CLOSED: County General (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 798 Queen Street East
Type of Meal: Brunch

Upon arriving at County General Riverside for weekend brunch, I was shocked to find the place empty. Sure, we had decided to meet earlier (10:30) to avoid the rush, but for me to be able to pick wherever I wanted to sit? Well that’s just refreshing. In fact, everything about County General is laid-back from their décor, staff, mismatched plates and non-rushed service. It takes some time for the food to arrive, but once it does you realize it’s worth the wait.

Wanting to have something savoury and sweet, my friend and I decide to split their famed chicken thigh sandwich ($12) and save room for “dessert”. The thick piece of fried chicken is delicious – oozing with juices, will brined and encased in a crunchy exterior. It’s actually the closest dish to reliving my lunch at Willie Mae’s Scotch House.

Slathered with a creamy avocado chutney, tangy pickled onions and a fair amount of fresh cilantro, these lightened the sandwich so it didn’t feel too gluttonous for the first meal of the day. We substituted the regular salad for kale ($2 supplement) which is well flavoured with a creamy roasted garlic sauce, fried capers, croutons and tons of shaved Thunder Oak gouda.

I’m so glad we decided to share so we could each enjoy a butter milk pancake ($4). Firstly, I must commend County General for selling their pancakes and French toast by the piece. It really helps indecisive individuals like me with being able to have a bit of everything. Generally, I lean towards ordering savoury dishes, but pancakes and French toast are those little made breakfast items I also crave.

County General’s pancake is unique; it’s denser and without the airy pockets. However, given its thinness the pancake still feels light. But, what makes it stand out is the deep crust that forms on the bottom (it’s a deep brown colour that if given another minute could border along burnt). This crust adds a great caramelized taste and smell to the pancake. Topped with plenty of maple syrup and stewed strawberries it’s worth saving room for.

Pictured below, but I did not try, are some of their other entrees my friends ordered. The croque madame ($12) made with pulled pork (instead of ham), fried egg, mornay sauce (a béchamel with cheese) and BBQ sauce. 

And the sausage and eggs ($12) served with tomato jam and hash browns. The sausages were served in a deep fried nugget form rather than links.

I’m so glad more restaurants are starting to open in the East end of the city. Since I live Uptown, the drive down is much easier, parking is a breeze (there’s unpaid street parking around the restaurant) and everything just seems calmer. After all, brunch should be a leisurely affair – who wants to feel hurried and arrive at a restaurant only to find a line-up?

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!