The Weekend Brunch Club – Neapolitan Eggs in Stewed Tomatoes, Potato Rosti, and Springtime Brunch at Table 17

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I’ll be the first to admit that I am one of the most indecisive people on this plant.  I have had the time of my life writing Ate by Ate, but I’m telling you, I drive myself crazy sometimes with my own waffling.  It takes me days to figure out which places I’d like to visit, what neighbourhoods I want to explore, and what menu items I want to try, and it’s not because I’m bored of my options – quite the opposite.  There are so MANY amazing choices for me to choose from that, as a result, I often find myself wanting to do a gazillion things at once and this in turn makes things harder because I know I have to come to a concrete decision sooner or later. 

This just in: for the first time in goodness knows how long, I had no trouble deciding on where I wanted to have a nice weekend brunch a few weeks ago and shockingly enough, what I wanted to have.  This easy breezy decision even took me by surprise.  My tummy knew exactly where it wanted to be fed: Table 17 on Queen East in Riverside.                

After the great brunch I had my first time there (The Sloppy Giuseppe!  Two fried sunnyside eggs with polenta, bolognese, and greens), I really wanted to go back to try some of their other brunch dishes, especially since I knew how great their variety was in terms of savoury egg breakfasts.  I always tell myself that I’ll get around to trying the French toast and pancake breakfasts, but when I go to places like Table 17, with their rustic, farmers’, local meshed with global atmosphere and menu, I always er on the side of savoury. 

Even though Table 17’s brunch menu isn’t exceptionally large (there are 10 main brunch dishes to choose from), what keeps those of us who thrive on variety coming back is their focus on seasonal ingredients and mixing up their cheeses and vegetables in dishes such as their weekly scramble, which changes every week, and their quiche which also changes on a weekly basis.

I settled on the Neapolitan Eggs with a side of potato rosti and while I do love the Sloppy Giuseppe more between the two, there’s such a brightness and freshness to the Neapolitan Eggs dish with its savoury tomato sauce and greens.  There’s a level of flavour depth in tomato sauce that is just uncomparable to anything else.  Just the thought of a big pot of tomato sauce with a hint of cream and a spattering of fresh herbs makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Growing up, I was always a fan of the cream sauces like alfredo, white wine, mushroom, and such.  I love them dearly still (spaghetti in white sauce or mushroom sauce will always be a weakness), but tomato sauce has really grown on me and I appreciate its flavour and versatility so much more. 

Neapolitan Eggs (or Eggs in Purgatory) is a classic southern Italian dish, originating in Campania in Naples and while the origins of its alternative name are subject to speculation*, Table 17 does a fabulous job on their menu of integrating these traditional, classic European flavours into their local framework.  Local, seasonal ingredients whenever possible, but globally inspired – that’s the intent and motivation.  Two of Table 17’s brunch dishes tip their hat at classic and traditional Italian favourites, including the Sloppy Giuseppe dish I had my first time and their Neapolitan Eggs.  Neapolitan Eggs can be made in a few different ways – eggs baked in tomato sauce or cracked into the sauce and then simmered – but Table 17 does it poached style. 

The dish ($10), which is also a vegetarian option, consists of two poached eggs in stewed tomatoes and basil on country toast with a green mix salad in olive oil vinaigrette.  My favourite aspects of the dish include the thick, runny yolks of the eggs (the delicious hallmark of an awesome poached egg), the thickness of the egg whites (they tasted so good with the cracked black pepper, oh my goodness), the texture of the tomato sauce (segments of crushed tomatoes strewn throughout tomato sauce juice with sweet onions), and the lightness of the dish as a whole.   

And of course, we can’t forget about the amazing potato rosti on the side!  Table 17 offers several side dishes ($4) in addition to their mains, things like double-smoked bacon, bangers (sausages), frites, and potato rosti.  Made with shredded potatoes and then formed into large patties for pan-frying, potato rostis are a fab alternative to hash browns and homefries.  Their potato rosti side is absolutely fabulous and it is SO DELICIOUSLY GOOD. 

The crispy, crunchy, waffle-like potato pancake came in a half moon pie shape and was cut into four wedges and was accompanied by a dish of sour cream.  It was perfect for dipping (in the sour cream and in my tomato sauce), it was crunchy and crispy on the outside and soft and potatoey on the inside, and it was so good eating mouthfuls of it with the mix of egg white, egg yolk, green salad, and sour cream.  It was brunch heaven in my mouth and it was a wonderful complement to my eggs and tomatoes because it just sopped up all the flavour and provided that tiny bit of fried crunchiness that makes everything extra awesome.

I’m already looking forward to my next brunch here and given how indecisive I am, it wouldn’t hurt for me to start thinking about what I’d love to try next.  I’m thinking of having either the Farmers’ Breakfast or the Weekly Scramble.  With potato rosti again.  Or maybe a side of bangers.  Or maybe I should just flip a coin.   

*****

Source *= Almost Italian.com

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.

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Table for Two at Table 17 – Sunny Fried Eggs, Polenta, Bolognese, and The Sloppy Giuseppe Brunch!

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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.