veggie.brunch.austin: Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden

The Location: Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden (sounds like a perfect destination for a vegetarian, no?)

The Time: Easter weekend

The Company: Two brunch dates in a row!? Diana and Paul

Veggie Menu: Beet and goat cheese sausage, veggie BLT (tomato sausage and, unfortunately, mushroom bacon), veggie ranchero (black beans, eggs, avocado, cheese curds served on top of nachos – known in the states simply as “chips”), veggie benny (tomatoes and avocado instead of pork), granola with fruit and yogurt served in a mason jar (of course)

Speaking of mason jars, what makes a brunch joint a hipster brunch joint? After my visit to Banger’s, I have some ideas:

  • The establishment is called Banger’s Sausage, unironically
  • Middle-aged ladies dancing in the rain with their elbows high in the air while the Big Band plays = an ordinary Sunday
  • The staff scoffs at you for daring to order something on the regular menu during brunch hours, even if it is an order of the jar of pickles, and the walls are lined with pickles…
  • At Banger’s, the size difference between the mimosas and a flight of beer is not humorous. Don’t laugh at these pictures.
Cheers to drinking at Banger's!

The pinky says it all.

At a loss for words.

At a loss for words.

  • Any random member of the staff has more tattoos than all the customers combined
  • You can get your own tattoo, while you’re at Banger’s, of the Banger’s logo
Should I get it on my neck?

Should I get it on my neck?

I broke all the hipster rules. I expressed excitement when the Big Band played covers of pop anthems. I gawked, laughed and rejoiced when the woman danced in the rain with her elbows to the sky. I dared ask for the jar of pickles, which was answered with a curt response. I did not get a tattoo. I loved my veggie benny, smothered in shoe string onions. And I had a great time.

Despite the lack of vegetarian options, this is a fun place to go. Banger’s, next time I’m trying the veggie sausage, I won’t get a tattoo, I won’t dance in the rain, but I will smile the whole time, because there is no equivalent to Banger’s in Toronto.


Shari’s Veggie Meter (out of five):🍅🍅🍅

Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden on Urbanspoon

veggie.brunch.austin: Mother’s Cafe

Mother's Cafe

Mother’s Cafe

The Location: Mother’s Cafe (it’s in Austin. I have no idea where in Austin, I simply got in the car and got out at the appropriate time. Just check the map!)

The Time: Easter Weekend

The Company: Old but new friends Diana and Paul

Veggie Menu: Southwestern, Spinach or Cheese Omelette, Breakfast tacos (your whole breakfast will be in here: eggs or tofu, potatoes, and “soysage”), Santa Fe Breakfast tacos (minus the potatoes and “soysage” but add some veggies and guac), Huevos Motulenos (eggs AND tofu, no need to decide!), Huevos a la Mexicana (eggs OR tofu, make your decision), Banana walnut pancakes, Migas (fellow Canadians, look it up if you need to), eggs with potatoes and beans, eggs with a pancake, and french toast

Mother’s Cafe, as proclaimed by Austinites Diana and Paul, is a vegetarian restaurant for non-vegetarians. As I usually would rather eat at a non-veggie place and find the veggie options, this sounded perfect for me!

"We eat here, and we're not even vegetarian!"

“We eat here, and we’re not even vegetarian!”

Each order of tacos includes three tacos, and the server let me get one of each kind, and a pancake substitution instead of my third! It was a bit too much food for me, and I should have gone with corn tortillas instead of flour, but I LOVED the potatoes in the Santa Fe taco! I hope to find a place in Toronto that does potatoes in tacos.

Huevos and tacos and pancakes (oh my)

Huevos and tacos and pancakes (oh my)

Chris enjoyed his Huevos, but as usual was frustrated that I made everyone pause before eating to take the above and below photos.

Omelette, patiently waiting to be eaten.

Omelette, patiently waiting to be eaten.

Mother’s Cafe also has amazing pie, and we all shared a slice of blueberry before leaving. I was off my game, and forgot to take a photo until it was too late (to Chris’ delight). So reader, please picture in your head a beautiful piece of blueberry pie, surrounded by four forks, and play some harp music for ambience, and you’ll get a glimpse of what we experienced.
Shari’s Veggie Meter (out of five):🍅🍅🍅🍅

Mother's Cafe & Garden on Urbanspoon

veggie.brunch.toronto: Cardinal Rule

Cardinal Rule

Cardinal Rule

The Location: Cardinal Rule (in the heart of Roncy village)

The Time: late February

The Company: Husband Chris, friends Kara, Matt and Sarah

Veggie Menu: Classic Breakfast with latkes and “facon” (quotation marks theirs; substitute tofu to make it vegan), eggs benedict with “facon” or spinach, Challah french toast, Hawaiian-stuffed french toast (“facon” and pineapple are involved), coconut pancakes, a vegan burrito which includes “TVP” (quotation marks mine) and “parmesan” (quotation marks theirs), and a vegan french toast. There are also family-style breakfasts available for vegans, veggies, and carnies.

-It’s taken me a LONG time to write this entry. I had no motivation to sit down and write it. That’s a bad sign.

-There was no lineup on a Saturday at Cardinal Rule. That’s another bad sign.

-I don’t remember what I ordered. Yet another bad sign.

Oh yeah. That's what I ate.

Oh yeah. That’s what I ate.

My pictures tell me that I ordered scrambled eggs with latkes and facon. I could have made better scrambled eggs at home. That’s not saying much, considering I’ve been known to eat my scrambled eggs on potato chips.

Chris and Sarah each had eggs benny, one with “facon”, and one with “spinach”. Though it was real spinach, so nix the quotation marks. Matt got a fruit salad. I don’t remember how they felt about their meals. You guessed it, that’s not a good sign.



The latkes were okay but kind of chewy. The “facon” is one of the better fake bacons I’ve had, but I don’t like eating fake meat and wouldn’t return here for it.

Good or bad, all signs point to: skip Cardinal Rule and go to Easy instead, for food without bad signs or quotation marks.

Shari’s Veggie Meter (out of five): 🍅

Cardinal Rule on Urbanspoon

#48: Hello Darling

Hello Quesadilla

Hello Quesadilla

#48 on blogTO’s 50 Best Brunches: Hello Darling

The Location: Hello Darling (near Wallace and Co. Spoiler Alert: the standards of brunch in Wallace-Emerson are pretty low)

The Time: Saturday afternoon, mid-February

The Company: Chris, Anjali, Aitor, and visiting friend Sophie!

Veggie Menu: poached eggs with butternut squash and dilly chèvre cream on a biscuit (aka no-name eggs benedict), quesadilla with fried eggs, sweet potato, black beans and avocado, standard breakfast with eggs, toast, salad, hash, and fruit, barbecue tofu on a kaiser bun, apple cake french toast, sunflower chickpea scramble, breakfast poutine with hash browns , mushroom gravy (yuck) and poached eggs, blueberry pancakes, chilli and biscuit, and a side of coconut “bacon”

Sophie and Aitor are happy to eat!

Sophie and Aitor are happy to eat!

Hello Darling is a super cute, cozy, and family-friendly restaurant. Upon walking in, you get the impression that you could sit here relaxing for hours on end. One family did just this, and in preparation for their hours at Hello Darling, time-travelled back to 1995 and picked up five rolls of film developed at the local Kodak store, and passed the photos around the table, painstakingly experiencing every moment caught on camera, while our group, stuck in 2015, played on our iPhones while we waited for THAT table.

When the Tanners finally left, and some hot drink orders had been placed, I ordered the poached eggs, Chris and Sophie ordered the breakfast poutine, Aitor ordered the pancakes, and Anjali ordered the quesadilla.

Fast-forward twenty years, and we finally got to eat.

Fast-forward twenty years, and we finally got to eat.

After celebrating the fact that we all ordered vegetarian meals, we waited a LONG time for our drinks and our meals. Unfortunately, the food was not worth the wait. The combination of dill and butternut squash was strange, and my side salad was substantially more appealing than my main (a huge brunch no-no). Chris’ side of coconut bacon added an extra element of bizarre to the meal; it was more like eating nuts out of a dish at a Pat and Mario’s (in 1995). The scones were nice, but not amazing. No one else raved about their meals either. I think we were all just relieved that Hello Darling left the 90’s and finally fed us.


Goodbye, Darling

Goodbye, Darling


Shari’s Veggie Meter (out of five): 🍅🍅


Hello Darling on Urbanspoon

#31: The Drake

#31 on blogTO’s 50 Best Brunches: The Drake

The Location: The Drake Lounge (blogTO lists The Drake Cafe, but the Lounge also has a great vibe and the same menu!)

The Time: Mid-February, on a day of Christian celebration turned Hallmark Holiday (Happy Love Day! …..)

The Company: Liz and Chris

Veggie Menu: Warm Scone plates (with whipped butter, cream and preserves; option of heart-shaped scones for Love Day! …..), yogurt and preserves (fruit, house-made granola, coconut and dark chocolate), Frittata, Mushroom Benny (yuck), Drake Benny (if you’re sensible like me and hate mushrooms, order this one and substitute kale for ham; served on buttermilk biscuit with arugula and root vegetable hash), soup of the day (it was vegetarian on Love Day! …..), quinoa and rye berry salad (also contains barley, feta, yogurt, brussels sprouts, squash, carrot, zucchini, and pickles)

Even though THIS was happening in some households:

Happy Love Day!

Happy Love Day!

…we pretended it was an ordinary Saturday and went to the Drake, where THIS was happening:

Blueberry scones!

Blueberry scones!

The Drake is a lovely place to eat. The scones were served warm, and the toppings appropriately melted on contact. Chris, in an act of defiance against my senses, ordered the mushroom benny:

Mushroom Benny, yuck

Mushroom Benny, yuck

….but I guess he still gets his picture here because it was a vegetarian meal.

Having gone overboard on carbs lately and thereby sacrificing whole grains, fruits and vegetables, the yogurt and preserves was calling my name:

Shari, shari, shari...

Happy Love Day, Shari!

And so I ate it!

No scurvy for me!

No scurvy for me on Love Day!

I’m not usually a fan of yogurt and granola dishes, but establishments like Rose and Sons and The Drake have really nailed it; in this instance, the dark chocolate really made this meal memorable. I highly enjoyed my time and food at the Drake, and can’t wait to taste more of their menu.

The memories will last a lifetime.

The memories will last a lifetime.

Shari’s Veggie Meter (out of five): 🍅🍅🍅🍅🍅

The Drake Hotel on Urbanspoon

#40: Smith

See that door behind my friends? That's Smith.

See that nondescript door behind my friends? That’s Smith.

#40 on blogTO’s 50 Best Brunches: Smith

The Location: Smith (not just a nondescript character on Sex and the City, Smith is also a nondescript door on Church street that leads to three floors of brunch goodness)

The Time: Late January

The Company: Best good friends Liz, Anjali, Aitor, Rebecca, and Chris

Veggie Menu: Espresso Caramel doughnut (for those lucky enough to not be allergic to caffeine), Lemon Curd doughnut, Scones, Coffee Cake (for those allergic to caffeine, coffee cake has no caffeine in it!), Crepes (filled with mascarpone, pistachio and grapefruit), Waffles, Huevos Rancheros, Eggs Benedict with a leak fondue (substitute spinach for the meat), with sides of eggs, homefries, tomatoes and fruit available

There aren’t a lot of savoury veggie options at Smith, and, with an upset stomach, I needed savoury and had trouble deciding what to order. Remembering how delicious the leak fondue eggs benedict was at The Ace (and that I passed them up for the huevos), I did the spinach substitute and turned my Benny into a Flory. It was delicious. Leak fondue is the perfect companion for poached eggs, and more satisfying than most hollandaise sauces. Anjali, as she usually does, went with the huevos, and said it wasn’t spicy enough. Nondescript like their front door and Samantha’s boyfriend Smith, I’m sure.

The homefries were some of the best I’ve had in the city. Members of my party said they were too potato-y, but that’s what made them great. Finish your meal off with a package of soda crackers brought from home, and your queasy stomach is rightened.

Eggs Florentine with a side of soda crackers

Eggs Florentine with a side of soda crackers

Too bad a plate of Eggs Benny and a package of soda crackers won’t cure the queasiness I feel when I watch Smith “acting” on SATC.

See that nondescript man behind Samantha? That's Smith.

See that nondescript man behind Samantha? That’s Smith.

Shari’s Veggie Meter (out of five): 🍅🍅🍅🍅


Smith on Urbanspoon

veggie.brunch.kingston: Morrison’s

The fastest breakfast in the world.

The fastest breakfast in the world.

The Location: Morrison’s (Everything surrounding it has changed since we were at Queen’s, but Morrison’s has been there forever, will outlive us all, and will still be there when nothing but WALL-E roams the earth.)

The Time: Mid January

The Company: Cousin Alex and Husband Chris

Veggie Menu: I didn’t have time to take a photo of the veggie menu because our meal was delivered in this amount of time:

That's just over 5 minutes!

That’s just over 5 minutes!

From memory, I think veggie options include pancakes, omelettes, and combinations of eggs and homefries. There’s no benny, there’s no huevos. Morrison’s ain’t got no time for that!

The french toast was nice and light and was already perfect with a bit of melted butter on it. Chris’ eggs and homefries were brought to him very quickly and were therefore great.

Butter my toast, Morrison's

Butter my toast, Morrison’s

Chris and I talk about Morrison’s at least once a week. We mention their speedy service and longevity every single time we’re at brunch, since I have never met its match.

Morrison’s, Toronto needs fast greasy spoons like you. Please open a branch in the GTA, and on the Axiom as well.

Take good care of Morrison's, WALL-E.

Take good care of Morrison’s, WALL-E.

Shari’s Veggie Meter (out of five): 🍅🍅🍅

Morrison's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Best Brunches in Toronto (so far!)

Only 19 Left!


1. Bonjour Brioche (blogTO’s #27) – Many veggie options and they’re all mind-blowing

1. Mildred’s Temple Kitchen (blogTO’s #7) – The best Huevos in the city

The Rest:

3. Aunties and Uncles (blogTO’s #1) – A classic, and it’s the same guy who does Choir! Choir! Choir!

4. The Queen and Beaver (blogTO’s #47) – Going for the third time this weekend, at my mom’s request.

5. Rose and Sons (blogTO’s #4) – Poached pears and avocados. Heaven.

6. The White Brick Kitchen (blogTO’s #39) – Very rich, amazing, vegetarian foods.

7: Mitzi’s Cafe (blogTO’s #11) – Good food, good location

8: Grapefruit Moon (blogTO’s #21) – The morning poutine is awesome. Many vegan options too.

9: La Cubana (blogTO’s #32) – Plantains for breakfast. Yes.

10: The Ace (blogTO’s #33) – I suspect it hosts the best eggs benedict. A revisit will confirm.

11: Harvest Kitchen (blogTO’s #50)

12. Easy Restaurant (blogTO’s #2) – Many Mexican-inspired veggie options

13: The Federal Reserve (blogTO’s #24) – Daily veggie omelette!

14: Okay Okay (blogTO’s #17) – McDonald’s Hash Browns meets OK2′s Benedict.

15. Universal Grill (blogTO’s #20)

16. Lady Marmalade (blogTO’s #5) – Overhyped, and they wouldn’t serve me the miso breakfast poutine.

17. Little Fish (blogTO’s #14) – If you love custards and jams, you likely love this place more than I do.

18: Farmhouse Tavern (blogTO’s #18) – Inventive dishes, great ambiance, slow service, cold tea

19: Wallace & Co. (blogTO’s #50) – Tempeh substitutions are remarkable but not much else is.

20: The Stockyards (blogTO’s #15) – Stocky yards has great emergency vegetarian meals. Go with your carnivorous partner.

21: Voodoo Child (blogTO’s #25) – Very few menu options, period. Hopefully one of the three will always be a veggie meal.

22: The Westerly (blogTO’s #28) – Huevos Rancher-NOs (I can get a bit more mileage out of that joke, can’t I?)

23: Hogtown Vegan (blogTO’s #48) – Oh chicken and waffles, a dish I’d never tried before becoming a vegetarian, how I’ve missed you.

24: Weslodge (blogTO’s #46) – Decorated by Gaston (who uses antlers in all of his decorating). Gaston is not a vegetarian.

25: Emma’s Country Kitchen (blogTO’s #22) – The pig shelf says it all

26: Starving Artist (blogTO’s #37) – Their new location was not up to their usual standards. And their usual standards include WASPS.

27: Saving Grace (blogTO’s #3) – #3 blogTO? Really? I had a flavourless Indian-inspired meal.

28: Fanny Chadwick’s (blogTO’s #19) – The food was as nondescript as the fake lawn on the patio

29: Parts and Labour (blogTO’s #30) – If you LOVE tofu and LOVE cilantro, go here for sure.   …..

30: School (blogTO’s #6) – I’m not sure why blogTO moved School up to #6. They ran out of half of their menu at their all-day brunch, and the items they had were dull and over-priced. LAME.

31: Lazy Daisy’s Cafe (blogTO’s #29) – Daisy is out of her league


Camp (blogTO’s #40) – Camp has been toying with my heart. First, they closed for three months. Then they reopened as a seafood restaurant and called themselves Fish Camp. Then they decided to close all together. I will miss you, Camp, and treasure the memories. May you rest in peace with my other favourite brunch spot, Kingston’s Epicure.

#30: Parts and Labour

#30 on blogTO’s 50 Best Brunches: Parts and Labour

The Location: Parts and Labour (east of all the antique stores at the base of Queen and Roncy)

The Time: Early January

The Company: Musical Theatre buffs Rhonda and Alain

Veggie Menu: Pancakes with whipped maple butter and fruit, and spicy tofu served with jalapeños, black beans, tomatoes, home fries and cilantro. Yep, that’s the veggie menu. A substitution can be made in the “full breakfast”: tofu in place of sausage and bacon and black beans instead of baked beans, but this menu item had mushrooms in it too, and I didn’t want to be that princess who asks to sub out three items in one dish.

Sometimes I wonder if two people’s clashing dietary restrictions (i.e.: being a vegetarian) ever causes a break up. If Parts and Labour were a person, we would have never even begun to date. They love their meat WAY too much, and are just way too hipster for me.

Garlic sausage. Pork belly. Flat iron steak. Country ham. Canadian brisket. Meat does not need so many descriptive words. Canadian or country, country or flatiron, it’s all murder, amiright? Just kidding. The real murder was of my tastebuds when the chef put cilantro and tofu in the same bowl.


Tofu deserves a descriptive word too. Pungent tofu.

Once I pushed the cilantro aside, I ate my tofu like a good girl.



It was as good as tofu can taste I suppose, but really, when a restaurant only has one or two veggie options, they’d better be amazing, in the style of The Queen and Beaver or The Stockyards. Not so at P&L.

Also, this restaurant looks like a theatre from the outside.

This place is hipster and I don't understand it.

This restaurant is so hipster that it gives adjectives to all of its meats and is also a music venue. Fetch.

On the upside, at a nearby antique store Al and I discovered that we are destined to be travelling companions.

Thems our initials!

Thems our initials!

And that’s how I feel about that restaurant.

Shari’s Veggie Meter (out of five): 🍅

Parts and Labour on Urbanspoon

#50: Harvest Kitchen

This photo brought to you by CANON and by the creepy spoon ghosts of Joy and Shari

This photo brought to you by CANON and by the creepy spoon ghosts of Joy and Shari

#50 on blogTO’s 50 Best Brunches: Harvest Kitchen

The Location: Harvest Kitchen (After 10 years in Toronto, seven of those living in the Annex, Harbord Street is still a mystery to me. I’m not even sure how I got there.)

The Time: The New Year! January 3rd, 2015!

The Company: Lock and Keynote royalty Chris and Joy

This photo brought to you by cup of peanut soup

This photo brought to you by cup of peanut soup

Veggie Menu: Oatmeal made with coconut milk and a fruit compote, Corn and Millet Pancakes, Baked Niagara French Toast, the Power Breakfast (two eggs, twice-baked beans, guac, tomato, an english muffin, and a substitution of smoked tofu instead of bacon), Eggs Benedict served with a side of celery root slaw (I almost wrote celery toot slaw, hehe) and a choice of soup, salad, fries or home fries, Mushroom French Fry salad (yuck, I hate the mush), African Peanut Soup, Kale salad, Breakfast Burrito with scrambled eggs or tofu, grilled cheese, and a selection of smoothies

Veggie Specials: There was a soup special, but all I remember is that the daily omelette had butternut squash in it.

This photo brought to you by Joy's thumb and Chris' argyle

This photo brought to you by Joy’s thumb and Chris’ argyle

There are many perks that come with keeping a blog about food. First of all, it’s a great excuse to see friends old and new. Secondly, I get to document fabulous reunions, like the one we had with Joy today! And last but not least, I get to eat good food all the time.

When I heard the words “omelette” and “butternut squash” said in the same sentence, my mind drifted back to the buttercup squash at Farmhouse Tavern, and I briefly daydreamed about how great squash is in a brunch dish. But, my mind was already made up, so I ordered the “Benni’.”

It was a respectable dish. The hollandaise sauce was homemade, and while not inventive, did the job well. The novelty was found in the side of African Peanut soup, which was a little too tomato-y for me, but I was still excited since I’d never eaten soup with peanuts in it before. And rounding off the meal was the amazing celery root-toot slaw.

Here’s what he thought of his Power Breakfast:


And Toronto’s special guest, Joy, had the pancakes, and here’s what she has to say about them:

Harvest Kitchen

Harvest Kitchen is a cute and spacious restaurant – plenty of room for the Saturday brunching crowd. And while their food was good, I was equally impressed with their gender neutral washrooms. It’s time all restaurants followed suit and stopped assigning gender to generic onesie washrooms.

For when you need to celery root toot

This washroom brought to you by the celery root-toot slaw, and by people like you

Harvest Kitchen, thanks for being forward thinking, not only about your washrooms, but also about putting peanuts in soup and making a slaw out of celery root (….toot).


Shari’s Veggie Meter (out of five): 🍅🍅🍅🍅


Harvest Kitchen on Urbanspoon