Recently, Facebook Canada announced it would be working on a new initiative titled, “Grand For Good”. The project was the first agency education program of its kind for Facebook globally, which pairs Greater Toronto Area (GTA) small businesses with Canada’s top media agencies.
One of the businesses that was able to take part in this program was The Whippoorwill Restaurant and Tavern (located at 1285 Bloor St W). The project came just in time for the launch of the Whip’s new Fall/Winter Food & Drink menu as well, which includes seasonal dishes and old time favourites like the burger.
But Whippoorwill offers up more than just great food and drink. Every Tuesday and Thursday, the restaurant will be bringing in local musicians, like bluegrass, swing and blues acts (for no extra charge). Just a little added bonus for the residents of Bloordale and patrons of the Whipp!
I had the chance to speak with owner/operator Shawn Creamer and Executive Chef Tyler Cunningham about the menu, the restaurant and being a part of the “Grand for Good” campaign.
FGFS: Tell me about how Whippoorwill came to be a part of the Facebook Canada, Grand for Good campaign.
Shawn Creamer: We were lucky enough to know someone who works at Facebook Canada, and they sent us a message saying this would be a wonderful opportunity for our business.
We looked at all the ways this program was planning to help small businesses (like ours) and it seemed like a perfect fit for us.
FGFS: When you were building the bones of the restaurant The Whippoorwill, for the look and feel of the restaurant?
Shawn Creamer: The idea was to go with rustic, warm and comfortable. We wanted you to feel like you were dining out, but maybe you were dining out up at your cottage.
Tyler Cunningham: We wanted a space that one could sink into, a space that could make you forget what it is like outside. A space filled with familiar things used in unfamiliar ways, a space that is constantly evolving along with our guests and us. A space that the neighbourhood would feel comfortable calling their own.
FGFS: Whippoorwill is all about seasonable and fresh. Tell me about the new menu that you’ve just launch that follows this adage.
Tyler Cunningham: I am very in touch with the seasons and the moods they evoke. I don’t want to serve guests a heavy meal. I would much rather advocate for vegetables. I like to design menus according to the moods of the season. For example, in summer time I use a lot of Asian, bright, crunchy, fresh and spicy flavours that make people feel light and uplifted. Now that fall is upon us I am letting big flavours come into play. I’m taking on more of a European style with this menu. You can expect more roasted, braised and earthy more satisfying flavours to be present. visit the Food Terminal twice a week, and meet with farmers there to see what their sense of change is and what is available. I can offer guests a true taste of each season highlighting the best ingredients.
FGFS: Recently you have launched a very inspired cocktail list put together by the very talented Japhet Bower. How did you all come to collaborate and what is your ideas behind this beautiful list of potions.
Tyler Cunningham: Japhet is a very inspired fellow; I have been working with him over the past few weeks on his new menu. He loves to play with pop culture and childhood memories to inspire him. I love his passion and it is inspiring for me to see his process. We are always brainstorming on ways to get the very most from the ingredients he uses and new and inspired innovative ways to prepare and present them. This is only the beginning of what is to come. He is very talented and we are blessed to have him.
Shawn Creamer: There was a lot of cocktail tasting before we settle on a list – those were delicious weeks!
FGFS: Besides having an in-house cocktail program, do you have any other programs in the restaurant that are in-house (breads, sauces, pickling, etc.)?
Tyler Cunningham: Aside from our rather extensive cocktail program, yes we do everything but make bread here (due to lack of space). We do our best to preserve as much of the past seasons by doing as much canning as our schedules will let us. We also do all our charcuterie in house including smoked bacon and sausage at brunch. All pastry work is done here and of course the brunch biscuits are a monster on their own. All sauces, all everything, all the time!
FGFS: What has the experience and reaction been from residents of Bloordale to your dishes?
Tyler Cunningham: For the most part, the neighbourhood has embraced the food at the Whipp. I encourage a great deal of feedback, as I do not wish to be living in vain. So guests are very quick to mention if they are ever not feeling a dish. We have been getting a lot of great feedback on our latest launch. Some of our regulars dine with us 4-5 times a week, so I think we are doing ok (I hope!).
Shawn Creamer: When we opened up The Whippoorwill, we wanted to be a neighborhood restaurant first and we took a lot of feedback from the residents as to what they would like to have on their plates and in their cups. Bloor and Lansdowne is becoming a destination location on its own – thanks to great neighbors like The Emerson, Through Being Cool, Brock Sandwich and Zebuu – and it feels like we are not only a neighborhood restaurant but are showcasing for the city.
Don’t miss your chance on checking out the Whippoorwill Restaurant and Tavern’s new menu. In the meantime, check out their Facebook page daily for specials and updates on who is playing in-house.
All photos taken by Jessica Blaine Smith, reused by permission by The Whippoorwill Restaurant & Tavern