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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Friday Night Dinner

My dinner on Friday night.

1. Maple Orange Glazed Pork Chops – I love that this recipe is from a site called porkchoprecipes.net. Seemingly sketchy but this recipe is amazing. It is so easy because the glaze is only a few ingredients and just has to be brushed on each side of the pork. The glaze was sweet and complimented the rich, fattiness of the pork. I have officially gotten over my fear of under cooking pork. I have made pork a few times now and have not died! Pork is my favourite protein so I am glad I am not afraid to cook it and that I now have a go-to pork chop recipe in my back pocket.

2. Scalloped Hassselback Potatoes – I came across this recipe a couple of months ago on StumbleUpon and finally gave it a shot. It is cheesy, creamy and a heart attack. Although these are delicious I should not get into the habit of making them frequently. The Parmesan was salty and sharp and worked well with the creaminess from the sour cream and the heavy cream (yes, this is why it’s a heart attack). I would have never thought to pair Parmesan with baked potatoes but it is such a natural pairing.

3. Beet Salad with Goat Cheese – this is similar to, if not the same recipe, my cousin made a few months ago. I love beets and rarely get to use them. The dressing had orange juice in it so it worked nicely with the pork and the goat cheese was creamy and soft. I think I like goat cheese more than I like feta. I don’t think I needed to make a salad with cheese in it since I had made my heart attack potatoes but this is what I wanted to eat. This recipe calls for maple roasted walnuts which I omitted but I can only imagine the maple, nutty flavour that would have gone with the pork.

Some close ups of each part of my meal.

This dinner was a hit and was easy to make. The most time consuming thing was the baked potatoes which took a little over an hour. I can’t wait to get a barbecue so we can make the pork chops outside on the grill instead of inside on the reversible panini-grill.

Happy munching!