Fare..Eat..Ales Predictions of 2013 Food Trends.

Each year sees a shift in the direction of the restaurant industry.  I’m going to take a chance and speculate on what food trends will start or continue  in the Toronto dining scene  in 2013. Feel free to agree, disagree or suggest your own trends by commenting here, voting in the poll or tweeting #2013tofoodtrends.

1. Ramen Rage

Arguably the biggest craze in 2012, noodle houses will continue to appear like Starbucks and Subways in the coming months.  Given the versatility of this noodle dish, I suspect new variations will emerge and will not be limited to ramen restaurants  alone.  I expect the big chains and even the small fusion eateries and food trucks to join the ramen rage in some way, shape or form.

2. Offal Offerings

Black hoof has gained international exposure for its offal menu with thumbs up from celebrity chefs including Anthony Bourdain during his lay over visit and  Richard Blais’  endorsement on his list of favorite restaurants on Urbanspoon.  Adaptations of  the nose to tail concept have been adapted by many eateries, even including  a beginner’s lesson in offal  at Skin and Bones in Leslieville. This concept will continue to flourish given the surge in responsible eating as well as those seeking the adventure of multiple organ consumption.

3. In a Jar

I’m not referring to the traditional strawberry jam, pickled cucumber and mango chutney here.  In efforts to use more local ingredients throughout the year, preserving is gaining popularity.  Local and seasonal cranberries, tomatoes, peppers and tree fruit can be used year round when processed into sweet or savory condiments to compliment meats and even cocktails.  Savory and briny condiments are definitely in.  One of the best dishes I had in 2012 was a pickle tray at Sidedoor in Ottawa and it only makes sense that these creative, unique and in many cases  relatively inexpensive foods are housemade to complement  menus and blackboards in 2013.

4. Eat Street

Despite strict downtown by-laws and less than favourable year round weather, Toronto is catching up with other large metropolitan centres regarding  the presence of food trucks offering anything from smoked meats to tacos to cupcakes. More and more private businesses and fundraisers are seeing the potential in these nomadic sculleries as an awareness raising tactic. In addition,  the low overhead, creative license and geographical flexibility are appealing to restauranteurs, ensuring that the fleet of food trucks will continue to grow.

5. Carrying the Torch

The chef’s blowtorch is a cooking method which has typically been reserved for creme brulee and more recently sushi.  The ease of use and aesthetic properties of charred food could expand the use of this handy tool to other areas of food preparation.  Vegetables, cervices, meringues, terrines and even fois gras could be meliorated with a quick singe  of the blue flame.

6. Mexican Mania

Tacos were the rave of 2012 with the success of Grand Electric and  La Carnita taco-heavy menu. Burrito Boyz, Mucho Burrito and Burrito Bandidos are lunchtime and late night hotspots.  Baja fish tacos adorn almost every chain restaurant’s lunch and dinner menu.  Modernized twists on tasty tostadas, multifarious moles and piquant pozole will expand beyond the traditional taquerias, making Mexican fare one of the hot ethnic cuisines across the board in 2013.

7. Soul Train

Soul food has just gotten started.  The success of Barque, Stockyards and new additions such as AAA combined with the Hogtown and Urban Smoke food trucks have put pulled pork and brisket on the must eat food map.  Look for  southern food to dominate  in 2013 with the expansion of  southern-influenced mainstays such as shrimp and grits, collard/mustard greens, gumbos and maybe even a crayfish or two.

8.  Snack Time

Tastebud teasers  including  spiced nuts and other savory snacks have been a complimentary mainstay of bars and taverns for years.  It seems this concept has crossed into the dining room, with a snack menu available offering munchable morsels, such as warm olives at Patria and Campagnolo, even before the appetizers arrive.   In particular, popcorn is gaining popularity, providing a blank slate for various flavors including  truffle at Origin and chipotle-caramel at Cava,

9. Comfort Zone

It appears chefs have dusted off  their old copies of  “They Joy of Cooking” and “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.  A return to comfort food is an emerging trend. In 2012,  coq au vin was a staple at Richmond Station and Trevor Kitchen. Chicken Pot Pies were  being baked up traditionally  at C5 and with fois gras gravy at Reds Wine Tavern.  Fried chicken is half the menu at Paulette’s and is available for two at County General.  Old school bourguignon and gamy stews are emerging elsewhere.  Expect a cornucopia of European inspired comfort food in 2013, complete with the use of fresh meats and seafood, rich sauces and homemade, flaky pastries.

10. Icy Indulgence

Frozen desserts have become a common default dessert item for many big name chefs, especically those with a aversion to baking.  Working on the notion that frozen sugar and milk fat make anything taste better,  unique flavours have been incorporated into ice creams, sorbets and gelatos alike.  Whether it be savory flavours such as thyme or balsamic vinegar, sweetness through the use of commercial sodas or fruit nectars or incorporation of tart flavours like yuzu, a good ice cream maker and imagination is all that’s needed for this trend to blow wide open.

What do you think?  Answer the poll and add your comments.  Multiple answers are acceptable!


Review:Toronto: Queen East: Paulette’s Original Doughnuts and Chicken

Perhaps it’s the fact that NHL expansion did not occur in the Southern states until after the reign of Harland Sanders that  somebody didn’t dream up combining fried chicken and doughnuts. I mean, a chance meeting with Tim Horton might have changed history.

Fried chicken and doughnuts have one thing in common…a deep-fryer. Other than that, it’s an odd combo. Then again, being situated beside a pulled pork serving gas station on Queen East makes it a little less strange.

It  seems Paulette had a vision to not only combine but modernize these two classics.   There is little “original” about either the doughnuts or the fried chicken. Sure you walk in to an environment with an  old school feel characterized  by a walls painted with a seemingly discontinued paint colour and very pleasant employees dressed  in dapper whites reminiscent of the colonel himself , but one look at the offerings transports you into the present. I don’t remember Raspberry Rose or Mojito doughnuts displayed in between the Boston creams and Dutchies in the old smoke filled Timmy’s.


The doughnuts are good.  It seems like all of the doughnuts have the same moist, rich white cake as a base but the icing pushes the limits of sour, sweet and savory with a delicate balance. I liked the sourness of the blueberry balsamic and mojito doughnuts although preference would be based on individual taste.

The hot sauce was a pleasant surprise, filled with flavour and balance. Ironically, I can think of 20 other things I’d use it for other than fried chicken but it hits the mark.



The fried chicken  may not be for everybody.  It is crispy and not greasy. The pieces are smallish.   It’s fried in sort of a confit style so the skin and not only the batter accounts for the texture. It bordered on dry which I’m not sure is due to the cooking style or the fact that it was served out of a heating cart and not directly from the fryer.  

Fried chicken with hot sauce and side of mac and cheese.



The Mac and cheese is a decent side dish. Not the best I’ve ever had, but it was tasty with a subtle kick .


A doughnut is $2.75.  A small half chicken with a side is $15.  I wanted one of each donut and the modern colonel was quite pleased to tell me I didn’t have to pay tax since I bought 6.  Yes…but a half dozen still cost me  $16.50. That would buy me a lot of Dutchies.  Here’s a tip. If  you need to thank the government instead of your establishment for a discount, you may want to rethink things.  In general, things are overpriced.

My Take

It’s a unique concept with unique food done well. Price point is a bit high.  They should consider selling a half dozen variety pack for $12 or something in that range. As for the chicken, it’s not cheep..cheep…cheep.  I fear these doughnuts may go the way of the dinosaur or the cupcake. It  won’t be due to a meteorite but more likely a mass realization that overpriced baked good trends have a finite shelf life. Red velvet anyone?

Paulette's Original Donuts and Chicken on Urbanspoon