I have very mixed feelings about brunch. Like many other ladies out there, I really enjoy the gathering together on Saturday or Sunday morning, probably a bit worse for the wear, sipping coffees, recounting exploits, eating eggs etc. And of course, like any reasonable human, I love breakfast foods. But I think brunch menus have become a bit of a “formula,” that in most cases just doesn’t seem inspired. You know what formula I mean: endless eggs benny + mimosas. From my perspective, if you’re going to do something that’s a classic, you need to do it extremely well, and most places are getting by with adequate. That being said, Toronto has some excellent places to participate in the ritual that is brunch that offer either something a little “beyond” the classic menu, or are able to deliver food that I would call “exceptional.” In no particular order, here are my favourite places for brunch in Toronto.
For years, my favourite place for brunch in the city was a restaurant called Deluxe on Ossington that despite their dinner menu (which was decidedly bistroesque), offered an amazing Cuban style brunch. When I found out they were closing down I was heartbroken. Luckily, the owners of Deluxe opened La Cubana in it’s place – first with a location in Ronscesvalles, and then in the original Deluxe space on Ossington (both have slightly different menus) – serving classic Cuban food all day, every day. The brunch is extremely satisfying and well balanced with commanding flavours. My go-to dish is the Cuban breakfast which comes with slow roasted pork shoulder, rice and beans, fried plaintains, a spicy slaw and poached eggs. I’ve also enjoyed the chorizo hash with sunnyside up eggs. Oh, and don’t miss out on the doughnuts. //392 Roncesvalles Avenue & 92 Ossington Ave, Website
Mildred’s Temple Kitchen (pictured in header)
A big, bright space in Liberty Village, that has delicious scones, and probably the best pancakes in the city. A little bit more “classy” as far as brunch places go, this is an ideal place to take your mom or family. // 85 Hanna Ave, Website
An unpretentious and cozy spot offering all-day breakfast. I love their seasonal omeletttes, breakfast sandwiches, and even their ploughman’s lunch. I think my favourite thing about The Federal is that all eggs come with potato rosti – the superior brother to hashbrowns. // 1438 Dundas St. W, Website
There are issues that I have with Saving Grace – notably the fact that they will randomly shut down for a week or two, but have no website or online place to actually notify their customers. The number of times I’ve shown up and they were closed for no reason is astounding. But their brunch is damn good. What’s best about Saving Grace is everything that isn’t on the menu – the list of 7 or 8 specials that are posted daily. There’s always a waffle, an omelette, some kind of baked egg dish, a sandwich and something unexpected. They use tons of herbs, spices, and fresh seasonal veg in everything they make and the food is not fancy, but it is mighty tasty. // 907 Dundas St. W (No Website)
This is one of the places that Anthony Bourdain went to when he came to Toronto which was enough to encourage me to check it out. The decor is not the warmest for brunch, but the food is really well done. We always start with some of rachelle’s daily doughnuts and then move on to either the Labatt 50 breakfast (your choice of smoked beast bacon, grilled chorizo, pork belly or peameal bacon served with two eggs any style, toast, house potatoes or mixed greens and a cold bottle of fifty), or the huevos rancheros (one of my go-to brunch dishes). // 96 Tecumseth St., Website
The Stop Cafe
This isn’t really a brunch place per se. But I wouldn’t be writing a true account of my favourite Toronto brunch if I didn’t include my go-to Saturday morning grub at The Stop Cafe at the Wychwood Barns Farmers’ Market. The profits from the cafe support The Stop’s excellent outreach and community programs, which should be reason enough for you to drop by after the market. But the food also happens to be delicious and made with all farm fresh ingredients from the market. The menu is different every week, but some past favourites include sweet waffles with stewed rhubarb, savory waffles with egg and tomato jam, and a mushroom frittata breakfast sandwich with tomato jam. // 601 Christie St., Website
I discovered L’Ouvrier one day when we showed up at Saving Grace and they were (surprise!) randomly closed. The space is fresh and beautiful, and your meal and drinks come in lovely mismatched china. The food is great – I love the smoked trout, and of course, the scones with preserves. // 791 Dundas St. W., Website
I included Me&Mine because they do my favourite ‘classic breakfast’ in the city – poached eggs, sausage or bacon, salad, potatoes, and really good toast with a seasonal compound butter (I’ve had the beet – it’s perfect). The atmosphere is really casual and cozy, with hanging planters and coffee served in enamelware. 1144 College St., Website
I enjoy the middle eastern inspired brunch at Fat Pasha. Go with a group and share a bunch of dishes – shakshuka, the whole head of cauliflower covered in tahini, halloumi and pomegranate, and the salatim (which are essentially mezze). I always mean to save room for the nutella babka bread pudding, which I hear is excellent. Tip: they take reservations for brunch, so make one. // 414 Dupont St., Website
So, where have I missed? Where should I be hitting up in 2015?