Address: 250 Fort York Boulevard, Toronto ON
When I attended: July 26, 2014
The Taste festivals are considered the “world’s greatest restaurant festival” and is currently happening in 21 cities worldwide including Sydney, Cape Town and London (UK). Toronto is now part of the culinary festival and held it’s 1st ever ‘Taste of Toronto’ at the historical Fort York from July 24-27th, 2014. The white tents were a beautiful backdrop to the luscious green space. The event vendors included many hip Toronto restaurants, artisans and wineries. Event goers were able to sign up for cookery classes, watch live cooking demonstrations, enjoy live entertainment and run into celebrity chefs including David Chang, Mark McEwan and Roger Mooking.
The admission price (which did not include food and drinks) were $30 in advance and $39 at the door and more for VIP tickets, which came with many perks. The currency at the event were called “crowns”. Customers were able to load a festival card with crowns which were scanned at each booth for easy payment. The dishes at the restaurant booths were 6, 8 or 10 crowns (1 crown= $1 dollar). Any unused crowns on the card goes to the Second Harvest charity.
This was definitely one of the best food festivals I have attended! I went with my husband and young baby and we enjoyed our night in town. We lucked out with gorgeous weather with few clouds in the sky and warm temperatures. Luckily, I scored complimentary admission tickets and only had to pay for food and drinks.
When buying tickets online, attendees had to choose which session they would be attending (afternoon vs evening), which helped to control the number of people attending at one session. We went on a Saturday evening and the place was busy but not rammed and the long lines moved quickly. I was told that Friday was a lot busier with food selling out quickly at many vendors. Luckily, this was not the case for us. There were tons of standing tables at the venue to rest our food and drinks and lawn space for sitting. We saw plenty of young families and had a chance to chat with other happy festival goers.
My husband and I got a card with 60 crowns and it got us 7 solid dishes. We wanted to maximize our card on food, rather than wine and drinks. The food was expensive for some of the dishes based on portion sizes but we got to sample top notch dishes that the restaurants currently serve at their restaurants. It was worth it! Before attending, I asked my Twitter friends on their recommendations to help narrow down my choices. We enjoyed our selections.
Here are the delicious food items that my husband and I shared:
Rose and Son’s BLT with Dr. Pepper bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, feta and herb mayo (10 crowns). This was our first stop and we were blown away with the sandwich. The bacon portions were generous, it was flavourful and not overly salty. I have only been to their sister restaurant Fat Pasha (see my review here) but will be visiting ‘Rose and Sons’ soon! This was worth every crown.
From Barque Smokehouse, we got the smoked duck tacos with pickled radish, carrots , crispy fried chicken skin and a hoisin BBQ sauce on a flour tortilla (6 crowns). This was delicious but did not stand out to me compared to the other dishes I have tried.
From JaBistro, we got the Oshizushi which was the blowtorched and pressed sushi with shrimp, mackerel and salmon (10 crowns). We ordered the last dish of the evening before they sold out. Thank goodness, this was my favourite dish of the night. I love Jabistro and this dish put me in food heaven!
At the McEwan Group, we sampled all 3 items including Fabbrica’s lamb bolognese crostini with minted ricotta cheese (6 crowns), One’s fried chicken with a buttermilk biscuit with housemade slaw and chipotle BBQ sauce (8 crowns) and Bymark’s lobster poutine (10 crowns).
We started off with 2 items but went back at the end of the night for the fried chicken since we enjoyed our first 2 dishes, plus it was a pleasure to chat with Chef Mark McEwan again. My favourite was the lobster poutine served on a lobster tail shell. The sauce was perfect and the chunks of lobsters were perfectly cooked and seasoned.
At THR & CO’s, we had the grilled crab and prawn roll, spicy pickled cucumber, avocado, crispy bacon and old bay chips (10 crowns). I loved this dish and the housemade pickles. One of the largest portions of the night as well.
This was an amazing food festival! I enjoyed the laid back atmosphere and was impressed at how organized each restaurant was. The lines moved quickly and the food came out hot.
Taking into account the food/drink prices and parking, I would attend again with complimentary admission tickets. One of the things I would suggest for next year is to have more volunteers walking around making sure all attendees maximize their time at the festival by telling us the schedule for the cooking demonstrations or where the freebees are.
If you attended, what did you think?
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