Hawker brings plant-based naturalist cuisine to Kensington Market | TasteToronto

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Hawker brings plant-based naturalist cuisine to Kensington Market

Hawker brings plant-based naturalist cuisine to Kensington Market

Hawker brings plant-based naturalist cuisine to Kensington Market

"Naturalism" in the restaurant industry can be digested (pun intended) as "slow food" -- cuisine that focuses on stepping away from "fast food" and emphasizing that meals are more than just sustenance tick-boxes. Food should be treated as an experience where people can be aware of every ingredient they are eating and make intelligent food choices.

Every facet of Hawker embraces the naturalism ideology; it's more than just another vegan plant-based restaurant, but a warm space where everything from reading the menu to seeing the gorgeously plated meals is part of the experience of eating.

Hawker is co-owned by Executive Chef Jeff Merkel and Darshan Daurka. Jeff began his independent foray into the restaurant scene with a food truck in 2016, and by 2018 he had secured 291 Augusta Avenue for TVX (The Vegan Extremist). It was going great until the pandemic-era restrictions changed the restaurant landscape. It felt like he was pouring his entire soul into keeping TVX floating while getting absolutely nothing in return. In the last February lockdown, Jeff closed up TVX with no intention of cooking again; he pivoted into woodworking until food started calling him back again. This time, he wouldn't return unless he had a partner (after being a sole proprietor for six years). He reunited with Darshan, a previous customer and now co-owner (and quite often the front-of-house), and Leah, now Head Chef, and together they launched Hawker.

The menu is plant-based and created/inspired from ingredients that can be harvested and gathered from nature. Executive Chef Jeff wants folks to experience the food at Hawker from the deepest parts of their soul, to really taste what they're eating and to understand how these ingredients from the wild marry together to create magical flavour profiles. When he establishes these recipes, they're almost like an homage to the bounty of nature; the philosophy of eating at Hawker is to reconnect us with nature through a direct experience with our food.

The naturalism spreads into the interiors as well; entering into the restaurant is like being welcomed into a warm cave with soft candles sitting on a handful of intimate tables, tree-fibre tapestries, Spanish moss, and dried wild sage as the eye-catching décor. They have a front patio sitting on one of the busiest streets of Kensington Market, an open-kitchen where you can request to sit at the chef's bar to view your food being prepared and a stunning private back patio where the wood furnishings and warm lanterns act as a perfect backdrop to a summer dinner. Everything from the handmade ceramics to the warm natural tones has been thoughtfully curated.

As of last week, they received their liquor license and have already readied a small cocktail list (non-drinkers, don't fret, their Repentance mocktail (oat, beet, sage and sweet fern) is to die for). They're in the process of fleshing out their alcohol offering, but it'll include a short cocktail and wine list (they brought in a consultant to choose natural wines that pair well with their food) and a few beers. Follow their Instagram for menu updates!

Also, pro tip: do not sleep on their homemade plant-based ice cream.

Hawker is located at 291 Augusta Ave in Kensington Market and is open Wednesday to Sunday.

Tags:

Kensington Market Restaurants

Hawker Brings Plant-based Naturalist Cuisine

Hawker Toronto

Hawker brings plant-based naturalist cuisine to Kensington Market

News

7 months ago

Hawker brings plant-based naturalist cuisine to Kensington Market

Rosa Kumar
written by

Rosa Kumar

"Naturalism" in the restaurant industry can be digested (pun intended) as "slow food" -- cuisine that focuses on stepping away from "fast food" and emphasizing that meals are more than just sustenance tick-boxes. Food should be treated as an experience where people can be aware of every ingredient they are eating and make intelligent food choices.

Every facet of Hawker embraces the naturalism ideology; it's more than just another vegan plant-based restaurant, but a warm space where everything from reading the menu to seeing the gorgeously plated meals is part of the experience of eating.

Hawker is co-owned by Executive Chef Jeff Merkel and Darshan Daurka. Jeff began his independent foray into the restaurant scene with a food truck in 2016, and by 2018 he had secured 291 Augusta Avenue for TVX (The Vegan Extremist). It was going great until the pandemic-era restrictions changed the restaurant landscape. It felt like he was pouring his entire soul into keeping TVX floating while getting absolutely nothing in return. In the last February lockdown, Jeff closed up TVX with no intention of cooking again; he pivoted into woodworking until food started calling him back again. This time, he wouldn't return unless he had a partner (after being a sole proprietor for six years). He reunited with Darshan, a previous customer and now co-owner (and quite often the front-of-house), and Leah, now Head Chef, and together they launched Hawker.

The menu is plant-based and created/inspired from ingredients that can be harvested and gathered from nature. Executive Chef Jeff wants folks to experience the food at Hawker from the deepest parts of their soul, to really taste what they're eating and to understand how these ingredients from the wild marry together to create magical flavour profiles. When he establishes these recipes, they're almost like an homage to the bounty of nature; the philosophy of eating at Hawker is to reconnect us with nature through a direct experience with our food.

The naturalism spreads into the interiors as well; entering into the restaurant is like being welcomed into a warm cave with soft candles sitting on a handful of intimate tables, tree-fibre tapestries, Spanish moss, and dried wild sage as the eye-catching décor. They have a front patio sitting on one of the busiest streets of Kensington Market, an open-kitchen where you can request to sit at the chef's bar to view your food being prepared and a stunning private back patio where the wood furnishings and warm lanterns act as a perfect backdrop to a summer dinner. Everything from the handmade ceramics to the warm natural tones has been thoughtfully curated.

As of last week, they received their liquor license and have already readied a small cocktail list (non-drinkers, don't fret, their Repentance mocktail (oat, beet, sage and sweet fern) is to die for). They're in the process of fleshing out their alcohol offering, but it'll include a short cocktail and wine list (they brought in a consultant to choose natural wines that pair well with their food) and a few beers. Follow their Instagram for menu updates!

Also, pro tip: do not sleep on their homemade plant-based ice cream.

Hawker is located at 291 Augusta Ave in Kensington Market and is open Wednesday to Sunday.

Tags:

Kensington Market Restaurants

Hawker Brings Plant-based Naturalist Cuisine

Hawker Toronto