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Dec 10, 2012 06:57 AM

Rose and Sons - brunch

Anthony Rose's new spot opened a few weeks ago on Dupont and there's already a healthy wait-list for brunch. We got a bit lucky with our timing so didn't have to wait too long to enjoy a fun and tasty meal. My lingering impression was that Rose and Sons is what you might expect if Hoof Cafe and United Bakers Dairy had a love-child.

I'm a big fan of Anthony's from The Drake and his various seasonal pop-ups. When we first walked in, there he was, greeting everyone in his charismatic and friendly way, iPad in hand, ready to tap out your number to text when your table's ready. He would later make his rounds to the tables, warmly thanking people for coming - seemed very genuine.The cozy interior of the long-running People's diner has been partly renovated to make way for these handsome, long communal wooden tables that can seat groups of 2-8 or 10. Service is very friendly. Great vibe.

On the Hoof Cafe side of the gene pool, you have things like duck confit with a poached egg and grits, ancho chili eggs or the bread pudding with blueberry compote. The United Bakers DNA contributes schmaltz (chicken fat) hash, matzoh ball soup, a whitefish sandwich on a killer Montreal bagel and one of the best looking bagels, lox and cream cheese sandwiches I've seen in a while. Things that were great - some of the best bacon I've ever eaten (Perth pork), amazing bread pudding with wild blueberries, the schmaltz hash and great fresh-tasting eggs. I would hope they might add a few lighter breakfasty items on the menu and I thought that some of the portions seemed small for the price.

Overall, we really enjoyed ourselves and look forward to checking out some of their other offerings. They're open for breakfast during the week (at 10), which is always a rare treat, as is the existence of a solid brunch alternative without going all the way downtown.

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  1. First a heads up to those who appreciate good service (specifically millygirl and hungryabbey – referencing the recent Grove thread). The customer treatment here is the most amateurish it has been my mispleasure to experience in Toronto.

    Two visits (one Brunch, one lunch) with different people – and neither has any intention of returning. Which is unfortunate as the food is ‘potentially’ very good.

    In the two visits I asked to be moved once and was asked by the staff to move 4 (yes, FOUR) times. Even with the moves, neither visit exceeded 40 minutes – you get in and out of here really fast!
    The main ‘issue’ is that two (former) booths for 4 people have had the barrier removed to make tables for 8 – with access at the ends only as there are two of these 8-seaters back to back. So essentially it’s communal seating with limited access. Apart from that there’s a table for 4 (best seat in the house) a mini-table for 4 (that only comfortably seats 2) and a counter for 5 where there’s insufficient legroom for anybody taller than about 150cm. And the end seat of that row of 5 is adjacent to the Espresso machine and the cups are placed in that same place whenever coffee is made (no drip coffee available) – PLUS the box containing cutlery etc., is also parked there. We were first in line on opening and were seated at this ‘black hole’ seat - I couldn’t get my legs in, so turned sideways and immediately banged my hand on the cutlery box. I immediately asked to be moved and when the server moved us down, Anthony Rose came over and asked us to move back! We compromised by moving to the end of the counter closer to the door. DO NOT ACCEPT THE END COUNTER SEAT BY THE ESPRESSO MACHINE! (Relevant aside: on my second visit the person seated at this horrific counter seat actually spun around, put his plate on his lap, and ate facing away from the counter).

    For my second visit, my strategy was to ask (politely) to be seated away from the counter, with an offer to move there if a large party arrived later – however, I was promptly seated at one end of an 8-seater; the other end being occupied already by another couple. Shortly after, more customers arrived, and we were asked if we would scoot down to the middle to enable two more people to be seated (which we did) – but a single diner at the other 8-top offered access as he was part-way through his meal and leaving shortly (a big thank you to this anonymous diner – a question mark why we were selected as the movable diners). So we moved back to the end (with apologies to the other occupants of our 8-seater that it was nothing personal). Then came another couple and the request was repeated – again we complied, but that couple (for unexplained reasons) declined to sit alongside us. This time we remained in the centre seats (of the bench), figuring it was inevitable. Finally, after our friendly neighbours retreated (and while we were eating) we were asked to move back to our former end while new patrons were seated in the newly vacated seats alongside us.
    OK that’s my rant – but assuming you’re going anyway and /or enjoy playing unmusical chairs, then just make sure to avoid the end counter-seat. And be aware that, for Brunch, the place was full within 5 minutes of opening, and there’s maybe room for 4 people to stand waiting (any more and the door will be held open) and limited alternatives in the neighbourhood at 10:00am.
    Onto the food – and that’s certainly more positive. This is a small menu, not all of which was available when we (attempted to) ordered. The website implies daily specials – but none existed at either time I visited. But ALL of the ingredients (both visits) were clearly top quality with great flavours. Sides include (among others) pork chop, which we ordered. Again excellent flavour but a strange texture – solid on the outside but perfect inside(fully cooked, no pink) and at first I thought it had been deep-fried – but they are still using the original diner cooking range, so it had been griddled.
    Prices are ‘fair’ for the quality of the food (not the experience) – both visits were around $50 for two (including gratuity – yes, I tipped; the servers were pleasant and efficient – even though the management experience wasn’t stellar). Service is prompt and fast (clearly there’s a focus on the bottom line here – get ‘em in ‘n’ out fast, so no bottomless coffee cup) so you won’t have time for thoughtful conversation.
    I didn’t have wine (and won’t) – the wine is stored on the top shelf adjacent to the range hood – possibly the hottest place in the restaurant. They have three offerings – one each of red, white and sparkling.
    At those prices, I don’t think that I should be expecting great service – but I do expect to be treated as a ‘client’ rather than a commodity. If I’m in a hurry, this is a decent alternative – but not worth waiting for a seat (although if you are in line the wait shouldn’t be long!).

    3 Replies
    1. re: estufarian

      wow- that's terrible. I would definitely be horrified. Well, thanks for shortening my list to go-to places.

      1. re: hungryabbey

        Thanks for the warning! I got the impression from the few pictures I saw, that seating might be a problem.

        doesnt sound like my kinda place

      2. re: estufarian

        I went today with a friend for Brunch. Menu is slightly overpriced. $13 for 3 eggs (undercooked) with 2 meagre strips of bacon (tasty I might add) and a couple tablespoonfuls of the "schmaltz" hash? Oh and toast Yeah umm, no thanks. Service was borderline obnoxious, almost "you're lucky to be eating here attitude".

      3. Do you know if they do takeout? I'd like to get the bread pudding to go, so I can avoid the lineups altogether...not to mention the musical chairs.

        3 Replies
        1. re: kwass

          Absolutely, they do take out! I saw someone leaving with an order while i was there!

          1. re: barbbee1

            That's awesome!! Thank you so much. I'm going to try and head over on Sunday, so I'll report back once I've been.

            1. re: barbbee1

              Are you sure it wasn't their meal that they weren't allowed to finish at the restaurant
              just saying

          2. The food was good - the experience was not. Booked a 6:30pm reservation - was 10 minutes late but called to tell them traffic had held us up. We (four of us) were seated at one of the longer tables which had a separator so different parties could share the table - which was fine, but we were squished onto half a seat each - so we'd move the separator because no one was beside us - and the host kept moving it back - this happened three times. By 8:10pm we were getting the stink eye for being there too long - never mind that we'd all had drinks, an entree and had ordered four desserts. The bill landed on the table 5 seconds after the desserts did - and at 8:31 the host came over and said the next party was there for their 8:30pm reservation, thanks for our understanding. We had not been told when booking that the table had to be turned in 2 hours. Basically, we were rushed through dinner, made to feel uncomfortable, and although the food was good, there are 15+ places in Toronto that do what they do without making you feel like they are doing you a massive favour - we won't be going back.

            5 Replies
            1. re: AddieK

              Unfortunately we had a similar experience
              Food was ok but packed in like sardines , rushed out as soon as we were "almost" finished our meal
              YES there are too many other great places to bother going back
              The owner needs to have a talk with the blonde male host who seats you and then throws you out

              AVOID at all cost

              1. re: AddieK

                Not to be rude, but you took up a table at a very small restaurant for 2 hours. This isn't a multi-course fine dining restaurant. They kind of need to do push you out or they aren't going to make any money.

                1. re: szw

                  Anyone who spends 2 hours here is probably going to need a chiropractor anyway, so they're doing you a favour by rushing you out.
                  However, with both my visits being under 40 minutes, I'm not sure why AddieK's meal took so long.
                  Certainly a late arrival should be expected to 'rush things along' but there's a responsibility for the restaurant to make this happen as well. But amateurish (but friendly) service seems to be a pattern here.

                  1. re: szw

                    Trust me - it wasn't us setting the pace. Our friends arrived 5 minutes before us and had drinks on the table as we arrived. We ordered when invited to order, ate our mains, ordered dessert when asked to, and ate that when it arrived...we weren't lingering - just going at the pace set by the kitchen. My issue is that we weren't told when making the reservation the table absolutely had to turn within 2 hours (most places with this policy tell you so you can decide in advance if you are okay with that), we really weren't the ones setting the pace of the meal, and yet were made to feel rushed and uncomfortable well before we'd finished eating. And so at $100 per couple, I'd say overall, it wasn't a great experience, that's all.

                    1. re: AddieK

                      Sounds like quite a poor experience. Thanks for the warning.