Il Fornello's All-Ontario Menu

Early this spring, my roommates and I decided to try our hands at a small vegetable and herb garden on our rooftop deck, and I am happy to say that so far it's been quite the delicious experience. I'll be honest... for the most part, we just wanted to see if we were actually capable of such an endeavor. But on top of that, we also felt a need to attempt a more sustainable eating lifestyle, focusing on more local ingredients. It seems as though more and more Canadians are catching on to this same idea, following homegrown food movements like the 100 Mile Diet. In response to this, Il Fornello announced last week the implementation of an Ontario-only food menu that will run all year round and shift with the seasons.

Quite an ambitious commitment by a restaurant chain with 9 locations across the GTA. So what's the catch?

Well, at the moment not all of their locations are taking part in this all-Ontario initiative. Apparently their Queen's Quay restaurant won't be a part of the project until later on this year. No biggie. 8 out of 9 locations is an amazing start, and still more than any other restaurant chain has ever attempted in Canada. Historically this local stance on menu creation has been predominantly reserved for higher-end restaurants run by executive chefs like Anthony Walsh and Jamie Kennedy, so Il Fornello's local food initiative is definitely a welcomed change to this dynamic.

Oh, and another catch... there was some confusion originally over whether this Ontario-only stance would mean a whole new menu that would eliminate other items that rely on imported ingredients (like yummy olives). This is not the case. The All-Ontario Menu is just what it says; a whole new local menu to run along side their original one. Personally, I don't really have a huge beef with this (sorry for that horrible pun) because there is something to be said for a well-balanced menu, and it creates a nice evolving feature to eating at Il Fornello. The local menu will be changing constantly as food comes in and out of season, and it will hopefully do a great job of showcasing the variety and versatility of Ontario meats and produce.

So now you ask, "Well, what are the dishes going to be like?" Well here are a few additions that will surely have you craving some local fair:

- Chilled soup of sweet potato puree with basil essence and sheep's yogurt
- Ravioli filled with wild leek, mushrooms and pecorino fresco, with a fresh herb tomato sauce
- Grilled beef rib eye with sweet potato fries, asparagus, and a baco noir jus

I'm pretty much a sucker for sweet potato fries, so I'll definitely be dropping by sometime soon to give that last dish a go. Mmmmm... Ontario (said in my best Homer Simpson voice).

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