Uncle Betty’s

Is there anything better than discovering a delicious brunch spot? Yes! Discovering a delicious brunch spot near your house! I love our little house, for sale but it is hard to find a decent brunch spot north of Eglinton (if this comment is offensive, please suggest away). When a friend suggested we check out Uncle Betty’s we jumped at the opportunity. Brunch, less than 10 minutes away from our house and it’s good?! Yes, please!

Uncle Betty’s is a cute diner-style restaurant, with bright walls and lots of windows. There are mustaches painted on the walls and it is very family-friendly. If you aren’t into small children screaming, crying and jostling you while you eat your brunch, don’t come here. Since I can tolerate near-anything if I am eating good food, this isn’t a problem for me.

I ordered The Ultimate Grilled Cheese.

IMG_1643 IMG_1644 IMG_1645White bread with melted white and classic Cheddar cheese, a slab of homemade Mac ‘n Cheese, topped with pulled pork and drizzled with roasted garlic aioli.

This was delicious and ridiculous. Do you need to eat this? Probably not. Should you? Probably yes. It was cheesy, rich and messy. For some reason, messy food always tastes better. I loved the combination of textures from the mac ‘n cheese, slightly spongy, contrasted with the shredded pork and the oozy silkiness of the cheese.

GC ordered The Breakfast in a Bowl.

IMG_1642A breakfast-style poutine with home fries topped with sausage or bacon, two eggs, gravy and Cheddar cheese.

Overall we enjoyed our brunch at Uncle Betty’s. The food was a good solid take on your typical brunch menu. There were a few over-the-top menu items but they were not too ambitious that the execution failed. The rest of the menu was solid, hearty brunch that was at a decent quality for the price. The service was ok, not great, but everyone else seems to enjoy brunch at a bit more of a leisurely pace then I do.

Since we had a good experience when we went to Uncle Betty’s back in October, we decided to go again, especially to try the Dreesen’s donuts. GC ordered The Breakfast in a Bowl, a good indication that it was good and I decided to be decadent and order the Betty’s Benedict.

Betty’s Benedict

2 poached eggs served on a Dreesen’s Donut with a slice of peameal. Topped with a lemon hollandaise and served with home fries.

IMG_2360 IMG_2362I was disappointed. I expected each egg to be on its own donut. I know this is decadent and ridiculous but you are putting my eggs Benedict on a donut, I think it’s a fair assumption that this should be ridiculous. The donut was dry and had no flavour. It didn’t have sourness or sweetness of a plain donut. The Benedict as a whole was also fairly plain and flavourless. There was no zestiness or zip to the hollandaise sauce but my eggs were oozy.

This time the service was much slower as the staff was preparing for a big group. I understand large groups need to be accommodated but do not do this at the expense of your other customers.

We bought a half-dozen donuts to take home even though the donut in my benny wasn’t fantastic. The donuts were delicious. They were fresh, airy and light. My favourite was easily the cinnamon-sugar donut.

Uncle Betty’s isn’t my favourite choice for brunch but if I am looking for something local, it makes the cut. Happy munching!

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

IMG_5558Pancake Tuesday has come and gone and but we never talked about it. On Pancake Tuesday we did your typical big breakfast: chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs, toast, orange juice and breakfast. As I can’t have proper breakfast most days, I usually have either cereal or oatmeal, this was the perfect way to satisfy all my breakfast cravings. This has sparked our trend of having breakfast for dinner. It is simple, fast and filling.

On the following Sunday we took regular pancakes up a notch and I made lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry compote. I had high hopes for these pancakes and was unfortunately disappointed. The ricotta is moist and heavy and therefore the pancakes aren’t your typical light and fluffy pancakes. I will admit that I used icing sugar instead of baking soda. Yes, that’s right. I made that kind of mistake. A few weeks ago we had issues with mice and now everything is in unmarked plastic containers. I have since tasted everything and written clear labels to avoid more flat pancakes.

The lemon and ricotta work nicely together and would taste delicious together in something else. And it goes without saying, blueberries and lemon are best friends and should always be together.

Recipe is below the cut – happy munching!

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The White Brick Kitchen

Another Sunday, sale another brunch. This past weekend we checked out The White Brick Kitchen on Bloor Street West.

It was Sunday and late in the morning, story so like any other Toronto hipster brunch spot, it was packed. The wait wasn’t too long:  we were only in line for about 20 minutes.  The restaurant is small, able to seat around 30 people and has a small-Prairie town diner feel about it. There is country kitsch lining the shelves and vintage ads for products on the walls. We were seated at a table for two located near the back of the restaurant with a print of 2 maps of Canada, both pre-confederation.

I started out with the Lindt hot chocolate.

IMG_5434This was easily the most decadent and divine hot chocolate I have ever had. It was a bit excessive first thing in the morning for breakfast, but I reclassified my meal as brunch and this seemed to justify my decision.

I ordered The Benny.

IMG_5439House-made English muffin, sage sausage, two poached eggs, brown butter hollandaise and potatoes.

When this plate arrived, I was a little disappointed. The actual benny was tiny; the sausages did not cover the entire surface of the English muffin, making them look insignificant, like they were drowning in a sea of bread. The poached eggs looked as if they were just the yolk; somehow the fluffy cloud that held my egg together as it was being poached disappeared. The amount of hash browns was pitiful; they didn’t even give the illusion of filler as they barely occupied half the plate.

The taste of the food was more impressive than its appearance. The English muffin was soft, pillowy and the second best English muffin I have ever had (first goes to the English muffin at Gordon Ramsay’s York and Albany). The hollandaise was not your traditional subtle, lemony flavor but rather had hints of rich, caramel from the brown butter. Brown butter takes hollandaise to a whole other level. The eggs were poached to perfect runniness. The sausage had subtle herb flavours and added freshness to the benny. They also had a peppery taste to them.

GC ordered The Classic.

IMG_5436Two eggs, toast, choice of hickory bacon, sage sausage or beef bacon, and potatoes – GC choose hickory bacon with a side of sage sausage.

I have now eaten at 10 of 50 of BlogTO’s brunch spots – let’s see if I can get through the remaining 40 in 2014. There are 46 weeks remaining in 2014, making this incredibly doable.

Happy munching!

Eggs in a Cloud

photo 1 photo 4It’s Friday night and I am dreaming of weekend brunch. A few weeks ago a co-worker stumbled across a beautiful, yet simple recipe, Rachel Ray’s Eggs in a Cloud.

How could I not make this recipe? Bacon, cheese and eggs and no bread needed? Giving the illusion of being healthy due to a lack of carbs? Of course. This recipe would be perfect for a brunch – it is simple but looks impressive and would be nicely accompanied by a simple, garden salad. The recipe is straightfoward and the flavours are simple but completely connected and fresh.

Recipe is below the cut and happy munching!

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Emma’s Country Kitchen

Last weekend we went for brunch to a small spot on St. Clair West called Emma’s Country Kitchen. This spot was suggested to us by our friend, Rachel.

This is probably one of the cutest and most comforting restaurants I have ever been in. It is warm, sunny, and country cute. There are vintage housewares all through the restaurant, making the restaurant slightly kitschy but not to a nauseating level. In the washroom the mirror was decorated with a border of antique mini tart tins, alternating between diamond and square shaped = cute.

IMG_3780Just an example of the country cuteness at ECK – fresh daisies in a mason jar, tied with a gingham ribbon. Simple but cute. Daisies are just one of those flowers that are simple and slightly ordinary but whenever you see them, you can’t help but smile.

IMG_3782 GC ordered the I Know What You Did Last Night Burger AKA The Hangover Helper. 5 oz sage and onion sausage burger, topped with house cured bacon, and cheddar. served on a house made bun with all the fixings. Served with frites tossed with sea salt and herbs.

This burger was juicy and had so much intense flavour. The sage and onion brought a garden freshness that is typically not found in burgers. And now I know what you are thinking, and no, this won’t make you think you are eating a veggie burger. It’s just a burger that is a little different, and a little fresh. The sausage meat allowed the burger to be moist, juicy and adds a little spicy.

I love the fact that they cure their own bacon in house. It is something that most restaurants wouldn’t take the time to do but it makes a different. It was smoky, salt and perfectly crispy.

These fries were amazing! They were reminiscent of hobo chips which were my love affair last summer. Salty, crispy and with hints of rosemary – these are the perfect fries. If you are a lover of french fries you should probably give these a try. And if you are not the biggest fan of french fries, much like myself, you need to try these.IMG_3783I ordered the Banoffee Pie Pancakes. Light and fluffy pancakes, studded with chocolate chips and toffee pieces. Topped with whipped chantilly cream and dulce de leche. Served with orange scented maple syrup. And an order of sage and onion sausage.

THESE ARE THE BEST PANCAKES I HAVE EVER EATEN. They are the perfect size which ensures that they are fluffy, but crispy along the outside. They were dotted with the best quality chocolate chips. I can’t even believe how good these chocolate chips were. They were creamy, milky and rich. The toffee added hints of caramel. Despite all chocolate and toffee they were not overly sweet, just the perfect hints of sugar for a morning pick-me-up.

The chantilly cream was light and creamy and the dulce de leche with the perfect bit of sweetness to top it all off. The orange flavour of the maple syrup did not stand out but it wasn’t necessary: these pancakes were perfection.

And of course, the side of sausage was the same as the burger – moist, fresh and a perfect dash of spice.

I would highly recommend this place for brunch or just a quick coffee and donut. The day we went in they were serving pina colada, root beer float, maple bacon and cinnamon sugar donuts that all looked so tantalising. We are planning on going again (and again and again) for coffee and donuts.

If you are looking for a brunch date and place, me and this place will work!

Happy munching!

Thompson Diner

Two weeks ago Saturday brunch found us at Thompson Diner.

Brunch that Saturday was an ordeal – we had tried to go to Farmhouse Tavern, Beast and Cheesewerks. Apparently 10 AM is too early to go for brunch in the city. Our last stop was Cheesewerks which left us in the area of Bathurst and King so we checked out the Thompson Diner.

It has a very retro, classic 1950s diner vibe, complete with deep booths with patent leather seats and velvety upholstery.  The menu matches the decor – classic, diner comfort food.

IMG_3675GC ordered the All Day Breakfast.

IMG_3676A diner classic with peameal bacon rather than your regular, old bacon. Simple, but delicious. The presentation of a mini cast iron skillet was a nice touch.

I ordered the Fat American.

IMG_3678 IMG_3679Turkey sausage and bacon stuffed pancakes, topped with crispy battered onions and a fried egg.

The pancakes were incredibly fluffy, light and had a slight sweetness from the buttermilk. There was four pancakes which is a ridiculous serving and will keep you full for hours. I wouldn’t really call the pancakes stuffed, but rather had chunks of bacon and sausage in them. There was not nearly enough sausage or bacon for the amount of pancake there was, but really, is there ever enough bacon? The egg was perfectly fried but the best part of this breakfast was the crispy battered onions. I wish I could put those onions on everything.

I wouldn’t order this again but I would order the regular pancakes which is saying a lot because I typically only eat pancakes if they are silver dollar sized.

A classic diner that is open 24-hours. If you live in the area it’s worth checking out for some early morning brunch or some late night drunken eats.

Happy munching!

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Meals in Minutes – Spinach & Feta Pie

IMG_3427Meals in Minutes – Spinach and Filo Pie

1. I would consider this more of a breakfast/brunch type pie but hey, breakfast for dinner is also a thing. It is the use of egg that makes this more of a brunch item than a dinner food. Next time I make this dish, I would serve it for brunch.

2. This is rich, dense and has a slight decadence to it, even though it is simple, fresh ingredients of eggs, spinach and cheese. It is the buttery quality of the filo pastry that elevates this from the blandness of an simple quiche to pillowy deliciousness fit for brunch. The use of lemon with the spinach brought back vivid memories of my visit to the southern coast of Italy in March 2006 and even though it was chilly, the scent of fresh lemons still filled the air in Sorrento.

3. I did not enjoy the use of cayenne pepper between the sheets of filo pastry. It add another level that created tastebud chaos rather than cohesion. The use of nutmeg (I used ground nutmeg rather than whole, it works just as well) added the little something extra that made the use of cayenne completely unnecessary and excessive.

4. I didn’t use pine nuts (obviously) and the dish was not remotely lacking! If you have a nut allergy or you just don’t like them, don’t worry! It will still be delicious!

A hint of spice, a hint of freshness, the perfect brunch pie for a March weekend just on the cusp of spring.

Recipe below the cut and happy munching!

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Porchetta & Co.

A few weeks ago GC and I were in search of lunch along Queen Street West. The problem was it was a Sunday afternoon and apparently hipsters cannot fathom eating anything that is not a breakfast food before 5 pm on a Sunday. I didn’t want breakfast, I specifically wanted something resembling a lunch so we made our way back up to Dundas Street West to finally try Porchetta & Co.

Porchetta & Co. is around the corner from GC’s work and still, somehow, after so long, we had not yet been. Now that we have gone, we are hooked. Here’s their whole deal, in a convenient pictograph:

Obviously that is going to be good – how could it not? Anything made with that much love and care is going to be delicious, especially when wrapped in prosciutto.

Despite not wanting breakfast, I ordered the Breakfast Sammy and GC ordered the regular sandwich.

PorchettaThe sandwiches are not as small as they look and they are incredibly filling. The breakfast sammy was porchetta, crackling, a fried egg and smoked Gouda. The porchetta was thickly cut, fatty, juicy and smoky. The crackling was in small enough cubes that each bite had a crunchy bite in it but large enough to provide a satisfying, salty, crunch. The egg was fried with a crunchy bottom and had a gooey yolk. The Gouda was silky and smooth and added a different type of smokey taste to the sandwich. My sandwich was topped with a little bit of house made hot sauce and Kozlik’s mustard. Kozlik’s mustard is amazing and you should all check them out at St. Lawrence Market.

This is a quick bite to eat that is cheap and filling. Porchetta and Co. is a sandwich place worth checking out!

Happy munching!

Brunch at 25 Liberty

A few weeks ago I went for brunch with two of my best girlfriends from high school, Julianna and Samantha. We decided to go somewhere in Liberty Village  and try something new which led us to be at 25 Liberty Restaurant.

Between huge snowbanks, public transit delays and a detour caused by a murder investigation I finally arrived at the restaurant. I am fairly convinced that I went here almost 15 years ago with my parents during March Break when Liberty Village was less trendy and less up and coming. The restaurant is located in a converted Victorian-style house and it is open and bright. There is oversize booths done in orange patent leather and have been tufted, giving the seating a clean and polished look. The restaurant is comfortable but modern, simple but casually classy.

I had one of the best cups of tea I have ever had here. It was nothing special, just a small pot of loose leaf Earl Gray but it was delicious. With my tea I enjoyed the Egg’s Benedict.

IMG_3291Egg`s Benedict with shaved pork shoulder and hollandaise on a crispy potato rosti served with mixed greens.

This was amazing. The eggs were perfectly poached – contained and formed but warm and liquidy on the inside with a touch of the sweet vinegar taste from poaching. The pork shoulder was salted and fruity, shaved thinly and mounded onto of the rosti. The hollandaise sauce was slightly lemony, thick and just pure breakfast extravagance. It was interesting that this was on a potato latka (for all intensive purposes) but I prefer the traditional English muffin. It is not as crispy and therefore easier to cut through.

I liked the toast on the side and I didn’t eat my greens or my fruit = fail. Breakfast is not for salad it is for pork products and and carbs.

A delicious breakfast with two wonderful friends – there needs to be more breakfasts like this ladies!

Happy munching!

The Rosedale Diner

The last meal eaten out of 2012 at a restaurant we had not been to yet – The Rosedale Diner. Part of my New Year’s resolution is to eat out less in attempt to save money and lose a little bit of weight so unfortunately there will be less restaurant posts BUT more recipes!

The Rosedale Diner was chosen for brunch on Boxing Day for its location and because it was one of the restaurants Guy Fieri visited on his Toronto vist for Triple D. It is a small diner that is crammed, busy and noisy – you would accept nothing less from a true diner. The food is not your typical greasy spoon dive food, it is healthy and fresh.

We started off with the calamari.

IMG_3170Crispy, tender and not chewy, this was perfectly cooked calamari. I wasn’t crazy about the sauce drizzled on top – it claimed to be a lemon caper aioli but it was slightly spicy with no citrus tang. I prefer my calamari to be dipped and in a citrus sauce of some sort.

GC ordered the egg’s Benedict.

IMG_3171A great but simple egg’s Benedict. It is hard to add anything new to this dish because it is so legendary to brunch and that’s fine. The hollandaise sauce, the mark of a good Benedict, was sweet, tangy, rich and creamy, it perfectly rounded out the dish.

I ordered the Crab and Salmon Burger.

IMG_3172 IMG_3173Creamy, sweet but savoury, and with great hints of dill – delicious! I loved that this burger came in a pita rather than a burger bun and that it was simply dressed with lettuce, tomato and onion. It was very light, but filling and satisfying.

This is a great little diner and I will definitely be returning for the Poutine au Canard, or duck confit poutine – so much for losing a little weight…

Happy munching!