Chuck and Co.
126 Atlantic Avenue
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $30
Messy. And that’s not a bad thing.
Known for their handmade gourmet burgers, you wouldn’t expect a burger place to do up fancy brunch. And to be fair, the selection of breakfast sandwiches is pretty straightforward. This is more of a “grab a great sandwich on the way home from the farmers’ market” kind of brunch than a leisurely afternoon with scones and mimosas and linen napkins. But sometimes that’s all you want, and the offerings at Chuck and Co are wholly acceptable.
It’s a nice looking space with leather benches, white walls and white-washed floors. It’s empty save for us on both occasions we’re there, and after two visits, we’re now known as regulars, on a first name basis with Chantal, who cheerfully takes our order at the counter at the back.
The menu is a selection of breakfast items in sandwich form, from eggs Benedict to steak and eggs, all served on a toasted ciabatta bun, with a skewer of fruit on the side. On our first visit, the husband goes for the breakfast burger ($7), which is ground chuck topped with fresh chilli, fried egg, homemade sambal, fresh tomato, and lettuce. It’s a messy delight with the sambal adding an extra kick.
I opt for the Sauser ($6.50), a sausage burger with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, topped with caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. Not a huge fan of sausage, I’m actually surprised by how good this is, warmly spiced with a nice balance of sweet from the onions.
On a second visit two weeks later, the husband orders the Stegg ($9), a grilled steak topped with a fried egg, horseradish mayo, sautéed mushrooms and onions. It’s a mess to eat, the thin minute steak being hard to bite clean through on one try, and the runny egg yolk making things slippery, but the flavour combination is well-balanced, and the steak is actually pink in the centre.
And my new favourite sandwich might be the Sqwish ($9); grilled tomato and bacon with melted gruyere and pesto. The cheese is oozy and sharp, the pesto pungent with garlic. This might be better with peameal bacon instead of regular strips, but I’ll not complain too much. We’d like to see some seasonal (local) fruit on the skewers though – they’re a nice touch, but I can’t bring myself to eat a hard Californian strawberry when I’ve got a flat of gorgeous Ontario berries on the seat beside me.
We also dig the sweet offering of Mini D’s ($3) – 4 mini-donuts, made fresh in-house and tossed in a sweet coating that changes weekly. On our first visit, it’s cinnamon sugar, on the second they’re almost glazed. Hot, only slightly greasy, and sweet, they wash down well with the large cups of coffee.
One thing we’d like to see is real plates and cutlery. On both occasions our sandwiches come in cute cardboard boxes – perfect for take-out, but for eating in, especially for brunch, real dishes would make it seem more serious. Plastic cups for water and juice and paper cups for coffee make it seem as if we shouldn’t be lingering. Everything is bio-degradable or recyclable, which is a plus for take-away orders, but we’d still like to see something slightly more formal that makes brunch at Chuck and Co feel a bit less like a fast food restaurant and more like somewhere people would linger for a bit and enjoy their meal. We don’t need the mimosas and linen napkins, but brunch needs to feel like a bit of a leisurely treat, and less of a quick bite on the run.
Overall though, recommended – friendly service, and great (messy in a good way) food.