Dooney's was first established in 1982 at Bloor and Borden streets, and was once a hub for Toronto's literati including the likes of Ian Adams, Margaret Atwood, and Jane Jacobs. The original location closed several years back , but has since been resurrected on Bloor just east of Ossington.
It's the longtime regulars who encouraged owner Graziano Marchese to reopen, and they've been recognized with framed portraits hung along one wall. You might even recognize some of them sitting at the table next to you too.
The place radiates warmth and people talk to each other here. Marchese chats up the folks at the bar while pulling espresso and pouring beer.
The ladies at the table next to us say hi to fellow patrons and offer recommendations.
The club sandwich ($8) is one such dish that comes with a local endorsement, and it doesn't disappoint. It's built with juicy, boneless grilled chicken, bacon and tomato, and is dressed up with creamy chili aioli and basil pesto. Salad or fries on the side are included and amount to a very satisfying lunch for excellent value.
Today's soup ($6) is a thick corn chowder that seems more suited as an entree than a starter. It's a sweet and creamy soup, though I think it's slightly under-seasoned (perhaps strategically so, since that can easily be remedied with the salt shaker at the table).
I try the roasted beet salad ($8.50) too, which is simply dressed with honey and red wine vinaigrette and finished with crumbled goat cheese and torn basil leaves. It's easy to finish this plate.
If you can make it to Dooney's before noon, take advantage of the standard breakfast priced at $4.95.
The rest of the menu isn't quite as cheap but still priced modestly with a welcome range of affordable options offered at lunch, dinner and on weekends for brunch.
Photos by Jesse Milns