The Academy of Spherical Arts
1 Snooker Street
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $42
I am of the firm belief that no restaurant is worth waiting in a line to get into. That’s not an attitude issue – I’m not saying that I personally am too good to stand in line, but rather the fact that our expectations of a meal rise in direct proportion to the amount of time we are forced to wait for it. So while there are any number of great restaurants in Toronto that serve fantastic food, including brunch, there’s nothing that I’ve come across in my extensive eating career that would be worth standing in line for. You leave me out in the cold for 2 hours, you had darn well be be serving me the meal of a lifetime when I get my ass in a chair.
Down in Liberty Village, both School and Mildred’s Temple Kitchen are fortunate enough to have line-ups at weekend brunch. People will wait an hour or more to be seated. But how many of those people would stand in line if they knew that only a block or so away, there was a place that was spacious, stylish and affordable, offering a really decent brunch?
As it turns out, the Academy of Spherical Arts has been serving brunch for 6 months or so, but on the day we’re there, only a few tables are full.
Which is too bad, because while the card is short, we’re pretty impressed with the offerings. Pancakes with berries or oat crusted French toast with bananas and rum flambe (both $12) are tempting, but I’m always a sucker for rosti and smoked salmon.
Complimentary croissants arrive just after coffee ($2), along with a dish of packets of brand name jams and peanut butter. This is really the only miss of the day, and only because we’re not fans of the name brand stuff. A little bit of house-made something would be a nice touch here.
Not knowing about the croissants beforehand, we’ve ordered banana bread ($2) which shows up warm and slightly toasted as we’re finishing the croissants. 2 slices of a hearty loaf – almost as good as my own homemade – make up for the dubious facsimile we had at another brunch spot the week previous.
The mains arrive on big, big plates and are heaping with food. My Scottish smoked salmon on herbed potato rosti ($12) comes with scrambled eggs – probably four of them. Drizzled in a tangy pommery mustard sauce and topped with red onions and capers, I literally cannot see the rosti underneath. It’s a lovely flavour combination, and the fluffy eggs, cool salmon, sharp sauce and crisp bits of potato from the rosti cover all the bases.
Across the table, the hungry husband is having a “possibly too much food on the plate” moment, as the full breakfast ($12) arrives, a splendour of corn beef hash, farmers sausages, grilled tomatoes, bacon and grilled portobello mushroom along with scrambled eggs. The hash is hearty, flavourful, and not overly salty, the eggs fluffy and light, with only the sausages rating a meh for not standing out as anything more than typical breakfast links.
Service is friendly and chatty, possibly because with only two other tables, the room is relaxed. The larger of the group includes a few tweens and instead of fussing and being bored when the meal is done, they simply head over to one of the many pool and snooker tables and play a game while their parents enjoy another coffee.
The Academy of Spherical Arts offers great prices, huge plates of hearty brunch favourites, and a lovely elegant space. Anyone considering Liberty Village for brunch but not interested in standing around for hours with the “if there’s a line then it’s gotta be really great” hipsters should be pleased with the decision to check it out.