New Opening: Fancy Kafana
If you're looking for a new European/Canadian restaurant that fuses such well-loved cuisines as Italian, Greek and Mediterranean with unique dishes from the former Yugoslavia, you're in luck -- Fancy Kafana is now open.
The sleek and spacious resto, located in the industrial area at Tomken and Eglinton, boasts a sprawling and chic bar, airy dining area and a modern-rustic vibe. It also offers an obscenely flavourful (and filling) grilled meat platter that will satisfy protein-hunting gym rats and adventurous meat aficionados alike.
The brand new restaurant -- which has been open for a little under a month -- is the culmination of owner Alexander Stankovic's almost life-long dream to open his own restaurant.
"I was working at the Marriott downtown, more on the hospitality side [of things], but I've always liked restaurants. We weren't planning [opening a restaurant], but we were thinking about it."
The "we" is his family, as Stankovic's wife, brother-in-law and other relatives have all been instrumental in making Fancy Kafana a reality. Although opening a restaurant and gutting and renovating the space has been a challenge -- one that called on both Stankovic's hospitality and general contracting skills (he's got quite a few passions and professional pursuits!) -- he's happy with how the space has turned out.
"I liked the size of the place and the high ceilings and the location," he says. "I like that it's both residential and industrial. There are a lot of businesses, so the main idea is to serve the lunch crowd or even after work or at night."
As for the term "kafana," Stankovic said the name is a little homage to food culture in Serbia.
"'Kafana' means a place where people meet to eat food and have a drink and socialize. And sometimes have fun, maybe with music or with a band."
Stankovic and his family hail from the former Yugoslavia and worked to craft a menu that marries old country classics with the traditional European dishes that Canadian diners have grown to love.
While the space is rustic -- in a fittingly fancy way -- it boasts a kind of understated elegance that's bolstered by the resto's casual but unique menu. Although the space has the potential to act as a great sports bar (it has a few TVs and a large projection screen) and offers garlic bread ($5), chicken wings ($12), fried calamari ($12) and a signature Fancy Burger ($11), it sets itself apart by offering some off-the-beaten path southeastern European dishes.
One standout dish is the mixed grill platter. It can serve one ($18), two ($30) or four ($55) diners and offers raznjici (pork skewer), cevapi (chevaps), pljeskavica (burger patty), grilled chicken breast, sausage and Karadjordjeva schnitzel. It's served with potatoes, rice and simple coleslaw and it works. The meat is stunningly flavourful and the decadent schnitzel -- absolutely oozing melted cheese -- is both hearty and fun. If you pair the dish with a nice glass of red or a tall pint -- say, a cabernet sauvignon or a Stella -- you'll enjoy the supreme decadence of the decidedly bold (and unapologetically ex-Yugoslavian) dish.
Come hungry if you want it.
As for dessert, the resto offers a rotating selection of cakes ($5) and palacinke (crepes - $6). The crepes come with either Nutella or fruit jam (or both, if you're feeling feisty) and end the meal on a luxurious note. If you decide to try the Nutella crepe, note that it will taste almost exactly like a soft, bready and large Ferrero Rocher.
As for what else is on tap for the infant resto, Stankovic is hoping to open up the space to musicians and the diners who love them.
"We plan, for example, to maybe have a jazz night once a month," he says. "So people will know about it and think 'oh, next Thursday, I'll have to go there for the jazz night.' We'll do that once a month."
In terms of performance space, the resto boasts a pseudo-stage area at the back that's perfect for live music. The area is augmented by a gorgeous mixed-plank wood wall that gives the place vibrancy and a modern-rustic touch.
Stankovic also hopes to court nearby businesses and residents with some flyers and, possibly, delicious samples.
"We'll go around with flyers and we're working on the website and hope to have it ready by September. I might also prepare a few platters with foods to try to deliver to local businesses so they can try the food. The menu might slightly change over time. Maybe we'll introduce a lunch menu for people who are looking to eat more quickly."