It was a beautifully sunny Saturday morning in the dead of winter, which any Torontonian would tell you is the most deceitful of days. The air was chilling to the bone, the ground lightly decorated with snow, and passersby in puffy jackets and wool hats bobbling down the streets. My group of friends and I found solace in a weekend brunch at Harvest Kitchen as a place to seek warmth and comfort over eggs benny and life talks. Time spent with my friends is a good enough excuse to go outside that morning and enough to drag me out of hibernation mode.
Harvest Kitchen is nestled in the corner of Harbord Village, which is considered to be a thriving culinary destination in Toronto. It's not too far off from the legendary Splendido, THR & Co., and Tabula Rasa by the Food Dudes.
The menu is considered to be an "omnivore's heaven", but is aimed at both vegetarians and meat eaters alike. You'll find ethically sourced foods from notable suppliers such as Nature's Farm, YU Ranch, and one of my favourite butchers, Sanagan's Meat Locker. It's an interesting way to appeal to those with dietary restrictions, whether you're vegan, sensitive to gluten, or simply trying to avoid carbs altogether. So you can thank executive chef Owen Steinberg and co-owner Jill McAbe who have collaborated with chef de cuisine Hyeonho "Ho" Yi (Shangri-La Hotel and Oliver & Bonacini Cafe Grill).
The setting is suitable for anyone looking for a casual brunch spot. Inside is modern rustic decor and a spectacular tree-covered rooftop patio. Of course, the patio is closed off during the winter months but as soon as the spring hits, guests can enjoy sipping on their mimosas outdoors.
Harvest Kitchen takes walk-ins only except for large groups of 10 to 12. With multiple floors however, there is plenty of room and waiting games are usually not an issue. My guests and I were seated as soon as we arrived before 12pm.
I ordered the Classic Eggs Benni with line caught seared rare albacore tuna ($13.95). It has home-made hollandaise sauce oozing over poached free run organic eggs on a freshly baked red fife English muffin served with seared tomato. It comes with a side of savoy celery root slaw and your choice of soup, green salad, regular fries or home fries. I loved the addition of seared albacore tuna, and the home fries were crispy and charred very nicely.
The Baked Niagara French Toast ($10.95) is an interesting rendition of french toast in a bowl. It's light as soufflé and layered with blueberry, peach and cream cheese filled Harbord St. Bakery Challah buns, which are a godsend for french toast. The sweet'n spicy walnuts top off an already sweet dish, so I would go easy on the maple syrup.
A more simple option is the 3 egg omelette of the day as part of the Omelette Feature ($10.95), which also comes with refreshing savoy & celery root slaw. My guest opted for the home fries as well and in short, they really hit it out of the ball park.
The affordable pricing and great menu options appeal to every type from everywhere; students nearby, faculty schmoozers, families, locals and visitors. The service is friendly and timely outside of peak hours. Later I discovered there's a coveted selection of cocktails on the menu and vegan no-cheese cheesecake for the lactose intolerant. As if that's not enough for vegs to swoon over.
After a hearty brunch, you may as well do what any dessert lover would do and stroll up the block to Almond Butterfly Gluten Free Bake Shop & Espresso for a piece of the shop's splendid espresso chocolate cupcake. Mmmm.
124 Harbord Street
Toronto, ON M5S 1G8