1096 Queen Street West
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $50
Those folks that make the clam and tomato juice are on some kind of campaign to make the Caesar Canada’s official cocktail but they’ll get no support from me to do it. The very last thing I want to even think about when sitting down for brunch is the salty burning combination of vodka, clamato juice and celery salt (or whatever it is that goes around the rim of those things). Seriously… no. So we’re not off to an auspicious start when our group of four sits down at Nyood for brunch on a recent rainy Sunday to be presented with an amuse of teeny versions of Nyood’s cherry tomato Caesar. Three of the things sit and taunt us throughout the meal and the lone Caesar drinker at the table is happy to stop after just one.
Coffee, please, all around, and keep it coming. Which, thankfully they do, and it’s even decent stuff.
Nyood’s premise is tapas style small plates, which tends to annoy me, unless I’m in the mood to try lots of different tastes, although I’m still wondering how people are meant to share the order of cereal and muesli ($6) with berries and yogurt. No one wanted to order it but I really wanted to see if it came out in a large serving with little side bowls and spoons.
Instead, the four of us share an order of the banana fritters ($6) and the scones ($4) to start. Both are smaller than we’re expecting, but are tasty – the fritters are hot, deep-fried pastry around a spicy chunk of banana; the scones are more like mini-muffins with clotted cream and preserves. But all are wee, and come five to a serving which requires some careful surgery of the last of each so we can share the stuff evenly (seriously – why do places do this?? No, really, do the staff get some kind of weird glee watching patrons try to fairly divvy up uneven numbers of things?).
More coffee, more water, at least we’re being kept well-hydrated. (Won’t someone please take this Caesar away, it’s taunting me with its salty unpleasantness.)
Most of the mains are prepared as flatbreads and are easiest eaten as one would a pizza. The smoked salmon flatbread ($14) is topped with red onions, cured fennel, basil cream and hard-boiled eggs. It’s a beautiful dish with nice flavour combinations and crisp bread. The Spanish flatbread ($13) with salsa, black beans, guacamole, poached eggs and chorizo is Nyood’s interpretation of Huevos Rancheros, and while the dish is also beautiful, the decision to serve it on a large wooden slab is probably not the best one – we chase beans around the table for the rest of the meal.
French toast ($11) appears on the menu as a starter or “to share”; it also comes arranged on a long wooden slab and is cut into wedges. Accompanied by crème fraiche and berry jam, it’s a decent example of the dish; thick, eggy challah is evenly cooked and nicely browned. but it’s by no means life-changing.
Taking one for the team, I agree to order the lobster toast ($17) which doesn’t really require much arm-twisting. A decent serving of lobster is served up in a cold salad of snap peas, purple cabbage, lemon and mascarpone and arranged atop two thick slices of slightly too-charred white toast. It’s definitely a fork and knife endeavour, and one toast slice really doesn’t have much of the lobster salad on it, so it also requires some work on my part to redistribute the topping before I can start eating. The presentation is lovely, but requires me to work a bit too much for a Sunday morning. Flavour-wise, it’s bright and carries a nice balance of tart and sweet. It would be one of those absolutely perfect summer dishes to have if the temperature was higher and it wasn’t grey and rainy.
Service throughout is attentive and friendly; coffee and water continue to be topped up after our food is gone. The music is mellow and not too loud – a DJ spins Michael Jackson songs throughout the afternoon the day we’re there – although the big garage doors that open onto the sidewalk allowed a lot of street noise, as well as the damp weather in.
As we leave, three of the four shot glasses of the Caesar sample remain on the table. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him… but I don’t want to bury Nyood’s brunch – it’s decent, but not perfect. Maybe a bit too hip for its own good with more concern about presentation as opposed to practicality, but the food itself is solid.