1192 Queen Street West
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee and juice: $34
Beaver Loves You.
The sentiment may be genuine, pre-emptive or merely provocative; (“Dude, I love beaver too!!”) but there’s no denying that the note on the bill at this funky restaurant on the edge of Parkdale will put a smile on every face.
Known more for its clubby atmosphere of an evening (the owners are Toronto’s favourite party promoters, Lynn McNeil and Will Munro), Beaver serves up a pretty mean brunch, especially considering the limited kitchen behind the small bar.
We start with some of the best restaurant coffee in the city ($2), each one fresh-pulled and served Americano-style. Limited space means the espresso machine takes precedence over the lingering pot of rotgut Joe prevalent at every other breakfast joint. We are thankful to Sue our server and the coffee gods.
Coffee isn’t the only thing whipped up on that espresso machine, though. With no room for a standard diner griddle, eggs get the steam treatment on the milk nozzle and turn out light, fluffy and gorgeously yellow like butter. They fill the hearty breakfast burrito ($9) where they’re paired with chili, salsa, avocado and cheddar. The accompanying salad is more than mere greens, with slivers of fragrant fennel and sweet cherry tomatoes in a balsamic dressing jazzing up the plate.
The burrito shares space on the sandwich press with a variety of panini ($7) including a breakfast version made with steamed eggs, sun-dried tomato and ham. A grilled croissant ($7) includes sweet ham and Swiss cheese melted to a glorious ooze and accompanied by a bowl of steamed eggs.
For sweet breakfast items, the baked almond chocolate French toast ($9.50) is a close cousin of bread pudding, served in a large square, studded with melted chocolate bits and topped with whipped cream and berries. Beaver also offers a selection of croissants, vegan banana bread and other pastries.
Beaver’s brunch clientele runs to the Queen West hipster type, but the atmosphere is low-key. With sun streaming in through the big south-facing window, the room can sometimes be too warm, but the vibe is such that no one will care about hats or sweaters shed to reveal bedhead or an old Ramones t-shirt.
Service is professional and efficient, with just enough chitchat to be welcoming but not interfere with that Jagermeister hangover.
Open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, Beaver has been our go-to place for Christmas morning brunch two years running, and while the menu might not be as extensive as some other brunch spots, it’s always a pleasure to pop in to this funky relaxed space before a day of scouring nearby galleries or shops.
Beaver loves us, and we love Beaver.