No longer the stuff of microwaves and movie theatres, popcorn is popping up on Toronto menus. We asked The Grid’s resident film critic for film-and-popcorn pairings.
1. Barque Smokehouse
In lieu of bread, a pail of popcorn comes dusted in a spice blend. That people started dipping their popcorn in the two barbecue sauces that are placed on the table was entirely unintentional—the sauces were originally meant for diners to use on their meat.
Jason says: “While the tangy barbecue gives the kernels a juke joint feel well suited to Patrick Swayze and Road House, the sweet-and-sour evokes the Hawaiian islands, so you’d best enjoy it with George Clooney and The Descendants.”
299 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-532-7700.
The fanciest of the bunch, Origin’s popcorn is cooked in truffle butter and seasoned with truffle salt. The dish has die-hard fans: Claudio Aprile’s attempt to remove it from the menu was met with complaint letters.
Jason says: “This concoction is so decadently and pungently French, it has to be accompanied by a serving of Gérard Depardieu in Cyrano de Bergerac.”
107 King St. E., 416-603-8009.
Behind the caramel’s sweet heat is butter, brown sugar, and puréed chipotle pepper—although Cava is primarily a Spanish restaurant, chef Chris McDonald has an affinity for Mexican food. After the popcorn is tossed in the mixture, it’s baked for 20 to 30 minutes.
Jason says: “This one calls for the sexiest of Mexican movies, Y Tu Mamá Tambien.”
1560 Yonge St., 416-979-9918.
4. Spin Galactic
Caramelized with some help from Jim Beam, then tossed with applewood-smoked bacon, this popcorn is trendy times two. Executive chef Jon Lovett suggests chasing it with a Spinhattan, made with bourbon, oranges, and preserved cherries.
Jason says: “The combination of whiskey, smoky bacon, and pistachio crunch calls for a movie set in the American South with a nutty sensibility: O Brother Where Art Thou?”
461 King St. W., 416-599-7746.
5. Spin Galactic
Every Tuesday after 10 p.m., ping-pong players are treated to complimentary fluorescent food. The Cosmic Corn tastes like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and turns bright yellow under the black lights. The secret: a crushed vitamin B tablet in the seasoning.
Jason says: “Anything this quirky, spooky, and sweet would be perfect with Tim Burton. Start with Frankenweenie.”
461 King St. W., 416-599-7746.
6. Indie AleHouse
The spicy Buffalo from the Junction brewery is seasoned with a secret rub before being tossed in house-made hot sauce and butter. On top: blue cheese from Junction Fromagerie. Co-owner Jason Fisher recommends washing it down with a pint of Instigator IPA.
Jason says: “This one’s gooey awesomeness seems tailor-made for discerning NASCAR fans, just like Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.”
2876 Dundas St. W., 416-760-9691.
Rosemary, thyme, garlic, Thai chili, parmesan, olive oil, brown butter, sea salt, and black pepper all go into these savoury morsels. Order it with the bar’s Gin + Juice cocktail, made with cucumber and jalapeno.
Jason says: “As herbaceous as it is delicious, this take deserves something similarly earthy: the greatest of all backwoods horror movies, The Evil Dead.”
678 Queen St. W., 416-366-6787.