A Weekend Vegan Brunch of Tofu Scramble, Grilled Spinach, Home Fries, and Tempeh Bacon at Fresh!

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I love breakfast and brunch so much.  Even as I write this, I’m daydreaming about tofu scrambles, poached eggs, omelettes, breakfast sausages, and veggie skillets and this is a few hours before bedtime!  Clearly, that doesn’t deter me – I love breakfast food at any point in the day and I’ve been known to eat eggs and hash browns for dinner!  Morning munchies make me happy (especially since I’m ravenous minutes after I roll out of bed) and I go through breakfast phases all the time where I’ll crave different things.  For the longest time it’s been fruit with some bread with cream cheese, but lately I’ve been going out of my mind with peanut butter on toast with almond milk.  I’ve always enjoyed peanut butter okay (more so with jam), but it’s almost as if I can’t go a morning without my PB and toast now!  Needless to say, I am all over the place with my preferences but one thing is for certain: weekend brunch is a treat and totally qualifies as one of the best things in the world. 

It’s been a little over a year since my first visit to Fresh and I have been having the best time eating here.  Their menu constantly inspires me and I can’t imagine ever being bored with the food here.  After building my own custom rice and soba noodle bowls, and having one of their veggie burgers, burritos, appetizers, and soups, the only menu categories I hadn’t yet dipped my tastebuds in were the salads and the weekend brunch.  When my dear friend and vegetarian partner in crime, Wini, wanted get together for some Fresh eats on a Saturday, I was in conniptions.  Weekend brunch at Fresh, finally!  Neither one of us had tried their brunch yet so we were both excited.  It had been months since we had done any vegetarian noshing together, so it felt especially great to catch up with a close friend at one of our favourite spots in the city.  Just as I said in my breakfast scrapbook post yesterday, friends and brunch truly go hand in hand.

Fresh’s weekend brunch is served at all 3 of their locations on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from 10:30am-3pm.  With the exception of optional sides of cheeses that you can order with your meal, their brunch menu is entirely vegan so you won’t find any egg breakfasts here!  Instead, Fresh’s brunch menu focuses on tofu scrambles, tempeh bacon, veggie sausage rounds, brunch burritos and tortillas, and pancakes – LOTS of pancakes!  The menu is divided into two parts: pancakes and brunch entrees ($11).  Pancake meals ($6-$10) are served in doubles and triples and come in five varieties including plain, banana, blueberry, banana nut, and blueberry almond.  Even though I ended up choosing a savoury brunch entree (because I do generally enjoy savoury breakfasts more), I can’t help but feel like I need to introduce more pancake breakfasts into my breakfast world after my Mardi Gras & Pancake Tuesday post!

My first brunch of choice at Fresh?  The full monty, full breakfast with tofu scramble, grilled spinach, baked beans, toast, home fries, and a choice of either veggie sausage rounds or tempeh bacon!  As usual, I had a difficult time choosing which brunch menu I wanted to try first but ultimately, the combination of tofu scramble with grilled spinach won me over this time.  I love spinach so to have it with tofu scramble sounded scrumptious.  Wini and I ended up ordering the same thing (great minds think alike!) and decided that we both wanted to try the veggie sausage and the tempeh bacon so each one of us chose one to order so that we could share them between the two of us.  Weekend brunch with friends is not only fun in and of itself, but it is also wonderful when you get to share food!

This brunch meal made me feel so warm and cozy.  It was hearty and delicious and it made me feel as though I was sitting in a winter log cabin by the fire enjoying some good old fashioned breakfast comfort food, veggie style.  My absolute favourite things had to be the tofu scramble, grilled spinach, and the home fries.  I adore tofu and having tofu scramble in my life has just made this love that much greater.  My very first tofu scramble was at Sadie’s Diner and I love both Sadie’s and Fresh’s equally because they’re both delicious, different, and unique in their own way.  While the texture of Sadie’s scramble is reminiscent of fluffy scrambled eggs, Fresh’s scramble is more like a chopped up hash with amazing herb and onion flavour with tiny diced sauteed onions strewn throughout the tofu scramble. 

Between the tempeh bacon and veggie sausage, Wini and I both loved the tempeh more, hands down.  This was my first time eating tempeh and while I knew of tempeh since my foray into vegetarian and vegan eating several years ago, I had to find out what tempeh was first before actually trying it.  In a nutshell, tempeh is made from soybeans and often used as meat substitute.  After careful fermentation, soybeans are binded into what looks like bricks of cake-like SPAM.  I know that isn’t the most appetizing description, but that’s what it reminds me of and it tastes great so that’s all that matters!

While it didn’t have the crispy texture of traditional bacon, they were in adorable “strips”, they were soft, and they had this great savoury tomato flavour to it that was very unique.  Not a sour tomato taste, but more like a stewed tomato flavour with warmth and depth to it.  The grilled spinach was just like scrumptious collard greens and I absolutely adored the style and size of the home fry cubes and chunks.  They were crispy and golden on the outside and fluffy with meaty potato and starchiness on the inside.  They were sturdy (not mushy or greasy in the least) and the hold up perfectly to sauce. 

Yes, sauce!  Fresh serves their breakfast toast plain so if you’re cool with that, there’s no need to mess with a good thing.  I, for one, love dipping or having my bread with a spread or sauce though so I took it upon myself to add a side of garlic mayo from Fresh’s regular menu and I had a field day dunking some of my toast and my awesome home fries into my garlic mayo.  With one brunch from Fresh down, I’m revved up and ready for more!  I can’t wait to have their tortilla scramble, the burrito, and the banana nut pancakes in the future.  Brunch is one of the most enjoyable things in my life and while I don’t know how long it will take to cycle through every single amazing breakfast diner and weekend brunch spot in the city, but I’m more than happy savouring every experience for as long as it takes.

*****

Fresh currently serves 3 locations in downtown Toronto:

  1. 326 Bloor St. West (right off the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Bloor St. West, just east of Spadina)
  2. 894 Queen St. West (at the intersection of Crawford St. and Queen St. West, near Trinity Bellwoods Park)
  3. 147 Spadina Ave. (near the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Queen St. West, a block south of Queen)