2009 A year in Brunch
Well, Ladies and Gents, it has been a busy and tasty year with many new places that have been reviewed. In fact, we almost did 50 reviews: some were great and some were awful (which I consider those to be my public service announcements/paying for transgressions in a past life). So, in keeping with last years “Best Of 2008” posting, I feel it is fair to see what 2009 brought us. I kept most of the same categories from last year but felt that adding some new ones would be interesting. As always, if you feel that I have missed a place that you really like feel free to contact me by clicking on the contact tab up top.
Last year when I did best new place I put both a place I went to and a place that had just opened. This year I looked at my list and saw some places that were new to me but had already been in existence, as well as places that had just come on the block. So to be fair and not pull my hair out I decided to break it down into two sections: Best New Place that had opened in 2009 and Best New Place that was already existance but was new to me.
Best New place
Having just opened recently and almost accidentally since the owners intended on making it a bar first, The Sparrow has quickly made a name for itself in the Montreal Brunch community and it already commands a loyal following in such a short time. Everything about this place is refreshing; the food is great; the décor is welcoming and chalked full of detail. The service is friendly and there’s even added cool little nuggets of foodie gossip like the head chef Marc Cohen having worked under Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey. But all gossiping and interior design watching aside, the Sparrow puts out an amazing brunch and if you have not tried it yet, make sure you do so already.
Best New place (already existing)
Now, this is a hard section. I mean I reviewed some great places this year, if I were to make a short list I would say: Le Cartet, Bagels Etc, The Sparrow, Madre, M sur Mason are all tops. Each of these spots is amazing and if you have not checked them out I would suggest that you make some time in 2010 to do so. Some of them have a different culinary style that you may or may not like so read the review beforehand (I loved them all). Now that I’ve stalled and tried to delay my decision, I will have to give the honour to Le Cartet because the food is amazing. It’s a mix of classic breakfast meets refined dinning. The taste is delicious and fresh and the location is refreshing and it constantly delivers a home run every time I go back. I should note that Madre was nipping at its heels but after I tabulated all the pros and cons, Le Cartet squeaked ahead.
Top 4 Best Dishes
Best French Toast
Since last year, I have made it a point to try out more French Toast dishes and have found some great options. When I first started reviewing all it would take was Challah bread french toast to impress me, then I discovered more and more places that did it with Challah bread and later on I discovered places that innovated with corn breads and then Panetone French toast. It is places like these that help improve a dish in which many places just lazily take white bread dipped in eggs batter. It is these innovative places that bring french toast and ultimately brunch to an entire other level. So it is with great satisfaction that I present the top 3 Places for french toast.
Yes I know pancakes and crepes are different but to be honest I don’t feel like creating 12 food categories and sub sections so I lumped them in one. The goal is to recognize excellence in these somewhat related dishes and to be honest most places offer the same topping for pancakes and crepes.
Best Eggs Benedict
This section is hard since I love eggs Benedict so much, but I can safely say that any of these 3 places will guarantee an amazing eggs Benedict.
Top 3 unique places
This year I focused more on the culinary adventure and it seems that the top three share a common thread in that they are all ethnic. I find this is a challenge that few places try and I am pleased that these winners have infused a unique style to brunch to give you a truly unique dining experience.
I was so floored by Crescendo that putting others on this list did not seem right. This view can only be appreciated in the summer and what makes it even better is that you can do stuff right after and even take a ferry ride to Nuns Island or go on the bike path. If you want a nice relaxing day in the summer, you must check out Crescendo.
This years winner was… well, last years winner: Dans La Bouche. Their plates are enormous and if you are a hungry hippo like me then check them out since you will be satisfied.
My pick 2009
This section is reserved to a spot that personally appeals to me, I usually leave it for a place that did not make it into the rankings but I think everyone should check out. This year I chose Madre on Masson Street. Its Latin fusion approach to brunch is both refreshing and delicious and should be a must on everyone’s list.
Best all you can eat
I often find that all-you-can-eat places tend to sacrifice quality; although, I can safely say that this place does not. If you want a good all-you-can brunch place, check out Chateau Vaudreuil.
Sadly there are only a handful of truly vegetarian or vegan places that do brunch. I really hope this changes since it is an interesting culinary approach to Brunch and I find that too few mainstream brunch places offer any real vegan options (besides a fruit dish). Of all the places I have been to in Montreal I will have to give it to Aux Vivres