What’s on the menu at the Fall Bright Tavern, a homey new spot in Christie Pits with out-of-this-world chocolate cake
Name: The Fall Bright Tavern
Contact: 840 Bloor St. W., thefallbright.com, @thefallbrighttavern
Neighbourhood: Christie Pits
Owners: Joe Rutherford and Brett Healey
Chef: Brett Healey
Accessibility: Fully accessible
Joe Rutherford and Brett Healey have a long relationship with the restaurant industry—and with each other. They started dating after meeting at a wine bar in London, Ontario, in the early aughts, then they worked extensively together in food and wine—first in Niagara-on-the-Lake and then in Toronto. As they travelled, cooked and worked together, the idea to open their own spot began to take shape. And despite ending the romantic side of their relationship, they remained best friends and continued to develop the concept for their dream eatery: a small, inviting neighbourhood restaurant that would serve a continually updated menu of elevated comfort food.
Over the years, their vision took on a more concrete form. Eventually, it was Rutherford who convinced Healey to leave his job working the front of house at Edulis, arguing that they had put off the project for too long. Through an industry connection, they found a small space and got to work bringing a decades-long dream to life. “We can definitely appreciate a super-stylized dining room, marble countertops and monogrammed plates, but that’s not what we’re doing here,” says Rutherford. “This is about warm candlelight, delicious food and just enjoying the people you’re dining with.”
Honest, deceptively simple fare lifted with Healey’s well-honed artistry—food that leaves you feeling nourished in more ways than one. There’s hearty chicken stew topped with crispy cubes of fried panisse, a chickpea batter laced with thyme, rosemary and garlic. Or pale-gold potato pie wrapped in house-made puff pastry and set in a river of punchy, herbaceous ranch. Then there’s the Platonic ideal of chocolate cake, a chonky slice dolloped with crème diplomat, a mix of pastry and whipped cream. Main courses come in generous portions—share if you want or be selfish and stuff yourself. And because this project is about two friends chasing their joy, expect the menu to change regularly to accommodate the seasons and what inspires them on any given week.
There’s a thoughtful, approachable wine list with a lean toward lighter, food-friendly, old-world-style (if not always old-world-origin) bottles. Cocktails also hew close to the classics, though not without a few personal touches, like preserved lemon in Fall Bright’s Vesper or black tea in the Vieux Carré. There’s also a healthy selection of aperitifs and digestifs, including some gorgeous sherry, plus a few very respectable non-alcoholic options.
Fall Bright’s dining room is as cozy as a public space can be and refreshingly minimal by design. There’s no artwork on the walls—instead, there are a lot of mirrors meant to evoke the conviviality of dining with others. “We wanted the focus to be on the food and on the engagement of people dining together,” says Rutherford. Exposed brick, wood finishes, candles and a palette of earth tones lend even more warmth to the space. In the back, there’s a patio facing Irene Avenue Parkette.