Weekends are meant for leisurely pursuits, and a long, languid meal is an ideal way to spend time in Toronto. Relish comforting, familiar fare while soaking up the local ambience at these restaurants.
DRAKE CORNER CAFÉ
THE SCENE Located in the deservedly hyped West Queen West hotel where the city’s hipsters (artists, musicians, style makers) gather to exchange cutting-edge ideas, it’s as much about the cultural substance as the sustenance here.
ORDER UP Pastry chef David Chow’s hand-rolled blueberry scones have been declared the city’s best by foodies and critics alike. The curious combo of chicken and herb waffles may raise eyebrows, but it’s a surprisingly savoury selection. And for sheer amusement, order one of the vibrantly coloured smoothies with equally bright names, such as the “raspberry beret” or “famous blue raincoat.”
GO Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
LE PAPILLON ON FRONT
THE SCENE Traditional Quebecois and French fare is the specialty at this Old Town staple. Bright, street-facing windows shed pools of light into a dining room with exposed brick, red leather-clad seats and pink floral banquettes.
ORDER UP Although the menu abounds with mains such as Atlantic salmon, steak frites and tourtière, Le Papillon was originally conceived as a creperie back in 1974. Choose from nine tantalizing concoctions, ranging from the regional crepe bourguignon (French beef ragout marinated in red wine from Burgundy) to veggie varietals like crepe aux asperges (asparagus and cheddar cheese in a béchamel sauce).
GO Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
THE SCENE At the Art Gallery of Ontario, this Frank Gehry-designed resto boasts walls paneled with Douglas fir—one of the architect’s trademark materials—and is furnished with minimalist Danish tables and chairs. A zigzag bar and an installation by famed American painter and sculptor Frank Stella set the vibe for cultured comfort cuisine.
ORDER UP Highlighting locally sourced ingredients, executive chef Anne Yarymowich’s menu has many mouth-watering dishes, including the roasted buttercup squash and cheddar souffle served with caramelized russet apples and an apple cider reduction. Satisfy your sweet tooth with the chocolate-espresso bread pudding served with brandied sour cherries and vanilla whipped cream.
GO Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
BRASSAII BISTRO LOUNGE
THE SCENE Housed in a converted turn-of-the-century warehouse, the interior upholds an airy feel with minimal adornment. Imposing, factory-sized windows bathe the room with light, casting flecks of shimmer off the stainless steel communal table that faces the open kitchen.
ORDER UP Tuck into a croissant with nutella and banana or get your caffeine fix with fresh doughnuts served with chocolate-espresso dip. Fortifying yourself for a big day? Try the Kentucky hot brown: bourbon-glazed turkey, French toast, double-smoked bacon and tomatoes served with béchamel sauce.
GO Saturday 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
And if the lineups are too long at those restaurants, fret not! There are dozens more eateries in the city that are eager to appease your appetite. Among them:
BONJOUR BRIOCHE Drop by this Leslieville boîte for flaky Parisian pastries and chocolate croissants that are worth the calories. (Tuesday to Sunday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
EDWARD LEVESQUE’S KITCHEN Be prepared to wait patiently at this Leslieville hot spot where locals line up early for the banana pancakes. (Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
JOY BISTRO Hungry hordes congregate at this yellow-fronted space for a gluttonous selection of eggy mains: Benedict, Benentine, Florentine, Norwegian and house-favourite Teddy (poached eggs, peameal bacon, grilled onions, spinach and tomatoes on an English muffin with hollandaise sauce). (Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
LE PETIT DÉJEUNER This small, bohemian bistro with sparkly green booths serves honest fare like light and crispy Brussels-style waffles and heavenly apple coleslaw. (Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
OKAY OKAY This retro diner with all the trimmings—TVs with dials and worn leather booths—serves generous portions of fluffy blueberry and banana pancakes or eggs Brunhilde, a poached-egg dish with asparagus, smoked salmon, hash brown patties and horseradish hollandaise sauce. (Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
SWAN Red-leather stools, Formica tables and a vintage Coca-Cola cooler nod to the nostalgic diner ambience, while the small menu offers comforting omelette specials. (Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.)