Once Tiffany talked me through the genesis, process and opening of Cafe Cancan, I had to go see it for myself. I ordered a Manhattan, the iconic Barry Burger and let my eyes have the run of the place. It’s so thought out and specifically beautiful, I can’t tell you how they danced from detail to detail the entire dinner.
I hope this ode inspires your own visit.
Order the burger.
When sliver-sized watering hole, The Harbord Room, sealed its shutters and silenced bar stools once swirling with an entire neighbourhood of burger-thirsty characters, Victor Barry said what everyone was thinking, “Who’s going to take this beloved space, our local haunt, over and fuck it up?”
He didn’t want to find out, so he jumped for the lease with hopes of reinventing it into a fresh French bistro if his rainbow-ed right hand, Tiffany Pratt, would sign up for round two. It had been a year and a half since their first victorious collaboration, Piano Piano, and she couldn’t turn down the 400-square-foot blank canvas waiting across the road. So with no rules, guardrails or hands on the wheel except hers, she wandered off to dream before returning with a very official plan.
“This time, I went and got paint samples and fabric samples and literally brought a bag of shit and laid it on a table and was like, ‘This is the banquette, these are the walls, this is the wallpaper, this is the floor.’ I explained it all and they said yes.”
Cafe Cancan is a child born from that extreme trust, a point she drives home every time she discusses working with Barry.
“Not every design partnership has to be littered with multiple decisions,” Tiffany explains. “They didn’t come to me with a fully-baked concept I had to execute. I literally baked the design pie for them.”
She started by pulling on the coloured threads of fashion, innovating them with her signature textile and pattern play so the eye could dance down the long room. “Mustard yellow and minty greens and turquoise with this almost dusty purply-pink. It’s unlike any of the colour choices I’ve seen anywhere in the city,” she adds.
It’s a custom CMYK block the brand could sink its teeth into. Painted with the off-beat and adventurous Farrow and Ball cinder rose wall colour, sprinkled as green and pink plastic flecks laced into the white epoxy floors, dunked into the oxidized copper blue food menus and soft leather drink lists, it’s everywhere. And though there’s a lot going on in this airy, ethereal space, it all works. I’d argue it ultimately works because Tiffany and Victor do.
“I can’t go in the kitchen and fuck with his menu and he can’t come in the dining hall and tell me how to do it,”
“We’re such a force because we both stand for what we love and what we believe in. We care so much about our craft.”
It’s an alliance and alignment of crafts that boldly chucked a decade-old space into a new chapter. This pastel-soaked aperitif den with art storming from the kitchen in dreamy culinary detail now carries the torch as a reborn Cheers along Harbord.
The golden magic of Piano Piano and now Cafe Cancan isn’t lost on anyone, especially their creators.