What’s Being Served At The Ex – Cronut Burger, Nutella Fries, Bacon Lasagna.

Today the gates to the CNE opened and Toronto flooded into the exhibition grounds  looking for  the pitch and roll of the rides, the flashy excitement of the midway, and of course the tantalizing and  unusual delights served up at the Food Building!

The Ex is a great excuse to get out and eat food you know you shouldn’t but since it’s only available at the Ex, you simply can’t stop yourself.  Bags of Tiny Tom’s donuts. Ice cream sandwiches. Pizza on a stick.  Sometimes there are fantastic surprises and new innovations. Sometimes it’s just a little extra bacon. But who’s complaining?  We all need some excitement in our lives. So why not step up to the challenge of the Cronut Burger or the Spice Cream Cone? Lord knows you’ve good all year.   Break free, it is the CNE after all.  Besides, when every media outlet out there is pushing you to try it, it is officially a challenge to eat this food.

So let’s do a run down of what is being served at the CNE this year which I got to sample at this year’s Media Day.

Let’s start with the most discussed

The Cronut Burger:

Cronut Burger from Epic Burgers & Waffles and La Dolci

This is from Epic Burger & Waffles and Le Dolci and I have to say I did not love it.  I heard lots of people at Media Day ooohing and ahhing and going back for seconds.  Not me. I did like the components individually. The burger was a solid burger cheese and all.  The cronut was excellent. Seriously excellent, in fact  I actually looked around to see if there was a way I could get a Cronut by itself.  That good!

This Year's CNE Food - The Cronut Burger

Together it didn’t work for me.  Especially the cinnamon sugar on the cronut, that really blew the whole experience since I didn’t like crystalized sugar on meat. Sorry guys. I’ve had doughnut burgers before and my complaint is always that the doughnut is glazed or sugared.  Why would you do that? Keep the doughnut good, simple and not too sweet. (Which without the cinnamon sugar the cronut was.) I might have liked it better with a plain cronut.  And I’m willing to try.

What is the stuff on top? I wondered that too.  It’s bacon jam, which funnily enough I thought it was some sort of oatmeal concoction, likely because of the consistency and flavour profile.  Tasted okay, but it was odd.

But those cronuts? SO tasty. I want one now.  Note: they are available at Le Dolci but I hear they sell out every morning.

(Not sure what a cronut is? Well it’s a cross between a croissant and a doughnut developed by Chef Dominique Ansel for Dominique Ansel Bakery in NYC. )

Sweet Chips – nutella drizzled sweet-potato fries:

This Year's CNE Food - Sweet Potato Fries & Nutella

I’m going to state my biases now, I love nutella and I don’t enjoy sweet potatoes in any form. So, the sweet potatoes won the battle, and given all the other food I had to try, I gave this a miss.  I did, however, eat the entire nutella sampler I was given when I got home. With a spoon. Would have eaten 2 more.  ‘Nough said.

Panini Gelato from Sweet Escapes

Sweet Escape's Panini Gelato

HELLO!  Brioche stuff with chocolate gelato! This was excellent!  It doesn’t look like much, but it was really really good. The brioche was rich and crispy. The gelato was cold, melty and chocolately.  The menu says you can chose the gelato you get in your panini gelato but they recommend the “Extreme Choco Hazelnut” and I would give it a solid  “Hell yes!”

[UPDATE – this is not being sold in the Food Building but on the midway on the bit running from the food building to the Princes’ Gate jammed in with all the merchandising.]

This Year's CNE Food - Panini Gelato

This is my new favourite ice cream sandwich!  I showed restraint and only had one… but I know I’ve getting another when I go to the Ex next week! Guaranteed.

Spice Cream Cone from Just Cone It

This Year's CNE Food - Spice Cream Cone

This is another put-everything-great-together-and-see-how-it-all-comes-out item.  Soft-serve vanilla ice cream with nutella (great so far), with chiles (okay) and bacon (well, it’s on trend) and served in a pizza cone (and… you lost me.)

In fairness, the pizza cone was okay and didn’t fight the other flavours, it was just one step too far.  I think the ice cream concoction on it’s own was okay.  And soft-serve ice cream in a pizza cone is kind of an interesting idea that I think could work. Why not?  But it was just too many things thrown together for me.  But hey, if you want something to brag about eating but that’s not too challenging – this is the one for you!

The All Bacon Canuck Burger

This Year's CNE Food - All-Bacon Canuck Burger

So that’s a bacon burger, on a bacon bun, topped with 2 strips of bacon and 1 slice of peameal. Tasted like ham.  Now that’s no surprise and not a bad thing. It was just a lot of ham. I liked the touch of lettuce and tomato to keep it fresh, but I couldn’t and wouldn’t eat more than a 1/4 of one of those.

This Year's CNE Food

Nacho-rama by Wild Child’s Kitchen

Natcho-rama from Wild Child's Kitchen

I was impressed by these guys offering both a Vegan and regular version, and smartly marketing them as gluten-free. Smart and tasty.

This Year's CNE Food - Natcho-rama

Arancini from Corrado’s

Arancini - This Year's CNE Food

Beautiful and tasty and BIG.  They were filled with mozz, peas and ground beef and served with “Nonna’s” tomato sauce. It was a nice sauce and a good and big ball of comfort food. It will definitely fill you up!

Bacon Lasagna

This Year's CNE Food - Bacon Lasagna

I was expecting a big hit of bacon, and I got it, with pasta and a Boyardee-style sauce.  I’m not sure if they’ll be baking it at the CNE or serving it loose like this.

Bacon Lasagna

Baking it might give it a bit more textural variety… but I don’t think that will get me to try it again.  If you are a fan of Boyardee and Bacon – and I know there are a LOT of you out there – this is definitely for you!

Also available will be the tried and true Tiny Tom’s, a variety of meat on a stick, and of course the midway pizza.

And if those won’t satisfy, you can always skip the Food Building an the midway and Ribfest  Aug 16 – Aug 18, Aug 20 – Aug 25 and Aug 27 – Sept 2  (why they are stopping for 2 day breaks I don’t know.)   Or the 17 food trucks showing up for Food Truck Frenzy Aug 23-24

  • Beach Boys Food Truck
  • Crossroads Diner
  • Sandwiches with a Twist
  • Fidel Gastro
  • Gourmet Gringos
  • Hogtown Smoke
  • Bacon Nation
  • Pancha
  • Yalla Paramount
  • Per Se Mobile
  • Pretty Sweet
  • Texas Tornado
  • Sweetness Bakry
  • Food Dudes
  • Frankie Fettuccine
  • The Urban Smoke
  • Yogurt’s

All the featured items in one spot:

This Year's CNE Food - Featured Items

[fsg_gallery id=”9″]

So, what strikes your fancy now I’ve told you my thoughts?

Alexa Clark

Alexa is a digital marketer and author with over 20 years in digital & interactive communications in the food and tech industries. Alexa's CheapEats Restaurant Guides, for both Toronto & Ottawa, were Canadian best sellers. She is a recognized authority on social media and has been named one of Canada's 20 Leading Women in Social Media.

25 thoughts on “What’s Being Served At The Ex – Cronut Burger, Nutella Fries, Bacon Lasagna.

  • August 16, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    OMGee Alexa thanks for this review. You’ve saved me some calories 🙂

  • August 17, 2013 at 7:43 am

    I’d love to read it but I can’t open the link?

  • August 17, 2013 at 10:50 am

    @Rhonda Glad to help!  Come back and tell me what you tried at the CNE. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and I can’t try everything in the Food Building.

  • August 17, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Hunh.. that’s weird Peggy Peacock all the links are working for me.
    If they still aren’t working, try going to https://www.unsweetened.ca directly. The post is on the top of the page.

  • August 17, 2013 at 11:06 am

    So, what strikes your fancy now I’ve told you my thoughts?

  • August 17, 2013 at 11:12 am

    .PaulDeCampo Happy I could help. Do you have a favourite food at the CNE? #letsgototheex

  • August 17, 2013 at 11:38 am

    alexaclark it is not ours, I believe it is another company with a similar name.

  • August 17, 2013 at 11:55 am

    sweetescapes oh shame. Thanks for clarifying!

  • August 17, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    alexaclark I’m at the CNE and on the hunt for brioche con gelato! Can you point me in the right direction?

  • August 18, 2013 at 10:47 am

    JessicaRoppolo eep! I’m just getting this now Jessica. I hope you found it. It was from Sweet Escapes – not sure where they are

  • August 18, 2013 at 10:47 am

    JessicaRoppolo .. unfortunately I had it on Media Day, so I didn’t see their actual booth

  • August 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    alexaclark I found it! Thanks

  • August 18, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    JessicaRoppolo excellent! I’m here… now and can’t. Where was it? #letsgototheex #lexgototheex

  • August 19, 2013 at 9:44 am

    JessicaRoppolo Wow, but it took some walking around didn’t it! I finally found it too, out on the midway in the midst of the oversell

  • August 20, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I agree about the cronut burger. Cronut itself was amazing, I thought the burger and bacon jam were subpar. Also, the bacon jam was, without getting into detail, visually pretty unappealing.
    Have to say the winner for me were the Nutella Stix: deep fried pita with Nutella, peanut butter and icing sugar, served with jam for dipping. Yum!
    Tried the peanut butter bacon milkshake as well, which had potential, but I’m pretty sure they put liquid smoke in it….totally unnecessary and gave it a bit of a chemical taste. Ugh…

  • August 20, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    PatrickLowneyThanks!  I didn’t try anything else from spreadTObut I know a lot of people were loving what they served. Nutella is hard to dislike. 
    I heard about the Peanut Butter Bacon Milkshake, but I never saw it. Was it from BaconNationCA? 
    I’m not a fan of the chemical taste from liquid smoke either.  It’s funny because it is usually made pretty simply and often it’s the actual wood smoke that creates that artificial flavour.  (We’re having some of that problem with slow-smoking over some commercial undefined-hardwood charcoals too.)
    Looks like you had great fun tasting though!  And much bacon at the market the next day too.

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  • August 22, 2013 at 11:56 am

    be very glad you didn’t get sick like the almost 100 people who ate the cronut burger! yikes!!

  • August 22, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    MrsBubSmith Thanks, me too!  It will be interesting to see what the Public Health says after they’ve finished testing the food.  But what a shame for the people who’ve gotten sick and guys running the stand!  The cronut burger was selling even to people who didn’t expect to like it, just so they could say they tried it.

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