Brunch at The Carbon Bar

The Carbon Bar Brunch

I was recently invited to try the brunch menu at The Carbon Bar, a hip spot located at 99 Queen Street West that serves up southern-style snacks, plates and platters. I had actually visited the restaurant before for dinner after a recommendation from a friend and was impressed by the food, so I was excited to return to try their brunch selection.

Carbon Bar offers a weekend brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 am – 2:30 pm that features a number of drool-worthy items including Chicken ‘N’ Waffles with citrus crema and Buttermilk Pancakes with wild blueberries and Ennis Farm maple syrup. They also have a beautiful, full-service bar whipping up refreshing mimosas, house Caesars (my personal fave), and other made-to-order cocktails.

My friend and I arrived at 11:30 am on a Sunday for our meal and were greeted by the restaurant’s super friendly staff, who escorted us to our table. I love the decor at Carbon Bar, which features funky red banquet seating, retro lighting fixtures and impressive high ceilings.

Bar at The Carbon Bar

The Carbon Bar Mimosa 2

The Carbon Bar Mimosa

We ordered a few different dishes to sample along with the prettiest grapefruit mimosas – the restaurant actually has an awesome promotion running currently, where they’ll give you a free mimosa with your meal if you share your brunch experience on social and tag them @TheCarbonBar.

Here’s what we feasted on:

  • Chicken ‘N’ Waffles – buttermilk fried chicken, citrus crema, chili + honey + garlic sauce
  • Buttermilk Pancakes – wild‎ blueberries, Ennis Farm maple syrup, lemon yogurt hangop + house smoked bacon
  • Smoked Brisket Benny – high rise biscuit, two poached eggs, red cabbage slaw, Anaheim chili, dill pickle, hollandaise
  • Smashed & Fried Potatoes – kimchi,‎ parmesan, green onions

The restaurant was also kind enough to serve us a few fresh baked pastries to start. When the food arrived (very promptly I might add), I was blown away by how delicious everything looked – you eat with your eyes first, after all. All of the dishes were also served piping hot, a factor greatly appreciated by someone who can’t consume her meal before documenting it excessively, lol!

The Carbon Bar Chicken N Waffles

The Carbon Bar Brunch 3

The Carbon Bar Buttermilk Pancakes

Once we were finally able to dig in, it’s safe to say we were both thoroughly impressed by the quality of the food. The pancakes were fluffy as clouds, the benny was bursting with flavour thanks to the chili and pickle, and the chicken was crunchy on the outside and succulent on the inside. I love that the menu puts a spin on the classics, infusing them with southern flair and unexpected asian influence (like the kimchi in the potatoes). And when I say we feasted – I mean we had a feast. The portions were more than generous and way more than the two of us could eat! We had the leftovers packed to-go, which were left at the hostess stand for us to collect on the way out – a nice touch on the restuarant’s part.

If you’re looking for a new go-to brunch spot with a delicious selection of savoury and sweet dishes in a cool, relaxed atmosphere – I highly recommend a visit to The Carbon Bar. It’s perfect for both groups (large or small) and couples, and is soon to be on the top of everyone’s radar, in my opinion. I’ll definitely be returning to try some of their Texas BBQ soon, and in the meantime will be dreaming of the mouthwatering brunch spread we had!

Feast in the Fields

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When Robyn of Simply Fresh Dinners reached out to me a few months ago about joining the “Feast in the Fields” event she was hosting in collaboration with Barrie Hill Farms, I was so excited to hear from her! I may be a city girl at heart, but I do love a relaxing day at the farm. Some of my favourite memories are actually connected to the farm, spending time with family and loved ones picking fresh fruit, and just enjoying the quiet of the countryside.

This is the second year Robyn has hosted the feast, a series of events that celebrates the start of the harvest season for a variety of fresh and local Ontario produce. I attended the second event in this series, which was all about raspberries and blueberries! I brought my mom along (who’s always been passionate about gardening and the outdoors) and was joined by some fellow influencers who also made the trip out to Barrie from Toronto.

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The day started with a tour of Barrie Hill Farms, led by owner Morris. You could see the passion behind his love for farm fresh produce, and all of the work that goes into growing his product. After taking a lovely wagon ride through the property, we were met in the blueberry fields with a yummy plate of appetizers: blueberry pizza with bacon and goat cheese, and some lovely little skewers of raspberries, bocconcini and mint.

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After the tour, we headed to a beautiful table for our feast, set with the perfect country tableware and adorable pops of blue. The menu was simple and delicious, showcasing the beauty of the ingredients. We were served family style, which kept the occasion casual and made it the ideal setting for great conversation!

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The food was beyond tasty – my favourite dish had to be the sugar snap peas, which were finished with a healthy dose of butter and olive oil! There’s something special about eating farm to table food; all of the flavours seem to be fresher, tastier and more pronounced. In fact, the carrots we had were so sweet, they were mistaken for sweet potatoes!

Barrie Hill Farms is such a beautiful destination, and perfect for a weekend getaway from the city. Whether you’re spending time with the family or just want to get your hands on some unique, local Ontario products, it’s truly worth the trip. I had an absolutely amazing time learning more about the farm and of course feasting on delicious food! A huge thanks to Barrie Hill Farms for hosting us and to Robyn for having me.

The Best Brunch Spots in Toronto

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If I had to choose my favourite meal, it would hands down be brunch. It’s the perfect time to indulge in something sweet, something savoury, or a little bit of both. It’s also socially acceptable to have an alcoholic beverage before 2pm, which is okay in my books!

There was a period of time where you would find me brunching every weekend – and I mean every weekend. I’ve since cut back, after realizing a weekly eggs benny isn’t the most practical for your wallet (or your waistline)! However I did determine a few of my favourite brunch spots in Toronto after trying many of the popular restaurants in the city.

Here are my favourite spots for brunch in Toronto:

Wish 3 Charles St E

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Wish wins the award for the most instagramable and aesthetically pleasing brunch spot in the city. Make sure to book a reservation (and cross your fingers that you’ll land a spot on the adorable patio), because this place gets slam packed on weekends. The service can be hit or miss, and the crowd can be snooty, but the food is definitely tasty. I recommend the classic eggs benny, angus burger, or avocado toast!

The Good Fork2432 Bloor St W

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This is my pick for the most delicious, all-around menu. While I’m more of a savoury than sweet girl myself, there’s a great selection here and something for everybody. I can personally vouch for the ‘Daisy’ Benny and their take on Huevos Rancheros, but have also heard amazing things about their Red Velvet Pancakes. This is another spot that gets super packed on weekends, but unfortunately they don’t take reservations. I recommend visiting during off-peak hours so you’re not waiting around forever – however they do text you when your table is ready, which is a nice touch. It’s a bit out of the way in the West end, but definitely worth the journey!

The Starving Artist multiple locations

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If eggs benny is your brunch go-to, you’ll love this hip spot with three locations in the city. The ‘B. Benny’ is my spirit animal in benny form – poached eggs and caramalized bacon served on potato waffles. Yes, savoury waffles made from potatoes – my dream vehicle for receiving egg-y, bacon-y, deliciousness. I’ve visited their St Clair location which is a big, bright space with artwork from local artists hung on the walls. The music was a bit too intense the day I visited, but it was still an enjoyable experience. The Starving Artist is cash only, so come prepared!

Smith553 Church St

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Smith is a super cool spot in the Village with upper and lower dining rooms, as well as a patio space. The brunch rush is always hopping, which is a great sign when it comes to food. They serve up generous portions of delicious dishes (the brisket hash is my pick!), and the atmosphere is trendy and inviting. I have yet to be seated on their cute little patio, but will definitely be making it a priority this summer once the weather warms up!

Cafe Neon1024 Queen St W

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The Queen West outfit of this hip eatery (its other location in the Junction) is somewhat unassuming – the first time I walked by, it blended in with the local coffee shops. However upon closer inspection, I realized that the cafe actually had a larger dining room towards the back and I stopped in for brunch. Though the menu is quite small, it definitely hits all the brunch classics – pancakes, omelettes, and the usual fare. I was pleasantly surprised by their version of eggs benny, which included succulent pulled pork. The portions were large and everything was super yummy!

Barque Smokehouse299 Roncesvalles Ave

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Smoked. Duck. Pancakes. This is what first drew me to Barque – and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. If you’re into barbeque, you’ll love this restaurant. They offer a unique take on traditional brunch staples, all featuring their delicious barbeque – pulled pork, ribs, brisket and more. Their smoked duck panacakes come in a heaping portion smothered with a sweet blueberry compote and rich whipped goat cheese. I’m still dreaming about this meal. Barque is another place that gets super busy, but they do take reservations. Book ahead to avoid the wait!

I know what you’re thinking – where’s Mildred’s Temple Kitchen? Where’s Portland Variety? Sadly I haven’t yet made it out to some of the city’s most talked about brunch spots – simply because of the lines! It’s definitely on my bucket list for the next year to try out more places so I can fully assess and nail down my list of top spots. For now, these are my tried and true recommendations for some tasty brunch eats.

Let me know where your favourite place to brunch is in the comments below!

3 Easy & Healthy Breakfast Ideas

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One of my favourite things to do on the weekend is to spend some time in the morning trying out healthy breakfast recipes. It’s easy to gravitate towards unhealthy choices for breakfast, but there are so many easy, healthier options out there that are as delicious as they are good for you.

Here are three easy ideas I love that are easy to make and will give you energy to take on your day:

Smoothie Bowl

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • Toppings of choice

Smoothie bowls are great if you’re someone who craves something sweet in the morning. You can often make them by throwing together whatever you have on hand!

To make the version above, simply blend the mixed berries, banana, almond milk, strawberries, and chia seeds together until smooth. You can top your smoothie bowl with whatever you like – I added chopped pistachios, whole chia seeds, strawberry slices, sunflower seeds and oats to mine. Fresh fruit is also an amazing addition!

Banana Oat Pancakes

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Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Maple syrup & powdered sugar to serve (optional)

These banana oat pancakes are seriously yummy and a healthier take on the classic pancake. I halved this recipe by Simply Delicious, which made enough for a filling breakfast for one.

To make the pancakes, blend the banana, eggs, oats, baking powder and salt until smooth. Let the batter stand for 10-20 mins to thicken, and then fry in a non-stick pan over medium heat until golden brown. I used a 1/4 cup measure to spoon out the perfect amount of batter for each pancake.

Serve your pancakes with a drizzle of maple syrup, powdered sugar or fresh fruit!

(Not so Boring) Toast

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Toast is a breakfast staple, and there are so many more ways to have it than just the classic butter or jam. My favourite variations are avocado toast (recipe below) for a savoury option, and almond butter (or peanut butter) and banana slices for something more sweet. Whole wheat and whole grain bread are a healthy choice and also provide great texture.

Ingredients for avocado spread:

  • 1 small avocado
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Splash of hot sauce
  • Chili flakes to serve (optional)

Remove the skin and pit from the avocado and mash with a fork until smooth. Add lemon juice, salt, garlic powder and hot sauce and combine. Serve over toast and sprinkle with chili flakes!

What are some of your favourite healthy breakfast options? Leave a comment below!