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Nov 22, 2013 07:22 AM

Sunday Brunch Buffets

I've been researching for the past week on Sunday brunch buffets and it seems that Toronto doesn't have the same focus on this culinary joy. I've been in other cities around the world (Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Shanghai) and usually the Sunday brunch buffet is a culinary event of great food and variety!

Most of the CH posts here are a bit dated and scattered. I'm hoping this consolidated thread can get the conversation going on what are the best brunch buffets in the city. I've added my notes and research into this but I'm desperate to hear fellow CH'ers thoughts and experiences as well.

Luxury Premium ($40 and up per person)

Ritz Carlton TOCA
$89 for adults, half price for kids, complimentary for toddlers/babies;
Reviews have been postive on quality and selection. Large variety including seafood, carving station, Hapa Izakaya maki; soup/salad, omelettes, cheese, charcuterie, dessert and alcohol. Service has been noted to be excellent

King Edward Victoria Restaurant
$53 for adults, half price for children
Not many reviews but a CH'er has mentioned it was a pleasant experience. It's not clear what they serve. Service has been stated to be good

Trump Towers STOCK
$49 for adults, half price for kids;
Reviews has mentioned to be ok for quality but they have a good selection. Service was excellent. Millygirl had a negative service experience (exorbitant and hidden costs for drinks).

Windsor Arms
$50 for adults, $35 for kids;
Poor quality, serving temperature cool, service is careless and haphazard

Seasonal brunches
Frank @ AGO
Sen5es Soho Metropolitan
Intercontinental Azure

Moderate Luxury (Between $20 to $40


Old Mill
$35 for adults and $16 for children
Reviews have mentioned the quality and selection is underwhelming. Service is efficient

Fairmont Royal York
$29 per person
I haven't seen a review on this one?

Hot House Cafe
$22 per person
Posts and reviews mention how it's a great atmosphere and decent selection. Quality is a steady offering over the years. Selection is moderate

Basic Brunch (Less than $20


$19 for adults
Reviews originally showed this as being great quality brunch for the value but recent reviews are showing it as taking a nose dive. Small portions with luke warm serving temperature and lacking flavour

Gladstone Cafe
$16 for adult; $10 for kids
Basic fresh breakfast offerings. I didn't see many reviews. Anyone been here?

Free Times Cafe
$19.95 per person
Jewish cuisine brunch style with live Yiddish music

Did I miss anything?

I'm debating between King Edwards and TOCA for our annual holiday brunch event. There's a huge difference in offerings and price point so it's hard to compare apples to apples. We were thinking of Stock as it seems it's in the same price point as King Edwards. We're not drinkers so we wouldn't have the same nightmare as Millygirl. We care more about quality of food and selection. Has anyone been to King Edwards and Stock to compare?

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  1. Just a note that I heard Old Mill is closing down its restaurant at the end of the year. No more brunch buffet and no more Saturday evening big band dancing. Apparently the owner plans to renovate and open a more modern restaurant and bar.

    1. Great post! Thanks for all this legwork.

      I'm a big fan of Hot House's Wednesday and Sunday buffets.

      I believe they recently changed their name slightly to:

      The Hot House Restaurant & Bar.

      1. There's also the Free Times Café for a Jewish Brunch (IIRC it's $19.95).
        BUT possibly an acquired taste.

        11 Replies
        1. re: estufarian

          I've always been curious about that. Keep on meaning to go.

          1. re: estufarian

            Interesting! I'll add it to the list . how did you find the food quality, selection, and service?

            1. re: Nevy

              I went many years ago when a friend was dating a Jewish girl and her family was there too. They all seemed to really like it. For me, at the time, I thought it was decent but I am not a big fan of AYCE. Worth giving it a go, there was music too when I went.

              1. re: Nevy

                Personally, I hated it (!) but my companions loved it.
                Service? At a buffet? All they have to do is clear plates.

                As for 'quality' - it was actually good compared to my limited exposure to this traditional cuisine. Plus the Klesmer music adds ambiance.
                But for $19.95 it's quite good value - reservations essential - it's always packed, but I'd recommend it more for the 'experience' rather than the food. Perhaps a guilty pleasure.

                1. re: estufarian

                  I would love to edit and add your experience to the top thread but somehow the edit functions on my OP is gone!

                  1. re: Nevy

                    Yeah, I wish CH let you edit your posts after the fact but it only has a few hour "edit " window unfortunately

                  2. re: estufarian

                    Given that you've said the food quality was compartively good and that you enjoyed the Klesmer, I'm curious as to why you hated it.

                    1. re: magic

                      First problem is that I'm not a fan of buffets (any of them).
                      Colder foods 'can be' mushy or semi-frozen and hot foods are rarely that - they're 'often' steam tabled or tealight (or other heat source)-style burners.

                      For me, texture is very important in food - and that's what's frequently lost in a buffet. In my post I was trying to show that my opinion was probably not the common reaction, but I couldn't bring myself to praise it.

                      I recall that coffee (and juice) was also self-serve at the buffet. Don't recall the water.

                      Overall this was as much fun as I've had at a brunch. Where I've had better food the price was always higher. Accordingly worth mentioning.

                      But if people are looking for more formal (or traditional), and quieter brunches, then this is probably not the best choice. It's popular and very crowded, with tables close together. But it's $19.95!


                      1. re: estufarian

                        Gotcha, your thoughts are most appreciated.

                    2. re: estufarian

                      Service is much more than clearing plates. Service is coffee, water, and other drinks. It's actually quite important at a buffet, at least for me and my family.

                  3. re: estufarian

                    That place is really good overall but when I went, the lines were crazy.

                  4. This is very handy, thanks Nevy.

                    Just to clarify re Stock - and as I stated in my OP, the service was excellent. No concerns there. My issue was as you state, around wine markups and hidden costs re water.


                    7 Replies
                    1. re: millygirl

                      Your experience is what makes me hesitant of booking it for our Sunday holiday buffet outing. I don't mind paying higher prices PROVIDED I know what I'm getting myself into... underhanded techniques just sours the entire experience.

                      The price (without the crazy drink prices) is closest to King Edwards and it looks like a better spread at Stock compared to King Edwards. If TOCA had an option of no AYCD mimosa and prices less than $75, I think I'd book there first.

                      1. re: Nevy

                        I know what you mean.

                        If you drink, I would say the Ritz is better value.

                        Initially I was going to suggest you go to Stock and just be aware of the prices, etc. but I do hesitate. Too be honest, I felt the food fell short. It was okay but nothing memorable for us, in fact the oysters, which I love - were really flat. I was told later but someone inside, that they apparently shuck them ahead of time which is why they seemed to have a funny texture.

                        If I think about it now, I would not go back.

                        But definitely will be hitting up The Ritz.

                        1. re: millygirl

                          Thanks for your thoughts Millygirl. When it comes to paying more than $50 per person at a buffet, I really look for quality and variety instead of sustenance food. So your insight on the food just being ok helps me decide against STOCK.

                          Now it's back to Ritz vs King Edwards ;)

                          1. re: Nevy

                            When I went, the Ritz was very stingy with the Mimosas. Not only were they watered down, you have to find the one waiter who served them. Saw him once the entire time I was there. Not worth the extra premium. I prefer Stock where I drink coffee.

                            1. re: MissBingBing

                              Luckily our waiter wasn't stingy with the mimosas nor the bellinis at the Ritz yesterday. Our table of 4 consumed 14 glasses worth plus our waiter brought a glass of just prosecco when asked in lieu of a final bellini. You definitely need to drink to justify the $79 price tag per person. The food was solid but nothing mindblowing. Highlights for me were the oysters, lobster, smoked fish, antipasti, pancakes and fresh fruit. Service was great. I would return for a special occasion.

                              1. re: fickle

                                Great pictures! Comparing your shots to what I had at KE, Ritz plating wins easily. It all looks so pretty.

                                The idea of lobsters and oysters sounds great. Was the lobster chilled or steamed with melted butter? I'm assuming they were tails only and a moderate size ? Also , were the oysters freshly shucked?

                                I'm not a drinker so the extra $25 per person charge is a bit much but if the lobsters were really good, maybe I'll put Ritz ahead of Stock.

                                1. re: Nevy

                                  The lobsters were chilled and of a good size. We really enjoyed them, our table probably went through as many tails as we did bellinis and mimosas :) The oysters were freshly shucked in the kitchen and brought out. The seafood table was definitely a favourite, it was continually being replenished and devoured throughout the 4 hrs we were there.

                    2. Bloor St Diner.
                      Was $29 last time I went (last year)

                      Regular brunch food. Rotisserie Chicken, Carvery, Omelet station, salads, pre-made benny's (bad), sausages and a table of desserts that includes the infamous chocolate fountain!