At this point, anyone who’s been keeping up over the last little while knows about my Leslieville brunch dilemma. You know, the one where we keep on trying different places, and ultimately keep on ending up at Joy Bistro because it’s big enough that we never have to wait and the food is relatively good? Well, what I haven’t mentioned is that I would always rather end up at Lady Marmalade, which, as those of you who have ever attempted a weekend brunch visit will know, is often an exercise in futility. Good news is, yesterday my Aunts were in our hood and we took advantage of the weekday status to pay a rare visit to my favourite brunch spot on the East side.
Lady Marmalade is only open for brunch and lunch, and on weekend days and holidays I have never seen it without a line-up out the door. We have tried to go at various times of morning and early afternoon, always with the same result: a packed restaurant with about ten groups in front of us in line, an indeterminable wait time for a table, and a resulting shuffle down the street to Joy when Dad’s and my stomachs start to grumble. I think if it was up to Mom she’d wait, but what she doesn’t realize is that by the time we got a table I would likely be in an ‘I’m STARVING’ grump with only a short time to go before that morphed into a ‘when’s my nap?’ irritability. In any case, I think it’s good that Dad’s common sense (and grumbly tummy) always prevails.
In any case, as Tuesdays usually go, there was no line yesterday. We got there around noon and didn’t have to wait for a great table right up front by the open street-side window. My Aunts sat down while Mom and I ran to the bank on the corner (note: LM only takes cash, so come prepared) and my highchair was ready and waiting when we got back. Standard wooden, working safety belt, and perhaps a wee bit dirty, though nothing a quick wipe couldn’t fix. Lady Marmalade isn’t huge, but weekdays strollers aren’t usually an issue. There is a small place against the wall to park, and depending on how busy it is, lots of people just pull them right up to their tables. We didn’t bring my stroller, so for us it was a non-issue yesterday, but there were at least four other kids (er, babies mostly … like, asleep in car seats that had been transferred to stroller bases) who didn’t have a problem. For those parents who are willing to wait in line on a weekend, it’s worth mentioning that near the small stroller parking area, there is a tiny kids play area, complete with chalkboard wall. It’s pretty cool … can’t wait until I’m old enough to not go ballistic with a twenty to thirty minute meal delay so I can give it a whirl.
All these details aside, what keeps me pining for Lady Marmalade is definitely the food. There are lots of great sides that I can order just for me (!!), and Mom sometimes can’t focus for thinking about what she claims is the best sandwich she has ever tasted. Yesterday I had scrambled eggs ($3.50 for two … not super cheap, but also not prohibitively expensive), but on separate occasions I have also ordered sides of avocado, smashed black beans, potatoes, and fruit. Mom, as usual, ordered the ‘Blasted’ Salmon Sandwich, which comes on toasted sourdough, topped with avocado, mango salsa, chipotle mayo and a huge handful of cilantro that she claims makes it over the top delicious. I tried some of the salmon … not sure how I feel about fish in general yet … my verdict is still out. One of my Aunts also got the salmon sandwich (must be something in the genes), and the other got Savoury Waffles made with aged white cheddar and spinach. By the time I thought to give the waffles a try I was so full from my eggs that I just couldn’t bear another bite.
The customer service here isn’t over the top amazing, but it’s by no means bad. In general our servers have been pleasant, prompt and knowledgeable, which is always a good combination. Of note on yesterday’s visit: our server made a point of bringing my eggs out well before everyone else’s meals, which I (and Mom) definitely appreciated. What is great about LM is that the place is always bustling, so there’s never a shortage of stuff for me to check out while we eat.
So the moral of my story is: eat at Lady Marmalade. I love it, and I’m sure you’ll love it too. Though don’t love it too much or soon we won’t be able to get a table on weekdays either, and for that, I would never forgive myself.