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These new (or newly revamped) breakfast spots will go over easy
This pink-washed dream of a French cafe, a swoony reimagining of the Harbord Room by Piano Piano chef Victor Barry, looks just as magical in the midday sun as it does bathed in candlelight. Cancan is a fine destination for brunch lovers any day of the week – a petit déjeuner platter, breakfast sandwiches and eclairs are almost always available – but weekend visitors will find fried duck eggs on toast with a mushroom ragout, bread pudding French toast with a whipped maple creme and even a bavette ’n’ eggs. Low-booze cocktails are perfect for noon-hour sipping on the patio.
89 Harbord, 647-341-3100, cafecancan.com
Jack and Lil’s
If being possibly the city’s only South African restaurant doesn’t set this Dundas West joint apart, the collection of tchotchkes on the walls (approximately one season of Antiques Roadshow’s worth) certainly does. Sunday brunchers are invited to load up bold patterned trays with sold-by-weight delicacies like boere (smoky-sweet South African sausage), traditional seed bread smeared with a variety of spreads, blintz souffles and co-owner Lauren Gütter’s signature granola. Plunk down your spoils at the communal table and dive in.
823 Dundas West, 647-347-5459, jackandlils.com
The Green Wood
This locavorous spot, done up with gorgeous boughs of greenery sprouting from living walls, appears to be flourishing in the Leslieville spot where others (notably Crate and Rakia Bar) failed to take root. Chef Elisa Corrigan fashions ingredients from suppliers like Olliffe, 100km Foods and Hooked into soul-warming nosh like shakshuka, home fries crowned with tahini, eggplant and eggs, and smoked salmon-topped potato rosti.
1402 Queen East, 416-778-4343, eatgreenwood.com
Sure, it’s the butt of all our jokes about home ownership that are really just thinly veiled cries for help – but can anyone really deny the simple, satisfying pleasures of a slice of fancy toast? This newly minted, rather doofily named fast-casual spot on the Esplanade knows: the week-round breakfast menu features bread from Fred’s Bakery in North York, slathered with ricotta and preserves, topped with stewed tomatoes and pecorino or (on weekends) smoked salmon and dill or brisket and baked eggs. If that doesn’t sound like the best thing since sliced you-know-what, there’s seasonal crumbles and a shareable ploughman’s.
140A The Esplanade, 416-901-8676, farmr.ca
Rise and Dine Eatery
It doesn’t look like much from the outside (there’s some major clip-art happening on that sign), but tongues are wagging about this back-to-basics diner in East York, which has even managed to swipe some biz away from local staple Gingerman. This isn’t owner Tom Pedias’s first rodeo – he previously ran Bam! Breakfast and Bistro in the Beaches – and it shows in the quality of dishes, like their hash and eggs and BBQ Benedicts. Prices are fair and get even fairer if you make it between 7 and 10 am on weekdays for the early bird special.
2714 St. Clair East, 416-901-0955, facebook.com/RiseanddineToronto
This open, brick-walled Junction cafe is all about whole food – granola dressed with cashew milk, smoothie bowls smothered in acai and bee pollen, Technicolour two-tone smoothies. Even the sourdough (from Prairie Boy) is organic, sprouted and double-fermented. Still, they’re not above getting a little indulgent every now and again – for a recent special, they turned that sourdough into French toast dressed with vanilla mascarpone, fresh peaches and maple syrup.
382 Keele, 416-901-2960, facebook.com/wilderfood
The Broadview Hotel
Technically, the Broadview serves breakfast, not brunch (a distinction I wouldn’t normally make, were it not for the 11:30 cut-off time). Still, it may be worth hustling down there early: the stately lobby cafe/bar sure would look gorgeous in the morning sun, as would the menu of genteel brunch delights like half-grapefruits with Chantilly cream and vanilla syrup, roasted poblano peppers with eggs, avo toast with aged Parmesan and prosciutto, and poached eggs with confit pork and sourdough.
106 Broadview, 416-362-8439, thebroadviewhotel.ca
This Danforth joint bounces a strong Levantine and Mediterranean influence off a whack of other cuisines, plus some high-minded local sourcing. Free-range eggs from Millbank,hormone-free meats and Smoke Bloke fish become everything from kedgeree (smoked fish with egg and brown rice) and obligatory shakshuka with beef meatballs to a proper English fry-up, miso-tamari mushrooms with egg on toast, and chorizo with pita andlabneh.
341 Danforth, 416-463-9000, rikkochez.ca
Middle Eastern brunch has gone from local novelty (shout-out to Tavoos and Maha’s) to a slightly more crowded landscape, as the above list probably proves. But this unassuming little cafe on King East still holds its own with pitas stuffed with Persian cold cuts, saffron-rosewater iced tea, and “halwa” toast with tahini and pecans. On Sundays, the menu turns to brunch feasts that feature your pick of a main egg dish (standouts include tahini-date, spinach-feta or Persian beef omelettes) with a constellation of six (!) accompanying sides.
173 King East, 416-368-7638, thepoetcafe.com
Track & Field’s spinoff bar is a little less drunken lawn games, a little more garden party. On top of a roster of bar snacks and cocktails, tailor-made for civilized sippin’ and munchin’ amid the greenery tumbling down from gorgeous geometric built-ins, chef/co-owner Sonia Mondino recently added a brunch menu that rides the line between indulgent, comforting and classy. Benedicts feature five-spice pulled short rib and Tabasco-spiked hollandaise coconut waffles are topped with bacon crumble and sprinkles. And in case you do want to turn up: bottomless mimosas for $25!
838 College, 416-368-7638, praytellbar.com
If there was one thing wrong with Cafe Fiorentina’s stellar brunch menu, it’s that there was never quite enough real estate to eat it in. But a new location, a few blocks east of the original, affords a little more elbow room for the Danforth residents who queue up every weekend, without fail, for Tina Leckie and Alex Chong’s impressive house-made baked goods and seasonal, ever-changing brunches. Omelettes and Benedicts lean on richness for appeal – duck breast and heritage pork frequently appear – as does their legendary croque madame.
463 Danforth, 416-855-4240, fiorentinarestaurant.ca
Do Not Disturb
The Beverley Hotel’s food program appears to be on the upswing, with Vittorio Colacitti (of West Queen West trattoria The Good Son) taking over the kitchen. At Sunday brunch, that translates to a pretty solid lineup of classic dishes: pork belly and spinach bennies, huevos rancheros, triple-stack pancakes. There’s also lunchier optionslike a burger, a Cubano, a Cobb and even fried chicken – and the ever-obligatory avocado toast (cheekily titled “The Down Payment”).
335 Queen West, 416-493-2786, thebeverleyhotel.ca
Chopped Canada champ and ex-Raca chef Ivana Raca has moved on to the kitchen at glossy pescatarian spot Ufficio. Her Italian-ized take on brunch includes an octopus Benedict with chilis and romesco, burrata with a sour cherry mostarda, and baked eggs with tomato. A rotating slate of breakfast panini and daily Bellinis keep things exciting.
1214 Dundas West, 416-535-8888, ufficiorestaurant.com
Hungry for more? Check out Brunch Time: Toronto’s best brunches.
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