Lady Marmalade is one of my favourite brunch spots in the city. (As an aside, it’s also one of my favourite funk songs.) I love the laid-back 70’s hippie commune vibe, and their brunch offering is one of the most unique in the city. Uncommonly for a Toronto restaurant, Lady Marmalade manages to be effortlessly cool.
Located in Leslieville, it clearly caters to early-rising locals: opening at 8am, there is a line out the door by 10:30am, so be sure to get there early. The place tends to get a bit crowded, so try to leave the stroller at home. Also, keep in mind that they only take cash and don’t accept reservations. Street parking is available, but it is also right on the Queen 501 line (get off at the Logan stop).
Don’t expect to find any “well composed” plates here. Massive helpings are heaped onto the plate in a pleasing, this is how I do it at home sort of way. But don’t let this fool you; the dishes are imaginative, and the cooking is top notch. Many of their dishes are vegetarian and vegan friendly. Some of my favourites are the organic tofu scramble (with shiitake, bok choy, spinach, scallions, sesame and soy, served with rice); the brie, avocado and bacon benny; and the “good morning poutine” (baked hashbrowns & aged white cheddar cheese with hollandaise or miso gravy). Most of the main egg dishes are $11.50, the bennies are $11.50-$13.50. They also have a range of salads and sandwiches, and a wide variety of teas, freshly squeezed juices, and some really intriguing milkshake options.
While this location (they have another in Victoria, BC) has only been open a couple of years, it has the feeling of a neighbourhood classic that has been open for decades. The paint is chipping in a few places, it’s practically crammed with mismatched tables and chairs, music blares from the kitchen, and local artists are featured on the walls. It feels like a labour of love, and given how busy it is, the neighbourhood feels the same.
898 Queen Street East
Queen Street East & Logan Avenue (west of Carlaw)