Every month I’m happy to share what’s new, what’s around, and most importantly, what’s awesome. This month: taking a look at restaurants that do one thing really, really well.

By Gloria Hong

I frequently get asked, “Which restaurant should I go to?”
Sometimes, I wish the question was, “Which restaurant should I go to if I want <blank>?”

The truth is, some of my favourite restos only do one thing, but they do it really, really well.  Not a new idea by any means, but it is something that’s really resonating with customers and picking up steam outside standard fast-food joints. By perfecting a signature dish, restaurants have realized that there isn’t much else that needs to be done.

Case in point: Porchetta and Co.

My favourite Toronto eatery is, by far, Porchetta and Co. Porchetta (Italian style roast pork – pronounced pork-et-a) can usually be found at your local Italian deli / sandwich shop beside the veal parmesan and meatball sandwiches.  But Chef/Owner Nick auf der Mauer has perfected his 5-part-perfect-pork-process to serve Toronto the tastiest porchetta it’s seen. Marinated pork shoulder, wrapped in prosciutto, wrapped in pork belly and double cooked cracking await you in every dish. And guess what else you can order there? Not much! You choose if you want your porchetta in a sandwich or on a plate. You choose a side if you like (may I recommend the beans!).  By focusing on a perfect product and execution, Porchetta and Co. doesn’t need to do anything else to keep me coming back.

Let’s not forget some of our other spectacular, solitary menu soldiers. Below are some places I like to frequent in Toronto for the following:

Poutine

 

Empanadas

Sausages

Ramen

    
Poutini’s
1112 Queen Street West
Jumbo Empanada
245 Augusta Avenue
WVRST
609 King Street West
Kenzo Ramen
Multiple Locations
    
FTW! Squeeeekiest cheese      curds this side of la Belle Provence.Never, will I ever, let anyone visiting Toronto leave without trying a jumbo: aka flaky,           baked pockets of happiness.– Real conversation –
Co-worker: There should be a specialty sausage restaurant     in Toronto Me: There is! It’s called WVRST!
Hand pulled noodles made in-house, paired with the most sumptuous broths, Kenzo just screams comfort.
    

 
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And what’s next? Glad you asked. I’m excited to see the rise of the fancy hot dog.

Japadog, already a hit on the west coast, has challenged our conceptions of both street food and the humble hot dog. Plans are in the works to open a similar stand-alone shop in Toronto’s entertainment district called Fusia Dog. Chefs in America are taking the hot dog off the street and putting them onto their menus – notably my favourite Top Cheftestant Richard Blais and his new concept resto: Haute Doggery.

The micro-focused restaurant trend is one I love. Have you ever stared at a 4 page menu with endless choices and just lost your appetite? For me, the idea of going for a meal, knowing exactly what’s offered, how it’s going to be cooked and served is the ultimate in customer service. It’s like the chef is saying “Come, let me take care of you.” A culinary hug, if you will.

Looking to this restaurant trend, any brand can consider the incredible value of focusing their efforts and being very good at the one thing they do. Don’t fall into the temptation of making everything for everyone. In this busy world, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate finding a company that has less choice but produces a flawless product.

So, now you are in the know. Need a restaurant recommendation? Post your questions below and I’ll be glad to reply with some thoughts. Happy eating everyone!