Len Senater wanted a different party. He wanted a small gathering of friends to cook together, joined later by a few more to enjoy the fruits of their labour. When the best he could do was a church basement that required no swearing and everybody out by 8pm, an idea was born. That idea is all grown up now, and it’s on the corner of College and Rusholme Park. It’s called the Depanneur.
A depanneur, in other, more francophone parts of our country, is more or less a corner store. Some people’s Montréal-based friends will accidentally/adorably refer to a corner store here in Ontario as a “dep” — but this eatery is so much more than that. Originally a corner store, Len kept the gum stickers (pictured below), gave the name a Mtl twist, but rooted his shop’s philosophy to the original meaning of the word – which is someone who helps you out of a jam.
“I wanted a place where more interesting food things can happen than in a regular restaurant,” says Len of his open concept kitchen and eating space. With a commercially inspected kitchen, a commercial dishwasher, plenty of cooking tools and space, it’s the ideal spot to whip up something tasty.
The Dep functions as a café-corner store mashup, offering a breakfast sandwich with a cult-like following, perfect coffee and other tasty treats like carrot cake (from Sarah Lapelle’s Nice Buns) that you may or may not consume in one greedy bite. Mm.
Saturdays and Sundays from 10 until 2, brunchers can choose from five standard items priced at three dollars each: curried potato hash, smoky maple bacon, organic green salad, organic bread (either white sourdough or walnut raisin), and two eggs any style. Plus, there’s always a curveball special thrown in there for good measure.
The Rusholme Park Supper Club is your new favourite thing if you love to make and eat good food in good company. The Dep shuts its doors to plebes (sign up for the email list for a new, better life), pushes the tables together and lays out their linens for a big group feast with the cook! These events operate on a BYOB basis, too!
Len whips up a drop-in dinner, usually a big pot of something, and they sell it until it’s gone for $10 a plate, with an ask-for-seconds policy. Tonight’s menu: Jerk chicken/ tofu, coconut rice and beans and coleslaw. The jerk is so spicy it made this writer’s eyes water the entire time I was there. Mmmm.
Laura Repo makes granola! Plus, as Len tells me, she works in pre- and post-natal care, so it’s a great morning for young moms to come in and bask in the aroma of cooking granola!
Plus! On Friday nights the Dep hosts a guest cook! This Friday Lisa Kates, resident soup guru and Lora Bertolo (@Popovergirl) of significant popover prowess, are teaming up to make creamy spring chowder plus cheddar or bacon popovers. Consider us drooling.
If you’re interested in being a guest cook, talk to Len. He’s always open to ideas, so pop in and pitch!
~ Annie Webber