Subday Brunch – The Academy of Spherical Arts

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?

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Sunday Brunch – Fire on the East Side

Fire on the East Side
6 Gloucester Street
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $40

There’s a renewed interest in southern food these days – fried chicken, collard greens and even grits are showing up on restaurant menus. But for the past few years, one restaurant just steps off the Yonge Street strip has been quietly serving up some classic southern-inspired fare. We reviewed dinner at Fire on the East Side a few years ago, back before Chef Adam Baxter took over the stoves, but figured it might be time to stop by for brunch.

Like most Torontonians, we enjoy brunch, and doing a column about brunch means we’re always looking for something out of the ordinary. You can only eat so many omelettes, yanno? So we were pretty delighted to arrive and find a selection of classics with unique southern-flavoured twists.

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Sunday Brunch – Le Select Bistro

Le Select Bistro
432 Wellington Street West
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $60

I haven’t been to Le Select since they moved to the Wellington Street West location some three years ago. Once a landmark on Queen West, the restaurant there was tiny and narrow. This new space is easily double the size indoors, plus there’s a gorgeous terrace out front (well, it’s probably gorgeous in the summer) and a large garden patio in the back. Slightly off the beaten path for those of us who travel on foot or by TTC, their website reiterates the close proximity to lots of parking, which isn’t actually endearing to me, but apparently is to everyone else who can’t live without their gas-guzzler, because on a recent Sunday morning, Le Select is packed and the parking lot across the street is nearly full, despite the ongoing rain.

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Sunday Brunch – Cowbell

1564 Queen Street West
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $50

Since it opened in 2007, Cowbell has never been open on Sunday. Chef/owner Mark Cutrara set that day aside to spend with his family. The idea of Sunday being family day is a big one in the Parkdale neighbourhood where the restaurant is located, however, and brunch is possibly more popular here than anywhere else in the city, with Gen X and Y hipsters from the area looking for a way to get out of the house and have a reasonably priced meal with their kids without resorting to a fast food chain.

So Cutrara’s decision to open for Sunday brunch (with Saturday service also being considered) offered both locals (and not so locals) another brunch option; this one made with regional, sustainable ingredients; and also kid-friendly, although maybe not so much of the “frenzied daycare” vibe one might get from neighbouring brunch haunts where hipsters sit around and compare their latest tattoos while setting their kids free to terrorize staff and other customers. Cowbell is not the kind of place where you let the rugrats run free.

Instead, it’s a fun, quirky brunch spot with some seriously awesome food and just enough cuteness to not feel stuffy.

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Sunday Brunch – Mildred’s Temple Kitchen

Mildred’s Temple Kitchen
85 Hanna Avenue
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $50

I am a student of the theory of dressing up to go out. Maybe it’s because I work from home and yoga pants and a t-shirt are my regular uniform, but I always find it appropriate, when going out into the world, to make a bit of an effort. Some make-up, a cute outfit, polished shoes. It makes me appreciate a nice place so much more, and there are some restaurants, whether because of the architecture and design, or just the food and service, where it feels that one should dress up.

Not everyone shares my philosophy on this issue, however. So while I’ve pulled together a groovy 60s inspired-outfit to have brunch in the gorgeously cool Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, the rest of the clientele is still arriving in ugly flip-flops and cargo shorts. People in Toronto really don’t dress up for brunch, do they? At the very least, most of the gentlemen wearing hats have the courtesy to remove them when they’re seated – all except for one hipster douchebag who continues to wear a brown wool toque (it’s August, buddy, come on!) throughout the meal. Even the little boy who came in wearing a baseball cap has removed his headgear at the table. Stupid hipsters, making life ugly for the rest of us.

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Sunday Brunch – Boho Bistro

Boho Bistro
392 Roncesvalles Avenue
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $46

Didn’t this place used to be bigger? The pretty little bistro on Roncesvalles has a bit of a split personality – last year, owner Fergus Munster split the place in two and installed a classic pub called Liver Bird in the back half. The kitchen continues to turn out traditional bistro fare in the front along with some really brilliant gastro pub grub for the back room, and at brunch, it’s a combination of the best of both styles, jazzing up the classic brunch dishes with unique Boho touches.

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Sunday Brunch – Globe Bistro


Globe Bistro
124 Danforth Avenue
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $60

So here’s a conundrum… where to take visitors who are into eating locally for brunch? There are lots of dinner options out there, but brunch, if the restaurant is even serving it, seems to be a lot of the same old, same old.

Fortunately Globe Bistro fit the bill, and our friends from Buffalo were on board as soon as we started reading the locally-sourced menu to them over the phone.

Upon arrival, we immediately start off with coffee and The Baker’s Basket ($10); an overly generous basket of scones, cornbread and cinnamon loaf with strawberry and pepper preserves. The value for money theme of the warm and flaky pastries is one that runs throughout the meal. Despite using local products, which can cost more, Chef Kevin McKenna manages to offer up hearty servings at a reasonable price. We’re impressed with both the quality and quantity of the pastries – the basket is enough for four of us to split.

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Sunday Brunch – Morning Glory


Morning Glory
457 King Street East
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $30

Morning Glory is one of those neighbourhood joints that fly under the radar. A popular Corktown breakfast spot since December 2003, it now tends to get overshadowed by Gilead Café, just around the corner. But on the Sunday morning we visit, the flow of customers is good, with many headed for the small but cute patio out back.

Inside, wooden tables sit in front of the church pews that line one wall. It’s a wee spot, only 20 seats, and the kitchen is smaller than what I work out of at home. A staff member washes dishes by hand while another pulls back an undersink curtain to pull out an iPod attached to the stereo system. It may look all retro and kitsch but they’re embracing technology.

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Sunday Brunch – Nyood

1096 Queen Street West
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $50

Those folks that make the clam and tomato juice are on some kind of campaign to make the Caesar Canada’s official cocktail but they’ll get no support from me to do it. The very last thing I want to even think about when sitting down for brunch is the salty burning combination of vodka, clamato juice and celery salt (or whatever it is that goes around the rim of those things). Seriously… no. So we’re not off to an auspicious start when our group of four sits down at Nyood for brunch on a recent rainy Sunday to be presented with an amuse of teeny versions of Nyood’s cherry tomato Caesar. Three of the things sit and taunt us throughout the meal and the lone Caesar drinker at the table is happy to stop after just one.

Coffee, please, all around, and keep it coming. Which, thankfully they do, and it’s even decent stuff.

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Sunday Brunch – Merci Mon Ami


Merci Mon Ami
171 East Liberty Street, #107
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $40

As had been made evident on this site before, I am not a patio person, especially a streetside patio. But on a quiet Sunday morning, my bags loaded with goodies from the Liberty Village farmers market, I can’t help but be completely charmed by the front patio at Merci Mon Ami.

And charm is the operative word here. This Liberty Village sandwich shop does most of their business on weekdays, opening for breakfast and lunch and closing at 3pm to focus on catering. Inside, the space is elegantly decorated and seating is two long communal tables, but the patio is pretty iron chairs and tables, pots of flowers and a sunny view of the market tents.

The market plays a big role in Merci Mon Ami’s brunch menu, with many of their ingredients including maple syrup, produce, honey, meats and bread sourced from no further than across the parking lot.

Potential customers should know that the card is a short one – 4 mains and 3 baguette sandwiches are all priced at $13.50. There’s also a mixed green salad ($6.19) and sides in the form of croissants, bacon or yogurt and granola ($3.10 each).

The French toast and Croque Monsieur look appealing but we opt for the other two mains instead.

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