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.
It’s fairly common knowledge that if you want to make money in the restaurant industry, you don’t open some high end joint specializing in truffles and caviar and lobster and champagne. Oh, sure, those places do well, but for most people who have mortgages and kids and car payments, $200 meals are for special occasions only, if at all. The smart restaurateur knows that the real money is in the small bills; coffee, muffins, and of course, sandwiches.
Since 1762, when the 4th Earl of Sandwich had his cook slap together a piece of meat between two slices of bread so he could eat while continuing at his card game, the sandwich has been known as a cheap, easy and filling meal. And in the restaurant biz, a repeat customer who buys an $8 sandwich and salad combo three times every week brings in far more revenue than someone splurging on that $200 meal once a year for a special occasion. Plus, the average sandwich shop, where most customers take their food to go, can serve considerably more diners per meal than a high-end restaurant with only 30 seats and a maximum of one turnover per service.
1024 Queen Street West
lunch for two (including a cookie) with taxes, tip and coffee: $30
Regularly for the past ten or twelve years or so, I’d pass Café Bernate and say to myself, “We’ve really got to go there sometime!” Located on Queen West at Ossington, I’d be reminded of it twice a day as I rode the streetcar back and forth to work, yet somehow I never made it over there. Not for lack of trying through – a couple of times Greg, the husband, and I set out with the express intention to have lunch at the little gem of a café only to find it closed or packed.
So when we were walking along Queen Street a couple of weekends ago and both of us found our stomachs rumbling for lunch, we were surprised, astounded even, to find the place open. Finally, we would get to eat at Café Bernate.