What’s on the menu at Simpl Things, Parkdale’s new snack bar that’s Italian by day, Taiwanese by night
Name: Simpl Things
Contact info: 269 Dunn Ave., 647-872-6402, simplthings.ca, @simplthings.to
Previously: Nice Nice
Owner: Evelyn Chick (Ahma)
Chefs: Cody Wilkes, Betty Chia
Accessibility: Not fully accessible
“I wasn’t planning on opening a restaurant, but when this space went on the market, I just fell in love with it,” says Simpl Things owner Evelyn Chick. “I wanted to curate something that’s excellent both day and night: a fantastic experience based on great service, nostalgia, and simple but well-thought-out flavours. It usually takes me a while to name things, but Simpl Things just came to me.”
Chick wears many hats. Her company, EC Projects, spans event curation, bar consultancy, custom cocktail kits and now two brick-and-mortar venues hosting innovative food and beverage concepts. Ahma, her other spot, is a gorgeous pop-up and event venue on Queen West with a bespoke catering and beverage program.
Simpl Things runs on something of an atypical model. From day to night, the menu does a complete 180 thanks to the creative energy of its two chefs-in-residence, who have virtually complete control of their respective food programs. By day, there’s Italian comfort food by chef Cody Wilkes; by night, chef Betty Chia serves up a menu of Taiwanese street food.
As you may expect from the woman behind a veritable beverage empire, an ultra-creative cocktail program—including house-canned cocktails and uncompromising non-alcoholic options—hums along in the background.
Wilkes, who runs the daytime menu under the name Pasta Cartl, speaks enthusiastically about the chef-in-residence model. “I’ve never had so much control over my food,” he says. “It feels really good to bring my vision to the table.” Carbs make up the backbone of Wilkes’s menu—things like red wine–braised short rib pappardelle and a bread bowl brimming with focaccia and sourdough.
When the sun goes down, Chia’s Taiwanese street food hits the menu. She started Eats by Betty during the pandemic, serving up house-made dumplings and chili oil at pop-ups across the city. Tasty snacks and creative flavour bombs abound—think blistered shishito peppers with kimchi salt, a kung pao cauliflower bao and Szechuan beef tartare spread on bone marrow.
There is some crossover between the kitchens: Chia’s chili crisp makes its way into the compound butter accompanying Wilkes’ bread basket. Meanwhile, Wilkes makes the dumpling wrappers for Chia’s spicy wontons. Fusion or not, it’s certainly symbiosis.
Unsurprisingly, given Chick’s background, Simpl Things boasts one hell of a cocktail menu—but, keeping true to its name, it steers clear of gratuitous complexity. Like the food menu, there are separate day and night drink programs. During the day, house-canned cocktails, like the St.-Germain-and-Fino-sherry-infused Flower Power, are served alongside bracing tipples, like a hibiscus and pink peppercorn spritz. The night brings reinvented classics, more house-canned goodies, and a Colours of Simpl menu that lists vibrant, easy drinking bevies.
The place is split into two rooms, each with its own distinctive colour palette, and space-age vintage is the vibe throughout: think rounded corners, knick-knacks, bright hues and mood lighting. Chick scoured the province for vintage furniture, including a set of steel-coated ergonomic stools from the ’70s.