In the second in a series of three posts highlighting our favorite meals during our recent long-weekend getaway to Toronto we turn our attention to Beast restaurant. While planning our trip to Toronto we had primarily focused on places to eat dinner and shop, but once we arrived and reviewed our itinerary there was one thing that was glaringly absent - brunch. What were we thinking? What would a getaway weekend be without a leisurely breakfast including socially acceptable pre-noon alcohol consumption on a sunny terrace? Or perhaps we should say "patio" since we were in Toronto after all..
Supplementing our own semi-frantic search, we decided to send out a message on our Twitter and Facebook accounts requesting Toronto brunch suggestions anybody may have had to offer; we received enthusiastic responses from a surprising number of people. After consulting a number of menus and website links that were sent our way we decided to go with an enticing suggestion offered by a friend and fellow Montreal food blogger, Mayssam of Will Travel for Food.
We had hoped we might find something good, but our brunch at Beast turned out to be better than good - it was great. Far exceeding what we had expected to be able to find on such short notice, our meal was hearty, flavorful and creative. Beast sits on the quaint corner of Tecumseth and Whitaker, in what appeared to be a residential neighborhood just a block north of busy King street west. When we arrived, the "patio" was brimming with a young, borderline-obnoxiously hip crowd in wayfarer sunglasses and skinny jeans. We stood out front at the gate that surrounds the terrace by the sign that requests people wait to be seated by a staff member. It would be nearly 30 minutes before we were greeted and seated, just as we were on the verge of getting a little bit fed up of waiting and considering going with plan B. Luckily we had the leisurely, patient influence of our quasi-vacation on our side because missing out on the meal that followed would have been a colossal shame.
Once seated, service was rapid, friendly and attentive. We ordered a couple of really good caesars (watch out they make 'em seriously spicy here) and somehow managed to narrow a menu that literally didn't have a single option that wasn't appealing to us down to just two selections. First, "The Beastwich" an over-the-top indulgent amalgamation of Southern staples are combined to create an awesome breakfast sandwich that will easily keep your appetite satisfied until a very late dinner reservation. More of a knife-and-fork-job than a a traditional sandwich - two eggs, pimento cheese and a fried chicken thigh are smothered in pork sausage gravy and sandwiched between a buttermilk biscuit. The fried chicken was crisp and juicy, the biscuit was flaky and tender and the pimento cheese was easily recognizable even amongst a bevy of assertive, salty costars. The best part may have been the sausage gravy though, cascading from every nook and cranny; it was rich and deeply flavorful unlike many sausage gravys we've eaten including some in the southern United States, that all-too-often disappointingly end up tasting like uncooked flour and salt with the texture and insipidly white color of glue. It was served with a solid side of breakfast potatoes.
"The Beastwich" - 12$
Smoked Trout Falafel Benedict - 13$
We wanted to finish our meal with a maple-bacon doughnut but unfortunately severely underestimated the demand and missed our opportunity, apparently people order them as soon as they sit down to breakfast to make sure they don't miss out. Doughnut or not, we were thrilled to have spent a lazy Sunday morning eating such great grub. When we entered the restaurant to pay before leaving we were slightly irked to have realized that the dining room had been almost completely empty all along. Our wait out front was apparently unnecessary, perhaps they were under the impression that we were specifically waiting for a seat outside but nobody ever offered us a choice. In any case we were nonetheless happy to have spent our meal in the sun and it would be nearly impossible to be truly upset after a couple of caesars and a meal that enjoyable. Beast is a friendly neighborhood spot that doesn't cut corners and you can tell in the product that is served to you, there's even a footnote on the menu that says "unless otherwise noted, everything is made in house" - a refreshing and effective alternative to the redundancy of noting "house made such-and-such" and "home made so-and-so" beside every other component of every dish on a menu, a trend we tend to see quite often lately. Beast does not accept reservations for their weekend-only brunch service but they do for their dinner service Wednesday thru Saturday nights. If you're a Toronto local or just visiting for a weekend do not miss brunch at Beast, we know we won't miss it when we return, but next time the doughnut order comes first!
Stay tuned for post 3 in our 3 part series spotlighting the restaurants we visited while in Toronto. Next up: Guu Izakaya. Or view our previous Toronto Post: The Black Hoof
96 Tecumseth St.