I LOVE finding new breakfast, brunch, and lunch places! The thought of relishing a good meal in a comfortable cafe makes me feel all dreamy and floaty on the inside. And if you can believe (which I think you all can), I spent a good deal of time last week circling spot after spot in one of my Toronto magazines of all the places that offered breakfast and weekend brunch. Aside from cupcakes, sushi, and pasta (my three great food loves), nothing gets my engine running more than a great breakfast and lunch cafe.
I love the vast array of menu items, I love the feeling of freshness during the day (and admittedly, it makes my life easier taking photos in the daytime), and I just love the idea of sitting down to a great sandwich, brunch dish, and/or cafe drink with dessert. I enjoy dinner, yes, but as Daphne Oz on The Chew reiterated on one of the more recent episodes, “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”. Although in my case, I’d change that to a queen and a princess. But you get the idea. And it does, in fact, ring true for me. I eat dinner almost out of necessity rather than want. The star of the show is my breakfast and lunch and I sure as hell eat like it. So, what’s my latest breakfast/brunch escapade? Hotel Gelato on Eglinton West!
Hotel Gelato is a beautiful sit-down breakfast, lunch, and gelato cafe with an open, airy, inviting atmosphere. Located on Eglinton West in the Upper Village neighbourhood, iIt’s exactly the type of place you envision yourself relaxing in during an easy Sunday morning or afternoon brunch, a midday coffee break, or a bright and refreshing weekday lunch with your best friend. With its sleek black and white decor and upholstery, it’s pretty and fancy pants without being overly frou-frou and pretentious.
In all honesty, I was taken aback when I stepped inside. I knew it was pretty from the photos I saw on their official website, but I was not expecting it to be THIS pretty. Chandeliers clothed in sheer black, clear plexi tables and chairs, comfy black upholstered chairs by the cafe’s front window, black and white wall decor, a beautiful fireplace mantel with candles, orchid flowers, and a sleek espresso bar and machine in acid bright turquoise! In a nutshell, Hotel Gelato is NICE.
I was overjoyed when I viewed their menus online. In addition to the gelato that makes them famous (and oh boy is there ever a ton of gelato goodness to devour!) and the cafe drinks and desserts that can ordered up at the front, they serve weekday breakfast from 8am-11:30am, weekend brunch, and all day lunch. Although a number of their daily breakfast items appear on their weekend brunch menu, their weekend brunch menu does have some very special items that are not available from Monday-Friday including their challah French toast and their – wait for this – LEMON RICOTTA PANCAKES! I almost bounced off the walls when I found out they served this. Weekend brunch would have to wait though as I decided to stick to their daily breakfast menu first.
Menu items include breakfast sandwiches with either peameal bacon or smoked salmon with eggs, flavoured mayo, and different cheeses, baked eggs, waffles, breakfast parfait, smoked salmon and cream cheese with bagels, and more. Prices range from $8-$12 for most items, with a separate set of prices ($3.50-$5) for extra sides including daily scone, basket of mini almond, chocolate, and apricot croissants, peameal bacon, and toasted ciabatta with butter and preserves. As much as I wanted to inhale a breakfast sandwich or smoked salmon (and, come to think of it, their waffles), I went with their baked omelette because I got to choose my fillings and toppings!
The baked omelette ($8) is made with three eggs and herbs and comes with crusty bread to go with it. Filling and toppings ($0.75 each) include aged cheddar, goat cheese, Jarlsberg, portobellos, sauteed spinach, smoked ham, bacon, asparagus, and roasted red peppers. Wanting to inject some veggies into the meal, I chose asaparagus (how very spring-like!), roasted red peppers, and goat cheese because I love goat cheese like crazy.
T0 my surprise, my omelette and bread were accompanied by a dish of fresh fruit (how sweet!) and my omelette, just like the menu said, was literally baked! I don’t know why I forgot about that detail, but I was delighted when my breakfast was brought to my table. The omelette was baked into a small baking/casserole dish, almost like a skillet or casserole and the fillings dotted my baked eggs like a beautiful mosaic. It was piping hot and so unique to any egg dish I had ever had. And I was also pleasantly with how much bread I was given – almost like a little mini sliced loaf of delicious crusty bread! I know the menu specifically said grilled flatbread as opposed to crusty French baguette, but frankly, I didn’t care because the bread was so good and so darn cute!
The asparagus was crisp and flavourful and the goat cheese in the omelette was to die for. There were creamy, tangy pockets of goat cheese throughout the entire dish and it truly went a long way in making the omelette burst with flavour and dimension. The eggs were light as air and so, so fluffy. Keep in mind though that the eggs for this particular dish are baked and thus well done and thoroughly cooked. If you’re like me and you like your eggs a little runny, just mention it to your server because the dish is cooked well done by default.
It’s really just based on preference because my mum, for example, reeeeally doesn’t go for runny eggs and prefers hers cooked from top to bottom. If you love your eggs the way my mum does, no sweat. If you like yours the way I do, ask them if they can undercook them just a tad and if they can’t (which I can’t imagine them not being able to do, but for the argument’s sake let’s just throw that our there), just choose another menu item.
I am so, so looking forward to coming back because there’s so much more to try! There’s the gelato (hello, creamsicle and strawberry shortcake oh my god), the drinks (teas, pumpkin spice lattes, and pot of hot chocolate?!), the lunch paninis and sandwiches, and yes, the multitude of breakfast and weekend brunch items waiting for me! Like those lemon ricotta pancakes. It’s only a matter of time.
Hotel Gelato is located at 532 Eglinton Ave. West just west of Heddington Ave. between Avenue Rd. and Bathurst Street. They serve breakfast and lunch every day from Monday to Friday with a weekend brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays. Their breakfast menu is available from 8am-11:30am and lunch all-day.