There was this fantastic spot for brunch in Toronto a few blocks from where I grew up. It landed a couple of blocks from uptown, where money flows like water. We lived nearby, partly due to luck and part circumstance. Either way, we were surrounded by more options than one really needs. And every time a place lay claim to being the “in” spot, a new one appeared and took the title with a flurry.
Oliver’s, if the story is correct, was started by a man who used to deliver quality food to local businesses at lunch and his food was such a hit that he decided to open up a restaurant in the same area. Lucky us. The one downside of growing up in an area where people are seen to be seen, are the lineups that form outside one of these new hot spots. Nobody stood a chance with the aroma drifting from the front windows, which were usually swung open during the spring and summer. Any passerby was stopped dead in his tracks as soon as the scent of fresh baked goods hit them.
Growing up I used to follow my parents whenever they went out for breakfast, brunch or lunch. This was one of the perks of being a kid. And when my parents said they were heading over to Oliver’s for breakfast, I was at the door and ready in a flash. This wasn’t the kind of breakfast I had at the local greasy spoon, this was elegance on a plate.
I remember the first time I slid into a booth and followed my mom’s order with, “I’ll have what she’s having.” It came out of my mouth fast and hard and for a moment I felt all grown up. The standard bacon and eggs, forever the heavyweight breakfast in my house, was about to be replaced. The “in” breakfast was about to have a new contender for the title.
The sauce was hypnotizing. The bacon crisp and salty and the eggs perfectly done. It was just the right combination of flavours all in one beautifully presented package. I probably ate it in record time and I could tell from my parents face that their brunch bill was about to be a bit more expensive each week. Another perk for the kid.
I must have ordered Eggs Benedict every time I followed my parents out for breakfast after that moment. And that has followed me long since that restaurant closed down. Eggs Benedict is sinfully good and one my most cherished ways to spend a weekend morning. I make it slightly different than the one I first tasted, but the feeling that sweeps up over me is the same every time.
From my kitchen to yours, happy eating!
Lemony Eggs Benedict with Arugula
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. water
- kosher salt and cracked pepper
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- small handful fresh arugula
- 4 thick slices of bacon, cut in half
- 2 English muffins, split in half
- 4 poached eggs
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the bacon on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cook for about 6 minutes a side, until slightly crispy. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Using a blender, make the hollandaise sauce first. Combine the egg yolks, water, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. In a small saucepan or microwave, melted the butter. Start up the blender and while it’s running, slowly add the butter through the vent at the top and continue to blend until the sauce is thick. Season to taste. Pour the sauce into a bowl and cover and set aside.
- Poach the eggs and keep them warm in hot water.
- Toast your English muffins and then place 2 halves on a plate. Top each with some fresh arugula, 4 bacon halves and a poached egg. Spoon a couple tablespoons of hollandaise sauce on each and serve.
- Serves 2.
My parents soon started calling this place home on Sunday mornings. The servers attire was standard black pants and white shirts and white aprons and the men had to wear a tie. Yet it never felt stuffy inside, no matter how hard some of the patrons tried. You know the type, loud as soon as they walk in and waving to people they probably didn’t even know.