Showing posts with label home fries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home fries. Show all posts

Hazel’s Diner Mount Pleasant (Toronto)


As a society, we seem to be a nostalgic bunch. Possibly a by product of living through the pandemic, or just because we crave the “good old days” when things were just simpler. We’re listening to more oldies than current top hits, television reboots are sprouting up, and the excitement around Top Gun Maverick is palpable. Does this bleed into the way we eat as well?

Unfortunately, rising rents and COVID has also claimed several iconic diners across Toronto. For Midtown residents, we’re lucky that Hazel’s Diner is still around. Having been to their Yonge location on numerous occasions, I was invited to visit the newer Mount Pleasant outpost, which serves the same menu.   

While the Yonge location’s dark wooden interior provides a homey rustic feeling, Mount Pleasant’s dining room is full of bright colours and light, a nod to the retro diners of the 50s. I almost expected to find Archie and Jughead lounging around the restaurant, tucking into large frothy milkshakes.

The Mount Pleasant location also has an outdoor patio, hidden by beautiful foliage and a wide sidewalk so that there's more privacy. 

You can certainly find the staple breakfast fare of bacon and eggs at Hazel’s, although I think their signature creations are so much better and love that their menu offers so many meat-free options.

Bonnie’s hash ($17), named after the owner’s wife who is a vegetarian, is a hearty combination of well toasted potatoes mixed with corn, onion, pepper, spinach, garlic, and jalapeno, topped with two eggs done to your liking (my over medium was done perfectly). It’s a satisfying breakfast that’s also refreshing and delicious.

I only wish the rye bread was less crispy – it’s more akin to melba toast – and is great for dipping into eggs but not solo with jam. Sourced from a local bakery, the owner explains the lack of preservatives does mean it can crisp up quickly, so perhaps order it untoasted if you like your bread soft.

The TPA benny ($17) is a healthy choice as the poached eggs are accompanied by a mound of arugula salad, tomato slices, and asparagus. Of course, they are also slathered in a rich buttery hollandaise and sit on a large crispy rosti, but what’s a breakfast without potatoes?

Picture and experience of TPA Benny from Yonge location

Hazel’s rosti is crunchier than the traditional Swiss version; it’s more like deep fried shredded potatoes than a pan-toasted potato pancake. Yet, it starts to soften as the egg yolk and tomato juices begin to meld into the rosti. Everything was so fresh thanks to the owner’s dedication to buying most of the ingredients himself… he’s a touch and see the ingredients kind of person. Oh, and if you’re wondering what TPA stands for, it’s tomato potato arugula.

On the other hand, if you’re craving decadence, the eggs Natasha ($19) places poached eggs on smoked salmon and pancakes topped with hollandaise, sour cream, and black caviar. It’s a savoury, sweet, and smoky concoction, certainly a dish to wake up the taste buds and makes me wonder if it’s too early to have a shot of vodka.

For those who like it sweet, the French toast is made from challah so that it’s extra custardy tasting with a faint cinnamon finish. I particularly love that Hazel’s uses maple syrup instead of the overly thick and plasticky tasting table syrup. When you’re creating such wonderful dishes, go maple!    

After such a filling brunch, I didn’t think we could get through the loaded waffle ($16), but as I took a bite of the fluffy creation with a sweet berry, I wanted another bite and another… needless to say, it did not go to waste. And despite what looks like an insane amount of whipped cream, it was as light as air and seemed to vanish on the tongue.

One thing is for sure, you’ll leave Hazel’s feeling satisfied (if not stuffed) as that’s how diners are supposed to be. I picture a stout smiling women with a slight Southern twang urging me to eat another bite and ending sentences with “sugar”. Imagine my surprise when I find out Hazel is the name of the owner’s car … so, not a person. I guess that’s one thing about nostalgia, we look back with rosier glasses, and in my mind, there will always be a Grandma Hazel.  


Overall mark - 8 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in the mission statement, I will always provide my honest opinion. 


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 523 Mt Pleasant Road


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - 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!


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Frankie’s Modern Diner (Victoria)

Before a day of sightseeing, we like to properly prepare ourselves with a hearty meal and Frankie’s Modern Diner seemed like the ideal spot to tuck into a traditional no-fuss breakfast. The large wooden booths provide the mood of a diner, but I can see why they describe it as being modernized with the well-spaced fixtures, whimsical touches, and the French windows that open to create a lovely airy environment.

Normally, I like to keep it simple and order off the menu, but with all the ingredient choices, I opted to create my own omelette ($10) so that I could get pico de gallo paired with spinach (additional $3). The egg was beautifully prepared to a lovely uniform thinness and was filled to the brim with the vegetable toppings.

Unsure about the asiago cream sauce & parmesan cheese the menu describes as covering the home fries, I requested it on the side and found it was more shaved cheese than cream sauce – great for tucking into the omelette for some extra decadence. And you certainly won’t leave hungry with the amount of home fries that comes with the meal, all well-toasted but also overly salted.

Yet, what cinched the meal for me was the ability to choose a pancake or toast as a side… who would pick toast when pancake is an option?! And it was a good pancake to boot – fluffy and soft (but not sticky) with a lovely crust that acted as a barrier against the pancake becoming a syrup sponge as well as creating a pleasant chewy texture. The meal was the perfect combination of an egg-based main with bressert (breakfast dessert) that I love.

Frankie’s had us thinking about lunch not long after finishing our meal as we made our way back to the entrance where their enormous cakes and pies were in full display. If only we were in Victoria for longer, I’d certainly give Frankie’s another visit. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Victoria, Canada
 Address: 910 Government Street


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - 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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Evviva (Toronto)


If seasons could be paired with mealtimes and types, Spring just reminds me of traditional English brunch. Even more so when experienced in the pastel hued Evviva that has made its way into North York.

Their menu is extensive with loads of choices including a great assortment of vegan options for those who want to skip the eggs, bacon, sausage, and ham. The classic vegan Reuben sandwich ($16.99) just beckoned me to try it and arrived looking like a glorious pastrami sandwich. One bite into the faux meat and I was reminded this is indeed vegan – the seitan was too soft and mushy, tasting more like beef tartare than smoked meat. Instead of creating such a thick stack, I would rather Evviva uses less seitan and took the time to really grill each slice, so it develops a crust to provide the bite and chewiness of meat.

Nevertheless, the marble rye was toasted to greasy perfection and the Russian dressing combined with sauerkraut and melted cheddar made for such flavourful bites. I ended up removing the middle portion of seitan and substituted it with pickles to create a delicious sandwich, the acidity of pickle was perfect to counteract the otherwise heavy sandwich.

The fries could have been double fried to give if more crunch but were at least hot and fresh. In retrospect, I would order the home fries instead as they are amazing: the uber crispy exterior and perfect sized cubes just begged to be devoured. I would have gladly traded in the handful of leafy salad the came with the Florentine egg’s benedict ($16.99) for more of the tasty spuds.

In my haste to order I forgot to ask for the poached eggs to be done medium, so I did find the yolk to be a tad runnier than I’d like. As luck would have it, the Hollandaise sauce and the home fries were piping hot and the perfect vessel for mixing and dipping into the eggs to stiffen the yolk. The sauce’s seasoning was also bang on with enough saltiness to flavour the eggs without overtaking the dish. I can see why the egg’s benedict is such a popular choice.

Each egg was also adorned with pretty edible florals, which is likely why the dish instantly put me into a spring-time mood. If April showers bring May flowers, I wonder what indulging in brunch will present?

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 5221 Yonge Street
 Website: https://evviva.ca/


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - 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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this: