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Cafes

Caffe Brasiliano

Posted by Tim / Posted on July 20, 2008

Caffe Brasiliano FishWhen I posted about the rise and fall of Dundas West, commenter Eli Budd rightly pointed out that I had failed to give props to Caffe Brasiliano. In fact, Eli's exact words were Caffe Brasiliano appears to be neglected from this blog for well too long. If more places were like Brasiliano, the world would be a better place.

While bettering the world might be overstating its case, there is no denying that Cafe Brasiliano is something of a neighbourhood gem, so I promised myself the next time I ate there I'd be sure to bring me camera along for the ride so I could pen this long overdue review.

So there I was, out on the patio at Musa last week enjoying a pint with a couple of friends when one of them suggested we head next door for some post-patio eats at Caffe Brasiliano. Finally my chance had arrived; so we downed our beers, paid our bill and sauntered over to 849 Dundas West to gaze at the chalkboard menu.

It was Monday and the special of the day was the filet of sole (pictured above). For $9 it came with as many sides that could fit onto the plate which in my case amounted to a good helping of chickpea salad, a basic green salad and some tasty-enough melange of vegetables. A friend of mine went for the same dish, but swapped the vegetables for some spaghetti with tomato sauce. The filet was fresh and delicious and not too greasy.

Caffe Brasiliano CanelloniElsewhere around the table, another friend was in an Italian mood and plated the aforementioned mixed vegetable and salad with three pieces of cannelloni. It came out a bit on the cool side at first but after a quick trip back to the kitchen it returned hot enough to his liking.

All and all it was another good meal at Caffe Brasiliano, a cheap and cheerful spot that doesn't try to do too much expect deliver hearty portions and good value. We're talking comfort food here, not some creation by a former sous-chef of Susur Lee. It's important not to walk in here expecting the world, and I wouldn't go as far as to say this is a destination place; but for a meal around $10 or less it's definitely a worthy option.

2Caffe Brasiliano Inside

Caffe Brasiliano Pasta

Caffe Brasiliano

Caffe Brasiliano Menu 1

Caffe Brasiliano Menu 2

Discussion

26 Comments

Sarah / May 28, 2008 at 05:03 pm
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Excellent! I've been waiting for this listing for a while. Someone should profile them. The staff is so friendly, always serving bountiful plates of yummy food, and they might make the best mochaccino in the city.
khalid / July 21, 2008 at 08:07 pm
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yeah the veal sandwich here is amazing
frank / July 21, 2008 at 08:42 pm
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the coffee is like crack here...soooo good!!!
Jerrold / July 21, 2008 at 09:08 pm
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Is that a frozen vegetable medley as a side?
Tim / July 21, 2008 at 09:59 pm
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Yep. That's it.
Jerrold / July 21, 2008 at 10:36 pm
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That's kind of unfortunate. Fresh seasonal veggies would be a +1.
unconvinced / July 21, 2008 at 10:38 pm
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This review perfectly encapsulates a question that has nagging me for some time: why should I (or anyone else) give a toss about your restaurant reviews? You don't seem to exercise any discretion about choosing places and refuse to make judgments even when a place is perfectly inadequate. If frozen side vegetables and cold food don't warrant a negative judgment, what does? Here you are lionizing what would otherwise be termed cafeteria or hospital food because its run by an old, friendly portugese family.

A review is only useful when it provides some guidance to the reader as to whether a dining experience is worthwhile. Here you give a qualified endorsement (not a "destination place") to a place that serves bad food is, in a word, terrible. Your refusal to take a bad restaurant to task undermines your credibility when giving a good review. Readers may reasonably conclude that you don't know the difference.
Tim / July 21, 2008 at 10:55 pm
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I think the issue is really a question of value. For $10, and with with charm and friendly service of the place I say it's definitely worth a repeat visit. Obviously, if it were twice the price I'd have different expectations including some more interesting vegetables and everything served at the right temperature the first time.

But just because it's not a great destination place, doesn't mean it can't be a great local option. Caffe Brasiliano is the kind of place you go when you just want a cheap and filling meal out. With no fuss. Or if you don't feel like cooking.

It's the kind of place that is great to have around the corner from your home.
yuck / July 22, 2008 at 12:11 am
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I am too on the unconvinced side; I mean, how low can you go? Side of frozen veggie medley? Do they at least made the cannelloni themselves or was it reheated frozen item? And spaghetti with chickpeas and salad? My three year old can cook that. Get in shape, guys - either pick more interesting place or give more justice in your reviews. I am staying away from Cafe B, sorry.
Brett Clarkson / July 22, 2008 at 05:36 am
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Hey unconvinced, you don't know what you're talking about!

Brasiliano has great veal. Yeah, the place isn't Tati Bistro or Barberion's, but overall it's a good experience for the people who live in the area and need a place to eat and relax while reading the paper.

Plus, it's well known that Brasiliano has the best coffee in the city.
Paul / July 22, 2008 at 02:51 pm
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I don't think $10, or even $8 represents good value for what I'm seeing on those plates. The thought of eating veggies like that is making me gag a little. I have nothing against cheap food and local charm, but this looks not just cheap, but bad.
Neil / July 22, 2008 at 05:12 pm
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If the place has great veal, showcase the veal in the review. A good resto review will call a spade a spade. If the restaurant is sub-par but has great veal, or chicken, or what have you, a worthwhile article would say so, while also noting the place loses points for cold food and Dominion-sourced sides.

Also, just because you can get a plate of food for $10 doesn't make it good value. Just about anyone can cook a piece of sole and a plate of frozen veg, for less than $10 and with just about the same amount of effort it'd take to walk a few blocks, place an order, wait, then pay the bill. Of course, dining out is also great... but there are countless places in Toronto where you can get a scratch-cooked (rather than pre-packaged and reheated), filling meal for $10-$12, and it's also served hot.
Why Bother / July 22, 2008 at 06:29 pm
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After reading the restaurant reviews by blogs (ie Blogto, Torontoist) and comparing these reviews to newspapers (Eye, Now and Globe), the main difference is that blogs are forgiving of an establishment so long as it's dirt cheap. Cheap is the blogger's excuse to praise a place that has bad food, bad service and non-existent decor.

What would set blogto's reviews apart from other blogs is by doing what newspaper reviewers do, that is, realistically judge a place on its merits, with a thoughtful inclusion of prices. A place with excellent food, service and terrific decor can be found for cheap and is worth seeking out. A place like Caffe Brasiliano doesn't sound like it is.
Tim / July 22, 2008 at 06:37 pm
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I don't think that's fair. We'll certainly slam a place if it deserves it, regardless of the price point.

The vegetable medley aside, there's plenty here that's fresh and home made, even is this wasn't covered in my review.
sparky / July 23, 2008 at 12:29 am
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Sub-par standards for a resto reviewer. Do you have a head injury?
Tim / July 23, 2008 at 12:49 am
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Possibly.
Elmore / July 23, 2008 at 05:34 pm
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Frozen veggies? Are you kidding? The problem here in Canada is that we focus too much on QUANTITY instead of actual QUALITY - we equate size with value and generally eat whatever is put in front of us. I know, I've witnessed it a thousand times across Canada. This IS cafeteria food, as one of the previous posters so aptly pointed out. In addition, the comparison to Susur Lee is unwarranted. Lee became successful BECAUSE of his focus on quality.
Ron / July 23, 2008 at 08:46 pm
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Excellent honest review. Frozen veggies are totally ok, in some places. This is not a fine dining establishment. The review reflects that and we can all make up our own minds whether it's good enough for us or not.

I am highly critical diner, I have worked as sous in fine dining restaurants. That is not what I expect from this type of place, and it has it's place.

Thank you for the review. I've only had the coffee there (and for $8 / lb takeaway the columbian is SUPERB) but I'll be back for some inexpensive home style comfort food soon.
Eli / August 7, 2008 at 04:31 pm
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I think most to the comments on this revue have missed the point. There appears to be a desire among the readers of this blog for Brasiliano to be something that it's not trying to be. Recognize the cafe for what it is, as opposed to judging it by standards set by other restaurants that are going for an entirely different dining experience.

Brasiliano is not so much a 'destination' restaurant (as mentioned by Tim), but rather the cultural hub of a transitional community. Brasiliano attracts all sorts of clientele. From cab drivers starting their late night shift, to twenty somethings who have just moved into the neighborhood, to locals who have lived here for generations.

Brasiliano serves comfort food, for good value. Yes, it is a bit of a cafeteria, but that's part of the attraction. Their coffee is some of the best in the city, and is sold an affordable price. It should also be noted that all the prices on the menu include tax.

Every time I walk into the place I feel like I've come home. The people there are friendly and genuine. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, it's worth checking out.
George Sawision / June 8, 2009 at 06:27 pm
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Thanks for paying attention to a great place. I am a little biased because I helped build the place.The Conners family are a great addition to ward 19 and they even allowed me to have my campaign there during the 2006 municipal elections. The coffee is grade A and way underpriced.Unlike other coffee establishments this coffee is NOT blended with cheaper grades to make a higher profit.A secret in the coffee industry.
The food IS homemade in the kitchens of the caffe.Many of the locals like the so called "frozen sides" because they grew up being frugal and enjoy the taste of good food without the snobbery.Those that have posted here to complain are afraid to add their names and remain anonymous.Easy to throw it when nobody knows who you are.So I believe those posts are just by somebody who may have some other interests in mind instead of a good meal and a great coffee.
This type of dishonesty isn't appreciated.
Don't forget those pies!.
A reliable establishment with good food, nuff said
mike / July 29, 2009 at 05:33 pm
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anyone who hated on this place is a moron lol all you have to do is complain about frozen veggies ahahahha you guys are lame food and coffee is awesome their!
tro / February 24, 2010 at 11:19 pm
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one of my favourite places in the world.

the coffee omigad. the people who work there are so nice, i want to kiss them on their faces. everyone is in such a good mood in there--patrons and employees. and the fish! the fish!

i love you brasiliano! don't know what i'd do without you!
datchikmalix / April 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm
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if you haven't expreience Café Brasiliano then u havent lived LOL

the fact that the staff treats you like family you can't go wrong. you're not jus a cu$tomer to them, you turn into part of the FAM :)

and the coffee is GLLLLOOOORRRIIIOOOUUUSSS
ps. they carry lactosse free milk which many places don't!
derek andrews / June 30, 2010 at 12:46 pm
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thanks for the report on one of my favourite eating and hanging places in the city. the people are indeed remarkable, as is the coffee. the food is all fresh prepared home style cooking including the offending mixed veg, sometimes replaced by an equally offensive kernel corn! the bbq chicken or breaded sole are my default dishes, but the vibe is what makes this place. in fact i think the report over priced the main dishes which are actually $7. ever found a place that blends ethiopian cab drivers (never seen so many in one place) boho dundas folk, and old portuguese men? get the pickle out of your ass and drop by for a java, you will find a classic toronto meeting ground. - derek.
Chris replying to a comment from unconvinced / March 12, 2012 at 11:23 pm
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Listen,

Where are you going to get seriously fed comfort food for $9 in Toronto with all the food groups and very tasty too boot.

Don't eat the side of frozen vegetables if you don't like them and stop complaining.

Try their espresso, they do a great job.
Tiago / June 12, 2012 at 01:03 pm
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If your having a meal in this neighborhood and you didn't go to Caffe B.. you made the wrong choice! Shame on you!! This is the spot right here ladies n gents. TOP NOTCH coffee for you real Java lovers, non of this Starbucks BS here. Best espresso to EVER touch these lips! Incredible homemade style food. Take a seat or take out, whatever you please. Staff is incredible here, friendly family style dining & service. The Conner's family is a godsend to this neighborhood. Thank you all for your great service. My boss also wanted to thank you, you guys always ensure that I show up to work awake! You the man on that Espresso machine Kenny! Barista of the Century, forget year.

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