Fressen is undoubtedly Toronto’s most upscale vegetarian (vegan, in fact) restaurant. The clientele range from income-from-investment-earning vegetarians to third date to meat eaters looking for an experience. The name fressen itself if worth discussing. Luckily we have an (anonymous) German correspondent to fill us in:
The normal verb for “eat” is “essen,” while “fressen” is usually used to describe the eating done by animals. It’s also used to describe the eating done by people, but then it’s usually more vulgar usage, i.e., slang with coarse/rude connotations. So while a little over the top, it’s not totally inappropriate for a vegan restaurant.
It should also be noted that in Yiddish, fressen is commonly used to describe eating happily and plentifully, which was perhaps the intended meaning.
But back to the review. A few months ago, Fressen switched menus, from a standard entree based menu to tapas. I loved the old menu – sharing an appetizer ($8 ish) with a friend along with an entree ($15-$22) left me feeling full. On the new menu, restaurant-goers are advised to get 2-4 items (all $9) per person and share. Unfortunately, I found the meal less filling, leading me to think the Yiddish word chutzpah appropriately describes the restaurant owner’s choice of fressen as a name. Fressen’s brunch menu has taken a similar turn for the worse, with smaller meals and less selection.
Make no mistake, the food here is delicious and presented so beautifully that you’re torn on whether to eat it. The mushroom and spinach filo pastry is delicate and savoury. The gluten roast has a meaty composition, capable of pulling meat eating friends from the dark side. The eggplant pizza tart was creative, clever and good, despite the questionable use of eggplant in society. I would characterize the soups ($6) as nothing above adequate, but an appetizer nonetheless. An added bonus is the restaurant’s organic wines and freshly squeezed juices, as well as their rich dessert drinks. If you go for brunch, don’t miss the delicious muffins.
In terms of quality, Fressen is a leader. The ingredients are mostly organic, and the restaurant cooks everything upon demand, so prepare to wait a bit before eating. Before the menu changeover, I would venture to say that I think I would put Fressen at the top. But now, quality/quantity per dollar is lower, which you will see is reflected in the number of avocados it receives for value for money (VfM).
Rankings (out of 5 avocados):
Fruit in meal: Occasionally
Fressen is located at 478 Queen St. W (at Bathurst). Meals for about $30 per person, excluding alcohol.