Weekly Lunch Pick: Marben’s Monday brunch

Weekly Lunch Pick: Marben’s Monday brunch

The revamped Wellington West hot spot nails that perfect brunch ratio of sweet to savoury—even on Monday

The traditional breakfast at an untraditional time  

The place: Marben’s recently unveiled renovation—undulating ceiling slats, exposed-filament light bulbs, reclaimed wooden shelves, jarred preserves—is worth a peek, but it’s summer, and this is Toronto. We immediately request seating on the sunny front patio, where unmatched chairs, a green wall and a rustic communal table echo the interior’s cottage-chic design.

The crowd: King West’s polo-shirted bourgeoisie is in full force. Nearby are a clutch of hip, mature businesswomen and a pair of chatty designers with five cell phones on their table. In the corner sits a Dragons’ Den judge with two-tone hair and sunglasses that fool nobody.

The deal: Along with the new interior, Marben has brought in a new chef—Carl Heinrich, formerly of Cowbell—and new menus, including a unique Monday brunch. The idea here is to give the lazy weekend brunch experience to those have to work on Sundays. Staples are abundant, including eggs Benedict, English breakfast and more sausage than the Jays’ locker room, and nothing is priced over $12. The list of house caesars ($10), smoothies ($6) and cocktails ($10) rounds out Sunday’s best.

The meal: We approach the menu like serious brunchers, ordering the most hangover-busting items available. The traditional breakfast is composed of fried standards elevated to new salty heights: two sunny-side-up eggs ooze golden yolk at the touch of a fork; bunches of shoestring potatoes are cut into cubes before frying for a diversity of textures; and slices of crispy testina sausage (bacon wrapped in pork fat) lend porcine glory to whatever else is on the fork. The portion of bread pudding French toast ($9)—it looks small but fills us up quickly—is so sweet, buttery and rich, it could be moved directly to the dessert menu. An Ontario strawberry–banana smoothie ($6) is just tart enough and remains miraculously cold throughout the meal. One of the most memorable gasto-sensations we’ve had this summer comes right before we leave: a bite of the triple-chocolate ice cream sandwich, melting on the palate with a sip of flawlessly bitter Stumptown espresso.

The cost: $53.40 for two ($26.70 each), including tax, tip, smoothie and espresso.

The time: 69 minutes.

Marben, 488 Wellington St. W., 416-979-1990, marbenrestaurant.com.

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(Images: Matthew Fox)