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The Depanneur

Posted by Ryan Spencer / Reviewed on September 9, 2011 / review policy

Depanneur TorontoThe Depanneur has opened for your convenience at the corner of College and Havelock, just shy of Dufferin. Don't expect to find a plastic jug of wine or Du Mauriers at this corner store cum cafe, but an array of fresh produce, bold coffees, and breakfast sandwiches for on-the-go. Still in its infancy, The Dep is promising a full brunch menu on the weekends and hosting Rusholme Park Supper Club, a monthly get together with a cast of rotating chefs.

Depanneur TorontoIn the true spirit of the Dep, what you'll find are the grocer's necessities but re-imagined for a discerning crowd. Organic farm fresh vegetables are provided by Prairie Boy Farms which boasted both heirloom tomatoes and carrots, garlic, and yellow beans on the day I went by. Demi-baguettes by St. John's will save you the schlep east side to their bakery. And keeping it in the 'hood, I Deal Coffee is available by the cup or by the pound.

Depanneur TorontoA sign posted out front mentioned a kitchen drive to stock the newly added cooking space with surplus kitchen stuff. A novel idea that plays into the community ethos of The Dep. The repurposed counters were salvaged from the former convenience store that once inhabited this space -- Chiclet and Double Mint adverts still in tact. Dougie Kerr, of Honest Ed signage fame, has provided a nostalgic touch with his fantastic lettering style adorning the cafe. An overall hodgepodge of new and old gives the space a lot of personality and the open kitchen gives you the impression that you're hanging out at your friend's.

Depanneur TorontoSimple in its execution yet practical, the paper wrapped breakfast sandwiches are perfect for the morning rush. The yellow zuchinni frittata with lemon aoli wedged between crusty sourdough was delicious, as was the jam on walnut raisin bread. If sammies ain't your thing, daily quiches have recently been added to the menu with crust made by Wanda's Pie in the Sky. The supper club should be starting soon and I believe the space can be rented in the evenings for private dinner parties as well.

Depanneur TorontoThe owner, Len Senater, puts it best, "I started the Dep as an experiment in how to get closer to food in a fun, meaningful way that engages the community where I live, but that also avoids the pitfalls of the traditional restaurant model." An auspicious start for a neighbourhood dep with the best yet to come.

Depanneur TorontoPhotos by Peter Henderson.



Cbab / September 9, 2011 at 03:32 pm
I wish we had Depanneurs a la Montreal.
Rizie / September 9, 2011 at 04:11 pm
Great to see this in our neighbourhood! I wish nothing but the best for The Dep!
KPB / September 9, 2011 at 04:56 pm
I was excited to check this place out. Walked in, was confused and ignored for about 2 min and then walked out. Cool interior, though!
sarah / September 9, 2011 at 05:25 pm
kpb, for someone who was excited to check a place out, you'd think you'd at least get something to eat or ask a question.

the people are super friendly! and you can get a breakfast sandwich after 11 for pwyc as they want to stick by serving fresh food (since the bfast wiches are made at 8 am)!

a nice neighbourhood addition!
dve / September 10, 2011 at 10:57 am
I think I probably would have gone to this place by now (living around the corner from it), if it weren't for the pretentious dep gimmick. Why not just call it Rusholme Cafe, or whatever, forget the embarrassing "re-imagined convenient store authenticity," and get on with it.
SWM / September 11, 2011 at 01:20 pm
Great idea... can't wait to go!
SWM replying to a comment from dve / September 11, 2011 at 01:25 pm
Bizarre to slam it before you try it because the name isn't boring enough or the review found it too interesting. Nothing pretentious about the place...
BZ / September 12, 2011 at 01:57 am
Nice restaurant,,, i want to try it...
Barry A. Martin replying to a comment from dve / September 13, 2011 at 09:52 am
@dve Are you a member of the fun police? Please leave all your brilliant free restaurant make-over ideas in the big blue suggestion box outside.

Oh, and if you manage to get past your issues long enough to support a local biz doing good things for the economy ecology, let us know how you like the food.

@tehdep welcome to the neighbourhood. Please make more good things happen.

Zed / September 13, 2011 at 09:53 am
@dve can you just stfu and try it before passing judgement? It's really not all that gimmicky or pretentious. The sandwiches are tasty and the people friendly.
Len / September 13, 2011 at 04:39 pm
@Barry - thanks ;)

@kbp - really sorry that you felt ignored. We're all really new at this, and can get overwhelmed pretty easily. Pop in, say hi, and you're next coffee's on me.

@dve - I'm from Montreal. I opened a new corner store, in what was an old corner store. Why would I call it anything else?

hunter valley wine / September 14, 2011 at 01:20 am
That sandwich looks very delicious, I'd say. Maybe the close up photo was added to the flavor.
shawn replying to a comment from dve / November 26, 2011 at 08:11 pm
@dve I chatted with some of the people who work there. Turns out the owner and a few of the staff and volunteers who helped get the place started are from Montreal. The place used to be a cornerstore, so to me the name makes sense and isn't meant to show off or be pretentious. From what it sounds like it's a small start up that wanted to make a place where small food businesses can sell their stuff without expensive rent and other costs. I'd give them another chance if I were you
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oie / March 15, 2012 at 04:11 pm
I went in at 8:30am on Friday morning and they only had one loaf of bread left. I was charged $4 for it, which I paid but as I was heading out the door the guy called out to me that he had made a mistake and the bread was actually $5 and that I owed him a dollar. I paid the extra dollar and left. I really wanted this place to be awesome. I'll give it another chance, but that's a pretty tepid first impression.
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Kim / March 26, 2012 at 10:21 am
Despite this flattering review this place really sucks.
Weak coffee with grounds in it. Annoying owner talking to his friends and not helping the lone girl working the counter no matter how many customers come in. The produce is rotten and covered in flies. They have very scant menu which they sell out of and don't restock. This place is a waste of time if you're in the neighbourhood skip it and go to Arabesque instead.
mayor dodge replying to a comment from Kim / March 26, 2012 at 01:32 pm
I'm not a wild man BUT WASH THOSE CARROTS, you garrulous owner.
LA / April 8, 2012 at 02:43 pm
I live close to this place, and often walk by it on my way to yoga up the street. I went in twice now- the first time to pick up a little post-yoga snack and they were sold out of almost everything so I left emptyhanded. Cute place though, and the girl working was really sweet and apologetic! The next time I went in I was with my baby in his stroller, and I just looking for a little snack to nibble on for our walk and there was nothing really so once again I left empty-handed! I really really want to like this place! Perhaps I am confused by the concept. Will try again though after reading this review!
Owais / April 17, 2012 at 01:49 pm
Great local spot! Happy to have in my neighborhood,
Anthony / April 24, 2012 at 12:47 am
There is a super sweet redhead who has been with the place from the beginning and no matter what faults anyone has written about above I'd say that she represents the 'soul' of the business. I'm sure we'll be seeing her doing amazing things in the community in her future.

A few people who have commented don't seem to be familiar with the concept that they are a venue for supporting other small local food businesses. They provide affordable access to a commercial kitchen for many small businesses & a place for them to sell their goods.

They also have an interesting take on the business model for restaurants @LA they base their weekly menu on having as little waste as possible. Instead of inflating the price on cheap ingredients and throwing out whatever doesn't sell they purchase small quantities of quality ingredients, they research where the food comes from and they offer it until it sells out.

The girl who works there is a wealth of knowledge about the farmers and other producers of food. She has also helped me get in touch with other businesses and markets where I can find certain items that I was interested in. She is truly interested in supporting people who grow food responsibly and she has even inspired me to make some new choices in how I shop for food.

I'd suggest people to have more of an interest in supporting their dinners and workshops and buying food from the grocery shop, instead of judging them on the same level as you would judge a full out restaurant.
Sue / May 20, 2012 at 09:21 am
We had a wonderful brunch yesterday. The food was delicious and the welcome was warm and friendly. We are looking forward to returning.
Mae / July 15, 2012 at 04:55 pm
Anthony, in your note to LA you said that their menu is based on having as little waste as possible. That's fine and dandy but if they don't have enough for the random customer those people are going to go away. Doesn't anyone want to make money? Despite what some Torontonians think customer service and ease of the consumer experience are important. We don't have time to keep popping in to find nothing.
Dalaman / March 29, 2013 at 07:56 am
Looks Great

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