Toronto’s hidden brunch gems
Some brunch spots may be worth a long wait, but lining up can be the least desirable activity for a weekend morning. We’ve put together a list of alternatives for those who’d rather get served than queue up. Our picks, organized by neighbourhood, after the jump.
Liberty Village: Mildred’s Temple Kitchen has picked up where Mildred Pierce left off: a west-end institution for brunch-seekers—but the wait for a table has moved to Liberty Village. A short stroll west, Brad Moore’s newest hot spot, School Bakery and Café, offers a tasty alternative with more free tables. The kitschy classroom paraphernalia makes a cute complement to the nostalgia-themed menu. The “gooey four-cheese” omelette soufflé ($10) is a cheesy cloud puff served with home fries. Try the peanut butter and jam chocolate chip cookies ($1.50) for a trip down memory lane. School Bakery and Café, 70 Fraser Ave. (at Liberty St.), 416-588-0005, www.sbcto.com.
Leslieville: Nestled in a breakfast-champion neighbourhood, Bonjour Brioche might hold the city’s record for the brunch crunch. And though the beloved roast beef sandwich may taste just like the French countryside, another European import, located just down the street, can satisfy brunch cravings very well and a little more quickly. Table 17’s affable manager, Gavin Holmes, keeps the atmosphere friendly and the coffee coming at this relaxed fusion bistro. English-style Cumbrae bangers ($5) are a popular choice; Neapolitan eggs ($11) promise a taste of Italy. Table 17, 782 Queen St. E., 416-519-1851, www.table17.ca.
Queen West: Hipster haunts Swan and The Drake have the clamouring Queen West brunch market cornered, so scoring a table at either usually involves considerable patience. Down the street, though, slick Bar One serves up weekend eats starting at 9 a.m. With the hippest local factions somewhat over it, there is always a free table—but the great food that attracted them in first place is still there. The creative menu will satisfy savoury and sweet palates alike. Salty creations include “egg in a hole,” with brie, peameal, bacon or salmon ($9); and the roast beef benito, served on an English muffin with caramelized onions and poached eggs ($12). Bar One, 924 Queen St. W. (at Shaw St.), 416-535-1655, www.bar-one.com.
Roncesvalles: The Sorauren staple Mitzi’s was such a hit that it spawned Mitzi’s Sister; but the spinoff bar does little to alleviate waiting crowds. Over on Roncesvalles, Butler’s Pantry is a homey and affordable option (omelettes $6.25–$8.25) that serves up a slim but appetizing range of such brunchables as French toast ($7.25) and eggs benny ($7.25–$9.95)—classic or veggie—every day of the week. Butler’s Pantry, 371 Roncesvalles Ave. (at Neepawa Ave.), 416-537-7750, www.butlerspantry.ca.
Yonge and Eglinton: Yonge and Eglinton pancake enthusiasts are so wanting for morning options that they’ve been known to queue up for the greasy spoon–style offerings at Sunset Grill. Last year, Boom Breakfast and Co. (a favourite of the College crowd) opened its biggest location just a few blocks west. Known for an impressive array of dishes and fruity smoothies, this alternative is already gaining on its competition. Fear not, though: if a line does start, staffers serve coffee and muffins—and sometimes waffles—to those who wait. Boom Breakfast and Co., 174 Eglinton Ave. W. (at Lascelles Blvd.), 416-485-3447, www.boombreakfast.com.
Yorkville: Crêpes á Gogo may have been early to jump on the city’s growing crêpe trend, but despite an influx of competition, it remains jam-packed on weekends. For a more serene experience, gogo over to Studio Café at the Four Seasons. The budget-conscious luxury lover will enjoy a prix fixe that includes a choice of appetizer, main, a fresh squeezed juice and coffee or tea for $34. Also on the menu is a selection of “wellness beverages,” in case the weekend lends itself more to dining than to yoga. Studio Cafe, 21 Avenue Rd. (at Cumberland St.), 416-928-7330, www.fourseasons.com/toronto.
Danforth: Swanky and conscientious, Globe Bistro is usually the main draw for the east-end eat-local movement. For those more interested in timeliness than geography, though, Allen’s is a good bet for classic fare. The Irish-American restaurant serves up the usual suspects in plentiful portions. Examples include eggs florentine ($9.75), pancakes ($8.95) and French toast ($8.95). Allen’s, 143 Danforth Ave. (at Broadview), 416-463-3086, www.allens.to.