Given how this weekend marks the 9th annual Queen West Art Crawl in the city, I thought it’d be a great time to introduce another fab café on the West Queen West strip: Niche Coffee & Tea Company! Art has been such a huge part of my life since my kindergarten days of holding crayons and smearing paint on kraft paper (like you couldn’t tell from all the scrapbooking, right?), so I was really excited to finally go to the Queen West Art Crawl last year to enjoy the outdoor art show at Trinity Bellwoods Park, sidewalk art, and all the art installations along Queen West. It was during this trek last year that I found Niche with its signature baby blue and brown storefront signage stamp, just east of Palmerston Ave. and west of Bathurst St. It took my tastebuds forever and a half to make their way back, but they finally did! And I am SO happy that they did because holy hell do they ever have a brunch menu to die for!
Their brunch is served all-day and I can say with eager certainty that their brunch menu is one that I would be happy to eat my way through. For starters, their menu is really well-rounded because it incorporates a least one item from almost all of the popular brunch favourites that we love so much: egg breakfasts, omelettes, French toast, eggs benedict, and breakfast sandwiches. You might be looking at the list and thinking, “well, it sounds kind of run of the mill, stuff I can get anywhere”. Not to ruffle your feathers, but if you’re thinking that, you are wrong. No, no, lovelies, it is SO much more than that.
What makes their brunch really unique is all the sides you get with all the brunch mains. Just reading through the descriptions will make you salivate and make your heart beat a little faster because there’s just so much yummy food that’s included with everything! You have sides such as pan-roasted lemon herb potatoes, greens with maple dijon dressing, homemade foccacia, pumpernickel toast, challa bread, chicken chirizo sausage, and sweet potato rounds. Now I don’t know about you, but this was the first time I had ever come across a menu with such a varied assortment of brunch sides! Not only do all the mains come with an assortment of these sides, but they’re also available (at individual extra charges) on their own, which makes for wonderful mix-and-match fun!
And the mains! Sweet mother of pearl. You have your savoury: poached eggs BLT, build-your-own cheese and veggie omelette (choose between 3 types of cheese and 5 different veggies), and the Niche’s signature eggs benedict served on homemade cornbread, just to name a few. On top of that, you have your sweet: deep dish French toast using thick challa with bananas and burnt sugar sauce, and homemade grilled banana bread with cinnamon sugar and nutella. Yes, that’s right, I said nutella. Jot that down on a sticky note now – because I have! Finally, what makes the menu even more awesome? Vegetarian and vegan options! I mean, sure, the French toast and cheese and veggie omelettes are vegetarian in the sense that they don’t serve meat, but vegans, are you ready for this? Niche has a grilled tofu on vegan chili brunch! OH.MY.GOD. When I saw it on the menu, all I could think of was, “my friends will flip over this…and I am so ordering this next time!” Individual sides average around $2-$4, and mains with all the fixins will run you around $7.50-$11.
What I did enjoy on this particular morning was a delicious open-faced, toasted sesame seed bagel with cream cheese, red onions, capers, smoked salmon, and fresh sprigs of dill with a side salad of crisp romaine with vinaigrette dressing. Here’s a secret: before this, I hadn’t had a bagel in years. That’s right, years. Why? Well, I’m a little embarrassed to say this, but I cut bagels out of my diet because I was put-off from the jumbo-sized ones I kept seeing that looked as though they had been pumped with steroids. I thought, “geez Louise, I could throw one of these into the wall and make a dent because they’re so darn dense!”. It didn’t sit well with me so I stopped eating them altogether, even my beloved Tim Hortons bagels that are actually a good size.
I reeeeally love a good bagel with cream cheese though (forget butter, pft) and smoked salmon just seals the deal for me. So I threw caution to the wind that morning and got myself a delicious smoked salmon bagel brunch. My sesame bagel wasn’t ridiculously thick, puffy, or overly starchy at all and I absolutely loved the inclusion of dill on it. Call me a glutton, but I also loved how the cream cheese was wedged into the grill mark dents because it made for some scrumptious mouthfuls of cream cheese with the capers, onions, and dill. The smoked salmon was so good and in such a generous portion. There weren’t just a few measly, thin slices. Oh no, there were slices upon slices on EACH bagel half. I only wish though that there was a selection of bagels to choose from. I love sesame, but it would have been really nice to have had the option for, say, poppyseed or something. My smoked salmon, cheese bagel was delicious though and it totally renewed my faith in bagels 😀
Niche is a beautiful, breezy brunch and café spot with an outdoor patio in the back and an open storefront during nice weather. There are gorgeous paintings and artwork on the walls, and there’s plenty of grab-and-go snacks at the counter including marshmallows squares with chocolate and dried fruit, scones, muffins, and other pastries. Since Niche is a coffee and tea café, they also have a whole blackboard menu up top dedicated to coffee (brewed coffees, espressos, white mochas, lattes, cappuccinos, etc.), chilled coffee drinks, tea and chai, Italian soda, homemade lemonade, and a host of others. You can bet I’ll report back with some drink goodies for all the next time I’m there! It’s a lovely spot that I’m so looking forward to going back to and given the menu tidbits that I gave you guys, I wouldn’t be surprised if you made your way there before my next visit.
Niche Coffee & Tea Company is located at 626 Queen Street West just east of Palmerston Ave. and west of Bathurst St. They serve brunch during all hours of operations and are open 7 days a week at 8am on weekdays and 9am on weekends, with closing hours at 5pm on all days.