10 fun foods to eat this winter in Toronto
Toronto restaurants are accustomed to seasonal cravings, and come winter, they know diners are looking for traditional comfort foods. Satisifying that demand for familiar foods is easy enough, but adding a unique spin, or melding multiple cultures on one plate, is exactly where Toronto kitchens excel.
Here are my top picks for 10 fun foods ready to warm you up this winter in Toronto.
Chicken noodle soup
Also known as Jewish penicillin, this is the kind of winter food that'll nourish your soul. Find creative riffs on the classic at Essen where bowls of Jewish ramen are dressed up with kreplach, matzo balls and a perfect soft egg, or try the gourmet matzo ball soup at Nota Bene, where chicken broth is served with a dusting of parmigiano and shaved Burgundy black truffles.
Mini meat pies
Handheld pies like at Pie Squared and Kanga are perfect cold weather fare. Kanga's Aussie meat pies filled with butter chicken are like a double dose of comfort food. Even more miniaturized: Pot pies turned into single bites on the apps menu at The Borough.
Brussels sprout caesar salad
Move over, kale caesar salad, because a brussels sprout-based variation is the new star on menus at Thoroughbred and Hopgood's Foodliner. Brussels sprouts are truly best in the winter anyway - they sweeten up when harvested after a cold snap, meaning if you didn't like 'em at Thanksgiving, you might just change your tune in the depths of January. (Of course, bacon and a hefty coating of Parmesan helps.)
Straight from the slow cooker, find a vegan version at Greenwood Smokehouse, while meat-eating duos can fill up on a rib-sticking seasonal special for two at the The County General (west side only), where it's made with pork shoulder and served with bannock.
As hearty and filling as poutine, you'll that find a ladle of curry is an exotic and delicious substitute for gravy over frites. Find the classic Brit pub food at the newly opened Porter House, or try the dal fries at This End Up, where fries come smothered in red lentil dal before being finished with feta, crispy shallots and cilantro.
The Québécois delicacy has found its way onto the menu at Woodlot where the woodfired pie is filled with a mix of venison, pork, beef, thyme, and maple. Meanwhile, at the Tavern by Trevor, the meat pies comprise bison and pork and is served with pickled beets and apple chipotle sauce.
Essentially a fiery Latin version of tomato soup, Agave Y Aguacate serves up smoky bowls of pasilla chili-laced broth studded with shredded chicken and topped with queso, avocado and crunchy tortillas. It's a staple on Milagro's menu too, while Bannock is doing it as a seasonal feature with guajillo chili and lime.
Purists can find plenty of traditional potato-stuffed dumplings on menus citywide, but if you want to get adventurous head to the Loaded Pierogi where dumplings go gourmet with toppings like wild mushrooms and black truffle sour cream, or, lobster, crab and hollandaise. Even more origina; is the Asian riff at Patois where kimchi potstickers are presented pierogi-style with caramelized onions, bacon, scallions and kimichi sour cream.
In The Annex, The White Brick Kitchen is building this classic sandwich on a bun with a saucy blend of bacon and beef brisket before dressing it up with barbecue sauce and sour cream. Find a steamed bun spin-off on the menu at Mean Bao where the Sloppy Jones is packed with spicy minced pork and scallions.
Fluffy batter puddings are really just a vessel for gravy, which is why it works so well at Eastside Social where the British staple melds with our own colonial cusine by piling poutine over Yorkshire puddings. Find an innovative spin at The Borough too, where mini Yorkshire puddings are stuffed with seared beef and horseradish cream.
Did I miss any? Leave your favourite winter dish at Toronto restaurants in the comments.
Photo from Agave y Aguacate by Jesse Milns
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