Black lampposts line a faded grey sidewalk. Their iron pillars stand adorned with broaches of floral baskets; soft jewels of red, white and yellow nestled in a mane of green. A canopy of branches reach their lacy fingers over the buzzing traffic of bobbing heads…
There’s an old favourite new to Front Street. Follow the crowd, and you will find it.
Approach two high reaching pots, each erupting with fans of green palms, while an overflow of ferns and flowers spills over the edges. Sturdy wooden doors stand nestled behind them; one is propped open eagerly. Overhead, a black banner bears a single blanched “f” encircled by a thin white band. It marks your arrival to 47 Front Street E, Toronto.
Cross the threshold and climb two steps. Enter a fresh take on the Fresh restaurants.
If you’ve visited Fresh on Spadina, Bloor, or Crawford, you know well what to expect: warm hardwood floors; electric bright pink and green wall paint; and close crowded seating arraignments. A fun and lively eatery. Casual and borderline quirky. But on Front Street… the tables have turned.
The grandeur! The vastness! A story of style and class. Fresh has finally delivered us a setting worthy of the mouth-watering sweet and savoury dishes that emerge from their kitchen. Contemporary, bright, spacious, and sophisticated. The restaurant is divided in two halves. The first, a long stretch of black and white tiles set with stars, blooms, zig-zags and geometric shapes. This area boasts a full wall white tile bar, with exposed brick peaking over the top and splashes of flowing green plants dripping down between bottles. Hidden lights from behind the shelf of vegetation illuminate the brick and cast a warm glow. The counter is a clean white marble in the company of a dozen tall plush dusty rose chairs. The region closest to the door is set with a sweets display so tempting, you’ll want to take it with you when you go. Cupcakes, donuts, cookies and cakes! And my personal favourites… the ever moist ever delicious carrot cake, and too good to be truly vegan cinnamon buns. As you order your dessert to go (or stay), an array of caffeinated beverages calls you closer… and just to the side, a fridge filled with a rainbow of the infamous Fresh pressed juices. As you ponder your options and make a menu in your mind, you can sit in black oval leaf chairs and gaze out the ceiling-to-floor windows that offers a perfect view of oh so pretty Front Street.
But please don’t leave without at least taking a peak in the back; the second half of the restaurant is a treat to behold.
Teal velvet booths in the form of halfmoons, hug round tables with cozy cushioned armchairs. Square wood tables with mod attitude chairs sit in the centre, under the glow of grey fringe chandeliers. Exposed brick walls are brightened by candles and lamps straight out of the 1960s. In fact, this wing of the restaurant is a retro mix, pulling in facets and features of the roaring 20s, swinin’ 60s and the disco era. It’s a twizzle of times. Between the velvet, lighting fixtures and décor, you’ll be swept up and away back into the worlds of yesterday.
Look and listen… the music that fills the room will transport your mind deeper into this romantic modern site. The Temptations… Bill Withers… Jimix Hendrix… Marvin Gaye and Steve Tyrell hypnotize your heart and pull you further into the fairy-tale of eras gone by, revived in a new light. As you sit and wait in anticipation for your meal… you won’t be able to resist the urge to sing along to your favourite smooth jazz and easy listening songs.
But sing while you still can. Because when the food and plates are placed within your reach, your mouth will be far too busy gobbling every last spec and spot.
The menu is much like any other Fresh you have been to – so of course you can trust that the food is entirely exceptional – and you will still be able to enjoy all of your favourite classic Fresh dishes. But you will also discover, there are a few new additions, exclusive to Fresh on Front. The Ace of Kale Salad, Soul Beach Tacos, and giant Flatiron Nachos (big enough to feed an army), are all new finds at the newest Fresh.
Then, there are the classics. When I visit Fresh (and believe me, over the years it has become quite like a second home), I always sample some of my much-loved appetizers, made to perfection. The very spicy, very hot Dragon Fries (with a well-suited name I might add); Buffalo Cauliflower wings, so satisfying they make you long for a vegan ‘chicken-wing’ stand-alone restaurant; Essential Greens, that fill you up and make your body feel refreshed and rejuvenated; and of course… the best Quinoa Onion Rings you will ever find on this planet… each golden brown glory coated with breadcrumbs & puffed quinoa!
As for the mains, the decisions are difficult! Each dish is made with great flavour and colour. But if I may… there are several meals you really must try. The Clubhouse Wrap, with grilled tempeh bacon, crispy tofu steaks, tomato, lettuce and garlic mayo is healthy take on a common fast-food that feels light and fresh. The Banquet Burger is a textbook example of what vegan plant-based burgers should taste like. The chickpea base patty sits between mountains of grilled tempeh bacon, fresh ‘cheese’ sauce, garlic mayo, dill pickles, alfalfa sprouts, lettuce, tomato, red onion and puffy fluffy buns. It’s almost too big for your hands to hold!
Now when we talk about Fresh, it would truly be a sin to omit the jewels that are The Fresh Bowls. Served on your choice of brown basmati rice or soba noodles, in regular or baby size, Fresh Bowls are a true crowd pleaser. With eight varieties to choose from, there’s a flavour for everyone. If you’re craving something with a certain Thai essence, then perhaps the Buddha Bowl, with Thai peanut sauce marinated tofu cubes, red cabbage, jicama, chili powder and roasted peanuts. Or something packed with protein, in which case the Powerhouse would be an excellence choice, as it is made with avocado, chickpeas, grilled tofu steaks with sunflower sprouts and toasted mixed nuts. Looking for a radiant detox dish? The Green Goddess is loaded with steamed greens and broccoli, grilled tempeh, pickled ginger, turmeric mint tahini and toasted nori – all things good for a glowing Goddess completion. Maybe you miss the summer… if that is so you had better order The Beach. With ingredients like grilled red pepper, zucchini, sweet potato and avocado, you’ll feel like it’s still the middle of BBQ season.
A warm romantic ambience.
An aura of eras.
A modern mood.
With a blend of nostalgic and modern décor, calm happy melodies, and food as fresh and flavourful as ever, this refreshing take on the classic Fresh restaurants elevates the experience of consuming plant-based cuisine. Elegant yet inviting. Eating at Fresh on Front is a refined experience, and a true treat for the vegan community and all health food lovers.