“Toronto’s Best” – Fressen

Right. So before I was confined to my bed with fever relapse number two, my sister and I were on a restaurant warpath. More like, she insisted on taking me out, and I’m too weak (and way too willing) to argue otherwise.

After our morning of french toasted pastries and pie, we decided it was time for more vegetables in our life.

Enter: Fressen.

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Fressen is easily Toronto’s most popular vegetarian/vegan restaurant. So much so that VegNews Magazine named it one of the 14 hippest vegetarian eateries in North America. This is probably why I’ve ignored it for so long in lieu of smaller, less-hip eateries. But when my big sis said it was a Toronto experience I must have, I knew she was right.

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The inside decor was not the usual patched-up hippy look you get in most vegetarian restaurants. But rather big, warm, and earthy. We both loved the set up.

Most importantly, the menu was chock full of things to tempt us. Tempeh fish and taro chips, eggplant pizza tart, avocado and spinach blinis, cornmeal crusted oyster mushrooms, root vegetable and beet borsht. 

Sister Sara needed a drink to clear her head.

IMG_5136 Some apple ginger thingy that made me feel like I was on a beach in Cuba :)

We finally decided on splitting two appetizers and a main in order to get a variety of tastes.

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Eggplant Manacotti: Creamed tofu, sundried tomato, and pesto rolled in a wafer thin slice of seared eggplant with a tomato herb puree.

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At the time I didn’t think this was much to write home about. I mean, delicious, but nothing mind blowing. Looking back, I realize it’s pretty darn amazing that they were able to make tofu taste just like ricotta. And the tomato sauce was incredibly fresh and flavourful.

Polenta: Seared cornmeal polenta on herbed tomato sauce with sautéed shittakes, spinach and a reduced balsamic glaze.

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Sara and I both loved this one. Polenta isn’t a very popular dish around these parts, so it’s always a special treat when we get to have it. The balsamic added a neat flavour element to an otherwise traditional taste.

And of course, there’s the bread. But not just any ole’ bread. A spicy bread. Red pepper? Jalepeno? Who knows, but it was perfect for sopping up that fresh tomato sauce with.

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Finally, the star of the show. Sara and I didn’t have much difficulty deciding over a main dish to split. Our eyes immediately shot to this one and our bellies rumbled in approval.

Moroccan Stew: Stewed sweet potato, onion, carrots and chickpeas in a cumin infused tomato broth.

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Such a simple description for such a lovely dish! First, it was thick and chunky, the best way to have a stew. The grains plumped it up to make it even more hearty and filling. But the best part were the spices. Ohmy. Just spicy enough to make my nose run a little, but still allowed me to take in the flavours of all the other ingredients.

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Apart from the hearty grains, big hunks of sweet potato and chickpeas were also sugar snap peas and olives. Two ingredients I’ve never thought of adding to a stew and surprisingly enhanced the whole experience.

I never talk about service much when I do restaurant reviews. This is because I tend to get good service wherever I go thanks to my big camera. The waitress here was super sweet and a Jill Barber fan, which gets her extra points. However we had to turn down her dessert offer. We did have dessert two times already on Sunday.

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But that still didn’t stop Sara and I from cracking open these fair trade bonbons.

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It’s at times like these you can really tell we’re related ;)

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Posted on January 13, 2011, in Restaurants, Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Oh my gosssssh. I am coming to Toronto immediately to eat there! It all looks incredible and I’m pretty sure I need that apple gingery thing asap.

  2. Okay, I seriously almost started drooling looking at these pictures! I MUST go to this restaurant pronto! (And it’s an added plus that I love Canada but haven’t been to Toronto yet).

    And hi! I’m a first time commenter and love your blog :)

  3. “one of the 14 hippest vegetarian eateries in North America. This is probably why I’ve ignored it for so long in lieu of smaller, less-hip eateries. ”

    Lol.

    The usual hippy dippy decor NOT being present…a blessing. Ppl think that me and my blog are hippy dippy by the name, veggies/yoga but i assure you, there is nothing hippy dippy about me. Some parts, but not the overall part of me.

    Fressen. Random jewish/yiddish trivia. In yiddish/hebrew “fressing” means eating. Jews say things like I fressed that plate of food or I’d like to fress now. I wonder if the restaurant’s title is a play on words or they have jewish roots….i would assume yes.

    Sorry to ramble :)

    • That doesn’t surprise me!! My sister lived in Germany and told me fressen is also German for “eat.” So that’s probably where the yiddish origin is from. Perhaps I’ll have to start using it ;)

  4. im dying to try a few vegan/vegetarian places here, i’m just saving right now!

  5. OMG i’ve been there! back in 2004. i think?!?

  6. I’ve had a so-so experience at Fressen. I went with a large group and though the waitress was nice and the food was decent, it wasn’t amazing. But I went for brunch, maybe I need to stop in for dinner!!

    xo

    • I find I get the worst dining experiences when with large groups! The waiter is always stressed and it’s hard to get out that many hot and delicious dishes all at once.

  7. To second what Averie said — the name of this restaurant cracked me up!!

    <3 <3

  8. I want that ginger drink and the polenta, now! ;P Seriously everything looks so yummy and I’m not even remotely into veggie type places. It looks like they have a lot of gluten free options too! That’s always exciting for me! Too bad Toronto is so far away…

  9. That entree sounds amazing! I love moroccan spices. That would be my top pick too!

  10. What’s the dark brown thing in the middle of the stew? Looks kind of like lentils? Everything looks great! I love inventive places like that. :)

  11. off the topic, your new lens is amazing!

  12. Oh wow, I’ve gotta try this place and may just be worth the trip to Toronto alone. :-)

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