Sunday, December 05, 2010

Toronto brunch

Consider this an ever-evolving post to fulfill your most pressing brunch needs.  Last-visited dates for each location will be in brackets. Frankly, after the original Hoof Cafe closed, brunch died a little for me, look at the dates below and see how long ago it's been since I went for brunch! (updated November 20, 2013)

Hart House Gallery Grill [11-2012]
With the demise of Hoof Cafe, Gallery Grill takes the top spot for me, even though I rarely go. It's been consistent for like, over a decade, so I figure it's pretty reliable. Upscale, atmospheric, good service, an interesting menu that changes often, reasonable prices, plus they take reservations. I don't think there's actually anything I don't like about Gallery Grill.
Beast [01-2013] - An interesting mix of brunch items, Sam James-approved coffee and tasty desserts with a great patio. Teeny space on Tecumseth, no reservations, constantly changing menu. Brunch on both Saturdays and Sundays! I find that brunch here has actually gotten stronger over the years.
Chantecler [11-2013] - I love Chantecler; my only problem with this place is that they're a bit far for me to go regularly. Sunday lunches have recently started here and it's a nice mix of a few regular-brunchy type items and the spin-on-Chinese stuff which comprises most of their menu. Going to Chantecler for brunch would sort of be like my equivalent of going to dim sum.

Not in a bad way; these are places which I actually quite liked but don't consider favourites.  Because if every place was my favourite then that's pretty much the same as having no opinion, which would render all this totally useless.
THERE IS NO MORE LIST HERE! Ugh, this is what brunch has devolved to. Actually, this is cheating but if you can, get a taco from Banh Mi Boys and add scrambled egg to it, it's delicious.

1.  Java House [11-2012] on Queen - So cheap. Umm like $6 after tax and tip for bacon, eggs, toast (excellent thick delicious toast), home fries and fruit or salad. And never a line. This place hasn't changed for years, it's pretty reliable.
2.  Roaming around Kensington Market [um, all the time?]. So many options, so little time! I like to start with a Spudagel from My Market Bakery (tell them you want it heated) and roam from there. Salsa's also makes a good stop (for taquitos) as do the various Latin grocery stores (for pupusas). I also find it hard to say no to a Patty King double.

Ugh, large groups (like, I dunno, 10+ people?) are the bane of my dining existence. It's hard to find a really excellent place to suit the varied tastes and wallets of a large group. Try one of the hotels, they all serve brunch. Or, actually, I had around 15 people for brunch at Gallery Grill and it was awesome so you could try there (if your group is around 10, you can get the cool little side room - or if you have more people, just do what I did and take over the entire bar area). If you're looking at a really big group and are super awesome, you could call Beast and arrange to reserve the entire restaurant. My recommendation for this category is actually to not have a giant group brunch.

Like mother's day.
1.  Hart House Gallery Grill [11-2012] - If you want this for mother's day, book early. Like, right now. Whatever day you're reading this, book now.
2.  Splendido [05-2013] - Ditto, book this now if you want it for mother's day.
3.  Hotel brunches - Because they are generally big and fancy. I went to the King Eddie brunch with my mom in 2010 and it was pleasant (just make sure you get a table in the nice room where the food is). And the Ritz seems to have a pretty awesome brunch (spendy though).

Karine's [5-2012] - All day breakfast, every day I think.
Java House [11-2012] serves all-day breakfast daily.
Beast  [01-2013] has Saturday brunch.
1.  Hibiscus [6-2012] - The salads here are so good that I get cravings for them. Hibiscus doesn't actually leap to mind for me when I think "brunch" but their hours (11-6) are such that it's a bit difficult to get there for other meals. Instead of "brunch," when I think of Hibiscus, I think "I want to eat here all the time." Kensington Market.
2.  Karine's [5-2012] - It's in the Village by the Grange foodcourt and seems lame until you eat the food, then you realize it's not lame.
You may be wondering whether someone who would be in the running for the position of "Princess of Pork" (if such a wonderous position existed) can be trusted to select vegetarian/vegan brunch options. However, I've been to Sadie's Diner, Fressen and Urban Herbivore at brunch and to Fresh for dinner and none of them come close to the deliciousness of the above two. And just an FYI, if anyone wants a gluten-free option, Kensington Cornerstone has a fully gluten-free menu.

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