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Restaurants

Fanny Chadwick's

Posted by Staff / Reviewed on March 7, 2011 / review policy

Fanny ChadwicksFanny Chadwick's, located at the corner of Howland and Dupont, is a short skip and a hop from the Dupont subway. The name, I learned, is a homage to the 19th century socialite, playwright and musician Fanny Chadwick who grew up on Howland Avenue. Keeping with the local spirit, the restaurant prides itself on its use of locally sourced produce and meats (hormone and antibiotic free) and even touts in-house made condiments.

Word about Fanny's has spread quickly, and we found a lineup spilling the door at 10.30 am. Fortunately, we only had to wait about 15 minutes in the cold to be seated, thanks in part to a group of six ahead of us who decided to take off.

We were seated in a nook beside the door holding five tables and filled with natural morning light. Our wood table was adorned with a small potted plant and a jar of granulated brown sugar. The nook was charming, but I couldn't help but feel like we were being tucked away in a corner and hidden from the real experience of eating at Fanny's happening in the main part of the restaurant behind us. The blasts of cold air from the door didn't help.

Fanny ChadwicksFanny's has fresh, clean, crisp white walls featuring vintage black and white photographs of the Annex. The main restaurant boasts an impressive large, stainless-steel 1950s diner counter with colourful booths surrounding it. The mix of diner and up(per)-scale gourmet is an interesting pairing that ultimately feels comfortable.

After waiting without water or menus for about 10 minutes, an impatient waitress came by and asked if we would like a coffee or tea. Since I knew they offered some interesting cafe specialties (like hot-chocolate with homemade marshmallow) we asked to see a menu before deciding on beverages. The waitress seemed annoyed by our request but a couple minutes later we finally got to see the menu.

It's clear much attention has gone into the visual elements of the restaurant, which made being handed two sheets of cheap, white paper as menus a surprise. I sincerely hope the "local" ink-jet printer menus are replaced soon with something a little more environmentally friendly and professional to fit the rest of the restaurant.

Fanny ChadwicksAnother waitress came by to take our orders and was even more frantic and unfriendly then the last. My friend decided to try the hot chocolate ($3.50) while I chose a latte ($3.50) and was relieved to hear they offered soy since the menu was decidedly not vegan friendly. Unfortunately, our drinks ended up being "forgotten" and were brought out half way through the meal, which was a let down.

I ordered the "Build your own Benny" on a homemade English muffin ($9) with mushrooms and wilted greens ($2 each). My first reaction to seeing my food was disappointment. I had been eager to see how the potatoes would be done (an important distinguishing feature of any breakfast/brunch establishment) and was sad to see the locally sourced potatoes had faced the cruel fate of being put through the deep fryer.

The house ketchup did nothing to remedy the situation. As I squeezed it out of the cheap, red plastic bottle, it was thick and dark like tomato paste. Turns out it tasted just like tomato paste except more bland. My benny was fine but nothing memorable. The hollandaise sauce was creamy, as it should be, but lacked any memorable flavour and could have used a sprinkling of herbs or a pinch of salt for that matter. The wilted greens were more soggy than wilted and when I asked the waitress about my food I got two, one word answers: "yes" the ketchup is house made; the mushrooms are a "mix".

Fanny ChadwicksMy friend decided to go for a classic bacon, eggs and toast combo ($12). The scrambled eggs were plentiful and simple in virtuous way. The bacon was lightly charred and crispy. The four thick slices of marbled rye toast outshone both of the latter with a decadent, thick mixed-berry spread to top. It was simple and fresh but overall a little lackluster.

Our long awaited drinks were served in long, glass cups. The hot chocolate was made extra sweet in a delightful way by the homemade marshmallow melted on top. My soy latte was creamy and smooth and I stirred in a little of the brown sugar from the jar on the table.

When the bill came I noticed I had been overcharged, and when I apologetically pointed it out to our waitress (already in a visible huff over us asking to pay separately), she was significantly further annoyed. I didn't realize this was a possible reaction. She ended up explaining to us later that they were missing a waiter that day who broke his arm. This was the most conversation we got with our waitress the entire sitting.

Overall, the service was unpleasant. The stress in the air was palpable and off-putting, but they were, of course, one waiter short — I will emphasize that again to be fair.

Fanny ChadwicksI appreciated that the local fresh produce and meats took priority in the dishes and weren't drowned out by oil and salt (save for deep-fried potatoes), but they were in need of an extra punch to make them a little more memorable.

Fanny's locally sourced ingredients, seasonal menu and unique elegant-dinner feel make in an interesting new addition to the Annex. I'm still intrigued by the grilled cheese and house cured gravlax on the lunch menu but not intrigued enough to head back anytime soon.

Watch out vegetarians — no mains offered for you at dinner. Vegans — steer clear all together.

Writing and photos by Kaela Greenstien

Discussion

44 Comments

Leah / March 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm
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wow...kind of a harsh review, but i imagine it just reflected your experience. hopefully it was just a one off. i had a completely different experience there about 2 weeks ago just after they opened. the staff was super friendly and all dishes were delish and served promptly. i'm so excited that fanny's opened in my neighbourhood and i'll definitely be a regular.
Michelin / March 7, 2011 at 05:02 pm
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Not really a laudatory review but honest AND well written ! It's fair to reconize they were apparently missing one waiter, but still the service has to be spotless...
I'm not sure i'll ever go to Fanny's... Good review and the pictures are great ! (specially the one taken from the kitchen)
annakarenina / March 7, 2011 at 06:35 pm
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Having served for most of my 20s, I'll say that being short-staffed is the kiss of death. I dont think guests ever realize the stress of serving...sort of an unfair review. I doubt the server had the time to stop and chat with you
eagle3 / March 7, 2011 at 11:28 pm
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My husband and I ate here recently as we live in the neighborhood and love to support our local restaurants. However, we were not impressed either.
I am a vegetarian and did manage to find something on the menu, perogies(appetizers. I also had the winter salad. The salad, had potential but as I worked my way through it, there were elements to the salad that was over the top. Way too much blue cheese that was just overwhelming and really hard cooked vegetables, some that I pushed aside.
The perogies came with a dollop and I mean a HUGE dallop of sauce right on top. I took my knife and scraped off most of it, as it was way too much.
My husband had a ceasar salad and burger. His ceasar was really poorly dressed. It looked like they just took romaine leaves and squirted a few dollops of dressing from one of those "plastic bottles". He said it was not really great at all. The worst part was that he ate his burger and when we got home, lets just say, it cleared his system out entirely. He said he had not felt that sick from a meal in a while.. Anyway, there is no real way of knowing it was indeed the burger, but he just felt it was too coincidental. He also felt the "homemade ketchup" was pretty bland.
I really do not think we will be back any time soon, especially since they really do not have any mains that are vegetarian for me. I am not sure how you can position your restaurant so close to the annex and not offer any. There are so many vegetarians in the annex.
The one postive think I will say is that we had a latte from there and that was pretty good..
howlandgirl / March 8, 2011 at 12:49 am
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I was similarly really excited that Fanny's had opened in my hood and was really intrigued. I think the up scale diner concept is perfect for the location and the decor is lovely. But, I've had x2 brunches and dinner there now, and the food is so-so. The benny is OK. The brunch potatoes were indeed disappointing. The winter salad felt like pub fare, I had hoped for some darker greens. It lacks a chef's touch, as the reviewer said. I will say, great mocaccino. I hope they take a serious look at their menu. I want to see this place succeed!

One of my brunches, I also got a pretty stressed out waitress, though the other meals were fine. I think they're trying to keep it family run perhaps, but they're doin really well for now and need some additional help.
Shane / March 8, 2011 at 09:02 am
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This place is also open for dinner; Has anyone gone for that?
erin / March 8, 2011 at 10:11 am
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This is a bit to harsh of a review for a just opened restaurant. The general rule is to give a place a few months to settled before reviewing.
I think the menu looks great I'm going to give this place a chance, I want to support small business's that use sustainable practices isn't of dumping on them.
creal / March 8, 2011 at 01:30 pm
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$12 for that eggs, bacon and toast plate?!! wowowow, they really are gunning for the upscale crowd. There are a handful of other brunch joints within a 5min walk of that place, who serve more for way less (possibly tastier).
Sherri replying to a comment from creal / March 8, 2011 at 02:12 pm
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What are other brunch places near there? I know theres a million and 1 restaurants in the annex on bloor but none of them strike me as real go-to brunch spots....
Anon / March 8, 2011 at 02:37 pm
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First off, I'll say that the decor is quite charming.

But...

It took us a half hour to be served and we were the first people in there for brunch Saturday morning. It took forever to get our food, once we did, the taste was bland and the prices were high. The wait staff were a bit impatient. Of course I empathize with them just opening up, but my brunch date pointed out from the Toronto Life review that the owners have significant restaurant experience (20 years).

fill / March 8, 2011 at 02:40 pm
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Grapefruit moon is a better choice in all respects based on this review.
Eric26 / March 8, 2011 at 02:51 pm
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The only part of the review I don't understand is this "...and was sad to see the locally sourced potatoes had faced the cruel fate of being put through the deep fryer."
Did the menu say they were to be cooked some other way? What is so shocking about a potato that has been fried? I wasn't aware that local foods have to be cooked differently.
If you really don't like fried things then you should have said something before.
The rest of the review seems harsh, but fair.
bullring / March 8, 2011 at 03:48 pm
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"The scrambled eggs were plentiful and simple in virtuous way."

Uhhh....
Alex replying to a comment from erin / March 8, 2011 at 03:55 pm
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Sorry, dude, if the meal isn't free then I expect a proper level of service and food quality.

You don't get to work out the bugs on my dime and expect people to come back. You either get it right from the get-go or expect to be gone in six months.
Bonk / March 8, 2011 at 04:10 pm
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Fanny Chadwick's really chaps my ass!
Mike / March 8, 2011 at 04:15 pm
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Maybe it's just my luck but this has been my experience with brunch at a half dozen "hot spots" across the city. I'm starting to think brunch is a bit of a scam in this town. To not get change back from $20 for breakfast is a little crazy.
TheDNL / March 8, 2011 at 04:29 pm
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Not knocking the BlogTO system, as I understand they don't have the funding of some MSM, but reviews like this are why most restaurant reviewers visit a place two or three times before writing a review.

That said, I have yet to visit Fanny's, though I plan on it soon. And I somehow expect it won't be as negative an experience as the author describe.
Greg / March 8, 2011 at 04:30 pm
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Think this is why many critics will return to a place a second time - the service could have simply been the result of a shitty day for the wait staff.
JBW / March 8, 2011 at 05:21 pm
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I was also patiently waiting the opening day of Fanny's. Like most of you, I was unimpressed. I had been doing a little research on the owners previous work to Fanny Chadwick's and saw that they had been in the business quite a while. I tried a couple different things on their menu during opening week. Ordered the poutine. The cheese curds were great but the fries and chicken gravy were as bland as a wet piece of paper. The nice waitress/possible part owner talked up the sous chef as a former pastry chef so I of course had to order dessert. The chocolate hazelnut/raspberry layer cake (I can't remember the name) came out and was actually delicious and pretty affordable as far as restaurant desserts go.
I really hope the owners read these comments as I truly wish this place to quickly turn around. They have all the ingredients to success except for the tasty ones.
PDG / March 8, 2011 at 06:49 pm
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Blech. The food looks awful. The service sounds shocking woeful, too.
Carolyn / March 8, 2011 at 07:58 pm
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Man, a picture is worth a thousand words. No matter what you say about that eggs benny, I want it in my belly! Egg belly! Mmmm.

I hit up the restaurant on one of its very first nights and it is an adorable and delicious addition to the neighbourhood. I had Fanny's Club (which, I should warn you is HUMONGOUS). Fresh sourdough bread, crispy smoked bacon, yummy chicken, and I love their tomato jam! It's the jam! It doesn't taste quite like Heinz, no, but it's not processed and full of sugar either. So, yeah. Yum. The Club was served with both hand cut fries and a simple salad, thumbs up on not having to choose. My friend tried the burger (again, gloriously HUMONGOUS) and it got the seal of approval. The food is just all really fresh, pure, and delicious. This is jsut how I would cook if I had the time to go the farmer's market and make homemade ketchup every week.

They have a pretty great selection of local beers on tap, and I don't think I've ever had a better pint of Mill Street Organic.

Not a lot of vegetarian food, nope, but the neighbourhood already has the beautiful Live Food Bar for the vegan/veggie crowd a hop, skip and a jump down Dupont. I had been really hankering for a place nearby with really, really good bacon before Fanny came on the scene. Sometimes tempeh just don't cut it.

I would suggest to not let this review hold you back, cause you'll miss out on a delicious time in the Annex. Let those pictures do the talking... mmm.... egg benny...

P.s. My waiter was awesome, for the record. And cute.
n / March 8, 2011 at 09:48 pm
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way to dig into a place and staff without taking into consideration the staffing situation for the day and that they are most likely (like many newly opened businesses) working out a few kinks. relax
Jeremy replying to a comment from n / March 9, 2011 at 08:36 am
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Except that the reviewer did take the staffing situation into consideration. Might be worth reading to the end of the review....
Matt / March 9, 2011 at 10:41 am
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I found my experience to be similar to the reviewer.

I had breakfast there at 10 on a Saturday. The restaurant was empty until about 11 and we still didn't get our food until 10:45. One of two couples in the place and our waitress was still somehow avoiding us.
The food was very bland though fresh-tasting. I recommend when they offer you fresh pepper - take it.
I would buy their ketchup if they sold it but otherwise most-likely will not return for some time.
Garth / March 9, 2011 at 12:32 pm
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I had brunch there not long after they opened. I can appreciate the time it takes a new restaurant to work their bugs out cause ya never know what they're dealing with (perfect example is a server who breaks their arm... maybe they didn't know until that day?)
Excuses aside.... WOW! The food was amazing! Just what the Annex needs. Fresh, local and delicious.
I've only been for brunch so far. Dinner is next :)
Moi / March 9, 2011 at 01:18 pm
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MMMMMMMMMM you know, been there but NOT done THAT.
Sorry. Sure they may have been busy, but it takes 2 seconds to say "hey sorry we are short staffed today"....no need to be huffy...just sayin'......no way I would go there.
Too bad:(
Garth replying to a comment from Moi / March 9, 2011 at 02:11 pm
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Too bad yes, yer missin' out.
Andy replying to a comment from annakarenina / March 9, 2011 at 10:39 pm
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There's few things worse than whining servers. I worked as a server all through university, if we were caught short staffed we pulled our socks up and got going. And we still managed a smile and a friendly word. It's part of the job.
FannysforLife / March 10, 2011 at 08:51 am
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As a neighbour of Fanny Chadwick's, and the roomate of the broken-armed waiter, I feel obligated to defend the public image of this charming new addition to the Annex culinary scene.

Contrary to popular belief, this section of the Annex is by no means overrun with eateries. The closest options are Bloor street which is an unreasonable distance for the majority of hangover-nursing brunchers. Fanny's quaint, convenient location is exactly what earned it such a warm welcome when it opened barely a month ago.

Whining about lineups and delayed service at a newly established eatery is like complaining about standing ovations at a concert. If Fanny's was as avoidable as this writer would have us believe, there would be no lineups, no franctic waitresses. An arbitrary account like this should be taken with a grain of in-house-made salt. Clearly, the writer hasn't grasped the meaning of the old adage that 'you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs'.
KL / March 10, 2011 at 10:41 am
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There's nothing I hate more than $12 breakfasts and the people who defend crappy service and food by saying the restaurant is new and the server had a bad day.

People show dissatisfaction with their wallets. The writer likely won't be back. Be grateful that someone provided criticism, instead of a being petulant little turd who makes excuses and points to the queue of people outside, as if the criticism doesn't matter at all.
Nope replying to a comment from FannysforLife / March 10, 2011 at 11:07 am
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Brunch options around Fanny Chadwick's include the following: Vesta Lunch, Faema, Universal Grill, Grapefruit Moon, and to stretch it a bit, People's. And that's not to mention that Bloor is about a seven minute walk south.
Garth replying to a comment from Nope / March 10, 2011 at 11:53 am
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Having lived in the Annex for years I have had bad experiences almost everywhere once. I've been dissappointed all over Bloor Street and certainly at (but not limited to) Universal Grill, Grapefruit Moon, Faema and Vesta.
But if I wrote off every restaurant that disappointed me once (or twice) I would indeed quickly run out of places to eat... I suppose I'd have to stop eating out and start cooking for myself. But of course that would mean grocery shopping and that would run the risk of rats in the bulk bins, rude or indignant cashiers, etc.
If you want to vote with your wallets go ahead but if you're too quick to judge you'll find yourself with very limited options.
I like having Fanny Chadwick's in my neighbourhood. I like having Universal Grill, Grapefruit Moon and all of the others too, despite occasional bad experiences. I will always give it and others like it a second chance. If I am consistently dissapointed time after time then yes, I will stop going. But never after one or two experiences and never three weeks after a place has opened.
That would be a disservice only to myself.
mrs.potato replying to a comment from erin / March 10, 2011 at 05:55 pm
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So, first impressions don't matter?!

HAHAHA. That's how restaurants don't survive.
Not being PREPARED for an opening, and people coming to review it, and making quick assumptions from there. No one is going to 'give it a second chance'. Wrong industry, my dear.
Sam / March 18, 2011 at 01:55 am
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Seriously, after years of working in the business I have empathy for both sides, but owning a restaurant is one of the most stressful jobs in the world...give Fanny's a break - it is rare that any restaurant can handle a NOW or Toronto Life review without loosing their heads for a couple weeks. You become an instant hit! Compassion goes a long way and a second chance is well deserved... Imagine your boss or collegues berating you after you put your blood, sweat and tears into your progect! Give Fanny's a chance to work out the kinks - support your community! I'm sure if you talked to the owner, she'd be very receptive of your constructive criticism, help her out - don't put her down! So she was short staffed we've all been there before...
El Guapo / March 18, 2011 at 08:52 pm
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I am also not Vegan friendly.
Food terrorists...
b.craftie / April 1, 2011 at 10:44 pm
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Around 1:00 p.m. on this lovely sunny Friday my companion & I walked to Fanny Chadwick's, looking forward to a leisurely lunch and latte. We were greeted and seated quite quickly at a table for two squished between a half wall and a group of 5 Ladies Who Lunch, whose coats, bags and other paraphernalia took up the entire bench quite assertively. They sniffed at the thought of having to move their things so that we could slide into our seats. Since I could see another table for two on the other side of This Entitled Little Group, I suggested we move. Unfortunately their baggage claimed much of the bench on that side as well. One Lady touched her large purse ever so lightly, pretending to make room for us, but not one inch of space was actually cleared. The resto was not quite half-full. Given the time of day - well past 1:00 - I believe we should have been seated at one of the many tables for four that were empty when we arrived. There may have even been other tables for two that were unoccupied; I really can't say. And yes, of course we could have asked to move a third time. Would you have done that? The greeter gave us water and menus, described the lunch specials, and left us to decide. I could have tried the grilled cheese sandwich [$8] or one of two salads [$10], and the food might have been yummy, but I was too uncomfortable to care. My companion and I packed up our coats and walked two blocks east to Diverso by Ferraro, 328 Dupont, www.diversobyferraro.com, where we shared a thin crust Pizza Giuliana [$10] and a huge Griglia salad [$8] at a table for two without attitude. The service at Diverso was friendly and attentive; the food was very enjoyable; and the "S" cookies that were presented with the bill were a sweet end to a leisurely lunch on this lovely sunny Friday.
michelle / April 15, 2011 at 11:32 pm
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I've eaten brunch here as well. The service was nearly exactly as depicted in the review and the food is really missing a special something. I understand attempting your homemade ketchup, making that (hopefully) something people love and need to make sure they have plenty of when they come, great idea but please still stock a couple bottles of good ol' heinz??

the so-so food probably would have gone unnoticed if the service hadn't have been so crummy. having multiple servers is confusing and the fact that none of them were even "fake" happy kinda sucked. bummer. such potential here.
kevin / August 20, 2011 at 01:25 pm
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This place is not only very unoriginal, but way overpriced for what you get. And I agree that the service is mediocre.
Local / August 26, 2011 at 10:14 pm
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Disapointing
Chicken croquettes were flavourless, salad dressing overly lemony and food overpriced!
Never again!!
Fabavg / May 15, 2012 at 03:55 pm
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We went for brunch over the weekend. The Finnish pancakes were excellent (but we asked for the banana topping instead of the original orange/cranberry compote). My husband wasn't impressed with his omelette however. Service was great, fast and friendly.
SymnJiff / July 25, 2012 at 11:32 am
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yochie / October 21, 2012 at 09:37 pm
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mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm had breakfast here this morning. I don't have one single complaint. Friendly service, grrrreeeaat food, probably the best bacon too!
Lynn / February 4, 2013 at 12:29 pm
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I have had dinner here twice (the first time wandered in by chance) and I actually really liked the place - as did my companions on each occasion. I plan to keep going back and I don't even live in the neighbourhood!
Sarah / April 18, 2014 at 04:33 pm
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I went to Fanny's a few months ago and would say that it was rather mediocre. Service was fine (though I went on a Sunday afternoon and it wasn't packed so there was no excuse for it to be poor), I had the all day brunch Build My Own Benny and it was just average. Nothing spectacular about the flavours. A little pricey for the quality too. All in all, it's your average brunch place. Nothing about it stood out on my mind. Given how Torontonians love their brunch though...they're missing a trick if they don't learn to be different from the rest.

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