There’s been a spate of restaurants opening just north of Bloor of late, and a full-blown explosion of places west of Bathurst, all the way out to Roncesvalles. The recently opened Farmhouse Tavern fits in nicely with both trends, situated as it is in the Junction Triangle on Dupont, a little east of Dundas. The new restaurant from Darcy MacDonell, previously general manager at La Société, is a tribute to the warm and inviting hospitality of the farmhouse in which he grew up in Alexandria, Ontario.
Given the restaurant’s concept, and MacDonell’s relationships with food producers, it’s not surprising that the Farmhouse Tavern has become a place to showcase Ontario products in the kitchen and at the bar, from Beau’s All-Natural Brewing Co. beer, wines from Prince Edward County, Waupoos Cider and Tag vodka to Glengarry Fine Cheese, Kolapore Springs trout and much more. The cuisine is best described as “fresh, farm-driven food,” says MacDonell. In the kitchen, chef Daniel Janetos (The Saint, Buca, Gavroche in London, U.K.) turns out a small menu of apps and mains, along with an oyster bar serving P.E.I. oysters (6 for $15, 12 for $29). For appetizers, there’s in-house-pickled fish ($14) and a ploughman’s platter ($22) that includes smoked oysters, a pickled duck egg, cheese from Glengarry Fine Cheese, red wine jelly from Frogpond Farm, homemade bacon, mustard and crusty bread. For mains, there’s the farmhouse burger ($15), steak and fries ($23) and a daily fish dish ($24). And since nothing says farmhouse like warm apples, there’s an apple tart for dessert ($7) and, for a little extra childhood nostalgia, ice cream cones ($4 each). There’s also brunch. Cocktails are $9 each and include the Collingwood Julep, made with Collingwood whisky; the #2, made with Victoria gin, watermelon, cucumber and lime; and a smoked caesar with Tag vodka and a smoked oyster.
Designed with the help of Michelle Mawby, the restaurant’s interior consists of two areas: the cozy “Farmhouse” dining room and the more casual “Tavern.” On the walls, photos of the old MacDonell farmhouse hang next to the MacDonell clan crest. Salvaged pieces abound: an antique Moffat stove is a service station for wait staff; tavern tables were reclaimed from the King Edward Hotel; old tractor seats serve as bar stools. On the patio, a herb garden sits on old fenders, and nothing less than a converted tractor serves as the restaurant’s barbecue smoker.