Aah… Sunday Brunch. Those two words come out as a happy sigh of relief as I slowly rise out of bed on this rainy Sunday morning.
Those of us who indulge in this weekly ritual are aware of the opportunity to slooow down, catch up with loved ones, reflect and collect our thoughts after a hectic week. In this way, lingering over an indulgent meal is Therapy for the Soul.
Although our amazing city offers an embarrassment of riches in terms of dining / brunch options, I need not mentally wade through them this morning.
The day’s weather (as well as a sprained ankle) being a deterrent to more adventurous exploration, I know exactly where I am headed from my congested home base at Bay and Bloor: on the wonderfully leafy (and surprisingly quiet, given its proximity to Bloor Street one street south) Prince Arthur Avenue Avenue stands my personal oasis, The Duke of York. One of six of the Duke “family” of pubs in Toronto, it is a mere ten minute stroll away from my apartment, yet the destination seems worlds away from the hustle and bustle that usually surrounds me.
Where to begin in extolling the virtues of this wonderful place?
Offering two patios (the back one being particularly lush with greenery and secluded) and three bar areas on three levels, the decor is a gorgeous offering of dark woods, purple upholstery and inspiring touches. You’ll have to come and see the elaborate, chandelier-like light fixtures for yourself, as descriptors do them no justice, but are one of many sensory elements that contribute to a sense of royalty here.
The Duke also never fails to achieve an impressive feat: That of getting the sound level right!
As I anticipate my meal, I am treated to a bluesy satellite station at a volume level that is not so overwhelming as to prevent conversation. But the enjoyment is brief on this occasion; off it goes in friendly and timely response to a patrons request to better hear the soccer game, being shown on one of three large screens.
I find the staff here to be exceptionally relaxed and friendly; truly happy to be working here. My lovely server Patricia enquires as to whether or not I might like to choose from their extensive selection of wines, beer and spirits. Perhaps next week I’ll indulge in one of their winning mimosas, but today I’d rather focus on my meal.
My anticipation is enhanced upon the presentation of a new brunch menu. There are seven creations sure to satisfy carnivores and vegetarians alike. While I will miss their breakfast burrito (which had become my usual go-to) I am excited to see the new options.
I settle on the “Hipster Hash”. Consisting of a potato and vegetable hash, pork hock and two soft poached eggs, it does not disappoint (as usual). I forgo the kick offered by the accompanying homemade jalapeno hot sauce. Though delicious, I prefer to enjoy the subtle flavors offered by the hash. A small bowl of fruit salad as a dessert / palate cleanser finishes the meal delightfully.
In our current age of hot brunch spots rapidly turning over in this city (with the often attendant long line-ups, stressed servers and cacophony of noise) the 30 year history of the Duke of York offers true relaxation and excellent food in addition to its many virtues. What’s not to love?
If this disappointing weather reasserts itself next Sunday, I see a turkey Monte Cristo in my future…
By Lindsay Turchin
The Duke of York, 39 Prince Arthur Ave, Toronto, 7 days 11:00 – 11:00.