Event: $5 Food Crawl from TO_Finest
Location: Various locations
From December 7 – 20th, TO_Finest hosted their first $5 #FinestFoodCrawl with various restaurants throughout Toronto. To participate, a TO_Finest passport must be purchased directly from their site or participating restaurants for $10. The passport holders were then entitled to enjoy each of the 10 feature dishes from the 10 participating restaurants for just $5 each.
After deciding on a date, Tien (acornerkitchen) and I, along with Kexin and Arnold (lantography) met up and embarked on the most epic food crawl around Toronto! Just kidding, we were only able to go to 4 restaurants due to time constraints and distance.. :p. Please note that instead of rating the whole event, I decided to rate each of the restaurants based on the food that we had for the Food Crawl.
1. Dirty Bird (4.5/5)
One of our obvious stop had to be Dirty Bird at Kensington Market for their miniature version of the famous ODB. Though most of the restaurants only allowed customers to use the passport once, the staff at Dirty Bird said we could actually use the passport multiple times! What a great way to bring back more customers.. I regret not going back and take advantage of that offer :(.
I have tried most of the items at Dirty Bird (even through UberEats) and the ODB will always hit the spot for me. I don’t know how they do it. Even with takeout or delivery, the deep fried chicken at Dirty Bird have consistently been fried to perfection. The breading on the chicken was not too thick and the skin was super crispy with a juicy and tender meat. The only complain here would be the waffle which have always been too soft my liking. I prefer waffles that have a bit more of a crunch and color to them. With that said, what really tied the whole dish together for me is their signature “dirty sauce.” The combination of sweetness from maple syrup with the tangy and spicy-ness of the dirty sauce created the ultimate chicken and waffle sauce.
2. Fancy Franks (3/5)
After Dirty Bird, we all decided to stop by Fancy Franks since it was around the Kensington Market area. To be honest I’m not a huge fan of hot dog but as a true foodie, I couldn’t resist myself from trying these so-called gourmet hot dogs.
Frankies goes to Buffalo was an interesting twist that I feel rightfully deserved its gourmet claim. The outer crunchiness of the panko complemented the inner softness of the sausage and created a very satisfying mouthfeel that you normally don’t get from street hot dogs. I didn’t care too much for the raw celery and I thought the blue cheese was really good, not too heavy and really creamy. With that said, the whole dish as a whole was a bit too messy to eat and the bun was incredible oily.
Is this a “you must eat here” place though? Not really. I understand the ingredients are local and fresh, but the hot dog was not good enough to justify a premium price. $7 – $9 for a hot dog is a lot to ask for a customer to spend. Thus unless there is a $5 deal like the food crawl, I wouldn’t come back here again.
3. Queen Margherita Pizza (1.5/5)
Though the dough was good, the bottom of the pizza and the “fresh” basil leaves were burnt. Also, how can you call this a margherita pizza with a few pieces of chopped up basil leaves?!!! The pizza itself was lacking seasonings and I wouldn’t order this again.
Our biggest problem of this restaurant, which contribute to the 1.5/5 rating, was the attitude of the host. After she took our order, she stated that we cannot dine in at the restaurant and we will have to do a take out. Now this would have been completely understandable if the restaurant was packed, but we got there at 3PM and there were only two tables taken. I checked with other food bloggers afterwards and they were able to dine in at the restaurant, so how come we weren’t able to? A paying customer is a paying customer. If the restaurant doesn’t want to welcome the Finest Food Crawl customers, then why participate in the event on the first place?
*TO_Finest (thanks Michael!!) and Queen Margherita reached out to us afterwards, but my opinions regarding the restaurant still stand.
4. Junked Food Co.
Our last stop of the Finest Food Crawl was Junked Food Co., the ultimate premium drunk food of Toronto. I have been following their Instagram account for quite a while now and seriously, you must follow them to see all of their crazy creations.
While Junked Food Co. is by no mean a health food establishments, the ingredients are delicious, fresh and it’s real food if you discount things like Doritos. For the Finest Food Crawl, they offered their most famous item – the Smash Bag. I don’t know how they did it, but the Smash Bag felt clean and not greasy at all! The potato tots were perfectly fluffy on the inside and golden brown and crisp on the outside. I thought the fresh lettuce and tangy sour cream were much needed to “freshen up” the dish.
Overall the Finest Food Crawl was really well organized by the TO_Finest team and I can’t wait for the next one. Hopefully they will host the event during summer though as the weather can get quite ugly in December. At the same time, it would have been nicer if more restaurants participated in the food crawl. However maybe after seeing the success of the first one, there will be more incentive for other restaurants to join the next Toronto’s Finest Food Crawl!