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Restaurants

Outhouse

Posted by Rebecca Fleming / Listed on August 8, 2011 / review policy

Outhouse TorontoOuthouse Panini and Espresso Bar is a good excuse to get out of the house, and that's what owner William Ashman wants you to think. Found on a quiet stretch of Jane Street at Annette, this oddly named cafe has only been open for nine months now, but already has a steady stream of regulars. This is due in part to the fact that William makes tasty sandwiches and drinks, but moreso for the stories that he serves with them. And everything at Outhouse comes with a story.

Outhouse TorontoPreviously the owner of clothing store Haus at Bloor & Lansdowne, William realized his lifelong dream to own a restaurant when he opened Outhouse. His passion for his work extends beyond food and drink to the people that he serves. Upon walking in I was greeted like an old friend, and immediately felt welcome. William doesn't think our society places a high enough value on chattiness, and is doing his part to change this one customer at a time. He believes in bringing people together to foster a spirit of community, and he's a pro at it. William's ebullience is infectious.

Outhouse TorontoWe placed our order to the sounds of Jay-Z (William is not a fan of the more typical jazzy cafe music) and he regaled us with tales as we waited. As previously mentioned, all menu items at Outhouse have a story behind them, and William will tell you the history of each order as its taken. I won't divulge them here as part of the fun is hearing them firsthand!

Outhouse TorontoAll the drinks are made with Rufino espresso and we went with the Dirty Chai, a chai latte made with espresso ($4.75) and the Lawsuit, a vanilla latte with caramel drizzle ($4.50). The Dirty Chai wasn't as syrupy sweet as other chai lattes I've had, as the espresso added some bitterness, thus balancing out the flavour. It was good, but the winner of the two hands-down was the Lawsuit.

I love a good vanilla latte, but I always have to ask the baristas at certain big box coffee giants for half the syrup. Not so at Outhouse. First contact with the caramel drizzle provided a lovely burnt sugar aroma and, yes, it was indeed sweet as caramel should be, but was toned down as the latte quickly followed suit. Repeat.

Outhouse TorontoFor the carb or gluten conscious, a note on the chalkboard menu reads that every panino can be made into a salad. As much as I enjoy salad (and as much I should slow my carb intake) I will take a sandwich over one any day. My dining partner and I agreed on two - the Nonna and the Chelsea - and split them accordingly, which is really the best thing to do for decision-making challenged folk such as myself.

Outhouse TorontoThe Nonna ($8.50) is the vegetarian option stuffed with grilled veggies and painted with pesto and mozzarella. The (predominately) eggplant and zucchini retained some bite instead of being too soggy as grilled sandwich vegetables can often be. The Chelsea, ($11.50) came with grilled chicken breast, tomato, pesto, mozzarella and mayo. At $11.50 it's a bit steep, but to be fair, ours had a very generous amount of chicken (and consequently mayonnaise as well, which I might ask to be put on more sparingly the next time).

All panini come served on sesame Bavarian style bread and with their fair share of mess, so keep napkins close at hand.

Outhouse TorontoDesserts are also on the menu and although they aren't made onsite, William picks them up bright and early every morning from OMG Baked Goodness, so they are as fresh as possible. I wish I could say that we indulged in a cookie or a tart, but we were sufficiently sated (see: bursting at the seams) after our panini and coffee.

Outhouse TorontoWe stayed much longer than planned as we were enjoying the company, and we weren't the only ones. Everybody who walked into Outhouse seemed to feed off of William's energy and (if they are anything like us) left in a better mood than when they came in.

Outhouse TorontoOuthouse Toronto

Discussion

54 Comments

Aldrin / August 8, 2011 at 01:06 pm
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Great review, Rebecca. That 'Nonna' made my mouth water. William Ashman also wrote about how he came up with the name for his Espresso Bar here: http://bit.ly/n0KyaC
Lee / August 8, 2011 at 01:34 pm
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An outhouse is a type of toilet in a small structure separate from the main building that does not have a flush and is not attached to a sewer. Gross. Why would anyone want to associate that with their restaurant/cafe?
handfed / August 8, 2011 at 02:05 pm
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Good point, Lee, sir.
Kathy Brians / August 8, 2011 at 02:58 pm
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outhouse [ˈaʊtˌhaʊs]
n
1. (Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Architecture) a building near to, but separate from, a main building; outbuilding
2. US an outside lavatory

There are other meanings in the English language. Instead of staying at home and raining on others parades, why don't you try educating yourself.
Paul Crimi replying to a comment from Kathy Brians / August 8, 2011 at 03:18 pm
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Well said Kathy, however your last line makes you sound pretentious. Regardless of the multiple definitions the word is associated with lavatories and if I were investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a food-service business I would have chosen a name that does not have this association.
Kathy Brians / August 8, 2011 at 03:25 pm
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In regards to your comment Paul, It got your attention right? You remember the name, LOL. So obviously it's working. Also it's not about having hundreds and thousands of dollars it's about being passionate about something you love. But then again, average 9 to 5 people like yourself wouldn't understand that.
Sarah B. DiPaolo / August 8, 2011 at 03:40 pm
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I've been to Outhouse and absolutely love it! I have to agree with Kathy there are millions of different meanings to certain words in the english dictionary. If you look at the definition posted there are 2 for Outhouse. One meaning it is a place separate from the house. And the other a lavatory. I think it's common sense to which definition Outhouse means. Love this place.
Paul Crimi replying to a comment from Kathy Brians / August 8, 2011 at 03:41 pm
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Kathy, if it's about using negative associations to gain attention why not name it Toilet Food? I'd remember that too and its straight to the point.

I appreciate the passion, however it is a business investment. Whether you're spending one dollar or a million hopefully one would make the right choices to help that investment succeed and grow.

There is no need to take my comment personally. This is a public forum, if you're going to shoot from the hip be prepared to have people interject with their own opinions.
Kathy Brians / August 8, 2011 at 03:52 pm
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Obviously you live in a negative box. I got the impression from you that because a corporation has an appropriate name, it must mean it's tasty and healthy. Enjoy eating at McDonalds, right since it's got an appropriate name? Instead of making assumptions, maybe you should try the food instead of jumping to conclusions. Therefore your opinion is invalid. Thanks for coming out though. This sounds more like a personal vendetta.
Kathy Brians / August 8, 2011 at 03:57 pm
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Reply to PAUL: Also you speak of millions and thousands of dollars invested so you mean by Philthy McNasty's since it's a disgusting name no one should go there since they don't wash their hands right? Or what about Jack -Astor's, assuming that you're a jackass because you go there. But then again you're obviously under educated to absorb this type business. It's probably a good thing for you to not venture into it.
Peter S. / August 8, 2011 at 04:06 pm
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Way to go Kathy! I totally agree there is something further in Paul's comments considering he has never tasted the food, nor has been into the store. This is something personal, with this "character" Paul and Outhouse.

By the way Kathy, are you a lawyer? By some of the comments you sound very vaild. LOL
Paul Crimi replying to a comment from Kathy Brians / August 8, 2011 at 04:11 pm
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Kathy, I think you've completely missed my point. Take the time to reread my posts.

The food at Outhouse looks delicious, and I'm a fan of the interior design and signage. I just don't care for the name.

Clearly you're somehow associated with the shop, why not tell us something positive about it, perhaps about the passion that's put into it instead of going on a defensive tirade in a public forum.
Kathy Brians / August 8, 2011 at 04:23 pm
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Actually no I am not associated with the shop, however I am a bit offended since I have been there and enjoy the restaurant very much. I live in the area and he is an inspiring young man who is very dedicated and passionate. The time he puts out for each and every customer, is beyond his call of duty unlike other businesses. Maybe you should go in there and you'll have a different outlook on the name.
McRib / August 8, 2011 at 04:25 pm
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there may be two definitions of "outhouse" but which one springs to mind when mentioned? I know which one i thought of.


And Kathy Brians is obviously associated with the shop, nobody other than the criminally insane would care enough to bring the noise like she has.

get mad, Kathy.
Michelle / August 8, 2011 at 04:26 pm
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Oh wow! Quit arguing about the name and just eat the damn food. Seriously - best sandwiches I've had in a while - and I'm not a sandwich lover. William is always pleasant and the coffee is great!
PaulthaDouche replying to a comment from Paul Crimi / August 8, 2011 at 05:18 pm
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Right, Paul. And what multi-million dollar business do you own again? Stupid troll.
PaulthaDouche replying to a comment from Paul Crimi / August 8, 2011 at 05:20 pm
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Lol and anyone who has anything positive to say is "associated" with the restaurant?? Put down the crack pipe people....
Humbert Humbert / August 8, 2011 at 07:33 pm
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Unfortunate name. Best of luck.
jsmith / August 8, 2011 at 10:59 pm
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Nice place, I stop by occasionally.. great service!
Ratpick replying to a comment from Kathy Brians / August 8, 2011 at 11:01 pm
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"average 9 to 5 people like yourself wouldn't understand that."

I've read your comments. They don't sound all that above-average to me.

I'll give the Outhouse folks credit for having the balls to try such an awful name (the worst name since "Lardon" in my opinion). Who knows -- maybe they'll pull it off.
Lorraine / August 9, 2011 at 04:14 am
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I love everything about the little place...the owner, the food, the surroundings...I say job well done....as for the name certainly UNIQUE...and what's wrong with that?
Really / August 9, 2011 at 08:39 am
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The name is working and it is grabbing people’s attention.

Personally it is good marketing, it will make people want to check it out.

Actually, think about it. Imagine sitting at home and saying I am going to the Outhouse. It will make people take a double take! We love unique, and this place is unique.

Who does not complain about the lack of customer service these days? Now you have it in a business and you are hung up on the name?

I heard comments about the name, but the real comments with bearing are the ones about the quality of the food and the service that comes along with it.

Congrats to the owner, he seems to be making a business that will have more than one location. Support your local businesses, or keep buying Starbucks which is American own. I wish more young people had this guys ambitions in life, our economy would thrive!
Yuckkkkh / August 9, 2011 at 11:06 am
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Worst. Name. Ever.

Why not just call it "Feces"?

Likely won't be going there, on principal. Sorry.
koss / August 9, 2011 at 11:25 am
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Its a nice local area cafe.. better than Java Joe. Nice people run it too.. worth a look especially for a local.
Catherine / August 9, 2011 at 11:51 am
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I LOVE this place. First, they make the best latte I've ever had, bar none. Second, the food is amazing -- paninis and desserts both awesome. My sister and I like to have a day to ourselves every month or two. We used to try a different restaurant every time. Now, we ONLY go there, seriously!
But it is William's infectious good energy and dedication to perfection that truly make it great. It also has a warm and happy atmosphere. It feels like going to a friends home who happens to have a great kitchen and is an awesome cook.
As for the name. It's quirky and is what first caught my eye and made me walk in the door. One latte or panini or cookie ... later and you won't give it a second thought. Cheers!
Relax / August 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm
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The name pulled me in as I was driving by one day. William was happy to explain it even though I was definitely not the first to ask. Basically, it's meant to be homespun and cheeky at the same time, where yes, an outhouse is a toilet, but it's also any house outside the main building and can be used for cooking and storage.
Robert replying to a comment from Kathy Brians / August 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm
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I was going to write a reply to your comments, but it’s just not worth it, you’re an idiot.
Carol / August 9, 2011 at 08:20 pm
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Haven't been to this place yet, but I keep hearing good things about it!
Out of the Water Closet / August 10, 2011 at 12:14 pm
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I don't bother reading the reviews anymore.... the comments section is much more entertaining.... flame wars, vandettas,tit-for-tattle, riveting rebuttals worthy of august publications such as News of the World (hack-kaff...)or the Toronto Sun...
Julio / August 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm
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Here's Outhouse's first review that I wrote back when William opened it. You'll also get a background knowledge on the name, then you can all shut up. http://fashionights.com/post/3157619607/store-feature-outhouse-cafe
John / August 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm
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Just had lunch at Outhouse today and can say the Castro panini is delicious. The owner William is awesome, can't wait to drop by again.
aldona / August 11, 2011 at 09:02 am
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william - you're the best!!! so is your food...(and your stories) a better review couldn't have been had!
Jonathan / August 11, 2011 at 10:45 am
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Looking for a place with a nice name? Try Denny's. That's a nice name. Looking for a place with outstanding food and flawless service and a wonderful atmosphere, try The Outhouse.
House / August 11, 2011 at 02:12 pm
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Waiter, there's a turd in my poop...
Cheesygrl / August 11, 2011 at 10:51 pm
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Best grilled cheese I've ever had!
Steph / August 12, 2011 at 09:33 pm
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I walked in to Out House having NO expectations and I was immediately greeted by one of the happiest people in all of Toronto. I really loved the experience and I would have even if I didn't enjoy my sandwich. Luckily, that wasn't the case. I got the Party Boy...the big pickle attracted me. It came with a simple side salad with a delicious balsamic. I walked out of there overstuffed (yes, I ate it all- it was too good to put down). The price was steep, but to be honest, it could have been two meals.

I will definitely be back to Out House! MMMMmmm! And, thanks Sir WIlliam for the kindness...it's obvious you love what you do.
Erik / August 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm
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Great place! Great food! Great chattiness.
Anna / August 14, 2011 at 09:04 pm
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I love OUTHOUSE. It is my way to take a break, and get OUT of the HOUSE!

For me, a break is good coffee with a decadent sweet and Outhouse provides just that. I enjoy the ambience, my chats with William, and the relaxed atmosphere.

If you haven't been, give it a try - you won't be sorry.
deebee / August 15, 2011 at 12:26 am
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outrageously delicious sandwiches. SECRET PASSCODE: mention 'blogto' and get $2 drinks!
Jaimie / August 15, 2011 at 01:27 pm
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Outhouse is fantastic! The owner, William, is the most lovely and amazing man to ever wield a panini press. He invented a sandwich for me (the Old Boy + grilled chicken = the Redneck) and it was completely awesome!

I will absolutely be going back for many more panini - and so should you!
Ali / August 15, 2011 at 02:25 pm
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My boyfriend and I stopped at Outhouse on a whim and we were so happy that we did. I loved everything about it! The sandwiches were prepared with love and delicious ingredients and so tasty! I was too full to sample any of the lattes but I'll be sure to do so next time.

But I must say that William is almost as delicious as his sandwiches! As soon as I walked up to the counter I was greeted my the warmest most genuine smile. William's passion is evident in the products he serves and the way he treats his customers.

I can't wait to go back!
Mauigal / August 18, 2011 at 10:44 am
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LOVED the Big Boy! Would definitely go back. People in the service industry need to take a page from William's book. His sincerity, friendliness and passion for food and people is refreshing.
Karen / August 18, 2011 at 02:56 pm
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I am so grateful that the Outhouse opened up - finally there is somewhere local to go that is outstanding. The west end is dying for these types of places!!

William is exceptional at customer service and makes me happy everytime I go. I love how he connects with people while being himself. He is so much fun - I love the atmosphere and the food there. I have had several different sandwiches and treats and they have all been outstanding!!

I was there today and William was thinking of fun things to do with the menu for the fall. He is so passionate about his business and it shows in every aspect of the Outhouse.

Alexandria / August 22, 2011 at 10:29 am
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Outhouse is a welcome addition to the Jane/Annette neighborhood! You can already tell it's improving the Baby Point sense of community and providing a great hangout place for locals. William serves up delicious sandwiches (both hot and cold), amazing espresso, great selection of beverages, and baked goods from OMG Baked Goodness and not only is everything exceptionally yummy, but you can always find service with a smile here! The chattiness is the best part of Outhouse. I'd definitely recommend checking it out!
Dean / August 22, 2011 at 04:39 pm
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i love outhouse so much! Their panini is awesome balls and coffee drinks are a welcome change from the local java joes pisshole.
Stefanie / September 10, 2011 at 01:43 am
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I just have to add to the conversation here, that even when you don't like other's opinions, they are still very much valid. On the name, I'm sorry, it's gross. You may as well call it shit where you eat - because that's the first thing I thought of when I saw the name in the blogto listings.

As to the idea of being average or "9-5" for expressing this opinion - I am a self-employed user experience consultant, working with non-profits and small businesses to develop the overall experience of their brands. Your name is a big part of your brand. Outhouse is a horrible name for a place that sells food - period. That is why so many people here in this thread are responding to it as such.

It's also worth it to note, one negative comment is worth 30 positive ones - because you learn from negative comments and that affords you the opportunity to do better. It always baffles me when people respond so poorly to constructive criticism - it's extremely juvenile and pretty pathetic, actually.
guest / October 20, 2011 at 09:49 pm
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I've been there a few times. TOTALLY disappointed with the last time I went there. Preordered the food. Wasn't ready. Then I take home the most horrible sandwich. Could we put anymore mustard on it? My mouth was on fire and it wasn't grilled. I could make a better sandwich at home for less then $10. Never going back. William made this sandwich and it sucked.
Marvin replying to a comment from guest / October 21, 2011 at 09:42 am
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Well, Guest, take a look at the sandwich in the review pictures.
It looks like it's placed on white toilet paper; a clue that things might be kinda dodgy to begin with.
geg replying to a comment from Marvin / December 6, 2011 at 03:47 pm
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"Toilet paper"? Really? You've never seen wax paper before? Let me know your twitter and tumblr accounts so I can read some more of your zany irreverent jokes
Roctop replying to a comment from geg / December 6, 2011 at 04:59 pm
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Diners & restaurants usually have red checkered wax paper, so that comment could have merit. Can't really tell by the photo there. Better take some plastic baggies with you just in case.
Lisa / March 21, 2012 at 03:09 pm
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Really is a bad name for a food establishment and it's sad when an employer doesn't pay his employees and also has them working 10 hour days because owner decides not to come in.
Quin / May 8, 2012 at 10:42 pm
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Nice atmosphere, yummy food but a little expensive. For almost $30 we got 2 juice and 2 small sandwhiches. I expect those prices in downtown busy areas, not Jane and Annette. I realize if I want a cheap sandwich I can go to Subway but really $11 for a little sandwich is too much. Maybe a side salad could be added for a more filling meal.
Josh DiPaolo / September 4, 2012 at 11:56 pm
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Best AMERICANO'S in the west by far!
It's not a typical restaurant if you're looking for cheap food then try subway or mcdonalds! Complaining about the prices of quality food is like complaining you have mice in your house when you don't clean it.
PeterK / June 24, 2014 at 06:50 am
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I have a filter that screens out content that isn't worth reading. It looks like this place makes good food and the owner creates a fun atmosphere.

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