It’s nearly impossible to talk about Darcy MacDonell’s latest restaurant, Farmer’s Daughter Eatery (1588 Dupont St.), without mentioning its father-brother-cousin(?) restaurant, The Farmhouse Tavern. And it’s not just because they’re only 100m from each other…
It seems that everything about Farmer’s Daughter has been in some way influenced by what Farmhouse Tavern does and is. It’s taken most of the good parts that have made the Tavern one of the best restaurants in Toronto but has also managed to create its own identity at the same time. For instance, the space is sleek and modern. There are no chalkboards anywhere – only dry erase boards and old-fashioned menu boards with movable letters. Light pours in through several windows and there’s a distinct lack of clutter. Everything feels clean and airy and inviting, including the open kitchen that offers two lucky dinners a view directly to what’s cooking.
MacDonell explains that at The Farmhouse Tavern the menu is balanced in a meat, vegetable, seafood order, whereas at the Daughter it’s completely reversed. You don’t have to look much further than the creative and delicious octopus plate (octopus tentacles, octopus ‘sausage’, pancetta, mussels, marjoram, sunchoke purée, dandelion greens, squid ink vinaigrette) to get a sense of what we’re talking about. At brunch, your Black Caesar will come garnished with a piece of shrimp, your Frog n’ Waffles include (surprise, surprise) poached frog legs on buckwheat waffles with red wine maple butter. And you’ll find fresh oysters daily as well as a steamed clam salad that includes a mustard ice cream.
Don’t be frightened, however, if seafood is not your first flavour of choice. As MacDonell says, “you can’t lose the vote.” What he means is there has to be something for everyone in order for the restaurant to succeed. So there’s plenty of meat and veg as well – though they all come with the Daughter’s special take. The burger is the same quality beef you’ll find at The Tavern only here it’s served on a homemade pretzel bun and topped with a fried haddock filet (okay, not away from fish just yet). The elegant beef tartar features bone marrow pebbles, tresse croutons, and a lone quail egg. The Cheek on Cheek combines veal cheek and halibut cheeks in a ravioli sure to satisfy anyone calling themselves a meat lover. Both the light and sweet grilled salad and the Veg on Veg offer more than enough refreshing flavours for anyone looking to stay away from animals that day.
With a 40-seat, west-facing balcony and the popular F*ck Monday’s concept being carried over from The Tavern, we can’t see any reason The Farmer’s Daughter won’t be a huge hit every weekend this summer. So it’s a good thing they take reservations. Open Thursdays through Sundays a half hour earlier than its partner down the street (thus seemingly banishing The Farmhouse Tavern to Nfld. time), you can enjoy brunch as early as 10:30am on Saturdays and Sundays and dinner as soon as 5:30pm. Drinks at one and dinner at the other? Talk about getting the best of both worlds.
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)