We survived the winter and to prove it, restaurants around town are getting in the spring spirit, adding seasonal produce and ingredients to their dishes.Here are my top 5 picks for spring menus:(Note: dishes and prices are subject to change).
Salt Wine Bar on Ossington has just released their new spring menu that boasts fragrant fare such as Grilled Green Asparagus ($9), Rabbit Boudin Blanc ($14), Truffle Gnocchi ($23) and Shellfish Paella ($26). Refreshing cocktails including the Herbalizer ($12) with muddled celery and Passion Fruit Basil Caipirinha ($14) made with real cachaca are ideal accompaniments.
IQ Food Co. (multiple locations) might be a fast service restaurant, but they have always been serious about local and seasonal ingredients. Their new spring menu features crisp sugar snap peas, leeks, and beets (from Hillside Garden Farms in Newmarket). Fruits of grapefruit and pears make their way into dishes, as does fresh basil. You can find these spring ingredients in their new boxes Purple Haze (oven roasted chicken, goat cheese, roasted beets, pear, pickled onions, buckwheat seed crunch, basil, spinach, balsamic vinaigrette) and Tiger (grilled salmon, avocado, grapefruit, watermelon radish, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, bird’s eye chillies, cashews, coconut, organic quinoa, romaine, lemongrass vinaigrette), available for a limited time only.
La Maquette reopens on May 2, with their lovely patio that looks out onto a small parkette featuring new sculptural works. And with it comes new spring menus for lunch and dinner, with most ingredients being organic and hand selected. Start with a La Maquette Salad with seasonal shaved vegetables, sunflower seeds and balsamic vinaigrette ($13at lunch, $14 at dinner, add lobster $10). The options at dinner are staggering – choose from steak oysters, octopus, tuna, sea bass, scallops, Dover sole, Squab (rock hen), suckling pig, chicken - and a long list of desserts. What a celebration.
While not technically a restaurant, Bunner’s Bakeshop (two locations) has to be included as they have just released a mouthwatering new spring menu. Their new gluten-free, vegan treats include: Blueberry Oat Muffins, Chubby Bunny Whoopie Pies (carrot cake stuffed with raisins, pumpkin seeds, and toasted coconut, with a thick layer of rich vanilla cream cheese frosting in the middle) and Strawberry & Cream Buns with strawberry cream cheese filling and topped with a cream cheese frosting. And if you prefer savoury to sweet, their new spring pies (available in personal and family size) are filled with the tastes of the season - yukon golds, fennel, leeks, dill, and green peas in a light gravy, topped with a golden brown lattice.
Spring has sprung at Mill Street’s Beer Hall, but it’s not all crisp salads and light dishes here. The new menu features Dirty Chips ($6 - lattice chips topped with crumbled blue cheese, bacon bits and chives, served with blue cheese dip), Poutine Trio ($17) with Jerk Chicken, Smoked Brisket, and Wild Boar, Elk and Beef), Fried Chicken & Biscuits ($19), and Santa Maria Steak For Two ($55). An array of salads ($8-$19) are indeed available should you want to keep it light, but you might just want to save room for the Cobblestone Stout Brownie ($10) with warm fudge, vanilla ice cream and salted caramel. It’s not a spring dessert, but it's never a bad time for a decadent sweet.