After a whirlwind of Swiss Chalet Fresh Impressions Tour fun and sneak peeks, Ate by Ate is back with good eats and brunch straight from the heart of Leslieville on Queen Street East! We took a bit of a detour last week, but just to recap, we took a closer look at the Leslieville Cheese Market, a summer Sunday at Leslieville Farmers’ Market in August, and a foodie district post highlighting some of the great food and drink along the popular east end strip including Majesteas and the brand spankin’ new donut and chicken shop (I know, it still takes a bit of time to wrap your head around it, doesn’t it?), Pauline’s!
Today, we celebrate weekend brunch out on the patio at Joy Bistro, located right across the street from Jimmie Simpson Park on Queen East! Leslieville boasts so many great brunch and lunch spots and it was hard deciding where my next adventure was going to be. I lucked out and managed to grab a great table at Lady Marmalade during a Monday morning last year (yes, there are line-ups out the door even on weekdays!), but aside from one of Leslieville’s most popular eateries, brunch in Leslieville was still pretty foreign to me. So I did a little research, read up on some TO food literature, and after seeing a shot of their outdoor patio online, I was sold!
Joy Bistro is such a pretty dining spot and you actually don’t realize just how gorgeous it is until you stand directly in front of it from across the street on the south side of Queen. It’s a beautiful building with an upper level and lots of flowers and hanging baskets everywhere and when you look at it dead on, you realize just how appropriate the space is for all sorts of dining occasions. On the inside we have the bar and bistro area on the main floor, perfect for some drinks (you should have seen how quickly Joy’s bartender was whipping up those brunch Caesars!), small bites, and a meal by the window with a newspaper. Then we have the open outdoor patio, perfect for a casual, easy breezy brunch and lunch with friends and family. Finally, we have the pretty and romantic and ultra charming patio terrace with cushioned seats, flowers, a canopy, and strings of lights that light up the night. When I realized just how cute and charming that particular dining area was, I vowed that I would come back for lunch and dinner, just so I could dine there and enjoy the atmosphere. And you know, eat!
I made my first experience at Joy Bistro a weekend brunch one though and I had a great time pairing sweet and savoury together for a yummy and delicious meal! The great thing about Joy is that their weekend brunch menu incorporates both their breakfast page and their lunch menu, so it fits the bill for parties that either feel more eggs and bacon-y or more salad and sandwich-y. Their brunch menu was even more fab than I thought it would be though! The menu they have posted online isn’t their most updated one and let me tell you, the real one is 10 times more awesome!
Prices range from $8.50-$14.50 with most brunch meals coming in at around $9-$11, and some of highlights include their 3-egg omelette with goat cheese, mushrooms, spinach, and red peppers; coconut and oat granola yogurt with sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds (I am over the moon with this one!); Eggs Norweigan (eggs benedict with smoked salmon and spinach); Eggs Willow Grove (eggs benedict with pulled pork – I know, wipe the drool off your chin); lemon ricotta pancakes (oh good god, I need this in my life), and my pick, banana bread French toast with berries and bananas!
After having such a fantastic banana bread French toast meal at The Gladstone Hotel, I thought, “why not give it a whirl and try every French toast brunch menu item there is in the city? Especially banana bread ones!” I’ve always wanted to try as many French toasts as possible, but ever since that Gladstone meal, I’ve been paying much more attention to spots with different styles and kinds because the banana bread one was so good. Joy’s banana bread French toast ($9) is a dish comprised of 3 thick slices of sweet, ultra moist banana bread drizzle with maple syrup, dusted with icing sugar, and sprinkled with blueberries and slices of strawberry and banana. I thought banana bread couldn’t be any softer, moister, or more flavourful than the ones made at Gladstone, but I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious Joy’s was. Their French toast matched the Gladstone’s bite for bite and the maple syrup just intensified the flavour even more. Part of me wishes the whole plate was covered in more fruit so I could have an even bigger field day with it, but the dish as a whole was delicious and so flavourful.
And sides! We can’t forget sides. I knew I wanted something savoury to balance out my sweet so I perused their list of brunch sides (priced from $1-$4 for yummies like peameal bacon, home fries, and bacon and sausage) and went with a side of sauteed tomatoes ($1.50) and a side of cheddar cheese ($1). Holy mother of pearl was this ever GOOD! The sides came separately on their own, but my intention was to totally sprinkle my aged white cheddar cheese over top my piping hot ramekin filled with the juiciest chopped tomatoes and have it melt over top and was it ever ridiculously foodgasmic! Cheese and tomato go hand and hand, so if you’re looking for a great savoury side that packs a punch, try this one because it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy and wiggly over how good it is.
After finding out how great and diversified their menu is, I cannot wait to come back and try all the items I listed earlier in the post and to dine in their charming and romantic terrace. Joy Bistro may not have the powerhouse line-ups out the door that Bonjour Brioche or Lady Marmalade have, but let me tell you, it’s a wonderful spot in Leslieville with so much to offer and I’m looking forward to showcasing as much as I can from here from here on out.
Joy Bistro is located at 884 Queen Street East in Leslieville, at the corner of Booth Ave. and Queen East across the street from Jimmie Simpson Park. They serve weekend brunch, lunch, and dinner as well as plenty of drinks at the bar! Hours of operation: Monday-Wednesday 11am-12am midnight, Thursday-Friday 11am-1am, Saturday 8am-1am, and Sunday 8am-12am midnight.