Since moving to Corktown, I made a deliberate plan to try some of the restaurants that make up Riverside’s and Leslieville’s hot brunch and lunch scene. So far, I have hit Bonjour Brioche, The Great Canadian Pie Company and have visited the Broadview Bakery for homemade Indian food. Today, I met a friend to try out Lady Marmalade. On one of the coldest days of the season, this Leslieville bistro boasted a mid-week line-up that almost ended outside. I knew we had hit the mother lode.
Upon entering, we observed a fairly small place with an open kitchen frequented by Leslieville locals and low-key hipsters who looked like they did not have 9-5 jobs. We were lucky not to wait long for a table and our orders were taken quickly. One of the endearing features of Lady Marmalade is its determination to serve local produce including organic bread from St. John’s Bakery, coffee from Te Aro Coffee Roasters, free-range eggs from Rowe Farms and other local stores including The Big Carrot, Queen Street Gluten Free and AlbaLisa Gourmet Foods. I had read online about the fabulous eggs benny served at Lady Marmalade and we observed several plates of the popular brunch dish flying by our table. My dining companion wisely chose the Lady Marmalade Benny with brie, avocado and bacon ($13.50). All eggs benny are served with lemony hollandaise, potatoes and a salad or fresh tomatoes. You can then select your own items or choose from some of the restaurants popular eggs benny combos. My friend deemed the eggs benny incredibly tasty, yet surprisingly not too rich.
Although I was very tempted to try the Eggs Benny, the greens served with the Egg scramble ($11.50) appealed to me. Note that this item appears as Organic tofu scramble on the menu; however, you have the option to substitute tofu for eggs. The scramble involves eggs, shitakes, bok choy, spinach, scallions, sesame and soy and is not only delicious, but provides a B-vitamin punch. The dish is also served with roasted yellow pototoes, toasted organic bread from St. John’s Bakery and a green salad. The potatoes had good flavour; however, they were slightly on the dry side.
Lady Marmalade isn’t just a breakfast place. You’ll find salads, sandwiches including a very appealing looking club sandwich, as well as a Moroccan chicken and vegetable stew on the menu. Vegans can choose the organic tofu/vegetable curry bowl with brown basmati rice while vegetarians may enjoy the brown rice bowl with black beans, white cheddar, salsa, avocado, sour cream, scallions and cilantro ($10.50). I think what keeps bringing the crowds back is the menu’s creativity demonstrated in such dishes as aged white cheddar and spinach waffles with tomato-orange cream, scallions and bacon ($11.50). The menu also includes a good selection of organic loose leaf teas and freshly made fruit smoothies. The only black mark on our visit (and I’m reluctant to mention this since an open kitchen symbolizes a restaurant’s desire for transparency) was the fact that fumes from the open kitchen irritated my friend’s asthma, which left her coughing throughout our meal. But I shall definitely be back, preferably not on a weekend when line-ups can be intimidating, to try Lady Marmalade’s famous Eggs Benny.