A sneak peek at Claudio Aprile’s Origin brunch menu

A sneak peek at Claudio Aprile’s Origin brunch menu

Origin’s fabulously mustachioed bartender Taylor Corrigan prepares cocktails (Image: Davida Aronovitch) 

Claudio Aprile is about to dive into the most sacred of Toronto meals: brunch. Starting Saturday, February 5, Origin, the chef’s ten-month old restaurant, will serve the ritual feast on both Saturday and Sunday. The menu will feature Aprile’s unorthodox twists on classics, like dim sum-inspired French toast and elderberry mimosas. We caught up with Aprile to get a preview of what to expect.

For his “global brunch menu,” Aprile says he’s “not trying to reinvent the wheel”—just French toast. The idea came to him while eating a sticky bun at a dim sum joint: swap out sliced bread for the brioche from Origin’s dessert menu. The decadent, doughy bread is drowned in crème Anglaise, pan-seared and served with unexpected flavour pairings like olive oil–poached tomato, fior di latte, basil and pine nuts, or else duck confit, sesame brittle, hoisin and crème fraiche. April assures us that there will also be a straight-up version, for purists. “It’s a very sacred meal, we respect that.”

Aprile’s take on french toast (Image: Davida Aronovitch) 

Other dishes include poached egg on rosti with Thai sweet chili sauce and yogurt, and mac ’n’ cheese with chorizo. After opening week, look for a stylized steak and eggs, featuring a hulking six-pound beef shin smoked in house and served with the requisite eggs and other accompaniments, all meant for sharing. How exactly do you share eggs? Says Aprile: “Yeah, we’ll figure it out. It can’t be that hard.”

Indeed, the chef’s new easygoing attitude seems to extend to the dining room. Origin’s inaugural brunch weekend will be pay-what-you-want—inspired, Aprile says, by Radiohead’s sales strategy for In Rainbows. And if a patron were to dine and dash? “Ha! I think that’s when the tables turn and the chef becomes the blogger and photographer,” jokes Aprile, referring to his now-notorious run-in with the city’s food bloggers.

Brunch wouldn’t be brunch without a full list of cocktails. Aprile’s features twists on mid-morning favourites like the Caesar, made with house-made tomato water, Clamato and chili-infused vodka. Origin will also offer mimosas with different bases and blends. The Grand, for example, will feature St. Germain (French elderflower liqueur), prosecco and orange juice.

Even if the tradition-trumping brunch rubs diners the wrong way, there’s more empire up Aprile’s sleeve yet. He’s in talks about a cookbook (liquid nitrogen sold separately), a new restaurant (he’s in Uruguay for research next month) and a major reinvention at Colborne Lane come September.