This may seem like old news now to some, but to anyone who ever experienced the amazing food and fine dining experience at longtime Toronto staple Grasslands (formerly Fressen), you will understand why we are still mourning the loss!
By Diane Burgin, President of Toronto Vegetarian Association
It was 2001 when I discovered Fressen, one year after its opening. It was love at first bite. I took so much food home the first time. Then I decided the easiest way to enjoy the food was to keep going back!
I remember the very first item I ate there. It was a Swiss chard salad with miso dressing, a border of long strips of cucumber, and topped with sesame seeds. I also remember the side dish of button mushrooms served in a mini cast iron skillet. By week two, my favourite item was locked in – the polenta appetizer on a bed of garlic-spinach, surrounded by tomato sauce. With all the menu changes to follow, the polenta dish managed to be represented on all menus.
Even with my love of polenta, the veggies were the star attraction when the main dishes were served. Do you remember the zucchini shaped like a leaf, the carved daikon radish, and the mini piece of corn on the cob? And chives – I wonder how many chives were used each year?!
My love affair continued. I haven’t even mentioned brunch yet! My mind drifts back to 2004; that might be the year with the most brunch visits for me. I could not get enough of the sweet potato, zucchini, spinach, and corn fritters. Add an extra serving of the home-made guacamole, and I was in heaven.
After many birthdays and so many other special occasions spent there, the owners of Fressen announced the restaurant would be closing in 2012, and I literally cried. I quickly made dinner reservations for the last 5 days Fressen would be open. I consumed all my favourites and savoured every bite.
Fast-forward a few months, and Grasslands opened just in time for my birthday! Threads of Fressen were woven throughout the new incarnation, although there was a new decor and a new menu. We got to enjoy Grasslands for two and a half years before its doors were also closed on October 25th. I was one of the lucky ones who got to go there a few more times in the last week.
I urge you to take a moment and think about your favourite veg restaurants. Make sure you try all the menu items that you want to try. Make sure you eat there as often as you want. You never know when it will be your last time.