1 of 3
2 of 3
3 of 3
FEDERAL RESERVE (1438 Dundas West, at Dufferin, 647-352-9120, thefed.ca) Tuesday to Friday 9 am to 4 pm, Saturday-Sunday 9 am to 3 pm. Complete meals for $22 per person, including tax, tip and a house-made soda. Average main $12. Closed Monday, some holidays. Unlicensed. Cash only. Barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN
Dundas West's latest lunch 'n' brunch spot has only been in business for six weeks and already it's running like a well-oiled machine.
Little wonder when you learn that the four team members responsible for Federal Reserve - or the Fed as it's come to be known by regulars - have done time at Terroni, the Rivoli, the Swan and Woodlot. One of them, Joe Zabukovec, cooked at Aunties and Uncles for the last five years.
That collective professionalism shows.
See it in a lightly toasted cheddar scone ($3.50) that could pass for a grilled cheese sandwich if it came with ketchup, and a wild blueberry version ($4) paired with ramekins of house-made apple preserves and what could be lemon tart filling. They also make their own soda pop, our faves a lemony ginger ale and an almost medicinal root beer (both $2.50).
Since kitchen space in the former Zoots Café is at a premium, many ingredients multi-task. So we get a classic Cobb salad ($12) neatly tiered with shredded Gasparro free-range chicken confit, sliced Bosc pear, chopped avocado, crispy bacon and slices of hard-boiled egg on a bed of arugula and spinach in strong blue cheese dressing.
Most of those - hold the bacon and avocado - show up in a very good curried chicken salad sandwich on St. John's Bakery raisin bread, and in an unorthodox take on a Cubano minus the bacon, the bird and the bread but with the addition of pulled pork, Black Forest ham and cheddar (both $12 with greens in peppery shallot dressing and pesto-laced rösti). Messy but delish.
The inevitable Benny gets interpreted as a pair of fluffily poached eggs in tarragon cream strewn with sautéed 'shrooms on English muffins piled with thick rashers of meaty bacon (Eggs Federal, $11 with greens and rösti). And the ever-evolving Ploughman's Lunch - today, a terrific chunky quail terrine with house-made piccalilli and stinky L'Ermite blue ($12) - always comes sided with warm slices of exceptional baguette from Dolly's Bakery across the street. Now, that's local!
Cleverly listed on the 36-seat resto's all-day card as an "unsavory," a half-order of buttermilk Belgian waffles finished with whipped cream and maple syrup ($5/$9 full) could stand in for dessert, something the one-page menu currently lacks. Watch for that to be rectified with the imminent introduction of dinner once the liquor licence kicks in later this spring.
Sounds perfect, doesn't it? And, for the most part, it is, except for one small problem: the Reserve doesn't take reservations for groups smaller than six, and then only on the weekend. Go on a Wednesday and you'll walk right in. Saturday or Sunday after 11 am, you'll cool your heels on the sidewalk along with the stroller brigade.