Dundas Park Kitchen
Dundas Park Kitchen opened nearly a month ago on a sleepy stretch of Dundas West, just doors down from the Belljar Cafe. The kitchen takes over from an old Portuguese restaurant but the interior has been completely redone. Now, the majority of the deep space is devoted to the open kitchen and seating is kept intentionally sparse to encourage grab-and-go.
If you really must, there's a counter along one wall to perch against while eating, but be warned: it will leave you nose to nose with a tempting display-case full of cakes, cookies and sweets.
I stopped in late one afternoon and ended up spending an hour just hanging out and chatting with owners Alex Tso and Melanie Harris. I suspect most transactions are typically far swifter.
The shop is only open Monday through Friday from 11am to 7pm allowing the couple time to pursue catering gigs and continue running their regular Saturday booth at The Stop's farmers' market. It's where they shop for their farm-fresh menu and where they hope to one-day offer a weekday dinner subscription service for the shop.
Being almost 5 o'clock, I'm told that sandwiches are almost done for the day and that the take-away special is about to begin. Tso makes me two sandwiches anyway and packs them to go in biodegradable containers.
One, is a the vegan friendly Marinated Eggplant ($8.50) that's stacked onto soft bun with squash hummus spread, muffaletta-like olive salad, sweet red onion jam and sunflower sprouts. The other is meatloaf, cut into a thick slab and dressed with pickled carrots, celeriac slaw and maple mustard.
While I'm there, I witness locals trickle in to check out the new spot, one woman (a regular already) even brings her own corningware and has it packed with dinner to go. Between chatting, I see tonight's take-home dinner come out of the oven and - holy f', I'd swear if this place wasn't so wholesome - it smells incredible. It's a golden skinned roasted chicken, available whole or halved (for $25 or $15 respectively).
Each order includes a choice of two sides from options like steamed asparagus, cold beet salad with candied nuts or speltberry salad. I end up placing an order even though I wasn't planning to.
The sandwiches (delicious, btw) are devoured outside immediately and I end up juggling multiple packages on the streetcar home, tortured all the way by delicious scents wafting out of the paper bag.
Fast forward a couple hours later and I have the pleasure of plating the bird with sides and presenting it for dinner at home with my partner. We end up eating in our backyard and let the conversation revolve almost entirely around how moist and succulent the chicken is and how exceptionally fresh the sides are. It turns the weekday evening to a reason to open a bottle of wine and tastes way better than takeout has any right to be.
Photos by Jesse Milns