Why Antler’s mushroom omelette is 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
It’s been a year since Meaghan Foster took over the kitchen at Yorkville’s Estia. It’s her first gig as a head chef, and although the hours might seem crushing to nine-to-fivers, she’s used to spending 15 hours a day, six days a week in the kitchen. The 34-year-old has spent her adult life in kitchens, working in British Columbia and Australia before making her way back home. These days, Foster only has one evening a month to dine out, but since moving to Toronto two years ago, she’s been gung-ho about eating her way through the city’s restaurants. Brunch has become her go-to meal, since she usually has Sundays off. “We call it Sunday Funday,” says Foster, who spends the day with her sister sipping mimosas and black coffee over bennies, scrambles, omelettes, crêpes and other tasty mid-morning meals.
Antler wowed her with its dedication to using foraged ingredients and the impressive selection of game meats such as boar, pheasant, duck, venison and rabbit. “This is the best brunch I’ve had in a long time—maybe ever,” she says about the restaurant’s Forager’s Omelette, which she orders with a side of boar bacon. “And how can you not like boar bacon?”
Antler’s Forager’s Omelette
1454 Dundas St. W., 647-345-8300, antlerkitchenbar.com
Foster thinks the quality of the ingredients used in the dishes at Antler is unparalleled. Chef-owner Michael Hunter regularly forages for indigenous Ontario herbs and edible flowers, along with an annual leek pick and one-off mushroom gathering trips. “One year, your morel spot gives you buckets full, the next there are only five mushrooms,” says Hunter, who supplements his restaurant’s supply with foraged fungi from Mark’s Mushrooms and Forbes Wild Foods.
Recently, Hunter took a trip out to B.C. where he stumbled onto a treasure trove of chanterelles. “The chanterelles are just exploding there! Orange was scattered across the forest floor—it was stunning,” says Hunter, who brought brought back 20 litres of the things as his carry-on.
For this particular Forager’s Omelette, Hunter used the chanterelles he brought back from his trip. The morels are also from B.C., but he bought them from a forager. First, he sautées the mushrooms in butter with garlic and shallots. He then deglazes the pan with a bit of thyme and white wine, afterwards using the remnants to caramelize some Spanish onions. In a separate pan, he adds whisked organic eggs to a mix of olive oil and butter. As soon as the eggs start to cook, in go the onions and mushrooms. Finally, a blend of house-smoked fior di latte and cheddar is sprinkled on top before the omelette is rolled up and garnished with chopped chives.
The salad—a blend of arugula and nasturtiums from Hunter’s own garden—comes topped with a pickled quartet of green strawberries, pearl onions, golden beets and butternut squash. The vinaigrette gets some acidity from sumac that Hunter foraged.