Farm Boy Toronto
Farm Boy started out as a 500-square-foot produce market in Cornwall, but after over 35 years has boomed into a Trader-Joe’s-style fresh market encompassing hot counters, a salad bar and their own line of products.
This marks the 25th ever location of the Ontario grocery chain, and it’s the first to ever be even remotely accessible by downtown-dwelling Torontonians.
The 20,000-square-foot space comprises a “shopping experience” playing off popular gimmicks at grocery stores in the States, not just Trader Joe’s but Whole Foods, Stew Leonard’s and the like.
This means an abundance of samples, folksy signage and even an animatronic monkey swinging from the ceiling above produce.
Premium Virginia peanuts ($4.99 for 400 grams) are actually from Virginia, fried so they’re the crunchiest, exemplary of Farm Boy’s MO of smart product sourcing and perpetual experimentation.
This includes what executive chef Josh Drache calls “the pursuit of the perfect chocolate-covered almond,” which apparently involves roasting the biggest almonds possible for exactly 43 minutes and covering them with as light a coat of chocolate as they can.
Another example are pita poppers ($2.99) in a patented shape with collaboration on flavours between the manufacturers and Farm Boy.
Farm Boy even has its own soda pops ($1.49) and sparkling beverages ($1.99) which are apparently imported from the south of France, and also stocks high-end beverage brands like La Croix, San Pellegrino and Zevia.
They also do their own sausages made in 20-kilo batches, with options like Bacon Bacon Cheddar ($5.99) with a tight ingredient list (another Farm Boy cornerstone) of pork, Balderson aged cheddar, double smoked bacon from the deli, salt and pepper.
There are also Thai, Canadian, jalapeno and sriracha sausages, with nearly as many options for house burgers ($7.99).
All salmon is eco-friendly, sustainable and sourced from the Ingalls family from Letang, New Brunswick. Silken filets are $12.99, $10.99 for salmon steaks.
Sushi and poke bowls are made fresh in-house by Ah-So Sushi, a brand that got its start in London, Ontario.
About half the store encompasses fresh and ready-made foods like this, and the best part about all items in black packaging (like popular falafel) can simply be thrown in the oven or microwave.
There’s also a custom pizza station where they’ll whip up, while maybe not super bubbly and crispy, a surprisingly elasticky and cheesy Margherita.
A 36-foot salad bar has options like cauliflower chickpea dill, kale, grilled artichoke with spicy dressy and rainbow slaw.
Look out for six new items at the hot counter every month, and try them out right in the store with a seating area for about 30, WiFi and accessible washrooms.