Czehoski (678 Queen West, at Tecumseth, 416-366-6787) Complete brunches for $25 per person, including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Average main $12. Open for brunch Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 3 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: half-step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
Is brunch the perfect meal? Not quite breakfast but not really lunch (as Marge Simpson's French bowling instructor, Jacques, explained to her, adding, "It comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end"), brunch can be a sinfully rich midday nosh that borders on ritual.
We gather in groups each weekend to scarf enough cholesterol to seize a streetcar in its tracks, some of us catching up with old friends, others oblig-ingly entertaining relatives.
Local foodies also know that brunch is the perfect opportunity to check out restaurants that would normally be beyond their budgets. Just think, the next time someone asks at a cocktail party or book launch if you've been to chi-chi bakery & bistro Thuet (see listing, page 98), you can truthfully gush, "I just love what Biana has done with the room!" even if all you've ever had there is coffee and a croissant.
Which explains the presence of my cheapskate crew at Czehoski, the former west-side deli that was spectacularly transformed into a chi-chi supper club more than a year ago. We're here this Sunday noon to give chef Nathan Iseberg's recently launched brunch the once-over. Best of all, it's one-third as expensive as dinner.
We begin with an exquisitely plated salad of bitter yellow endive, pale golden heirloom beets and a handful of mesclun artfully splashed with a creamy dressing of chèvre ($9).
Iseberg's outrageously luxe spin on eggs Benedict ($12) follows. Two organic poached eggs come layered with thick, gooey slices of unpasteurized Brie and a truffled olive oil hollandaise before being dramatically sandwiched into one of Marc Thuet's acclaimed croissants. A side of what the card describes as "a simple salad of 35 types of organic greens and flowers" accompanies.
Similar to Jean-Jacques Texier's buckwheat gallettes at Batifole back when he did brunch, a tasty trio of Iseberg's chestnut flour crepes ($9) wrapped around diced 'n' roasted pear and cream cheese aren't overpowered by too-sweet maple syrup. I can't convince the sensible 13-year-old in our posse to order Dessert For Breakfast (chocolate cake and whipped cream, $8); she opts for eggs scrambled with Alex Farm's reserve cheddar paired with meaty organic sausage and roasted fingerlings ($10) once I explain what a fingerling is.
Excellent coffee ($3) and friendly service, too. And we just love what Czehoski honcho Brad Denton has done with the room!