In Montreal one of my favourite things to do with friends on a Sunday morning—or any day or time, really—was to go for brunch. In undergrad, we got our breakfast fix at places like Oxford Café on Ste-Catherine, Place Milton in the McGill Ghetto, and Moe’s, a 24-hour diner near Concordia’s downtown campus. At Oxford there is a menu item called something like Elvis’ Breakfast which is french toast with bananas, peanut butter, and maple syrup. That’s my idea of delicious. (Maybe it’s just me and Elvis.) Place Milton and Moe’s are greasy spoons that serve cheap, tasty food, and still have their charm.
In grad school, my breakfast tastes got a little more refined. We’d have poached eggs served in avocado or mango at Senzala, morning glories and goat cheese & pear crêpes at El Dorado (‘the-place-across-from-L’Avenue’) or we’d beat L’Avenue‘s notorious lineup by brunching on a weekday. There and at La Grand-mère poule there are so many breakfast choices it takes half an hour to decide.
Since I’ve been back in Toronto, I’ve been enjoying trying out breakfasts around the city. Kilgour’s on Bloor has always been one of my preferred places for Eggs Benny; they serve one with roasted red pepper. Yum. I recently checked out Boom! Breakfast & Company in Little Italy. The fries are great and the service friendly.
Another new discovery is Aunties and Uncles, near College and Bathurst. The potato salad with just the right amount of dill is a nice twist—you wouldn’t think potato salad with breakfast, but in fact, it’s delicious.
Stroll down Dundas Street west of Bathurst on a Saturday morning and you can’t miss Saving Grace, rumoured to be one of Sarah Polley’s favourite breakfast joints. On a weekend, count on waiting at least twenty minutes for a table after marking your name on the sign up sheet at the entrance—it’s worth the wait. I’ve been there twice now: I had one of the day’s specials, a pumpkin frittata, the first time around and an old cheddar sandwich on raisin bread from the menu on the second visit (I was more impressed by the former, mainly because, despite the rave reviews, I felt like I could have easily made the sandwich at home). The Vietnamese iced coffee was very much to my liking (though my friend was disappointed—it was not as bitter as the coffees at her favourite pho places in Montreal and Toronto).
Two other places I stopped by I won’t name because I was pretty underwhelmed. One had great atmosphere and decor and the lineup to give it cred, but the food just didn’t live up to it. The other was so understaffed there were more tables with dirty plates than places to sit.
A few differences between Montreal and Toronto breakfasts:
- in Montreal, order sausage for breakfast and in my experience you get several small breakfast sausages; here in Toronto orders of sausage almost always seem to be large sausages served sliced.
- in Montreal the norm is two eggs; in Toronto three eggs are the default as often as two.
That’s it for now, but I’m taking suggestions for other local brunch spots worth checking out…
- Oxford Café | 2170, rue Ste-Catherine Ouest
- Place Milton | 220, rue Milton
- Moe’s | avenue De Maisonneuve Ouest & rue Lambert
- Senzala |177, rue Bernard Ouest
- El Dorado | 921, avenue du Mont-Royal Est
- L’Avenue | 922, avenue du Mont-Royal Est
- La Grand-mère poule | 1361, avenue du Mont-Royal Est
- Kilgour’s | 509 Bloor Street West
- Boom! Breakfast & Company | 808 College Street
- Aunties and Uncles | 74 Lippincott Street
- Saving Grace | 907 Dundas Street West