A doughnut shop, a Junction farmhouse and Claudio Aprile’s Origin story
Paulette’s Original Donuts and Chicken
913 Queen St. E., 647-748-1177
Fried chicken and doughnuts, the ultimate savoury-sweet-trashy combo, have come to Leslieville courtesy of siblings Devin and Luke Connell and chef Graham Bower, the team behind the midtown lunch stop Delica. The tiny takeout shop is a pocket of nostalgia, with cheery staff sporting pointed caps and bow ties and the room decked out in mint-green paint. The free-run chicken is brined and double-deep-fried until tender and golden but surprisingly greaseless (add a squirt of mustard seed–laced honey or tandoori barbecue sauce for kick). The rotating doughnut menu lists seven flavours, such as eye-poppingly citrusy mango-yuzu and white peach–maple. The dense, cakey rings make Timmies treats seem like sad doughnut simulacra. There are only a few seats, so it’s best to hit nearby Jimmie Simpson Park for a retro picnic.
Farmhouse Tavern ½
1627 Dupont St., 416-561-9114
The young parents and first-time homeowners who pack Farmhouse Tavern’s corner patio must be relieved to have a trendy restaurant within walking distance of their Junction Triangle houses. Owner Darcy MacDonell successfully combines efficient professionalism with the laid-back barnyard–beer hall aesthetic that dominates the city’s dining scene. At $9, the cocktails are a relatively cheap pleasure, especially the horseradish-heavy caesar made with tequila and a smoked oyster. Zealous servers rightly rhapsodize about the extreme freshness of the locavore menu. An Ontario pork rillette has strong porcine flavour, and manages to stay light—a feat, considering it’s paired with a thick brick of mustardy potato terrine. The house burger is bare—just a bun, a patty and zippy sauce (a mash-up of ketchup, relish, mayo and herbs)—but the Ontario beef is quality, and the fries are the best we’ve had in a long time. Fans of chunky apple pie will adore Farmhouse’s rustic rendition—a delight matched only by the bill, which is blessedly small. Sometimes it pays to dine north of Bloor. Mains $19–$23.
Origin Liberty ½
171 East Liberty St., 416-649-4567
Chef Claudio Aprile became known for unyielding standards and culinary experimentation at his previous restaurants, Origin and Colborne Lane. At his new outpost, housed in a former machine gun factory in Liberty Village, he lives up to the first part of his reputation: every dish is executed with remarkable skill and flawlessly plated; every waiter is knowledgeable; every cocktail is intricate. The menu, however, doesn’t demonstrate much in the way of innovation. Plump, creamy clams come in a powerful wine-thyme broth that’s transcendently rich when soaked up with grilled bread. A tostada bar yields mixed results. The lobster version is overwhelmed by pungent celery leaves. The chicken mole, however, hits just the right balance of bitter sauce, tender meat and ripe avocado. A detour into southern comforts brings a huge stack of luscious pork ribs that are hot and gooey, though lacking in spice. The wine list includes a few stars from Prince Edward County. Sharing plates $6–$19.