As a lover of brunch I often find myself traveling to Queen East or West for my weekend meals. But making the trek from Yonge and Bloor can be time-consuming, especially when I have a list of things that I want to get done on the weekend. So I decided that rather than continue to spend my weekends at opposite ends of the city, I was going to start visiting restaurants in my area. So over the next couple of months I plan to visit restaurants in the Yonge and Wellesley Village and record my experience.
This weekend I decided to visit Brownstone Bistro located on Yonge and Gloucester (Website: Brownstone Bistro Twitter: @BrownstoneB). I contacted Brownstone Bistro over e-mail several weeks ago letting them know that I would be reviewing their brunch menu and wanted to know if it would be okay if I could ask them some questions about their brunch offerings while also making them aware that I would be taking photos. Mark (owner) responded to my e-mail within 24 hours and was excited to be part of my little brunch adventure. Mark noted that although he regretfully would not be able to be present during my visit (he would be out of the country), that he would make sure to let his staff know that I was coming by and that I may have some questions for them.
I arrived at the restaurant for my noon reservation, and the restaurant was 85% full. I was escorted to a table by the window and given a menu. Immediately after sitting down it was suggested that I consider ordering one of their signature dishes, and in particular, the “Grilled Chicken and Portobello” dish. I had intended to get the Spinach Souffle, but I felt hard-pressed to order the chicken.
This is how the experience unfolded….
I got the sense that this restaurant bordered on diner/bar/fine dining. They have a nice bar near the entrance; cool leather couch seating in the back for a larger party, and then they have multi-coloured dinnerware that reminds of what you would find in a diner. Another diner-esque moment was when I had to dig through a metal basket for a mini container of milk buried below the peanut butter and jam packets. Sugar also came in packets, not in a bowl with a spoon. I have absolutely no problem with the mixed feel, though it made me wonder why there was no clear direction.
The restaurant itself is warm and inviting, and full of patrons. With so many restaurants in the downtown core, Brownstone must be doing something right if they can attract a full house.
One pet peeve of mine is dirty furniture. When I sat down I put my camera on the table and it got dirty. I did not realize that the table had not be wiped clean, and my camera got wet and dirty with sugar particles. Not a huge deal, but a clean eating surface is important to me.
The brunch menu is large and it is split into 9 sections (Classic Breakfasts, Benedicts, Healthy Choices, Sweet Tooth, Omelettes, Soups & Salads, Signature Dishes, Sandwiches and finally, Beverages).
The food prices range from $6 (soup) to $16 (steak and eggs). Though most items are $13.
They do not have a list of sides on the actual menu, but you can certainly request one and they range from $1.50 to $3 (according to my server Rachelle).
Coffee is $2.50 and you get free refills.
After being told by several staff members that I should order the Grilled Chicken with Portobello, I went with their suggestion, but instead of a salad (comes with a salad) I asked for their breakfast potatoes with no onions. I also ordered a coffee and a smoothie.
GRILLED CHICKEN AND PORTOBELLO: Chicken breast, portobello, mushrooms and spinach on French toast, topped with a poached egg and chipotle hollandaise $13
SMOOTH MOVE (smoothie): a blend of orange, strawberry and banana $4.25
MINI STRAWBERRY MUFFIN was complimentary
What did I think?
Coffee: I found the coffee to be too bitter, and had to use cream to tone down the bitterness.
Mini strawberry muffin: It was tiny (I took a photo of it with a milk container), but it was really nice and moist. A tasty little thing!
Smoothie: I thought it was too small for the price and also too sweet. I asked if sugar was added to it, and was told that no sugar was added (it was taken off the bill=good customer service).
Grilled Chicken and Portobello: Wow! As soon as the plate was put in front of me, I was in awe. Everything looked so perfect! Just the array of bright colors had me captivated. Also, before the order came out the chef came over to tell me that the potatoes may have onions on them, so he asked if I still wanted some. I said no, and decided to go with the salad after all. I guess my disappointment was obvious because the chef manually removed the onions from some of the potatoes and brought some out to me. How nice was that?! Very!
Honestly, I could not believe how perfectly cooked each individual element of my dish was….
- Eggs were perfectly poached
- Hollandaise was light and creamy and did not overpower the dish (sometime it could be too thick or tangy—hate that!)
- The chipotle is not actually IN the hollandaise. They drop a teaspoon of it on top of the dish, so if you do not like your food spicy, you can easily remove it. I love my food spicy, so I happily ate it
- The chicken was moist and without an ounce of fat!
- The portobello was tender, but not soggy. I loved that the pieces were large so the earthy taste of the mushrooms did not get lost in the dish
- Potatoes were in fact delicious. They are oven roasted with herbs and olive oil. A nice change from deep fried potatoes
- The fruits were fresh and more importantly, there was watermelon! I love watermelon!
- I usually don’t eat salad, but this salad I devoured. Even the balsamic vinaigrette tasted better than most. Large pieces of tomato and cucumber was a hit for me since I do not like to eat plain leafy greens
- The French toast was surprisingly a good conduit for all these ingredients. It was not too sweet or too soft for all these elements combined. It held its own, and for that I give it props.
- The spinach was well-blanched and still had texture. It is easy to over-cook spinach, but it was neither chewy nor soggy.
I rarely finish every element of a meal, but at this sitting, I cleared my plate. Inasmuch as there were some minor hiccups, I am incredibly impressed by this meal. So much so, that I am already planning on returning this month with friends.
I would like to thank Brownstone Bistro for the great service, for answering all my questions, and for making me a delicious meal.
**I just wanted to add one caveat:
Since the staff at Brownstone knew that I would likely be writing about them, I hope that the standards that I experienced are the same everyday at every service with every patron. If my experience is not the same for others; trust me, I will hear about it. My readers are not shy about letting me know whether they agree with my reviews or not. So don’t let me down guys!
Until next time!