CORA'S BREAKFAST & LUNCH (277 Wellington West, at Blue Jays Way, 416-598-2672, and others) Complete meals for $15 per person, including all taxes, tip and a recently squeezed juice. Open Monday to Saturday 6 am to 3 pm, Sundays 7 am to 3 pm. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NN Rating: NN
The poncey pseud and I are just finishing up a late-morning nosh at Cora's, the Quebecois breakfast franchise that's opened one of its first local outlets just up the street from the Skydome, when our side order of baked beans ($1.95) finally arrives.
Hearing our pointed grumbling about what took them so long - How long does it take to open a tin and nuke the damned things when there's all of six of us in the joint? - our server offers an excuse.
"They were cooking."
"Sure, they were," snarks Poncey. "That's why they're cold."
The clearly embarrassed server also leaves behind a second side of cretons ($2), a popular French-Canadian pork spread that we leave untouched since there's nothing to spread it on. Even if there were, it would be next to impossible to do so since it's hard as a rock and stone cold to boot. It's accompanied in the traditional manner by a thimbleful of hot dog mustard. Oh, those wacky Quebecois.
Having spent several of my formative years in la belle province, I'm more than familiar with the idiosyncrasies of its cuisine. I can't begin to tell you how may of my private-school lunches consisted of poutine and a Mae West or Joe Louis for afters, all washed down with a warm Pepsi.
Cora's - named for the chain's founder, Cora Tsoufidou, and not after the recurring character The Wizard Of Oz's Margaret Hamilton portrayed in the long-running Maxwell House coffee television commercial, as the Pseud had erroneously assumed - keeps that tradition alive. I doubt there's another eatery west of Vaudreuil that includes such provincial delicacies as fried bologna ($1.95) or Eggs Maurice (two eggs, frankfurters, baked beans, $6.85) on its menu.
Poncey opts for something called Surprise ($8.25), which from its description sounds like a Croque Monsieur but turns out to be simply a crock, a meagre fried egg, ham and Swiss sandwich that's been briefly dipped in French toast batter. Scanning the card for something remotely health-conscious - out of 110 items listed, there's not one green salad that doesn't have meat in it - I settle for Buckwheat Blessing ($9.55), a cursed trio of blini-esque flapjacks wrapped around supermarket-style breakfast sausage topped with cold shredded cheese product.
Mind, portions are gargantuan and everything comes with a mountain of brunch garnish that takes up almost half of each oversized platter - a pyramid of watermelon crowned with an upended slice of star fruit, whole branches of seedless grapes, weighty sections of melon and cantaloupe, painstakingly sculpted Macintosh apple, tart gooseberries still in their skins, halved kiwis, peeled banana and fresh pineapple.
There's so much fruit on these plates, Cora's could enter any one of them as a float in next year's Pride parade.