There is nothing better than receiving a gift that’s thoughtful, handmade, created especially for you, and has to do with everyone’s favourite meal: brunch. I was given a hand-drawn Toronto Brunch Map by my co-worker Lindsay Zier-Vogel. After unrolling the scroll with great excitement, I was happy to see two of my regular spots, The Senator and Avenue Diner. But the best thing about the guide are the new places it suggests I spend my weekend mornings, all personally recommended by someone who’s food taste I completely trust. Here Lindsay talks about what’s so great about brunch and how she picked which restaurants should make the map.
Why do you love brunch?
Lindsay Zier-Vogel: You can’t be sad at brunch! Seriously – just try. I love the leisurely pace of it, the unlimited coffee refills, the conversation, the maple syrup, the ketchup. It’s such a perfect place to catch up with lovely, sleepy-eyed chums. (And it’s conveniently more affordable than going out for dinner!)
What inspired you to make a brunch map?
I made the first brunch map during a particularly boring lecture while I was doing my Masters at U of T. A friend was new to the city and mentioned he hadn’t ever been to brunch in Toronto. Clearly, I was aghast as it is my very favourite thing to do. So the first brunch map was made and we proceeded to tick off as many brunch places as we could that year.
How many brunch maps have you made?
I’ve made three official brunch maps to date, though I think this one is the most comprehensive. It’s so much fun to rethink about all my favourite lazy Saturday and Sunday mornings and reminds me to branch (brunch!?) out a little. Nothing goes on the map unless I really loved the food and the environment. And I must say, as a west-end girl, I was surprised at the number of east-end joints in this last map.
Where’s your favourite place to eat brunch in Toronto?
Saving Grace (907 Dundas St. West), hands down. I love the chalkboard with the daily specials, the window seat, the coffee, the caramelized bananas…I don’t even (usually) mind the lineup. Kim and Robert are such lovely servers and the specials are always so delish (sounding). I have a bunch of food allergies, but they’re always so great about accomodating them. They’ve even created the “Lindsay Plate” just for me! I’ve never taken anyone there who hasn’t enjoyed the food. In fact, I’ve never taken anyone there and had a less-than awesome time. Though, be warned, the lineup can be quite epic. My trick is to get there a few minutes before 10am and beeline for the window seat. It works almost every time!
What’s your one favourite brunch dish?
Saving Grace whips up a little “Lindsay Plate”: bacon, caramelized bananas (that are really the prize of the place!), fruit salad and roasted potatoes. Mmmmm. Though if I could eat anything, I’d get their poached egg special. Or their French toast. It’s 100% delectable. I have to say though, Easy (1645 Queen St. West) has gluten-free bread and almond-milk lattes and it’s close to my house which puts them in the running. And Aunties and Uncles (74 Lippincott St.) makes their own ketchup and their potato hash is certainly daydream worthy.
Ed’s Note: Lindsay’s Brunch Map became instantly popular when another co-worker snatched it from my hands and made photocopies to hand out around the office. With the season of giving upon us, consider making your own brunch, lunch or dinner map for your food-loving friends, and perhaps include the promise to accompany them to your favourites.
See a full-size image of Lindsay’s Toronto Brunch Map here.
Lindsay Zier-Vogel is a writer, book maker, arts educator and professional brunch-er. She’s currently working on her second novel and spends her days seeking out gluten-free treats while writing about and photographing the So You Think You Can Dance Canada audition tour.