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The Annex’s Insomnia Restaurant & Lounge

The diners seated next to us gawked at our plates as the waiter laid them on our table. “You have got to take a picture of that”, they told us. The French toast, accurately called “Heaven on Earth” ($13), was a tower of thick bread between layers of honeyed berries and cream cheese. Each of them looked back at our plates; seemingly wishing they could reorder, or have a bite.

I cut into the layers of sandwich-like French toast and cherished the first bite, tasting the softened and fluffed cream cheese that stuck to my gums as I chewed. With slices of honey-drenched berries inside – strawberries, and tiny wild blueberries – it blended so smoothly that it seemed like a strawberry-maple flavored whipped cream. The colossally thick slices of French toast were feathery soft in the centre, with crisped edges that held onto the pure maple syrup drizzled on top.

Miniscule in comparison, but as a less sweet and more savoury counterpart, was my dish of “Memphis” eggs benedict ($12), served as poached eggs and velvety hollandaise sauce on a bed of chipotle pulled pork overflowing the whole wheat English muffin. With a fork, I pierced open the top of the poached egg and watched the yolk gush down like lava into the depths of pulled pork, soaking into the English muffin base. Each forkful was part toasted bread with smoky BBQ pork dipped generously into the egg yolk and tart sauce taking over my plate. Complementing the chipotle pork flavor were a side of homefries, big potato chunks tossed in a generous amount of sweet barbecue and ketchup-based sauce with a hint of smokiness, slightly charred on the edges. To accompany it, I ordered the smoothie of the day ($5), a thick concoction of sweet raspberries, pear, cranberry juice, and a hint of vanilla yogurt – blended smooth, despite the raspberry seeds that tickled your mouth.

Arrive before 11am to avoid the morning rush for your choice between high stools or low couches, because you’re bound to wait in a cramped brunch line-up if you don’t. Short round tables go with all the living room seating on faded dark hard wood floors, and are each assigned a glass pitcher of ice water with lemon. Black walls with contemporary pixelated art take over the back of the restaurant, with exposed brick in the front and a liquor-filled bar area as the focal point (reflected on their drink menu of over 200 items). Living up to its “Insomnia”, the restaurant/lounge offers Mediterranean-inspired lunch and dinner selections, plus a Midnight Snack menu ($5/dish) for those who crave guava barbeque wings or chicken & waffles between midnight and 2am.

Billy Joel played as we got up to leave, and I glanced at others’ dishes, looking forward to my next visit. I made my way past the now large line-up of anxious customers waiting to be seated, and out into the brisk air of ever-bustling Bloor Street, ready to face the day.

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About EGS

Erika is a writer based out of Toronto, Canada.

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