The top 10 food trends in Toronto from 2015
The food trends that dominated Toronto's culinary landscape this past year include everything from a vegetable du jour and in vogue desserts, to the entrance of international eateries and upgrades on the trusty ol' corner store.
Here are my picks for the top Toronto food trends from 2015.
Toronto's obsession with fried chicken was insatiable this year. From east to west and in between, dedicated fried chicken joints hatched, Korean fried chicken asserted its dominance over all other forms of KFC, international brands touched down Toronto and every type of restaurant (from French and Japanese, to Taiwanese and Chinese) celebrated a universal love of deep fried poultry.
These green little orbs have been featured on menus at both new and well established restaurants this year. Find brussel sprouts deep fried and presented on the stem at Parcae (in the same way cauliflower stole the show at Fat Pasha last year), in the Caesar salad at Peter Pan Bistro and The One Eighty, and favoured as side dishes at R&D and Flor de Sal.
Move over ice cream sandwiches because soft serve is the new king of The 6. Matcha swirls and salted maple rosemary peaks were ever prevalent all summer then soft serve mania climaxed when Sweet Jesus introduced its over-the-top creations.
Once just a humble breakfast food, you'll find elevated versions of avocado toast at Frings where they do a version with pistachios, preserved lemon, and black olives, and also at Maman who offers a deconstructed take at brunch. Well established cafes and lunch counters embraced the trend too, making avocado toast as ubiquitous as PB&J.
Convenience stores with kitchens
In 2015 the corner store got a big upgrade with the openings of Tuckshop Kitchen, Fruitful, and Popbox MicroMrkt. This new hybrid of general store meets cafe is stocked with organic groceries, artisanal junk foods, home-cooked foods and totally decent coffee.
Asian Chain Restaurants
Toronto welcomed the arrival of Uncle Tetsu and Hot Star Large Fried Chicken with enthusiasm... and ceaseless line-ups. Bake Code, Coco Fresh, and i-migo laid down roots in Willowdale and the impending arrival of Jollibee has already stirred up a frenzy for those craving the Amazing Aloha pineapple-topped burger.
This kitschy brand of faux-Polynesian cocktail culture has been around for 80+ years but really went mainstream in Toronto this year with the openings of Miss Thing's, Tiki Bar above Bovine Sex Club, The Shore Leave and the Shameful Tiki Room.
Restaurants with serious art collections
Cactus Club Cafe and its collection of Warhol, Basquiat and Mr. Brainwash pieces might take the cake, but it's not the only restaurant making dinner a more cultured affair. Mesmerizing artworks by Debbie Lawson are mounted to the walls at Peter Pan Bistro, while Via Vai inherited installations by Sandro Martini.
Lunch Apps (and I don't mean appetizers)
No longer are weekday lunch options limited to what's in walkable proximity to your desk. Companies like UberEats and Feast have made ordering a midday meal more delicious than ever, while those that still want to stretch their legs can go cashless and bypass line-ups with apps like ritual and grabb.
The fluffy unadorned cheesecakes at Uncle Tetsu incited seemingly endless line-ups when it debuted. Millie Patisserie & Creamery, Bake Code and Yorkville's Kasa Moto are all serving Japanese cheesecake too and there's more to come in 2016.
What trends did I miss? Add them to the comments.
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