If you’ve seen my Instagram posts over the last few weeks, you’ll know how much I love Toronto’s Hollandaise Diner. After eating there three times in the last six weeks, I figured it was high time to tell all of you what makes this place so great!Located just east of Woodbine, this cozy brunch spot opened a little over a year ago. I first heard of it when a fellow Instagrammer (find her awesome page at @reesestdot) invited me to an event for “influencers”, i.e. bloggers/active people on social media who often post about Toronto eateries and are able to reach a large audience. In a nutshell, the influencers show up, take pictures of the dishes the chef has prepared (to later post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and then get to share the food. It’s a win-win: the restaurant gets free advertising, and the influencers get a free meal and great company.
That Thursday evening, after the diner had closed for the day (it’s open daily from 7 AM to 3 PM), owners Josh and Marisa greeted us at the door. A young and friendly couple, Josh is the head chef and Marisa pulls double duty as a waitress and hostess. The influencers were a small group – just five of us – but, during the course of the evening, Josh was busy whipping up seven or eight of the diner’s most popular brunch items. I love brunch food, especially eggs Benedict, so I was in heaven! Their delicious Hollandaise sauce comes in five varieties (original, zesty, coconut, Cajun, and HP-infused) and is made in-house and from scratch, as are their lightly-fried home fries. Of their seven eggs benny combinations on their menu, they served us four of their favourites, listed below.
The Classic ($10.62), an English muffin with peameal bacon, two poached eggs, classic Hollandaise sauce and paprika:
The Coconut ($11.95), bitter greens and grilled tomato topped with two poached eggs, coconut Hollandaise sauce and toasted coconut:
Of the eggs bennies, Coconut and Florentine are my favourites. The melt-in-your-mouth Coconut benny is a lighter option as it substitutes grilled tomato for English muffins, while the Florentine benny is simple and delicious comfort food. FYI, Marisa and Josh were happy to do whatever they could to accommodate allergies, substitutions, and dietary restrictions. They even have an awesome vegan option called The Mighty Vegan ($12.95) – a tofu-based baked frittata with asparagus, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers, and served with a side of fresh fruit.
Next up were to die for coconut pancakes ($8.85), made with coconut milk and infused with bits of toasted coconut. They’re so good that I couldn’t resist ordering an extra coconut pancake on the side the last time I ate there! Homemade blueberry sauce added to the mouthwatering flavour. Clearly each of us influencers was in the mood for pancakes, because these disappeared in seconds!
Chef Josh also whipped up his original buttermilk pancakes ($8.85), which we were all eager to drizzle with maple syrup! A little magic in the kitchen turned them into colourful “Funfetti” pancakes, which Josh would be serving a few days after the influencer event, as part of a celebration for the diner’s one-year anniversary:
At Hollandaise Diner, the food is delicious, the ingredients are fresh, the creations are unique, and the staff is warm and welcoming. They don’t take reservations, but the space sits 24, so even at peak hours you won’t have to wait more than a few minutes for a table. If you live in or around Toronto, you’ve gotta visit them at least once. Their menu truly has something for everyone, so you won’t be disappointed!