Madeleine’s Cherry Pie and Ice Cream

1087 Bathurst Street
East Side of Bathurst , just south of Dupont
416 537 3131

I was very excited to spot the Kawartha Dairy logo as I was driving up Bathurst Street one evening, and so I had to investigate. Relatively new to the ice cream scene, Madeleines is a quaint and friendly place which has been here for almost 2 years. This is the only place I know of in the city that sells Kawartha Dairy ice cream, which is, in many people’s opinion (including mine), the best ice cream in the world. (If you are unfamiliar with Kawartha Dairy, the original dairy is in Bobcaygeon and their ice cream is made the old fashioned way with only the freshest of milk and cream). If you’ve never heard of Kawartha Dairy ice cream, you must try it! Check out Madeleines this summer – you will certainly want to go back again and again!

– Erin Toole

Tequila Bookworm

490 Queen W. 
504-7335.

As of Dec 26, 2006 cafe moved to 512 Queen St. W (10 doors west)- smaller, cleaner, more trendy

I first went here many years ago, as someone said it had a very �Montreal vibe� & decent bagels. Right on both counts! Located in the super trendy Queen St. West, this is an artsy, funky little hole in the wall, furnished with old couches, old bookshelves filled with older books, & a collection of new magazines. How could you not love the exposed brick wall & comfortable casualness? The service is relaxed� Perhaps a little too relaxed if you are planning to do anything at all later in the day � oh, like see a play, do groceries, go home�. It is very mellow, which is great if you have the time to spare, or are in the mood for it.

The food is absolutely delicious & completely affordable. On my last visit I had a very tasty sandwich & salad. The realness of the food is appreciated � my focaccia sandwich was made with a real chicken breast � not processed � yum! I found it a little odd that there were so many sandwiches with avocado, yet they had none on site � they had to go to a local corner store to pick some up. Maybe a little too relaxed, but I guess good things come to those who wait. One of T.O.�s best kept secrets.

Sugar [Mark Aaron]- [closed Fall 2007]

942 Queen Street West
(416) 532-5088

Aaron and I met for brunch last Sunday after my crazy-ass 35 km run. I had a crappy headache, was starving and Aaron was a bit annoyed since I was late in timing my run (I thought 2 hrs but it turned in 3.5 hrs) so we met for brunch at 2pm (quite late) and Sugar was definitely less busy.

Sugar is a small hip and trendy cafe on Queen and Shaw in the West Queen West district. It looks hip and cool and modern like Salad King but the furniture does not match the decor. Think Salad King with antique furniture and old woodsy church benches and oversized beautiful hardwood tables. Ecclectic and cosy and modern and trendy all in one.

In any case, we were served a one page brunch menu with many egg options but not many vegetarian or fruity alternatives. I did see a muesli (granola) and fruit and oatmeal and fruit but most mains were $9 (kind of weird) and they were out of muesli and oatmeal by the time we arrived (similar to Aunties and Uncles). Definitely not a good sign. They were apologetic, unlike Aunties and Uncles who were more arrogant about it (tough luck on you that you came too late).

I started with an overpriced mochachino (a hot chocolate with a shot of espresso) for $9 (shi shi poo poo hot chocolate and a shot of espressor equals $9, don’t ask) in a big bowl. It was quite delicious. Aaron has a normal coffee but they did not have drip or perculated, only an Americano would do, and no free refills. Aaron was less than impressed.

I ordered an egg white omelete of the day with spinach, roasted red peppers, onions, (omited the cheese) and replaced my home fries with a side of salad. The dish was very yummy and not too small or big on portion size. Aaron had the same dish but he ordered a real omelete. Decor was clean and slick and minimalist like most artsy upscale brunch places on Queen West. I have passed Sugar many times and I was always curious to try their brunch. I must say I liked it but it did not have the character or hominess that Mitzi’s, Ten Feet Tall, or Three’s Company has. I found it similar to Swan, a place to be seen, with really good food, excellent service (Sugar did have very friendly, accomodating, and helpful servers), but there was nothing special about it.

Prices are a bit high for what you get. Expect typical brunch fare. Accepts all cards. Does serve funky mimosas for brunch (orange juice and champagne). Weekend brunch 11am-4:30pm.

Easy [Mark Aaron]

 1645 Queen Street West
phone number: 416-537-4893

On Sunday January 7th, 2006 my friend Daniel moved into his new condo at Queen and Bathurst. After a 3 hour move, we all decided to celebrate with brunch in funky Parkdale. We were going to go to Mitzi’s but the lineup was crazy as hell. Pathetic how on Sunday afternoon it is almost impossible to compete for a brunch table. This is not New York City but I wish I lived there sometimes. Sunday afternoon Torontonians go brunch crazy and flock from their boring suburban haven to places where they would never roam during the week, like Parkdale, Queen East, or Queen West. Even a friend of mine and her hubby live in Woodbridge and they consider it an outing to venture to the Danforth for a nice Greek meal. I will never move to the suburbs for fear that Parkdale and The Danforth will be considered special outings. I want access to these funky urban neighbourhoods and I am happy I live downtown. I do enjoy going from time to time to the suburbs (i.e. the COSTCO at Dufferin and Wilson) but the suburbs are my outing.

After Mitzi’s rejected us, I begged the crew to try Easy since Aaron had gone there and he loved it. Easy is a small and funky brunch place/diner in Parkdale at Queen and Roncesvalles. Easy is named the 1960’s movie Easy Rider. Decor looks like the diner from Happy Days with 1950’s and 1960’s movie posters and images of a rugged diner with the theme of motorcycles, toughness, and testosterone. Easy is pretty small, with old 1950’s style diner tables and booths huddled very close together. Specializes in brunch items like eggs, omeletes, and extra large and thick smoothies (try the chocolate peanut butter smoothie) and the mango smoothie looks smashing. They also serve many other brunch items like burritos with salad. I ordered the tostadas (deep fried corn tortilla) with black beans, salsa, and veggies. Daniel had the breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs and bacon and veggies with a side order of salad. Paulo had the eggs overeasy with bacon, sausage, homefries, side order of salad, and toast, and Rob had the omelete with home fries, side order of salad, bacon or sausage, anf toast. . I would have preferred a veggie burrito with black beans and veggies, but oh well, people make mistakes. They also have my signature brunch dish (that i try to avoid) organic granola with fruit and yogourt. They also serve massively thick and large mango smoothies as well as their classic peanut butter and chocolate “to die for” smoothies which I chose not to have (Daniel was treating us for brunch and smoothies were almost $5). They only accept cash (like Mitzi’s), which sucks the bag. Expect a 15-20 minute lineup on the weekend

Toba [Mark Aaron]

243 King East
416-367-8622

URL: www.toba.ca

To summarize Toba would be simply “lovely”. Set in the St. Lawrence market area on King and Sherbourne,

Toba is a cute and unassuming place that serves an elegant brunch with a small and diverse menu. Quality

is high, presentation is beautiful and artistic and decor is minimalistic with funky art on the walls,

representations of working women in the 1970’s- Andy Warhol style. Brunch prices are between $10-$15 per

person. Drink prices are kind of steep but service, food, and whole brunch experience is just so

lovely.

Some stars and funky fixtures hang on the walls, almost looks like a kid’s bedroom surround the place.

Toba has a clean, slick look, very similar to Verveine.

For our brunch, we were served by a very friendly waiter and we started with plain lattes, extra hot,

and served in tall glasses ($5). Toba serves up some daily baked good (scones, muffins, pastries)-

$2.75 as well as mimosas and other “brunch” alcoholic beverages. Aaron started with the vegetarian

poached eggs with 2 eggs over chipotle brioche with grilled tomato, spinach, old cheddar with a

Hollandaise sauce ($11). The dish came out looking gorgeous, colourful, with texture, freshness, and

everything looked attractive to the eye. I ordered the French toast (4 triangular wedges) in a pecan

maple sauce with caramelized pears topped with maple syrup ($10.50). The dish was spectacular. Other

dishes include typical brunch fare: granola + fruit + yogourt ($5), Blueberry pancakes with fresh fruit

and whipped cream ($9.75), Hang over helper (scrambled eggs chorizo, green pepper, old cheddar, served

with organic greens, home fries, and toast ($11), the “traditional” breakfast (2 eggs any style with

choice of bacon, sausage or peameal bacon with home fries, organic greens, and toast) $10, poached eggs

with peameal bacon, Hollandaise sauce, and organic greens ($11), Duck Crepes (Wendy friendly)- with

Peking duck, carrot, apple, cabbage, hoisin sauce, and gruyere ($12), a crab melt (crab salad with gruyere and bacon on a baked angel biscuit($11), Corned beef hash (corned beef with shredded potato, caramelized onion, red peppers, with 2 baked eggs, Holandaise sauce, chipotle puree, organic greens, and toast ($13), and finally Steak and eggs with Hollandaise sauce, home fries and organic greens ($15). Toba serves a different “tart of the day” with organic greens and home fries for $10 and the omelete of the day is served with organic greens, home fries and toast is $11.

Toba is not hip and cool like Auntie’s and Uncles but it’s chiche and classy. I would definitely recommend this place for brunch-goers. Extra friendly service with high quality food, beautiful decor, and great ambiance. Great to bring a date. Seats about 15 tables. Serves Italian fare at night for dinner. Accepts all cards. Liquor license

Grapefruit Moon

968 Bathurst Street
(416) 534-9056

Following the renovation completed at Grapefruit Moon by Food TV’s Restaurant Makeover in 2003/2004 a media battle erupted between the owner and the show. The owner, Sandy , was upset how the once cozy, familiar space was transformed into a trendy, cold room that lacked the charm of the previous incarnation. Her requests to keep the aura of the original place were ignored as the show painted over the exposed brick wall with a metallic silver and the new equipment was not ready by the completion date. Changes to the menu were disregarded, even though the airing of the show pointed to a lack of competency and vision from the young “chef”. While the controversy may have been played up in the local rags and on the Internet; Grapefruit Moon made the most of the situation and continued to pull in the hordes for their famous brunch as well as dinner.

Since the renovation, I have been back for both dinner and brunch. My dinner experience there definitely exposed the changes in a negative light as I found the environment chilly and the food bland. This may have been due to the wintry, sludgy weather but my recent brunch return was a vast improvement. The metallic sheen of the walls was covered by an array of lovely framed art while the sun streamed through the front to keep the place bright and warm. An eclectic mix of old and new music germinated from a computer behind the counter to keep the place cozy and lively. We took a seat on some stools and were immediately greeted with a warm reception from our waiter behind the counter while being presented with our coffees.

Apparently, the hip thing to do at Grapefruit Moon is to substitute sugar for honey when sweetening coffee. I tried this and was deliciously surprised by the results. Scanning the menu, I decided on what was probably the least healthy item I could find. The rarebit breakfast consisted of poached eggs heaped on two pieces of multigrain toast with peameal bacon and topped with a gooey layer of cheddar cheese sauce. I couldn’t tell if the cheddar cheese sauce consisted of melted Kraft singles but whatever it was oozed well with the rest. Unfortunately, the side of home fries was missing that crunchy element of superior variations but mixing it with the cheese and some hot sauce souped it up enough.

Grapefruit Moon has always struck me as a place that tends to distinguish itself apart from the rest of Toronto’s brunch spots. Not quite downtown, yet still vibing with the laid back attitudes of a “Saving Grace”, Grapefruit Moon’s presence is a fixture in the Annex. TV screwups or not, the changes at Grapefruit Moon may have temporarily strained the casual feel of the restaurant but has certainly not had a negative impact on business.

Peter Pan [Mark Aaron]

373 Queen St. W
416/593-0917

On Sunday September 25, 2005 it was my 31st birthday and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I had arranged for a birthday brunch get together after I successfully finished the marathon (I did it in 3:55:30). After finishing naturally i was sore so our plan was to “brunch it up” on King west or Queen West. We made our way to Queen West hoping to “brunch” at Fressen but it was too far. I had seen Peter Pan many times but never went in. Boy i was missing something very special.

Peter Pan is one of the oldest “restored” restaurants on the Queen west strip between University and Spadina. Think of it as a classy “old fashioned” romantic restaurant. Once inside you have stepped back into the past–I do not mean a 1950’s diner, but a 1920’s or 1930’s classy restaurant, a more “high end” take on the classy diner, something more special.

This place has a great dela of charm. There is a lot of art on the walls (some for sale), wooden booths and a high, pressed-tin ceiling. As well, there are high ornate ceilings, an old-style bar (with built-in stools) and comfortable wooden booths throughout the restaurant. The place is named Peter Pan because it’s at the corner of Peter and Queen I suspect.

The menu offers many appetizers under $10, plus pasta, pizza, and burgers priced between $12-$15. Mains are between $14-$20. The whole place looks like it was never remodeled or re-done, almost completely restored, as if stepping into the past. What nostalgia! We went especially for brunch and we sat at the back terrace that seats about 6 tables and is surrounded by glorious trees and green space. Justine ordered the potato rosti with smoked salmon ($9)which she thought was simply amazing. She was glad to be served water with lemon. I ordered the French toast with maple syrup and fruit ($9). Daniel, Lizzie, and Paulo ordered the omelete with ricotta cheese that was accompanied with salad and pancetta on top ($9) . Wendy ordered the personal size chorizo sausage pizza with olives & artichoke hearts($9). She thought it was very good. All thought that the food was wonderful but the service stank. The young man who served us was frustrated by our size (we were 6 people) and he made nasty facial expression when we asked questions or asked for more water or coffee. When i asked for a mocha (espresso with steamed milk and chocolate) he said it was the girl’s first day on the Espresso bar and she could not make the drink. What a load of crap. A mocha is a single or double espresso with some chocolate syrup or cocoa. Give me a break. When Justine asked for fresh coffee, he gave a nasty facial expression.

Some items of interest include warm beet salad in a dijon vinaigrette with goat cheese, walnuts and a sweet poached pears with star anise ($9). As well, lamb shank ($17) with lentils and kale. Other items include whole wheat fusilli with goat cheese and grilled chicken, mushrooms, and spinach in a light cream sauce, goat cheese and spinach stuffed chicken breast over mashed potatoes and vegetables ($14 and $16 respectively).

Peter Pan also serves a vast array of desserts (cakes, pies, dessert crepes) and obscure types of wine. After finishing our brunch, Lizzie and Justine ordered the fruit dessert crepe but they ran out. To be blunt, service had attitude and was beyond crap. The guy just could not deal with six people. Come on! The women “greeters” were pleasant but this young man was a major grouch!

Serves weekend brunch. Art rotates regularly at Peter Pan.
Accepts all cards. Backyard terrace. Open Mon-Wed noon-midnight; Thurs-Sat noon-1am; Sun noon-11pm.

Ten Feet Tall

 1381 Danforth Ave
(416) 778-7333

Having recently assumed the mantle of Brunch Specialist, I figured I’d better live up to that title and scribble something down about Ten Feet Tall. Although already reviewed twice on this site, I thought I’d add my two cents on this venerable bar like establishment.

Ten Feet Tall embodies the anti-hipster experience. Looking more like a bar than a restaurant, a deep red hue on the walls keeps the place dark and somewhat dingy. A small patio exists in around the entrance on the front and side of the building, but due to the extreme humidity we?ve been experiencing lately we decide to eat inside.

A full house greets us as we enter, and I am immediately reminded of the ambiance of the Only Café with people ranging from the nerdy Danforth couple in tucked in golf shirts and slacks, to the hurly burly guy in a cowboy hat chewing on a toothpick staring at me out of the corner of his eye. The brunch menu is short and contains a number of variations on the traditional egg dishes. Service is slow but extremely personal, jokey and friendly: a rare find in the typically pretentious and uninterested Toronto brunch market. The slow service may be due to a rush of customers at once, but the staff is unapologetic in their jokiness. Fine by me.

I decide on mixing a brunch item of cheesy eggs (served with cheddar, feta, and/or mozzarella) with the interesting sounding sweet potato fries from the ‘non brunch’ menu. The fries are available with a variety of interesting dips, including a jalapeno mayo dip or a spicy piri piri sauce amongst others. I’m recommended the piri piri and a half order of the fries as Mark tends to stay away from the carbs. The fries arrive promptly as a full order, and I’m told I’d only be charged for the half. They are thin cut and crispy  the way I like ’em and come with two slices of orange, a nice visual accompaniment. The piri piri sauce is a deliciously spicy complement. The rest of our meal takes some time to arrive although the refills on the bottomless cup o’ joe and water with lemon are regular and timely. I?m basically finished the full order of fries before my eggs arrive with the wrong side: a clumpy, lump of home fries. Talk about overdoing my carb intake. I pick at the potatoes, while waiting for my now free side order of whole wheat toast. Each dish is served with either home fries or toast, which I find a bit unusual. The eggs are fluffy, and VERY cheesy, quite tasty. I could have used a green to balance out the amount of starch, but overall I?m impressed with the quality of the food, especially the sweet potato fries.

The bill arrives and as promised, I was only charged for the items I ordered. Cheap and cheerful I’d like to call it. If I could sum it up, Ten Feet Tall does a great job of keeping things real. Nothing fancy or out of this world, but good food, good prices and good service. If you want a change from the typical snobby brunch scene, this is a good place to try.

Easy [guest review]

1645 Queen Street West
phone number: 416-537-4893

 

Parkdale is the venue and the peanut butter shake* is the main attraction or
should I say only attraction. Upon entering this neat half dinner half
hipster joint, I quickly scanned the room and noticed about 10 wannabe
celebrities (including myself) – wearing super-sized glasses and lulu lemon
baseball caps. The place was packed except for one four-seater in the
window, which had not been cleared yet. Making small talk with my three
friends, we waited 12-15 minutes for someone to clear the table.

The much anticipated lineup of shakes was very impressive. Mango and the
peanut butter stood out for me. I ordered the mango and it was a poor
decision. Weak in thickness and way too cold… yes cold – I like my shakes
brisk but not cold, allowing for slurping large amounts quickly. I tasted my
girlfriend’s peanut-butter shake and it was a work of art, the best shake I
have ever tasted. In fact I found myself obsessing about how good the shake
was while carring on polite conversation with my fellow brunchers. For the
main course I ordered a wannabe burrito, which looked so tasty yet it failed
to excite any saliva action in my mouth. It was dry and flakie and resembled
a leather chamois.

My suggestion is to go for the best shake you will ever have, but make sure
to wear your lulu outfit if you want to get good service.

*In the early nineties marketers replaced the word “shake” with the word
“smoothie” because it sounded healthier.

– Frank

Dash Kitchen

236 Danforth Ave
416-463-DASH (3274)
Mon-Fri 10am-7pm Sat 10am-6pm
Debit, Visa, MC, AMEX

Though not a restaurant in the traditional sense, Dash Kitchen bills itself as “purveyors of yummy foods” and I would have to say that description is accurate.

Dash Kitchen opened up in the summer of 2003 (I believe) and has become a neighbourhood fave spot for fine gourmet foods, both prepared and heated if you like, or as individual ingredients like pestos, sauces, oils and nice breads. Easily comparable to Pusateri’s in quality if not quantity.

I frequently drop into Dash when I’m looking for a good pick-me-up, or am looking for a ready-made accompaniment for dinner. In particular I have enjoyed the many desserts they have displayed, whether it’s a lemon square, slice of cake or their pumpkin loaf that is way better than mine. I also thoroughly enjoy the salads. The salads change on a fairly regular basis; I have enjoyed a corn and red pepper salad, orzo salad, and garlicky broccoli to name a few. Definitely, I would say that the tourtiére (that’s meat pie to any non-Quebecois) is the best you’ll find in Ontario and the portion size is nice and big. There are usually prepared sandwiches i.e. grilled vegetables, meatloaf, etc. for those on the run, and if you can get there closer to lunchtime, there are a number of hot soups and various specials to choose from. There are always prepared meats ready to take out, i.e. chicken, salmon, pork tenderloin and more. Everything looks so delicious, it’s often difficult to choose.

Though this establishment primarily functions as a place to take food out of, I have seen the odd table outside on a Saturday morning. As I don’t work in the neighbourhood, they may very well be there during the weekday lunch times, but don’t quote me on that. They also do catering for private dinner parties and such.

Not only is the food yummy, so seems to be the entire staff! Every man I have seen there (they are all men) is absolutely handsome, very friendly and both knowledgeable and helpful which just enhances the total Dash Kitchen experience.

I sometimes just go to see what the latest thing they’ve prepared is. A visit to Dash Kitchen is a delightful adventure in yummy food.