This weekend, animal rights activists who had been protesting for weeks outside the Dundas West restaurant were horrified when the restaurant’s co-owner staged his own counter-protest.
The restaurant, Antler, is well known for its menu featuring "local seasonal and wild foods" native to Canada, such as duck, bison, rabbit, boar, and deer. The restaurant also serves foie gras, which has been long condemned for its cruelty to animals.
On Friday evening, a group of local activists stood in protest outside the restaurant, revealing on Facebook that it would be their fourth protest outside Antler.
"Last week was the first vegan menu board that they've had thanks to activists taking a stand for animals," the protest’s event description read, "It's a great start, but only a start. Antler serves the cruel foie gras, they also farm animals meant to run in the wild like deer."
According to the protesters, an hour into it, Michael Hunter, the restaurant's co-owner and chef, "brought out an entire animal leg and started cutting it up right in the window on a table reserved for diners."
Event organizer Marni Jill Ugar later posted on Facebook that she felt like Hunter was "taunting" the group by cutting up the deer leg right in front of them.
"Once the deer was cooked Michael Hunter, owner of Antler, sat back down at the window to eat the dead deer," she wrote, "Look in the window. Look at Michael Hunter. That deer was treated like a joke. That deer was an innocent animal who did not want to die."
Len Goldberg, an animal rights activist in Toronto, live streamed about 20 minutes of the incident. At one point, a number of police officers arrived and went into the restaurant, and were seen speaking to Hunter as prepared the meat.
A minute later, Hunter packed up his tools and meat, and both he and the police officers were seen smiling as they walked away.
"I'm not sure if the police were telling the owner to stop for trying to anger the protestors, or for ethical or health & safety violations," Goldberg said. "I just think this is very disturbing."
When asked about the protest, Antler replied in an email: "our identity as a restaurant is well known throughout the city as is our ethical farming and foraging initiatives.”
“While we would much rather not be the focus of these protests, we are not at all surprised," Hunter said, adding, "We simply want to carry on running a restaurant and have a peaceful environment where our guests can enjoy their food."