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Dec 12, 2009 11:00 AM

brunch at Oliver & Bonacini Cafe Grill at Bayview Village

I've had several decent dinners at this place, but was pretty disappointed by the brunch today. The food quality seems to have slipped. I haven't been to any Il Fornello locations in over a year, but my last experiences at Il Fornello were better than this recent experience at O & B.

Ordered the Mac & Cheese- which was different than any version I've encountered. Butter toasted breadcrumbs on top, generous strips of bland/dry chicken breast, clumps of goat cheese here and there, peas everywhere, thin cream sauce separated from the dried out elbow mac. The sauce didn't stick to the macaroni, instead it sat at the bottom of the dish. Salty & rich. I'm guessing this is what mac & cheese would be like if you don't start with a roux, and decide to just use cream, with no flour. Surprisingly, the Rebel House and Le Petit Castor's versions left a better taste in my mouth. I have to stop ordering mac & cheese when I'm out, because surprisingly few restaurants get right was is relatively easy to do well at home.

I ordered a fresh squeezed OJ. What arrived at the table was the pale yellowish colour of Tropicana, and it certainly tasted like Tropicana.

I mentioned to the server that I wanted the fresh squeezed OJ, and I thought that maybe they had accidently brought me Tropicana. She explained that what she served was fresh squeezed OJ and that she had poured it from a jug that was full of fresh squeezed OJ. She brought the jug to the table to prove it. The jug was labeled freshly squeezed OJ, but the label also mentioned that this was freshly squeezed OJ from Florida. Squeezed and packaged in Florida. The "freshly" squeezed OJ from Whole Foods or Pusateri's is much closer to fresh squeezed OJ than what O & B is serving at $4.50 a glass. Hope O & B will consider juicing its own oranges in the future, or purchasing juice through one of the better grocery stores in TO.

In the future, I'll have to remember to look for inhouse squeezed OJ, or remember to clarify where the oranges are freshly squeezed before ordering OJ in TO.

The omelettes and quiches at my table looked pretty average, but the salads heading to other tables looked like they might have been better bets.

What do you like to order on the brunch or lunch menu?

Oliver & Bonacini
2901 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON M2K 1E6, CA

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  1. You gotta be wary about what passes for "freshly-squeezed' in many Toronto restos. To me, "freshly squeezed" means it was freshly squeezed in the kitchen that very day, and, therefore, nutritionally at its peak. If I'm informed otherwise, I take a pass on it - given the high price "freshly squeezed" usually commands. Which means I rarely order "freshly squeezed". Be doubly wary of "fresh" orange juice, which is invariably Tropicana, which tastes decent enough when the container is first opened, but rapidly deteriorates. The OP is correct about the freshly-squeezed OJ at Pusateri's on Avenue Rd., where shoppers can see the oranges being squeezed. It's tasty, as freshly squeezed should be. And, surprisingly (for Pusateri's), it's modestly priced. I find a small jug of Pusateri's fresh-squeezed OJ yields almost as many servings as a five-pound bag of juice oranges bought at No Frills just up the street from Pusateri's, and at just about the same price. Of course, for freshness, nothing beats squeezing Florida juice oranges yourself at home. Even legitimate freshly-squeezed in a Toronto resto pales in comparison.

    Maybe that's why I rarely do breakfast or brunch out. Can't find a decent glass of freshly-squeezed OJ.

    14 Replies
    1. re: juno

      I go out for brunch fairly often, and this is actually the first time a restaurant has tried to pass off relatively recently squeezed and packaged imported orange juice as freshly squeezed to me! Thought the server was a little snarky. I repeated that regardless of the label on the jug, the juice still tasted like Tropicana, and she just shrugged and walked away. No comp for the disappointing juice, of course.

      The Globe actually serves a decent freshly squeezed OJ IIRC. Didn't really enjoy the rest of my brunch choice at the Globe though. Brunch in TO can be so underwhelming.

      1. re: phoenikia

        Detroit on the Danforth serves freshly squeezed OJ, and they don't rip you off either.

        1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

          I didn't realize Detroit served freshly squeezed OJ, SWS. Thanks!

          1. re: phoenikia

            Ya, I totally love that place-it reminds me of a place back home-no bullshit and just an honest good breakfast. Sometimes the OJ has some grapefruit in it, but I don't care, at least they aren't ripping you off by serving you Tropicana for $4.50 a glass!

        2. re: phoenikia

          Have you been to Sunshine Spot, on Sheppard, next to Taro's fish market? I just went for the first time a couple of months ago and was pleasantly surprised to find that it's an all-day breakfast joint. The menu is huge, and even more surprisingly, the orange juice is fresh squeezed. While it may not the best breakfast spot in the city, they do a good diner breakfast, with better quality bacon than many other places I frequent (including Good Bite). It also seems to be a family run spot and all the servers are really sweet.

          1. re: TorontoJo

            Wow, I love Sunshine Spot, but the orange juice I had was not freshly squeezed. I have never seen a juicer there. Have you? I do think it's a great place, though, and cheap. $5.00 (or something like that...) for 3 eggs, 5 slices of bacon (or is it six), toast, and home fries to beat many other contenders. Plus the coffee is pretty good--a bonus for my husband.

            1. re: Full tummy

              Hmm... maybe I'm mixing the OJ situation up with another of my many breakfast spots. I'll double check on my next visit! But yeah, great value. The pancakes and Belgian waffles are also surprisingly good there. Do not get the ham steak there, though -- it's an icky, Spam-like processed ham (at least the ham that was used in my grilled cheese special was). My hubby is also happy with the coffee there. :)

              1. re: TorontoJo

                We love it, and even though we only get there a couple of times a month, the waitress always remembers our order!!! Thanks for the warning about the ham, tho... I would definitely order pancakes or waffles, but I'm a stickler for real maple syrup. Just can't do the fake stuff. I don't expect real stuff at their prices, but I wouldn't mind paying more for it...

                1. re: Full tummy

                  How busy is the Sunshine Spot on a Saturday morning around 11 am? Is it the type of place where you might have to wait in line?

                  1. re: phoenikia

                    I've been there around 10 and they get busy, but tables seem to move pretty quickly. I noticed a couple of groups waiting for tables, but I don't think they waited long. The cops in particular, seem to eat and go quickly. :)

                    1. re: TorontoJo

                      Thanks, TorontoJo :-)

                      Also nice to know where the cops are eating breakfast !

              2. re: Full tummy

                OK, went to Sunshine Spot this morning and clarified the OJ situation. The menu says "freshly squeezed orange juice", but they pour it out of a jug. I guess in their parlance "freshly squeezed" means "not from a concentrate". Kind of like Tropicana and their stupid "squeezed from fresh oranges" BS. But for $1.99 for a small and $2.99 for a large, I guess I shouldn't have been expecting freshly squeezed. :)

                Regardless, it was a good breakfast -- two toasted egg and bacon sandwiches served with home fries (which are ok, not great -- better with some salt and pepper), a large juice and a coffee for under $15.

                A quick note on the coffee -- my hubby says it's decent for a breakfast joint, but that the coffee at Hazel's is much better. His favourite cups of regular joe are at DT Bistro and Insomnia.

                1. re: TorontoJo

                  Thanks for the clarification, TorontoJo. Much appreciated. Will have to try their egg & bacon sandwiches sometime soon.

                  Sunshine Spot was on the shortlist today, but we ended up at the Fry Basket, just north of Steeles on the east side of Yonge. Pretty good Greek omelette for a mom & pop resto, and decent coffee. Wasn't a fan of their home fries, though. We were able to get a table without a problem at 10:30 am, but it filled up by 11:15 am.

                  A little more rundown that Goodbite, but I think I liked their Greek omelette better than my last one at Goodbite.

                  Will give Hazel's another go tomorrow!

                  Sunshine Spot
                  796 Sheppard Ave E, Toronto, ON M2K1C3, CA

                  Fry Basket Fish & Chips
                  7057 Yonge St, Thornhill, ON L3T2A6, CA

              3. re: TorontoJo

                Haven't had a chance to visit Sunshine Spot yet, TorontoJo. Thanks for reminding me- I'll add it to my breakfast list.

          2. It's a nice spot, with comfortable seating. Something of a strange crowd. Like the Blue Mountain operation, this is at the lower end of the spectrum for the O & B group, so the risk increases for dishes that require attention at execution. They have a nice wood-burning oven which can produce good pizzas, the duck and pineapple being very reliable. Also, the non-dairy mushroom soup has great flavour.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Snarf

              I agree that the O & B Cafe in Bayview Village is overrated. I had a really disappointing visit there a few months ago. The bechamel sauce in the Mac and Cheese was watery. Any first year culinary student could have done better.

              1. re: BitesandNibbles

                O&B is only overrated only if you had unreasonable expectations in the first place. This restaurant is in the same class as Il Fornello which is a stone's throw away at Bayview Village, though O&B offers more variety as you can order a Thai dish (it was terrible!), or pub-style pizza/pasta, burgers or steak with beer or wine. Fish & Chips would not be out of place here and I think I ordered this dish at one point way back when.

                It's a family friendly restaurant that could work for business lunches as well; it's quite spacious and comfortable and staff are friendly and so it's a good place for a gathering with friends & family where excellent food isn't necessarily a high priority.

              2. re: Snarf

                Thanks Snarf, I'll try to remember to order the duck & pineapple pizza if I end up at O & B in the future. I had glanced at the pizzas but I had remembered reading something positive about their mac & cheese, so I went with that.

                Not a huge fan of dairy free mushroom soup (including the raved about version at Auberge de Pommier).....I like my mushroom soups creamy;-) I know, picky, picky.

                1. re: phoenikia

                  I had brunch at Oliver & Bonacini a couple of months ago and specifically ordered fresh squeezed orange juice. The waiter told me bluntly that they don't have fresh squeezed orange juice that they serve only Tropicana orange juice. I was really surprised by that, given that they always have other fresh squeezed juices available. At least the waiter was honest with me and told me it was Tropicana before i ordered it.

                  1. re: 2Nappa

                    What they are serving now is another brand- not Tropicana- it comes in a clear plastic jug, and had name I didn't recognize, but the juice was certainly the same quality level as Tropicana.

                    My server did a bit of a sales pitch after taking our food order, asking if we would like some fresh squeezed juice, and didn't bat an eye when I ordered the "fresh squeezed" OJ. After I complained, first to the hostess since our server was AWOL, then to the server herself, the server kept insisting it was fresh squeezed because it was written on the label, and acted defensive.

                    Guess you lucked out by being seated in the honest & blunt server's section ;-)

                2. re: Snarf

                  Went for lunch today...had the chicken and bacon panini...really bland. My wife has been before and she wasn't impressed with the food either. I don't think I'd be going out of my way to go there again.

                3. I had lunch at O&B Bayview Village today and I must say I am very disappointed with the quality of food they served. The pasta was dry and yet swimming in oil. The Orange Juice didn't even taste as good as Tropicanna and for the price they charged, it was a total rip off. I hate to say that even the food at Pickle Barrel is better but they are much cheaper. The service was decent though.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: iasitr

                    Have been so unimpressed by the place. Calamari salad where they didnt remove the inside slimy parts and soup that was oversalted. Was unimpressed by their brunch offerings a couple of years ago so havent bothered to have brunch their again.
                    Pickle Barrel? Another place I refuse to go back to.

                  2. Heading to O &B for brunch. Has anyone ordered their Margherita Pizza or Roasted Turkey Club recently?