Old Nick [Mark Aaron]

123 Danforth Ave,
416-461-5546

Conveniently situated along the Danforth near Broadview, the Old Nick is a pub that serves pub fare and beer but on the weekend they supposedly serve on the best brunches in Toronto with a supplemental menu of organic options. Decor is nothing to cry home about, with that typical “pub” motif, stained varnished wood tables, a large bar, and hardwood floors, The Old Nick does not remind me of a place where I would brunch on the weekend but we figured we would try this place out since we heard from Now Magazine that it was voted one of the best brunch places in Toronto.

Aaron and I met up with his friends Brad and Steven and we all entered the empty place on a quiet Sunday at 1:00pm. We all started with drinks. Brad and Steven ordered fresh orange juice and they commented that it was good but not “freshly squeezed”. I ordered a freshly squeezed Diet Coke and I think Aaron had a coffee. Unfortunately, they DO NOT have espresso drinks, so a minor drawback for the Old Nick, but, afterall, it is a pub, right?

Most of the menu contains egg dishes, hence I felt that this place was slightly egg-centric. I would have prefered other options. I did see on the non-organic menu some non-egg options like pancakes and French toast with fresh fruit, as well as waffles with fresh fruit and whipped cream. I was looking for some healthier options but the rest of the menu contained mostly egg dishes. I was happy to see that egg dishes came with spelt toast and organic homefries.
The organic menu for January 8, 2006 contained items such as Divine Decadence (3 egg omelete stuffed with portobello mushrooms, gorganzola cheese, organic homefries, organic greens, and organic toast $12), Yawn and Stretch (omelete stuffed with organic spinach, roasted red peppers, feta, with organic homefries, organic greens, and organic toast $12),That’s Amore (Eggs benny with parma prosciutto, shaved parmesan cheese, organic greens, organic potatoes, and organic toast $13), and Oh My Goodness (French toast with organic apple walnut bread, with blueberries, raspberries, and cream, served with organic maple syrup $12).
For my meal, I ordered the Mexican egg white omelete ($8.95) with spring greens in a
yummy ginger viniagrette. The egg white omelete came with a 3 cheese blend and spicy
salsa with a lot of cilantro. It was extremely delicious, fresh, not greasy, and flavourful.

Steven ordered the Well Hung (3 eggs any style, organic lamb or organic chorizo spicy 4 pepper sausage, organic toast, organic greens, and organic homefries- $15). He thought that the salad dressing was tasty and it was great to have salad and the organic homefries which were pretty tasty too. He thought that they could have brought the food out a little hotter then it came. He also had the chorizo sausage which was good, but it didn’t blow him away as a great sausage. It wasn’t as spicy as he thought it would be. The spelt toast was very hearty and grainy. Steven liked the idea of a set menu and also the weekly special menu. That way you are not stuck getting the same thing over and over if you are a
returning customer.

Brad and Aaron both ordered the Razzle Dazzle (eggs benny with guacamole and cheddar cheese chunks- $13). He
thought it tasted REALLY good — perhaps a bit greasy, but with all that cheese
it was hard for it not to be (it was definitely a “two-Lactaid pill” breakfast!). He also found that his meal did come out “luke-warm” — he thought it could have been served hotter. The portion was pretty big (he thought there were 3 eggs — most places serving eggs benny only give you two eggs). The “organic potatoes” were pretty good as well. Brad did not recall them
being oily or greasy, which was his main complaint with breakfast potatoes. Accepts all cards. Open for Brunch Saturday and Sunday 11am to 4 pm, bar open daily 11am to 2am. Secluded outdoor patio seats 40

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Brass Taps Pizza Pub

 495 Danforth Av (416) 466-3403
157 Roncesvalles Avenue – (416) 536-6678
221 Carlton Street – (416) 966-9440
934 College St. (416) 533-4333

Some places specialize in specific type of food. Brass Taps is a toned down, casual version to Il Fornello. If you decide to dine at Brass Taps, don’t go for the burgers, wraps, or pub fare, since it’s just mediocre. Go for the gourmet pizza and the excellent Sunday brunch.

Centrally located in Greektown at Danforth and Logan and on the cusp of Little Italy at College and Ossington, this pub is known for its gourmet pizza (many different varieties and you can even build your own pizza and choose your own crust!) . Some Brass Taps Pizza Pubs play cheesy 80’s music and some hard rock and roll. Decor looks like your typical pub- bar stools, woodwork, and a large bar with an extensive selection of wine, beer, and hard liquor.

Also contains comfortable seating with large tables and booths as well.

They serve brunch Sundays from 11:30am-2:30pm and the menu is fairly extensive. I usually order granola with fruit and yogourt but since the menu has recently changed (perhaps due to new management?), I decided to have the Garden party egg white omelete.

The service is prompt and portions are big. I went with three friends and they had a mix of different items, French toast club sandwich with banana, peanut butter, and nutella, my other friend had a bagel with provolone cheese and red pepper, and another friend had a pizza frittata, which is an open faced omelete on top of pizza dough with pizza sauce and veggies.

All of our dishes arrived fresh and were under $10.00. Average price for brunch items was $5.95-$7.95. I received the wrong egg-white omelete, (I got a mushroom and cheese egg-white omelete). I told her kindly but timidly that I got the wrong item, so she re-ordered the omelete for me for free. Woo-Hoo.

The egg-white omelete was big and fluffy and had a lot of sauteed vegetables, and it came with roasted potatoes in a rosemary, garlic, and herb saute, and it came with four slices of toast. I did not eat the toast or potatoes but I was very satisfied with the egg-white omelete.

Soft drinks are expensive so be warned but portions are big, the 80’s music was absent that day but the overall ambiance was friendly and accomodating. I was thoroughly impressed. The server’s name was Shelley and she was super nice. Looks are deceiving because I would have never thought that this place served brunch- it simply looks like a pub. Many locations in Toronto. Extensive selection of vegetarian meals and excellent vegetarian pizza dishes. Please note that even though Brass Taps all share almost identical menus and the same name, they are not affiliated with each other. In sum, this beats the overpriced trendy il Fornello by a long shot. Some locations like the Little Italy location (on College street) offers free concerts (my friend Christy and I saw Shaye perform there), and other events. Very friendly service. Accepts all cards.

Court Jester Pub, The

609 Danforth Av
(416) 465-6247

Located right at Danforth and Pape, this non-pretentious pub not only has drinks but has a fabulous menu, very diverse with a great selection of food. The place is vegetarian friendly but not vegan friendly and is open very late. The brunch menu is definitely not cheap, but the portions are HUGE. I could not order anything from the brunch menu since all selections involve eggs or meat/sausage or pancakes. Oh well. There is a great outdoor terrace sits about four tables and accomodated for us (we were seven people). The food is very tasty and the prices are about $8-$10 for brunch and $10-$15 for lunch/dinner. The restaurant looks more like a pub and that’s really what it is afterall. This is a place where you can eat, drink, hang out, and relax for hours.

Red room

444 Spadina Ave.
(416) 929-9964

Part of the same three restaurants of Green Room, and Java, Red Room was once a tea shop and restaurant that served alcohol, but now it’s a bar that serves food and tea. Inside this gorgeous restaurant at Spadina and College, you will find many tables and booths with gorgeous dim lighting and cherry wood interior, luxurious in design, detailed moldings, and antique woodwork. The whole decor or the Red room distracts the visitor from the low quality food it serves up.

There is a reason the food is so cheap. Although the restaurant appears very high class, it’s actually a bar that serves pub type food. The only different part is that this pub type food is Asian in its influence (the cooks and owners are Asian) and most of the selections are light and healthy Asian dishes from Pad Thai to Singapore Noodles to Vegetable Stir Fry to traditional Hamburger and French Fries to Fish and Chips.

Portions are decent but quality is very low. I’ve gone to Red Room over one hundred times since late 2000 and the tofu is always overfried or stale, the food is bland and lacks any exciting flavours, and you cannot make food requests because the cooks do not understand any English. The atmosphere is funky, with many of
U. of T. students, an array of herbal teas, an impressive bar with a large selection of beers, liquors, wine, and other alcoholic beverages. The key is to only purchase food and avoid alcohol. The waiter may frown at you but four people can eat for $20.00 and that is difficult to achieve in Toronto. Expect a lot of noise and a lot of smoke- afterall it’s a bar. Anyone under 19 is not allowed

Future Bakery

483 Bloor W
(416) 922-5875

Located right in the heart of the Annex at Brunswick and Bloor, this cafeteria style cafe is funky, urban, trendy, and has a beautiful summer patio (terrace) where people can chill and gather with friends for light food and good coffee. Similarly designed like Marche Movenpick, this place has kiosks that serve coffee, cake, pastries, grilled items, all divided into three main areas.

The vegetarian chili is a bit watery but excellent nonetheless. There are no waitresses (unless you request table service by the patio). For the most part, Future Bakery resembles a mini “Marche Movenpick” where people order and wait for food.  Dishes are served quickly and efficiently. Salad selections are plentiful and affordable. Many dessert selections (huge pieces of cake, pie, and squares) are offered ($4-$7 per slice). Future Bakery does not make their own desserts. 

Open very very late and often times very crowded. Mostly caters to the University of Toronto scene.  A great place to hang out and people watch. Offers both table service (outdoor patio) or takeout.

Green Room

296 Brunswick Avenue
(416) 929-3253

Open Mon 12am-2am, 11am-2am; Tue-Sat 11am-2am; Sun 11am-12am

Hidden behind Future Bakery in the Annex, this place can be categorized as grungy, earthy, funky, smoky, and ecclectic. With mismatched chairs and a dark, pub-like ambiance, this casual bar/cafe is a great place to hang out and enjoy some decent vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes, all at a cheap prices.

Quality is not high, but most patrons go for the alcohol, not the food.  Green room, like its sister cafe Red Room, offer a large variety of beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages.