Now trending in Toronto: Eastern European cuisine
Trends come and go (kimchi tacos, gourmet grilled cheese, truffle oil) but some are here to stay.
The recent influx of perogies places in the last few weeks (Loaded Pierogi and Schnitzel Hub) is a sign of what’s to come.
In fact, a few Toronto restaurants have already embraced the dish:
Chef Jesse Vallins over at The Saint has Pierogie ($11) with pork belly, cabbage, cheddar, and herbed sour cream as part of his starter menu. Speakeasy No. 21, an upscale event space and restaurant/bar, offers Potato & Cheddar Pierogies as a main ($15) served with sour cream, caramelized onion and dill. Richmond Station also offers them as an entrée - The Sweet Potato & Cheddar Pierogies ($23) boast beer-braised wakefield cabbage mustard crème and caramelized leeks.
And this is just a small indication of the larger Eastern European trend that will soon arrive. After all, the second location of Schnitzel Hub that just opened at Yonge and St. Clair offers much more than just perogies. Tuck into goulash, schnitzel, blintzes, cabbage rolls and beef stroganoff, to name just a few dishes on the menu.
Chef Paul Boehmer offers a Hereford Pork Schnitzel ($26) with farm fresh fried egg, braised red cabbage, kale and heirloom carrot slaw with maple vidal vinaigrette and bacon mayo with capers on his dinner menu, and Pierogi of Potato, Goat Cheese and Green Onion ($15) with Smoked Bacon Lardons, Sour Cream & Gorgonzola Cream Sauce for brunch at his restaurant, Boehmer. And around the corner at Ossington Stop, Chef Denis Ganshonkov's addictive Russian Steamed Bun With Pork N Cabbage ($4) are a delicacy not to be missed.
Back in August, I attended a fantastic event presented by Toronto PopUp and Pera called “Zakuski: 5-Course Menu in Modern Russian Cuisine” held at the Monarch Tavern.
Zakuski isa Russian tapas-style meal, with delicious Russian food served in small plates and often served with a lot of vodka.
Chef Roman Kliotzkin (aka Pera) was born in Kaliningrad, Russia, and wanted to introduce modern Russian cuisine to Toronto. His menu proved that not all Russian and Eastern European food is beets, potatoes, and cabbage.Though these ingredients were used, they were treated with contemporary preparation and presentation.
Kliotzkin’s Buckwheat Duo, with bacon and wild mushrooms (pictured above) for example, showcased buckwheat, a common grain used in Russian cooking.
The menu also featured beet soup served as a drink, pelmeni (Russian dumplings made from thin unleavened dough) with oxtail and cabbage, goulash with spaetzle and peas, and for dessert, quark cheese with sour cherries and hvorost.
In the coming months, just watch as dishes from Eastern European countries such as Poland, Ukraine, Croatia and Romania pop up on menus all across the city. And hopefully more of Kliotzkin's style of Zakuski meals.