Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. Take risks. Do things you never thought you would do. And for me, on that sunny, beautiful Saturday morning at Origin on King St. East, I did just that: I ordered something sweet and savoury. No, no, I don’t mean I ordered a sweet dish and a savoury dish. Oh no, I ordered myself a dish that was both sweet AND savoury. I know what you’re thinking. “Um, yeah, SO?! It’s not like you ordered wild boar or rabbit!” You’re right, sweet and savoury dishes are run-of-the-mill and no big deal in the culinary world. But here’s something I’ve never revealed on Ate by Ate: I HATE SWEET AND SAVOURY THINGS! HATE! WITH A PASSION! *cue pounding fists*
You all know I’m kooky-crazy for my sweets and desserts. You also know I’m heads over heels for savoury things like eggs benny and spicy sushi. But you didn’t know that I’ve always hated things like teriyaki, maple bacon, and maple sausage. Some people break out in hives when their eggs aren’t served with ketchup. Some people take a temper tantrum when the food on their plate touches each other. I hate my meat sweet. And any other sweet and savoury combo aside from peanut butter and jelly (what can I say, it’s a childhood thing that’s never left my heart). Always have, most likely always will. Don’t even try to sell me on strawberries and balsamic because I will just scoff and turn the other cheek.
So what in blue blazing hell possessed me to order something sweet and savoury for weekend brunch at Origin then? The menu. I couldn’t help it. Against my better judgment, I took a chance on their French toast with bufala mozzarella, poached pears, and warm walnut brittle ($16) and ended up absolutely loving it to itty bitty pieces. I love bufala mozzarella, I felt like French toast that morning, and the thought of having pears I could actually eat (remember my ridiculous raw fruit allergy that makes me swell up like blowfish?) made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Let me tell you though, this was no easy thing to overcome. I took a deep breath. “You can do this, Debra. You can order something you know you may not like”. There were so many things on Origin’s weekend brunch menu I wanted to try but I dug my heels in and stuck with it and lucky for me, it totally worked out! I love it when a scrumptious, delicious dish proves my taste buds wrong and totally blows me away. I never thought this could happen. I never thought I could enjoy something that was both sweet and savoury. But I did and I enjoyed it in a beautiful dining space in a restaurant I’ve wanted to visit for ages.
Origin, located at 107 King Street East at King and Church (with 2 other locations in the city), always felt like an eatery that was out of my league and out of reach. I first learned about Origin several years ago when I saw a photo of their adorable pink, frothy froo-froo ice cream float in an issue of Toronto Life. I had this misconception that it was much too upscale for me but after a co-worker raved about her dinner there, I knew I had to finally buckle down and go one weekend. And given how Origin serves up a kick-ass weekend brunch menu (I looked it up online, hemmed and hawwed over some of the options, and gulped down my saliva – what else is new?), that was the perfect match for me. So I suited up for busy day out (market, cupcakes, brunch, and more) and made my way over to the beautiful restaurant and bar.
And I do mean beautiful. Brick walls, funky light fixtures, big windows, chic black, gray and white accents and a killer patio that I cannot wait to pounce on in the summer! One of my favourite things about Origin is their kitchen. It’s right in the middle of the dining area and you can literally see and hear all the action. You hear the chefs calling out orders to each other, you hear the sizzles and skizzles, you can see the food being plated and so much more. I love it when the cooking staff are integrated into the restaurant; it’s make things much more transparent and more communal.
Aside from 3 different kinds of French toast, $13-$17 (one even has duck confit!), they have burgers and sandwiches (a breakfast burrito $15, a peameal sandwich $11,a killer grilled cheese $7, and an Origin burger with chipotle aioli and arugula $17), an egg white frittata with fior de latte, tomato and pesto $13 (you can bet I’ll be coming back for this one!), smoked pork belly and fried eggs $16, a daily quiche $12, and number of sides to outfit your meal such as Spanish fries, beet and goat cheese salad, and deviled eggs.
My beloved French garnished with several sprigs of fresh basil and served with bufala mozzarella, poached pears, and warm walnut brittle, was all sorts of rich, sweet, savoury, decadent, warm, buttery, soft, crunchy, juicy, and YUMMY. One of the reasons why I think I enjoyed it so much was the savoury and sweet were clearly identifiable but completely in harmony and balance with each other. I love sweet brunches and breakfast dishes but at times, it’s almost too sweet and a bit much. But because of the bufala mozzarella and basil (which, oh my god, was delicious), that savoury saltiness cut right through the sweetness of the walnut syrupy sauce and pears. And it worked the other way as well. The sweet juiciness of the pears and warm sauce and the inherent milkiness of the bread kept it from being too salty and the type of dish that makes you want to guzzle water down. The whole thing just worked.
AND! The bread! Oh my gosh, the bread deserves a standing ovation. It’s not your typical challah. Origin does their French toast using fresh-as-a-daisy French brioche! BRIOCHE! It is so soft, buttery and milky and even though brioche was not listed on their menu, it was unmistakeable the second I bit into it. And our sweet server confirmed when I asked her. Origin made me feel so welcome and relaxed, they gave me great food, and they completely knocked down my disdain for sweet and savoury dishes down a notch (I loved my brunch, but don’t expect me to nosh on teriyaki anytime soon!) as well as proving my preconceived notions about them being out of my league wrong. Bring on the brunches and patio!
Origin is located at 107 King Street East at Church Street in downtown Toronto. They serve 2 other locations in Toronto (Liberty Village and soon-to-be Bayview Village in North York!).