Brunch: My Top 10 Picks for Toronto

Brunch is my favourite meal to eat out. I like arriving before the crowds and enjoying a nice, leisurely meal and good conversation. I like ordering something ridiculous and massive off the menu and feeling satisfied until dinner. I like getting my caffeine fix for the week in the matter of an hour or two as I down four or five cups of coffee. I like restaurants that have a comfortable and homey décor and feel to them but with an interesting menu. I don’t want to eat a “big breakfast” with eggs, toast and three types of breakfast meat. I want something I can’t make at home or something that I can’t be bothered to make at home because it will dirty about 27 different dishes. I want a restaurant that is in an interesting neighbourhood, somewhere I want to wander in and out of shops for the rest of the afternoon looking at furniture, records and prints.

On this list you won’t find anything east of Yonge Street. The west is my Toronto. I know that is terrible and very limiting but its brunch. I don’t want to waste an hour or more of my time trying to get to the East End to have brunch at Lady Marmalade only to wait another hour or more in line. I will acknowledge that Lady Marmalade is delicious, unique and cozy. But it’s not my favourite. If I ever move east of Yonge Street this list will dramatically change but for now, west is best.

10. Smith

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Ok, I lied. Smith is east of Yonge. I have only been to Smith once for brunch but I was completely enamoured by it when we visited. It was a quiet fall afternoon, just a few weeks before our wedding and we were seated on one of the most romantic and cozy patios in the city. The patio has taken over a back alley and looks out onto a side street just off Church Street. We were alone on the patio which allowed us to take in everything: the exposed brick walls, the various textures and patterns on the cushions, the lights strung up in a zigzag pattern over head, the single piece of lavender in a antique porcelain cabinet knob turned vase on the rustic wooden table. The whole atmosphere was so simple but so well thought out and put together. This attention to detail and capturing of comfort in décor would translate into the capturing of comfort and warmth into the food.

The Eggs Benedict manages to turn an already adult breakfast item into an even more sophisticated and decadent meal. Instead of traditional hollandaise sauce, the Benedict is drenched in a parmesan leek fondue. Any restaurant that is going to allow me to justify eating fondue at 10 am on a weekend morning is a place that warrants another visit.
I also consider this restaurant worthy of a top-ten spot because Smith is one of the preferred brunch spots of Al and I trust her opinion on most everything.

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Farmhouse Tavern

Another Sunday, another brunch. We are now doing brunch in a very efficient, almost OCD way: I have created a list on my phone of all the BlogTO brunch spots, added addresses and hours and we are slowly working our way down the list. We are going to each of these spots right as they open. Using this method, a few weeks ago GC and I went for a brunch date to Farmhouse Tavern.

Farmhouse Tavern is a very unique, homey and comforting vibe with it’s authentic and rustic farming decorations: The smoker on the patio is built into a tractor, our seats were tractor seats, there are farming pamphlets on the wall and everything has a cute, country flair to it.

The menu is anything but traditional which is refreshing and fun. My only complaint with the menu is that it was written on a blackboard without descriptions, making it awkward to see and forcing you to ask your server for explanations of everything. But as we were there first thing, our server was accessible and in good spirits.

GC ordered Mother ‘n Child Reunion.

IMG_4878Mother ‘n Child with duck eggs, soft boiled and deep fried, with streaks of duck prosciutto, hunk of tasted bread and a salad.

The name of this dish is awesome – it is witty, yet vulgar and still to the point. If you add foie gras to this dish, it is called the “Threesome .” This dish was presented beautifully: simple, but elegant and modern. Everything was delicious and decadent. I would definitely recommend this dish.

I ordered the Hangover Poutine.

IMG_4881 IMG_4882The Hangover Poutine with fresh cut cubed fries, coated with Thunder Oak Gouda, rabbit rillete and braised leeks.

Although I was not hungover, this dish was to die for. It was comforting but indulgent as the fois gras gently melted over the poutine and  in your mouth. The cheesy added a nutty, saltiness to the dish. It was a perfectly seasoned, flavored and paired.

You definitely need to check out Farmhouse Tavern for brunch – and even better, they take reservations! By text no less! I am patiently awaiting my next visit.

Happy munching!

Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

A few weeks ago GC had surgery. It was nothing major, just a day surgery that required lots of rest and relaxation afterwards. While taking care of him, my menus shifted from quick and easy to classic comfort foods.

I made my first Shepherd’s Pie, a fairly simple dish that requires lots of time and preparation in order to capture the depth and fullness of flavour associated with this dish. This dish was a success and has made its way into my recipe book of classic comfort foods on a cold winter’s day. I will not be sharing the recipe here yet, but when I make it again, which will hopefully be soon before it warms up too much and suddenly becomes spring, you will see it featured here.

I also made my first Macaroni & Cheese. If you have met me or read my blog once or twice you must know that I love cheese and that macaroni & cheese is my go-to comfort food. What better food to make you feel cozy and rested than a big bowl of mac & cheese? I didn’t use my mother’s recipe but rather the recipe in the Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food Cookbook. The two recipes are very similar and use the secret and key ingredient of mustard.

IMG_3342These recipe is cheesy, creamy, and works great with rotini which is what I used. I actually prefer my mac & cheese with a different pasta that has more crinks and pockets to hold all the cheese goodness. My only change would be to use LESS breadcrumbs. You need just a sprinkling on top to add some crispy, crunchiness.

Recipe below the cut and happy munching!

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