BY: ASHA SWANN
Torontonians looking for a local spot to eat while still maintaining their New Year’s resolution to eat healthy need to look no further than Parka Food Co. The city’s newest restaurant for comfort food, but with a vegan twist.
“What sets us apart is that our mission is to make it fun and easy to eat well,” said founder Eric Chao. “And for us that means eating more wholesome, natural foods, but served in a way that is delicious and crave-worthy.”
Even though everything on the menu is vegan, the diverse list of options has brought in meat-eaters as well.
“We can’t say for sure what the dietary preferences of our guests are,” said Chao. “But my sense is that we have a good mix of guests from all backgrounds.”
Items on the menu include three different kinds of mac and cheese, onion rings, and several different kind of burgers, which are quickly becoming a favourite among staff and customers.
“My tastes change from day to day but at the moment I would still lean towards the eggplant burger,” Chao said. “There is just something very comforting and satisfying about having battered eggplant served with warm tomato sauce, sautéed mushrooms, fresh basil, and pesto sauce.”
Parka Food Co. is located on Queen St. W., just a 20-minute walk between both Ryerson and University of Toronto Campuses. And with nearly every item on the menu under $10, the restaurant appeals to students trying to eat healthy.
“It was definitely affordable, especially for the quality,” said Sarah Spencer, a college student out to lunch, eating a bowl of mac and cheese with a cup of tea. “But it was a great experience and the food was really tasty.”
Spencer was also pleased with the customer service and the overall look of the restaurant. Both interior and exterior of the building are white, with light grey tables on the inside and small plants all around.
“I like their decor, it’s very clean and modern,” she said. “And I like how you can see the chef’s space so you know what they’re doing to your food. Also, I thought the staff was eager to give me the best customer service they could, like letting me smell the tea before ordering.”
The restaurant planned to open in the fall of 2017, but unexpected issues with the building came up, resulting in a several month delay in the grand opening.
“With the launch of any business there are always many unexpected surprises that occur along the way,” said Chao. “For us, the fact that our construction was delayed by four months was not something that we expected and was quite a challenge to deal with at the time.”
Parka Food Co. just added a new mushroom soup to their menu, and are planning on expanding it even more in the future, which they will be announcing on social media.