New moms who have created new and wonderful projects while juggling motherhood always inspire us. Recently we caught up with our gorgeous friend Jen Grant to talk about her new venture on College Street. Jen is a foodie. Point blank, she loves to travel and dine; you should see the pictures from her most recent jaunt through Napa (to die for). Jen has a 4 year old son and a 1 ½ year old daughter. Mathew and Maya keep her on her toes but so does her new baby, DaiLo.
DaiLo is a new and dynamic restaurant that stepped onto the Toronto food scene at the end of August. Jen is part of the team of owners that masterminded this new food experience for Torontonians, which includes her husband Dave Dattels, Anton Potvin and Nic Liu (also the head chef).
It’s a dual concept space; the main floor featuring a full Asian fusion menu with a heavy Chinese influence. The second floor is more of a Dim Sum style snack bar with cocktails.
We were fortunate to attend an intimate friends and family night before they opened their doors to the public. Here are a few snippets from our conversation with Jen:
What inspired you to start this venture?
It was a combination of loving restaurants, wanting to work together (with my husband, Dave Dattels) having a good idea and meeting the perfect partners. Although we have always loved to dine out and have made a sport of planning travel around great restaurants, after having kids being able to escape just the two of us or with friends has become an essential indulgence. Getting together with our dream team, Chef Nick Liu and Sommelier Anton Potvin, gave us the confidence to move forward. The Toronto food scene has been seriously missing these guys since their days at Niagara Street Café. For everyone involved, this is a project built on a shared and sincere passion.
What was your biggest challenge while juggling your little ones and the restaurant launch?
Getting this restaurant open has meant a steep learning curve for me – I’m constantly amazed at how many moving parts there are and this summer especially, I have missed my long and unscheduled days with the kids. I’m rushing around a lot more now and having to plan my weeks around childcare, work and quality time with the kids. I still haven’t figured out how to find time for myself….it is VERY challenging to find time to curl up with a good book.
What makes DaiLo family friendly?
DaiLo is a fun and sexy place to have a grown-up night out, but we also welcome families. Aside from having a change table in the bathrooms and high chairs for your little ones, the philosophy behind the restaurant is very much about family. DaiLo is a term of endearment for a respected elder, and translated from Cantonese means “big brother.” At the heart of Nick’s cooking, is a love and respect for the dishes he ate growing up as the son of Hakka parents in Canada. Many dishes are based on family recipes designed to be shared family-style. There are lots of small plates on the menu so kids can try a little bit of everything. It’s so fun to see what they like – I’m constantly surprised! I love exposing my kids to different cultures and foods, and I especially like to do this when an effort has been made to find the best ingredients, locally and sustainably.
Can you tell us about your favourite dish on the menu?
This is a very hard question – a lot of care has gone into each one. After a long day, the Big Mac bao, the pork hock with jellyfish slaw (!!!) and the wontons in brown sauce make a pretty comforting dinner. Otherwise, our whole fried Gigi Trout is spectacular. This is Nick’s signature dish and for very good reason.
Where is your favourite spot to hang with your kids in Toronto?
I love the Evergreen Brickworks. I grew up in Riverdale and remember planting trees and cycling with my parents along the Don River – to see that part of the city looking so lush and green and revitalized is really special. The kids love searching for turtles, playing in the gardens and sampling the food at the Saturday morning market and this summer, we discovered the Wednesday family pizza night collaboration with Libretto.
We wish the best of luck to this dream team as they embark on their new journey.