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Apr 4, 2011 01:52 PM

Marben: One of the Best brunches in Toronto?

So, my SO has been asking me for a few months to go to Marben for brunch. We had went about a year and a half ago for dinner, and I wasn't overly impressed, so I was reluctant to pay another visit. In any case, for whatever reason, I gave in last weekend and decided to pay a visit. My expectations were modest - I have read Marben mentioned a few times here and there, but it doesn't seem to have the same following as some of the other places mentioned on this board. In any case, I was more than pleasantly surprised.

The brunch at Marben was simply outstanding. It was so good that we went the next day. And then, again, just yesterday. The food is incredible, the flavours are all spot-on, the staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and frankly, I'm quite disappointed that I didn't know about this place sooner! It has instantly become one of my go-to places for brunch. Even the coffee/lattes are excellent - and they also play some great tunes, although it can be a bit loud at times.

In our three visits, we had the eggs Benedict, (which features an outstanding hollandaise sauce and home-made English muffins), the hamburger (which features braised beef rib encased in hamburger meat), and the bread pudding 'French toast' (for which the texture of the bread was absolutely incredible, and included a delicious sausage). I also had the ice cream sandwich for dessert on one occasion, served with crème englais. We each ate the same thing our first two visits, and I the eggs Benedict and the French toast for my SO on the third (hence the reason for the limited selections). Everything was cooked to perfection, and tasted amazing.

The bread that they serve is also incredible. When we arrived early enough, it was still warm, and it is baked on-site daily. It is one of the best breads I've had in Toronto, bar-none. Simply awesome.

Lastly, I wanted to relay a story about their dedication to quality. On our first visit, we had something called the "Fries Kenny", which our server described in great detail, and for which I wouldn't be able to describe properly. They were delicious. However, on our last visit, I ordered them again. This time, they arrived rushed out of the kitchen, as they hadn't been delivered with our main dishes. Much to my chagrin, they were chalky and undercooked. I tried a few times, but couldn't like them. I did what I rarely do, I sent them back to the kitchen, and told the server that I was no longer in the mood for another order. I will usually just not eat something rather than specifically sending it back if I don't like it, but I felt that I needed to send this back - because everything had been so amazing up until that point. Well, we happened to be seated immediately in front of the kitchen, and I noticed the head and sous chef trying the fries. I really appreciated that they were doing this as a method of quality control. The way that the fries are served allows them to be shared, so it wasn't really surprising that they would try them (in a sanitary sort of way). They waited about 10 minutes, which I thought was because they had finished their orders - but it wasn't. The head chef completely stopped the kitchen and talked to his team about quality control - just because of the fries. They talked for about ten minutes - and I only realized what they had done afterwards, because one of the line cooks took about 5 chits that had printed since they started their discussion. To me, if they are willing to shut down their entire kitchen to get something right as simple as these fries, then that says a lot to me about how far they go to control the quality of their product - and with that one small exception, it really, really shows.

I'd recommend this place easily to anyone - although I hope I'll still be able to get a seat as it's popularity will no doubt increase as people become more aware about how great this place is. I can't wait to go back! Has anyone else shared the same experience?

Lastly - are there any other well-hidden gems that I might not know about?

488 Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 1E5, CA

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  1. mmm sounds good
    Have u ever tried the drake cafe? I've never been there for a brunch but it feels like a good choice.

    I was just wondering what SO stands for it's been bothering me for a while.


    3 Replies
    1. re: captainmoop

      'The Drake' used to be one of my go-to brunch spots - but I found the quality was starting to wane (for brunch, anyway) - have you been lately? Have they picked it up again?

      In any case - SO stands for "Significant Other".

      1. re: captainmoop

        I haven't been for a while, but I absolutely love the Drake for brunch.

      2. Wow, impressive indeed.

        I will try Marben for brunch sometime based on your rec.

        1. Based on your recommendation, I also really want to try Marben for brunch!!

          488 Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 1E5, CA

          1. Great! I'm certain neither of you will be disappointed. I'm also anxiously awaiting to go for dinner - ironically, I'm more enthused to go than my SO - but probably because I made her go there three times in a row for brunch. haha.

            1. I've had Marben's brunch on my radar for a while and your review just made me put an extra few asterisks beside its name. Another spot that had been on my list, and which I finally tried this weekend, was Lola's Commissary. I haven't had a chance to write a review but I really enjoyed it and I expect you will too. The other placed is Beast - loved my one dinner there and can only imagine what they do with brunch. There haven't been a lot of reviews on this board but the ones that have been posted have been great.

              I know what you mean about wishing you had discovered it sooner - I was way too late to the game with Hoof Cafe's brunch and had to cram in 3 visits in their last 2 weeks of existence. And while I haven't been in a while, I've also had some good brunches at The Drake.

              3 Replies
              1. re: peppermint pate

                Ah yes. Definitely have Beast on my radar. That, George (im a splendido guy) and Woodlot are my three places that I haven't had a place to try as yet. I'll add Lola's as well. Thanks!

                1. re: justpete

                  Assume you mean George and Woodlot for dinner (both excellent, in different ways)? Neither serves brunch, do they?

                  1. re: peppermint pate

                    Yes, I threw dinner talk in there as well. My apologies. :)