Taste Test: Toronto’s Top Spring Salads

This month Grant van Gameren samples eight of uptown’s top spring salads — from classic Italian to an Asian chicken slaw. Find out which greens have enough crunch and creativity to keep him coming back for more.

JOEY, 15 O’Neill Rd., The 500 Salad, $17
Chef eyes the salad, rattling off the ingredients: chicken, quinoa, almonds.… “I’m seeing things we have in our salad, like the raisins and cauliflower,” he says. “There’s a lot of good texture going on — it’s nice to get bitefuls of different things.”

Classic Italian
PAESE, 3827 Bathurst St., Arugula Salad, $13
“The oven-dried tomatoes with the portobello mushroom and the Parmesan is a classic pairing,” chef says. He enjoys the fresh arugula and the side of focaccia but would improve the salad with a balsamic — as opposed to the red wine — dressing.

LIVE, 264 Dupont St., Big Bowl, $12
“How does one eat this?” chef queries. Besides finding it a touch tricky to eat (the hummus in particular), van Gameren enjoys this pick — especially the sprouts and seed components.

Tasty Cobb
HOTEL GELATO, 532 Eglinton Ave. W., Cobb, $16
“I love Cobb salads,” van Gameren notes. The tarragon dressing impresses: “I really like that kind of green, herbaceous quality of the tarragon. A+ for originality.”

Heathy twist
FRESH, 90 Eglinton Ave. E., All Star, $13
Chef dives in. “I’m really digging the salad,” he says. “There’s a lot of texture — I feel healthy just eating it.” Noting that he’s never had a goji berry in a salad before, chef says it would be great if the sweet potato were worked into the salad, rather than sat to the side. This pick was a close second.

Sweet surprise
DELICA, 1440 Yonge St., Asian Chicken, $9.50
“It’s hard not to like the combination of ginger and sesame,” chef notes. The pumpkin seeds wow further, adding a nice texture and nuttiness to the dish. “Not all salads work with sweeter dressings, but this one does.”

Primo pork
TERRA, 8199 Yonge St., Crispy Porchetta, $17.95
Van Gameren enjoys the generous size of the porchetta hunks, noting that they’re moist to boot. However, he finds the pink peppercorn dressing too strong, suggesting a mustard-based one instead.

Charismatic kale
TRATTORIA NERVOSA, 75 Yorkville Ave., Kale Salad, $13.99
“I love kale,” chef says. “If it’s a trend, then keep it going!” He likes that they’ve used the dinosaur variety and points out the generous serving of pricey pine nuts.

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