Somewhere between breakfast and lunch there's a whole culinary world waiting to be explored. The mid-morning-early-afternoon meal combo, known as brunch, is traditionally a simple buffet style event—classic, but a little boring. Thanks to the foodie masses and their demanding and inquisitive palates, brunch has morphed into a wild flavour adventure. Here are some of the more unique brunch pit stops in Toronto
Address: 584 Lansdowne Ave, 1078 St. Clair Ave West
The waffle—a buttery, crispy, fluffy, dream dish topped with fruits, whipped cream and syrup. Realistically, it's dessert for breakfast but who cares; waffles are just that good. What could be more fitting for brunch than a waffle house? Meet Starving Artist (two locations: Lansdowne Ave. and St. Clair Ave West), an all-day brunch venue with menu items served on waffles, set amidst a gallery of local artwork (new artwork showcased every six weeks). "Seriously, the menu consists of everything on, between, or inside waffles," writes the restaurant. "Think BLT with a waffle bun, eggs-benny on waffles, and our most popular creation: waffle bacon!"
We can't be sure if it's the waffles or the unique art setting that draws in customers, "Supporting local artists is a main priority at Starving Artist," it declares on its website. Whichever it is, Starving Artist has been lauded by local media, including Taste Toronto, Toronto Sun and Toronto Star, for its unique take on brunch.
The Toronto Brunch Cruise
Address: Queen's Quay Terminal
Most people are accustomed to the treat that is evening cruise dining, but late night diners shouldn't get all the fun. Burning a beautiful morning inside a restaurant is okay, but as soon as I heard about the Toronto Brunch Cruise it had to go on my bucket list. Mariposa Cruises, which is a recipient of the Consumer Choice Award, offers a "two-hour brunch cruise through Toronto's scenic Harbourfront" on Saturdays and Sundays, according to Mariposa's website. The buffet menu is courtesy of Executive Chef Damien Wlodarczyk.
Equipped with a fully licensed bar, the brunch menu consists of fresh baked breads and Danishes, homemade jam preserves, fresh summer fruits, quirky salads, the Chef's famous French toast, hickory smoked bacon, organic pork sausages and traditional home fries. Ingredients are usually sourced locally. "We use Ontario produce whenever possible and in season. The pork products are grown and produced in Ontario as well," says Chef Wlodarczyk. The price is $58.80 for adults, including tax and gratuities—not exactly cheap for brunch, but it's also a cruise.
Address: 7 Hart House Circle, U of T Campus
Voted one of the most unforgettable restaurants in Toronto by Where.ca, the Gallery Grill is a brunch destination. It serves up a Sunday brunch menu that includes stars like buttermilk drop biscuits with an orange-herb butter, and classic pork and eggs with smoked peameal bacon, hashbrowns, roasted tomato, fried egg and maple mustard. The whole menu, which can be found in its entirely at harthouse.ca/menus, is drool inducing.
Gallery Grill is like a modern literary throwback to the fantastical dining hall in Harry Potter's Hogwarts. Chef Suzanne Baby is the creative force behind the "cosmopolitan cuisine", which brunchers enjoy amongst the intimate setting of Hart House, with its vaulted ceilings, candelabras, fireplace, oak paneling and impressive artistic portraiture. Housed inside the University of Toronto's historical neo-Gothic building, which was famously commissioned by Canadian icon Vincent Massey, the restaurant has garnered itself a "devoted following" of loyal 416ers.
Address: 1 Blue Jays Way, Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel
Did you know you can enjoy Sunday brunch amongst the Toronto Blue Jays? Perched high atop the Rogers Stadium, Arriba offers an unbeatable view of Sunday afternoon Jays' games in a unique dining setting for baseball enthusiasts. While the food has been rated as pretty good, it really is the high and mighty view that you'll be paying for.
The classic menu is concise, offering up a select few dishes including eggs benedict, French toast stuffed with cream cheese, berry compote or cinnamon stewed apples, and smoked salmon with cream cheese on multigrain bread. The restaurant, which has received accolades from Toronto Life, Ottawa Citizen and USA Today's "10 Best", is an interesting way to kill a Sunday in a memorable fashion. Bonus: they have a kids' menu if you are toting little ones along and the view is sure to keep your captivated toddler in his or her seat.
Fresh From Scratch Down Home Cookin' at Scratch Kitchen
Address: 3471 Yonge St.
Situated on Yonge St., Scratch Kitchen is all about the breakfast; throughout the day it's a (drunken?) brunch bonanza, complete with mimosas and Caesars. Rare for a breakfast joint, Scratch Kitchen stays open late with fresh-shucked oysters, craft brewskies and bar snacks appearing on tables after dark. The breakfast-focused establishment sells itself on licensed brunches, fresh farm-to-table food fare and a unique rustic feel.
It really does have a home-cookin' vibe, with menu items like Fat Daddy Pancakes, Soft Scrambled Eggs with maple yogurt, and a BLT made with in-house cured bacon. The owner and chef are one in the same, Mike Tucker (with co-owner Ted Zacharopoulos), who has been whipping up delectable meals in Toronto for not quite a decade. You may have enjoyed his dishes previously at places like Cowbell, Le Sélect Bistro, Nota Bene and Brockton General. According to the website, their "goal is to utilize locally grown produce to produce fresh, tasty cuisine... from farm-fresh eggs to in-house baked bread," because it's always been Chef Tucker's dream to plate meals made from scratch.
Wherever you go, whatever you eat, remember to do it in good company. More than anything, brunch is a social affair, meant to mix food and conversation while you wile away a morning and afternoon, whether it's a Sunday or you're playing hooky on a Wednesday.