Ok Ok

My experience of brunch at Ok Ok can be summed up in three statements: Ok Ok: Why I don’t go to the East end of Toronto for anything. Ok Ok: Why I don’t go for brunch anymore. Ok Ok: Why I will only order huevos rancheros from Mexican restaurants.

As you can tell, I didn’t love my experience here. We visited this spot for brunch back when I felt shackled by completing the BlogTO Top 50 list and this was one of the restaurants that made me rethink this list. The drive was too far, the restaurant was your standard diner and the menu was anything from special. It was not worth any of the effort. But of course, we HAD to go so I could complete the list.

So we went. The restaurant is cute. It is a small, retro diner with narrow booths and stools overlooking the open kitchen. There is large windows at the front of the restaurant letting in natural light and warming the place up. The decor is slightly dated and could be updated however, this adds to the comforting, neighbourhood-feel of the place. The restaurant was filled with regulars, which is typically a good sign of the quality of the food and service.

GC ordered the California Club.

IMG_3528 IMG_3529The California Club with grilled chicken breast, bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado and mayo.

GC didn’t have complaints about this sandwich. It was your standard club made fancy with the addition of some smushed avocado. The chicken was cooked properly: it was tender and moist. The bacon was crispy without being burnt. It was nothing special and certainly nothing worth going to Leslieville for.

I ordered the Huevos.

IMG_3530The Huevos with 3 eggs scrambled with mozzarella, Monterrey jack with spicy black bean and wrapped in a tortilla and lightly grilled. Topped with guacamole, sour cream, salsa and green onion.

How is this Huevos? When this appeared, my first thought was, “This is a breakfast burrito and a sad one at that.” The menu did warn me that this would be huevos wrapped in a tortilla but this isn’t how I was picturing the wrap job. I was picturing it to be more bowl-like.

When I order huevos I expect to see runny eggs, mounds of beans and salsa, pillows of guacamole and crispy tortillas. This did not meet any of my expectations. The eggs were not runny, they were scrambled dry. The cheese did not melt and becoming stringy. The black beans where folded into the eggs to such an extent that you couldn’t distinguish the flavours and textures. The placement of the condiments was bizarre since you needed to scrape them off in order to cut into the huevos.

If I lived in the neighbourhood, I might frequent this spot but as Leslieville is filled with brunch spots (Lady Marmalade and Bonjour Brioche to name two excellent spots) I think that would be a poor choice.

Happy munching!


On a quiet Sunday in September, we headed down to Church Street to check out Smith. The restaurant is in an old Victorian-row house on Church Street, slightly hidden from view. The only hint of the restaurant is a red marquee sign in the window spelling out the name. There is bar seating just outside the restaurant on the sidewalk. The restaurant is narrow, with twists and turns leading to the back patio which is one of the most romantic, cozy spaces in the city.


The gate opens to overlook a park off Church Street. The benches are decorated with mismatched pillows of varying sizes and fabrics. The exposed brick wall is painted in sections and natural in others, giving a very industrial feel to the space. The tables are rough and rustic, reminiscent of barn doors. On our table there was an antique porcelain cabinet knob that was turn upside down holding a single sprig of lavender. It is simple and cute.

GC ordered the Benedict.


The Benedict with poached eggs, parmesan leek fondue and home fries.

Yes. Fondue should always be a topping not a dipping sauce. The parmesan leek fondue is nutty with the garlicky freshness from the leeks. It is thick and rich but does not overwhelm the eggs. This is an adult version of an already adult breakfast item. It is fancy without being stuffy and pretentious. It is fresh and tastes of spring. This would be the perfect addition to an Easter brunch.

I ordered the Huevos Rancheros.IMG_1446 IMG_1447The Huevos Rancheros with tortillas, poached eggs, black beans, guacamole, sour cream and salsa.

Another perfect dish. This huevos rancheros is fresh and light but is packed with protein and flavour. The guacamole is creamy, as if it is blended with sour cream but maintains the lightness of a sauce. The salsa is chunky and fresh, allowing the fruitiness of the tomato shine through, with hints of spice. The tortilla is toasted and a strong support for the pile of food mounded on top but is still tender enough to slice through perfect bites of Mexican yumminess.

The brunch was a bit pricey, but it is definitely worth it as a treat. I returned a few weeks ago for a Winterlicious dinner with a friend and it delivered just as much as the brunch did. I can’t wait for the return of warm weather so that I can return to this patio and enjoy a delicious brunch once again.

Happy munching!

Mitzi’s Cafe

In October we headed down to Mitzi’s Cafe. Mitzi’s is located in the residential neighbourhood near Roncesvalles. It is surrounded by homes and parks which means tons of young parents and children. The more brunches I have, the more I realize that this is a young family pursuit that is trying to ruin my leisurely start to the weekend. I like children, I swear, but I do not like screaming, strollers and having Cheerios thrown at me.

It is a cute cafe/art gallery that is homey and quaint. I was immediately taken in by the chalkboard filled with the daily specials. A restaurant focusing on specials means fresh ingredients and creative dishes. We both decided to order daily specials.

GC ordered the omelet special of the day.

IMG_2270The daily omelet: a fluffy omelet stuffed with sausage, roasted peppers and topped with a caramelized onion aioli.

This was a hearty omelet. The peppers brought out the natural sweetness of the sausage. The omelet with filled with all these amazing, fresh ingredients. The caramelized onion aioli was sweet and salty.

I ordered the scrambled special of the day.

IMG_2271 IMG_2273The daily scramble: fluffy scrambled eggs with slow oven roasted cherry tomatoes and spinach topped with fresh oregano infused whipped feta cheese.

Holy healthy deliciousness. I love, love, loved this scramble. It was light, flavourful and filling. The eggs were fluffy, airy and light. The combination of vegetables was very reminiscent of warmer months and back gardens. The highlight of this scramble was definitely the oregano infused whipped feta cheese. I didn’t even consider whipping feta cheese let alone infusing it with herbs. The cheese became sauce-like as it smothered my eggs. This sauce should be on everything.

I really loved Mitzi’s. It was homey, simple and had delicious comfort food. It is worth a visit but keep in mind that as it is full of young families you should show up early!

Happy munching!

Universal Grill

As 2014 winds down, the BlogTO Top 50 is slowing being crossed off and whittled down. I have 6 more restaurants to go and 8 more to write about – not bad for a list that was released in August 2013. The yet-to-visit list consists of East-end spots and one vegan restaurant – no surprise there that I haven’t eaten a vegan brunch yet.

A few weeks ago we visited Universal Grill. We pass this spot constantly as we drive along Dupont and its brightly coloured exterior has always appealed to me. The inside is your typical retro diner, with stools at the bar and lots of booths. When we arrived on a Saturday morning the restaurant was full but not packed. Given this, I was disappointed that we were shoved in the corner. The spot was tight and awkward. GC and I are not obese or huge, but we are also not small people. This was not a nice fit for us.

Maybe it was because we were hidden in a corner, but we waited too long to be served. Tables that arrived and were seated after us were served before us. When we did finally order, it took FOREVER to get our food. I’m not speaking in hyperbole here: we waited at least 45 minutes to get our order. Ok. I guess this would fall under hyperbole but still a ridiculous amount of time to wait. This is a ridiculous amount of time to wait for any meal let alone brunch which heavily features eggs which take hardly any time to cook.

GC ordered The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich. IMG_2516

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich with spinach, bacon, farmer’s Swiss, cheddar, goat cheese and tomato on challah with spuds.

GC was apprehensive at first that the combination of cheese would be too much and would create too much contrast. Instead, the various cheeses added depth of flavour and texture that worked in harmony together. It was oozy and gooey. Despite all the cheese, it wasn’t overly salty. The spinach and tomato added the perfect amount fresh, crispness to cut the richness of all the cheese.

I ordered the Huevos Rancheros.

IMG_2518The Huevos Rancheros with grilled tortilla, spicy red beans, fried egg, cheddar, guacamole and sour cream.

This was a tasty huevos. The crispy tortilla spears were a great garnish, giving a balance of tortilla crunch through the dish rather than just supporting it. Often the tortilla supporting the whole tower will become crispy and soggy, this ensured you would still enjoy a crunch with every bite. The beans were the right amount of spy. The egg was a little too fried for my liking: there was no oozy, running egg all over my rancheros. The guacamole was too thick and I prefer mine without tomatoes. It allows the guac to be smooth and creamy with the occasional chunk.

This place is cute and is obviously a neighbourhood hot spot. If I lived down the street, and this was my local brunch spot, I might be able to tolerate the service since the food was fairly decent. Since I have to trek out this way, I won’t become a regular.

Happy munching!

Lazy Daisy’s Cafe

On Sunday morning GC was sleeping off the effects of a midnight shift so I to let him sleep in peace and explored the city on my own. My wanderings led me to the East End, an area I literally never go, and I went for my first solo brunch at Lazy Daisy’s Cafe.

Lazy Daisy’s Cafe is a cute restaurant that has a mixture of tables with chairs, arm chairs and a small play area with toys and games for kids ranging in age from 2 and up. There is a large coffee bar and display case at the front of the restaurant which showcases delicious pastries and take-away sandwiches. When you enter the restaurant, you seat yourself and order at the bar. You pick up your coffee right away and your food will be brought to your table. Or you can order out.

I ordered The Ultimate.

IMG_0249IMG_0251 IMG_0253The Ultimate with Mennonite sausage, fried free range egg, melted cheddar & Wellesly farm apple butter stacked on a toasted buttery country breakfast biscuit.

This is one of the best breakfast sandwiches I have ever eaten. The biscuit with buttery and flaky, but still substantial enough to hold together under the weight of the fillings. The sausage was link sausage that had been cut in half and spread out across the surface of the biscuit. It was juicy, slightly fatty and salty and had that hint of sweetness that all good breakfast sausages should have. The egg was fried so that it didn’t ooze all over your hands and face which is how I prefer my eggs when they are in a breakfast sandwich. The cheese was sharp and complimented the sweet, saltiness of the sausage.

My only disappoint with my breakfast was its size. It definitely should have come with a side salad or more fruit. If this option was available to me, I didn’t see it on the menu and wasn’t offered it. Some of the other items on the brunch menu are slightly bigger (the French toast and the big breakfast) but for the menu is primarily sandwiches, making this a light breakfast option.

Happy munching!


The Federal

Over the Easter weekend GC and I managed to squeeze in some alone time for ourselves and of course brunch. We went for brunch on Easter Sunday to The Federal.

IMG_0218As soon as we walked up to the restaurant I was in love. I loved the font the name was in, thumb the fact that the restaurant was located in an old store front with display window flanking the entrance and the retro fixtures and flooring that could be seen from the exterior.

We sat at a small table with a bench and a chair, medicine close to the bar and with a good view of the restaurant. There were a handful of other people enjoying an early Easter breakfast.

GC ordered the Eggs Federal.

IMG_0214Poached eggs on an English muffin with mushroom tarragon cream and bacon.

This is a delightful spin on the classic eggs Benedict. The eggs were oozy and thick, the English muffin was soft and moist, and the bacon was crispy and smoky. I love Hollandaise sauce and love it so much that I have gone on record to say I will never learn how to make it in order to avoid becoming obese as it will be drizzled, smothered and dipped over and in everything. However, I did not miss my Hollandaise with this dish. This sauce is a delicious, healthier (maybe or at least seemingly?) alternative to your traditional Hollandaise. It is sweet, thick and creamy with hints of the woody, richness from mushrooms. It literally tastes like spring. This was the perfect dish to enjoy on an Easter weekend.

I ordered the Cubano Sandwich.

IMG_0215 IMG_0216 IMG_0217The Cubano sandwich with roast pork, cheddar, ham, avocado, Dijon, pickled red onion and dill pickle and served with greens and potato rosti.

This is easily one of the best sandwiches I have ever had. So freakin’ amazing and delicious! It was crispy and toasted, with the right amount of butter to make the bread rich and fatty but not take away from the sandwich. The combination of two types of pork was heavenly: the pulled pork was juicy and the ham was salty and slightly crispy. The avocado was the perfect ripeness where it is tender but not mushy and slightly sweet. I love, love, loved both the pickled red onion and the dill pickle. They both added a tart, sweetness to the sandwich. I would eat this sandwich again and again.

I finished off my sandwich by washing it down with some house-made raspberry mint lemonade that was absolutely divine. I will be searching for recipes for this so I can make it at home.

I loved my experience at this restaurant. It was quaint and simple but with interesting menu items and flavours. I would definitely go back but have to try really hard not to order the Cubano again.

Happy munching!

The Saint

My ideal weekend morning contains two things: brunch and discovering a new neighbourhood. Brunch is relaxing and comforting for me.  The restaurants always seem to have ample sunlight pouring into them regardless of the season; there is a low hum of conversation and amazing smells surrounding you. Brunch brings out the best in your company, whether it is a brunch date with a boyfriend or a friend, a large group of people reconnecting or just a good book or newspaper. Brunch recharges me and gets me ready for the next week ahead.

New neighbourhoods remind me that this city is vast and is constantly changing. My neighbourhood of choice is the Annex. It contains huge sentimental value for me from the house were GC lived when we first started dating to the restaurant where I first ate sushi. Walking through the streets is literally a walk down memory lane for me. New neighbourhoods have new surprises: unseen streets, new tastes and smells and new favourite spots.

This weekend combined both of those: we had a much anticipated brunch at The Saint and wandered through the residential streets of Little Portugal. We had been looking forward to this brunch for two weeks. GC had been working midnights making the ability to go to brunch on weekend near impossible.

Reason #1 to go to The Saint for brunch: THEY TAKE RESERVATIONS. This is almost unheard of in Toronto for brunch. We made a reservation late Saturday night and showed up at 10:30 and were promptly seated. When we arrived at the restaurant there was not a lot of full people in the restaurant but it quickly filled up.

We were seated at a small bistro table. The table was cute and cozy but between our coffee cups, water glasses, cutlery, napkins and plates it was a tight squeeze. Reason #2 to go to The Saint for brunch: they serve amazing coffee. I have recently switched to coffee at brunch rather than orange juice because a) it makes me feel like an actual adult and b) because unlimited refills.If you are an avid coffee drinker and bad coffee ruins your meal when you go out for brunch, look no further.

We started with an ordered of deviled eggs.

IMG_0065Deviled Eggs with bacon, jalapeños and sour cream.

Reason #3 to go to The Saint for brunch: deviled eggs! Deviled eggs are one of those things that everyone agrees are delicious but for some reason, people rarely make them. These eggs were creamy and rich, having a flavour palate of this decade rather than the 1970s. The bacon added saltiness and the jalapeños added a very subtle heat. Yum, yum, yum!

GC ordered the Steak and Eggs.

IMG_0066 IMG_0067Steak and eggs with bone marrow baked beans, fried duck eggs, cheddar biscuits and brown sauce.

I had contemplated ordering this but I am glad I didn’t because it is ridiculously huge! I was allowed, however, to munch from GC’s plate. My favourite part of this dish was the bone marrow baked beans. Now, I typically don’t like baked beans but these beans are on a whole other level. They are sweet, salty, rich and decadent. Bone marrow should be added to anything and everything if the result is this delicious.

The only thing we weren’t crazy about was the brown sauce. Brown sauce is a traditional UK side to breakfast and it is like a sweet barbecue sauce. I don’t think I need this as part of my breakfast. Sorry.

I ordered the Croque Madame.

IMG_0068 IMG_0069The Croque Madame with ham, mornay, gruyere and greens.

Reason #4 to go to The Saint for brunch: they serve Croque monsieurs and madames. This is a menu item that I usually don’t order outside of Quebec and I absolutely love it. This version was just as good as anything I have eaten in Quebec. The bread was toasted and crispy, the cheese and sauce oozed out of the sandwich and were silky, thick and decadent. The egg on top was a duck egg and because of this dish, I have completely fallen in love with duck eggs. I would like to replace all regular eggs with duck eggs. The yolk is thicker, more luscious and has a richness to it. Yummmms.

After brunch we explored the neighbouring streets and checked out some beautiful homes and some neat graffiti. There are tons of hidden alleyways to pop in and out of. This is a neighbourhood we are slowly discovering through various restaurant visits and we will definitely be going back again and again to The Saint. I think you should go too!

Happy munching!


Another Saturday, story another brunch. Last weekend I found myself at SCHOOL for brunch with Cynthia.

Photo Credit: Fashionista 514

SCHOOL is a cozy restaurant in Liberty Village that has embraced its name throughout the restaurant: apples on every table, a wall covered in clocks stuck at 3:30 in the afternoon, globes, books, blackboards and phrenology skulls. It brings you back to your school days with a smile instead of the typical dread that accompanies school. This restaurant is a must for teachers.

We didn’t have to wait that long as a group of two, about 15-20 minutes, which for brunch in Toronto is a miracle. We were seated near the big garage windows which looked out onto the patio. We would have preferred to be in the other half of the restaurant with the exposed brick walls and book shelves but this just means we will have to go again.

Cynthia ordered the Huevos 101. IMG_0001Huevos 101 – scrambled eggs, Mexi red beans, pico de gallo, Jack cheese, guacamole, jalapeno sour cream, and crispy tortilla hay.

Cynthia loved this and I loved the bite I had. To start, the presentation was gorgeous. It was a beautiful bowl, oozing with colour, flavours and aromas. The fried tortilla bowl it was served in was crunchy and a nice contrast to the mushiness (in a good way!) to the scrambled eggs and beans. The beans were hearty. The salsa and the guacamole added a nice hint of freshness to perfectly the whole dish. Yums all around as Cynthia said.

I ordered the Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Waffles.

IMG_0002 IMG_0003Buttermilk fried chicken and waffles with tobasco-pepper honey, whipped vanilla butter and coleslaw.

I have only had fried chicken and waffles at two restaurants in Toronto (Stockyards and now SCHOOL), but this was UNBELIEVABLE. Easily better then Stockyards. The fact the boneless chicken is used makes this dish easier and that much more enjoyable to eat. The chicken was crispy, breaded and fried to perfection. There was not a millimeter of nakedness on that chicken. The chicken itself was moist and juicy; it did not dry out but rather was protected by the crispy coating. The waffles were fluffy and airy, little pillows for the chicken to rest their beautifulness on.

The condiments for this were amazing. The tobasco-pepper honey was everything you could want in a condiment: sweet, salty, spicy and runny. It gently glazed everything and added the right combination of sweet/spicy/salty. The whipped vanilla butter is a thing of beauty in its own right. I want to spread this on everything.  As if butter could get better, but it does. This butter is butter’s older, sexier brother.  Even the coleslaw is worth writing about. It was tangy and sour with fennel seeds adding a hint of pepper. The perfect way to wash down the sugary, richness of the waffles.

Overall a great brunch experience that is definitely worth the trek to Liberty Village! I will definitely be visiting this spot again – feel free to join!

Happy munching!

Saving Grace

A few weeks ago GC and I went for a weekday brunch at Saving Grace.

Photo Credit: BlogTO

Saving Grace is a little restaurant on Dundas West that can easily be missed from the street. The day we went the windows were completely steamed up and the name was hard to read on the glass. When we got inside, it was busy with a low buzz of conversation. The restaurant has a very minimalist feel to it: white walls, wooden booths, a few pieces of art on the wall and that’s about it. The colour palate reminded me of being in an airy kitchen by the water. It is the atmosphere that allows the food to be the focus of the entire experience.

I ordered the Savoury French Toast.

photo 4The Savoury French Toast stuffed with gruyere, caramelized apples and roasted red onions with greens.

Do not claim something is stuffed when it is actually just a sandwich. This technicality  bothered me so much that it got in the way of my enjoyment of my meal. That sounds crazy and irrational but it illustrates how restaurants often times dress up simple menu items to entice people to ordering them when maybe they shouldn’t.

I was expecting more of a pseudo-Monte Cristo and was disappointed. There was not enough cheese, I could not taste the red onions and the caramelized apples were not caramelized or soft. I wanted the eggs to completely encase the sandwich and create a juicy, eggy seal around the whole thing. Unfortunately, I got this instead. ALSO! WHERE WAS MY MAPLE SYRUP?! Regardless of what is in, on, underneath or around French toast, it needs to be accompanied by maple syrup.

GC ordered Pan Fried Eggs on a Roll.

photo 2Pan Fried eggs on a roll with chipotle butter, gruyere, bacon, avocado, tomato and shredded lettuce.  GC was satisfied with this. His only complaint was that the baguette-esque bun made it difficult to sink your teeth into. When his plate came out, I immediately regretted my decision.

Overall, we didn’t LOVE it. Sorry. If we had to wait the typical weekend-brunch wait this meal would have been a complete let down. The fact that we were seated and served right away made this meal ok, not great. It was a little too hipster not enough substance for me. Maybe I ordered the wrong menu item but I am not willing to risk it again to find out – there are too many other great brunch restaurants in the city.

Happy munching!