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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Snakes & Lattes

On January 7 we went for coffee and sandwiches at Snakes & Lattes in Koreatown.

Snakes and Lattes is a pretty straight forward concept – a coffee house that has every board game you could ever imagine. You can go in for just a coffee or you can go in a play games. When you order your coffee, they start a tab for you to which they will add your game playing fee – $5/person for unlimited game play. This is a pretty great deal. $5 for unlimited time and unlimited game choices. If you go first thing in the morning, you can stay from 11AM until 2AM – 15 hours of game play!

The first time I tried to go to Snakes and Lattes was in the summer on a Friday or Saturday night and it was pack. Understandably so – this place is a hipster’s mecca. Booze, coffee and Settlers of Catan – what more can one ask for? GC and I decided that it would be best to go first thing in the morning in order to avoid hipsters – they are like gremlins, they avoid the sunlight. We ordered two lattes and a prosciutto and brie sandwich without the lettuce – GC was very offended that someone would dare put lettuce on prosciutto. The lattes were delicious and were decorated beautifully with latte art. The sandwich was on a crusty bun that was soft in the middle topped with good quality prosciutto – you can tell it is good quality when there is actual flavour besides salt and the prosciutto is not stringy.

We stayed for about an hour and a half and played two versions of Blokus: Blokus 3D and Blokus Trigon. I also just discovered that there is a Blokus app for the iPhone while on their website – so excited to have this game always in my pocket! It’s a $0.99 download and needs to be done over WiFi FYI. We opted to to play different versions of Blokus instead of learning how to play a new game for the sake of time. Next time, I want to try Cards Against Humanity. You can also buy games here which is great because it is hard to find obscure games any time other than the holidays. I will have to remember this if I ever plan my own board game night.

I am in love with this place and I am looking forward to going again with a larger group of people and playing something with strategy that will possibly lead to heated discussion and arguments – Risk? Monopoly? The real question is – whose house rules come into play?