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Wierd or unusual food, dessert and drinks

I'm always looking for original items on a menu and get disappointed when I see the same old ingredients listed (not that I don't have an appreciation for the classics). Either in the GTA (I live in Etobicoke) or elsewhere in Ontario (I typically go to the Niagara Region when going out-of-town), where do you go for tasty food that contains wierd or unusual ingredients? Some places might only have one unusual item on an otherwise "classic" menu - so I want to know about it! I don't mind driving far away to try something original and delicious...or even an exotic cuisine from a faraway land.

For example, corn ice cream, floral martinis, sweetbreads done perfectly, rare-breed pork, duck tongues, desserts containing vegetables or herbs, ostrich, bone marrow, unexpected pizza toppings, Algerian or Tanzanian/Kenyan food, etc.

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  1. I thought of the drinks at Johny Banana, and the addictive duck tongues at City Inn near Pacific Mall. However, I'm not a fan of the hot drinks at Johny Banana! And I love the Indian Summer corn ice cream at Greg's on Bloor.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Food Tourist

      Hmmm...the duck tongues at City Inn have become only tolerable, not addictive.
      However, I am now on my yearly hunt for the best offal in town. Not necessarily fine dining, though, so ante up fellow 'hounds!

      1. re: Food Tourist

        About a month ago I had a 'Veal Brain Sloppy Joe' at Czehoski (an appetizer on the regular menu) - VERY impressive - great texture and spicy.

    2. Lamb sweetbreads available seasonally (around Easter) at Fat Cat and Czehoski.
      Veal Tongue and Beef Cheek available as a special at Czehoski.
      Lamb Five Ways at Fat Cat (also a special) - exact ingredients depend on what's available but could include, for example, haggis; the aforementioned sweetbreads etc. And there's often an organ dish available.
      You probably know about the 'track and quack' (horse and duck) combo at La Palette.
      My favourite "secret" dish is Lamb belly - but nobody seems to be serving it right now. Last time I had it at Splendido.

      1 Reply
      1. re: estufarian

        beef cheeks at cava as well- really perfectly done!

      2. "Munster Cheese Creme Brulee" at Thuet... everyone either loves it or hates it, I for one Love it...

        1. Last night at Czehoski (again!) they had lamb fries (testicles). Not advertised on the menu!!!!

          1. Steak du Cheval at La Palette in Kensington. It is not on the menu, but they _always_ have it as a special. If your server doesn't tell you about it, ask. You can get it solo or with duck confit. (They call the latter plate Quack and Track.)

            2 Replies
            1. re: ognir

              Passed by La Palette today and noticed wild boar, ostrich, caribou, horse and one more exotic/game meat on the special mixed grill menu.

              1. re: Food Tourist

                It was bison (at La Palette). I remembered as I passed by Hugo Meats on the Queensway near Royal York, since they were advertising fresh wild boar, buffalo, ostrich, etc.

            2. Tongue in Criolla sauce at Los Arrieros

              Lamb fries marinated in vodka at Banu

              Kokkoretsi & Patsa at Zorba

              4 Replies
              1. re: phoenikia

                Add to Zorba's the whole lamb's heads (including teeth) stuffed with assorted offal. I can't recall the Greek name of the dish, but a tray of these on the counter makes quite an impression. They don't have it every day, so call first. I've heard it's quite good, but I never had the cojones myself.

                1. re: phoenikia

                  they also had an interesting and tasty, although not for my dining partner, saffron pistachio ice cream.

                  the waiter actually suggested the beef heart over the lamb fries so they might not be of the most top notch quality.

                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                    I would think the waiter might suggest beef heart over the lamb fries if he thinks the customer might not be accustomed to eating lamb fries. Or because of his own preference. The texture of the beef heart is chewier and more similar to steak, compared to the lamb fries. Also, I think there are a lot of Canadians who just can't get their mind around the idea of eating lamb fries. I wouldn't think that it would be a matter of quality...while you can seek out different grades of steak, I've never seen any organ meats graded (in Ontario, anyhow).

                    1. re: phoenikia

                      sorry, using the wrong word here but by quality i meant more so the quality of the overall dish or just that it's not perhaps the best version you could have of it.

                      i'd like to assume though that if the watier was suggesting one over the other (unsolicited, btw) it was more from personal taste than shielding me from an experience. i find most people doing that will outright say "you won't like that"

                2. Cezhoski tends to keep it exciting it comes to offering different cuts of meat. I love this place.

                  1. I'm going to Czehoski for a singles social this Friday evening so perhaps I'll get lucky...and they'll have lamb fries, veal tongue and beef cheeks in stock. Beef tongue was my favourite meat growing up (probably because my mom cooked the heck out of all meat to kill the bacteria - I didn't even know that meat didn't have to be tough and stringy until relatively recently).

                    The veal sweetbreads at Cava weren't my favourite so I'm still on the hunt for perfect sweetbreads.

                    I noticed that Ed Levesque's on Queen East has basil ice cream, and a chocolate dessert served with fennel compote, but haven't tried either yet.

                    1. I don't know about extreme ingredients, but I went to Dumpling King at First Markham place (looking for dumplings)the other day. I found a wide assortment of dishes that I don't often see in other places. lamb dumplings, cold sweet and sour noodles, braised pig trotters.....what was nice too, most of the unusual stuff had pictures. also the spelling mistakes are mildly amusing

                      1. Dessert Lady in Yorkville makes many unusual ice creams, sorbets, and cookies. For instance, basil olive oil ice cream, sweet corn caramel ice cream (not in season right now, however), pumpkin white chocolate cookies, chile chocolate cookies, etc. Her pina colada sorbet (with roasted pineapple) is amazing and her milk chocolate ice cream is very creamy.

                        Greg's ice cream hasn't made Indian Summer corn ice cream for at least a year, according to the young employee who served me a week ago and who had never heard of that flavour. Ginger was the most exotic flavour that night.

                        Chasers Juice in Mimico makes some unusual juice combinations (fruits with herbs, for example), and can custom make any combination of flavours.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Food Tourist

                          I had the honey lavender ice cream at Dessert Lady and I will go back for more interesting combinations.

                        2. I personally love duck tongue. I would recommend Taste of China for their Duck tongue and bitter melon dish. Asian Legend also serves duck tongue as a cold app and it's ok.

                          1. Do they still have the Wasabi ice cream at Monsoon? I have vivid memories of it but haven't visited in a while. A combination that sounds suspect but is rather amazing.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: downtown

                              I get it at Tokyo Grill all the time, and it is fantastic. I suspect that Tokyo Grill uses real wasabi for this and their sushi, too.

                            2. Perhaps molecular gastronomy at the opening-soon Colborne Lane will fit this category. Can't wait to try the new Hanif-Claudio venture!

                              According to this month's Toronto Life, in "Raising the Bar", we can find fresh/exotic cocktails and martinis at Ki, Club V, and Doku 15 (fresh juice no doubt supplied in part by Chasers).

                              The cockscomb-wattle-gizzard-monkfish pot pie at The Drake is calling my name...I'll report back soon!

                              1. Corn and Cheese ice cream by Magnolia icecream . avail @ most Phillipine foodmarkets,also tnt market.weird maybe a little,delish ,for sure.

                                1. Can't wait to try Manyata at Hazelton Lanes! I've been craving East African food...well, not ugali (ugh), but definitely Zanzibari-Swahili flavours.

                                  Still haven't been to The Drake to eat...has anyone tried that cockscomb pot pie?

                                  1. Loved the wierd ice creams at Beer Bistro! Dragon stout with skor is wonderful if you don't mind a lot of crunch in your cream. They also have duck pogo sticks.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Food Tourist

                                      duck pogo sticks are great.... they were pumping them out for an event and i wanted more of them than the mini burgers or chicken drumettes. http://tongueandcheek.ca/2007/03/14/w...

                                    2. Saving Grace on Dundas/Bellwoods have this delicious drink....Espressado. Combo of espresso and avocado. If you're a coffee drinker, you'll love the flavors.
                                      Had one on the weekend......yummmm!!!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: yummy_mummy

                                        there is a new cafe on oakwood owned by (i think) a guy from saving grace - he makes a mean espressado. i'm normally a black-no-sugar person, but this is yum. the place is called rockabilly rock coffee parlour, and it's at 2 oakwood ave at davenport.

                                      2. On Saturday I had avacado gelato at Solferino’s Gelateria, it was quite good.

                                        1. If you can venture out to Mississauga - Rogues on Dundas in Mississauga has a Wild Game Menu that runs in November. Bison, Venison, Rabbit, Emu etc. There is also Oliver's in Oakville that serves sweet breads and liver dishes that are my favorites.

                                          1. If you are really adventurous, some Korean restaurants serve 'cow's penis' in a casserole!
                                            Its getting cold, therefore snake soup is also in season at fine Chinese restaurants.
                                            Also, try some stirred fry goose intestine with preserve pickled vegetables in black bean sauce. The crispy yet chewy texture of the intestine is pretty good!

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Charles Yu

                                              And I've had 'Crispy Pig's Ear' at Splendido a couple of times recently

                                              1. re: estufarian

                                                My friend! Pig's ear is pretty 'tame' by my standard, Ha!.
                                                There's a hole in the wall place in Hong Kong that specializes in stirred fry pigs stomach tip, pigs intestine, pigs colon and pigs liver in ginger and scallions. Oh so good!!! Same place also has steamed fish intestine with egg. Too fishy for me even with tons of white pepper to mask the smell and taste!

                                              2. re: Charles Yu

                                                Can you think of any specific places that serve snake soup? I'd really like to give that one a try.

                                                1. re: graydyn

                                                  Right now, I think Emperor, Yang's, John's B-B-Q, Regal Palace, Casa Victoria, Spring Villa, Dragonboat...etc to name a few, should start having them. Best to give them a call first.
                                                  BTW, if the broth they use are good, the soup can be as good as sharksfin soup. As for the snake meat. As people say, they really do taste like chicken!