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.

The Westerly

An old friend visiting is the perfect excuse to try somewhere new for brunch. Last weekend my friend Caitlin paid a visit to Toronto. Friday night was spent drinking cocktails at Montauk and Saturday morning was spent at The Westerly eating brunch.

The Westerly is located in Roncesvalles. It is a spacious restaurant, with exposed brick walls, a wall of subway tiles and beautiful hardwood floors. And the best part about it: they take reservations for brunch! Add it to the ist of restaurants to frequent with large groups of people on Sunday mornings. GC and I shared a pot of French-press coffee and moved on to food.

I ordered the Créme Brulee French Toast.

IMG_0481 IMG_0482Créme Brulee French Toast.with vanilla bean custard soaked fresh bread baked golden and finished with brulee, fresh cream, and fruit compote.

This was literally like eating créme brulee for breakfast. It was sweet, creamy and rich. The top of the French toast was my favourite part. It was thick, and fruity; it tasted as if it was topped with apples. My only complaint was that the portion was small and should have been accompanied with something else, either salad or home fries.

GC ordered the Monte Cristo.

IMG_0480The Monte Cristo with fresh bread layered with delicate, smoked ham and gruyere, free run egg dipped and perfectly pan fried. Complimented with brunch potatoes.

Caitlin ordered the Frittata.IMG_0479Frittata with sauteed fresh spinach, grape tomatoes, fresh basil pesto, Woolwich Dairy goat’s cheese, pan fried potatoes, and toast.

As soon as Caitlin’s frittata came, I was jealous. The smell of basil was intoxicating. The aroma was strong, like stepping into an Italian garden. It was fresh, fragrant and the perfect glimpse of summer. I plan to make my own version of this with the haul we are going to pull from our own garden.

The Westerly is a casual and relaxing place to enjoy brunch. It was not my favourite of the brunch places we have been to but it is definitely a good option when trying to plan a brunch around a large group of people or specifically in Roncesvalles.

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!