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Sugar Cafe - R.I.P.

Very sad to say that Sugar Cafe on Queen West closed up yesterday. It was by far my favourite brunch spot in the city - killer french toast (on challah, with fruit coulis, creme fraiche and maple syrup), great eggs benny and, of course, great americanos and lattes with the ubiquitous ramekin of milk chocolate squares. But beyond the food, I'll miss the energy of the room - casual and neighbourhoody - and the warmth of Suzy, the owner.

In the "if you loved Sugar, you'd love..." world, where else would you suggest? I've not been to Saving Grace in a while but it was probably the closest vibe for me in the past - still good? Other suggestions?

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  1. Never got there, but heard good things about it and it was on my list. Too bad.

    1. Awww, that's sad to hear. I only made it there a couple of times, but I really enjoyed it.

      1. ...will be missed...loved the eggs benny...and the service was charming...

        1. I can't believe it. Sugar was the first really good breakfast place in Trinity-Bellwoods! I haven't been to Saving Grace in a long time so I can't comment on that, but I did have a very yummy breakfast recently at Bar One. You can check out their brunch menu on their website http://www.bar-one.com.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tartytatin

            Hey don't forget the XXX Diner, best Sunday morning hang out...I went to Bar One about a month ago, there were about 6 people in line ahead of us, I asked and none of them had been acknowleged by staff yet -- we didn't feel like waiting...how is the service there? I don't need to pay for cooler-than-thou-Queen-west-attitude...

          2. Oh no! I loved that place for brunch. And I always meant to give it a try for dinner -- guess that won't be happening now. :(

            Any word on why they closed?

            1 Reply
            1. re: TorontoJo

              From what I understand, it was a combination of owner burnout and financial - like you, I went there a million times for brunch and always meant to try it for dinner but never got around to it. No place can survive on week-end brunches alone, no matter how busy/great the brunch is.

            2. very sad - my favourite item was what i called the european breakfast - slices of walnut or other bread, soft-boiled egg, a slice of brie - nothing panfried, savoury rather than sweet, and plain in the best sense of the word - everything on the plate tasted great because it was fresh. this is the type of breakfast i grew up on, and enjoyed variations of in other european places. not sure where to go now when i don't feel like the brunch standards.

              re: saving grace: still as good, and still as small (often the reason why i'd go elsewhere:) i prefer saving grace for late lunch around 2, after the busy period about an hour before they close. other than that? tinto, the beaver?

              11 Replies
              1. re: Kasia

                Hi Kasia - I often like the places you recommend. Beaver is further west on Queen, right? I've never heard of Tinto, though - where is it?

                By the way, although it's a totally different vibe, I've been meaning to try Prague Deli for breakfast - they seem to have lots of savoury items on the menu (kolbassa with eggs, etc.) as well as palichenkas - whenever I've been in to take out food from the deli counter, I've salivated a bit at the plates on the table.

                1. re: peppermint pate

                  yes, beaver is a few doors east of the gladstone hotel. it's undergone some changes since owners changed hands, but the menu is mostly the same - good sandwiches and salads (i love the black molasses bread they use for some sandwiches), pretty good lamb burger and good americano. tinto is on roncesvalles about 3 blocks north of queen on the east side of the street. very tasty salads, some latin american influences in flavourings, good fair trade coffee (in fact, they are comitted in general to supporting sustainable and humane food production). it's a latino-owned leftie outfit that makes itself avaiable to local artists and activists (i've seen some good films and art installations there). both beaver cafe and tinto are loungy types of places - you can go with your paper, or laptop or (in my case) students' essays, and spend an unhurried few hours there (this applies more to the weekdays, of course, as both places are popular during weekend brunch hours).

                  yes, i like prague deli as well, but tend to go there for lunch or even dinner rather than breakfast simply because their coffee is very weak (brewed rather than espresso-based) and i can't function w/o strong coffee in the morning:) prague deli is also a great place for some basic eastern european stuff for those in the hood, and for take out - their menu is mostly available for take out and they have some things frozen as well.

                  1. re: Kasia

                    Thanks Kasia. I'm more of an "egg" girl when it comes to brunch - do Beaver and Tino serve things like eggs benny and french toast as well? And I'm with you on the coffee thing - I can't understand how you can have a great breakfast without great (espresso-based, in my case) coffee. Have you ever tried Niche on Queen West? I happened upon it one day and the room/menu looked great.

                    1. re: peppermint pate

                      You might want to check out Rustic Cosmo, just west of the bridge at Gladstone. They do a selection of benny with different options (ham, smoked salmon, portobello, grilled veg and brie, etc).

                    2. re: Kasia

                      Hi Kasia, I went to Beaver a few times when they first opened, found the portions to be poor and owners rude, have dodged it ever since, you say it has changed ownership since?...worth going again?

                      1. re: Recyclor

                        beaver does steamed eggs - like scramble but they use the steamer on the expresso machine. they're really nice and fluffy. the last time i was there was a couple months ago and the service was a tad slow, but the portions were big. the french toast was amazing and so big i had 2 big breakfasts from it.

                        1. re: chocabot

                          ...thanks for the tip, I'll put it on the list...

                        2. re: Recyclor

                          hmm, not sure that my answer will be meaningful, since i never found the old owner or staff rude, nor the portions small - but yes, the old owner sold the place and the new owners have made some changes to the menu and decor (and extended hours into the evening, although it's mostly a bar at night).

                      2. re: peppermint pate

                        I love prague for breakfast, perfect poached eggs everytime, I get the perogies with a couple poached eggs on the side, my GF gets the salmon palichinka...really cheap too!

                          1. re: Recyclor

                            Salmon Palicinky at Prague is one of the absolute best breakfasts I've had in this city. I've had a few of the other menu items too, and can highly recommend Prague for brunch!

                      3. That's terrible news, I too loved the atmosphere and the great lattes. I second the Beaver. I recall they seem to be heavier on egg dishes than carbs, though I did have an amazing French toast-like dish that was reminiscent of bread pudding and made of croissants and chocolate. Completely unhealthy, yet completely delicious. I would say The Beaver's brunches are not quite on par with Sugar's, but still a good choice.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: tinybites

                          "I would say The Beaver's brunches are not quite on par with Sugar's, but still a good choice."

                          I think it really depends on what you like... as you said they're heavier on the egg dishes but i found the menu at sugar to be somewhat of a turn off because everything was either french toast, a sandwich of a breakfast bread/loaf. There wasn't even any breakfast meat other than one kind (peameal, i believe). the bready breakfast i had there i did enjoy but not much choice i thought.

                          the croissant french toast at beaver is divine. and giant.

                          1. re: chocabot

                            True...clearly the carb-lover in me has been revealed!

                        2. Like a lot of people have mentioned I think the quaint atmosphere, the mix of modern and rustic, and the 'tucked-away' quality made it one of those places that helped define the area. And they had probably one of the top egg benedicts in Toronto.

                          I think nearby the Swan is nice enough for brunch but the Niagara Street Cafe off of King is great too - has the same nice and cozy but modern feeling. And great benedicts. And I'm starting to warm to Xacutti more and more, despite the high prices and slow service the food is fantastic and a large enough menu that keeps me going back to try...

                          1. Maybe Karuchie? It's not quite as quaint/rustic, but is the closest I can think of.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Five12

                              Never heard of Karuchie - where is it? And how's their coffee?

                            2. ..just an update...I just rode by the old Sugar space, it has a large sign in the window saying it will be opening as an "Italian Tapas" place I think it'll be called Urbano...though I will miss SC, this does sound promising...

                              1. Still sad about Sugar closing. It was definitely one of my favourites in the city, for both brunch & dinner.

                                If you haven't yet try Mitzi's, 10 mins further west off Queen but definitely worth it. Mitzi's Sister is good too but not the same coziness as Mitzi's.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: toniad

                                  ...like toniad said, skip Mitzi's Sister, about 3 years ago I loved it, they were making everything fresh and were rather creative while staying within a brunchy/comfort/pub food vibe, best was the house made chicken strips with maple pomegranite dipping sauce -- but these have turned into improperly breaded (ie breading gets blown off i n the fryer due to moister) and overcooked greasy strips served with the standard plum sauce....Luna on Dovercourt & Argyle is a good option aswell...though I haven't been in a few years...

                                  1. re: Recyclor

                                    Sorry to be dense here so Mitzi's *is* actually good?