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Hart House Grill

I'd heard good things about the Hart House Grill (Toronto), but never made it there until today. Jennie invited us to join her there, having had a delicious brunch the previous week with a visiting family member. I'm always happy to try a new, well-recommended brunch place. It certainly didn't disappoint.

The Grill is located in a Gallery overlooking the main hall at Hart House, an Oxbridge-style complex which serves as a University/student/alumni/faculty club for the University of Toronto. It has high arched ceilings, and a nice balance between spaciousness and intimacy. Full linens, and fresh flowers, even though they were clearly struggling on the fresh flowers front: the tulips were so fresh, they hadn't turned any color beyond green yet. Still, that made them particularly striking. I don't usually see tulips at this phase of their development.

The food was delicious and the service attentive. The fresh orange juice is some of the best I've had in this city. Jennie tried a chocolate-flavored tea which smelled more of chocolate than it tasted, she reported. As for food... it may have been brunch, but we all opted for three courses. The options were just too tempting. I started with chive and cheddar biscuits with lime butter, which were delicate, soft, almost crumbly, and freshly baked. They were good, but in context, the least exciting thing I ate. Jennie had a tasty onion-mushroom soup, one which actually managed a good balance between the two flavors, with neither overpowering the other.

The centerpiece of my meal was soft-scrambled eggs in a vol-au-vent, on top of watercress-pear-and-crumbled-bacon salad, with a vinegarette. It was very tasty, a good balance between lightly sweet to contast with the vinegarette. C. was happy with his poached eggs with a side of spicy black pudding, and Jennie had french toast stuffed with Oka cheese, with blackberry and maple syrup on top. I liked mine the best.

Although we would normally have stopped there, we lingered, happily conversationing, and did so long enough that when the waiter stopped by with the dessert menus, we were very willing to investate. I tried C.'s bittersweet chocolate cake with vanilla-espresso sauce but, much as he raved about how good it was, happily, I liked mine better: a maple syrup creme brulée! I tried to make it last as long as possible, which was fairly easy to do since we were all busy catching up on news. Since there was no line and no hurry, they didn't rush us out after we'd paid, something I always appreciate.