When our bestie Brittini came up to Toronto last weekend my friends Chelsea, Rachel and I knew we had to take her somewhere special. Chelsea suggested Le Sélect, a French Bistro on Wellington Ave W and a pleasant surprise from it’s mostly industrial neighbours.
When I found out that the über talented Squiggy was going to be cooking under Chef Alex Molitz at Farmhouse Tavern, I knew I couldn’t wait too long to visit! Farmhouse offers one of the most unique brunches I’ve had in the city to date.
Since the demise of my beloved Cowbell, I have been trying to find a replacement. While a lot of restaurants serve up amazing food, nothing has really lived up to that restaurant until now. FARMHOUSE tavern is located just outside of the colourful Junction. Chris and I met up with Ben who was soon to be off to Scotland in a few days.
I learned that brunch is not a thing in Scotland. I cry for you, Scotland! I really do. Knowing this, we were happy to give Ben a good brunching send off.
Farmhouse does away with the printed menu and has their offerings listed on a chalkboard. A lot of interestingly named options so be prepared to ask your waiter lots of questions about their offerings. The menu changes from week to week so there will always be something new to try.
Let’s start with the most amazing posh ploughman I have ever had in my life. Look at this beast!
Farmhouse takes the ploughman’s lunch beyond crusty bread, cheese and meat. Oysters, pickled duck eggs, stuffed jalapeño were some of our favourites from this platter. Colourful gooseberries, pickled zucchini and cauliflower; it was a feast for the eyes as it was for the mouth.
Chris ordered his standard eggs benedict with bacon and loved it.
Poached eggs over homemade marble cheese and herbed biscuits (baked fresh by Squiggy that morning!) and dressed with tarragon infused hollandaise.
Ben decided to go for sweet and ordered the Sugar Stack with a side of thick slice bacon.
The pancakes are topped with fruit and vanilla whipped cream and drizzled with citrus infused syrup.
And the real winner for brunch: The Threesome. (get your mind out of the gutter and take a look at this!)
Duck in 3 tasty variations. Savoury duck prosciutto peeks out under salad greens, followed by crispy duck eggs – poached, breaded and flash fried. I loved that when you slice into them, they’re still a little gooey. Last but not least in our ménage à trois of breakfast is the duck foie gras in maple syrup. It’s too good to be true, non?
Benny and I will definitely be back to Farmhouse Tavern very very soon! Here’s to sexy breakfast!
Actually, I’m certain the CN Tower conquered me!
So high was I on my fresh personal successes with running that I most enthusiastically signed up with Team RDN for the CN Tower Stair Climb for the United Way. If you want an idea of my mental state here’s me on facebook not at all discouraged by what my brother has to say just at the beginning of this month:
Today I climbed Toronto’s concrete ‘Everest’ with KT, Melibu and Co*a and I have to say I have new found respect for my brother’s appropriate amount of fear and respect for that thing. The CN tower climb is a total of 1776 steps and until you climb everyone one of those bastards you won’t know how ridiculously hard it is!
If I could sum up the climb it would be … A start with lots of yells of encouragement and nervous energy; a middle where you’ve come to the conclusion that you gotta start going to the gym more and a finish where you’re both happy and disgusted. HAPPY with yourself for finishing and DISGUSTED with yourself for wanting to curl up into a ball and whimper like a kicked puppy.
All that being said, I HIGHLY recommend everyone to do this at least once. There’s a lot that happens not just physically but mentally during this kind of exertion that you have to experience. With no music allowed on the climb it’s really just you and your thoughts.There was double amputee climbing the tower with me that I could have nothing but HUGE respect for. He was truly inspirational to see pushing himself on that level considering most people with 2 healthy legs wouldn’t even bother.
At the end of the day. I conquered the tower in:
24 minutes and 1 second!
I’m so proud I was able to do it under 30 minutes! Here’s me and Melibu having fun in the photo booth after our climb.
She went from 50 minutes on her first attempt to 42 minutes on her second to this year’s amazing 20 minutes and 19 seconds! Melissa totally kicked butt today!
We all deserved a good brunch and what better place to go than Fran’s, THE best diner in town (Deep Fried Pickles FTDUBz!) I didn’t get too many foodie photos but I did get a great photo of my smiling banana pancakes. I imagine they’re saying ‘Way to Go!’:
Brunch 2012: Barque Smokehouse
Finally, finally a review on the awesome Barque Smokehouse. Sorry about the delay* especially on a such a great brunch spot! You’ve only to go to their website to see how serious they are about smoking foods – they have a Smoker Cam. It’s like the Rotisserie Channel except online. Genius, I tell you.
So, mouths watering and undeterred by a cold April Sunday in Toronto, we made sure we got there early to ensure our group of 5 could snag a table. Once inside, the restaurant seemed very spacious with a lot of exposed brick and unfinished wood. They have a very nice bar area and shelves are lined with assorted pickling jars – spaced out and grouped by colour. Instead of going homey, lived in or fussy – they went with clean and open.
They quickly took our drink order and the coffee came in mismatched mugs that looked liked they grabbed it out of your grandma’s cupboard. Our orders took some time to come in but well worth the wait.
I decided, ‘f* gluten!’ and went with Melibu’s choice: the Savoury Pancakes – Smoked Duck Leg, Blueberry Compote and Chevre:
Yes. They were as good as they looked.
Some of the others in our group opted for the delicious Hash Skillet:
And KT went for the equally awesome Barque Benedict.
I definitely like the look of their poached eggs. If I haven’t mentioned before. I *hate* overdone eggs. Based on the yummy noises coming from KT, I would say it was a win for this plate.
Some of our awesome brunch buddies below. Sadly I totally missed getting a picture of “Squiggy” who has just returned to Toronto. Also missing from the pic, Linds:
Barque’s dinner menu looks just as promising as brunch – I am especially keen to try the Sampler. A return is definitely in order along with other restaurants we’ve tried on Roncy. Really and truly, as far as I can tell, you can’t go wrong with anywhere you eat on Roncy. You’re literally always a stone’s throw from good food.
Remember that time you were under construction? Yeah. That sucked. And then remember how you were almost done with construction and then they said you had to go under construction again? Balls.
Well Roncy, it was worth the wait. You got some good eats on you.
*An unnecessary delay at that. After searching several hours in a handful of camera shops, I finally found one that sold the cable. And after 10 minutes at the computer with the cable, I learned I didn’t need the cable in the first place – the camera had a “Copy to SD” function right on it. What will they think of next?