With two distinctive food and drink concepts housed in one hip space, Simpl Things lends itself equally well to relaxed business lunches as it does after-work drinks.
“It’s definitely a very unique way of approaching a restaurant, but I feel like I [personally] want to eat different things during the day and during the night,” says owner Evelyn Chick.
By day, diners tuck into hearty plates of pasta and Italian-inspired dishes courtesy of chef Cody Wilkes. Come 7 pm, however, chef Betty Chia takes the reins in the kitchen to prepare a menu of snacky, Taiwanese street food.
With Chick, a veteran of Toronto’s mixology scene, curating the drinks, it’s no surprise that the cocktails are top-notch. The drink menu also transitions from day to night, emphasizing low and no-ABV drinks for the lunch crowd and then expanding to a more in-depth evening selection that includes reimagined classics, house canned cocktails, and colourful drinks that draw visual inspiration from Simpl Thing’s retro interior design.
“The flavours that we chose are definitely fitting to our ethos: nostalgic flavours and complexity in the mouth but very simple in execution,” explains Chick, noting that these themes guide both the day and night drink menus.
One of the restaurant’s most popular daytime drinks is the Simpl Garibaldi, a riff on an Italian cocktail that typically includes Campari and orange juice. “Our version has a bit more bitterness to it,” says Chick. “It’s low ABV, so you can have a couple and you’re still ok.”
Chick’s spin on the Garibaldi features Select Aperitivo, cynar, blood orange and acidified pineapple. “It’s juicy – but not too juicy – and it has some bittersweet elements to it,” she says.
To nibble alongside the Garibaldi, Chick recommends the arancini, which are filled with smoked gouda and squash. The arancini come with the restaurant’s signature green sauce, a nut-free take on pesto that’s packed with zesty herbs.
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The cocktail’s bright, acidic characteristics are a lovely match for the subtle sweetness of the arancini’s squash filling, while the cynar brings a hint of artichoke flavour that’s enhanced by the green sauce.
Chick says that Simpl Things has already garnered a following of regulars who come for lunch meetings and then return in the evening after office hours. “It’s nice to see that they’re able to come and experience the space – the same space – but experience it differently,” she says.
Chick adds that Simpl Things’ Parkdale location makes it a convenient spot for people working in Liberty Village, as well as for GTAers looking for a place to stop on their way downtown. “We get a cool, eclectic crowd at lunch,” she says.
Decorated almost exclusively with vintage furniture and tchotchkes, Simpl Things is designed to feel like a cosy apartment, according to Chick.
“It’s about creating a space that’s warm and inviting and it feels like it’s been worn in a little bit. It feels like you’re truly just going into someone’s house and enjoying their company,” she says. “It draws from nostalgia. I think the simplest things are often the moments that you won’t forget.”