Planet Kensington (1971/2 Baldwin, at Augusta, 416-341-0310) Complete brunches for $15 per person, including all taxes, tip and a Bloody Caesar. Average main $6. Reservations not accepted. Licensed. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
You all laughed when I claimed that the Cameron - yes, that Cameron - had the best brunch in Toronto way back in the last century. Three weeks later you, your purple-rinsed grandmother and half the hipsters in town were fighting your way into the Queen West dive every Sunday to rave about the joint's Huevos Rancheros.
So stay with me, folks, when I contend that grungy Planet Kensington's Black Metal Brunch is one of the best around.
Yes, you first have to get past the gang of 20 or so punks in studded, ripped leather and DIY hairdos who crowd onto the minuscule patio out front now that they can no longer smoke inside the bombed-out bar. Then there are the dogs. And unless you consider Florida death metal played at a volume that renders conversation impossible ideal dinner music, ear plugs might be a good idea.
There are no tables, so I grab the last seat at the stand-up bar. Its back falls off. After placing my order with one Murder Mike, I sip my Caesar ($4.50) through a straw too much ice and wonder just WTF I've gotten myself into this time.
Try this: a trio of plump, remarkably light blintzes ($5.25) come overstuffed with lemony ricotta and dressed with thickened sour cream and marinated cherries. An exceptional omelette of shredded duck, sun-dried tomato, scallions and bocconcini, sided with "homies," regular and sweet potato home fries ($5.95).
Even eggs Benedict basically eggs with egg sauce get an innovative Planet K twist, the usual supermarket peameal replaced with delicate wild mushrooms, the hollandaise heavily yolked. Chunks of peameal do appear, however, skewered along with shrimp, pineapple and red pepper in a garlicky apple glaze as kebabs plated over a bed of brown basmati rice (both $6.95).
That's Linda Dawson behind Planet's primitive two-burner stove, pumping her fist to the tunes while she flips grilled cheese challah sandwiches thick with ham, Gouda and wilted Swiss chard ($6.25). Though she now has a full-time gig in tech support, this 13-year kitchen vet has a CV that includes stints at Le Bistingo, Southern Accent and the Bellair Café. She's been hosting her Sunday shindigs here for three years now.
The Cameron had to stop doing brunch because it became too popular. I somehow doubt that the Toronto Life set will descend on Planet Kensington like they did on the good ol' Cameron House. But those with an empty stomach and an open mind are fools to miss this truly unique culinary experience.
Ear plugs optional.