Category Archives: Reviews

Schooled

Remember when I proclaimed The Grilled Cheese the coolest restaurant idea in Toronto? I still maintain that proclamation, but that doesn’t mean School Bakery & Cafe doesn’t come pretty darn close.

School Bakery & Cafe

Located just on the outskirts of Liberty Village, School was a bit of an afterthought on my Toronto Bucket List. Reader Joanne suggested it in the comments and I was reminded of reading reviews on it a while back.

School Bakery & Cafe

Being on the other end of the city (it’s way out West, I come from the East), I wasn’t sure if I’d find the time to make it there. My friends and I already had Sunday brunch plans for this week. Which meant I’d have to be motivated enough to get there on my own for a solo weekday brunch.

School Bakery & Cafe

Until we realized that we could brunch on Saturday too. What a novel idea – both days of the weekend! I immediately suggested this place and my friends agreed upon seeing the spectacular menu.

School Bakery & Cafe

We arrived around 12:45pm to a line-up out the door. Waiting for brunch in this city is just the norm. That’s why it’s always best to go with a small group of friends. The smaller the party, the faster you’ll get seated!

School Bakery & Cafe

I loved this place the second we made it inside the door. Unlike other cramped brunch places in the city, School is made up of two large rooms. Including a garage-type door they open up for a patio in the summer. There’s also the open kitchen concept, which I lovelovelove.

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The decor of School is just that – reminiscent of being in a school down to the very last detail. Chalkboards and books line the walls. It’s even inside an institutional looking building that reminds me of an actual school.

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Let’s not forget the projectors playing silent Betty Boop cartoons…

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Or the apple centerpiece on every table…

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But the menu is where School really shines through, not just the loose-leaf it’s printed on.

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It’s divided into two sections. Sweet n’ Fruity:

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Salt n’ Savoury:

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My friends, this was a hard decision. I studied this menu like any good student would. I went back and forth between Super Cheesy French Toast, Smoked Salmon Endive Salad, or maybe the Upstream Benni?

Roommie Megan went for the first choice – Super Cheesy French Toast.

School Bakery & Cafe

With double smoked bacon, maple syrup and greens. This was probably the thickest sliced French toast I’ve ever seen. Still incredibly light and fluffy though. The gooey cheese was actually the perfect compliment to the eggy bread, and the maple syrup made it the perfect blend of sweet & savoury.

School Bakery & Cafe

The boys went for the Melted Gooey Four Cheese Omelet Soufflé. They said it was a lot like a fluffy egg pancake.

School Bakery & Cafe 

And what did I finally decide on?

School Bakery & Cafe

That would be the Spiced Benni on Cheddar Chive Biscuit served with back bacon, chipotle hollandaise and home fries.

School Bakery & Cafe

I asked for the hollandaise on the side as I don’t actually like it. But I spread a little on top just to get the spiciness of it. The eggs came out perfectly poached and runny. The bacon in thick slices. Then there was the biscuit.

School Bakery & Cafe

Hands down, the best part of the meal was the biscuit. It was even a little spicy. The perfect size and shape for the benni, and didn’t turn to mush under the bacon and runny eggs.

School Bakery & Cafe

The home fries were spectacular to boot. Crisp and slightly black on the outside, soft on the inside. Not too greasy and the perfect two-bite size.

Apart from their brunch, I’d also heard good things about School’s bakery. Something I was easily convinced of as soon as I tried their biscuit. So just as we were about to get the bill, I asked for an extra treat to-go. Something I drooled over as we stood waiting to get in earlier.

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That my friends, is a Nutella scone (also pictured earlier in the post). I spent all afternoon walking down Yonge St. with it in my purse. Like, from Lawrence to Bloor stations. Just over four miles. I thought for sure I’d destroyed this thing of beauty during my wanderings, ripping into it immediately when I got home.

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The scones had been just pulled out of the oven when the waitress gave this to me. I popped it in the microwave for a few seconds. Long enough to make the chocolate flavour stand out and the nutella on top to melt. It was very soft for a scone without the sweetness of a cake. A little spice in there too. This, and a side of celery may have been my dinner on Saturday…

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Overall, School gets a passing grade. I will say the wait to get our food was longer than acceptable, and they did mess up one of our orders. The price is also a little high for brunch. I don’t normally spend 20 bucks on breakfast (or err, “second breakfast” in this case). Still though, totally worth the trip and price for the one-time experience.

I have one more Toronto brunch review to do, then I plan on doing a post featuring my top brunch spots and dishes. You’ll just have to wait to see how School shaped up compared to the rest of the class ;)

Celebrations & Grilled Cheese

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!

It’s been quite the week for holidays:
March 14: Pi Day (aka 3.14)
March15: Ides of March
March 17: St. Patty’s Day!

I hope you’ve been able to celebrate at least one of these. I did on Monday. It all started on a very spring-like day and a trip to Toronto’s Kensington Market.

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Going to Kensington is like being transported to another country. It’s a few square blocks in the centre of the city filled with bright colours, loud music, and open storefronts filled with cheap merchandise. It also reeks of patchouli, if you catch my drift.

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Our destination was a place I’ve been dying to go to ever since the first week I moved to Toronto.

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Yes, a place dedicated solely to the art of making grilled cheese sandwiches. Probably one of my favourite restaurant ideas ever.

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It’s this little spot with picnic tables inside and outside. Brilliant woodworking throughout and a wall of creepy pickled items.

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My partners in crime for the day included my sister Sara. Too cute that she’s sipping on a box of apple juice – it’s what our dad always packed in our lunches as kids!

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And of course my roommie Megan, who has courageously joined me in eating my way through my Toronto Bucket List.

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Now, I’ve always been a bit of a grilled cheese purist. Bread, butter, cheese. Anything else is just a regular grilled sandwich. Regardless, I was pretty pumped to see how creative they’d get with the menu. Let’s go in for a close up, shall we?

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They all came served with lightly seasoned salt & vinegar chips and a tasty dill pickle. Mind you, we had to wait a long time for the sandwiches to arrive. I had no idea a grilled cheese took so long to assemble?

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Sara ordered the Dill-licious: dill havarti, basil pesto, sundried tomato, onion along with the addition of turkey.

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I tried a bite. Holy flavourful!

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Megan went for the Mushroom Madness: Cheddar, grilled portobello, cremini with the addition of tomato.

I had mushroom on the mind as well, going for the Grill Worx: Provolone, swiss, portobello, roasted red pepper, onion.

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On thick sliced white bread, buttered and crisped to perfection. A perfect bread-to-cheese ratio and all quality tasting cheese. My only complaint is that my toppings were piled high in the centre of the sandwich and not spread around evenly.

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My dad says buttering the outside of the sandwich instead of the griddle is the key to a good grilled cheese. They don’t quite live up to his grilled cheese, but I’d say definitely second best! Also worth the $6 price tag. With the chips and pickle, this meal made for a very satisfying lunch.

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But as I said, this outing occurred on Monday. And we all know what Monday was ;)

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Just up the street on Augusta Ave in Kensington is a place called Wanda’s Pie In The Sky. A bakery with a variety of offerings, but specializing in one of my favourite foods – pie!

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My sister and I ordered one slice to split and they gave us one giant slice split in two!!

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We opted for strawberry rhubarb flavour because I’d never had rhubarb before. I must admit, it wasn’t my favourite. A little too bitter and not enough crust.

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We continued on through Kensington, stopping to buy some ridiculous $5 sunglasses on display. A perfect way to celebrate Pi Day if you ask me :)

As for St. Patrick’s Day, I’m back on painkillers for the time being. I’m off to celebrate with friends, but there’s no green beer on tap for me. Regardless, I still showed my green…

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Thank you to Janetha for the awesome handmade “fashion sling”! I definitely perked my spirits this St. Patty’s Day :)

 

Question of the Day: Did you celebrate any of the holidays this week?

Brutally Honest

You know those “confessions” posts that bloggers often do? Well this is me being brutally honest. I’ve been jarring them up for too long. My intent is never to insult anybody. This is not a mean-spirited attempt at being entertaining. But I’m also tired of being cutesy ;)

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1. I don’t care for blog giveaways. I do sometimes host them on my blog because it’s a fun way to give back to readers with prizes I actually like. But in general I don’t read or participate in the giveaways of others because I already own enough crap I don’t use. I think it takes away from what could otherwise be quality content on blogs. Especially when they happen weekly. It’s irritating. If I liked hearing about people winning things, I’d get the Game Show Network.

2. I get a little irked when people say “You’ll be better in no time!” about my arm injury. Don’t worry if you’ve said this, I’m certainly not mad at you. I understand those who say it are coming from a good place and I really appreciate the intention.

But I feel like assuming my injury will heal up fast minimizes what I’m going through. This has been the longest month of my life, and saying “no time” reminds me I still have many months of healing ahead of me.  I’m not a drama queen. I know the specifics of my own injury, and I’m trying not to fool myself about it.

3. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Ever notice that men are really good at staying in a job for 20 years, but women change jobs every 2 years? What’s up with that? What’s wrong with us?

4. I feel like a giant loser for moving back home. Despite the fact that it’s what I reallyreally want to do.

5. As a follow up, my family is kind of in shambles right now. This only fuels my need to be home with them as soon as possible. Not just for them, but for me too.

6. I think a lot of health conscious people are too obsessive and take it to an extreme where it is no longer healthy. Most people have inherent obsessive tendencies, and it’s obvious a lot of people channel that towards healthy eating and exercise.

Unfortunately, it’s often ignored. Or worse, praised because it’s disguised as a good thing. It’s not. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen or heard of a person freaking out about eating white bread. Freaking out about ingesting 1/4 cup white flour is NOT healthy.

7. I used to play a lot of music, namely guitar, piano and singing. But I gave it up because I thought I wasn’t good enough. Even though I was constantly encouraged by others to continue, my own self doubts are what made me stop. Playing music makes me feel inadequate.

8. I can’t read books with one hand. I drop it every time I try to turn the page. I’ve been dying to do a book review on here, but I haven’t been able to get through it.

9. I’m really, really messy. Not dirty per se, as I’m scared of getting smelly things, bugs or mold. But you know how some people look at a mess and get really bothered to the point where they have to clean it up? Well, I’m the opposite.

My brain quickly becomes accustomed to things being out of place until I no longer notice them. Say I emptied the contents of my purse on the middle of the living room floor. I could easily learn to live around that within a couple days until having junk in the centre of the room became the norm for me. Just like having a coffee table there. It’s weird.

10. I can wholeheartedly recommend Adora calcium chocolates.

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The company offered me a couple bags to feature on the blog. I first tried these at the Healthy Living Summit and already knew I liked them.

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They sent me the milk chocolate and dark chocolate flavours. The milk is my favourite! Creamier and sweeter. I’ve always been a milk chocolate gal.

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Each chocolate is 30 calories and offers 500mg calcium, 250 IU vitamin D and 40mg of magnesium. That’s half of the recommended daily dosage of calcium, 62% of your vitamin D and 10% magnesium.

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Now, be warned the texture is a little “chalky.” Nothing over the top, but not quite “melt in your mouth” like the high end stuff. But in my opinion, the cost-benefit is 100% worth it. They make for the perfect after lunch dessert!!

I have to admit, Adora also offered me a giveaway, but I declined because it wouldn’t be open to Canadians. As #1 states, I’m picky about my giveaways, including having those that are open to my countrymen! If you’re in the States, I definitely recommend checking them out. If not, you can always order online.

Phew. Feels good to get all that off my chest. Sometimes we just gotta be brutally honest, ya know?

Question of the Day: What’s one thing you’re dying to get off your chest?

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