Dining out as a locavore

Even though alternative food distribution represents less than 4 per cent of market, according to the folks at Local Food Plus, lately I’ve managed to eat out only in restaurants that serve local (and hopefully sustainable) food. Granted, I don’t eat out as much as I’d like these days. With two small children, dinner en famille is most calm at home. But when I’ve ventured out, I’ve found that there are starting to be a healthy number of local food establishments to choose from in Toronto. Here are my top two picks:

1) Hank’s: This is Jamie Kennedy’s sandwich shop on Church, south of Front. I ate the most spectacular mushroom sandwich with Ruth Klahsen’s smoked sheep’s cheddar. On the side, a bowl of curried squash soup–smooth, scrumptious.

In the span of a few weeks, I ate at Gilead Cafe, The Gardiner and Hank’s (and every meal included a few pieces of pickled veg from last summer–so crisp and flavourful, I was converted to home-canned veg immediately). This lead me to claim for at least a week that I’d never eat anywhere in Toronto but at a Jamie Kennedy-run restaurant. I’ve since expanded my list to include places like…

2) The Drake Hotel: Their dinner menu by chef Anthony Rose includes a number of local food selections like the Cumbrae’s skirt steak served with a fabulous herbed butter that we enjoyed.  We also got to try the much talked-about spot prawns sustainably farmed in British Columbia. I first heard about these from chef Robert Clarke at C Restaurant in Vancouver and was thrilled to try their sweet, shrimpy flesh.

The service was great–our server was solicitous and, when I asked a question about the food, went in and talked to the chef who came out to speak with us personally. What a great evening!