Fabarnak is what they call “a social enterprise initiative of The 519 Church Street Community Centre” which provides “a structured training environment that helps people with employment barriers to gain work experience under the guidance of a professional team of chefs and front-of-house staff.” It’s a really great concept!
The restaurant is located on Church street, just north of Wellesley inside the 519 Church Street Community Centre. I almost missed it since there isn’t very much signage. Just look out for the bright green chairs inside the restaurant.
I loved the bright, airy atmosphere inside the space. It’s not a huge restaurant so you may be seated at one of the communal tables situated in the centre of the space.
The menu is divided into small plates ($6 each), sandwiches ($10), soup and salads ($4/$8) and “something more” dishes ($13).
We started with something from their “small plates” menu, the Crispy Buttermilk Chicken Wings – honey pepper glazed, walnut blue cheese dip ($6). There were so many tempting “small plates” but this dish came recommended from our server. My friend and I both enjoyed the flavour of the wings and didn’t find that the dip was necessary. My only complaint would be that the breading was a little too crumbly.
Every day, Fabarnak features a Square Peg ($10 for lunch) which is basically a bento box consisting of several items. Follow them on twitter (@FABARNAKresto) to find out what’s featured in their daily square pegs.
The square peg on this day consisted of salted roast pear, bacon and arugula salad, jalapeno polenta with ricotta, halibut cheek with pepper piperade and blueberry panna cotta. Perhaps it was just an off day but we just weren’t fans of today’s square peg. The halibut cheeks were a little tough and a touch too salty. While the polenta had a nice flavour to it, the texture was quite gluey. As for the dessert, we didn’t find the panna cotta very appetizing as the cantaloupe ice on top was an odd combination. The peg left me feeling quite disappointed since people had such great things to say about the pegs that they’ve tried.
The last dish we tried was the Miami Beef Short Ribs – cola pear marinade, potato salad, bok choy, chili sauce ($13). I really enjoyed the potato salad which had a wonderfully delicious dressing. As for the short ribs themselves, they were a little tough and covered in a sweet sauce. The ribs were decent but nothing special. Probably not something I’d order again.
In all honesty, I really wanted to like Fabarnak. I love the concept but unfortunately some of the food fell a little short. As I mentioned, their square peg changes daily so we may have gone on an off day, making it difficult to judge them based on this one dish. But given all the great things I’ve heard about their square peg from others, I’d be willing to give them another shot.
At a glance:
• Their most popular item is the “square peg” bento box which changes daily
• Located inside the 519 Church Street Community Centre
• Bright, airy atmosphere which has a café feel to it
• Reasonably priced dishes