Friday, July 30, 2010

The Brunchcapades: Part Six

July has easily been the busiest month of the year for me. I moved into my new condo and as a result have either been at work trying to gather up as much money as possible or at HomeSense trying to furnish the thing. Short on time, I just wanted to go somewhere close to home. The problem is that brunch is pretty much nonexistent in Etobicoke. Breakfast on the other hand, is everywhere. I decided to hit up two of the most popular 'All Day Breakfast' spots: The Grille, 1596 The Queensway and High Seas, 1086 Islington Avenue. Six eggs later, here's the scoop.

The All Day Breakfast: The Grille vs. High Seas

The Grille
Ambiance: Open 24 hrs., family restaurant, recently renovated, fake plants, blinds, booths, middle aged waitresses, serves everything from breakfast, pastas, salads, steak and burgers to classics like liver and onions and the hot hamburger; open faced with gravy

Price: $6.99 not including coffee ($1.99)

Eggs: 3, I like them over easy, and well, eggs are eggs

Bacon: 3 pieces, small, crumpled and stuck together,“hotel” bacon (you know, that one that every hotel seems to serve that's fat is almost see through, nothing like the kind you buy at the store - where does it come from?), not too crispy

Toast: 2 pieces, white, brown or rye (I always go brown), thick, Texas toast style,perfectly toasted and buttered, served with a packet of ubiquitous Olde Style strawberry jam

Homefries: not really homefries but rather boiled then roasted with maybe a little oil to get a few somewhat crispy bits, then kind of mashed up, the potato bacon ratio was way out of whack

High Seas

Ambiance: Greasy spoon, diner, ocean motif, think mermaid mural and aluminum fish on ceiling, one middle aged waitress and Greek cooks in white shirts, serves typical fare: souvlaki, ice cream, burgers, fish n chips

Price: $7.00 includes coffee

Eggs: 3, same deal as above

Bacon: 4 pieces, big and long, separate, the normal grocery store kind, a little too crispy

Toast: 2 pieces, white or brown, regular thickness, buttered ok, jamless

Homefries: French fries, definitely not homefries but at least these were fried, thick, crispy

The verdict: The Grille is a nicer setting but you definitely get more value out of High Seas. But unless you are a trucker, over the age of 65 or broke, neither place can really stand for brunch. Someone (other than that awful Cora), needs to open a proper brunch place in Southern Etobicoke.

We're dying over here.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Parts and Labour

Parts and Labour, 1566 Queen Street West, has been sold as a bar/resto/rock club for hipster thirty somethings by hipster thirty somethings. For the record, I am an (early) thirty something and yes, I bought the concept hook, line and sinker. A bistro style menu paired with cocktails and rock in the “West” sounded like a dream. I like Parkdale, love rock and hate those twenty somethings in nerdy glasses, beards and floral Laura Ingles gear. Get real kids, you are not different. In fact, you are all the same and it’s summer so lose the black tights under the shorts. Another newsflash: I don’t care about your new sleeve, I want you to sling drinks like a proper bartender and fast.

Sadly, Parts and Labour doesn’t fully deliver. I didn’t feel old and the soundtrack was rock but American Apparel threw up all over this place.

Just as tiresome as youngsters in uniform, is overpriced, trendy food. Chris Johns of The Globe and Mail writes of the menu as though it is cutting edge, something new, something exciting. Unfortunately, unless you have been hiding under a rock and have zero knowledge of the Toronto food scene, horse tenderloin and pig’s face should not shock you. It’s not like they are serving buffalo balls. Now that would be something.

The only item that ignited any fire in my belly was the lamb’s heart tartar but something told me to go with my gut and order the burger.

Sometimes, like when a one night stand seems like a good idea, your body lies to you.

A too thick patty, cooked med well (no complaints there), with confited tomato, onion jam, butter lettuce, aged cheddar and bacon. Dry as cardboard, I was wondering what the hell kind of beef did they use? Under well should have insured the meat be moist. Did I eat it? Hell no. Did I send it back? Hell yes. I don’t have more money than I do brains and so I questioned it; a mix of beef, veal and pork. People, we are not making meatballs, we are making hamburgers.

Veal is too lean and too flavourless and really, so is ground pork.

Pork belly instead of bacon wasn’t helping the situation any either.

The fries were passable but the aioli that topped them was nothing but a waxy, lemony goop.

A ribeye topped with Roquefort and served with the same fries was another disaster. A ribeye is my favourite cut of beef. So full of flavour from a high fat content, pretty marbling and a tender texture. Why on God’s green earth would you suffocate all that goodness with sharp blue cheese? You might as well shoot yourself in the foot.

The mistakes kept rolling with the hard as a rock flourless chocolate cake and the honey vanilla ice cream that tasted like the smell of Chinese takeout. No I am not on cheap drugs, it’s true and we laughed our asses off.

The communal tables add a cafeteria feel. A distressed hardwood floor and white brick walls make the space feel a bit gallery-esque. The best thing about this place is a series of colourful, similar pendant lights that run the length of the bar. It brings its' name to life. Oh and the drinks are moderately priced.

Other than that, I would save my pennies for a Big Mac and a pair of floral leggings.

*photo borrowed from Jon Sufin