The Healthy Rabbit is a small eatery with the markings of an owner who clearly enjoys injecting creativity into the dining experience. In terms of food and atmosphere it’s a lot like the popular Freshii restaurants in Toronto, but more authentically handmade. Customers order at the counter, but the menus are worth getting your hands on – they are playful pieces of design with menu pages sandwiched between the covers and pages of classic children’s books. Each menu/storybook is different. (Moo really liked the Sesame Street nursery rhymes). And let us tell you, it is beyond helpful to be able to look at a menu while the toddler sitting on your lap looks at illustrations in a book. Super smart.
The menu itself is designed to take the choice out of healthy eating. Every option has nutritious and delicious ingredients, the kind of food that sometimes feels difficult to make for yourself but is so enjoyable when someone else does the washing, the chopping, the serving, and the dishes. Between the four of us we shared a wrap, a bowl and tasty kale chips.
Inside the converted century home on Brant Avenue, which used to be a doctor’s residence, the eating spaces are divided into three different types of rooms. While we were there, several pairs of friends were meeting one-to-one at the small, sunshine strewn tables in the front room. Business people were perched on stools in the room off to the side with notebooks and wraps. And a new mother sat with a newborn and her mother in the quieter library toward the back with floor to ceiling bookshelves filled with books contributed by those who work at Healthy Rabbit.
We personally enjoyed the familiarity of the staff, who are volunteers from all around the world. Through an online exchange program, these young workers volunteer at the restaurant in exchange for food, board and the opportunity to experience Canadian culture as part of its workforce. Many years ago now we got engaged up north in Yellowknife at a cabin staffed by foreign workers (WWOOFers to be specific), and one lovely guy in particular who was there during our engagement eventually found his way to Toronto where he lived with us for a few months. (Christian, wherever you are, we hope you’re well!) As immigrants ourselves, these friendly wholesome Germans and Italians made our day. It pleased us to see how a business could embrace the challenges of these young people who are looking for international experience and actually build helping them into their business plan.
There were a thousand other things we loved about the Healthy Rabbit. The board games you could bring to your table. That in the washroom, paper towels go directly into a recycling bin. That delivery is free by foot or bicycle if it is within a three kilometre radius of the restaurant ($5 if further afield). The owner’s involvement in the local running community. The whole establishment has a healthy and helpful outlook on life, and seems to say “we’re determined to make our business be of benefit to the people and community around us”.
The staff at Healthy Rabbit wanted us to let you know that they will be holding a pay-what-you-can event on March 22nd. They do this monthly, and each “Pay as you feel” event benefits a different cause. So you simply order what you’d like and whatever money you choose to pay, for this particular fundraiser, will go toward helping feral cats. Go on and try some amazing food and show your support. Places like these are gems in our local community and deserve our support.