Restaurant Review: Fressen

26 Apr

One of the advantages to visiting Toronto on a regular basis is that I get to check out the plethora of vegan/vegetarian restaurants this city has to offer.  Don’t get me wrong, Montreal has some wonderful eateries catering to the herbivores, but Toronto has been in the veggie game for a bit longer (not to mention has a larger population) so more options are available.  This is especially true in the “fine-dining” category where Montreal hasn’t really caught on to the fact that vegetarians like to get fancy every once in a while, too!

Enter Fressen.

This chic spot located on the trendy Queen St. W is an all vegan restaurant with a warm Safari/Exotic-inspired ambiance.  Think plush seating, natural woods, and a palette of rich greens, golds and browns.

Dustin had never been before and ever since his newfound obsession with Fresh and their sweet potato burrito, he’s been excited to try out new veggie spots with me.

Clearly, this is a guy after my own heart.

Anyway, we stopped in over the weekend to enjoy the delights of Fressen and their unique menu.   One of the reasons why I love Fressen so much is their fun appetizers.  With the option of ordering 3 for $15, they make for a fun way to start off the meal with your dining partner(s).

Dustin and I opted for their basil hummus, spicy red lentil balls and their mixed green salad.  The hummus was really good but my only complaint was that I could barely taste the basil as it was overpowered by the cumin.  However, it’s only inspired me to try my own hand at basil hummus, so be on the lookout for a recipe shortly.

The spicy red lentil balls I’d had before.  I find the name a little misleading as you would think it more like a “meat-ball” type dish, when in fact it’s a spread, thankfully our server did point this out to us which was nice of her.  The spice in the spread nicely complements the texture and pungent taste, again very delicious- especially when served with their piping hot garlic loaf with huge chunks of garlic peeking out of the slices.

Our third appetizer was the mixed green salad which featured crisp vegetables, peppery arugula, and sweet baby greens, topped with an orange miso vinaigrette and sesame seeds.  Dustin really enjoyed this as he loves all things sesame.  I thought it was good and appreciated the freshness of the dish and that it nicely balanced out the heavier hummus and red lentil spread, but I’m not the hugest fan of miso based dressings.  If you’re a lover of the miso- dive right in, if you’re not, this may not be the dish for you.

Next up, came our mains. Dustin opted for the Chimichuri sauce-stuffed Portobello mushroom. This dish is essentially Fressen’s spin on a traditional steak dinner.  Piled high with fresh vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, corn and kale, the huge stuffed mushroom takes centre stage with a lovely “au jus” surrounding the goodness.  Dustin was very impressed with the flavour and noted there were subtle hints of spices that made a great flavor combination, rather than a blast of too much spice to your taste buds.

I ordered their pasta special which was rigatoni topped with fresh snowpeas, zucchini, shallots and cherry tomatoes, tossed with a cashew cream sauce.   I thought the sauce was very flavourful, again subtle in the spices and seasonings so that it blended well together for a nice savoury dish that wasn’t overpowering.  Albeit, the pasta was a bit overcooked but the veggies were done perfectly with tender-crisp snowpeas and juicy tomatoes.

As you can imagine, neither of us had room for dessert so I’ll have to go back and try that out another time.  Tough life, don’t you think?

-Jess

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