Founder is a cocktail and snack bar with international influences. It's in the former home of Saucy Pierogi. The space is now much more high-end in decor but still has a casual tone.
High stools are at an awkward height, form seems prized over function here, but rich blues and modern metallic light fixtures overall create a pleasantly clean atmosphere.
Beef and cheddar bao ($7) was originally conceptualized as English steak and cheese pie meets an Asian presentation, but ended up more as a cheeseburger crossed with a bao. With a cheddar foam, slightly spicy chili threads and a soft house bao, it’s a satisfying bite.
Mix and match from a selection of elevated skewers ($6 each, $15 for three) cooked on a yakitori-style grill. Pork belly is braised in a fish sauce caramel topped with some basil, chili, and chicharrons, served with a spritz of lime the dish is crunchy, caramelized and fatty.
Lake Erie catfish is made to bear a striking resemblance to unagi simply by being grilled and brushed with unagi sauce, and is much more sustainable. It’s topped with a puffed rice, a gluten-free imitation of tempura flakes, and served with a house yuzu kosho.
Plump little chicken hearts are juicy and golden brown, served with a spicy togarashi and a little lemon.
Deb’s chicken salad ($12) is actually Sous Chef Deb Dam’s creation, it's a gem on the menu with shredded chicken that’s always poached in the same classic pho mother broth.
A pile of shredded cabbage, jalapeno, cilantro, crispy skins from the same chicken and lime make it crunchy, schmaltzy, spicy and herb-y.
Green curry fried chicken ($24 for a large order) puts a twist on a bar favourite, marinated in green curry paste and coconut milk that really comes through flavour-wise and makes the meat nice and moist, the skin coated with rice flour and corn starch for a karaage feel.
It’s served with hot tom yum sauce and topped with lime leaf, chili and fragrant toasted coconut.
Smoked beef cheek ($30) again uses a less popular protein to imitate something in demand: brisket. The meat falls apart the same way and is just as rich and fatty, served with crispy potatoes and shallots plus tomatoes, a vibrant chimichurri and aji panca sauce.
The Texan in Thailand ($16) recalls a mule or julep in a metal vessel with a mountain of crushed ice, coconut water, ginger beer, Thai chili lime sorbet and vodka.
Owners Brad Gubbins (Thompson Hotel) and Kendall Collingridge (Hooked, Buca) once worked together at SpiritHouse and share an ambition to bring people together over good food, eager to be a part of galvanizing a quickly changing neighbourhood.