Brunch at The Gallery Grill – Hart House

What nicer way to start Sunday than with a leisurely, delicious and decadent brunch at Hart House. Though not old by European standards, the architecture and design (Henry Sproatt) screams history and atmosphere (they allegedly even have a ghost according to the very enthusiastic host of a Toronto ghost tour I recently took around the U of T/Hart House area but that’s a whole other story). As you enter the halls and corridors, you enter a neo gothic world of stone colonnades; Italian travertine paved corridors and a Great Hall. We’re talking open timbered roof, oak paneled walls and huge chandeliers darling. It feels like you’ve just stepped on to the set of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.
Grand but austere in a medieval sense, the Great Hall is overlooked by the Gallery Grill restaurant and now we’re in business…
As you enter from the first floor corridor, you are greeted by a roaring log fire and leather armchairs in the bar area – effectively the ante-room to the brunch area – an expectation builder if ever there was one and expectations were met and exceeded. Having been here three times fairly recently, wild horses – or ghosts – wouldn’t stop me accepting all and any invitation to an opportunity to eat in this tiny slice of culinary heaven
Hart House itself contains a theatre; library (I could definitely do some serious study in that library with its cosy stuffed armchairs, polished floors and purple walls); music studios and a billiard room, not to mention one of the most significant collections of Canadian art in the world. It is possible to join a “Curators’ Tour contact Hart House on the telephone number below or visit the website go to
But if you just fancy an indulgent treat or have visitors from out-of-town that you want to impress, book yourself brunch which starts at 11am sharp until 2pm.
Favourite ever cocktail is the Maple Leaf – made with rye whiskey; lemon juice and maple syrup, I still haven’t been able to re-create this at home, and a delicious guilt free excuse to have a bona fide drink before the sun is over the yard-arm (says we Brits). The menu, whilst not cheap is mouth-watering and tempting and beware the yummy deserts. On offer our particular Sunday was “Warm bittersweet Chocolate and St Ambrose Pouding Chomeur” – warm runny chocolate pudding to you and I . Sounds utterly pretentious ,but who cares; one touch of the spoon on the crust released a lava-flow of warm thick gooey chocolate oozing into the surrounding cream sauce…… sigh!
If one of you has the audacity to skip the dessert course, the other desserts appear with 2 spoons sticking out of them – Helloo……..not sharing my pudding with anyone.
If you ever go out with me, a quick word of advice about my approach to Pudding/Dessert (note the capital P!). Pudding is sacrosanct and mostly a forbidden treat so hijacking my enjoyment by putting 2 spoons in my dessert is a no-no and will elicit a glare and a reduced tip. Hate to go on about this, but once you are presented with a pudding and 2 spoons, you really have NO choice but to offer people a taste and before you know it, there’s barely any left .You then have the dilemma of looking like a fat pig if you order a second one!!!!!!!!!! Life’s getting shorter, back off my dessert
Moving on – The sweet potato cake with cream cheese ice-cream and butterscotch-pecan sauce another “get yer mitts off it” dessert.
For those of you who don’t subscribe to my view that dessert should be the first course, here is an idea of the sort of main dishes you might expect as the menu does change. I always have (yes every week!!) a variation of the shiitake Mushroom migas with poached egg and pepper salad or there unusually a trout dish – this time – with apple and scallion salad and boar bacon vinaigrette.
Nobody hurries you and the service is super friendly, un-snobby and relaxed.
Now I just have to think of a reason to go there again; although before I do that I need to find time/partner in crime to go up and have Breakfast at the top of the world in the “by all accounts” spectacularly placed Toronto Athletic Club downtown. This is only open weekdays so may be a while before I manage this one.
God, it’s tough living in Toronto – still someone’s gotta
Over and Out
Hart House, University of Toronto
7 Hart House Circle
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 3H3
Telephone: 416.978.2452
Gallery Grill – Telephone (416) 978-2445


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