by Malcolm Jolley
Cultural historians may disagree on the precise point in history that Toronto The Good swiveled on its pivot and began its slow march toward embracing the world of flavour. Few would deny, however, that the influx of Hungarian refugees to Toronto following that country’s failed uprising and subsequent Soviet occupation did much to open the culinary minds of WASPy Toronto in the middle of the last century. The Coffee Mill in Yorkville, which is fast approaching its 50th anniversary of doing business, is busy everyday at lunch with a crowd eager to experience those flavours, like paprika and caraway, that were once an exotic thrill in The Queen’s City.
The Toronto Star’s Amy Pataki has waxed poetic on the schnitzel sandwich at The Coffee Mill, declaring it her favourite in town and reporting that the restaurant sells 30 a day at lunch. It’s good, but I believe the restaurant’s killer application of a half century of Middle-European gastronomy is the goulash soup ($6.50). “Goulash soup” is apparently a redundancy made for the benefit of those of us not too familiar with Hungarian cuisine, as the OCF explains goulash is soup and the stew North American recipes call “Hungarian goulash” is really paprikash (a veal version of which is on The Coffee Mill menu for $13.50). Whatever it’s called, it’s delicious: deep red from paprika and redolent of caraway, the soup is fantastic example of simple flavours marrying into something subtle and complex. What you get is a soup with morsels of beef, nokedli dumplings, potatoes, carrots and celery. It doesn’t seem terribly exotic now, just good and comforting.
The Coffee Mill is hidden from street view in a mall between Yorkville and Cumberland, just west of Bellair: www.coffeemillrestaurant.com.
GFR videos are generously sponsored by a grant from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company. Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the non-profit organization that publishes GFR. twitter.com/malcolmjolley. Photo: John Gundy.