What’s on the menu at Dotty’s, a new diner on Dupont from Dandylion chef Jay Carter
Contact info: 1588 Dupont St., dottys.ca, @dottys1588
Neighbourhood: Junction Triangle
Previously: La Nectarine, Love Chix
Owners: Jay Carter and Susan Beckett (Dandylion)
Chef: Jay Carter
Accessibility: A couple of steps at the entrance, washroom down a flight of stairs
Dotty’s, the latest from Jay Carter and Susan Beckett (both previously of Dandylion), sits on a corner of Dupont Street in the Junction Triangle, busily humming as if it’s always been there. The pared-down diner came to be serendipitously, after red tape pushed back Carter and Beckett’s scheduled date to open a more buttoned-up bistro at an address a few doors down. They had retained staff after the closure of Dandylion to open up the new spot, so they needed a way to pay them. As luck would have it, space became available just up the street, where David Adjey’s bistro La Nectarine had recently vacated (he has since opened Bouffe on Dundas West), so they jumped on it to open what is now Dotty’s.
But Dotty’s by no means seems like an afterthought. While the menu reads as simple and pragmatic, with dishes labelled “steak” and “cheese and crackers,” the preparation is pristine, playful and full of heart—like if Mom were going after a Michelin star. Which makes sense given that Dotty’s is named for Beckett’s mother, Dorothy, who was also a restaurateur. While Dotty’s would not be described as homey, the overarching vision is that of comfort and nostalgia, a place that’s set up to gently welcome guests back after the pandemic, offering fair price points and accessible but elevated plates.
The sense that there is no need to reinvent the wheel but just to make sure everything is done correctly and with care seems to be Carter’s MO. “After the pandemic, as a chef, you feel like you have a nut and you’re trying to get the squirrel to come back to you,” says Carter. Dotty’s is his way of easing people back into the restaurant world without, as he says, “any sudden movements,” just subtle culinary reminders, like perfectly done fries, of how a proper restaurant once made them feel. The menu is comfortingly familiar, featuring simple classics like mushrooms on toast, a cheeseburger and a caesar salad.
The cocktail card is courtesy of Michael Webster (Bar Raval, Bar Isabel, Momofuku, The Drake), whom Beckett refers to as their “underground collaborator.” Playful concoctions like the Sloppy Rummers, an easy-drinking blend of rum, Averna, pineapple gomme and grapefruit poured over crushed ice and balanced with bitters, are juxtaposed against heavy hitters like the Gatekeeper, a potent mix of bourbon, cognac, port and house-batched grenadine. The wine list, designed by Beckett, focuses on sustainability, quality and affordability. “We made the conscious choice to leave wine bottles on the table so that guests could casually pour for themselves throughout the meal,” Beckett says. The mostly young, juicy options range in price from $45 for their house red, an entry-level Beaujolais, to $85 for the Sangiovese Trebbiano Chianti.
Playful yet sparse, the space is ’50s diner meets Scandi design. With 30 seats, the cozy spot features an unbleached wood-veneer counter lined with vintage soda stools in the front and warm wooden banquettes brightened up by antique multicoloured schoolhouse chairs in the back. From anywhere you sit, you can see the chef and his team in the open kitchen doing what they love: peacefully cooking proper food.