Does Toronto hate Molecular Gastronomy?
So, this week it was announced that Colborne Lane would be closing. This is a crying shame. As one of the most talked about restaurants since it’s opening in 2007, it was a beacon among what few Molecular Cuisine offerings we have in the city.
If you Google “Molecular Gastronomy in Toronto” you’ll find, nearly every result refers to this restaurant. While opinions about the quality (and indeed if it qualifies as ‘Molecular Gastronomy’) vary, one this is for certain – it was a pillar of the post-modern fine dining movement in the city, and a sign that Toronto is open to try and welcome the world of Molecular Cuisine into our city.
But now, five years later that doesn’t seem to have been the case at all. Between this shocking news, and the closure of L.A.B. last year, it seems Toronto isn’t ready for restaurants offering the unique techniques and scientific approaches which are so popular among the worlds greatest in the last decade – like El Bulli, The Fat Duck, or Alinea.
I’m left with a sort of frustration and sadness, at this news. I honestly believe that Toronto could be one of the greatest dining destinations in the world, and we’ve taken such great strides in the last few years. Considering both our USA imports (Momofuku, Cafe Boulud), and our own stellar home-grown talents (Hopgoods, Acadia, Parts & Labour, Scaramouche, etc), this just seems like an unfortunate setback towards greatness. What’s worse is, I’m honestly not certain of the cause!
Perhaps ‘Molecular Gastronomy’ is considered too elite? Too in vogue? Are people turning towards the more rustic, casual, dining experiences in our city? And if so, why does this differ from the rest of the world’s top dining cities? As far as I can tell, Toronto stemming against the tide when it comes to popularity of this type of cuisine. Perhaps we simply do not yet have the talent to hold diners and critics attention.
With Colborne Lane’s end, what we’re left with is a less obvious representation of this type of cuisine in the city. In restaurants list BarChef, Origin and Yours Truly, you’ll get just a vague idea that there’s something vaguely ‘molecular’ about the food – but in the way that tea vaguely reminds one of coffee. It’s not the same, but until a chef can come along to astound and impress Torontonians once again with their post-modern food masterpieces, and have Torontonians respond in kind, they’ll have to do.