1645 Queen St W
Brunch for two – $35 with tip
Located among of the over-priced Antique shops of the Queen West village, at the corner of Queen and Roncesvalles lies one of Toronto’s best known brunch destinations. Walking towards the restaurant one would never guess that inside would be filled with posters of the 1969 hit “Easy Rider” and Queen West hipsters. Bold black letters with bright yellow outline allow people walking by to preview a few items that can be found on the menu, while a random large smoothie graphic reminds me of a bubble tea add from Japan.
Once you enter the restaurant, you are greeted with the sound of early-risers sipping coffee and engrossed in good conversation while the smell of crisping bacon, toasting bread and fresh fruit fill the air making your mouth salivate as you wait to be seated. The restaurant is packed at 10am so when our hostess asks for how many people in our party and the two of us say four, she is reluctant to seat us. “When will the rest of your party be here?”, scrunching her nose as she asks, anticipating that if they will be longer than thirty seconds she would not be willing to seat us. Lucky for us my tardy brother and fiancée were parking the car.
On the short walk to our table I manage to scope out almost every dish being devoured by the what looks to be satisfied customers. Everything looks good and I do my best to detract attention from my inadvertent drool as I gaze into my fellow patrons’ plates, which would undoubtedly cause some awkwardness. Once seated at the extremely modest sized booth I regret taking the same side as my brother as we both struggle to get comfortable and take a look at our menu. It is as simplistic as possible; an 81/2″ by 14″ sheet of paper, wrinkled and creased with a few fingerprint stains, adequately does the job of describing whats available from the Easy kitchen. Broken into sections, the menu displays an ALL-DAY BREAKFAST, OMELETTES, LUNCH & DINNER ALL DAY, and SNACK PLATES. Due to the time of day and my absolute obsession with eggs I review the breakfast section along with my party and find it extremely hard to decide what to order.
Our server, a v-neck, skinny-jeaned, “all the rage” type female promptly gives our table a visit and (in a good way) almost decides for us that will be having coffee. She is direct and prompts us in order to keep pace with her seemingly large, but shared serving section, but uses quirky and sarcastic humour to lighten the mood. After trying to find a place in Brampton (where I am currently living) that serves real hollandaise, with regular disappointment I decided to order the eggs benedict ($10.95) after our server advised me the hollandaise is made in-house. Like most of the breakfast dishes offered at Easy it comes with your choice of salad or home fries- I choose home fries.
As my plate was placed in front of me I started to get excited. At first glance I could see that my home fries were crispy and my hollandaise had no trace of being over cooked. The home fries release a nutty aroma of browned butter and toasted spices and herbs while a faint smell of citrus came from the hollandaise. I cut into my egg and the yolk was released as if I had just opened the gates to a brimful dam. The egg is cooked to perfection- one of the true arts of cooking. While the white is completely set, the yolk is running freely and hot, like lava over the grilled back bacon. My knife continues to cut through the bacon with ease as it seems to be grilled fresh to order- not rotting under a heat lamp like some places- then through the lightly toasted, buttered English muffin. This is exactly how I like my English muffins: toasted enough to act as a vehicle for the sauce-covered ingredients, but not to the point that when I try to cut through, it snaps like a ginger bread cookie shooting my highly anticipated chow off my plate.
As the fork comes to my mouth the inside of my cheeks begin to fill with water as if I just tasted something sour . As I take my first, highly anticipated bite, I feel my mouth up-turn to a slow, satisfied grin (cue childhood memory of the Grinch). The lightly toasted, fresh, English muffin; a slight smoky taste from the grilled peameal bacon; the perfectly cooked egg resembling something of a souffle; and finally the the creamy hollandaise sauce, which adds a little hint of lemon that functions to cut through the richness of my first bite. I’m in heaven!
After the moment of culinary fornication that just took place in my mouth, I’m hesitant to taste the home fries, I am usually disappointed with this aspect of my previous brunch jaunts. However, it’s a requirement so I do… and I like. The home fries are skin-on fresh red potatoes, coated in a dry spice and cooked in what tasted like a butter-oil mix. There is a good balance of crisp and soft sides to each piece and they are well seasoned. Each plate at our table was garnished with a wedge of grapefruit which may seem insignificant, but it played a vital role in cleansing my buttery egg-coated palate.
The owners of Easy Restaurant had to open a second location around the corner on King Street to keep up with the weekend overflow and after visiting, I can see why. They are not re-eventing the wheel here, but rather taking classic, praiseworthy dishes, executing them with the right amount of required skill, while providing a desirable atmosphere.
I will be back to Easy Restaurant.