The decor’s been buffed, but Prague European Kitchen’s goulash is still old-school.
Emma's Country Kitchen
1108 St Clair W, at Northcliffe, 416-652-3662, emmascountrykitchen.com. Ex-Stockyards head cook Rachel Pellett and partner Heather Mee parlay a successful catering business into downtown's best new weekend brunch spot. The café's minimal weekday lineup's not too shabby either, most notably their exemplary retro baked goods and not-to-be-missed $1 bags of potato chips. Best: to start, fabulously flaky biscuits sided with blueberry-peach preserves and whipped honey butter; those same biscuits as eggs Benedict with house-smoked peameal, poached eggs and a hollandaise infused with whipped cream; the Hangover burger, a sage-spiked Beretta Farms pork sausage patty dressed with local cheddar, house-cured bacon and a house-baked bun and sided with skinny thyme-flecked frites worthy of Jamie Kennedy; a breakfast poutine of said terrific frites topped with bacon, cheddar, hollandaise and two poached 'n' deep-fried eggs. Average main $12. Open for weekend brunch 9 am to 3 pm. Café menu Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm. Closed some holidays. No reservations. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN
White Brick Kitchen
641 Bloor W, at Euclid, 647-347-9188, thewhitebrickkitchen.com. After a stint in the pit at the Stockyards, former Beretta and Rowe Farms butcher Stephen Howell and company transform a Koreatown café into one of the best new brunch spots around. Best: to start, a $4 grapefruit mimosa made with 2 ounces of Spumanti Bambino; pastry chef Haley Franklin's buttery English muffins spread with Ontario blueberry compote; mains like crisply battered southern-fried chicken with pickled jalapeño dipping sauce, local greens in a lemony vinaigrette and the inevitable fried egg; vegetarian deep-fried "Scotch-ish" poached eggs over toasted baguette and cubed home fries; chocolate banana bread French toast with caramelized fruit and salted caramel; sides of house-cured hickory bacon; to finish, house-baked blueberry scones. Complete brunches for $25 per person, including tax, tip and a beef-bacon Caesar. Average main $12. Open for brunch Sunday 9 am to 4 pm. A la carte menu Tuesday to Saturday 11 am to 10 pm. Licensed. Access: short step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN
Prague European Kitchen
638 Queen W, at Palmerston, 416-504-5787, theprague.ca. Those who remember the Prague Deli will be shocked when they walk through that familiar front door. The deli's largely gone, replaced by a rather anodyne resto-lounge geared to the Friday and Saturday-night cocktail crowd. Old-timers will recognize chef Jake Paradis's modern Mitteleuropean carte, but not the prices. Best: baskets of deep-fried pigs' ears dusted with smoked paprika; deep-fried pierogi topped Benny-style with poached eggs, sweet paprika hollandaise and smoked ham hock; roasted suckling pig in marrow gravy sided with apple sauce and bread dumplings; beefy sauerbraten ribs with deep-fried spaetzle. Complete brunches for $30 per person, including tax tip and a shot of Slivovitz. Average main $10. Open for weekend brunch 10 am to 5 pm. A la carte menu Monday 11 am to 6 pm, Tuesday and Wednesday 11 am to 9 pm, Thursday and Friday 11 am to 10 pm, Saturday 5 to 10 pm. Bar till close. Closed some holidays. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNN