Kates sunny side up

AN INSIDER’S GUIDE TO THE CITY’S MOST EGG-CITING BRUNCH SPOTS


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Memorable experiences await at elegant hall

For Old World grace and gentility at lunchtime and Sunday brunch, nobody beats Gallery Grill. On the second floor of the neo-gothic Hart House overlooking the Great Hall, there are stained glass windows under the vaulted ceiling, starched white napery and cuisine to match. Suzanne Baby’s cooking is both elegant and modern. It changes often, but look especially for her feathery gnocchi with lemon and arugula, her deep rich soups, salads like charred endive with duck cracklings and roasted freshwater fish always with interesting sides. Sunday brunch features the likes of fresh-squeezed juices and house-marinated fresh mackerel with perfectly poached eggs, smoked trout and buttery brioche toast. The Grill’s only weakness is that we want more: Would that they served dinner!
Gallery Grill is located at 7 Hart House Cir., 416-978-2445. Brunch is available Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Clever kitchen hits its delicious stride

The home of big bright flavours. Iberian exuberance lives at a tapas bar in Kensington Market. Talk about minimalism! Torito takes no reservations, seats us on pine benches at cheap pine tables, is tiny and cramped. And we love it, for there are neither Iberian tchotchkes nor grease here. Their soups are loaded with flavour, and who knew how much flavour could be gotten from such a humble dish as spinach and chickpea stew. Torito’s kitchen is clever: They marinate mushrooms in lemon juice overnight and the acid chemically cooks them. Adding fast-fried green beans with shallots makes a great dish. They reinvent ceviche with notes of hot from chili and sweet f rom corn. They make crystalline clear beef consommé and float braised beef cheek and tongue in it with small diced vegetables. The savoury of lamb meatloaf is in grand harmony with the sweet of crushed almonds, carrots and onions.
Torito is located at 276 Augusta Ave., 416-961-7373. Brunch is available Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Nothing ancient about this ROM eatery’s cuisine

On the fifth floor of the ROM crystal, c5 offers a spectacular view south and west. The room itself is as magnificent as the sky, two great glass walls punctuated by black girders and white columns, all at angles. Chef Teddy Corrado’s strength is the big bold Italian flavours of his heritage. His lamb is superb — big ruby chops, fork tender, richly crusted with duxelles (mushroom/onion sauté) and the scent of the earth in morel jus. He gilds my lily atop black cod with sexy crispy pork belly, turbo- flavoured cauliflower purée, jazzy curried squash and lentils. His venison tenderloin is superb, with creamy polenta, a rainbow of boutique carrots, silken cream of feta and spinach.
C5 is located at 100 Queens Park, 416-586-7928. Brunch is available Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Spanish eyes locate fine culinary offerings out west

If you judge a book by its cover, then this place is dead. It looks like a cheesy, over-decorated ethnic caricature, with more Spanish tchotchkes than any sane person should have to look at. The menu too is off-putting, in its excessive length, which suggests that you can have anything you want — from the freezer. But this is a book whose cover lies, for the food is the enchanting garlic and oil-based cooking of southern Spain. Which begins at the beginning when bread comes with slightly pickled whole garlic cloves. They grill sardines perfectly and serve them with fresh tomato sauce. Piquillo peppers and tortilla (the classic flat filled Spanish omelette) are classics done correctly. Deep-fried squid are crisp and salty and ungreasy, also in the Spanish tradition, as are black beans stewed with smoky sausages. If the Spanish Mediterranean is not on your agenda, Casa Barcelona will substitute nicely.
Casa Barcelona is located at 2980 Bloor St. W., 416-234-5858. Brunch is available Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Celebrity chef can be counted on for quality

At its best, Jamie Kennedy’s Gilead Bistro recalls Palmerston, the College Street bistro where from 1985 till 1990 he did very fine cooking. When Jamie’s restaurant expansion went sour and he lost most of his other businesses, he went back into the kitchen. Much of what Jamie is cooking at Gilead is from his classic French repertoire, cooked lighter and with local ingredients, as is his wont. His galantine of chicken is juicy chicken breast with herbed stuffing, mashed potatoes and encircled by grilled onions with demi-glace sauce. He struts his stuff as a highly trained classical chef with dishes like ultra-tender duck breast with a crisp potato pancake and cleverly subtle sour cherry sauce. Jamie has always built the best consommé in town, and he still does: His chicken noodle soup is sweet and crystal clear, with al dente noodles. Crispy confit of pork belly is moist, and who but a locavore maestro would accompany Ontario pork with cubes of apple braised in cider?
Gilead Bistro is located at 4 Gilead Pl., 647-288-0680. Brunch is available on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

>> Check out our searchable & sortable list of Joanne Kates’ 100 best T.O. restaurants

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