YASI'S PLACE (299 Wallace, at Symington, 416-536-9888) Complete meals for $20 per person, including all taxes, tip and a coffee. Average main $6.99. Open Monday to Friday 8 am to 4 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 4 pm. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
The Dupont/Lansdowne/Dufferin area is de-industrializing. The factories are now studios, the warehouses are condos, and the local diner is Yasi's Place. Where once sat hosiery workers now sit whole-wheat hipsters. Owner Yasemin Zorlutuna has retained a lot of the original diner's fittings, and the menu has some throwbacks as well, including waffles and an entire section dedicated to grilled cheese sandwiches.
Items from the weekend brunch menu, like the excellent Turkish lunch special ($6.99), declare Yasi's intent to go beyond diner fare. Tender parsley-laced patties of organic beef bearing a satisfying grill crust sit on top of a mound of feather-light couscous, sided with a crunchingly fresh herb-dusted salad of greens and feta. It's a great alternative to a greasy morning-after platter.
Yasi's knows you can't have brunch without breaking a few eggs. The Florentinish ($8.99) offers perfectly poached free-run eggs with homemade hollandaise served over organic baby spinach and grilled polenta, with Middle Easternized home fries and side salad. The Florentinish is good, but the polenta, the dish's foundation, needs more body and flavour.
The potato-and-spinach soup of the day ($2.99) is very fresh and will keep the vegans happy. The tofu chocolate mousse pie ($3.99), with its caramelized crumb crust, packs a great chocolate wallop.
The laptop DJ (Sundays only), the E3Live algae shots and the amnesiac server would dismay the old factory workers, but if they sat down and tried some of Yasi's conscientious and satisfying cooking they might decide that a little bit of hemp in the old blue collar isn't such a bad idea.