Joanne Kates on the New T.O. Brunch: Game On vs. Veg It Up


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L-R: The game burger at Antler and the Negg McNish at Doug’s Public Kitchen

IMAGE: (L) JODY SHAPIRO & (R) CJ BAEK

Antler
Brunching at a self-styled locavore, wild food, seasonal resto on Dundas West brings its very modern Toronto form of hip. Mygawd, we’re trendy merely by virtue of walking in the door! How comforting! As are the perfectly cooked eggs in the Benny, bright orange farmhouse yolks running over a big piece of unfatty super-crisp house-smoked thick-cut bacon. Back bacon and ham go home, this is the new benny meat! Nice touch too to grill the English muffin instead of toasting it. The game burger of wild boar with bison and deer, cooked rare, has melted cheddar and the requisite pickles and tomatoes, making it a great reno of the classic. Go heavy on the sweet skinny frites. It’s a gracious room, walls in grey and distressed brick with lovely woodland pics, with a restrained antler motif. We like the visual pun of a staghorn fern living on an antler, a few antlers on the walls, and yes, the bathroom signs narrowly escape cuteness — hers a doe head and his a stag head.
Antler, 1454 Dundas St. W., 647-345-8300

VS.

Doug’s Public Kitchen
Anyone flirting with veganism needs to hightail it over to Doug’s. All the food is vegan and organic, and the servers wear T-shirts proclaiming “Kale Is the New Beef.” They’re passionate. Over the to-go food case the sign reads: “I care about your health and well-being, animal welfare, our farmers and our shared water and earth.” And it works. They do vegan Benny! A vegan egg is nutritional yeast with water and black salt, emulsified with organic seaweed compounds to look eggy. Pierce it and the “yolk” runs! It sits on sprouted tofu, cornmeal fennel baked tomato, garlicky spinach and sprouted grain English muffin. Vegan omelette is almost eggy, with an ever-changing parade of fillings like pico de gallo, pickled jalapenos and avocado. It comes with tempeh bacon, which isn’t, and yummy whipped cashew “butter,” which is satisfyingly rich, rather like un-cream cheese. It takes a lot of work to make the rich white cashew “butter,” the vegan “eggs” and hollandaise sauce. Morphing nutritional yeast is an act of molecular gastronomy — this is vegan gone sophisticated.
Doug’s Public Kitchen, 561 Marlee Ave., 647-341-1736


THE CARNIVORE CORNER
Not-your-average meaty fare — Karolyne Ellacott

O&B Café Grill
The Scotch egg gets an upgrade, thanks to avocado along with a poached egg and some double smoked bacon.
Bayview Village

Bar Buca
At the most casual of the Bucas, Tuscan offal sausage meets farro and black kale and is topped with an egg.
75 Portland St.

Café Boulud 
Fans of hearty fare will enjoy the duck parmentier, in which braised leg comes with apple purée and more.
60 Yorkville Ave.


THE PLANTS HAVE IT
Brunching on the rainbow — KE​​

Nutbar
Superfood is the name of the game here. The delish avo toast comes with watermelon radish plus smoked olive oil.
1240 Yonge St.

Live 
These plant lovers do great specials such as coconut samosas with curry pumpkinseed filling and mango salsa.
264 Dupont St. 

Calii Love
Smoothie bowls really are the bite du jour. Order the new tropical bowl with dragonfruit, pineapple and kiwi. 
367 King St. W.

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Joanne Kates trained at the Ecole Cordon Bleu de Cuisine in Paris. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Maclean’s and Chatelaine. Follow her on Twitter @JoanneKates.

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