood by the cash for a few minutes waiting, but the girl behind the counter never once came over. And yes, I did try and get her attention. She was going refilling bowls or some such, and much too busy to 'hear' me. When one of her friends came in though, she was all over them like syrup on a pancake. They started their conversation and I left. Again, never went back.
meater replying to a comment from Allan / December 20, 2012 at 11:23 am
Actually, I would think that vegans would be terribly unhappy and frustrated people, having to forgo eating all that tasty meat and all.
Carly replying to a comment from b.craftie / December 20, 2012 at 12:56 pm
Sounds somewhat like my one-and-only experience there. Halfway through our meal, they asked us to move tables so that they could accomodate another party. Ok, fine. Then as we were finishing our drinks and waiting to pay, they asked us to leave our table and stand in the bar area. There's was basically nowhere to stand that we weren't in the way, and the servers seemed really annoyed by us being there. (Sorry, you asked us to stand there!) The food was delicious, though, so I hope they get their service issues sorted with this new incarnation.
Jen / December 20, 2012 at 02:04 pm
The food is delicious but the servers were so rude and cranky! I went once and never went back after such horrible service.
Shanley / December 31, 2012 at 01:50 am
Even as a vegan I hated this place and would never recommend it or go back. I went there by myself expecting to spend a decent amount but ending up spending over $60 for one person, including some Johnny Walker hot chocolate which was plain disgusting and meal that was boring, bland and unmemorable. I would never go back to Fressen and would actively discourage anyone who was thinking about it from doing it.
jim / February 19, 2013 at 06:29 pm
best vegan foie gras i've ever had.
nisi replying to a comment from Allan / February 27, 2013 at 06:31 pm
I don't know why you'd think that...

My friend was telling me a story that appeared in the biography of the Smiths, regarding how miserable Morrissey was on the tour because he had a really hard time finding vegetarian food. This same friend read a biography about YES, and they are (or were?) all vegetarians, so they brought a caterer with them. They were still miserable.

Ok, these are anecdotes and hardly empirical evidence, but you rarely hear stories about happy vegetarians and vegans. The only one I can think of is Andre 3000.
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