Patois

My first delicious brunch of 2015 was at Patois. In the first weeks of January we headed over to Dundas West to meet up with two old friends, Victoria and Laura. We met them separately and then together: GC has known the girls since high school, and I met them in university. Patois is the perfect spot to catch up with old friends – it is Asian cuisine meets Jamaican-soul food, combining comforting old standards with fun contemporary twists. It is food that personifies the past and the future: dishes you have come to know and trust but looking forward to innovation, change and new, exciting things.

The restaurant is small but cozy, reminiscent of a tiki bar on a beach. Yes, I do realize tiki bars are not Jamaican but the atmosphere is consistent with being on vacation: natural materials, golden pineapples and floaty toys hanging from the ceiling. We were seated at a table for four past the bar, half of us sitting in booths, half on chairs.

Be warned: when you go to Patois for brunch, coffee is expensive and adds up. They do not have regular drip coffee, so you will be ordering Americanos that do not come with free refills. It is a small thing but it will add up quickly and do you really love coffee that much that you want to spend 1/4 of your brunch cost on it? I think not.

Scratch Kitchen

The first brunch of 2015! As someone who eats brunch a lot, it was important for me to start my Brunches of 2015 on a high note. I know this is a ridiculous notion as the ending of one year isn’t really any more significant than the ending of a regular day, week, month but convention dictates that we must reflect on the past 365 days and makes goals for the next 365 days. My brunch-related resolutions are:

  1. Complete the BlogTO Top 50 Brunch List. I am so close to this goal with only 5 more to go. In 2015, I want to be done this list once and for all.
  2. Create my own Top 10 brunch list. You have all been waiting with baited breath for this list and in 2015 I want to be able to deliver this to you.
  3. Go out for brunch less. And instead, make brunch at home. And even host more brunches. Between Breakfast Central and our epic espresso machine, I should be able to create a breakfast at home to rival any restaurant in Toronto.

My first brunch of 2015 did not fulfill any of these goals but that’s ok. You can’t always be a stickler for the rules. We decided to check our Scratch Kitchen, a new restaurant just north of Lawrence and Yonge, a location we loosely consider our neighbourhood. Since it is “in our neighbourhood” we wanted to check out if it could become our new, go-to brunch spot.

Although it was technically a weekday morning (a Friday, the day after New Year’s Day) the restaurant was about half full. They obviously did not assume a lot of people would have this day off and would want to go for brunch because there was only one server working. To be fair, he was hustling. He was seating people, taking orders, making coffee and lattes and doing kitchen runs.

We were seated at a table near the back of the restaurant, against the giant blackboard wall. This wall had drawings of pigs with cuts of meat, daily special and drinks. It’s a neat focal point however, sitting next to a giant black board results in excessive amounts of dust on everything.

I wasn’t overly impressed with the menu. It had 4 proper breakfast options, 3 of which were variations of your standard egg breakfasts. It was very sandwich heavy which is fine, but sandwiches do not scream brunch to me. I understand brunch is literally a combination of breakfast and lunch menu items but I don’t want to eat a sandwich at 10 o’clock in the morning. Despite this, I wanted to order the pulled pork sandwich. They had run out. This bothered me because they were closed the day before which meant they hadn’t planned ahead and did not make the pork the night before. Fine. I will order a different sandwich.

I ordered the BLT.

IMG_2885In-House 10 day cured bacon, local Ontario tomatoes and seasonal greens with house made Chardonnay mayonnaise.

B is the first letter in BLT and therefore should be the dominate ingredient and flavour. Then why was there this excessive amount of lettuce on my sandwich? When I could finally get to some bacon it was very good. It was fatty and crispy, with the right amount of saltiness to it. The Chardonnay mayo was nice; it added the right amount of tang and zest to the sandwich. There was a little bit too much of it on the sandwich which made it a bit sloppy and difficult to eat. The home fries were good – cooked thoroughly and not too crispy. This was decent but not great. I would not go back to eat it or recommend it.

GC ordered the Steak and Eggs.

IMG_2884Certified AAA Angus Ontario beef, served with 2 certified organic farm fresh eggs, home fries and choice of in-house baked bread.

Did you cut up my steak for me to disguise the amount you gave me? To be fair, this was the cheapest steak and eggs I’ve ever seen on a menu – it was $12 – so it is completely reasonable that you are not getting a massive portion of it. The server had said that the serving is supposed to be 4 oz. but the portion typically ends up being 6 oz. 4 oz. is not huge; that’s the size of a Quarter-Pounder hamburger at McDonald’s. On top of which, GC was not asked how he wanted his steak cooked. Steak is something that everyone has a preference on how they want it cooked. GC typically like medium-well and this steak was medium-rare. The in-house baked baguette was a nice touch.

We liked our breakfast but we didn’t love it. Overall, the service was slow, the food was okay and we weren’t spectacularly impressed. In a city that has such a prominent brunch scene it is hard to make an impact, and unfortunately for us, Scratch Kitchen did not. Brunches of 2015 did not get off to a great start but there are 356 more days to fix that!

Happy munching!

A Year in Review: 2014

IMG_1884

Photo Credit: GC – Praia de Luz, Portugal

2014 is over! This has been one of the craziest, busiest, most amazing year of all time. Between the wedding, honeymoon and everything in between, I don’t even know where to begin with a look-back on the year. Below are the resolutions that I set out for myself for 2014 and how I did with them.

Life resolutions.

  1. Knit more. I literally did not knit anything this year but did acquire some lovely homemade knitted pieces from my uber talented sister Liz. This counts right? It obviously doesn’t but I swear, I will knit in 2015.
  2. Exercise more. I did this! I ran a 5K in September and was doing a series of exercises at home. This was working up until the wedding and then two weeks of eating rich, decadent food in Spain and Portugal threw all this by the wayside. Unfortunately, all progress and evidence of fitness has disappeared. New year, new goals, new exercise.
  3. Read more. My reading has picked up but has been mostly limited to biographies by IWs and food-related things. I am currently working through The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and The Trouble with Brunch. The 2015 reading list is shaping up. Any and all suggestions on reading materials are welcome.
  4. Write more. I was writing more but then of course I didn’t write from July until November. Eek. Next year I plan to be more up-to-date on my writings so when you read about a restaurant it hasn’t closed.

Food resolutions.

  1. Bake more. I did not do this. My Christmas baking was limited to 3 types of cookies instead of the traditional 5 (at least!). Given that I am trying to be slightly healthier in 2015, I will likely be refraining from excessive baking.
  2. Use cookbooks more. Pinterest is a dangerous, dangerous thing. Instead of referencing the dozens of cookbooks I have, I refer to Pinterest. I am placing a moratorium on the cookbook-buying so please, gift me cookbooks. Or suggest pins from Pinterest.
  3. Host more. We hosted our own rehearsal dinner (horrible idea, I would not recommend this to anyone), our first annual-Christmas party and 2 Christmas brunches. 2015 promises more cocktail parties, craft beer nights and brunches.
  4. Try more. I ate urchin this year. That’s as weird as it gets unfortunately.
  5. Read more. In keeping with food-related reading, a new list I will be working off is the James Beard award-winners list for Best Book: Food and Literature.
  6. Master more. I have made ice cream but haven’t mastered it, I did not make jam and I haven’t made a mint julep. I have however, mastered the homemade brunch, macaroni and cheese and your 15-minute weeknight dinner. Going forward, I have deemed 2015 the year of the cocktail. I recently fell in absolute envy with a bartender at 416 Snack Bar who was able to make any drink on demand with elegance and simplicity. My goal is to master the gimlet, the Manhattan, the Old-Fashioned and the martini in 2015.

Have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve and all the best food, drink and celebrations for 2015!