What’s Up In Toronto: Restaurants & Taste Of Toronto Food Festival

By Sharlene Chiu,

From June 23-26th 2016 food lovers around the world will rejoice in the best city in the world for the third annual Taste of Toronto festival in the historic Fort York. Open to the public, guests can mingle with the city’s most celebrated chefs while sampling the best of what Toronto’s vibrant and eclectic food scene has to offer. With over 30 of Canada’s star chefs in one spot, you’ll want to go in with a solid game plan. Make sure to check the line up so you can hit your favorites.

Catch our five favorite Chefs, the darlings of Taste of Toronto’s past, present and possibly future, at their respective Toronto restaurants.

Montecito

299 Adelaide St. W.

Montecito-Toronto

Photo courtesy of the Montecito Facebook page.

THE LOWDOWN

A fairly new kid on the block, Montecito has injected Toronto with a serious dose of California cuisine that’s fresh and effortless, like it’s SoCal namesake. Montecito is a partnership between Canadian film director Ivan Reitman and Master Chef Jonathan Waxman, who is renowned for pioneering California cuisine decades ago. Under the leadership of Waxman, Executive Chef Matt Robertson works directly with Canadian farmers, getting seasonal Ontario fruits and veg, grass-fed beef, east coast shellfish, and organic chicken from Mennonite cooperatives. Although the dishes ooze Cali vibes, you’ll taste the best of Canada coast-to-coast.

THE OFFERINGS 

Some signature dishes that have made an appearance at the Taste of Toronto include the Albaore tuna ceviche with auga de chilie tortillas, meatballs with creamy polenta and tomato sugo, and the addictive vanilla panna cotta with port poached rhubarb and caramelized white chocolate.

Jonathan Waxman Toronto Restaurant

The upstairs bar at Montecito

The Harbord Room

89 Harbord St.

Cory Vitiello Taste of Toronto

Cory Vitiello will be cooking up a storm. Photo by by Raina + Wilso

THE LOWDOWN

Cory Vitiello and Robbie Hojilla’s The Harbord Room is an easy no-brainer. If you want consistently well-done no B.S. bistro dishes (that Dry Aged ‘West Grey Farms’ Beef Burger at the Harbord Room, though? Heaven) in friendly and unpretentious environs, you gotta hit that Harbord strip.

THE OFFERINGS 

The grilled summer squash with za’atar, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate, Macedonian feta, fresh herbs and pickled red onion, that I can eat every day, salad, #TREATYOSELF cheesy slow cooked lobster grits, white shrimp and Andouille sausage soffrito, basil with crispy onions, and rhubarb, strawberry and pistachio Upside-Down Cake, mint ice cream and preserved strawberries that will no doubt turn into a summer addiction.

HarbordRoomLunchToronto HarbordRoomToronto

Photos courtesy of the Harbord Room Facebook page. 

Kinka Izakaya, Kintori Yakitori & Kinton Ramen

398 Church Street | 668 Bloor Street | 51 Baldwin Street

aki urata

Photo by Natta Summerky c/o BlogTO

THE LOWDOWN

Thanks to the passionate, rambunctious Kinka Family, Toronto certainly doesn’t lack in entertaining delicious Japanese restaurants: Kinka Izakaya, authentic noodle bowls at Kinton Ramen, fine sushi at JaBistro, and Kintori Yakitori’s Japanese tapas. The Kinka family is a star at the Taste of Toronto’s past and present.  You can always expect balls out enthusiasm and punchy dishes from the Kinka Family.

THE OFFERINGS 

Try deep fried octopus balls (takoyaki) with tonkatsu sauce and karashi mayo. Sweat it out with Kinton Ramen’s spicy chicken ramen with chicken broth, thin noodles, jalapeño paste, a slice of jalapeño, white onions, scallions, ground chicken meat, and chicken breast. You may be full, but you can’t leave without trying Kintori Yakitori’s famous assorted char-grilled 5-skewers of chicken thigh, chicken thigh oyster, chicken meatball, pork belly, and shiitake mushroom.

Kinton Ramen in Toronto

Photo courtesy of the Kinton Ramen Facebook page.

Carver & Marben

101 Peter St. |  488 Wellington St W.

Carver Meat and Rosemary

Photo courtesy of the Carver Facebook page.

THE LOWDOWN

Rob Bragagnolo of Marben is the brainchild behind Toronto’s Carver, which focuses on locally-sourced Ontario and naturally-raised, slow-roasted meats.

THE OFFERINGS 

Try Carver’s spiced cucumber, chickpea and mint salad with roasted red pepper-sumac dressing, Wellington County slow roasted porchetta sandwich with spiced peach mostarda and parsley-lemon slaw, and 24hr Halimand County beef short rib with torched horseradish aioli and rosemary confit potatoes.

Marben fresh salad with avocado

Photo courtesy of the Marben Facebook page.

Tips for Taste of Toronto

Taste Of Toronto Tips

Not just food samples, but artisan goodies await you at Taste of Toronto. Photo courtesy of the Taste of Toronto Facebook page.

Taste of Toronto also highlights the loving hard work behind the tons of inspiring farmers and artisans who make the local ingredients used in each dish possible. There is usually around 60 or more artisan producers and brands showcasing the finest in local food and beverage offerings across the country. Some of my must fave pit-stops:

  • Ninutik is a Toronto-based studio that designs and handcrafts creative gifts and confections using pure maple syrup from Ontario farms.
  • ELXR Juice Lab refreshing cold-pressed juice.
  • For an extra kick, order a Caesar cocktail (when in Canada, make sure you have as many of these as possible) made with my favorite Walter All-Natural Craft Caesar Mix from Vancouver.
  • Try a can of Shiny Apple Cider made from local Ontario apples by Small Talk Vineyard.
  • Kitchen gifts to-go: organic clarified butter from Lee’s Ghee, and ergonomic kitchen tools from Rhineland Cutlery, out of Abbotsford, BC.
 

*Cover image courtesy of the Taste of Toronto Facebook page