Hollandaise Diner


Mateo’s coconut pancake

The Location: Hollandaise Diner near Woodbine and Danforth

The Time: early March, Friday afternoon

The Company: Not my brother, “we’re just friends” Mateo Lewis

Veggie Menu: The Hungry Herbivore (a large meal featuring eggs, veggie meats, and a pancake or french toast), Veggie poutine with hollandaise sauce, Eggs Florentine, Cajun Benny with polenta patty and sautéed peppers, Build-a-Benny (options such as veggie meats, sautéed vegetables, artichokes, and five hollandaise sauces to choose from), an assortment of pancakes, and an assortment of frittatas

Vegan Menu: A tofu frittata

High chair available: Yes

What started out simply as a brunch date turned into “Shari and Mateo’s Day of Fun!”


Actual picture of Mateo and Shari

We started our day off at Hollandaise diner, a small friendly Danforth restaurant that boasts an impressive customizable menu and an overwhelming amount of veggie options. I opted for the build-a-benny with the polenta patty instead of a biscuit, topped with artichoke, eggs, and zesty hollandaise sauce. Since the restaurant takes its name from this sauce, I expected it to blow my mind and give me this reaction:


Actual picture of Shari

The hollandaise was good, but not “Oh…My…God…” good. While the polenta patties were amazing, the zesty hollandaise sauce wasn’t lemon-y enough for me, and the home fries were unmemorable. And I didn’t eat my orange slice, as I’m not pregnant anymore, and only pregnant Shari eats fruit.


This is what I actually looked like while in labour, I swear.

What DID give me the “Janice” reaction was blue tea…


…that turns purple!



Our Day of Fun continued at a hair salon (“Is he your brother?” … “Oh no, (giggles) we’re just friends”), an art exhibit in a cafe, a musical theatre rehearsal, and a dive karaoke bar (which we turned into a musical theatre bar with Mateo’s rendition of “Maria” from West Side Story).

Even though Hollandaise brunch didn’t “wow” me, I’ll likely be back due to all the vegetarian options, the polenta patties, the warm and friendly service, and tea that turns into my favourite colour.

See you next day of fun, Hollandaise Diner.


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


veggie.brunch.bracebridge: Nick’s Family Restaurant

IMG_4273The Location: Nick’s Family Restaurant, 2 of 2 brunch restaurants in Bracebridge (to my knowledge)

The Time: Family day weekend, February

The Company: Chris “do you have turkey bacon?” Jackman

Veggie Menu: Pancakes, french toast, and a cheese, veggie or greek omelette

*sidenote: Doesn’t veggie.brunch.bracebridge roll off the tongue so much better than veggie.brunch.toronto? However, while Bracebridge has some amazing restaurants, few of them serve brunch. Too bad brunch isn’t the institution there that it is in Toronto.*

So I’m fairly certain I had never had a greek omelette before going to Bracebridge. But remember how I said that Toronto brunches usually have a gimmick, and brunches in other cities don’t? Well, Bracebridge’s brunch gimmick is greek omelettes. It is THE go-to veggie option.

I was struck with how different brunching is outside of Toronto. Brunch in Toronto is an urgent event. If you haven’t rushed out of your house before 8:30 am on a Sunday morning to be the first in line when the doors open, then you’ve just come in from a 45-minute wait outside in the cold. And when you finally do squeeze three people at a table for two by the drafty window, there’s the ever-growing line (that sometimes reaches right to your table), reminding you not to loiter over your tea. (Or you’re lucky enough to have found a place that falls under the radar and you get a table immediately, but let’s face it, usually these places fall under the radar for a reason.)

At Nick’s, which is likely the most popular brunch in Bracebridge, we walked right in and got a table in an already busy restaurant, because it was huge. Happy and relaxed people filled the tables, and the service was friendly and quick without being rushed. I quickly became one of the aforementioned happy/relaxed people:



That’s my happy face (RBF unintended)

And then the food arrived. The home fries were decent and the omelette was perfectly cooked and didn’t skimp on the feta. See?


While we had a nice meal and a nice time, brunch menus should have a signature vegetarian dish beyond an omelette, pancakes or french toast, or should offer a well-thought substitute to meat. Vegan and gluten-free options don’t hurt either. Also, not every carnivore eats pork. Turkey bacon is a healthy alternative, my husband tells me.

Shari’s Veggie Meter (out of five):🍅🍅

veggie.brunch.bracebridge: Fresh Kuts

The Location: Fresh Kuts Market and Grill (one of two brunch restaurants in Bracebridge, to my knowledge)

The Time: Family day weekend, February

The Company: Me and the OB (Original Bruncher), Chris

Veggie Menu: Greek omelette, cheese omelette …. end of list


With a name like “Fresh Kuts”, it’s not surprising that THIS greeted us upon arrival:


Is this view appetizing to ANYONE?

Trying to balance the view of raw meat to my left, the decorators gave me a bit of whimsy with old-timey bicycles to my right.


But the damage had been done, and my hopes were set pretty low for the omelette I was inevitably going to order.


My eyes are a window to my skepticism.

To my surprise, the greek omelette was decent, as were the home fries. I always forget, in brunching outside of Toronto, that just because a brunch menu doesn’t have a “gimmick” or multiple vegetarian options, doesn’t mean the food won’t be perfectly satisfactory.

But would I recommend this to vegetarians? … The top image speaks for itself.

Shari’s Veggie Meter (out of five):🍅


House of Common


House of Ponies

The Location: House of Common (just outside the Junction, and technically in Little Malta, as I learned)

The Time: late January, Saturday morning

The Company: There were 8 of us and a toddler (and Baby Firefly, her vintage MLP), which is an ambitious size for Toronto brunch

Veggie Menu: yogurt, granola and fruit, the common Breakfast (eggs, roast potato and leek, and roasted veggies as a meat substitute), a mushroom-laden frittata (see my tagline if you want to know how I feel about mushrooms)

High chair available: Yes


Long table for long-time friends

For any non-Torontonians out there, I want to explain something: waiting in line for brunch is just par-for-the-course, and brunch reservations aren’t really a thing. (Brunch is literally the only event I’ve waited in line for, except for that time I assumed there’d be a lineup on opening day of The Muppet Movie. Spoiler alert: there wasn’t.) So when opentable.ca told me we could reserve a table for 8 people on a Saturday morning, that pretty much decided where we were going to go.

Without a wide variety of veggie options, I was relying heavily on the substituted roasted veggies, and they did not disappoint. Meat substitutes can often be an after-thought (think wilted spinach, fried tomatoes, or worse, raw tomatoes), but these veggies were the heart of the meal.

Restaurant recap: huge table for 8, takes reservations, amazing veggie substitutes, lineup-worthy without the lineups.

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

Reviving a blog


All the cool moms go for brunch. ***

Well hi there! My name is Shari, and I’m a music teacher by night, and a veggie brunch-er by day. I love brunch SO much that I used to write a brunch blog. THIS brunch blog.

It started off as a quest to visit every place on blogTO’s top 50 brunch restaurants, and rate their vegetarian dishes. But alas, I was a real-life Starving Artist, and worked every Sunday morning as a music teacher, which heavily cut into my brunch eating time. Dang art.

Now it’s 2018, and I haven’t updated my blog in THREE years. For some reason, it started to fizzle in spring 2015, when I was still going for brunch but I was usually ordering the yogurt and granola (WHO WAS I?), eating saltines (which I brought from home) while I waited, and couldn’t really remember anything about any meal the moment it was done. I would sit down to write and could barely remember the restaurant’s name. And then….


IMG_4339This gal came along – Curly Sue. She’s the reason my “mom brain” took over my “brunch brain”. Now my time at brunch is spent eating as quickly as I can, so that her dad can also have a turn to eat. Everyone tells you becoming a parent is hard, but no one tells you that it cuts into your enjoyment of BRUNCH.

But now I’m back in the saddle. Let’s review what we learned from my first go-round of brunch blogging:

-Lady Marmalade is overrated and Bonjour Brioche is the place to go instead
-Don’t order pancakes unless you’re going to order The Queen and Beaver ones with peanut butter ice cream
-Nothing lasts forever. CAMP restaurant will always have a special place in my heart, and I know Curly Sue would have loved it too.

And some thoughts moving forward:

-While nothing can replace CAMP, Porch Light is my new love … though I’m afraid if I love it too much, it will leave me, like CAMP did. Ah, the risks of falling in brunch love.
-Don’t offer your kid french toast if you actually want them to eat eggs. They will always choose french toast.
-Mental note: buy new jeans (as I sit in the same ones from 2013)


So…. want to go for brunch? Let’s do this.

***Want to win a brunch with me? Tell me what restaurant I’m at in the top picture!


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