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"I guess I'm a bit of an anomaly," laughs Jacob Sharkey-Pearce.
No argument there! The charismatic co-owner and chef at the west-side beanery recently named NOW's restaurant of the year has a cooking style that's best described as idiosyncratic, fusing elements of sports medicine, raw foodism and the avant-garde. See it all come together at brunch.
After knocking back a round of banana-popsicle pear shrubs ($6) made with kombucha and the exotic Okanagan Valley fruit that tastes exactly like banana popsicles, tuck into a salad of foraged wild mustard greens and arugula dressed with a topknot of sprouts - amaranth, mizuna, coriander - grown on the resto's roof. Wide ribbons of heirloom carrot in an apple cider vinaigrette and raw dehydrated flax croutons add crunch ($9).
Chef brines and pan-sears a cucumber-scented tranche of gorgeous Georgian bay whitefish, then plates it over confited leeks, a poached organic free-range egg fresh from a Mennonite chicken and a Danish aebleskiver popover made from cattail flour ($13).
"The popovers are supposed to look like bulrushes," he explains.
That same flour shows up in strangely energizing crepes stuffed with house-made probiotic cultured feta and tossed with therapeutic huckleberries and sea buckthorn in maple syrup gastrique ($13). Since removed from the menu, his take on a Japanese okonomoyaki ($14) proves the perfect foil for fermented radish kimchee.
But the dish that will have le tout Toronto talking is Ursa's bacon and eggs ($12). Imagine strips of fatty house-cured duck bacon on a super-crisp heirloom potato rosti dressed with compressed wild baby leeks cooked sous-vide in a brown-butter Béarnaise foam topped with two exquisitely poached eggs cooked in an immersion circulator. Momofuku's David Chang famously slow-cooks his eggs to "about 60 degrees Celsius." What temperature does Sharkey-Pearce prefer?
"Let's just say somewhere between 62 and 63 and a half!"
Sunday noon to 4 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: two steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNNN
Just 12 short hours ago, this glitzy resto lounge from club king Charles Khabouth and company was wall-to-wall singles on the make. But the morning after the night before, the cavernous King West tapas bar is an oasis of sophistication. Maybe that's because we're the only ones here.
A server as imported as the streaky 24-month-old Serrano ham ($12) suggests we start with double Spanish espressos topped with milky foam ($4.50) and sponge-cake muffins with buttery olive oil custard ($4). An exceptionally fluffy potato frittata arrives smeared with garlicky romesco sauce (tortilla de patatas, $5), while a rustic casserole of braised cannellini beans, aged tomato and the kitchen's own chorizo ($8) follows suit.
Specials like executive chef Stuart Cameron's remarkable octopus terrine splashed with aioli and romesco on house-baked flatbread (montadito de pulpa, $7) deserve a slot on the permanent lineup. But if you only do one dish, make it Patria's wood-fired cracker-crusted coca pizza done up with green olives, white anchovies and spicy piquillo peppers (all $11). You'll never settle for Gigi again!
Sunday 10:30 am to 2:30 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNNN
Those of a certain age who fondly remember the Scandinavian open-face sandwiches at the Copenhagen Room in the Colonnade will want to make a beeline to Leif Kravis and Donna Ashley's Bloordale bistro toot sweet.
They'll rediscover dark rye smorrebrod artfully dressed with beet-cured gravlax and dill ($11 with salad) and Swedish-style Pitti y Panna potato hash piled with house-smoked bacon and an over-easy egg ($12). And here's that gravlax again on grease-free rosti ($14). But the biggest bang for their buck is the Smokehouse Platter ($16), a veritable smorgasbord of house-smoked salmon, organic chicken, trout and cured pork tenderloin served alongside sweetly pickled pumpkin, beets and grapes. An assortment of Ryvita and a slew of pickles, too.
Anyone who's wanted to check out the bitchin' Kitchen but has been put off by the crowd should note that the 24-seater now takes reservations and is open holiday Mondays.
Saturday 11:30 am to 3 pm, Sunday 10 am to 3 pm, holiday Mondays 11 am to 4 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNNN
We weren't terribly impressed with this snout-to-tail bistro's brunch three years ago, but a recent revisit suggests that owners/chefs Scott and Rachelle Vivian are currently firing on all cylinders.
Who else would have the audacity to send out a starter of gnocchi dressed with shredded beef cheeks and squeaky cheese curds in demiglace, the lot dolloped with crème fraîche ($10), or pair a frittata-like hash of corned-beef tongue (!) with buttermilk biscuits?
They brilliantly plate crisply fried pigs' ears over scrambled eggs and kimchee (both $12 with home fries) and top French challah toast with whipped cream, duck confit and house-made cranberry moustarda ($13). Their bacon brisket cheeseburger arrives alongside a mountain of greasy-good onion rings. But not everyone can handle the Beastwich (both $14, the latter with spuds), a great whack of southern-fried chicken thighs layered with pimento-studded cheese, house pickles and one of them them thar runny fried eggs.
Eat your heart out, Micky D's!
Saturday 11 am to 3 pm, Sunday 10 am to 3 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washroom on same floor. Rating: NNNNN
No less an authority than Maclean's Magazine recently named Michael Caballo and Tobey Nemeth's très-intime supper spot in the meatpacking district the best restaurant in the country. The one-time Niagara Street Café's been a zoo ever since.
But booking a table for the couple's ever-evolving $40 prix fixe Sunday lunch is a slightly easier score. Think of it as a multi-course Spanish-French tasting menu with the random egg in the mix.
The Sunday we visit, chef Caballo opens with warm house-baked bread spread with smooth chicken liver mousse. Tissue-thin smoked albacore joins sliced hard-boiled eggs and whole-grain toasts spread with black-olive tapenade. Huevos Estrellados - deep-fried potato chips topped with house-made chorizo, salsa verde and a poached egg - follow. After a volley of coq au vin with chicken-fat rice and a palate-cleansing salad of watermelon relish, chef finishes with an understated caramel pudding cake.
Not only that, but every bottle of wine in the joint is half-price, another reason why you need that reservation?
Sunday seatings at noon and 1:30 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: two short steps at door, small washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNNNN
If you harbour the delusion that scoring a two-top at this notoriously reservation-free resto is easier now that its 40-seat backyard patio is in operation, think again. But show up before noon while most of Parkdale is still sound asleep and no problemo.
Get the proceedings under way with a $3.75 shot of Wild Turkey bourbon and a tostada dramatically heaped with crumbled chorizo, a runny-sunny egg and a frazzle of hickory sticks ($8). Tacos come brimming with seared cauliflower, Baja-style tilapia or slow-braised beef cheeks (all $3.50), two salsas of varying heat on the side. And who can say no to cheesy grits with sausage ($9) at this time of the morning?
Dessert always calls for co-owner chef Colin Tooke's signature key lime pie served in a miniature Mason jar splooshed to high-heaven with whipped cream. Don't feel like hanging around? GE now does takeout!
Daily 11:30 am to 4 pm. Closed some holidays. No reservations. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN
Eating at Matt Basile's newly minted Elvis-themed eatery is literally like night and day. At dinner, the trendy bite-sized plates come out so fast and furious, we managed to easily polish off 11 of them in less than 45 minutes and still had room for a pizza slice on the way home. But at weekend brunch, it's a different story.
These plates are huge! A stack o' Frisbee-sized flapjacks come alternately layered with beefy pork patties, lettuce, tomato and cheese, a ramekin of maple syrup, with a heap of home fries cooked in duck fat on the side ($15). Great whacks of pizza dough get deep-fried and topped with smoky pulled-pork chili and a de rigueur runny egg ($12 with salad or fries). And we'll gladly return after having not eaten for several days in preparation for whole southern-fried Cornish hens over jalapeño cornbread muffins sided with super-spicy pad thai fries ($17).
Now that's a hunka-hunka burnin' love!
Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 3 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNNN
Does Toronto really need another Kitchen? We do if it's this delish!
Ex-Stockyards head cook Rachel Pellett and partner Heather Mee's way charming café might not be the fanciest room around, but it's certainly one of the most relaxed. Where better to savour every bite of impossibly flaky buttermilk biscuits ($3) that border on croissants spread with house-made peach preserves and whipped honey butter?
Eggy wedges of almost-always vegetarian quiche - sautéed mushrooms, cheddar and asparagus ($11), say - get sided with arugula in a balsamic vinaigrette. Not really that hungry? Go for the half-order of eggs Benny draped with house-smoked peameal and whipped cream-infused hollandaise ($6) instead. Billed as a hangover helper, the I Know What You Did Last Night sausage burger topped with cheddar and house-cured bacon ($13) and sided with skinny frites has us wishing we'd done something more scintillating last Saturday evening than watch Donut Showdown on TV in our underwear.
Saturday and Sunday 9 am to 3 pm. No reservations. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN
After stints in the barbecue pit at Stockyards and as a butcher at both Beretta and Rowe Farms, it should come as no surprise that Stephen Howell knows a thing or two about meat.
The evil flesh is all over his brunch carte, from the house-made scrapple with scrambled egg and fiery Sriracha hot sauce on buns ($11 with potato straws and organic greens) to the house-cured beef bacon that finds its way onto vanilla waffles dressed with Ontario blueberry compote and cream cheese ($10).
Not that vegetarians get short shrift when there's panko-crusted soft-boiled "Scotch-ish" eggs with brown-butter hollandaise over flaky croissants ($9) and thick slices of pastry chef Haley Franklin's banana-bread French toast ($11) finished with chocolate chips and caramelized banana in caramel sauce. Washed down with a glass of house-made pink lemonade ($3/$9 bottle), they make a great start to any Sunday.
Sunday 9 am to 4 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Access: short step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN
10890 College, Toronto, Ontario
What's not to love about David Friedman and Jamie Duran's seafood-centic Fish? They put linen on the table, Mahler's Fifth on the hi-fi and Ocean Wise-certified fish on the carte. They even take reservations!
Several $5 Bloody Caesars give way to crumbly house-baked scones spread with tart rhubarb jam. Fish cakes (both $4) might better be described as fish pancakes, their local shredded pickerel offset with freshly squeezed lemon. House-smoked Pacific salmon ($16) arrives simply plated with the kitchen's own poppyseed bagels, whipped chèvre, ripe tomato and a last-minute toss of capers. The visually stunning raw salmon tartare ($15) with crispy-skin garnish, should appeal to those who avoid carbs or gluten.
Old-school chicken and waffles are making a big comeback, but only former Fishbar chef Friedman tops his with beautifully confited duck wings glazed in apple butter. And who can resist octopus hash (both $13) apart from those of us who remember that Ringo song about the underwater garden?
With the eventual bill and a pair of complimentary pumpkin muffins comes a plate of Gummy bears - red fish, of course.
Sunday 11 am to 3 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN
Some guys are simply too far ahead of their time.
After striking out twice with two similar restos in pre-hipster Kensington, Davy Love gets lucky his third time at bat. From the black-and-white 8-by-10s of 60s UK pop icons framed on the wall to the carefully curated tunage on the stereo, everything about the Yard screams proper British caff. Why, Love even makes his own HP sauce.
The part-time DJ's also no slouch in the meat pie department, whether stuffing their shortcrusted shells with steak and Stilton or vegetarian Shepherd's pie (both $12 with chips or salad). The hopelessly hungover need look no further than what Love describes as a "Scottish breakfast cheeseburger" - two potato scones topped with poached eggs and house-made Lorne sausage in sausage gravy (the Glasgow $13, with home fries, grilled tomato and a mug of coffee or strong Typhoo tea).
He even does baked beans on toast ($7) with sides of black pudding ($3). Fancy that!
Wednesday to Friday 9 am to 3 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 4 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNNN
Aussie expat Alec Martin's innovative takes on Singaporean street food are some of the most exciting dishes Toronto has seen in years, harkening back to Greg Couillard and Susur Lee in their East-West fusion prime.
He's even more creative at brunch, where ho-hum French toast ($8) arrives five-spiced and drizzled with palm sugar laced with kaffir lime leaf, a dollop of coconut cream cheese to the side. His all-inclusive Grand Slam ($13 with toast) finds two sunny-side-ups paired with pulled pork, blistered tomato, char-grilled oyster mushrooms and a tasty taro croquette.
Specials like steamed Chinese bao ($7.50 with a tangle of alien greens) get amply stuffed with more of that gently pulled pork, an over-easy egg and a splash of sweet hoisin. But Martin's knockout punch comes with his Benny ($12), here deftly layered with coriander hollandaise and fatty house-cured salmon. And be sure to save room for his Pacific Rim carrot cake ($4.50). You'll thank us!
Saturday and Sunday noon to 3 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Access: three steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN
After stints in some of the best restaurants in town, husband-and-wife team Tina Leckie and Alex Chong struck out on their own, the result this charming east-side café.
Where else on the Danforth will you find an eggs Benny made with expertly poached free-range hormone-free heritage duck eggs in lemony hollandaise over duck confit on toasted pains au lait ($15 with salad)? Or a charcuterie board scattered with house-made duck prosciutto, blond bacon lardo and fatty capicollo, a slab or two of rustic terrine de campagne and a smear of pear paste ($14 with bread and pickles)?
Soups run the gamut from duck broth with pastina to potato with green garlic (all $5), while the soufflé-like quiche du jour - one day portobello mushroom with Brie, the next aged cheddar with apple ($9 with salad/$18 whole) - is a meal in itself.
Those who turn up their nose at anything that's savoury at brunch should think of house-baked brioche French toast with rhubarb compote, crème fraîche and maple syrup ($11) as dessert.
Saturday 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday 10 am to 3 pm. No reservations. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN
Anyone remember when the Beaver had one of the better brunches on the west side? Those who do will fall head over heels for ex-owner Megan Whiten's kitschy all-day café in deepest, darkest Baby Point.
Decked out with enough Canadiana to stock a Muskoka time-share, the room's not much more than a three-seat lunch counter and a few tables at the rear. The grub's just as retro, with scrambled eggs sided with gargantuan Italian sausages and Whiten's mom's recipe for scalloped potatoes with roasted red peppers ($12) a particular crowd-pleaser. Quiche du jour - one time shredded brisket with havarti, another day smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill - gets served with organic greens in a classic red wine vinaigrette.
Why, she even steams eggs on an espresso machine and stuffs them into grilled ciabatta along with thinly sliced peameal, tomato and cheddar (both $10) just like she did at the Beaver back in the good old days.
Saturday 9 am to 4 pm, Sunday 9 am to 3 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Access: one step at door, one step to washrooms. Rating: NNNN
Such has been the runaway success of Zach Slootsky and company's laid-back all-day café, you guys named it best new restaurant in NOW's 2012 Readers Poll.
It's not hard to understand why. The unpretentious room reeks of shabby chic, the tunes they play are at a volume that allows for conversation, and the service is nonpareil for this early in the morning.
Too bad there's almost always a lineup for one-of-a-kind Cobb salads with confited free-range Gasparro chicken, chopped avovado and crispy bacon in blue cheese dressing ($12), and the daily Ploughman's Lunch ($14). Looking for something sweet? A half-order of buttermilk Belgian waffles finished with whipped cream and maple syrup ($5) could double as dessert. And remember that the password to get the Fed's secret off-menu sausage waffle burger ($12) is "swordfish."
Tuesday to Sunday 9 am to 3 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN
The kitchen - if you can call a four-burner electric stove a kitchen - at this north Kensington café cum cocktail lounge is so small, ex-Liberty Belle Bistro chef Aidan Pascoe jokes that he has to go next door to flip an egg.
It's quite miraculous what the Le Select alum can do with so little. He regularly bakes Yukon Gold potatoes before stuffing them with organic free-range eggs, cream cheese and Sanagan's sausage. He fries slices of house-baked cornbread in clarified butter before dressing them with avocado, smoked salmon and a poached egg, a fennel and spinach salad in lemony thyme dressing on the side.
Sandwiches of thick French challah toast get filled several ways, sometimes sweet (apple 'n' rhubarb crumble), other times savoury (pulled Mennonite pork and maple hollandaise, all $12.50), the latter additionally sided with a very good arugula salad tossed with walnuts and strips of apple in a fruity vinaigrette that some may remember from the Liberty Belle. Just think what he'd do with a toaster oven!
Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 3 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN
Launched two years ago in the no-man's land between Riverdale and Leslieville (Riverville? Lesliedale?), Brittany Peglar and Colin Reed's retro-fitted diner might still look like it's not quite finished, but it's clearly a labour of love.
How can you not fall for ex-Drake pastry chef Peglar's blueberry scone plate ($5 for three) with house-made black currant jelly and honey from a nearby hive. Former Czehoski chef Reed confits duck legs, then sautées them in butter with onions before plating next to a stack of Le Matin Bakery and a fried duck egg ($13). And we doubt anyone does asparagus three ways, either steamed and dressed in miso and scallion, as a salad with green beans and arugula in pommery mustard vinaigrette or as a fabulously frothy mint-green mousse ($12). And here's something else almost no one else does - they're open holiday Mondays!
Saturday and Sunday 9:30 am to 4 pm, Wednesday to Friday and holiday Mondays 10 am to 3:30 pm. Closed Tuesday. No reservations. Unlicensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
As one would expect from someone whose culinary CV includes stints in the kitchens of Café Belong, Atlantic and Hooked, Charlotte Langley knows all about sustainable fish. In fact, most of her inaugural carte at the stylish spinoff of the Rushton contains Ocean Wise-certified seafood.
She sends out warm buttermilk biscuits ($3) finished with whipped molasses butter and tart Granny Smith apple, and an East Coast clam bake ($20) littered with Portuguese chorizo and maple-glazed pork belly, its temporarily AWOL littleneck clams replaced by a half-dozen unshelled shrimp and a couple of cracked crab legs. She pairs Nova Scotia-style haddock 'n' chips with roasted garlic mayo ($18) and a side of down-east fiddleheads ($9) if they're still in season.
Why, the lobster roll ($22) sided with a spin on Pringles is worth the price of admission alone. The self-described potty-mouthed chef even turns out a very good bacon-brisket cheeseburger ($16 with frites). Too bad her smelts ($5) and wild BC sardines ($10) are only available at supper.
Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 3 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement.Rating: NNN
We don't know about you, but the next time we dine al fresco at TV chef Brad Long's semi-eponymous locavorium in the bucolic Brick Works complex, we're wearing head-to-toe mosquito netting.
How else to avoid the constant swarms of wasps that make like kamikazes throughout our noontime nosh? But who wouldn't be attracted to Long's reading of the lowly eggs Benny ($20), here layered over house-baked buttermilk biscuits with lemony hollandaise honey-glazed ham. Pancakes ($16) come swimming in wild blueberry compote and warm maple syrup, while his grilled hanger steak ($29) arrives sided with both fries and a fried duck egg. Even his charcuterie board ($20) of house-cured cold cuts and obscure cheeses shows unusual restraint.
But by far the biggest hit of the day - particularly with the wasps - is CB's acclaimed cheesecake ($10). Must be all those nasturtiums garnishing the plate.
Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 3 pm. Closed holidays. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN
201087 Queen W, Toronto, Ontario M6J 1H7
This period-perfect brasserie on the first floor of the historic Great Hall looks like it could have been here forever, though it only opened last spring. Ex-Brockton General chef Alexandra Feswick's locally sourced and seasonally adjusted carte is equally timeless.
Shame there's no warm basket of house-baked scones and cornbread to start, as there was when Feswick helmed the General, but strong Americanos ($2.50) make up for that. A skilfully executed cheese 'n' onion omelette ($12) comes sided with organic greens in an apple cider vinaigrette and slices of grilled Ace sourdough, while her exemplary eggs Benny ($15) arrives cleverly layered with tarragon hollandaise, raw arugula and a deep-fried slab of headcheese terrine. Now, that's offal!
Cast-iron skillets overflow with baked beans spiked with maple syrup, poached eggs and spicy Luis Suarez chorizo, a spoonful of tart sour cherry to counter the sweet ($14). And thanks to our suggestion, you can now get Feswick's 6-ounce bacon-brisket cheeseburger ($15) with her fantabulous skinny frites tossed in brown butter, fresh rosemary, shaved parmigiano and deep-fried garlic.
Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 3 pm. No reservations. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, four steps to washrooms. Rating: NNN
Although it no longer goes by the name Dessert Trends, owner/chef Donald Duong's recently refurbished Annex café is still very much a patisserie. That would explain the wall of pricy wedding cakes behind glass that now greet you at the door.
His buttermilk scones with Devonshire cream and sour cherry compote ($7) are as perfectly flaky as ever. Described on the menu as pancakes, what shows up are more like a half-dozen coconut mini-quiches dressed with spicy chipotle shrimp, mango salsa and the odd kernel of corn ($16). Fabulously crisp deep-fried soft-shelled crabs get sandwiched between two slices of house-baked brioche spread with roasted red pepper aioli, while the savoury mushroom bread pudding topped with a poached egg and smoked salmon is one of the tastiest brunch dishes around.
The only thing that could possibly follow Duong's generously plated beef bourguignon, thick with wild mushrooms on a bed of classic pommes purée (both $18, all with salad), is a nap.
Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 5 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement.Rating: NNN
If you're planning on making a splash at this yawning gallery-like space, don't wear white. Otherwise, you'll fade into the woodwork sitting on a white chair at a white table in a white room with white walls and a white ceiling.
Against this blank canvas, co-owner/chef chef Angus Bennett's brunch carte shines. Sugar-coated scones arrive spread with house-made strawberry jam and crème fraîche ($6). Salads combine unexpected ingredients like frilly kale, Royal Gala apple and garden-variety radishes tossed in a champagne vinaigrette with spiced pecans and shaved parmigiano ($10).
The former Crush toque's BLT with meaty house-smoked bacon comes built on Ace Bakery bread ($12 with enough fab fries to share), whereas sheets of Norwegian smoked salmon and a tangle of arugula blanket crisply correct rosti and get dolloped with more crème fraiche ($13). But where are the eggs?
"I'll put one on anything for an extra buck and a half," says chef.
Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 3 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN
231120 College, Toronto, Ontario
You won't find your typical eggs Benny and French toast on the short all-day card at this west-side sibling to Danielle Schrage and Ali Fashrashrafi's Pomegranate and Sheherzade. But if you're looking to stuff yourself silly and not have to eat for, oh, the next several days, you're in the right place.
Almost everyone starts with what the menu describes as "vegetarian caviar," an insanely appetizing purée of ground walnuts, green olives and raw garlic laced with tart pomegranate paste (Zeitoon Parvardeh $4.50). Think of Kolleh Pocheh as a deeply curried soup thick with miscellaneous sheep parts - skull, hooves, tongue - accelerated with pickled garlic, raw onion and fresh lemon. You might want to steer clear of the Haleem ($8.95 with a glass of steaming chai) unless you're a fan of gelatinous cream of wheat.
But knock off tongue-twisting chef Fashrashrafi's Dizi Sangi - a humongous two-part lamb 'n' chickpea stew served on toasted barberry bread with yogurt, slivered onion and pickled eggplant ($13.95) - and you'll be sated till next Saturday.
Wednesday to Sunday 10 am to 4 pm. Closed Monday, Tuesday, holidays. No reservations. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
Everyone knows this incomparable Cuban cantina as that romantic little resto in the middle of nowhere with the sequestered garden terrace. But who knew that Julie's does brunch?
She does now, kicking off with a round of mint-muddled mojitos ($10) and a massive mesclun salad in a sweet poppyseed vinaigrette heaped with chopped ripe avocado and plump grilled shrimp. A plate of spicy chorizo from a Portuguese butcher up the street, whose name bubbly co-owner Sylvia Llewelyn can't remember, follows.
But there's no forgetting chef Jesus Baute's masterful Spanish frittata-style omelettes or his Cubano sandwiches stacked with slow-roasted porchetta (both $10, the former with salsa and salad, the latter with skinny hand-cut fries).
And no visit to Julie's is complete without a slice of Sylvia's tequilla key lime pie ($8).
Sunday 11:30 am to 3 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Access: two steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
There's much about this College Street cantina to cause concern.
No stage at Noma for him. Owner/chef Andrew Richmond comes to gastronomy from the world of graphic design. His partner is connected to the Fox and Fiddle. Not to mention the resto itself being a virtual carbon copy of Grand Electric right down to the nuevo tacos on the menu and the ear-splitting hip-hop on the boom box. And don't get us started on the limited-edition street art - aka postcard - they throw in with the bill.
By the light of day, Carnita's an easier sell. A cinnamon bun ($4) worthy of the Pilsbury Doughboy opens the proceedings, followed by a more-please bowl of "homies ($8)," or, as we say this far north of the Pecos, cubed 'n' deep-fried yucca and spuds dressed with braised beef cheek, green onion, pickled jalapeño and Oaxaca cheese. Pancake-like sopes ($6.25) get finished with slow-roasted pork belly, poached eggs, lime-infused hollandaise and chicarrón, aka pork rinds. All of the above - and an OG Michelada ($8) - and you'll be in and out in under 45.
Sunday 11 am to 2:30 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
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