Sunday, March 06, 2011

Toronto Restaurant Review: Fanny Chadwick's (Now containing both reviews)

Saturday night, Phil and I checked out a restaurant that just opened up last month, and happens to be just around the corner from us. Fanny Chadwick's (with its most excellent name) replaced a dingy Chinese restaurant that never had anyone in it.

Based on our meal, I'd say it'll have a lot more people gracing the premise than its predecessor. I guess, though, that's not that impressive a task.

Most importantly: it's a restaurant with a locavore sensibility. LOVE that.

While the restaurant had been gutted and rebuilt, while we were there, I noticed the basement had quite the leak going on. In their defence, we were having records amount of rain. Skidding across the basement floor to the bathroom had all the potential of a disaster movie for me. So, hopefully they'll fix that before the next major rainfall.

The decor inside the restaurant is very warm and inviting. There are several booths around the edge of the restaurant, and there are stools at the bar. Throughout our meal, there were several children enjoying the vantage point of the stools to watch the 12 different Ontario craft beers being poured from the tap.

My poor husband. Every time I whip out the camera, he gets all shy.

Can't we just eat a meal without you wanting to blog about it?
Of course, I remain enthusiastic throughout the whole thing.

Now you take a picture of me!
I loved the vintage fabric wrapped booths. Heck, I love booths. When we win the lottery and get to build our own house, there will be a breakfast nook with a booth in it. And it will be awesome.

We started the meal with poutine. House made gravy, great cheese curds (although I wish there were more of them and that they were more evenly distributed). We both pronounced it delicious.

For our main courses, I opted for the corned beef and cabbage with pierogies, while Phil chose blue cheese, onion and mushroom stuffed meatloaf with leek mashed potatoes and chard.

The corned beef is cured in house, and, without a doubt, is amazing. Even though my stomach is still stuffed until bursting, I would have happily eaten more. The braised cabbage served with it was perfectly balanced in terms of sweet and savoury flavours. Underneath that pile of meat and cabbage lay two pierogies: a mushroom one and a potato cheese one. While both were good (the mushroom one less so - a little too moist), I would have happily replaced them with more cabbage. The mustard, also house made was spicy and cut through the richness of the meat.

I will definitely order this dish again.

Phil's meatloaf was also excellent. But, as I preferred my dish, I chose to spend my valuable stomach space enjoying my dinner rather than his.

Now. Dessert.

We ordered two.

Actually, I ordered two and tried to cover for my "I'll have both." with a hasty "I mean, not both for me, but..."

Really, I wanted to try both.

The first dessert up was a hazelnut walnut butter tart with chocolate.

It was good, with whole hazelnuts and walnuts above the creamy butter tart filling. However, in the wake of the next dessert, this one got lost.

Two Words: Deconstructed S'mores.

Cinnamon cookies, dark chocolate pudding and roasted marshmallows.

Words failed both of us with this one.

Oh. My. God.

The chocolate pudding was perfectly balanced with the sweet marshmallow... throw in the cinnamon cookies? Lord Almighty. That's a dessert. If I could, I would be eating this right now.

All in all, with 1½ pints each, a split appetizer, two mains and two desserts and taxes, we paid about 85$. We won't regularly splurge on all that, so I anticipate that this is definitely going to become our new neighbourhood place. If you're in the Annex, it's very much worth the stop. Their brunch menu looks to die for.

I'm usually very much against editing posts, but I'd rather have both reviews in one place than have people jumping all over and not getting half the story. So, I'm reposting the second review here.

This review was originally posted Tuesday, March 15th 2011.

As my husband pointed out to me, our first visit to Fanny Chadwick's was so perfect (with the exception of leaking basement and not enough cabbage with my corned beef), that any subsequent visit wouldn't compare.

And, after popping in tonight (Tuesday), he was right. Don't get me wrong folks, I'm still firmly in their corner, but I'm left feeling a little disappointed on our follow-up visit.

Let's start with our food (which largely falls under the Hell Yeah category):

Gravalax plate = le awesome. There are so many things about this that I love.

Homemade dill pickled beans (love! love! love!), house made horseradish (I would buy jars of this!), whipped garlic & herb cream cheese, pickled onions, super tasty bread. I'm a big fan of all of this. And again, I'd order this in a heartbeat.

Having said that, my brother makes his own gravlax, which is more heavily seasoned than Fanny's, and frankly, I like my gravlax well seasoned. I want to be able to clearly taste the herbs that have infused it, you know?

There were so many other awesome flavours going on on the plate that the gravlax itself got a little lost.

The burger = very tasty, though not freshly made (made in house then frozen, which I don't morally object to, but, you know, fresh would be nice). It was still incredibly juicy. My husband was sad when I ate the whole thing.

The real winners here though are again, the house made sauces. The ketchup is smokey and brimming with tomato flavour. They should bottle this (along with their mayo and mustard) and send some home with me. Seriously. The salad had a great fresh herb dressing to it too.

The lamb = great. Their menu doesn't specify which cut of lamb they'll have on the menu (last week it was lamb ribs), so be sure to ask. This was leg of lamb, and my husband thoroughly enjoyed it. Even better were the leek mashed potatoes which were much better than when we'd had them last week.

Props on that Fanny. Props.

Fanny also gets props for evening out their poutine. The other couple we were dining with ordered it, and I noticed a much better quantity and distribution of cheese curds. Maybe they took my notes from my last review?

I hope so, because I'm going to offer a few more in the spirit of love and support.

Even though we were out at 6:30 on a Tuesday, the restaurant was swamped with people. There was one poor waitress trying to deal with the whole restaurant, and that was way too much. Our food order was called up when it wasn't, in fact, finished. And though the two of our party didn't have to wait longer than 5 more minutes for their food, that speaks to a timing issue that needs to be worked out.

Our waitress was lovely and deeply apologetic for the fact that we didn't get offered a dessert (which, in retrospect, happened the first time too) and that it took 30 minutes to get the bill. I do not hold her responsible. They were deeply understaffed. There was a bartender, but she was busy with drinks and engaging the customers with dialogue...

... and this is where things get tricky, because I love that this is a local joint, where you get to know people. I think you should know the people who provide you with food. Having said that, I also think it's important that you maintain a balance between socializing with clients and building relationships and taking that step back so that the service can run more smoothly. You shouldn't do one if it's going to be at the expense of another, you know?

At the end of the night the waitress (again) apologized for the delays and said they weren't expecting to be so swamped... and I can understand that. It is a Tuesday, after all. But, they need to develop a better back-up plan in case the joint continues to be as busy.

And my final note. Okay Fanny's, what's up with your mixed salad? While my dinner guest pronounced your Thousand Islands dressing to be excellent (in keeping with the theme of your housemade sauces being awesome), the salad consisted of a massive plate of romaine lettuce, ONE spinach leaf and a massive amount of sprouts.

I get that we're still in winter, but romaine lettuce + one spinach leaf =/= mixed greens.

Like, seriously. I say this out of love and a desire for you to succeed.

Please fix that.

A little endive or radicchio would not go amiss for colour.

So, here's my conclusion. I still like this place, in spite of the kinks it needs to work out in regards to staffing, kitchen timing and plates of lettuce. It's still going to be my local, and I'm excited to see what they come up with for a spring menu and they should really, REALLY start selling their pickled beans and ketchup.

Or at least give me their recipe.


Locavore Family said...

Yippee! I was really hoping you'd do a review on this restaurant.

It all looks delicious and I second your recommendation about less perogies, more cabbage (that just seems like a weird combination to me).

Ringy said...

Very, very excited to try this out!

K said...

This looks amazing and the name is priceless for the Brits. Can't wait to go!

Alyson said...

LOL! It is an awesome name for the Brits! When David gets into town, we should totally meet up for a pint or two and some tasty eats!

Corporate events said...

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