I've mentioned before that I don't like Sundays. But sometimes, I've discovered, with the right set of elements they can be turned around. This past Sunday was the kind of perfect, crisp, sunny fall day that I thought we'd completely skipped in Toronto this year. I was feeling far less groggy than usual. And we were going to Gilead Café for brunch.
None of the ladies-who-brunched had been, but we had all wanted to go for a while, mainly after hearing that Jamie Kennedy's Gilead served one of the best eggs bennies in the city. Enough said. We piled into a car with some cheery music and the windows down and headed on down to Corktown. We then sat on the curb outside for ten minutes until a table opened up. But we didn't care (do you see those blue skies?)
The decor and casual, cozy vibe inside Gilead makes you want to curl up with a latte (or two) and a friend (or three) and never leave. Jarred fruits and preserves and scrawled chalkboard-menus line the walls, big windows offer lots of great natural light and the hustle-bustle is warm and inviting.
And the menu. Oh, the menu. Filled with local and seasonal treats and delicacies from brunch pastries with creme fraiche and jam to bacon rosti with cheesy scrambled eggs, I was surprisingly overwhelmed despite the one-page simplicity. So much so that I changed my mind a few times, much to the annoyance of my halvsies-partner Vanessa.
One half of our choice was easy. And the benny ($13) did not disappoint. Perfect hollandaise sauce, tender and juicy back bacon and poached eggs torched on top for a touch of crisp. It was small, rich and beautiful, inside and out. I may never eat another eggs benedict again (except, of course, for my dad's).
French Toast ($12) with blueberry maple syrup was our other (carefully decided upon) dish. I'll usually choose savory over sweet any day, but something about this was calling to me. My first bite was lackluster, because I got crust, and I felt a pang of regret for not going with the gorgeous looking brunch tart I saw delivered to the table beside us.
Bite two was another story. The thick slices of soft, fluffy bread were unlike any I'd tasted in french toast before - almost akin to a loaf, but not as sweet. It literally got better and better with every bite (as every bite took me closer to the pillowy-soft centre). The berries were gorgeous and the syrup was light and not overly saccharine. I began this dish uncertain and finished it an official French Toast Fan. Or maybe just a fan of Gilead's french toast. Regardless.
And then, when we didn't think it could get any better, there were the fries ($6). Fries are rarely something I won't like on a menu, but also rarely something spectacular. I tend to view them as a nice accompaniment and something to slow down my gobbling of the main course. Well, these could have been the main course and I would have left satisfied (maybe a slight exaggeration, but still...)
They reminded me of my favorite frites at Balthazar in New York. Crispy, light, tossed in flavourful herbs and a hint of vinegar. And they CAME with a side of mayo, without us even having to ask! It was a glorious moment, to say the least.
We really didn't want to leave Gilead, even though it was a beautiful day outside. If I lived closer by, I'd be there weekly to sample their ever-changing menu. And I'd be broke, too, just to burst that pretty little picture bubble.
4 Gilead Place