Where Lazy Daisy’s owner Dawn Chapman gets takeout fried chicken, Ethiopian feasts and Chilean poutine

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Where Lazy Daisy’s owner Dawn Chapman gets takeout fried chicken, Ethiopian feasts and Chilean poutine

We’re asking Toronto chefs and restaurateurs which takeout dishes have been getting them through the pandemic

Like her fellow restaurateurs, Dawn Chapman—the owner of adorable east-end café and restaurant Lazy Daisy’s—has pulled many a pandemic-pivot to adapt to the circumstances: she streamlined the café’s floor plan and menu; created an online pantry selling products sourced from the Toronto Food Terminal, and even used her own car to make deliveries. Chapman also endeavoured to help her neighbourhood by adding a ‘donations’ option on the café’s website, where customers could select groceries to be donated directly to a local food bank. “I felt good working side by side with my son to fill up the trunk of our car and deliver those donations. Everyone rallied together and the cafe pulled through that first phase of lockdown.”

Since then, Chapman has been busy developing and debuting new tasty menu items. “In the summer, our sandwich sales surged with the introduction of our Mother Clucker Fried Chicken Sandwich, which comes on a house-made buttermilk biscuit. She’s hoping to launch a line of bake-at-home biscuits in 2021.

When she’s not baking biscuits, Chapman does her part for her industry peers by getting takeout from her favourite east-end restaurants. “The foundation of Toronto’s incredible culinary community is crumbling due to the pandemic. A lot of us started up our cafes and restaurants based on our passion for food and for our communities. We don’t want our stories to end with our doors closed. The best help you can give is to order takeout as often as you can afford—and to order directly from the restaurant so we don’t have to give third-party platforms a chunk of the profit.”

Lake Inez

1471 Gerrard St. E., 416-792-1590, lakeinezto.com

“The big draw for me is how seamlessly art and food fuse at this truly unique neighbourhood spot. Pre-pandemic, I loved going for dinner and cocktails with friends, with the mosaic of two of my fave women, Kate Bush and Virginia Woolf, sparkling from behind the bar. Their team has managed to translate that same vibe into a dine-at-home experience. Each Saturday, the menu includes a bespoke playlist, a poem and occasionally an essential oil you can burn to enhance your experience. Zac Schwartz’s wine pairing suggestions are always spot on. The menu changes each week and sells out fast.”

Chapman’s at-home fried chicken feast courtesy of Lake Inez

Go-to item: Whatever is on chef Jay Moore’s weekly menu

Tasting notes:  “This past week, the menu fused church-potluck nostalgia with world-class flavour: corn bread pudding, fried chicken, and, for dessert, fried apple pie with jello. I love that the corn bread pudding came with these instructions: ‘Warm for 15 minutes, put in a utilitarian bowl or plate, shitty even. Whatever man, beauty is on the inside…’ Meanwhile, every bite hits you a juicy shot of sweet corn, which is contrasted with the deep flavour of double-smoked pork belly that chef Jay prepped in their own smoker. The fried chicken is succulent on the inside and crispy on the outside; you get a burst of sweet and heat from the house-made honeyed bird’s-eye-chili dipping sauce.
 

Wazema Ethiopian Restaurant

1360 Danforth Ave., 416-466-5713, wazema-toronto.com

“I spent part of the ’90s living in Yemen and while there, I travelled extensively through Eritrea and Ethiopia. The food, culture and warmth of the people are memories I’ll always treasure. I met the owners—who are also sisters—Ayida and Freya when they came for coffee at Daisy’s before they’d start their day at Wazema. It meant a lot that they chose our coffee considering its importance in Ethiopian culture. I love eating with my hands and sharing with the family from the same platter. It’s such a tactile and connected experience.”

A colourful takeout tray from Wazema, filled with all of Chapman’s favourite dishes

Go-to item 1: Doro wat
Tasting notes: “A rich and luscious spicy chicken stew that falls off the bone when grasped with injera, the spongy flatbread which acts as the vehicle to transport each bite from plate to mouth. The heat of the stew contrasts with the hard-boiled egg—always helpfully cut in half—that’s nestled in the gravy.”

Go-to item 2: Kitfo with kale and cottage cheese
Tasting notes: “These are three items they should be scooped up together: the coolness of the kale and the cheese temper the spiciness of the beef, which is super lean, finely chopped and cooked with Ethiopian spiced butter.”

Go-to item 3: Ye’kik alicha
Tasting notes: “I could eat a full injera topped with nothing but vegetarian dishes, but this is my favourite one because the yellow split peas and onions anchored with garlic and ginger create a light stew that balances out the heavier meat dishes. Additionally, the top notes of cardamom transport me back to the outdoor cafés of Addis Ababa.”

She also got a selfie to go

 

Completo

5 Coady Ave.,416-901-9233, completo.club

“I met the owners, Matias and his partner Andrea, seven years ago when they started coming to Daisy’s for breakfast and coffee. They invited me to check out their new place in Leslieville that has a menu based on Matias’ Chilean background. I did and I’ve been a fan ever since!”

Go-to item 1: The veggie burger
Tasting notes: “This is hands down the best veggie patty I’ve ever tasted—apparently it took Matias months of trials to perfect. I usually hold the bun and have it served on crispy iceberg lettuce instead, which not only makes me feel super healthy and smug but it also keeps the patty as the star of the show. It has the perfect density, with no crumbling, and works perfectly with the smashed avocado, chopped onion, tomato and their house-made hot sauce.”

An extreme closeup of Completo’s veggie burger

Go-to item 2: Completo poutine
Tasting notes: “This reminds me of waking up at noon in Vegas and needing something carby but also refreshing to kick off the day. It’s literally the best of everything: you dig through layers of house-made refried beans, pico de gallo, smashed avocado, cheddar and a jalapeño-lime-cilantro crema to hit those perfectly salted hand-cut fries. If my family asks to share, I do… but with great reluctance.”

Completo’s Chilean take on poutine

Go-to item 3: Steak tacos
Tasting notes: “I don’t know what they marinate these lean strips of steak in, but whatever they use morphs me into T-Rex, where I tear through these three crunchy meat-filled pockets in a carnivorous frenzy. I love a break from sandwiches sometimes, and this dish ticks all the boxes.”

A trio of tacos