Corn Chips, Breakfast Potatoes, & Moroccan Flavour in a Tofu Scramble – Weekend Vegan Brunch at Disgraceland!

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Appearances can be deceiving.  There are some places that are decked out to the nines, but their food?  Nothing particularly special.  And then there are the diamonds in the rough.  The no frills, rough around the edges type of establishment with hidden gems and amazing food just waiting to be discovered.  The spots that completely take you by surprise in the best way possible because you’d never think, just by looking at them, that they would dish out such magnificent culinary brilliance.  And I have my dear friend, Wini, to thank for this latest scumptious epiphany!  With all the recent talk of the Vegetarian Food Festival going on at Harbourfront (this weekend y’all!) and the return of Veggielicious, it’s incredibly timely that I would make this post on vegan breakfast and weekend brunch today!  Yes, vegan brunch!  With veggie brekkie posts on Fresh, Table 17, Lady Marmalade, and Sadie’s Diner, it was due time to add another one to the mix.  And is this ever a fabulous one!  Make way for vegetarian and vegan brunch comfort food at Disgraceland in Bloorcourt Village!

Disgraceland is what I would describe as a dive bar.  If you didn’t see the booths from across the street, you would totally mistake the space for a motorcycle related shop.  I sure did.  And that’s if you see it at all.  It’s easy to miss because you just can’t tell from its exterior that’s a place to gorge on food!  And when you come up closer, all you really see is darkness.  Until it lights up at night according to Wini.  In short, Disgraceland would fit perfectly into Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives in the dive category because they have the look (jukebox, games, bar, booze, booths, diner fare and comfort food!) and they have the food to prove it!  My friend Wini told me about Disgraceland after a great dinner out and I quickly looked them up and was delighted to find that they had the full monty of menus on their site.  Perfect!  I can daydream about what I want to eat when I eventually go!  And there was certainly plenty of options to consider including meat, vegetarian, and vegan dishes.  A triple threat of a weekend brunch and dinner spot!

 

Disgraceland’s weekend brunch serves up 11 different dishes with a copious amount of brunch sides to choose from!  Prices for mains range from $8-$11 (most coming in at $11), additional sides from $2-$4, and the tax already included in all the prices.  They also only accept cash, so keep that in mind if you plan on coming!  Disgraceland is SO PERFECT for groups of friends and family with different tastes, preferences, and diets.  Not only can you customize your meals with different proteins, you can substitute a number of the items for meat or meatless equivalents.  Win-win for everyone!  Meat lovers, vegetarians, and vegans can all dine here without feeling like they’re being left out, without feeling like they need to sacrifice, and without feeling like they need to order something they’re really not into just for the sake of having something meaty or meatless.  

Not only does their menu cater to different diets, it also caters to different sweet and savoury brunch cravings.  We have the savoury English breakfast ($11) with eggs, pork or vegan sausage, baked beans, fried tomato, sauteed mushrooms, potatoes, and toast; brekkie burrito ($11) with vegan and non-vegan cheese, proteins, beans, and veggies; eggs benny with strip or vegan bacon and hollandaise over poutine ($11); cinnamon French toas ($8); and a BLT bagel with sides ($9) in both meat and vegan forms!

Because I’m totally smitten with tofu scramble, I pounced on their tofu scramble dish ($9) complete with a scramble of tofu with peppers, onions, spices, black beans, and jalapenos served with crunchy corn chips, fruit, and a choice of breakfast potatoes or greens.  Ever since that fateful first tofu scramble at Sadie’s Diner last year, I’ve been completely devoted to scoping out every single last tofu brunch item in the city and I think I’ve done a pretty good job so far!  I’m itching to do a tofu brunch post for the Flavour Favourites series, but I’m going to hold off on doing one right now just because I really want to get in a few more dishes before I do a big comprehensive post for it. 

I love tofu and I always have, even as a kid.  Granted, the way I ate it as a child is vastly different from the way I eat it now.  Growing up, my mum would put tofu in our Chinese soup and she would cook it up soft with meat and vegetables.  Now I have tofu “deli” slices that I can slap on the grill, egg tofu that you slice in coins, grilled tofu wedges, tofu scramble, you name it.  I feel so super fortunate that my soy allergy only extends to milk; I’d be so sad if I couldn’t eat tofu anymore!

There was so much to love about the brunch here and about this dish.  You get your money’s worth on fantastic portions, there are so many ways to customize it just the way you like, and the food is just darn good.  I loved my tofu scramble because of it how different (and of course, delicious!) it was from other tofu scrambles.  Disgraceland’s was almost like a tofu stir-fry scramble with their tofu chunky and cubed with their sauteed vegetables chopped and diced and woven in throughout the entire dish.  The flavours were amazing.  Because of the cumin and spices, I felt like I was eating something straight out of a Moroccan place, it was so delicious.  It was unlike anything I had ever had before and it completely epitomized warmth and comfort.  This is definitely a yummy fall and winter type of dish, and combined with the scrumptious corn chips and chunk, starchy, foodgasmic breakfast potatoes, it’s a hearty meal that surprisingly doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re in food coma afterward! 

I’m so happy there’s another fantastic vegetarian and vegan brunch eatery in the city for me (and many others!) to go to and the great food here just proves that you don’t have look red-carpet ready to give a star performance.

*****

Disgraceland is located at 965 Bloor Street West in Bloorcourt Village, between Ossington Ave. and Dufferin St. just west of Delaware Ave.  They are open only for dinner and weekend brunch from Monday-Friday, 4pm-2am and Saturday-Sunday, 11am-2am.  CASH ONLY.  You can view their site HERE.

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Sweet Summer Indulgences – Lemon Meringue Ice Cream & Birthday Cookie Sandwiches at Bakerbots, Part II!

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Power on…initiating dessert assembly…all sweet systems go.  Brace yourself because Bakerbots is set to invade and take over your heart and sweet tooth!  Cakes, pies, tarts, macarons, cupcakes, biscotti, cookies, ice cream, ice cream cookie sandwiches; THIS is the place to eat your weight in sugar!  I have wanted to make a Bakerbots post for so long but I wanted to wait until I had something a little more substantial than a bowl of burnt marshmallow ice cream to show you all!  I honestly don’t even remember how I found out about Bakerbots.  All I remember is, I found about this glorious dessert haven soon after it opened a little more than a year ago at the beginning of last summer and was living vicariously through my friend Wini who had already been there several times before I had even made my first visit! 

When Bakerbots first opened its bakery doors last year in 2011 in Bloorcourt Village on Delaware Ave., their hours were strictly weekends only and evening hours during the latter part of the week.  And given how my schedule at the time still followed a very regimented daytime weekday routine, I never got around to trying any of their amazing desserts until many months later.  Now that my schedule has done a complete 180 (weekdays are pretty much a write-off now!), I can skip on over to Bakerbots whenever I want and it feels amazing! 

There is so much to love about Bakerbots Baking: their selection, their quality of desserts, their aesthetic, and their niche.  First off, I think Bakerbots fills a much-needed void in our city.  We have cupcakeries.  We have ice cream parlours.  Heck, we even have some teahouses and dessert sit-down spots.  But aside from Wanda’s Pie in the Sky and Sweet Bliss Baking Company, there aren’t very many spots that offer this type of homemade, from-scratch selection. 

Sometimes you just feel like a slice of pie.  Or a piece of cake with some ice cream.  Sometimes you just want to go to a place where you know there’s going to be something to suit your every mood, your every craving.  A place where you don’t have to dine-in and have a server wait on you.  A place that has a little picnic table out front and a little bench and a table inside in case you do want to stay and enjoy your treat.  A place that’s sunny and bright and fun and happy.  And while they don’t focus on things like donuts or truffles, they cover such a wide spectrum of dessert you don’t even have the heart to care, not when the sweets are as good as theirs and not when the menu and selection are constantly evolving, keeping things fresh and interesting all the time.  

Bakerbots is the place to be if you want to throw caution to the wind and have yourself a dessert meal.  Have you ever blown off the usual savoury lunch or dinner in favour of a dessert meal?  You know, instead of having soup and sandwiches or pasta and veggies or meat and potatoes, you go out and opt for a nice big ice cream sundae or a plate of dessert crepes and waffles or a slice of cake with ice cream and treat it as your meal.  I have and it is always SO MUCH FUN when I do.  As much as I love the idea of it though, I don’t do it often.  I want to, but I just don’t because it’s just not healthy on a regular basis!  But when I do go for it maybe once or twice a year?  Bakerbots is what I would want at my beck and call. 

Their prices are reasonable (very typical for both small and large desserts, coming at around $1.50-$3 for smaller items like single giant cookies and cupcakes, and $3-$5 for larger items like their giant ice cream cookie sandwiches, cake and pie slices, and more), their portions are big (monstrous is the only word that is adequate enough to describe their ice cream cookie sandwiches), and there are so many different flavours of everything!

Their ice cream is courtesy of Ed’s Real Scoop and they rotate what they have on hand on a regular basis, based on the types of desserts they bake every day, seasonal flavours, and the types of flavours that mesh really well together.  The big ticket at Bakerbots is the giant ice cream cookie sandwiches ($4-$6 based on whether you get a half or a whole) and on their big menu chalkboard, they always list the ice cream flavours that are available for the day (espresso,dark chocolate, French mint, cinnamon, burnt marshmallow, raspberry, sweet cream, burnt toffee, and lemon meringue just to rattle off a handful!), the types of cookies that are figuratively in the cookie jar (The Evertything Birthday, ginger molasses, peanut butter, fudgy cocoa), and the pairings that the staff thinks would kick butt. 

  The great thing about the ice cream cookie sandwiches at Bakerbots is that you can either have a whole one or a half and you can also choose a staff-pick combination or go all out and combine whatever ice cream you want with whatever cookie you want!  I opted for a half (and no, I wasn’t being a dessert wimp – I was here after weekend brunch!) using an Everything Birthday cookie (nothing wrong with continuing the birthday festivities in my book!) with lemon meringue-a-tang ice cream!              

Holy mother of pearl.  I now know why everyone goes bat apeing crazy over Bakerbots’ ice cream cookie sandwiches; they are beyond huge and they are fantastic!  My half sandwich was the size of a brick, it was so super thick, and it was so, so yummy.  The lemon meringue ice cream is so fruity and citrusy and creamy with a hint of vanilla with lots of punchy lemon flavour and the Evertything Birthday is such a fun cookie.  It’s sweet like warm vanilla and it’s exactly what you would expect of an aweome chewy sugar cookie with sprinkles!

And the other amazing thing about the ice cream cookie sandwich?  It doesn’t melt into a goopy mess!  I mean, yes, it’s ice cream and it does melt eventually, but it’s made in such a way that it stays frozen for a good portion of time so that you can actually enjoy the body of it and the taste of cookie with ice cream without having to rush through it for fear of it melting all over the place.  The cookies, while chewy, are so nice and sturdy so you don’t have to worry about it crumbling or getting soggy because of the ice cream.  It’s remarkable!  And this is only the beginning, everyone.  I have a scrapbook layout all planned out for Bakerbots, I’m already looking forward to my next visit, and we’ll see how many different types of dessert I’ll have posted from here by the end of the year! 

*****

Bakerbots is located at 205 Delaware Ave by Ossington subway station, nearest major intersection being Bloor Street West and Ossington Ave. in Bloorcourt Village.  Bakerbots specializes in all things sweet with desserts and baked goods being churned out by the truckload!  They are part bakery, part design studio, part ice cream parlour, and full on dessert emporium!  Their hours of operation: Tuesday-Thursday, 6pm-10pm (ice cream treats only); Friday, 4pm-11pm; Saturday, 11am-11pm; Sunday, 11am-10pm.  You can visit their site HERE.

The Cupcakes, Cookies, & Cakes in the Hat – A Photo Spotlight on Dessert Oasis, Bakerbots, in Bloorcourt Village, Part I!

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*****

Bakerbots is located at 205 Delaware Ave by Ossington subway station, nearest major intersection being Bloor Street West and Ossington Ave. in Bloorcourt Village.  Bakerbots specializes in all things sweet with desserts and baked goods being churned out by the truckload!  They are part bakery, part design studio, part ice cream parlour, and full on dessert emporium!  Their hours of operation: Tuesday-Thursday, 6pm-10pm (ice cream treats only); Friday, 4pm-11pm; Saturday, 11am-11pm; Sunday, 11am-10pm.  You can visit their site HERE.  Part II full write-up post coming tomorrow!

Foodie Districts: Mirvish Village!

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After sharing the goodness of portobellos, avocado, and honey-nut bread from Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches this past week, I thought it would be a great time to do a Foodie Districts post on the quaint, yet flashy, Mirvish Village!  Named after the late business tycoon, theatre connoissuer, and philanthropist, Ed Mirvish, the little district that could is sandwiched between The Annex and Koreatown near Bloor Street West and Bathurst Street.  Mirvish Village is a tiny neighbourhood with a loud voice, a little bit of cheese, and a whole lot of retro, vintage, and character. 

Flashing lights from Toronto’s historic flagship discount store, Honest’s Ed, flicker like bedazzled jewels at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst, vibrant, colourful murals and graffiti paintings adorn the brick walls of the shops and Victorian house storefronts, and the wining and dining is one big pub and carnival affair.  While the bulk of Mirvish Village is concentrated within one or two blocks on and around Markham Street, its character and quaintness more than make up for its tininess, and the food in the area is fabulous.  You have a terrific pub, a southern cajun and creole powerhouse, vegetarian delights, and a board game cafe to boot!  Here’s a food snapshot of Mirvish Village in all its glory:

Southern Accent, Toronto headquarters for all things cajun, creole, and carnival!  Southern Accent has become one of my absolute favourite places to eat not only because of the food but because of the flamboyant decor and big and brash, party atmosphere.  With its colourful lanterns, psychic readings, boozy purple lighting, and southern fare, every day is Mardi Gras and it is just so much fun having a meal here.  My boyfriend took me here for our very first Valentine’s together because he knew I would go crazy-happy with the atmosphere and decor and because I have a real soft spot for cajun cuisine.  I love learning about the food culture (especially in New Orleans) and because there aren’t too many places in the city that serve this style of food, coming here is always a huge treat.  Hush puppies, collard greens, gumbo, okra, oysters, southern corn bread, jambalaya, catfish – it’s all here.  I am crazy about their creme brulee and my favourite foods thus far have to be the grilled corn on the cob with paprika along with my pork tenderloin and grilled mango skewers and my cod fish dinner. 

I’ve enjoyed a number of delicious dishes over the years and what I love about the menu is that there are always new selections every so often depending on the season.  Aside from their permanent, every day menu, Southern Accent has a running price fixe that changes throughout the year, huge annual Mardi bashes, and consistent appearances at both Winterlicious and Summerlicious.  Located at 595 Markham Street, open at 5pm Tuesday-Sunday.

Thanks to my grad school friends and grad school activities, I became very acquainted with the Victory Cafe!  I held conference committee meetings over juice and snacks here during the summer, attended an end-of-the-year sociology bash where I stuffed my face with a chicken club and a rich, decadent, delicious slice of chocolate milk and cookies cake (pictured up top), and an evening or two here and there for some drinks and classic pub food with classmates and professors.  Their menu is a classic pub menu with fabulous variety and portions.  There are curry and rice meals, plenty of vegetarian yummies (chili, spinach and cheese quesadillas, lentil and veggie curry, and veggie chili poutine among others), in addition to pub classics such as fish n’ chips, club sandwiches, calamari, wings, and nachos. 

The Victory Cafe houses some great memories for me because it was one of the first pubs I ever frequented as a grad student and because it gave me one of the best mac n’ cheese meals ever!  One of my fondest memories is my first visit to the Victory.  While walking in the direction of the pub spot, I stopped to ask someone if the Victory was around the corner to make sure I was heading the right way (this was before I knew my neighbourhoods inside out and backwards).  The nice young man told me it was just down the road and then went on to say, “you have to try the mac n’ cheese, it’s the best!”  I took the advice (I don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!), ordered the mac n’ cheese and from that moment on, I was forever grateful to that young lad.  I absolutely cannot wait to go back during the summer so I can eat it out on the patio and get a fab photo.  Located at 581 Markham Street.

If you’re in the market for a spot that is both vegetarian-friendly and meaty, Butler’s Pantry is at your service!  Serving brunch, lunch, and dinner, Butler’s Pantry is perfect for those who want to dine among vegetarians and carnivores alike.  Their menu is chock full of mains that showcase the diversity of different regional and ethnic cuisines and comfort foods while at the same time showing the versatility of vegetarian cuisine as starring mains.  They serve a selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches for lunch, egg breakfasts and French toasts for brunch, and a host of pasta, rice, meat, and veggie dishes for lunch mains and dinner.  They have two locations in the city (one in Mirvish Village and the other in Roncesvalles) and I’ve been itching to go for the longest time because their menu is just spectacular in terms of variety and very reasonable when it comes to pricing.  Located at 591 Markham Street.  Open Monday-Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday-Saturday 10am-11:30pm, and Sunday 10am-10pm.

 

I’ve been meaning to do a big post on Snakes and Lattes for ages now, but I need more food photos!  Snakes and Lattes is Toronto’s super popular board game cafe.  With a selection of over 200 board games, comfortable couches, and food and drinks, it’s the perfect place to go to when the weather isn’t cooperating and to spend time with a group of friends.  It’s such a fun place to go to and given how crowded and busy it can get during the afternoons and evenings, I’m not the only who who feels this way! 

How the cafe works: $5/person for all day play.  You can stay for as long as you want, order whatever drinks and food you want, and have a blast with your friends.  If you know you’re going to be coming with a group of friends, they also take reservations, just give them a call and they will save or section of the cafe for you.  They have a fabulous menu of drinks (cold and hot) and quite a bit of lunch and snack food including freshly made sandwiches, quiches (meat and vegetarian), mini donuts, and vegan cupcakes!  Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches and Snakes and Lattes sit on the border of Koreatown and Mirvish Village, but I like to include them in the mix.  Located at 600 Bloor Street West just west of Markham Street.  Open at 11am into the wee hours of the morning!

*****

Mirvish Village is located near the intersection of Bloor and Bathurst, between The Annex and Koreatown

Vegetarian Sandwich Series – Wishful Thinking of Portobellos and Honey-Nut Bread at Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches!

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It’s about time I made it to Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches!  I’ve been meaning to do a post on them for the Vegetarian Sandwich Series for months now (months is actually an understatement – I’d say it’s been a good year!) and I’m thrilled that I got the chance to sink my teeth into one of their delicious veggie sandwiches.  The Vegetarian Sandwich Series was the very first special series I thought of and started on Ate by Ate back in June of 2011 and it was entirely inspired by my vegetarian friend, Wini, who wanted to know where the best vegetarian sandwiches in the city were hiding.  Since I started the series, I’ve been on the hunt for the yummiest sandwiches, the joints with the best selection, and the hidden gems and surprises and I’ve found some amazing eats! 

Even though I’ve barely knicked the surface (if I posted everything on my “behind the scenes” ongoing list all at once, there wouldn’t be anything to post 3 years from now!), I’m glad that Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches has finally made its way to the blog because it’s been on my hit list for so long.  A vegetarian sandwich series just without be complete without the sandwich cafe in town with half a menu of veggie sandwiches!

       

Located on Bloor Street West bordering the Annex, Mirvish Village, and Koreatown, Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches is the all mighty soup and sandwich cafe with over 20 sandwich choices on their sandwich menu!  With picnic, diner friendly red and white checkered tablecloths and cute sandwich names to boot, this is the perfect place for sandwich fanatics (think Joey from FRIENDS), deli lovers, casual diners, diners on a budget ($4-$5 sandwiches!), carnivores, and herbivores alike.  Their menu has so much variety and selection that when you read through it, you’ll be thinking, “oh my goodness, which sandwich do I love and want more?” as opposed to, “hmm, so, what are my choices?”  Knowing I wanted a veggie sandwich clearly wasn’t good enough when I had 10 choices to mull over! 

In terms of meat sandwiches, choices include oven roasted turkey (the One Wing sandwich sounds like a Thanksgiving sandwich constructed from heaven), slow roasted pulled pork, roast beef, smoked chicken, black forest ham, bacon, capicola (an Italian cold cut), and tuna.

Vegetarians can rejoice because their vegetarian choices are even more varied than their meat ones!  Chad of Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches tells me that the ho-hum lettuce, tomato, and sprout combination just doesn’t cut it when it comes to providing a menu that captures the essence of how creative vegetarian sandwich creation and eating can be.  Part of the fun of vegetarian sandwich creation is mixing and matching vegetables, fruits, and non-meat proteins with delicious breads.  Sky Blue Sky definitely has one of the larger vegetarian sandwich menu selections in town and choices include portobello mushrooms, avocado, almond butter and banana, mozzarella, tomato, and basil, cashew butter, roasted chick peas with curry and mango chutney, pear and Gouda grilled cheese, basil pesto, roasted red peppers, and SO MUCH MORE.

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Garlic Collard Greens, Sauerkraut, and a Pumpernickel Rye Sandwich Piled High – The Vegan Reuben at Hogtown Vegan!

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It’s about time Hogtown Vegan made its appearance here!  I’ve been to Hogtown Vegan a few times since its official opening back in July (I know, I know, what in the world has taken me THIS long to dish out the goods?!) and I’ve been itching to post my photos and my foodie experiences for ages now.  I think you all instinctively know the reason why I haven’t written about them.  It’s the reason for all my “delayed” posts.  That’s right, I have a scrapbook layout in the works and I won’t be able to post photos of the layout until my second Hogtown Vegan post.  Sigh.  At least you all know there will be a follow-up to this delightful vegan diner of food heaven!  And I’m not even making up those words.  They come straight from my friends and other Hogtown Veganites who have proclaimed food ecstacy while eating here.  It’s barely half a year old and it has taken the city, vegetarian and vegan community, and even meat-eating carnis, by storm. 

Hogtown Vegan is the sister restaurant of Kensington Market’s Hot Beans Vegan.  While Hot Beans Vegan serves up vegan Mexican fare in the form of tacos, burritos, nachos, and burrito bowls, Hogtown Vegan takes care of the classic North American diner favourites, nailing comfort foods with a vegan punch.  The name of the establishment is incredibly tongue-in-cheek as it refers to Toronto’s long-standing history as a meat-packing and manfacturing hubbub during the industrial boom.  Thus, the vegan restaurant not only pays homage to its distinct location (you clearly know you’re in the T-dot!), but it also subverts meat and animal eating and turns it on its own head by providing meat and dairy classics without the meat and dairy.

Hogtown Vegan is a vegan diner through and through, churning out beloved diner favourites such as biscuits and gravy, chicken and waffles, mac n’ cheese, po’ boys, and reubens, sans the meat and dairy and with a tip of the hat to Southern style cooking and cuisine.  It’s what I call “naughty vegan food”, food that’s meant to be indulgent.  Their menu boasts appetizers: fries smothered in vegan cheese and cashew sour cream, baked vegan mac n’ cheese with bread crumbs, tofu wings with hot sauce and creamy dill dip; salads: chickpea salad, tortilla salad; sandwiches and burgers: TVP po’ boys, seitan reubens, sweet potato on rye, soy patty burgers with Daiya cheese; and mains: biscuit veggie sausage sliders with fries and gravy, and unchicken and waffles which is comprised of deep-fried soy cutlets sandwiched between waffles and dripping in maple butter.

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Turkey Sandwiches, Scalloped Potatoes & Fish, and LOTS of Sweet Treats! Courense Bakery on Bloor Street West

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You know what’s better than a bakery that has cakes, donuts, pastries, tarts, mousse cups, cupcakes, and meringues?  A bakery that has cakes, donuts, pastries, tarts, mousse cups, cupcakes, meringues AND fresh baked bread, sandwiches, breakfast, pasta, hot food and plenty of space to sit and eat!  With Christmas decorations!  And a Christmas tree by the window!  Can you tell I’m excited?!  I absolutely lovelovelove bakeries that double as cafés and I happened across a fabulous one in Bloorcourt Village on Bloor Street West, sandwiched between Ossington and Dufferin just west of Dovercourt Rd. 

Courense Bakery is a pretty bakery that lights up from the inside out.  Its dark chocolate brown and frosted gold exterior beckons you inside like a homey Christmas gingerbread house and when I passed by it for the first time a week and a half ago, there was something warm, welcoming, and cozy about the way the lights from the inside shone through the front windows.  It felt like a place I could enjoy some hot cocoa in while inhaling the smell of warm bread and sugary spun desserts.

I had no idea Courense was a bakery and a sit down café!  I was so delighted when I walked in and saw all the tables and chairs to sit and eat on and I was even more delighted when my eyes landed on the trays and trays of beautiful white meringues with Christmas sprinkles!  The dessert and pastry display cases curved around in a J shape – like a candy cane – and carried everything from whole cakes, jelly roll cake slices, frosted cake slices, sweet puff pastries, vanilla cupcakes, donuts, tarts, meringues with Christmas sprinkles and chocolate sprinkles, custards, eclairs, cannolis, chocolate mousse, and more. 

It was so cute how some of the dessert were also decorated for Christmas.  The meringues and chocolate mousse had Christmas sprinkles and some of the pastries were coated in melted chocolate and/or powdered sugar with chocolate cigar biscuits and adorned with a little rainbow candy cane!  The dessert selection is AMAZING.  I can’t imagine anyone not being able to find something that strikes their fancy here!

Courense Bakery isn’t just a place to tickle your sweet teeth though.  They serve sandwiches, pasta, hot food, and breakfast!  Behind the display cases sits a wooden wall rack of fresh baked bread in the form of buns, kaisers, and giant loaves.  When you walk further into the bakery, closer to the back, you’ll find their selection of deli meat, cheeses, and hot food selections for the day.  Here’s the thing though: they don’t have a menu.  Which would probably confuse first-timers big time.  I’m here to the rescue though!  Once you figure out how their portions and pricing works the first time, you’re set for life. 

I know not having a menu with prices to look at might irritate some people (or at the very least cause a little confusion), but for me, it’s okay.  Of course I would prefer a menu to look at.  I can look over something slowly, consider my options, and order my food accordingly.  But the way I see it is that I have no qualms asking the nice girls who work here about the food and pricing.  I have vocal cords.  I am capable of asking questions to find out whatever information I want to find out.  It may not be the most ideal situation, but the food is great and I personally don’t mind because their food falls into 3 categories (sandwiches, hot food, and breakfast), making the situation manageable.  Some might counter back and say that one shouldn’t have to ask about food menu items and pricing and that’s fair.  I’m here to give you the good though, so this is just fair warning!

Courense Bakery serves sandwiches with their deli meats, lettuce, tomato, cheese, mayo, and mustard.  The flat price of a sandwich starts at $4 and lettuce and tomato are an extra $.50.  Their deli meats for sandwiches probably change on a regular basis depending on what they have on hand, but they have turkey, salami, and ham among others, and their selection of provolone and havarti cheese is delicious! 

Their hot food includes pasta, meats, and potato dishes and they serve them on large square plates fit for a hearty meal.  Each hot food plate entree comes in at $8.50 and you can mix and match your mains to fill your plate.  For example, you can have half a plate of pasta and half a plate of one of the other selections.  On this particular day, they had penne pasta with olives, feta cheese, red onions, tomatoes, and red pepper in olive oil dressing and herbs, roast beef in a marinara sauce, and a fabulous hot food dish of scalloped potatoes, tuna, flaky cod fish, and herbs.  I shared a plate of penne pasta and potatoes and fish with my mum and brother and shared a turkey sandwich with my mum while my brother enjoyed a whole turkey sandwich on his own.

The food is delicious.  We were especially over the moon with the scalloped potatoes and flaked tuna and cod!  I love scalloped potatoes and don’t eat them often enough so this was a scrumptious, shovel-the-food-off-the-plate-and-into-my-mouth treat!  The cod fish was white, meaty, soft, and flavourful and it was just all-around yumminess.  It was a warm meal that really packed a punch and it was great that we were given an ample portion of food on our plate.  I love potatoes and I love both flaky and meaty white fish so I was so excited to see a dish like this here! 

And their sandwiches?  SO.DARN.AWESOME!  Aside from grilled cheese, and vegetarian and cheese sandwiches, turkey sandwiches are my favourite.  You all know how much I love my turkey sandwiches from Raymerville Deli & Bakery and I’ve always tooted my horn that nothing would ever come close to those scrumptious sandwiches.  I think I’ve found an almost tie for my favourite turkey sandwich!  Courense Bakery uses this amazing soft-on-the-inside, crunchy-on-the-outside bread (I was enjoying my half of the turkey sandwich so much I forgot to ask what kind of bread they used!  I’ll remember to ask next time!) and the havarti cheese was deliciously rich and combined with the turkey breast deli meat, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and mustard (just the way I like it!), it was a heavenly sandwich.

I can’t report back on the breakfast because I didn’t have any, but I know they serve breakfast because I saw egg breakfasts being brought to some people’s tables!  Courense is a great bakery with a ton of sweet options at very reasonable prices (we picked up huge jelly roll cake slices for $1.65 each!), and I can’t wait to come back for the breakfast, another turkey sandwich, more hot food, and those chocolate mousses!

*****

Courense Bakery is located at 1014 Bloor Street West between Ossington Ave. and Dufferin St.  The bakery is located just one block west of Dovercourt Rd.  In addition to the dizzying array of desserts and fresh bread, they serve breakfast, coffee drinks, hot food, and deli sandwiches.