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, fannychadwicks.com