Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Date: Sunday September 19, 2010
Time: 11:58 am
Location: Holy Oak Cafe, 1241 Bloor Street West
Poor Bloor and Landsdowne, that wasteland of a neighbourhood that is best characterized by crack heads, a Value Village and a strip joint. It’s so down and out it gives Queen and Landsdowne a good run for their money (or lack thereof). Bloordale? Blandsdowne? This forgotten stretch of Bloor doesn’t even have a solid name.
The good news is that apparently, things are going to get better. A visit to Holy Oak Cafe provides a glimmer of hope. New businesses are popping up including a new bulk food store open; look for the giant walnut above the window (literally).
Holy Oak is a shabby chic without the chic cafe that does a Sunday brunch. The menu is small but big on good, honest ingredients. It’s creative, a bit elegant and down to earth at the same time. They squeeze their own pear, orange or beet juice and serve Intelligentsia’s Direct Trade Black Cat Espresso. The toast is organic multigrain and the syrup is infused with rosemary.
With mismatched furniture, your Grandmother’s sugar bowl and a stack of dusty, old board games in the basement, the kitchen proves you cannot judge a book by its’ cover.
The latte is perfection with its’ frothy top and big, bold flavour. No caffeine? The zing of the ginger lemonade can also wake you up. And not to worry, if you had a great Saturday night, they too are licensed.
The French toast ($8.25) suits the savoury as it’s stuffed with peaches and ricotta and comes with a big creamer of that rosemary infused syrup. Sweetness comes from the addition of strawberries, grapes and whipped cream.
The eggs Benny can be done with bacon ($9.50) but I’m not hung over so I stick to it as is; with cured salmon from a local fish market ($10.25). It makes me happy to see the addition of a cornmeal encrusted tomato and Bernaise instead of Hollandaise. Add a point for the fact that the eggs were perfectly poached and were not swimming in yellow sauce. Add another point for outstanding homefries – finally. Wedges of Yukon Golds are roasted with lemon and thyme. All this comes with a bright purple beet salad and fresh strawberries.
The food takes about forty minutes to make its’ way to us but they are busy, probably busier than they ever have been as more and more people buy into the promise of this neighbourhood.
Holy Oak may be more of a local hole than a destination brunch spot but if you find yourself in the area and don’t mind eating breakfast in a scruffy setting, pull up a chair, any old chair, and dig in.
Also posted on Examiner.com at http://www.examiner.com/cheap-eats-in-toronto/holy-oak-cafe-a-great-brunch-a-not-so-great-neighbourhood
Monday, September 13, 2010
It looks like Woody’s Burgers Bar and Grill, 3795 Lakeshore Boulevard West, is on fire – literally. Puffs of smoke billow from the roof and the smell of burning wood fills the air. No need for EMS, it’s just what happens when you grill using Canadian hardwood as your heat source. Woody’s burgers are a whopping 7 ounces of local, naturally raised meats. They are made in house and hand pressed daily but when asked what type of beef is used, the answer is organic not sirloin or chuck. So it’s minced bits of whatever parts; passable because it’s natural but a better cut would be more respectable.
The beef classic ($5.35) glistens with grease but its’ insides are a little dry. The patty has a nice smoky taste. Close your eyes and you are sitting at a bon fire in Northern Ontario.
The beef stuffed cheddar ($6.35) is moister due to the patty’s center which is oozing with orange Cheddar. Not as smoky as the classic but juicier.
Woody’s uses sesame egg buns which are soft, fresh and a great base for soaking up the drippings.
Sure they have lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions but Woody’s gets creative with six different types of mayo, coleslaw, cucumbers, green olives, grilled jalapenos, pulled pork, Caribbean hot pepper sauce and a fried egg as other options for your burger.
Unfortunately, as good as the burgers are, the fries are not. They are too thick, too dry, not seasoned effectively or fried enough. The sweet potato fries are more luscious but still air on the side of dehydrated.
Flush your tank with one of their daily drink specials; a half price pint, mojito, margarita or Caesar.
* Reviewed for Examiner.com