284A King Street West
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $34
I’m still looking for a Jewish Grandma. Seriously, there must be some kind-hearted elderly lady out there hoping for someone to drop by and eat their homemade gefilte fish. Call me.
In the meantime, until someone adopts me, I’m forced to find my own latkes and blintzes and rugelach. Which is what led us to Dunn’s for brunch; seeing as they have the best latkes south of Bloor, they’re my go-to place when I get a craving.
Sunday mornings at Dunn’s are an odd thing. Over-staffed is an understatement as the half dozen servers stand around with bored expressions, watching the many mounted televisions, waiting for the lunchtime rush that happens every Sunday prior to the theatre matinee. The place easily seats 100, but other than the tourist couple who depart shortly after we arrive, we’re the only customers there.
Which also means that the kitchen is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and doesn’t have anything even vaguely resembling a rush. So everything should be perfect. Whoops.
Coffee ($1.50) arrives in mugs with schmutz on the side. It’s passable coffee, but… schmutz.
Unable to decide, I create my own multi-plate breakfast, comprised of a single latke ($2.49), a single blintz ($3.29), and purely out of guilt for eating so much fried stuff, the fruit cup and bagel ($6.99), although I’m not so guilty as to go with cottage cheese, and opt for cream cheese instead.
Slightly crunchy on the edges, the latke is greasy, but fluffy in the centre, and exceeds the expectations that it will fulfil my craving. Likewise the blintz, which is nicely browned on top, and is filled with a tangy mix of cottage cheese and cream cheese and comes with a side of sweet but passable blueberry compote.
The fruit cup is the standard melon, pineapple, and berry concoction, but is really nicely arranged – someone put some thought into it, it’s not just dumped in a bowl. My only real complaint is that someone in the kitchen buttered my bagel, which is probably the norm, but is not the norm for me. How’s a girl to get a good schmear going if the cream cheese won’t stick?
Across the table, the hungry husband is not having such a great time with the Devine Breakfast ($11.99). Despite its massive size, this plate of porkosity (at a Jewish deli??) wasn’t impressing. Scrambled eggs are rubbery, the pancake is bland and spongy, tasting as if it were from a mix, and the selection of pork products ranging from bacon to ham and sausage are pretty middle of the road. Even the pancake syrup was meh, tasting not even of fake maple flavouring but of plain old corn syrup. The hungry husband accuses the home fries of being precooked and frozen, and laments not having his usual scrambled eggs with lox and onions, which has never disappointed.
So here’s our assessment of Dunn’s Famous – stick with the traditional Jewish dishes. Despite the fact that we were the only customers in the place, and everything should have come out of the kitchen looking and tasting perfect, it seems that the classic dishes are the ones that hold up best. I’ve got a real Grandma who will cook me bacon and pancakes, but until I find a Jewish Grandma willing to adopt me, the latkes and blintzes at Dunn’s will remain my surrogate.