Food & Drink

Seven of Toronto’s most polarizing pitch-black drinks and dishes

Move over coconut oil, there’s a new panacea du jour: activated carbon. The opaque additive has been touted as a tooth whitener, a gut-flora whisperer, a skin-massaging magician and more. (It also has some less-desirable potential effects if you take too much of it. Fun!) Now, this pseudo-scientific fad is making its way onto menus around town. Here, seven of the Six’s darkest dishes—from “healthful” to “hey, that’s actually on fire.”

Fresh Restaurant’s Charcoal green lemonade

7 Green juice is so last year. This cleansing potion gets its potency from cold-pressed spinach, parsley, green apple and lemons. There’s a hint of sweetness from maple syrup, and the activated charcoal adds a dash of sanctimony. The cleanse masters at Fresh recommend chugging this first thing in the morning, to get your gut flora ready for a juice fast. $10. Multiple locations,    

Cutie Pie Cupcakes’ Charcoal-dipped cones

6 This eight-year-old bakeshop worshipped unicorns and rainbows long before Starbucks whipped everyone up into a glittery frenzy. These mini cones combine this summer’s love of pastel-hued sweets with a pitch-black coating. Cutie Pie Cupcakes’ confection creators take pink champagne or blue vanilla soft serve and dip it in a charcoal berry sauce that sets into a hard shell. (Also on the menu: a charcoal “latte pie” made with a carbon-infused simple syrup and whipped cream.) $3.50. 235 Spadina Ave. Unit #2, 416-593-9323,    

Masseria’s Carbone pizza

5 No, the pizzaiolo didn’t forget this pie in the oven for a smidge too long: the crust of Masseria’s Carbone pizza owes its grey hue to a sprinkle of vegetable carbon that’s worked into the dough before it’s proofed. The ashy addition not only changes the pizza’s colour, but makes the crust nice and airy. $12-$16. 577 King St. W., 416-263-9999,    

Death in Venice’s Kraken Black Summer Skream gelato

4 When Death in Venice owner Kaya Ogruce thinks about porcini mushrooms or maple-roasted parsnips his mind goes straight to dessert, without even stopping at dinner. One of the newest additions to his eclectic gelato lineup, made with Kraken spiced rum, is like a shot in dessert form. It gets its inky hue from vegetable ash, not squid ink (not that that would be out of place at a shop that also considers dried crickets an ingredient). $10.75 a pint. 536 Queen St. W., 416-519-3451,    

iHalo Krunch’s Charcoal soft serve

3 These gothic coconut soft-serve spires (dyed black with coconut husk ash) have quickly whipped up a cult-like following—or at least a very patient fan base willing to lineup for 30 minutes or more. iHalo Krunch’s matching black waffle cones are stuffed with marshmallow to staunch the staining ice cream drip. Best consumed with vigor and a heap of strategically placed napkins. $6.50. 915 Queen St. W., 647-505-3777, @ihalokrunch    

Figures’ Maleficent cocktail

2 At Figures, Yorkville’s new fictional-character-themed restaurant, the cocktails are all named after cartoon heroes and villains. The appropriately dark Maleficent combines Bruichladdich single malt scotch with J.P. Wiser’s whisky, pineapple juice, cashew orgeat and a squeeze of lime. A few dashes of bitters and a sprinkle of activated charcoal adds an appropriate amount of glower to this fire-garnished highball. $19. 137 Avenue Rd., 416-900-1022,, @figurestoronto    

Carbon Bar’s Flaming shots

1 With a name like Carbon Bar, how could this Queen East barbecue joint not jump on the charcoal-fuelled bandwagon? These fiery Black Mamba shots, made with charcoal-infused Olmeca Blanco tequila and St. Germain, are on the restaurant’s secret menu. The flame is from a “compressed oil spritzer,” created with a spray of high proof alcohol plus the flick of a lighter. (Literal) hot tip: wait for the flame to die out before taking the shot. $8. 99 Queen St. E., 416-947-7000,


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