Farm-to-table dining has hit the Toronto restaurant scene in a big way over the past year. Many of the city’s newest and hottest restaurants are dedicated to showcasing Ontario’s best farm-grown foods and locally produced wines and beers. But of all the new dining spots embracing the farm-to-table ideals, few are as authentic as Farmhouse Tavern.
Farmhouse Tavern owner and manager Darcy MacDonell grew up in Alexandria, a rural community in eastern Ontario near Canada’s capital city of Ottawa. So when he decided to open his own restaurant in Toronto’s west end Junction neighborhood in summer 2012, it was only natural that he’d use influences from his hometown in both the design and menu.
Diners entering the restaurant are greeted by barn board-and-brick walls, rustic wood floors and farmhouse antiques like old chairs and vintage frames on the wall. The centerpiece of the comfortable patio is an old Massey-Ferguson tractor, which has been converted into a smoker where the kitchen prepares many of the meats and fish that make their way onto the menu, written daily on wall-mounted chalkboards.
The farm-to-table theme carries over to the dishes prepared by chef Daniel Janetos’ kitchen staff. Think steak and fries, a ploughman’s platter of local meats and cheeses and a daily fish dish. This is casual comfort fare, but in the hands of chef Janetos – whose resume includes stints at such high-end restaurants as Canoe in Toronto and Le Gavroche in England – it’s expertly prepared with nods to classic French technique.
Farmhouse Tavern’s motto, “a little bit country/ a lot of rock n’ roll,” is printed on the back of servers’ shirts, and that’s exactly what the restaurant is aiming to offer diners seeking a touch of farmhouse comfort in a bustling, urban setting.