Brunch City

25 of Toronto’s tastiest reasons to get out of bed — even on a cold weekend in January


“That Toronto is bonkers for brunch should not surprise anyone. Who wouldn’t want to play inside when it’s -9 outside? We are a food city, we know the difference between arugula and arancina, but many Toronto foodies want someone else’s fingers to do the walking. Witness the recent closure of several of Toronto’s cookware stores: We are becoming more New Yorkish, socializing in restaurants more than at home. We love brunch because it’s cheaper than dinner, but you get buzz, and some signature food.” — Joanne Kates

Joanne Kates’ top new brunch spots

The Saint

Good luck getting a reservation here. May my mother-in-law rest in peace and forgive me, but The Saint’s scones are better than hers. These babies are so short they break on contact, they’re served warm with fabulous French-style butter and freshly made strawberry jam. The French toast is equally impeccable, three huge slices of house-made brioche crisped with Rice Krispy fragments and sinful with lemon-scented cream cheese. As for the benny alternative, it’s poached eggs napped in Béarnaise sauce with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and crunchy mashed potato croquette. Snag a table by the big front windows — there is a Parisian café feel to the front room, thanks to little white tiles and the café tables. One expects Sartre and de Beauvoir to walk in at any moment and be told to put on their Gauloises.
The Saint, 227 Ossington Ave., 647-350-2100


Rose and Sons

That chef Anthony Rose brought a hipster following to the Annex when he left The Drake is no surprise. So be prepared to wait … outside. Which is better if you park outside and wait in the car. Chef’s brunch is friendly — his new Rose and Sons is a tiny diner with cheap oak tables, Formica “oak” banquettes … and no reservations. The service is that downtown style that disrupts the barrier between server and served — they sit down to chat. We like warm bread pudding with blueberries and tender duck confit topped with a thumb of the nose at tradition — salsa verde and grits with a poached egg. Skip the turkey hash. It comes with an impeccable poached egg ’n’ hollandaise, but the hash itself has been bastardized with something cereal-y. Feh. Stick with confit or French toast, in which case who needs eggs benny?
Rose and Sons, 176 Dupont St., 647-748-3287


Café Boulud

While dinner at Boulud is disappointing, brunch is divine. The menu is a bit strange, and one would prefer more flexibility. There is no brunch à la carte, just $38 for two courses plus coffee and fresh juice. But what courses! Frisée lettuce comes with shaved fennel and deep-fried artichokes. Wild mushrooms in demi-glacé sauce sit on duck confit, salsify and celery root batons and silken celery root purée, with crisp deep-fried duck egg at the heart of the dish. Tell that to a hangover! Mains are lunch or breakfast style. I favour light lemony ricotta hotcakes topped with crème fraîche and marinated berries … or spaghetti alla carbonara topped with poached egg and sexy house-cured bacon. Brunch service seems more confident than at dinner.
Café Boulud, 60 Yorkville Ave., 416-963-6000



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