Farmhouse Tavern owner Darcy MacDonell has seen the Junction Triangle neighbourhood flourish since opening on Dupont Street in the spring of 2012. Darcy was drawn to several appealing features of the building – which formerly housed a café serving brunch and lunch – including its corner location, patio and multiple rooms.
After working in restaurants for more than 15 years, Darcy was ready to forge out on his own. The name Farmhouse Tavern pays homage to the famous Gramercy Tavern in New York City, and the “Tavern” portion was specifically chosen by Darcy to reflect the casual vibe he wanted Farmhouse to embody. Darcy surrounds himself with a knowledgeable staff and puts a focus on using quality Ontario food, beer, wine and spirits from sources with which he has longstanding relationships. “I believe in the people first, the product second, and then the profit should take care of itself,” he says.
Now well established in the neighbourhood, Darcy has maintained solid relationships with newcomers in the area, from Tuckshop Kitchen across the street to Station Cold Brew Coffee on Campbell, who provides Farmhouse Tavern its cold brewed supply. Regarding the clientele, Darcy sees it as “80 per cent destination and 20 per cent local traffic” and cherishes the opportunity to serve his Junction Triangle peers.
Darcy created a handy hashtag that sums up Farmhouse Tavern’s menu and overall business model: #FARMdrivenFOOD. The menu features food and drink that can be found no more than a few hours’ drive from across the province. Having been raised on a farm in eastern Ontario, Darcy wanted to support the people and businesses he grew up with, including Glengarry Fine Cheese in Lancaster and Beau’s Brewery in Vankleek Hill.
Darcy’s family recently moved to Orillia, and so he now gets Farmhouse Tavern’s supply of maple syrup from a neighbouring farm. His wife is from Collingwood, and therefore Farmhouse features beer from two Collingwood-based breweries, Collingwood and Northwinds Brewery.
From oysters to steak tartare to pear pancakes, Farmhouse Tavern boasts a rotating menu with several options for diners who have specific tastes and/or dietary restrictions, so that no one goes away unsatisfied. “You can never lose the vote,” Darcy says. “If you have a table of five or six, you have to be able to accommodate every person, otherwise you lose the whole table.”
Darcy’s relationship-building philosophy goes all the way back to his days on the farm, where his family entertained relatives and friends for holiday dinners, serving corn roasts and fish fries. Being warm and welcoming, while offering good food and good wine, has informed Farmhouse Tavern’s overall hospitality. “We’re not fancy, we have roll-ups on the tables, but I want everyone to feel that there’s something here for them,” says Darcy.