If I asked you what you loved most about your favourite restaurant or what you loved best about a relaxing meal out, how would you answer that? Maybe you love the variedness of the menu, the relaxing atmosphere, the decor, the hustle and bustle, or being immersed in a dining room full of people abuzz with excitement over their meals and their weekend plans, soaking in the energy. Or maybe you just love it because the food is delicious and being out and about gives you the opportunity to sit back and enjoy life with a glass of wine. At Table 17, located on Queen Street East in Riverside, you can enjoy every single one of those qualities while savouring weekend brunch by day and wine and bistro dishes by night.
While the term bistro is often associated with French cuisine and classic French cafe fare, Table 17’s menu isn’t exclusively devoted to French food. Table 17 is a wine bar and bistro with a menu that seeks its inspiration from European flavours and techniques such as Italian and British in addition to French, and integrating these influences with North American fare and local ingredients.
Table 17 is the type of restaurant that does dichotomy incredibly well – with their atmosphere and with their menu. When you eat here, you simaltaneously feel like you’re in a sleek and modern dining establishment and a relaxing country barn kitchen. It’s contemporary mixed with warm, rustic country chic with its black restaurant front and chairs, and brassy chandeliers that cast a warm glow in the restaurant. Their dining area is divided into two, where one feels more communal and intimate and the other with a more open and airy vibe with big windows, adjacent from the wine bar.
Their menu is the perfect mix of local and global: Ontario beef, Ontario cheddar, brie, and mozzarella, and Québécois creton juxtaposed with British scotch eggs, French pain doré, bistro classic steak frites, and Sicilian arancino rice balls. Some of their dishes have more obvious and transparent European aspects while others, such as the wonderful brunch dish I had, are much more nuanced and subtle.
While their dinner menu is still waiting for me, I finally got the chance to relish in my long-awaited wonderful weekend brunch here and after a fabulous meal, I fully intend to go on a whirlwind brunch tour cycling through the entire brunch menu! Most of Table 17’s brunch prices come in at $10 with a few breakfasts ringing in at $12. The brunch menu offers both brunch mains and individual sides, along with drink specials including mimosas, caesars, and more.
While Table 17’s brunch menu is incredibly varied, the menu itself isn’t sloppy. The whole menu is made cohesive with a common theme and thread stringing many of the dishes together: eggs! They do brunch justice by offering all different types of dishes with both North American and European ingredients and flavours: poached neapolitan eggs, farmer’s breakfast with scotch eggs, weekly egg scramble accompanied with seasonal ingredients, grilled cuban sandwich, nicoise breakfast of Italian tuna, boiled eggs, and nicoise olives, and my pick, The Sloppy Giuseppe!
The Sloppy Giuseppe is a dish comprised of 2 fried eggs served overtop Bolognese sauce and friend polenta alongside a green salad. Have I ever professed my love of eggs? If I haven’t, I will now: I love eggs. So much. While I often err on the side of overeasy, there is just nothing like fried eggs with their beautiful bright sunny yolks, bubbly egg whites, and groan-inducing crispy edges. Weekend brunch is made sunnier with beauitful eggs like these. My eggs were sprinkled with chives and cracked black pepper and they daintily sat atop wedges of fried polenta and traditional Bolognese sauce (absolutely no tomato in this) alongside a bright, fresh, crisp green salad of arugula and red leaf lettuce.
The polenta and Bolognese were delightful. The exterior of the polenta was golden and crispy and inside was a creamy smooth mixture of cornmeal that meshed deliciously with the ground beef Bolognese. The ground beef was wonderful because it wasn’t ground to the point where it was mush, but it still had that distinctive ground meat texture. The dish was incredibly savoury in the best way possible. The yolks from the eggs paired easily with the creaminess of the polenta while the salad lended a brightness and crispness that cut through the fun greasy spoon style dish.
The Sloppy Giuseppe is the perfect example of how Table 17 executes the juxtaposition of North American and European. I can’t help but marvel at the cleverness and creativity of the dish, not only in composition but also in name. If we break it down, you see exactly how Italian and American are fused together into this one dish: the name Giuseppe is the Italian name for Joseph, Bolognese sauce is a traditional Italian pasta sauce originating in Bologna, and the Bolognese itself is a play on an American classic, the ground beef sloppy joe. I don’t know if anyone else finds the complexity and nuances as fascinating, but I just love it. I loved the dish, I adore their brunch menu, and the atmosphere is wonderful. Judging by the hustle and bustle of the crowds, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Table 17 is located at 782 Queen Street East in the Riverside district of Toronto in the east end. They are located on the north side of Queen East, east of Broadview Ave. and west of Boulton Ave. They are open 7 days a week for dinner at 5:30pm and are open for weekend brunch at 10:30am. Brunch is served until 2:30pm. Follow them on Twitter @table17, check out their Facebook page here, and their site here.