Do you ever go out for brunch and feel vaguely disappointed? As in, I could have done that, and I could have done it better? The Westerly is the kind of restaurant you go to when you want to be absolutely certain that there is no way you could do any better. You are paying for their creativity and their expertise. Creme brulee French Toast has both fruit compote and brulee fresh cream to beckon you into brunch heaven. Lemon ricotta fritters are delightfully light and Montreal smoked breakfast hash uses brisket, poached eggs and hollandaise. There is nothing on the menu that isn't a labour of love.
Recommended for Brunch because: All the breakfast classics with the tricks of the trade that make the flavours pop.
Courtney's expert tip: Brunch is often populated with families and booster seats. If you are entrenched in this stage of life, this will probably be welcome news. If you are not, you have been warned.
For those who didn't excel in high school French, Le Petit Dejeuner means, quite simply, breakfast. This Belgian-Canadian style eatery has been busy cracking eggs since 2003 with hefty portions of everything that you are craving or ever will crave. The Hungry Gal has two eggs, toast, potato rosti, apple coleslaw and bacon. Crepes and waffles come sweet or savoury. The waffles are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. There are also the Croques: Monsieur, Madame and Bolognese. Within walking distance to the St. Lawrence Market, this is is a good place to fuel up prior to a long day of sampling.
Recommended for Brunch because: Come early and be prepared to have some of the best waffles of your life at Le Petit Dejeuner.
Courtney's expert tip: Even if you don't want to commit to having waffles as your main, they must be tried. They are what makes this restaurant stand out.
When Farmhouse Tavern started to gain some traction, they opened up shop directly across the street with The Daughter. It didn't take long before both locations were filled to the brim with loyal customers and for good reason. The brunch items at The Daughter come with inventive additions, like Frogs Legs that are southern-fried and served over buckwheat waffles. A soft boiled egg comes with a dollop of pesto over buttery brioche. Bacon is made from lamb, for a buttery sweet variation. Croque madame comes with prosciutto and aged cheddar. There are even homemade Twinkies for dessert. Definitely wear some stretchy pants.
Recommended for Brunch because: Meat and veg and seafood, oh my - The Daughter has you covered for any brunch craving (including frogs legs).
Courtney's expert tip: It is rare, so take advantage: The Daughter accepts reservations for brunch. Book through Open Table.
You are either a Marmalade person or you are not. However, everyone is a Lady Marmalade person. The daily breakfast is as conscious as it can be, with free range eggs and meats, organic bread and local produce whenever possible. The vibe inside slides towards the hipster while the food is top notch. Get down and dirty with some AM poutine smothered in miso gravy or hollandaise, poached eggs or veggie pulled pork or just some classic bacon. For the more virtuously inclined, there is a fresh fruit crepe made of organic buckwheat, with tangy lemon yogurt and house-made cranberry almond granola.
Recommended for Brunch because: Lineups out the door have to mean something in a notoriously fickle food city. Two words make it worthwhile: Eggs. Benny.
Courtney's expert tip: Even during the week, you may have a lineup. Don't make it longer by forgetting your cash. This place doesn't accept cards. Google pictures of Lady Marmalade's breakfast options to get your tummy even more excited.
Mitzi's Cafe is the type of place you go when you have time to linger. Tucked into an offshoot of Roncesvalles, if you are pretty sure you are lost in the middle of a residential area, you are in the right spot. On weekends, you will see hipsters congregating outside the doors in eager anticipation for an unrushed experience of mismatched mugs and phenomenal food. Space is limited but a small patio does open in the summer. Menu items change daily so you can't go in with any expectations, except to have some of the fluffiest of pancakes and most inventive egg dishes of your Torontonian life. Consider the seasonal oatmeal pancake with eggnog cream cheese drizzle & gingerbread cookie crumble. It is rare to see a crumb left on a plate.
Recommended for Brunch because: With an always-changing menu, you will never get bored at Mitzi's, and it will take awhile before you are hungry again.
Courtney's expert tip: Always read the chalkboard. They do have a more permanent menu, but it is all about the specials.
Open 9am to 3pm every day, Aunties & Uncles takes the guesswork out of breakfast. It also takes out the boredom. People will stand in blizzards on weekends for the hope of French toast. Banana oatmeal pancakes rouse similar cries of happiness, as sandwiched between the pancakes are thickly sliced bananas and savoury oatmeal. Aunties & Uncles does remind you of the kitchen of your funky aunt and there is limited seating. In the summer, a patio opens up to give more people the opportunity to gorge on cheesy eggs. There is amazing house-made ketchup that you might find yourself licking off your fingers. Order conservatively, as the massive portions and thickly sliced challah toast will fill most bellies the first time around.
Recommended for Brunch because: Screw saving brunch for the weekends. It is possible to brunch it up any day of the week at Aunties & Uncles.
Courtney's expert tip: The line may cascade down the street, so bring a good SmartPhone app or a friend who can extend the conversation beyond, "I'm hungry."
On a small corner in Leslieville, the little Bonjour Brioche Bakery Cafe brings the taste of a true French patisserie to life. Known mostly for its brunch menu options, Bonjour Brioche is a great choice whether you crave a piece of quiche or the sandwich du jour. Try something decadent like the Croque Madam sandwich with toasted brioche, ham, gruyere cheese and a fried egg. Or, consider a lighter dish like scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and horseradish cream. With quiche du jour, omelette du jour (and a lot more du jour) you could come back often and never get bored. End your meal with sweet decadence in the form of one of the pastries made in house. From the service to the setting, everything here is simple and relaxed.
Recommended for Brunch because: Whether you are pressed for time or have the opportunity to linger, Bonjour Brioche executes brunch perfectly.
Courtney's expert tip: Menu items are all spectacular, but we beg of you: order the bread. A warm brioche with homemade jam as you sip your coffee is the thing that dreams are made of.
If school were always this fun, there would never be dropouts. School has giant clocks to remind you of the time, but by the throngs of businessmen and women ignoring it, you know that it is more for decor than function. Weekdays never looked so sumptuous, with pancakes stacked one on top of each other, like books used to be in your first version of school. The black and blue blueberry sauce tumbles over the top, drowned in brown sugar butter. Super cheesy bacon French toast doesn't shy away from gooey cheddar cheese (thank goodness, with the word "Super" in its title). On the weekends, they add more options, but they also get more patrons. Your call.
Recommended for Brunch because: Whether cheese or sugar is your vice, School is all the more willing to make you crack under brunch temptation.
Courtney's expert tip: You know that brunch is serious when there are five (yes five) cocktails to choose from.
Rose & Sons doesn't follow the rules. It is hard to pin down what kind of food they specialize in, as their menu has as diverse ingredients as bagel and pastrami lox and fried rice with pork belly. It is no matter, as Torontonians love their fusion food and they also love places who serve gluttonous brunch options. Their take on the Caesar has kabanosy sausage and sour pickle. They have milkshakes and declare, "Brunch without a milkshake is like Hall without Oates...it's just not right." The PLB special melt has bacon, sausage, pickle, fried onions and cherry jam. Somehow it works. It all works. Pass the fried chicken and pancakes.
Recommended for Brunch because: If bread pudding or fried chicken sound right for brunch, Rose & Sons is your destination.
Courtney's expert tip: If you prefer a more diet-friendly breakfast, Rose & Sons is not for you. But frankly, most brunches are not for you.
If you aren't hungry at all, take a look at Mildred's Temple Kitchen Facebook stream. From blueberries that ooze off a mountain of pancakes to perfectly fried eggs that blanket crisp waffles, it will be hard to keep your stomach from rumbling. A picture is worth a thousand words, but we don't have that kind of word count, so we will distil it to one: delicious. There are no reservations accepted for brunch and it is first come first serve. Pancakes are cooked low and slow to keep both their fluff and their flavour. Steak and sunny-side up eggs are served on garlic sourdough with a side of MP sauce. The cured in-house rosemary bacon is a must.
Recommended for Brunch because: Your body is a temple, even when it gorges on bacon at Mildred's Temple Kitchen.
Courtney's expert tip: Do start with the flaky biscuits. Served with homemade preserves, they are the perfect thing to take the edge off from your long wait in line.