Get to know this family-friendly west-end neighbourhood in the locally approved way: over eggs Benny and mimosas.
From borsch to banh-mi to breakfast burritos. The evolution of restaurant menus mainstays in Bloor West Village is an apt reflection of the shifting demographics of the once predominantly Ukrainian neighbourhood in west-end Toronto (it was twinned with Kyiv, Ukraine, for a time in the 1990s). While East European dishes are still available in BWV, the brunch-time crowd can now choose from a melting pot of cuisines. Here are seven to try for a lazy weekend repast.
Sunshine Village Grill
Are you awash in a sea of guilt at the thought of eating dessert first thing in the day? No need. Sunshine Village Grill will serve you a deliciously sweet indulgence — disguised as breakfast. It’s the Caramel French Toast: bananas and pecans covered in caramel syrup and whipped cream.
Rest assured, there is plenty of standard brunch fare on the menu, too, including smoked salmon, waffles, omelettes, smoothies and more.
Likelihood of a line: 5/10
Bread & Roses Bakery Café
This beloved Polish bakery has a few tables where you can sit down with your bacon-avocado breakfast bagel, coffee and pastry. Again, zero self-flagellation here about consuming sweets before high noon. Just lean into it. And if you don’t order a pastry at brunch, take a bag to go. You’ll have a tough time choosing from amongst the trays of croissants, pumpkin tarts, cupcakes, cookies, macaroons and Polish kolaczki (cream cheese-stuffed cookies).
Forget about counting calories. Plan a post-brunch, power walk through the snowy paths of High Park, which is just down the street.
Likelihood of a line: 7/10
Baka Gallery Cafe
A vegetarian, a vegan, a celiac and a really picky eater walk into a café. Who’s most likely to leave unsated? At Baka Gallery, no one! Even the decor (light and airy, floor-to-ceiling windows) and ambience (patrons perusing wall art) strive to make patrons happy.
The welcoming vibe shouldn’t surprise. After all, Baka is Croatian for “grandmother.” The menu, which seems to cover off most food sensitivities, includes a gluten-free yogurt parfait, avocado smash on sourdough, roasted Mediterranean veggie panini, and various crepes, including sweet (apple pie) and savoury (smoked salmon and lemon dill).
Baka staff take coffee seriously. Warm up on a winter’s day with the Maple Flat White, a double shot of espresso with steamed milk and a generous drizzle of maple syrup.
Likelihood of a line: 6/10
Delights of China
If you feel you just can’t stare down another eggs Benny, don’t beat yourself up. Let this modest Chinese restaurant provide your brunchtime balm in the form of traditional dim sum. Dumplings (chicken, pork, shrimp), BBQ pork buns, and steamed sticky rice make for a warming brunch menu for cold winter days.
If anyone at your table does insist on eggs, there’s the chicken egg foo young, a Chinese omelette with vegetables, bean sprouts, cabbage, and chicken.
As with their neighbours down the street (Bread & Roses), Delights of China has no website.
Likelihood of a line: 3/10
Hannah’s Cafe won’t inundate you with an excess of options. This contemporary eatery (exposed industrial pillars, lots of big windows) offers a handful of brunch options and does them well. Bloor Westers praise the breakfast sandwich of Ontario-grown tomatoes, fresh eggs, cheddar and bacon on a buttery biscuit. Thumbs up for the latte. The baristas know what they’re doing.
Likelihood of a line: 4/10
Lunch Box Sandwich Shop
Travelling with kids? Slide the Lunch Box to the top of your list. Logan’s Pancake consists of a half-dozen loonie-sized pancakes with maple syrup and fresh fruit. The Mini Breakfast consists of one egg, choice of side, home fries and toast. There’s also a peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwich — but, surprisingly, that one is on the adult menu. Additional all-day brunch options include The Brit (two sausages, two slices of bacon, home fries, baked beans, grilled tomato and toast). Smoked salmon is often a weekend special.
Likelihood of a line: 5/10
Getting to Bloor West Village:
Take the Line 2 Bloor-Danforth subway to Runnymede or Jane subway stations.