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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Insomnia Cafe :: Whisky + Cake = Breakfast of Champions!

Who doesn't love brunch? If you've seen Scott Pilgrim, you may have spotted Insomnia Cafe lurking in the background several times. Located in the Annex, this restaurant & lounge is appropriately named - you can enjoy 2AM cocktails, bar hop to the wee hours of the morning, and return for brunch at 10AM. Intrigued by the 20-minute pancakes on their menu, I rounded up a breakfast crew for some good eats!

Insomnia Cafe
Verdict:  Go! Yummy weekend brunch
Meal: Brunch

Price: ~$12 + tax & tip

My fellow brunchers enjoyed coffee and tea while we perused the menu. The hot water comes in a separate glass, which you can use to steep your next batch of tea while enjoying the first cup. I tried to order one of their "Hot Cocktails" and was teasingly called a lush when the waitress kindly reminded me that alcohol couldn't be served until 11AM. Oops.

Outside, lounge area, bar

The entire menu looked really good! We decided to try a couple of eggs benny variations and some French Toast while waiting for the 20-minute pancakes.

Eggs Charlotte ($11.50)
Smoked salmon with house made hollandaise, home fries and baby greens
Bright and cheesy
Poke poke the yolk
Insomnia's hollandaise sauce has a bit of a cheesy flavour. It adds a bright colour and if you like a bit of cheese, then you'll probably prefer Insomnia's hollandaise over some other breakfast joints.

The English muffins were nicely toasted and the dish comes with a generous helping of home fries. The eggs were well poached - not as perfectly as Hoof Cafe's but still nice and runny and the side of greens was good to nosh on between bites.

Eggs Manami ($10)
Wheat free - two poached eggs with house made hollandaise, on lightly curried wheat-free rice patties served with home fries and baby greens
Curried rice patty win!

Ordered off of their "Brunch Features" menu, the Eggs Manami had wonderful curried rice patties. This is a delicious alternative to English muffins, and I recommend this over their regular Eggs Benny. Or, perhaps you can ask to substitute biscuits for these patties for one of their regular dishes! Win!

Overall, Insomnia makes a pretty mean plate of Eggs Benedict. Fran's is the worst I've ever tried - I'll never go back for anything - and Hoof Cafe's Suckling Pig Eggs Benny has been the best for hollandaise sauce and poached egg. Mill St. Brewery in the Distillery District also pretty good job, but I'd sooner head back to Insomnia unless if I was looking for a Mill St. Lemon Tea Ale with my breakfast. [Click to Compare]

Home Fries
Their home fries are great! The potatoes are freshly tossed in a bbq-y sauce, and they're not at all soggy. These were quickly snarfed and definitely worth adding to your order if they don't come with it anyways.

French Toast
Heaven on Earth ($10.50)
Wild berries, cream cheese, and honey sandwiched between lightly tanned French toast, dusted with powdered sugar, served with a side of pure Canadian maple syrup

Yummy - I love ordering French Toast! It's one of those things that are so simple to make, but I never get around to cooking it at home. It was crispy and filling with a generous amount of fruit. The cream cheese was good, but I would've enjoyed it just as much without. I'm not so sure that the strawberries were wild as advertised, but they were fresh! This was great drenched in maple syrup.

Kalendar makes a pretty good banana-mango-cream cheese stuffed French toast, and Hoof Cafe's version is amazing with or without the Foie Gras [Click to Compare].

Baked Pancakes ($10)
So these aren't so much pancakes as cakes-baked-in-a-pan. As you can see below, they are huge and are made to order and from scratch. They are very thick and dense, and take at least 20 minutes upon ordering to arrive. We were definitely stuffed after polishing these off!
Chocolate Banana Pancakes
Fluffy pancakes with chocolate chunks and bananas served with a side of pure Canadian maple syrup

My only wish was that there was more chocolate, however I won't really complain because I am just a chocolate fiend and it'd probably satisfy the average bruncher. Slices of banana were embedded all over and chocolate was spread on top along with some icing sugar.

Bonus points for the pure maple syrup! So much better than the bottled stuff you often get at other breakfast joints. Like the French Toast, I ended up pouring it over each good!

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
Fluffy pancakes with green apple slices and cinnamon served with a side of pure Canadian maple syrup

Yum - the apple & cinnamon combination was tasty. I think that if I were to order this again, I would ask for chocolate on the side. Both pancakes felt more like a dessert than breakfast. While good, I don't think I'd order it for myself but as a post-breakfast treat to share with a larger group.

While we were enjoying our pancakes, 11AM finally rolled around! I was able to get my caffeine-alcohol fix and I decided on an Irish Dream Coffee (Irish whiskey and white creme de cacao). My friend also sweetened her coffee with some of the left over maple syrup. Definitely no judgment - it was the real stuff and good! Try it sometime if you haven't!

11AM Lushin' with my Irish Dream Coffee
Mmm...real Canadian maple syrup

Overall, Insomnia is a bright & cheerful breakfast joint in the Annex. I recommend it if you're looking for a tasty brunch at a great value. Their pleasant service, bright dining and bar areas, and great brunch options make it a great choice. Definitely a step up from other local breakfast joints that I've tried with respect to service, atmosphere and quality of food. Get the home fries and their egg dishes are quite tasty.

I've also been there for dinner. If you go, you *must* try their Climax Cake. It's as good as the name suggests ;). Flourless chocolate torte, wonderfully dense and rich - I would return just for that dessert alone! Their pizzas are also quite good and named after Toronto neighbourhoods - I tried their Annex pizza. Their Mediterranean Platter and fries with aioli are decent appetizers to share with the table - but the pizza would be better.

Insomnia Cafe
Verdict:  Go! Yummy weekend brunch
Meal: Brunch

Price: ~$12 + tax & tip
Location: 563 Bloor Street West, Toronto

Insomnia on Urbanspoon


redmenace said...

Hi Erin, I love the blog! I have never been to Toronto, but it's where my mother went to college. I must visit and try this lovely place someday. I love a good brunch!

Erin said...

Hi~ Thanks! Yes, please visit us and try Insomnia, it's such a happy place to start your weekend :). For an amazing brunch, I think that this is the best in Toronto:

Hope you visit soon!

taryn said...

Hi! I surfed in from Urbanspoon, and proceeded to salivate at the sight of your review and photos... wow. Mind if I 'follow' you?

Erin said...

Hi Taryn! Of course not, please do :) I love sharing!

taryn said...

Thanks! (As an aside, I went to Insomnia with three of my friends this past weekend and you didn't steer us wrong. ^___^ Thanks for the recommendation.)

Erin said...

Yay!! I'm glad to hear it :) I hope you blog about it!

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