Canadian National Exhibition: Summer 2015

Monday, August 31, 2015
My friend Ronsee and I made our annual trip to The Ex yesterday. As you may already know, we only go to The Ex for the sole purpose of eating. So we got there at 5:30, and bee-lined straight for the Food Building. This year's food offerings didn't seem as weird or fantastical as some other years (I think many food vendors are being way more cautious after the maple bacon cronut debacle two years ago), but we did find some real gems (and one major disappointment).

Bad Boy Burger from Bub's Badass Burgers

The first thing on our list was a Bad Boy Burger: A spicy beef patty, a piece of honey garlic fried chicken, pepper jack cheese, wasabi cucumber, hickory sticks, tomato, sriracha mayo, and buttermilk coleslaw, in between two Jamaican beef patties. The components worked really well together. It had a good amount of flavour, with the pepper jack cheese, wasabi cucumber, and sriracha mayo giving a nice kick, though the Jamaican beef patty does overwhelm some of the other flavours in some bites. The honey garlic fried chicken is a nice touch to this, though; it's tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, with a nice tangy-sweet flavour that works well with the spice. If you like Jamaican beef patties and you like burgers, this one is really worth trying out. 

Garlic snow crab fries from Jake's Lobster

There's a new item at Jake's Lobster this year: garlic snow crab fries. A box of fresh-cut fries topped with generous chunks of sweet crab meat, drizzled with garlic aioli, a pinch of dill and parsley, and a squeeze of lemon. Honestly, this was probably my favourite item of the night. You can always tell how popular an item is by the line-up outside the vendor booth, and I think this one had the longest line-up. (I felt kinda bad for their sister booth, Pull'd, which was insanely busy in previous years but is practically dead with everyone lining up next door at Jake's instead. I guess no one cares about pulled pork anymore.) It's better than all the other French fry offerings I've had at The Ex. This is something I'd order regularly at a restaurant if it were available. 

Poutine Balls from Vienna

Of course, we couldn't leave without having a poutine of some sort, you know? Vienna is offering Poutine Balls this year, which is a bit like "poutine inception." The Balls have a centre of cheese curd that is wrapped in mashed potato, rolled in bread crumbs, and deep-fried. And then they're topped off with more cheese curds and rich Bavarian-style gravy. Actually really tasty, though I wish the gravy were hotter — it’s meant to melt the cheese curds, but the whole thing was lukewarm at best. 

Chicken Waffle on a Stick from Mr. Mike

We were really excited to try the chicken waffle on a stick: chicken tenders coated in waffle batter, deep-fried to golden brown, and dunked in maple syrup (you can also have it dusted with icing sugar and drizzled with hot sauce, if you so wish). This was by far the biggest disappointment of the evening, and possibly the worst thing I've ever had at The Ex. The chicken was so dry, I could barely swallow it without the aid of water, and the entire thing was completely tasteless. I wish they had drenched the thing in maple syrup because at least then there would be some flavour. Don't waste your time with this. I am pissed, because I could've been eating bacon-wrapped grilled cheese sandwiches from Bacon Nation instead. 

Deep-fried cheesecake from Pickle Pete's

We decided to have dessert in the midway after taking some time to walk around and digest, and the main dessert item on our list was deep-fried cheesecake, which is new this year. It's essentially a slice of New York cheesecake wrapped in a tortilla and deep-fried. It tastes like a warm cream cheese-stuffed churro, drizzled with chocolate and tossed with cinnamon sugar, and it's pretty awesome. It takes some work to find because it's tucked away in a corner of the midway, but it's worth it. 

Coffee and Doughnut Milkshake from Fran's

We ended our night back at the Food Building right before it closed to get a Coffee and Doughnut Milkshake from Fran's. It tastes exactly like tiramisu in custard-thick milkshake form, and it's freaking delightful. It's extremely rich and makes you full really fast, so I suggest sharing with someone. Ronsee and I managed to finish about 3/4 of it before having to toss it. But it does make for a very delicious shareable dessert. And a great ending to our CNE food journey this year. 

Canadian National Exhibition
200 Princes' Boulevard
Toronto, ON M6K 3C3
(416) 393-6300
8 comments on "Canadian National Exhibition: Summer 2015"
  1. Replies
    1. It was really good! One of the better deep-fried options I've had at CNE.

  2. I'm not so into CNE food this year. But now I want a milkshake more than anything in the world.

    1. Yeah, the selection wasn't as enticing or intriguing or unique (e.g. gross) as it's been other years. But still glad I went. :)

      Those Fran's milkshakes are AMAZING.

  3. wowza you ate some pretty awesome stuff! I really wish people made poutine here, we just have to try it ourselves at home usually

    1. You'll just have to fly to Canada and try it out for real. ;) You gotta get the gravy and cheese curds just right, and the fries have to be substantial enough to carry the toppings but without being too heavy or starchy... I find poutine is never the same at home, lol.

  4. That milkshake. OMG. I need one now.

    1. It was positively delightful. I rarely ever have milkshakes but when I do, they tend to be epic, lol.


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