Spring in Burlington Ontario

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Burlington knows what's hot in restaurant trends!

Recently an article entitled “What’s Hot, 2013 Chef Survey” from the National Restaurant Association (U.S.) came across my desk and being the culinary person I am,  I was anxious to see what the hot trends are in cuisine and how our restaurants stack up.  I believe that Burlington has a great culinary scene and some amazing chefs including some up and comers and as I suspected, our restaurants are on trend if not ahead of the curve.  Read on and discover what’s hot on restaurant menus and where to find it in Burlington!

Red Canoe Bistro
The top two trends for 2013 are locally sourced meats, seafood and locally grown produce which is something we promote through our Taste of Burlington partnership with Foodland Ontario and our Halton Region Culinary Group.  Over the past few years there has been a shift to try and incorporate more local ingredients on the menu and in Burlington there have been two champions of this movement – The Red Canoe Bistro and Spencer’s at the Waterfront.  Both these restaurants share a philosophy that brings locally sourced menu items to the forefront.  At the Red Canoe Bistro, Chef and Owner Tobias Pohl-Weary has created relationships with local farmers and can often be found at the local farmers’ market shopping for his menu.  Over at Spencer’s, Chef Andrew McLeod's commitment to regional cuisine is evident on his menu.  Other notable restaurants offering local fare include The Water St. Cooker, Celli’s Osteria The Naked Sprout, The Martini House and Kindfood.

When you think of enviromental sustainability for restaurants you think food but The Naked Sprout is very conscious of their environmental impact with everything. From the bamboo floors, mango wood chairs, barnboard tables to the cloth towels in their bathroom, the natural dish detergent and compostable take out cutlery/containers/napkins they strive to be green.  Some of their staff even ride bikes to work!

Photo courtesy of RBG
At number seven on the list is hyper-local sourcing which includes restaurant gardens. What you may not know is that in-season the Garden Café at the Royal Botanical Gardens uses produce from Veggie Village located in Hendrie Garden on their menu.  Thoughout the summer the RBG also features a series of edible weekends featuring cooking demos and sampling from the garden harvest.  Starting this year, The Naked Sprout has a spot in the Burlington Community Garden where they will be growing their own fruits & vegetables for use in the restaurant.  The Martini House in downtown Burlington has a fresh herb & tomato garden each summer – it doesn’t get much fresher than that.

The Naked Sprout
Coming in at number eight is gluten-free cuisine which is no surprise considering the media around this “trend”.  Many of our restaurants offer gluten-free options but the stand-outs in this category are Kindfood and The Naked Sprout who are completely gluten-free (in addition to being vegan & organic).  At Kindfood you can nosh on delicious choices like the Happy Buddah Bowl (my personal favourite). The Naked Sprout features both raw and cooked menu items – just look at this picture of their delicious fare and try not to be hungry. Some other great choices are The Alex Restaurant who offer almost everything with gluten-free alternatives and The Water St. Cooker who have a gluten-free menu for their guests.

Kelly's Bake Shoppe
If you have a sweet tooth, don’t fret, Kelly’s Bake Shoppe has you covered with a wide variety of tasty treats.  This vegan/gluten-free bakery offers cookies, cakes, cupcakes (their specialty), muffins and brownies including the mile high brownie - a rich brownie topped with chocolate buttercream and a dollop of Vanilla Buttercreem, another brownie, chocolate ganache and homemade caramel sauce. Wow, that’s all I can say.

Sea 2 Fork 
Oceanwise is an organization that is dedicated to the promotion of sustainable seafood which comes in at number eight.  Just over a year ago Sea 2 Fork opened with a mandate to know when, where and how their fish where caught and their menu reflects this commitment.  Other Oceanwise partner restaurants serving sustainable seafood on their menus include Earls and Spencer’s at the WaterfrontWater St. Cooker also features sustainable seafood.

Non-wheat noodles such as quinoa, rice and buckwheat come in at twelve but to be honest, I don’t see this as a trend anymore.  Almost all of the casual and fine dining restaurants in Burlington offer at least one of these options on their menu.  One of my personal favourites is the veggie burger at the Purple Heather, a quinoa-blackbean patty topped with avocado, caramelized onions and basil aioli.

The Naked Sprout
Tired of bacon and eggs?  Look for trend fourteen – ethnic inspired breakfast items on the menu.  This dish from The Naked Sprout looks like a winner to me.  Their Chocolate Coconut Crepes with Blueberry Whipped Cream are made with a very dreamy blueberry whipped cream ...better than ice cream!  If you are in the downtown core, visit Kindfood for their coconut milk pancakes - my kind of breakfast.

If you still are craving more, here are some other fun and delicious trends that I thought I would share from the category listings.

The Alex Restaurant
In the appetizer category, look for house-cured meats/charcuterie at the top.  If you have never tried one of these plates adourned with cured meats, cheeses and other delectible goodies you don't know what you're missing.  If you are looking for charcuterie in Burlington, be sure to visit The Alex Restaurant where Chef & Owner Matt Kershaw (a meat aficionado) creates an outstanding charcuterie board.

The Stone House Restaurant

Dessert!  My favourite part of a meal and the trends are sure to please.  When the Stone House restaurant opened in Burlington, one of the cool things on their menu was their mini-desserts, little did we know that this would be a trend in 2013.  From cheesecake to key lime pie these decadent treats are served in tall shooter glasses and are the perfect end to a meal. 

Southeast Asian flavors are a top trend in ethnic cuisine and we are lucky to have many great restaurants catering to this fare.  Nothing beats the green beef curry lunch at Siam Dish and the waterfront views don’t hurt either.  Other notable restaurants include My Thai and Pomelo.

Are you an adventureous eater?  Then the trend of alternative meats is one you will appreciate.  From game meats to alternative red meats Chefs are stepping outside the box and creating new and exciting dishes.  Restaurants like Red Canoe Bistro and Blacktree have rotating monthly menus and often feature these choices. 

Waste not, want not.  Nose to tail dining is gaining popularity and at Eatalia they have been creating special one night dinners (on request) featuring a whole pig sourced locally from Highland Farms.  Chef Jake Rujevic looked to his Eastern Europeon roots and the tradition of slow roasting an entire animal as a symbol of celebration with family and friends when planning a nose to tail dinner.  This feature is not available on their everyday menu but can be booked through the restaurant for a large group.

We haven’t mentioned every trend or all the great restaurants and cuisine that you can find in Burlington but we hope that you will consider going on a culinary adventure and visiting our restaurants.  If you need assistance finding a restaurant that suits your taste, get in touch, we love to talk food and can recommend a restaurant by cuisine, price, location and more.  Drop by our visitor centre at 414 Locust St., call us at 905-634-5594 or email us.

Bon Appetit!

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