Now that Spring has finally arrived (and mother nature is not teasing us anymore), I have noticed the streets of Toronto start to get a little more crowded on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Yes, there are definitely more people out and about shopping and basking in the sunshine, but there are also many more people hanging outside on the sidewalk waiting…waiting in line…waiting to be fed. There are an abundance of brunch spots in the city so it amazes me why there are always line-ups no matter where you go. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE brunch, and I am occasionally one of those people outside eagerly waiting for my table to be ready…but as I see some of these line-ups sometimes, I have to wonder…is it really worth the wait?
I ventured out to 4 brunch places in my ‘hood over the last few weekends to try and answer that question: Are these spots really worth the 10, 15 or even 45 minutes it will take for your table to be ready? Again, I am no foodie..I am just a girl that loves her brunch (and who hates waiting to be fed), and wanted to share my thoughts and experiences on my last few outings.
The Old York
One of my most frequently visited brunch spots in the city is the Old York (probably because I can literally roll out of bed and magically appear inside). This quaint little resto maybe seats about 30 people inside, but another 20 or so on the patio. Prices are very reasonable for brunch – they range between $10 and $14 – and with that you typically get some tasty potatoes, toast and a side salad. I have never had to wait for a table (I’m an early bird, so I am typically one of those dorky people waiting outside before a place even opens), but I have seen line-ups start after noon (and I think to myself…suckas! as I have already eaten). What I love most about this place is the Mados sauce that comes with your meal. Now I’d be careful with this stuff if you aren’t into spicy foods as it does have some kick. I typically mix mine with ketchup to dip my potatoes in. It is quite the tasty treat and definitely makes this meal a little more ‘special’.
Is it worth the wait? I’d wait 10 minutes. Any longer and I’d probably head over to the Foggy Dew just up the street.
Another small resto in my ‘hood is Beast. Being a vegetarian, I had always stayed clear of this place as I didn’t believe they would have anything on the menu that I could eat (I mean, with a name like ‘Beast’, would you?). However, I thought brunch was maybe one meal that I would be able to test there (unless everything on the menu was coated in bacon…in which a lot of it was…but they still had a couple of options for me). To start off, we felt the need to test a couple of the homemade doughnuts. Bacon glazed doughnuts? Not for me – but they were definitely ordered at the table. The doughnuts were fresh and tasty and were devoured within moments of receiving them. While nothing on the menu really stood out as being super unique as far as brunch options, the menu item that did catch my attention was “The Labatt 50 Breakfast”. It is your standard brunch menu item with choice of meat, eggs and potatoes…BUT comes with a bottle of 50. Beer with breakfast? What is too early anyway?
Is it worth the wait? I don’t think I’d wait more than 5-10 minutes for a table. The service was definitely awesome (the wait staff was super attentive and friendly), but it did take some time for us to get our food. The food was tasty, but I don’t think it is necessarily worth waiting for with so many other brunch spots to choose from that are so close by.
Moving out a little further from my home territory (a girl has to explore a little), is the restaurant Delux on Ossington. A friend had recommended this place to me a couple of years ago, and it surely did not disappoint. Delux offers a “cuban brunch”, which I am not sure is a real thing – but it sure is tasty. Instead of getting potatoes as a side with your meal, you get very flavourful rice and beans. I ordered the Breakfast Sandwich and ate every last bite of it (Avocado + Cheese = HIT in my books). Delux used to only be open for brunch on Sundays (in which I had to learn the hard way by showing up on a Saturday several years ago only to learn that they were just opening up for lunch), but has recently made the switch to be open all weekend now. Yay!
Is it worth the wait? I would wait 15 minutes at most for a table. Line-ups probably start closer to noon, so I would just know to get there a little earlier next time ’round if I was really craving that breakfast sandwich.
The brunch spot in the city that I had been meaning to try for years is Saving Grace on Dundas. This is the place that kind of spawned the whole “is it worth the wait?” mentality. Every time I walk by this stretch of Dundas on a Sunday morning/afternoon, there is a crowd of people hanging outside. Regardless of the weather, people are lined up and patiently waiting to feast inside. I decided to bite the bullet with my friend and wait the 30 or so minutes it took for our table to be ready. When you get inside, you realize how tiny the space is and how they cram as many tables as possible to fit (we especially liked the two men that were squeezing next to one another on a bench to turn a two seater into a three-seater). Needless to say, I had really high expectations for this place based on all the hype and long wait times, so this food really had to be worth it.
I ordered some sort of vegetarian open-faced omelette, and looking at the image right now, my stomach just started grumbling. The omelette came with the most delicious baguette style bread, salad and a baked potato. After waiting the 30 or so minutes to get a table, I quickly learned why this place always has a crowd on Sunday mornings – the food is that good! Ambiance is quite lovely as well – Lots of natural sunlight beaming in and very cute decor.
Is it worth the wait? I think I would wait up to 45 minutes for a table at Saving Grace (weather and hunger dependant). The food actually lived up to the hype (which I find isn’t always the case in this city), and I am already wondering what I am going to try next time I visit.