I had trepidations about going to eat lunch at Fabarnak after hearing that one of their goals is to hire community members who’ve faced barriers to employment. Though I think that it’s a great program, my presumptuous attitude was that the quality of the food would suffer. I’m glad to report that I was proven wrong – Fabarnak is fabulous!
The restaurant, which rests at the bottom of the 519 community centre in the heart of the village, offers two menus depending on when you go – a dinner and lunch menu through the week and a brunch menu on Saturday. We ordered the glazed ham sandwich with a beef and mushroom soup ($10), a bento box with oysters ($15 for the large), and a risotto ($13). We also ordered a round of chicken wings as an appetizer ($6). One of the reasons that makes this a harder review is that Fabarnak changes their menu quite often so what we ordered may not be available the following week so keep that in mind.
The food came out pretty quickly (within 8 minutes of ordering) but we were initially shocked by how small the portions were. Then again, this restaurant sits somewhere in between a high end cafe and a fine dining establishment so we decided to overlook it for the sake of this review. However, they could have used smaller plates because those chicken wings did look a little silly.
I’ve never had oyster mushroom and beef soup before so I didn’t have much to compare it too. It was more like a velouté, but actually a lot thicker. The taste was smooth but a little bit on the weak side. I felt it could have used something to bring out the mushroom taste a bit more. The chicken wings had a nice glaze on them but it never permeated beneath the skin so the chicken lacked any interesting flavour.
When our mains arrived, we were once again greeted with large plates that had a smaller serving. However, the food was good enough that we decided to overlook it again. Unfortunately I couldn’t try the risotto myself due to my shellfish allergy but I was told that it was one of the nicest that they’ve eaten recently. The bento box came with two oysters, a lemon cookie on top of a lemon sorbet, a lobster lettuce wrap, and fried potatoes. Everything was great about the bento box, including the sorbet. The lobster lettuce wrap had a mustard type sauce on it which I’m told gave it a nice kick. The glazed ham sandwich was beyond my expectations. It was full of flavour, with a bit of sweet and spiceyness in each bite. To top it off, the bun it was served in was nicely toasted and had a good crunch to the outside of it.
I would recommend giving Fabarnak a try. Though their menu changes quite frequently, it also gives reason to go back again and try something new. The training program was initially the cause of my hesitation from trying out the place, but I now consider it a bonus to the experience which gives you a bit of a warm feeling after paying your bill even though it’s a bit high. The only major issue I have with the place is that they charge you full price for each coffee refill you get ($1.75) which is pretty unheard of for most restaurants serving lunch or brunch.
T.O. Bites rating
- Great food that is of high quality
- The warm feeling you get knowing that you’re helping out those who have experienced barriers to employment
- The wait staff are nice and incredibly friendly
- The dishes are way too huge and make the smaller portions look even tinier
- Charging for coffee refills is a bit of a stretch