Brunch used to be a weekly occurrence for me. Fridays would be spent looking for the next place to check out and Saturdays and Sundays were built around where brunch would be eaten. This all stopped in April this year. I stopped going for brunch in an attempt to be more fiscally responsible (didn’t work) and to enjoy other aspects of living in the city beyond brunch (did work). My last brunch was sometime in April or May; Instagram tells me that it was at the end of April to Bar Buca.
This past Saturday was very exciting for me. It was the first time in approximately 4 months that I went out for a proper brunch. After running a few errands downtown, GC took me for brunch at OLD SCHOOL.
I’ve wanted to try Old School for a while now. It is located where The Huntsman Tavern used to be and I was excited to see what took over from that mess. It is super close to GC’s work, it’s open 24-hours/a day and it is by the same people behind SCHOOL in Liberty Village, which is one of my favourite brunch spots in the city.
We were initially sat at the bar to wait for our table to be cleared. We were seated for all of 2 minutes which seemed unnecessary but gave me enough time to gawk over the bar and the various in-house sodas they make. We were brought through the main area of the restaurant to be seated at a small table that overlooked the large, side patio.
The set-up is your classic, old school diner vibe, but a bit classier. There is no bright red booths and vinyl seating. The table tops aren’t yellowed and chips. Everything is black and white with classy touches of neon in the signs. I know what you are thinking, “Classy neon signs?” Yes, they can exist and do exist at OLD SCHOOL.
If you are getting back into the brunch game, you have to go big. After I ordered this, I regretted my decision. OLD SCHOOL is by the same people who do SCHOOL so I immediately thought that the chicken and waffles would be the exact same but I was pleasantly surprised that they are not. These waffles have been brought to another level. The chicken is boneless, which is a must for chicken and waffles so that you can easily cut into and have a little bite of chicken with each bite of waffle. The chicken has been rubbed with an assortment of spices prior to frying and the result is tender, juicy and slightly spicy chicken. This is some of the best fried chicken I have had.
And then on top of that, I get to smother it in Tabasco-pepper honey? This honey elevated this dish to a simple play on sweet and savoury to making you forget that you are eating breakfast. This honey was HOT. With the addition of the Tabasco the honey changed consistency and was the perfect viscosity for pouring over everything on the plate.
The whipped vanilla butter was a heavenly spread. It was silky and soft and it melted beautifully into every pocket of the waffle. It had the subtlest taste of vanilla which despite all the savoury flavours reminded you that you were eating a decadent, almost dessert-like dish for breakfast.
With all these delicious things sitting on top, you almost forget the waffle! The waffle is light on the inside but nicely browned and crunchy on the outside. It doesn’t crumble under the butter, honey and chicken and can stand as its own breakfast item but why just order waffles when you can order chicken and waffles?
The chicken in this sandwich is the same delicious chicken that was on my waffles so this sandwich was good. The fries were yummy – the perfect amount of crunch on the outside while retaining the potato texture on the inside. They were seasoned with the right amount of salt and pepper, to add a slight kick without making the fries weirdly spicy.
Our meals were both so ridiculous and huge that we didn’t even touch the side of sausage. When the server came to collect our plates she seemed legitimately concerned that we didn’t enjoy the sausage. We assured her that we would likely love it but that we were just too stuffed and would have to take it home. We had the sausage the next day with a homemade breakfast and it was good. You could taste the fruity, smokiness from the Applewood smoking and it was well-ground and tightly compacted into the casing.
We walked through to the back of the restaurant, through the general store to pay our bill. The general store was cute: various pastries, cookies and muffins to go along side coffees to be enjoyed outside of the restaurant. When we were settling our bill, one of the servers gave us a free cookie “just because”! I will support any restaurant that will give me free food! The cookie was enjoyed later that weekend. It was massive, about the size of a dessert plate. It stayed crunchy and moist despite being half-eaten by me and then leaving it out for GC to have the other half. I know, I’m an amazing wife.
It seems like OLD SCHOOL has overcome any kinks or complaints that were made upon first opening and now have a solid brunch and coffee game. I will definitely be revisiting this spot to enjoy more classic diner food.