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Seven Restaurants Taking Foraging to the Next Level

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Eating local is nothing new. Torontonians will gladly buy their apples, corn, and peaches at a farmers market, delighting in the knowledge that it was all grown with care in Ontario's own green belt. But the city's more enterprising chefs have been taking the movement even further, to the hyper-local level, foraging their own greens and using flowers, stems, even soil as part of their dishes. The trend has been gaining speed and becoming downright mainstream. Don't feel like making a woodsy hike part of your grocery shopping? Here, the seven restaurants you can visit to get a taste of the foraging trend.
—Kelly Reid


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Actinolite

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Justin Cournoyer’s restaurant is the Mecca of foraged foods. The chef's “soil butter” (with, yes, actual dirt) has even been recently featured. After sanitizing, steeping, and dehydrating, the soil tea is mixed with butter for a savoury, pungent opener to his tasting menu. Also on his menu are strawberries with hay and elderflower, veal with nasturtium, and halibut with gooseberries. [Photo]

Yours Truly

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No soil butter to speak of, but plenty of exciting pairings: the inventive hay-smoked queso with pickles and greens, a savoury panna cotta with zucchini flowers, eggplant with sumac, and slow-roasted duck finished with cowberry aspic. Like most foraged menus, the dishes change regularly but always reflect the bounty of the season. [
At Canoe, a restaurant known for its haute take on Indigenous and Canadian cuisine, living off the land goes upscale. See, for instance, the toasted bulrush brioche, mushroom soup with balsam fir crème fraîche, Québec foie gras with lavender, and near-countless uses of such ingredients as fennel pollen, marigold, and cloudberries. [Photo]

Nota Bene

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The website has an entire photo gallery dedicated to foraging, with sumptuous shots of fiddleheads, mushrooms, and trillium flowers. On the menu, you’ll find chef David Lee concocting such dishes as a sumac-dusted green papaya slaw, an elderflower juice cocktail, and a buffalo mozzarella antipasto with zucchini flowers and basil. [Photo]

Hudson Kitchen

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The restaurant touts a “leaf to root” philosophy, meaning you can definitely expect to see local foliage in the dishes. The largely Filipino menu has a few clever additions of garlic scapes (to a dry-aged striploin) and sea buckthorn berries (to a chocolate tart). This season, the restaurant is serving traditional halo-halo sundae with edible wild flower petals. [Photo]

Cafe Belong

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Evergreen Brickworks in the Don Valley is something of an epicentre for foraging, with thriving gardens all around. Tucked into the compound is Café Belong, which boasts that its “lowest standard of procurement [is] organic.” The menus are filled with produce that comes from the valley and gardens: strawberry and pecan salad with chive flowers, pulled pork flapjacks with gooseberry compote, and a gin fizz with lavender syrup and orange flower water.

Langdon Hall

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Okay, it’s a bit of a trek to visit. But the dessert menu, which is a veritable onslaught of foraged goods, will be worth the distance. See, for instance, the smoked pecan panna cotta with huckleberry and “garden garnish,” the violet bavarois with wild flower tea sorbet, or the spiced white chocolate and rum ice cream with candied sorrel flowers. It’s no soil butter, but we don’t think you’ll be disappointed. [Photo]

Actinolite

Justin Cournoyer’s restaurant is the Mecca of foraged foods. The chef's “soil butter” (with, yes, actual dirt) has even been recently featured. After sanitizing, steeping, and dehydrating, the soil tea is mixed with butter for a savoury, pungent opener to his tasting menu. Also on his menu are strawberries with hay and elderflower, veal with nasturtium, and halibut with gooseberries. [Photo]

Yours Truly

No soil butter to speak of, but plenty of exciting pairings: the inventive hay-smoked queso with pickles and greens, a savoury panna cotta with zucchini flowers, eggplant with sumac, and slow-roasted duck finished with cowberry aspic. Like most foraged menus, the dishes change regularly but always reflect the bounty of the season. [

Canoe

At Canoe, a restaurant known for its haute take on Indigenous and Canadian cuisine, living off the land goes upscale. See, for instance, the toasted bulrush brioche, mushroom soup with balsam fir crème fraîche, Québec foie gras with lavender, and near-countless uses of such ingredients as fennel pollen, marigold, and cloudberries. [Photo]

Nota Bene

The website has an entire photo gallery dedicated to foraging, with sumptuous shots of fiddleheads, mushrooms, and trillium flowers. On the menu, you’ll find chef David Lee concocting such dishes as a sumac-dusted green papaya slaw, an elderflower juice cocktail, and a buffalo mozzarella antipasto with zucchini flowers and basil. [Photo]

Hudson Kitchen

The restaurant touts a “leaf to root” philosophy, meaning you can definitely expect to see local foliage in the dishes. The largely Filipino menu has a few clever additions of garlic scapes (to a dry-aged striploin) and sea buckthorn berries (to a chocolate tart). This season, the restaurant is serving traditional halo-halo sundae with edible wild flower petals. [Photo]

Cafe Belong

Evergreen Brickworks in the Don Valley is something of an epicentre for foraging, with thriving gardens all around. Tucked into the compound is Café Belong, which boasts that its “lowest standard of procurement [is] organic.” The menus are filled with produce that comes from the valley and gardens: strawberry and pecan salad with chive flowers, pulled pork flapjacks with gooseberry compote, and a gin fizz with lavender syrup and orange flower water.

Langdon Hall

Okay, it’s a bit of a trek to visit. But the dessert menu, which is a veritable onslaught of foraged goods, will be worth the distance. See, for instance, the smoked pecan panna cotta with huckleberry and “garden garnish,” the violet bavarois with wild flower tea sorbet, or the spiced white chocolate and rum ice cream with candied sorrel flowers. It’s no soil butter, but we don’t think you’ll be disappointed. [Photo]