What do you think of when you think of Canadian food?
Many answers come to mind. Some people think Nanimo bars, poutine, and donairs when it comes to Canadian cuisine.
For Twisted Toque, it’s “comfort food.”
Twisted Toque opened its doors on King Street in London, Ontario in 2017. The restaurant has a Canadian themed menu with all the fixins.
Scott Davidson, the corporate chef for Twisted Toque, explained that he felt there weren’t a lot of Canadian themed restaurants and he wanted to bring that to the table. He added that the concept of Canadian food is fairly new.
“Canada is such a [cultural mosaic]. We’re blessed with so many different cultures in Canada, especially now. Back 25 years ago, Canadian food was… [well] we weren’t really on the forefront of anything. We were always watching for the trends to come up from the States and that.”
So, what is Canadian Food?
Davidson feels Canadian Cuisine is “comfort food.”
“I like to think of Canadian food as quality, homegrown ingredients and comfort food like mac and cheese, pot roast, and French onion soup.”
He said Canadians enjoy smoking their food, which is incorporated in preparing pulled pork and bacon. Davidson also said that charcuterie boards and smoked cheese are popular. He added barbecue stores are bringing smoking food to customers, which benefits restaurant owners.
“You can take tougher cuts of meat that are cheaper and make them beautiful,” Davidson explained, adding that the bacon is smoked in-house after being dusted with brown sugar.
New twists on old favourites…
Davidson has put Canadian staples on the menu including bacon as well as macaroni and cheese. He also incorporated Canadian favourites in sauces, such as their signature cheddar sauce and blueberry barbecue sauce.
Their desserts and drinks also reflect Canadian taste. Along with Caesars, the Twisted Toque carries beer from all Canadian brands, including London’s own Forked River and Anderson Craft Ales. Their Great Canadian Ceaser features a maple bacon skewer and maple bacon rimmer.
Davidson said the feature menu introduces two new dishes per section. For instance, it would feature two new appetizers, salads, and desserts. Desserts on their feature menu include a smores skillet, reflecting a love for campfires. The dish is served in a hot skillet with chocolate chips, Nutella, and toasted marshmallows and graham crackers and crispy wontons to dip them in.
He added the deep friend cheesecake, with berry coulis and fresh fruit, is similar to what you can grab at a carnival. Davidson said appetizers on the feature menu included a bacon-wrapped scallop lollipop.
“We enjoy our feature menus because it gives us an outlet to develop some fun, Canadian food and take on some of the classic dishes and base ingredients that Canadians like and just put them in a fun format.”
Bringing a taste of Canada to the downtown core.
Davidson said they brought the restaurant to London because they found there were few Canadian restaurants. They also wanted to contribute to the “evolving and changing,” downtown London, including King Street.
“We want to be entrenched and embedded in the community,” Davidson said.
He added that he admires the Philthy McNasty’s restaurant model. Davidson used to work for them, and felt “they developed such a Canadian culture with their staff that their staff were such a big part of that culture.” Davidson said singing the National anthem and Happy birthday was part of that.
Philthy McNasty’s closed several locations, starting with Hamilton in 2010. Davidson wanted to recreate the atmosphere.
“You could take a business associate for a quick bite at lunch, but you could also bring your family too and enjoy a nice meal.”