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Introducing: Fanny Chadwick’s, a friendly new diner in a familiar Annex spot

Fanny Chadwick’s owners Leanne Martineau and Sarah Baxter (Image: Gizelle Lau)

For years, the house-turned-restaurant at the corner of Dupont and Howland has been something of a neighbourhood eyesore, a reminder to longtime Annex locals of the site’s heyday as Angelo’s Diner. When the most recent tenant, AAA Chinese, shut down, Leanne Martineau (Terroni, Senses) and Sarah Baxter (The Feathers), both Annex residents and 20-year food-industry veterans, decided to bring the old diner back to life. One year and half a million dollars in renovations later, this corner house has been transformed into Fanny Chadwick’s, a neighbourhood diner named after a 19th-century Annex playwright (the chapel at Royal St. George’s College features a stained glass window dedicated to her).

Natural light floods the restaurant’s front room throughout the day. The back, meanwhile, stays true to the original diner feel, with booths and a counter bar complete with red stools, funky orange pendant lights and baked apple pie in a cake dome on the counter. Old photos of the Annex, dug up from the Toronto Archives, line the walls. And, like so many other new places, colourful jars of preserves and pickled items line the shelves.

The food here focuses on homemade fare: terrines, sausages and house-smoked bacon, as well as house-cured gravlax and corned beef. Even condiments like ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, vinegar, tartar sauce and yogurt are all made in house. The menu, crafted by chef Joel McDonald (George, Chiado, Lee), uses carefully sourced ingredients (Rowe Farms meats, Ocean Wise–certified seafood) to create hearty dishes with a Finnish twist.

Starters include a poutine with hand-cut fries, chicken gravy and cheese curds ($6); handmade pierogies ($10); and a rich mac-and-cheese, made with ambrosia cheese from Quebec and topped with whipped cream ($8). At lunchtime, sandwiches include an artisanal grilled cheese ($8) and a flatbread lambwich ($12). Dinner mains stay under $20, with dishes like corned beef and cabbage ($10), leg of lamb ($16) and pan-seared rainbow trout fish and chips ($16). Weekend brunch, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., offers items for $12 and under, such as a layered French toast ($12) and Finnish pancakes ($12), as well as farm-fresh eggs from Hope Eco Farms.

Pastry and sous-chef Elysia Staszczyszyn (also from George) creates a daily selection of cookies, flatbreads and sticky buns for weekend brunch, as well as pies and cakes at $6/slice—fitting tributes to the building’s diner past.

Fanny Chadwick’s, 268 Howland Ave., 416-944-1606,

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  • Basilisk

    I’ve been waiting with avid anticipation for the opening of Fanny Chadwick’s ever since the reno’s started and I was not disappointed at all. Went for brunch and can’t wait to sample their dinner menu. The omelette special (pulled pork) was fantastic and the sticky bun was so insanely good that I’m trying to figure out a way to eat them every day without becoming the size of a house! I selfishly want to keep this gem to myself but I sincerely hope it becomes a neighborhood fixture.

  • anon

    Went here to check it out. The decor is quite lovely but wasn’t too impressed with the food. Not much flavour and spice in the brunch items. The service was a bit slow… For the price, I would have expected a bit more.

    Since they just opened, I expect that they are still working on polishing everything off.

  • Chadwick Neighbour

    Reasonably executed fare both in brunch and dinner, incorrect seasoning an issue throughout most items. Dollar value does not line up with what establishment fronts. Service was inattentive and slow. Ownership was indifferent and borderline unwelcoming to most guest who came through the door. Often just putting their head down working away and ignoring new faces eager to congratulate them on their new venture. Could be chalked up to first month jitters sure, but there is a definite coolness running through most of the staff we have experienced.

  • Rachel

    I was also looking forward to the opening of this restaurant, but the experience was disappointing, similar to those above. I have been twice for brunch and have waited 40 minutes each time from the time of ordering, before food arrived. The waitress seemed offended when we asked how long it would be before our food arrived and offered nothing in the way of an apology or any extras to compensate.

    The food is decent, but a new establishment really needs to do better at customer service if they want to carve out a spot for themselves in a neighbourhood. I am unlikely to return.

  • Astor

    I just went there today for Sunday brunch. I can’t believe how much better the place looks when compared to its former incarnation. It’s amazing how transformative $500,000 can be, not to mention a can of good paint.

    I had the cornmeal pancakes and sausage and my friend ordered from the “Build your Benny” portion of the menu where you build your eggs benedict with a variety of ingredients. She really liked her dish, and I liked mine. The coffee was good, too. And that sticky bun was amazing! I usually compare the bun to my standard at Demitasse in Victoria, BC, and Fanny’s is definitely on par.

    I hope this place does well; it’s 3 blocks away.

  • Helen’s mum!

    My daughter and I had brunch yesterday (17 July). We both thoroughly enjoyed every aspect, including the nice clean washrooms!! Leanne & Sarah and their staff are doing a great job in providing a warm and friendly, unpretentious atmosphere at a reasonable price. We’ll be back for sure – we may even bring a friend.

  • Fabavg

    We went for brunch recently, excited to try a new brunch spot. The Finnish pancakes were excellent (but we asked for the banana topping instead of the original orange/cranberry compote). My husband wasn’t impressed with his omelette however. Service was great, fast and friendly. I’d return for the Finnish pancakes for sure!