What’s on the menu at Taverne Tamblyn, a charming new French restaurant on Danforth

What’s on the menu at Taverne Tamblyn, a charming new French restaurant on Danforth

Olliffe Butcher Shop’s Ben Gundy is back in the restaurant biz

More New Restaurants

Name: Taverne Tamblyn
Contact: 1426 Danforth Ave., 416-406-3121, tavernetamblyn.com, @tavernetamblyn
Neighbourhood: The Danforth
Previously: Sarah’s Café and Bar
Chef-owner: Ben Gundy
Accessibility: Fully accessible

Ben Gundy wasn’t planning to open another restaurant. After helping to get Jacob’s Steakhouse off the ground in the mid-2000s, he spent a decade running Summerhill’s Olliffe Butcher Shop before taking a pandemic breather. Gundy’s next gig was supposed to be a prepared-food business—that is, until he saw the space that would become Taverne Tamblyn on the market last summer.

Gundy alongside some trays of beautiful boules

Considering the corner location and the big side patio, he saw potential for another neighbourhood gem—this time, a casual, cheerful dinner spot focused on bistro-style French fare. In a way, Gundy has come full circle. His love affair with French cuisine started a long time ago in his hometown of Bayfield, where an 11-year-old Gundy washed dishes at The Little Inn before working his way up through the kitchen under the watchful eye of a French chef.

The food

Guests can expect unfussy, thoughtfully executed French fare—steak tartare, anise-infused mussels, boeuf bourguignon—with the occasional creative detour. “I don’t want to screw around with things,” says Gundy of his traditionalist approach. His clean, focused dishes don’t involve extraneous elaboration that would distract from classic flavour profiles. When he does indulge in the odd twist, it elevates rather than muddles—like punchy salted egg yolk grated on steak tartare in lieu of the usual raw stuff.

Gundy dusts Taverne Tamblyn’s French country bread, made of mostly hard white bread flour with a touch of whole wheat and a spelt starter. Loaves are baked fresh every day, and customers can buy them by the half ($7) or quarter ($4).


Taverne Tamblyn’s frites are fried in beef fat for maximum flavour and crispness. $14


The finished loaves


Here we have tender gougères topped with melty, golden Gruyère. $11


Hand-chopped steak peppered with a familiar flavour profile—cornichons, shallots, lemon, and a touch of tabasco and Worcestershire—is showered in grated salted egg yolk. The crostini it’s served with are made from leftover house bread. $17


Tamblyn’s boeuf bourguignon is boneless chuck flat braised in red wine and veal stock with mirepoix, porcini mushrooms and thyme, rounded out with pearl onions and cremini mushrooms. Instead of cutting the meat in bite-size chunks, as in the OG recipe, Gundy serves his in one piece tender enough to cut with a fork. $24


Fennel, leek, celery, star anise, orange peel and saffron make up the base of this bouillabaisse along with house-made fish stock and crushed tomatoes. Into it goes Atlantic cod and baby shrimp, all topped with a big crouton smothered in rouille—an egg-yolk based, saffron-infused sauce commonly served with seafood. $22


For this unbelievable bivalve dish, mussels are dropped into a shallot-and-leek base with white wine and Ricard Pastis, an anise-flavoured, amber-hued liqueur. A steaming cream sauce plays both complement and foil to the mussels’ natural sweetness. $19
The drinks

A short wine list, spanning French and French-style Canadian bottles, emphasizes value over superfluous pomp. With around 20 solid by-the-glass choices—including dessert wines—and bottles ranging up from $50, it’s easy to find something nice to drink over a relaxed weeknight dinner. A standout is the 2020 Chardonnay CSV from Niagara’s Cave Spring, essentially a white burgundy (and excellent value for the quality). Meanwhile, a tight list of cocktails and aperitifs includes classics like a French 75 and boulevardier alongside Brittany-made cider and sherry. There’s a nice selection of Godspeed beers too.

Lemon, gin and bubbles make for a classic French 75. $13


A blushing boulevardier made with bourbon, sweet vermouth and Campari. $14
The space

The sunny room—decked out in green, beige and copper—has exactly the relaxed, welcoming energy Gundy is going for. There’s an open kitchen surrounded by bar seating, comfortable booths and a wall lined with art from Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook—think botanical drawings with a bit of whimsy. Fun fact: Taverne Tamblyn is so named for Tamblyn Drugs, an Ontario-based drugstore chain that once had a location in this space. (A piece of it remains in the penny tiles near the front door.)