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If you’re craving Montreal smoked meat sandwiches or housemade poutine, no need to book a 6-hour train ride.
Tucked away in Dovercourt Park is a French-Canadian treasure and one of the city’s first sustainable caterers.
Vert Casse-Croûte is the brainchild of Marilyn Simms and Chef Pedro Dos Santos and has been serving French-Canadian comfort food since 2005.
“Everything at vert has a French technique and all the food comes from a French background, so it was natural for us to be blending it into a Franco Ontarian connection,” says Marilyn.
The term Casse-Croûte may sound familiar to Quebeckers. Casse-Croûtes are small quick-service restaurants found all over the province serving light meals to hungry diners on the go.
You can find anything from handheld classics like their in-house smoked meat sandwiches to gourmet items like brochette (skewered meats, vegetables). You can also find vegan options for any menu item alongside their filling power bowls and salads.
Of course, this humble eatery doesn’t just serve good food and great conversation. Marilyn and Pedro have been sustainable leaders in the city’s restaurant industry, seeing an increased need in the market for corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Coming from a culinary and corporate communications background, the pair began operating on an auto-share business model, sourcing local ingredients, and investing in compostable tableware and utensils.
“We were the first to use a compostable tableware which we would bring to events and take the used utensils to a worm farm in Downsview Park for it to be composted and turned to fertilizer,” says Marilyn.
“We are very transparent about educating people that what we're using is plant-based or can be recycled. We don't greenwash and let people know that everything can be compostable, but rather working within our parameters and finding options such as recycled container lids.”
The restaurant goes beyond its goals of emission and waste reduction, prioritizing its social impact as well.
Because Vert’s kitchen does not use walk-in fridges, which significantly reduces their energy consumption, any leftover food is brought to local shelters and hostels.
“Since the beginning, we’ve been involved with the Toronto Community Hostel and deliver surplus food anytime 24 hours,” says Marilyn.
As for what to try, the fried chicken sandwich topped with lemony slaw and a side of house fries ($11) is a comfort food classic. The chicken sandwich has the perfect ratio of crunchy breading and juicy meat and their house fries have the right crisp.
The OG smash burger ($7) is another favourite recommended by Chef Pedro. Its simplicity allows all the elements to shine, from the perfectly charred patty to melted cheese.
Vert also has a line of artisanal bread and chips available for purchase.
Vert-Casse-Croûte is located at 963 Dovercourt Rd. You can also find them on Uber Eats, DoorDash, SkipTheDishes, and place group orders on their website.