What’s on the menu at Donna’s, a new neighbourhood spot from a couple of Momofuku alumni

What’s on the menu at Donna’s, a new neighbourhood spot from a couple of Momofuku alumni

Name: Donna’s
Contact: 827 Lansdowne Ave., donnas.ca, @donnas.to
Neighbourhood: Junction Triangle
Previously: Hello Darling
Owners: Ann Kim, Peter Jensen and Jed Smith
Chefs: Peter Jensen (Momofuku Shōtō, Grey Gardens) and Jed Smith (Momofuku Shōtō)

The food

The all-day spot starts mornings off with pastries and cookies from Philip Hadad of the not-yet-open Emmer & Ash bakery, a very English spread of breads and jams, and other tasty things like sizeable sausage rolls, Spanish tortilla and quiche (all of which is gone once it’s gone, so get there early). For lunch, currently there’s a short menu of sandwiches (shrimp salad, pork belly, fried mushroom), a few (vegan) salads, a ham plate and short rib soup. Coming soon: dinner service.

Jensen, Kim and Smith, who have known each other for the better part of a decade (Jensen and Smith first met at Momofuku in NYC, and Jensen and Kim are married) decided to strike out on their own for a better work-life balance. The menu is influenced both by the chefs’ heritage (Jensen was born in Denmark, Smith in England) as well as dishes they’ve cooked in Toronto, but will evolve over time. Smith says he wants Donna’s to grow organically with the neighbourhood. Do the locals like pasta? Then maybe one day, there will be pasta.

A selection of pastries from Emmer & Ash include fennel-and-orange scones ($3), rye-and-seed cookies ($2) and almond brioche ($4).


There’s also Spanish tortilla ($9 a slice), sausage rolls with fennel jam (and Coleman’s mustard if you wish, $9 each) and a daily quiche ($9 a slice).


This quinoa salad has persimmons, squash and all kinds of herby goodness. $10.


And this lentil-and-Brussels salad is finished with a madras dressing. $10.


Some of Smith’s English influence comes through in this sandwich that stuffs white bread with Lancashire cheese and carrot chutney. $11.


There’s a shrimp salad sandwich with iceberg lettuce and dill. (Note the shrimp on the plate, too.) $13.


Jensen’s Danish background really comes through in this smorrebrod of smokey sprats (part of the herring fam) on seeded rye (also from Emmer & Ash), topped with watercress, horseradish and red onion. $13.


For the ham plate, house-cured ham comes with a hunk of baguette (from Toronto’s own Patti Robinson) and leek vinaigrette. $15.


From left to right: Jensen, Kim and Smith


The drinks

Non-alcoholic options include hot caffeinated beverages (americanos, cortados, lattes, tea), cold brew and a daily cold-pressed juice. Boozy ones include local craft beer (Burdock, Blood Brothers) and a list of mostly European wines, a few of them available by the glass. The restaurant only just received its liquor license, so the beer and wine inventory will grow over the coming weeks.

The counter serves as a display case for both the baked goods and the wine.


The space

The cozy spot with a very open kitchen feels equal parts diner and family dining room. There’s banquette seating up front, some larger tables in the back, great vintage furniture and knick knacks, a record player and a whole lotta plants.

Smith and Jensen at work.