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IQ Food Co. (Bay St.)

Posted by Alexandra Grigorescu / Reviewed on November 13, 2012 / review policy

iq food co bay st torontoIQ Food Co. (Bay St.) has been open just over a month, and although it mostly shares a menu with its original location at Wellington and York, the ground-level, high-ceilinged space is a definite upgrade.

iq food co bay st torontoThe original location is in a subterranean food court, and despite the unflattering fluorescence and generally depressing food court atmosphere, it's seen steady traffic during its rather limited 11 a.m.-4 p.m. business hours. Steady, even following a rather disparaging expose earlier this year on the true nutritional value of its purportedly healthy meals--nevertheless, even a slightly more-caloric-than-advertised meal at IQ Food is going to feel better than McDonald's.

iq food co bay st torontoFrom the outside, IQ Food Co.'s second location suits its Wellington and Bay address quite nicely, with floor-to-ceiling windows, and a glimpse into the blonde wood-heavy interior which would be equally appropriate in a luxe bistro. The bar-style window-seating affords library-style reading lamps and international newspapers (although there are also more traditional tables), geometric art hangs from the ceiling, and men in suits abound. Particularly odd are the white bar chairs--riffing on the same minimalistic lattice theme as the art--which resemble plasticized doilies, and are fairly uncomfortable.

This location opens around 7:30 a.m., with a breakfast menu (available only in the morning) that features open-faced sandwiches with tasty dressings such as gravlax and figs, and granola bowls. Their closing time is still in flux. Otherwise, the core menu is identical to that of its original location, but also adds a selection of coffee and espresso-based drinks, as well as herbal teas such as Yogitea and Kashmiri Chai, to its roster.

iq food co bay st torontoUpon arrival, I'm surprised to learn that the albacore tuna advertised on their website (which I quite like, and tend to get excited for in a plebeian kind of way) has been replaced by salmon. Substitutions are available, and you can either spring for chicken or tofu.

We start with their Med salad ($8.85), presumably a play on Mediterranean with its mix of spinach, sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese, kalamata olives, shallots, and a basil and citrus vinaigrette. It's lean protein--part and parcel of almost every menu item--is roasted chicken. What can I say? It's incredibly flavourful, but I remain skeptical that anything blessed with so much crumbled feta (a generous dollop of it) can honestly be called healthy. It would've benefitted from more sun dried tomatoes or yellow peppers--after all, people expect vegetables from a salad.

iq food co bay st toronto
I opt for their seasonal wrap, a hearty, winter-appropriate blend of over-roasted mushrooms, butternut squash, spinach, goat cheese, pecans, and balsamic vinegar ($8.63), which is then grilled in a whole wheat wrap. The dominant flavours are, predictably, goat cheese and pecans, although that combination alone is rich and festive. The vegetables were rather bland (says the woman who upends an entire spice cabinet onto sauteed spinach), and the texture of the butternut squash was too soft for my liking.

iq food co bay st torontoOur easy favourite is the Marathon bowl ($10.40 with brown rice, $11.28 with quinoa). It comes with oven-roasted salmon, but I exercise my right to substitute, and choose chicken instead. Something of a faux pas, as the pairing of cucumbers, capers, dill and a light lemon yogurt dressing would have been perfectly suited to fish, but the zucchini, sun dried tomatoes and lentils complement the chicken nicely. The zest of the dressing detracts from the heaviness of what is, essentially, beans 'n' rice, and I have to say that their chicken is well-spiced and perfectly-cooked.

iq food co bay st torontoI try their cappuccino ($3.32)--nicely foamed, strong-tasting espresso--but I'm becoming overly-sensitive to the absence of simple lactose-free milk at cafes and restaurants around the city (read: not soy or almond milk, as they both change the flavor of the latte completely). Although the following might change, currently they use 49th Parallel's coffee and espresso, and the latter is their Epic Espresso, a blend of beans from Guatemala and Panama.

iq food co bay st torontoYou'll also find baked goods--most of which are gluten-free, and use brown sugar--except for the one pictured above, because, well, I like both flour and white sugar. The Everything but the Kitchen Sink cookie ($2.65) comes dotted with bits of maple, thick chunks of chocolate, and an unidentifiable nut. Not as moist as one might hope, but by late afternoon, it's not surprising.

iq food co bay st toronto



Mm / November 13, 2012 at 01:09 pm
Wow, have to say, the food in the photos looks delicious.
Big Fuckin Mega Boat / November 13, 2012 at 01:41 pm
Pretty good food, except as the author eluded to, you'll want to check the nutritional info on the website before ordering. The "Med" salad noted above, for example: 43g of fat, nearly 1200mg sodium. Lose the cheese and most of the items become decent options for the health conscience.
Bob / November 13, 2012 at 03:03 pm
People who eat that this place are stupid lemmings - they wait in line for half an hour for the exact same food they can get at Freshii with no line up!
MrsPotato / November 13, 2012 at 03:03 pm
PDG / November 13, 2012 at 04:47 pm
Nice space. The food looks lame, though. Wraps?!
Danielle / November 13, 2012 at 08:30 pm
Brown sugar isn't any healthier than white sugar! Sorry. Just had to say it!
moi / November 14, 2012 at 02:26 pm
Food looks great. but the space is so cold. I wish Toronto would stop with the sterile look and opt for more cozy. When I go out for a quick bite I want to R E L A X, not feel like I am in a mental hospital!!!!!!!!!
Poopdawg replying to a comment from Bob / November 14, 2012 at 03:10 pm
You must be talking about the food court IQ location. I've been to this one a few times because it's right below my office and I've never waited anywhere close to half an hour. Even during the peak of lunch rush.
Also, Freshii is cool and all, but they aren't the same. My only complaint about this place is that it's a bit pricey for what it is.
Dialog / November 14, 2012 at 04:51 pm
What's an "over-roasted" mushroom?
E. replying to a comment from Big Fuckin Mega Boat / November 15, 2012 at 01:01 pm
What's more is that the Toronto Star actually tested one of their dishes and it had almost double the calories, double the fat, and four times the amount of salt as advertised on their website.

This one has a completely undeserved health halo.
George replying to a comment from Bob / November 17, 2012 at 09:16 am
There is no line at FRESHII because it sucks and no one wants to eat there.
Sam / November 17, 2012 at 10:16 am
Wow, people can be harsh critics. I'd love to see all those critics attempt to start a restaurant of any kind. I think it's great that people are building new companies that make food that isn't junk. Yes if you want very low calories in your food, you can eat plain lettuce or starve. IQ is very tasty food that hits the spot and not too many others are doing it right or doing it at all like this.
Dave / January 28, 2013 at 11:41 am
This stuffi is not healthy at all. Be wiser, people.
Joe G. / May 29, 2013 at 12:49 pm
"This stuff is not healthy at all."

What would you consider healthy, Dave? You sound like the kind of person who carries around a caloric table in your back pocket and doesn't eat avocados or nuts because they've got "too much fat". Listen, not all calories are created equal. I'm sure you could find lower calories and fat in a shitty combo from any fast-food chain, but you won't be receiving any nutritional content due to the fact that the food is over-processed. Sure I could spend $25 for a salad at a raw organic place, but that's not gonna happen. The meals at iQ are wholesome, unprocessed, and simple.

The Lima box is awesome. I love all 30 grams of fat in it. The cookies are also great, as is the espresso.

I've been eating at Fresshii for a few years now. I welcome iQ as a new lunch addition to the neighbourhood. The food is always fresh and little touches like lime wedge, shaved jalapeno, and big portions of avocado make me happy. I will return many times.
char / August 27, 2013 at 12:15 pm
for those saying it's not healthy because of the Toronto star article, the owners double checked and changed their nutrition information after the article came out, and neither the old website information OR the toronto star article was correct with their numbers. Also, if you order your food with light cheese and light sauce, it's a whole lot better for you, and you won't miss the extra calories, fat, and salt. The food quality is miles ahead of freshii, and the price is only a buck or two more expensive. Sure, the lines suck, but everything else about the place is great.
obvious replying to a comment from Dialog / March 26, 2014 at 12:01 pm
its a mushroom roasted in the oven.
Liz / September 21, 2014 at 03:14 pm
I'd just like to make a distinction between "unhealthy" and "high calorie / fat / etc." The food here is nutritionally dense, and absolutely "healthy" - the extra calorie are just a matter of portion size. if anything, save half for lunch the next day and you've got two wholesome meals for the price (and wait time) of one.
Karen / January 17, 2015 at 06:00 pm
I loved the spicy chopped up cauliflowers, huge chunks of goat cheese, pickled celery, watermelon radish, and apple. It was a very crunchy texture all throughout the box with the soft and well cooked quinoa in the bottom of the box. I really enjoyed this!

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