EARTH BLOOR WEST (2448 Bloor West, at Jane, 416-763-2222, earthbloorwest.com) Complete brunches/lunches for $35 per person (dinners $65), including tax, tip and a cocktail. Average main $14/$22. Open for brunch Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 3 pm, lunch Monday to Friday 11:30 am to 3 pm, dinner nightly 5 to 10 pm (to 11 pm Thursday to Saturday). Licensed. Access: four steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
Earth Bloor West wears its food philosophy upfront. Why, it's right there on the sign over the door of the latest spin?off of hot Globe Bistro and Earth Rosedale: "Think global, eat local."
We've made the trek to Swansea this suddenly summer Sunday noon to do just that. Since we downtown sophisticates have been to both of owner Ed Ho's other locavore haunts several times, we know what to expect. The card, the look, the service are virtually identical. But are the pierogi-loving locals ready?
"I've lived out here for 14 years, so I know the neighbourhood," says Ho. "There are lots of interesting little places, but nothing with a buzz."
And EBW does buzz in spades. For starters, the former sports bar is huge, with a 100-seat dining room and 50-seat wine bar complete with soaring ceilings on the first floor, a 300-seat event space in the basement, another 200-seat party room on the second floor and a remarkably tranquil deck on the roof. Once inside this massive black-on-black box, we could be almost anywhere. Darth Vader's Las Vegas bachelor pad, say.
To the dulcet strains of KISS insisting they just want to rock 'n' roll all night (and party every day - no argument there), we tuck into executive chef Kevin McKenna's one-off inaugural $15 prix fixe brunch. It begins with a basket of house-baked apricot scones spread with tart cranberry preserves and a round of complimentary mimosas ($8 à la carte).
A richer-than-most baked French toast ($11) made with eggy vanilla brioche comes finished with Reisling-sozzled Niagara cherries, candied walnuts and Devonshire cream, while the house Wellington County rib-eye burger, dressed minimally with a few Ewenity Dairy's cheese curds, a bit of bacon and some roasted red-pepper relish ($17), shows up closer to medium-well than the requested medium-rare. Gotta love those frites fried in duck fat and dusted with smoked Maldon salt, though.
Chef's best when he keeps it simple. Witness his free-range omelette du jour - today, Ingersoll Dairy's ultra-creamy ricotta and chèvre whipped with baby kalamata olives ($12) - sided with a mustardy fingerling potato salad and organic greens in apple cider vinaigrette. No wonder the mini-chain's on its third location.
Could another Earth be in the works?
"I never say never," smiles Ho, who almost launched Earth Mississauga earlier this spring. "Who knows? Maybe Earth Ajax!"