Taste Test: Grant van Gameren tastes Toronto’s top bar snacks

Joanne Kates recently said bar snacks were taking over T.O.’s resto scene, with hot young chefs offering up unique takes on artisanal nibbles. So we had our resident chef, Grant van Gameren, give them a taste. Whose snack is the most scrumptious? Find out here.

GRANT’S PICK: Fried chicken 
Bar Fancy, 1070 Queen St. ., $18
“It smells delicious,” says van Gameren as he picks up the dish. “It’s got a smoky sweet seasoning on the outside, which is really nice. This one is very good.”

Crab cakes 
Citizen Restaurant & Bar, 522 King St. W., $22
“It’s actually pretty tasty,” says van Gameren. “You can definitely taste the crab, so that’s always a bonus with crab cakes, and it actually tastes like real crab, too.”

Crispy duck wings 
Drake One Fifty, 150 York St., $15
“You don’t see duck a lot in Toronto, and you sure don’t see them as crispy bar snacks, but this one is delicious,” says van Gameren. “It’s still moist. This one is definitely fresh, it’s really nice.”

Korean fried cauliflower 
Carbon Bar, 99 Queen St. E., $9
“I love cauliflower,” says van Gameren, before taking his first bite. “This one is really good, and I like that it still tastes like cauliflower.” (He initially suspected it might be a chicken dish.)

Chorizo verde 
Bellwoods Brewery, 124 Ossington Ave., $15
“The salsa tastes really good, really good flavours there,” says van Gameren. “Everything about this dish is right up my alley. It’s really nicely done and whoever made this dish is super-talented.”

Shrimp lettuce wraps 
Little Sister, 2031 Yonge St., $10
“It’s got a really nice spice to it. I’m getting a nice crispy contrast from the cucumber and crispy shallots, and the shrimp tastes really nice,” says van Gameren.

Sesame ahi tuna 
Miller Tavern, 3885 Yonge St., $14.50
“There’s a really nice freshness to this one,” says van Gameren. “It’s got really good ingredients, nice greens and watermelon. Perfect for summer.”

Son in law eggs
Hawker Bar, 164 Ossington Ave., $7
“It tastes good and the flavours are there,” says van Gameren. “The presentation is cute, too. I haven’t seen a banana leaf used on a dish in a while.”

Lunchables
Small Town Food Co., 1263 Queen St. W., $5
“It’s an interesting bar snack. Everything tastes fine here,” says van Gameren. “The salami tastes nice, but I feel like it should be crispy on top of a cheese pizza.”

Chicken curry rolls  
Tickled Toad Pub & Grill, 330 Steeles Ave. W., $7.99
“I like the breading they have on top,” says van Gameren. “I’d be super-happy to get this as a snack. It is basically a roti in a deep-fried vessel. It’s supercool.”

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