Sage West – Closed
924 College Street
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $30
Most people are probably more familiar with Sage Café on McCaul Street than they are with her sister restaurant Sage West. It’s one of those places you really want to like; it’s a pretty space that doubles as a lounge with live salsa bands and dancing in the evening; the staff is friendly and accommodating. The food… well the food is just mediocre.
We arrive to discover only one other table occupied, yet the extensive menu has many things crossed off. The chicken pot pie and the potato latkes are no longer on offer, and the chicken burrito handwritten onto the printed menu is also not available. Our server tells us the restaurant is in the process of changing the menu to reflect a move to more Latin-American fare (thus the salsa dancing), but the scratched out menu sheets are still kind of sloppy.
Especially because it’s a fairly extensive brunch card with sections for sweet and savory dishes as well as “farm fresh eggs”, plus side dishes. It’s all the typical brunch faves but with ambitious twists. For instance, mango cinnamon pancakes ($10), or a savoury French toast made with cheese and challah ($9).
I opt for the sweet French toast with cinnamon-cardamom scented caramelized pears and maple syrup ($9). See? Ambitious! The pears are a delightful topping, the cardamom perfuming the dish. The French toast itself is sloppy though; vaguely soggy and too reminiscent of something I could easily do at home. The dish comes with bacon and that albatross of the brunch plate, a wedge of out of season, zero-flavour cantaloupe.
(Please, brunch-serving restaurants, will you all just stop this? I can’t begin to tell you how many perfectly decent brunches have been ruined by that stupid, flaccid slice of bland pale nothingness. Give me some lovely apple slices, or some tangerine wedges, or some in-house preserves and some wee scones in place of fresh fruit. Worst of all is when the bland imported cantaloupe continues to appear on the plate well into summer when better seasonal fruits abound – gah!!!) Sorry – end rant.
Across the table, we’re confused by the sausage and jalapeno bread pudding, smothered in jack cheese with beans, home fries and salad ($8). The bread pudding is served in a ramekin and that’s definitely not jack cheese on top, but rather a medium cheddar. The sausage is just straight-up breakfast links where we were sort of expecting a spicy chorizo. We’re assuming the beans are the bourbon baked beans available as a side dish ($3), but we can’t detect anything resembling bourbon, just sweet mushiness. Overall, it’s a weird combination and the only thing the hungry husband has raves for are the “specially seasoned” home fries ($3 as a side) that I find appallingly over-spiced with cumin.
Again, I really want to like Sage West. Despite the magic markering, on paper the menu looks great (likewise the dinner menu), but the food flops slightly in the execution. Perhaps we’ll return once they’ve reworked the offerings to have a more Latin-American feel, but for now, I can make soggy French toast at home. Sans cantaloupe!