Take a few steps 'under the table' of Parliament Street and you'll find a cozy tavern-like restaurant with a woman in a knit cardigan behind the bar who greets you with a Cheshire grin usually reserved for aunts and uncles on Christmas. It won't be long before you find out her name is Kim, and she'll be the one helping you feel at home among the many locals who make this restaurant their second home.
I visited Under The Table Restaurant on a Sunday to try their brunch, and Kim, who calls you hunnie, brought gold rimmed cups of coffee and a pitcher of lemon water. Their weekend brunch menu consists of a variety of entrees with eggs, home fries, pancakes, sausages, omelettes, and waffles, with a few specialties like the Chef's Breakfast with breaded chicken, eggs and hollandaise ($11) or the 10oz rib eye with three eggs ($15).
Of particular note, I had the pleasure of indulging in their version of chicken and waffles, Itanni, served with your option of maple triple berry sauce or maple Dijon bacon ($13). "If you like bacon, go for the bacon," Kim advised, and so we absolutely did. The waffle itself was remarkably crumbly with stiff edges, softened by a heavy coat of sweet maple syrup. A large portion of breaded chicken sat on top, with its thick, dark brown crispy exterior that, upon biting into it, revealed a delicately soft inside. Cut up pieces of bacon were sprinkled sporadically overtop of the dish, which just added to the dilemma of how to fit a little bit of every piece into one forkful.
The Sunday special was another pleasure—eggs Benedict with silky smoked salmon and avocado ($9), which contributed to the ultra-smooth texture of the hollandaise. I've eaten an insane amount of eggs Benedict variations, and I was pleasantly surprised by these, with a messy yolk and a creamy blend between the three components. It's served with a small portion of potatoes, and they were on the salty side for my taste, but the slivers of onion mixed in were quite welcome.
The place itself is cozy, with wooden tables and a long bench along the wall with a bar opposite that. It's a small room, a little over a dozen tables, but it delivers the comfort you'd expect from a comfort food restaurant. Their regular lunch and dinner menu has pub grub like nachos, chicken fingers, and poutine, and entrees of sandwiches, pastas, and salads. What stands out is their oxtail dinner served with rice and peas ($14) and jerk chicken options on jasmine rice and salad ($14) or with a poutine ($11). Under The Table Restaurant has become a local hotspot for so many returning customers that their daily specials, ranging from spaghetti beef Bolognese to maple honey ham, can be determined by customers that call in and specifically request dishes. They're also one of the only places outside of Canada's Wonderland where you'll find funnel cake, with fresh berries and ice cream ($6).
When it was time to leave, Freddy Fender was playing on the stereo system my dad's favourite and all of a sudden I, too, felt that this was a home away from home. Or even better, it's the home you long for when the Toronto winter is four months too long and all you want is a warm brunch and someone to call you hunnie.