Updated: Oct 19, 2018
Did you know that “brunch” is one of Canada’s favourite pastimes?
It’s true! Canucks love brunch.
Brunch is so much more than a regular meal. It’s way more special than ye’ old pedestrian brekky or lunch. Just say the word brunch and you immediately get a sense of great company, leisure, and indulgence.
Brunch also works as both a noun and as a verb; I’m brunching with the girls on Sunday. And brunch isn’t a normal seven-day-a-week thing. It’s an event! For many people, brunch is the pillar upon which they build their entire weekend.
It’s one of those meals that’s a little hard to describe. Timing-wise, it fits just after normal breakfast hours and it could run as late as 3 pm. Generally, it’s considered a replacement for both breakfast and lunch. Plus, you get the best of both meals on offer; you might choose decadent french toast loaded with fresh berries, Canadian maple syrup, and whipped cream… or you might just as easily have a hankering for rare roast beef with all the fixins’. At brunch, anything goes… and often does! (We do NOT necessarily recommend making a roast beef sandwich using french toast, but who knows? Next year it might become the next big brunch craze.)
The Very Best Part of Brunch
There’s another thing that makes brunch so spectacular: it’s totally legitimate to serve booze. Heck yeah! And what could be more Canadian than brunching with Canada’s favourite cocktail, the Caesar?
A Caesar is a delicious mix of Clamato juice (clam + tomato) and vodka, along with numerous spices and other garnishes, making it a borderline meal in itself. It’s a perfect compliment to whatever savoury delicacies you choose on your brunch plate, from bacon and eggs to benedicts, to steak or smoked meat, to chicken and waffles. You can always count on a Caesar to really push your brunch to the next level!
The Caesar has a reputation for being one of the most effective hangover cures out there, which makes it perfect for weekend brunch. Although it’s not a proven “cure”—hair of the dog may help your hangover, but not as much as water and Tylenol—a Caesar does offer far more nutrition than the majority of other cocktails. It’s salty, savoury flavour can really hit the spot early in the day, especially if you were drinking the night before. That’s one of the reasons why Caesars have a place of honour on Canadian brunch menus!
Our personal preference is the Caesar, but there are, of course, lots more options. If you’re in the United States, Caesar’s lesser cousin, the Bloody Mary, which is similar in most ingredients but missing the ever-so-important flavour profile of the clam, is a popular choice. Screwdrivers, a mix of orange juice and vodka, can really hit the spot mid-morning. Mimosas (OJ and champagne) are also quite popular at brunches all over North America. Whatever your taste, brunch is the perfect occasion to enjoy a delicious beverage with your family and friends.
The Birth of Brunch
So when did all this fabulous brunching get started? The origins of brunch can be found in England in the 1890s. Described in the article, “Brunch: A Plea” by Guy Beringer in Hunter’s Weekly, it was described as a wonderful post-church meal that would eliminate the need to get up early to eat on Sundays.
Brunch has stayed true to its origins, especially in Canada, as a primarily Sunday meal to be consumed after church—or after a sleep-in. Once upon a time, most restaurants were closed on Sundays so the concept of Brunch became synonymous with hotels and motels in the early 20th century. At that time, folks looking for a bite to eat after church could drop into a local hotel restaurant on the way home and enjoy a delicious meal. Of course, this resulted in more restaurants remaining open on Sunday mornings, as they were leaving a huge pile of cash on the table by being closed.
Brunch’s continued popularity with restaurant-goers throughout the 20th century eventually has made it into a plausible everyday meal, although still mostly eaten during the weekend, to be enjoyed at any point between breakfast and lunch hours.
Best Brunch in Canada
For decades there have been hot-spots across our great land building their reputations on their brunch superpowers. What’s wonderful about brunch is that it lends itself to foodie inventiveness, personal preference, and variety. We love hearing about the brunch rituals from province to province, especially when some regions put their own spin on the most important meal of the weekend.
In Montreal, as you might imagine, it’s smoked meat galore! You can find Montreal’s favourite delicacy used in any number of creative ways, from traditional sandwiches to benedicts and scrambles, and even served as a garnish with a Caesar! Or do as Leonard Cohen often did and start your day with a perfect Fairmont sesame bagel from one of his favourite spots, Bagels Etc. http://www.bagelsetc.net/
In Banff Alberta, try the Bison Breakfast Sandwich made on a house biscuit and served with bison sausage, a fried egg, and foie gras butter. http://www.thebison.ca/
In Newfoundland and Labrador, it’s all about seafood, and that goes for brunch too. Visit Bacalao’s for their seafood chowder, a light cream broth filled with Newfoundland cod, coldwater shrimp, snow crab, and bay scallops for a brunch to remember. http://bacalaocuisine.ca/
Have you ever tried rabbit for brunch? Head on over to Le Lapin Sauté in Quebec City for eggs Benedict with confit rabbit and hollandaise with orange zest. The rabbit is raised locally and is hormone and antibiotic-free. http://www.lapinsaute.com/francais/accueil/
If you love a good scone, you must try the Scone Witch Brunch platter or the BLT Sconewitch sandwich with pesto at the Scone Witch in Ottawa. http://sconewitch.ca/ Or, go big on calories and full-on satisfaction with the famous Tator Tot Poutine at the Elgin St. Diner. http://www.elginstreetdiner.com/
In Toronto, where it’s become quite normal to queue for 30+ minutes for a great brunch, you might choose a fluffy stack of blueberry pancakes, served with maple syrup and whipped cream from Mildred’s Temple Kitchen. http://www.templekitchen.com/ If bread pudding sounds like a heavenly way to start your day, try the daily-baked, ever-changing flavours at Lady Marmalade, and don’t forget the multiple ways to enjoy your eggs benedict.
http://ladymarmalade.ca/ Or try the Drake Commisserary for a Danish delicacy; a dense dark rye bread called Smørrebrød, which you can load up with Nordic pickled herring, beets, charred-onion cream cheese, and dill, or duck pâté and pickled onions, or steak tartare with horseradish and chanterelle mushrooms. https://www.thedrake.ca/drakecommissary/
In Halifax, you'll have a tough time deciding between the “The Thanks Giv’r” made with two fried eggs and turkey and Brussels sprout fricassee and “The What’s Up, Doc,” which is French toast made with carrot bread drizzled with rum raisin sauce drizzle. http://www.thecoastal.ca/index.html
In Edmonton, how about some cinnamon buns or eggs benny made with cornbread instead of English muffins? The Sugarbowl is a favourite with locals! http://thesugarbowl.org/
The next time you’re in Vancouver, check out the highly praised Yolks Restaurant and Commissary for a sensational eggs benedict sandwich. http://www.yolks.ca/ Or how does Pulled Duck Pancake a L’Orange sound? Try duck confit and on top of three fluffy buttermilk pancakes, served with a sunny side up egg at Thyme to Indulge Bistro in Vancouver. http://www.thymetoindulgecatering.com/bistro/
In 2016, Victoria, BC was named the brunch capital of Canada by John Catucci in the food show You Gotta Eat Here! You only have to visit Victoria during a weekend morning to see exactly what he means. There are often lines out the door of every popular brunch spot in town. Brunch is serious business in Victoria, and there you can find some incredibly tasty and inventive dishes everywhere across the city. Check out Blue Fox Café with variations on bennys like or pulled pork or a Moroccan-spiced chicken twist. https://www.thebluefoxcafe.com/ John’s Place is popular and offers a customizable menu so it’s great for picky eaters. http://www.johnsplace.ca/ For an option that the veg-conscious will adore as much as the meat eaters, try Mo: Lé with their exotic tofu scrambles, Chinatown Ciabatta with Chinese sausage, or smoked albacore tuna benedict. http://molerestaurant.ca/
Brunch at Home
Although going out for brunch is always lovely, sometimes it’s nice to invite some of your family and friends over for a homemade brunch. It’s especially Canadian to have people over on Sundays (the traditional day of brunch) to offer them some fantastic brunch-fare—and Caesars—in the comforts of home. It’s a great option for people who like to host guests because it’s so much less formal than a traditional dinner party and your guests won’t feel the pressure of a late night bearing down on them. Just brunch it up and enjoy!
If reading about brunch has given you a craving, then we recommend making a brunch date with some friends or family members this upcoming weekend. More than any other meal, brunch is meant to be eaten WITH company, preferably with people you’re close to you. This is one of the biggest reasons why we celebrate brunch as a meal that should be consumed at least once a week (preferably with a Caesar!)
Although Caesars are especially delightful at brunch, they can be enjoyed with any meal of the day, and you’ll have the opportunity to drink a whole bunch of them at the upcoming Caesar Fest on July 22nd! To keep in the loop about everything