By West Annex News | Finally! The wait is over. Fanny Chadwick’s at Howland and Dupont opened its doors the evening of Wednesday, February 16, 2011.
We were given a look inside on Thursday, February 17th, just after the restaurant’s soft opening the night before. The transformation from the space’s last incarnation–AAA Chinese–is remarkable. There are large windows on the north, east and west sides of the restaurant, which allow natural light to flood into the space. Inside is spacious, comfortable, and contemporary. The medium-brown wooden floors gleam. Comfy booths upholstered with bright, modern, geometric fabric line the walls, and vintage bar stools, upholstered in red leather–restored originals dating back from the days the space was Angelo’s Diner– provide seating around the L-shaped bar.
Sadly, we can’t show you the photographs we took during of our look inside the restaurant; part-owner Sarah Baxter wanted prior approval before we posted them, approval which she ultimately would not give. So we can only show you this mobile phone photo that @foodie411 (aka Joel Solish) apparently snapped off on opening night and shared on twitpic.
Baxter wouldn’t show us her menu either (although we found it later, also posted by Solish) as she said it was still evolving based on the feedback received during this week’s soft opening. She did share that the menu’s focus will be on seasonal comfort food, sourced locally where possible. The meat will be from Rowe Farms, the beers from Ontario and Quebec, and the wine international.
An enthusiastic review of the food served the night of the soft opening night can be found on Solish’s Community Foodist website, together with more photographs of various dishes served that night.
As we understand it, Fanny’s will be open for dinner this week, brunch on the weekend, and then open full hours sometime next week. The Fanny Chadwick’s website is still under construction but gives this phone number–416.944.1606–and an email address for information: email@example.com. Regular updates are appearing on Fanny’s Twitter account, @FannyChadwicks.
The restaurant is named after Fanny Chadwick, an illustrious former resident of 111 Howland Avenue. According to Jack Batten in The Annex: The Story of a Toronto Neighbourhood, Fanny was born on January 10, 1873, and moved to 111 Howland Avenue at age 11 when her father, a successful senior partner with a prestigious 19th century Toronto law firm, built the enormous home opposite the See House beside St. Alban’s the Martyr Cathedral.The Chadwicks were Anglicans and committed supporters of the then partially constructed Cathedral.
A gifted writer and actress, Fanny prolifically wrote, produced, and starred in plays which she presented in the living room of the spacious family home, to rave reviews from audiences that included members of Toronto’s working press. Fanny’s output dropped off after her marriage in 1898 and the birth of her son in 1900. She died in 1905 at the age of 32. A stained-glass window in the Cathedral of St. Alban the Martyr at 100 Howland Avenue–across the street from the Chadwick home–commemorates her, donated by her heart-broken father.
Fanny Chadwick’s restaurant is yet another sign that the upper West Annex is transforming itself, and far outpacing the Bloor Street strip to the south for the number of interesting shops, cafes, galleries and restaurant that are opening.
Bert Archer, “Venerable Dupont diner gets $250,000 overhaul, transforms into Fanny Chadwick’s”, YongeStreet.
Jack Batten,The Annex: The Story of a Toronto Neighbourhood, 2004, Erin, Boston Mills Press.
10 March 2011 update (from our Twitter feed):
*20 February 2011: edited this post to add Fanny Chadwick’s phone number, now posted on their website along with the restaurant hours.