Boom Breakfast and Co.

 808 College Street
(416) 534-3447
new location at 1036 St. Clair West
(416) 657-3447

Boom is a trendy and comfortable breakfast joint along the College West strip at Ossington, just at the cusp of Little Italy and in the St. Clair/Oakwood neighbourhood. The Little Italy location looks like a classy but trendy diner with a old fashioned looking bar and nice 4 seater booths for privacy. In addition to brunch, they also serve “lunch and dinner” items like pasta, salad, burgers, and many veggie options.

As Boom is know for brunch, and having been opened for 2 years, we decided to go in a group (me, Justine, Pam, and Bryan). Pam ordered the Eggs Florentine and thought it was excellent. It came with very tasty homefries and a bit of fruit. Price and portion size were adequate. She thought service was excellent and the decor was modern & cozy. I liked the booths! Also, very clean looking.

Justine had the chocolate chip pancakes and thought they were somewhat tasty. She felt that they could have been a bit lighter and more fluffy (3’s Company is much better). She liked the egg decor on all the walls and the big egg near the entrance….She thought it was very playful. Justine found the prices to be very reasonable (under $6 for her pancakes. She thought the portion size for her pancakes were very good. She enjoyed the nice ambience…Booths made the place very casual and loungy, but they also had the bar area that had blue tiles as a backsplash and classy wooden tabletops…There was a mix of casual and upscale trendy. She thought it was nice to keep all types of people happy (the casual, laid back kind of person and the more yuppy type).

Bryan had the Tuscan eggs: poached eggs, grilled tomato on rye bread, fruit on the side. He enjoyed it, tasted fresh, light, and eggs were properly cooked. The price was standard. Ambience was fun and modern, upbeat and friendly. He liked the booths. The decor was simple and tasteful but not exceptional. He loved the College West location.

My order was a slight disappointment, unless you are anorexic of course. I ordered had the very berry crepe, which was light, thin, and full of fruit (stawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries). It came with a chocolate drizzle and it was excellent. I was disappointed because I asked the waitress if she could recommend something filling (Chocolate Chip Pancakes versus the Very Berry Crepe) and she recommended the crepes. Well, she was wrong. The crepe was tiny and I was not satisfied at all. Justine was generous to share her Chocolate Chip pancakes which were thick and delicious.

Open daily from 6:00am. Accepts all cards. Accessible on the College street streetcar (on College) and along the St. Clair streetcar (St. Clair location) and the Oakwood/Ossington bus.

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Babur [reviewed in 2001, reviewed again in Dec 06]

273 Queen W
(416) 599-7720

Babur is conveniently located in the Queen West neighbourhood at Queen and McCall right next to Much Music and City TV. I first went to Babur in Oct of 2001 and I really enjoyed the place but I found the portions to be too small and the prices alittle too high. I did love the food, though. I also found it to be crowded, noisy, and alittle too high-end for me, very a la “Indian rice factory” but larger. Indian Rice Factory is TINY and crowded and very noisy. Babur is alittle more spacious.

I recently went to Babur with some friends for New Years celebration. We were a group of 11 people and two people from our group are regular customers and have been going for the past 13 years. Obviously this place is good since it’s been around a long time and the food and service is reliable and prices have been stable. They did mention that there often has been a change over in staff so they found it interesting to see the change in staff over the years.

Gladly Babur did not hike up their dinner prices for the New Year. We all started with drinks. I ordered a Mango Lassi, WAY too sweet for $4 and not as thick and creamy as that new veggie Indian restaurant in Little India (Kissan). Others ordered wine and soft drinks (also known as pop to Ontarians).

For our appetizers we ordered a round of samosas (YUMM) with Tamarind and coriander dipping sauces. For our mains we ordered Malai Kofta (veggie type dumplings in a thick tomato cream curry), Anakali Bahar (boneless pieces of tandoori marinated chicken grilled to perfection in a melange of onions, peppers, and garnished with pomegranate seeds), Bengan Bhartha (thick whole eggplant in a tomato curry sauce, kind of resembles Jewish eggplant). We also ordered Aloo Tikki (a potato curry), Saag Paneer (delicious spinach and homemade Indian cheese curry), Paneer Korma (a creamy mild curry with homemade cheese) , Tarka Daal (hearty, earthy lentil curry), Nurmahal Biryani (lamb biryani- a lamb and rice mix), Aloo paratha (deep fried Indian bread stuffed with potato, and Saffron rice, aromatic rice with saffron.

Food was hot, fresh, colourful, not too greasy, and delicious. Portions have gotten better over the years but prices are alittle high for what you get. Service is very friendly and efficient. The restaurant is clean and tablecloths are real linen (as opposed to paper). Staff are pleasant and knowledgable. Tables are alittle closely placed together so dining is not that intimate. Can be noisy at times. Too many tables packed into this restaurant. The food is good and I would go back but portions are small and prices are kind of high for what you get.

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.

Queen Mother Cafe [Mark Aaron]

208 Queen St. W.
Tel: (416) 598-4719
Mon-Sat 11:30am- 1:00am
Sun 12:00pm-12:00am

 

web site: www.queenmothercafe.ca

Located right at Queen near McCaul in the Queen West neighbourhood, I have always been curious to try this place out. With old wood furniture, high pressed tin ceilings, and beautifully restored, the Queen Mother Cafe serves Pan Asian (mostly Thai and Laosian cuisine) as well as some Mediterranean dishes and decadent desserts since 1978.

With a large, beautiful back terrace, and with three large dining areas, in a very dimlight romantic setting, the Queen Mother Cafe offers decadent desserts (locally made by Dufflet), and an array of Thai-Lao inspired dishes. For our dinner, we started with vegetarian cold rolls appetizers (fresh spring rolls filled with tofu, bean sprouts, cucumber, lettuce, vermicelli noodles, carrots, bell peppers, fresh mint and coriander, served with a hot and sweet peanut sauce) a bit liquidy in terms of the sauce, but a highly delicious start to our meal.

For our mains, Wendy ordered the seafood hot pot with a scallop, shrimp and calamari with green beans, cauliflower, bamboo shoots, bell peppers and fresh basil in a spicy Indian curry coconut sauce, served with steamed jasmine rice. Wendy found it very saucy, spicy, and wonderful.

I ordered the spicy vegetarian roti with fresh market vegetables, chickpeas and tofu in a spicy curry sauce, wrapped in a warm Indian Dahl roti, served with cucumber and cherry tomato salad, topped with raita dressing. I did not find it very saucy (more dry) but it was one of the best rotis i have had in a long time. Wendy ordered a sparkling water that was similar to San Pellegrino and I ordered the typical Diet Coke.

Service was exquisite and food presentation and taste was divine. There were not many vegetarian options but the waitress assured me that they were flexible and that they could make anything vegetarian. She also assured me that the peanut sauce was truly vegetarian. Mains are in the price range of $12-$15 and appetizers are $6-$9. Some appetizers include sticky rice steamed in a straw basket with a peanut sauce, edamame (steamed Japanese soybean snaps in a chili soy dipping sauce), nam jeun (three crispy spring rolls filled with a special vegetable mixture, served with hot and sweet peanut sauce ), dim sum quartet (wonton wrapped dim sum filled with chicken and shrimp and served in a soy sauce and garlic chili dipping sauce ), golden triangles (chicken, cumin, ginger, coriander, scallions and curry wrapped in a “samosa” like fashion with a curry and lemon yogourt sauce), and artichoke hummus. Salads includes an arugula walnut salad (YUMM), a mediterranean salad, and your typical plain “house” salad. Entrees include a smoked turkey chili, spinach and ricotta canneloni (super yummy), New Zealand lamb tenderloin, teriyaki salmon, and ping gai (grilled marinated boneless chicken with garlic, coriander, black peppercorns, served with a spicy lime coriander sauce and steamed rice ).

Noodle dishes include pad thai, bah me hang (fresh thin egg noodles stir-fried with bean sprouts, onions, celery, chopped peanuts, sauteed shrimp and golden sliced chicken in a spicy lime coriander sauce, topped with green onions and fresh coriander), and khao soy gai (a Laotian dish of chicken simmered with ginger, fresh Thai herbs, turmeric, curry and coconut milk, served on a bed of fresh bean sprouts, watercress and soft thin egg noodles, garnished with shallots, marinated bok choy and fresh coriander
).

Also serves a Sunday brunch. Some brunch items include a Montreal bagel (St. Viateur) with served plain or with cream cheese, hamburgers served with fries, crêpes with a savoury filling, served with home fries and salad, two eggs, served any way you like it, with home fries, double smoked side bacon and toasted authentic St Viateur Bagel from Montreal, served piping hot, omelete of the day served with home fries and side salad, quiche of the day (served with salad), and a St. Viateur bagel served with smoked salmon, cream cheese, red onions, lemon, and fresh dill (a taste of “Jewish and Montreal”)

Accepts all cards. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am- 1:00am and Sun 12:00pm-12:00am. Serves some brunch items (in addition to regular menu) on Sunday. A wonderful place to bring a date. Liquor License.

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.

Fressen [brunch by Mark Aaron]

478 Queen St. W.
(416) 504-5127
64 Oxford Street
(416) 927-1231

Set in funky Queen West between Spadina and Bathurst, Fressen has always been a place that I have avoided for 2 reasons: the price and the price. I was pleasantly surprised when I took a look at the brunch menu. Dishes were under $10 and the portion size were not pathetic. Unlike my visit in 2002 for my 28th b-day, the dinner menu was wonderful but prices were too high and I left hungry and dissatisfied. Aaron and I decided to try Fressen again last Sunday with an open mind, hoping for the best.

I was happy to see that the menu was not too complicated. Serving traditional items, I opted for something different. I was disappointed to learn that Fressen does not serve diet coke/regular coke since they make their own drinks. Maybe they think they’re too good for serving soda pop or maybe it’s a philosophical or ideological issue. Maybe they’re too hip and cool for soda pop.

With a laid back ambiance, Fressen’s decor can be described as earthy. Spread across a
two-level dining space, Fressen’s colour scheme contains warm tones of copper, tan, light browns, and the restaurant is surrounded by branches of trees. It looks like a calm retreat, a rain forest of sorts, or a tropical jungle- very earthy and organic. Wait time for brunch was much quicker than dinner. The staff at Fressen are friendly, attentive, and patient. Fressen offers a full menu of espresso drinks (w/ organic soy milk). They offered latte, capuccino, macchiato, espresso, all for semi-normal prices ($3.50-$4.50).

I ordered the latte (w/ soy milk). It was slightly sweet and was served in a glass tied with a napkin, how decorative and cute. Aaron ordered Sugar Mountain ($4.00) – a homemade fresh juice of Beets, Carrot, Ginger and Lemon (Fressen makes fresh squeezed juices!). For our mains, I ordered the BBQ tofu scramble ($9.00) -beautifully served with a tomato cilantro salsa, a mango dollop, guacamole, grilled tempeh, a stuffed tomato with sweet potato puree, and a medley of fresh fruit. The serving of the tofu scramble was generous and it had a sweet and sour flavour and was very flavourful and fresh. Aaron ordered the Sweet Corn and Vegetable Fritters ($9.00) – griddle-seared patties filled with corn, zucchini, and sweet potato mixed with spinach and fresh herbs. The dish came with toast, orated potatoes, tomato cilantro salsa, guacamole, grilled tempeh, and a roasted squash stuffed tomato. He enjoyed his meal a lot.

Apart from the screaming baby, who was actually smiling with joy (I wonder what he/she was actually trying to say-he/she kept on looking back to smile). We wanted to yell at the parents for ignoring their satanic child and not even acknowledging/apologizing for his/her behaviour. Despite our disturbance, we thought it was a delicious brunch despite the fact that we sat next to nervy parents who were just enjoying their brunch while their loud, wailing baby was disturbing the whole restaurant on a nice Sunday morning on Mother’s Day.