First Look: Mary Be Kitchen brings whole food and coffee to Yonge and St. Clair


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Image: Yvonne Tsui

Midtown has a new restaurant dishing up “soul food”. No, not the jerk chicken or stewed oxtail variety but “whole food for the soul.” A lawyer and sometime food blogger Sarah Huggins and her partner are behind the new Mary Be, located at Yonge and St. Clair.

Huggins’ food blog chronicled her “adventures in feeding my kids,” and to some extent, that has spilled over into the menu at Mary Be. While some may think this is just another blip in the so-called “healthy eating” trend of eateries popping up all over town meant to guilt us into eating better, Huggins simply wants to feed people “the kind of food we eat at home, if only we had the time to do so,” alluding to the fact that everything is made with a little love. 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

Mary Be is an homage to home cooking and the eatery’s moniker is a nod to Huggins’ grandmother Mary and also happens to be her middle name.

Having lived in British Columbia, among the “West Coast health food pioneers” where eating organics was a thing in the 90s, Huggins is selective of where she sources from. That means ASC-certified seafood, meats from Beretta Farms and roasted vegetables and whole grains are what make up the menu at Mary Be. “Healthy eating isn’t something to do on a Friday, weekend or in January,” she says about her made-from-scratch menu.

The menu is divided into proteins, warm and cold sides and stews with an array of combo configurations. The Be Square, for example for $14.95 includes one protein and two sides.  One can choose from grilled chicken breast with salsa verde, herb-grilled flank steak for an add-on of $2, grilled salmon for an add-on of $3 and grilled scallion-ginger organic tofu with sides such as grilled broccoli with chili-garlic oil, the oft sold-out Mary’s Mac with sharp cheddar, gruyere and crispy panko or kale & red cabbage Caesar.


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

Stews come in the red lentil dahl and braised chicken chili variety served atop a bed of quinoa. And if you’re vegan or gluten-free, the world is your oyster at Mary Be, considering the majority of the menu can accommodate those dietary restrictions.

On weekends there is an expanded brunch menu with four additions such as toasted coconut spelt waffles and dahl and eggs.

To drink there are house-made frescas and house-made lemonade along with coffee from Pilot Roasters and tea from Genuine Tea. For those looking for the après-five kind of beverage, there is also beer and wine.

Huggins really hopes her new eatery will become a “community hub to meet people and do some work,” which is why there’s a community harvest table outfitted with plugs so people can linger and stay while.


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

The space itself is best described as “cozy but bright, kind of Scandinavian.” The interior design came after much inspiration collected over Pinterest boards and mostly coming out of Australia where there is a big coffee culture.

There’s a Candace Kaye wallpaper and if you look closely, you will realize is a motif of green cabbage. Reflect Architecture (who also designed Wilbur and Quantum Coffee) were charged with bringing the space to life.

To sum up the philosophy that rings near and dear to Huggins' heart she points to Michael Pollan’s familiar line: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Mary Be Kitchen, 21B St. Clair Ave. W., 416-792-7596


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

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Yvonne is a freelance food and drink writer and the Director of Brand Experience at U-Feast, which curates unique, off-menu dining experiences.  Always in search of delicious. Decor and service be damned, food is king. Follow her @life_of_y and @u_feast.  Warning: don't look at her "feed" if you're hungry.

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