1532 Dundas Street West
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $32
Skinny jeans, plaid shirts, iPhones… when did crusty old Dundas West become the land of the hipster? Or is it because the area is still kind of crusty that the hipsters flock to it? In any case, throughout our entire meal at Henhouse, we are the oldest people there, save for a table with two girls and one of their mothers. This much hipster-ness could be overkill. The bright space is full of old 1950s tables and chairs (mis-matched, of course) and a fabulous selection of kitschy decor, including fun salt and pepper shakers, bunches of flowers on each table and mis-matched dishes. It could scream “look at us, we’re trying SO hard!” but it’s actually fun and comfortable (maybe because I can remember actually having those old tables with the chrome legs as real, non-ironic furniture).
In any case, we arrive just in time (10:30am on a Saturday), because by 11am, the place is packed and people are being turned away. Those of us with tables heave a sigh of relief and lift our bingo-themed coffee cups for another swig of non-ironic Joe ($2).
The menu is short but sweet – granola, omlette, eggs any style, a tofu scramble and a fun pak – a single serving box of cereal with milk ($3).
I go for the pancakes (the most expensive thing on the menu at $10) and am presented with a hefty plate full of not just pancakes but scrambled eggs, bacon, homefries and fruit. Holy hearty Batman! The eggs are light and fluffy although slightly under-seasoned. The homefries as well can use a bit of salt. Good thing there are cool elephant salt shakers within reach. The pancakes are a slight disappointment however – they’re thin but also manage to be doughy in the centre. They’re nicely flavoured though, I’d just like a bit more lift.
The hungry husband tackles the frittata ($9) which is a 3-inch thick wedge of zucchini, red peppers, mushrooms, potatoes, sundried tomatoes and eggs. It’s topped with cheddar and a kick-ass asiago cheese and served with a pretty side salad and toasted rye bread. We dig this a lot, and the presentation is great.
Service is cheerful and friendly – as soon as we sit down, big glasses and a jug of water appear on the table (I love when restaurants do this). And when it gets busy they rearrange some tables to accommodate a couple and clear out some of the roadblock at the front as people wait for tables to free up. We also dig the spaciousness – they could easily jam another 4 or 5 tables into that space (and fill them) but instead, there’s room to move and breathe, even if it means people have to wait or move along.
Washrooms are papered with old yearbook pages from the 60s and 70s, so a trip to the loo can take forever as we get lost in the world of math club and the shot-put team.
There’s a surprisingly fun and relaxed vibe to HenHouse. It’s not perfect, but that’s probably intentional. The food is big and cheap, the coffee is strong. Grandma’s kitchen probably didn’t attract this many hipsters, but once you score a big melamine and chrome table and a cup of coffee, all is right with the world.