You crazy kids have been hitting the 2012 edition of this post so much (there wasn’t one last year), my site stats are going to be pitiful come December 26th. But it seems that there are an awful lot of you out there who have no intention of sitting around with the family wearing those silly hats that come in the Christmas crackers, and who instead want to have someone else do the cooking and cleaning for you on the big day.
I have concentrated on downtown Toronto, but if you’re in the burbs, I think David Ort of Post City is planning a list with a wider range. Even though my list is cross-referenced and confirmed, I’d still recommend calling to book a reservation at anything other than the most casual places, and reservations are required for any of the hotel restaurants.
The Free Times Café
320 College Street
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and beverages (includes coffee and juice): $52
It’s only logical that after last week’s post about blintzes, I had to find some. And since I haven’t been to the “Bella, Did You Eat?” Sunday brunch at Free Times Café in a couple of years, it seemed like an excellent time to revisit an old favourite. For some reason we had balked as the price rose to the current $19.95 per person, but having probably eaten more than that amount of blintzes, latkes and gefilte fish during our review visit, I can’t really remember why we ever thought it wasn’t a great deal.
Greeted at the door by owner Judy Perly, we’re immediately made to feel at home. Having run the Free Times since it opened almost 30 years ago, Perly remains gregarious and welcoming. Despite the fact that it’s busy, customers feel more like guests in someone’s home.
Cluck, Grunt and Low
362 Bloor Street West
Buffet brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $40
Despite the fact that I write restaurant reviews for a living, I’m never terribly comfortable giving out personal recommendations of places to go, for fear of ruining a special event for someone by sending them to a place they hate. Which is why I never ask for personal recommendations from other people, and don’t take unsolicited ones with much seriousness. And is also why I tend to take the comments on certain online food discussion forums with a big rock of salt – because I have no way of knowing that person’s background, experience or palate in comparison to my own. So when a heated debate started recently on said food forum about the brunch at Cluck, Grunt and Low, I figured it was easier to just check the place out for myself.
The person taking the negative point of view in the above-mentioned debate complained about the lack of Cluck, Grunt and Low’s traditional dinner fare on their all-you-can-eat buffet. But it’s advertised as southern breakfast, and for the jaw-droppingly low price of $12.95, it’s primarily breakfast foods on offer. I wouldn’t expect ribs and fried chicken for that price. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fabulous.