(218 Bathurst, at Queen, 416-703-6464) Complete breakfasts for $10, including all taxes, tip and a small freshly squeezed juice. Average main $6. Open Thursday to Sunday 10 am to 3 pm. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
If you're a road-weary musician longing for home cooking, tired and lonely, with nothing but a few CDs to flog, go see Mimi - she'll make a trade. She's been feeding "musicians and cowboys" for 20 years and says it gives her pleasure to give a little something back. Her tiny classic diner beside the Oak Leaf Steam Baths is decorated with a kooky jumble of chicken tchochkes, Elvis iconography and personalized photos from the likes of Stan Ridgway and Sarah McLachlan, referred to casually as "folks I've fed or would like to feed."
A chalkboard message behind the counter recommends smoky maple cheddar in the El Vez (or Mexican) Omelette ($7.50). Always eager for a new cheese experience, I order it and choose a sesame bagel from an extensive list of toast options. The omelette arrives as fluffed as a porn star, filled with "smoking cowboy con carne," and the subtle maple cheddar tastes artisanal. Served with a huge portion of herbed Yukon Gold hash browns, it'd fill the King.
I return with a friend and a hangover. She craves bacon, and I'm desperate for salt and liquids. Freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice ($2) is sweet nectar, and I must have a second. The friend's BLT on fresh 10-grain toast ($6.50) serves her well, thick with quality bacon, ripe tomatoes and designer lettuce.
My plateful of corned beef hash topped with two fried eggs ($7.95) is curative. Both breakfasts come with more of the flavourful hash browns. A final visit for cheese blintzes ($7.95) proves Mimi's skill reaches beyond bacon and eggs. Three light crepes stuffed with mild farmer's cheese sit by a pool of homemade mixed berry compote. They're served with sour cream and a generous portion of honeydew melon to assuage the guilt.
As the menu says, Mimi's "just a cowgirl cookin' with love."
Go get some.