Brunch goes vegan

Get tasty brunch fare free of animal by-products at Grasslands

GRASSLANDS (478 Queen West, at Denison, 416-504-5127,, @grasslandsto) Complete brunches for $30 per person, including tax, tip and a mocktail. Average main $13. Open for dinner Tuesday to Sunday 5:30 to 10 pm. Bar till close. Brunch Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 3 pm. Closed Monday, holidays. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN

Brunch isn’t always easy for vegans. Your friends dig into all manner of bacon and eggs – and eggs and eggs – and you get stuck with salad.

Enter Stephen Gardner’s surprisingly stylish Grasslands, where the midday meal that can’t decide whether it’s breakfast or lunch is completely free of animal by-products. Your carnivore pals won’t even notice the difference.

Since it’s just after 10, they’ll start with a round of Light And Stormy mocktails made with draught ginger beer and blackstrap molasses ($5), before following with faux Caesar salads dressed with Parmesan fashioned from nuts and tempeh Baco Bits, its advertised “massaged dinosaur kale” replaced with spinach. Gardner’s retro mac and cheese ($6) will satisfy anyone with a hankering for Kraft Dinner (that’s a compliment, by the way), especially when sided with meaty mushroom breakfast sausage ($4).

The appropriately named Monster Burger ($13) comes overstuffed with a beefy baked black bean patty as well as a veritable avalanche of avocado, lettuce, tomato and house-made ketchup. Cutlets of deep-fried and cornflake-battered “chicken” sandwiched between Belgian buckwheat waffles ($12) could use a splash of maple syrup.

The seriously hung over are guided to a substantial fry-up thick with spicy tofu, mushrooms and peppers topped with both salsa and guacamole that claims to have therapeutic properties (Hangover Helper, $14). Don’t do gluten? Hold the sourdough toast. All get generously sided with a heap of bistro-classic frites and a mini-mountain of greens in sweet tahini vinaigrette.

Still not convinced? One bite of Gardner’s faux French toast crusted with house-baked Snickerdoodle cookies and dolloped with coconut cashew cream ($12) proves there’s more to weekend brunch than pigging out on bacon and eggs. | @stevendaveynow

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