Why La Limonada’s Trini doubles are an essential Toronto dish

Why La Limonada’s Trini doubles are an essential Toronto dish

Toronto’s a city of many neighbourhoods and many nationalities, so finding that one oh-so-Toronto dish is an impossible task. We're asking some of the city’s top food folks about their favourite T.O. meals

Frank and Yang at La Limonada, in the basement of the Toronto Spiritualist Temple on College Street.

Restaurateur Roger Yang didn’t always call himself a vegan. He was just a guy who decided he didn’t like eating animals or things produced by animals. Over the years, Yang has had to send many dishes back—not because he’s picky, but because for a long time restaurants just didn’t get the whole plant-based diet thing. He’s ordered cheese-less pizza, only for it to come with cheese. He’s ordered “vegetarian couscous” only to find out “vegetarian” meant meatless couscous…cooked in beef fat. “Now any restaurant worth its salt has at least a couple of vegan options,” says Yang who now owns three vegan restaurants: the upscale Awai (which does plant-based tasting menus) and its two casual younger siblings both called Away Kitchen (there’s one on College and another on Queen).

While renovating his College location, Yang stumbled across an A-frame sign on the sidewalk advertising something called La Limonada, which promised Trini doubles. He followed the arrow down an alley and into the side door of a church, which led into a basement hall where Yang found Jane Frank selling her West Indian dishes. Yang started visiting her kitchen three times a week for doubles and corn soup. “It’s kind of like a secret club,” says Yang. Frank says that only adventurous people end up finding her wee restaurant.

La Limonada’s Trini doubles

706 College St., 416-970-1330, @lalimonada_toronto

Trini doubles. $3.50.

Back then, La Limonada wasn’t fully vegan, but the doubles were. Then, last winter, the sign changed to read, “As of today, our menu will be holy vegan (pun intended).” Frank and her husband had embraced a plant-based lifestyle. The Trini doubles, though, never had to change. They’re still the same mix of chickpeas and tamarind sandwiched between two baras, fried flatbread popular in Trinidad.

Frank, in her tiny kitchen.

 

La Limonada’s menu.

Frank worked on the recipe for her doubles over a few years. She’s a Muskoka girl, and there isn’t a huge West Indian community in Gravenhurst. She had to glean her recipe from Trinidadian grandmothers in Toronto. “I would corner them at the West Indian grocery stores and ask them how they make their doubles,” she says with a laugh, before adding that it took a whole lot of trial and error to perfect hers.

Yang enjoys Frank’s corn soup.

 

And then tucks into his favourite doubles.

She moved her business (which also sells freshly squeezed lemonade, thus the restaurant’s name) from a seasonal kiosk at David Pecaut Square into a church basement in 2016, after the city tried to hike her rent. The Toronto Spiritualist Temple was actually founded by Frank’s uncle, who has since passed away. She donates what she can to help the church, which recently installed a new roof and fire doors.

The restaurant operates Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 7:30 p.m.—but not Sundays, because that’s when mass is held. On Sundays, after church, you can often find Frank enjoying a bagel and coffee—at Away, just a block east.

Frank, Yang, and Frank’s husband, Richard Lewis, chatting at one of the tables in the church basement.
It’s a sign.