the strong one toronto
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The Strong One

The Strong One is the little sister cafe to Empire Espresso on College Street. Design-savvy owner Lisa Young-Kutsukake brings her stand-out decor and scratch baking to Kensington Market with a new focus on wholesome sandwiches, pies and baked treats. The cafe is a bit off the beaten path in the space formerly home to Café Unwind near the Toronto Western Hospital.

Inside the cozy countrified cafe, I find Manager Shanley Maguire serving fresh Tuna Cheddar Melt Sandwiches ($5.50) from behind-the-counter kitchen.

the strong one toronto

Hungry homesick crowds from the hospital will be pleased to find fresh lunch items as well as many baked treats.

the strong one toronto

"Our menu is never the same. We have a regular rotation of sandwiches like our Tuna Melt Sandwich and assorted breakfast sandwiches; right now we're serving Toad In The Hole, a German sausage in a Yorkshire pudding! Alongside a few recipes doubled over from Empire, there's plenty of new stuff to try." Maguire tells me.

the strong one toronto

With floral wallpaper set to trend on Instagram, hand-painted leafy trees and dainty vintage mirrors, The Strong One is a little slice of the picturesque countryside in the big city, with a pioneering coffee menu featuring Empire Espresso stables.

the strong one toronto

If there's one thing that everyone loves at both locations, it's the Lavender Honey Latte ($5.50); made with steamed milk and lavender honey, then poured on top of double-shot espresso. The taste is smooth, with a bright Lavender aftertaste that kicks in like a warm shot of whiskey. Sweet Jesus, it's beautiful.

the strong one toronto

Shipped from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, The Strong One roasts single-origin coffee from Anchored Coffee ; a medium roast profile (Nectarine, almonds, cola) you probably won't find in Toronto. Sam James' Cut Coffee is also on tap for those banking on a loyal neighborhood roast.

the strong one toronto

Beyond go-to coffee drinks, there's a handful of specialty lattes like the Nutella Latte ($5.50), Actual Pumpkin Pie latte ($5.50), The Matador (a sweet and spicy latte) ($4.50) that make this café a sweet paradise. Other drinks like the Pure Lemon Ginger ($5), Ginger hot chocolate ($4.80) and cozy apple cider ($4.80) comfort like a long hug.

the strong one toronto

Keen to try a little bit of everything, Maguire prepares a special feast for me with Mulled Apple Cider and Chai Cake with Maple Walnut Icing and Rosebud ($8), The Shan-Wow (invented by Shanley herself) ($4.50), Two Hand Savory Pies ($6) and Seasonal Sweet Hand Pies ($6). I'll admit, I'm drooling.

the strong one toronto

With homegrown charm and a baked small batch empire, The Strong One is a farmer's wet dream; a Kensington speakeasy for small batch baked goods, Nutella lattes and old-fashioned good times.

the strong one toronto

Photos by Hector Vasquez.


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