Fine dining in the west end: Days on Front

Walking into Days on Front is a real contrast to the run-down plaza it’s situated in. Don’t let the exterior confuse you. Its non-descript location in Kingston’s west end allows Days on Front to remain one of the city’s best-kept secrets.

I first heard about Days on Front last year on the website Trip Advisor, where it was earning quite the positive reputation. Trip Advisor rarely fails me when it comes to restaurant, hotel or even salon recommendations. After reading the good reviews about the service and the food, I made a trip to experience the taste of a real contemporary Canadian cuisine. A bit of maple syrup and sage brown sugar enhance a homey butternut squash soup. Poutine has been upgraded with a topping of short rib and beef demi. These dolled up versions of classic dishes will be your break away from banal student cooking.


After remembering such attentive service and the interesting dishes, I was interested to see how the owner, Matt Day, got started in the restaurant business:

Q: What type of culinary background or experience did you have prior to opening Days on Front?
A: I can cook, but I’ve always worked the front-house business … My father, Clark Day … owned Clark’s by the Bay and Clark’s on King [and] operates Aqua Terra by Clark now… So I grew up with the business to begin with. I went to Queen’s and then after that I went to St. Lawrence College and took hotel restaurant management.


Q: What do you enjoy about managing your own restaurant?
A: Everyday is different – so that’s enjoyable and working with people is something I really like. It’s pretty incredible thinking of the things people come into a restaurant for and being able to affect those situations whether good or bad. Like on Saturday night, someone did a proposal

Q: How would you describe your restaurant’s cuisine?
A: Contemporary Canadian cuisine is the official title … basically we take really high-quality, locally-sourced products and turn it into something special without overcomplicating the food. I think often … people think if you add more components, that makes it fancy or good, but we don’t believe that a plate requires 17 different things … to make it an exceptional plate. Less is more in our food – more of the quality and flavour.

Q: What makes Days on Front different or unique?
A: We’re located in the west end of Kingston. We’re basically a sort of high-end casual restaurant … We’re sort of the offbeat track in a plaza you wouldn’t expect to find a fine-dining restaurant. What makes it different also is that I believe in our service level from front to back-end of the house… I believe we truly care, more than anyone else, about your dining experience from start to finish.


Q: Why did you choose to open Days on Front in the west end?
A: I live in the west end and I was always blown away that there wasn’t a nicer restaurant in the west end with so many people that live out here. Predominantly a lot of chain restaurants and a lot of simple, nice restaurants, but nothing sort of upper end [with that] downtown feel. So I felt there was a market, where downtown I felt there are a lot of great restaurants, and if anything [Kingston is] almost oversaturated [with downtown restaurants].

Q: What has been one of your favourite dishes to serve?
A: Our beef short rib is one of our signature plates. The nice part about that [compared to] a steak or something, [is that] it’s been braised for like three and a half hours. The sauce we make – the bordelaise takes two days – so it’s just something you’re not going to really do yourself at home unless you have a lot of time on your hands.

Q: Do you have any friends or family that help you out with the restaurant?
A: Jason Legere – he’s a partner and he’s the chef. We both used to work and operate at Aqua Terra… We just sort of decided to do a venture together.

We are definitely in a [residential] neighbourhood area … but we’ve been blow away by how many people from downtown and also the east end [and] north of the city, out of town [visitors], even tourists, that come to our restaurant.

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For students looking for a new place to eat, for a special occasion or to host your parents’ Kingston visit, I would recommend checking out Days on Front.

Day said that if students are looking for “a true feel of where Kingston eats”, and are hoping for a fine dining experience with good value, they should venture out to the west end and try a Days on Front experience themselves.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Days on Front is a 10-minute drive from Queen's. For more information about the restaurant, please visit: http://www.daysonfront.com/

For more information about the artwork and the the 50/50 project, please visit: www.the5050project.ca

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