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Cafes

Cool Hand of a Girl

Posted by Emily Thomas / Posted on July 5, 2009

Cool Hand of a GirlAlyssa and I arrive at Cool Hand of a Girl via those luxurious new bike lanes on Dupont. After a hot (but refreshingly smooth) bike ride, we're hungry and have something pretty specific in mind. I'm craving a big breakfast and want something hearty, while Alyssa's looking for cheese, as per usual.

The place is quiet with the remnants of a lunch crowd, and the d├ęcor is minimal: totally bare walls, dim lighting, and blue linoleum flooring. Energetic jazz tunes are coming out of an old-school stereo. "I don't know why, but I was expecting this place to be a little more rustic, " I say to Alyssa. I'd passed by the place so many times and always noticed the name. "I think I had Cool Hand Luke in mind." This is the first time I (consciously) make the connection and I figure the assumed allusion is probably the cause of my egg craving.
Cool Hand of a GirlAs it turns out, Cool Hand of a Girl is most definitely not an allusion to the southern prison film starring Paul Newman, but to Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus. (Although, to my credit, Cool Hand Luke and Sisyphus are indeed connected somewhere out there in the world of theory.) But I order the all day breakfast anyways.
Cool Hand of a GirlAlyssa chooses a cheese and chutney sandwich and we sit down at one of Cool's retro tables. The lunch crowd seems to stand up at exactly the same moment and heads out into the sudden downpour of rain. For a second I wonder why they wouldn't wait the weather out inside, but I remember that the lunch crowd usually has jobs.
Cool Hand of a GirlWe sip organic coffee until our food arrives. Aside from the (much appreciated) watermelon garnish, the breakfast ($7.75) is rather boring. I lavish it with tabasco. For an extra two bucks I add spicy chicken sausages, but they're dry and I think they make my stomach hurt. Alyssa's cheddar and chutney sandwich ($7.50) is a bit better. The tomato and apple chutney is tasty, but the bread is soggy and the cheddar (white and organic, at least) is halfway between melted and cold.
Cool Hand of a GirlOur meals are disappointing, especially since we'd overlooked the achiote stew featuring tofu marinated in Mexican spice, and the braised tofu sandwich that I'd heard good things about. I want to put it down to poor choices. I want to blame Paul Newman and Camus.
Cool Hand of a GirlThankfully, Alyssa is still hungry and goes in search of dessert. She chooses the strawberry, raspberry and blueberry pie because a woman has just ordered a slice to go - with conviction. It's topped off with freshly whipped cream. The crust is hearty with spelt flour and the fruit bleeds out into the cream, colouring it dark red. This is the rustic thing I was looking for and it goes down well. And it's pie so it's even kind of southern, minus the spelt.
Cool Hand of a GirlCool Hand of a GirlCool Hand of a GirlCool Hand of a GirlCool Hand of a GirlCool Hand of a GirlCool Hand of a Girl

Photos by Alyssa Bistonath

Discussion

23 Comments

Hayes / September 20, 2008 at 05:25 pm
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They have a new number 416 832 1076
Eric S. Smith / December 19, 2008 at 10:02 am
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<a href="http://www.coolhandofagirl.com/";>Their site</a> now lists their hours of operation as weekends 9&ndash;4 weekends, 7&ndash;4 weekdays.
Maria / July 5, 2009 at 01:37 pm
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A slice of desert is way more interesting that a slice of dessert, for sure. Same as Tobasco, as opposed to Tabasco sauce, sounds way spicier!
kat / July 5, 2009 at 01:49 pm
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About time you guys reviewed this place!!

I go here twice a week for breakfast or lunch. Their avocado/tomato sandwich w/ lemon pepper dressing is the stuff sandwich dreams are made of.
A. / July 5, 2009 at 02:13 pm
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I think this is a good review, however, I believe you mean "hearty" not "hardy"?
comment #6 / July 6, 2009 at 11:50 am
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The review does not do the place justice, imo. I eat here monthly and the food is always top notch, especially the breakfast. It's the best reason to visit the Junction.

The seating is an eclectic mix of classic modernist chairs. The art on the walls changes periodically. I've seen photographs of Cuba, paintings, a big neighbourhood map of he Junction, etc. There are neat architecture and design magazines to browse.
J.P. / July 7, 2009 at 12:31 pm
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This review surprises me. We eat here all the time because the food, staff and atmosphere are consistently great. The breakfast potatoes are delicious and so is the coleslaw/salad substitute. Agreed...the avocado/tomato sandwich is dreamy... and so are their breakfast specials, such as the waffles.
J.P. / July 7, 2009 at 12:34 pm
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Oh, and the New York Times likes it too...

http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/07/05/travel/05surfacing.html?ref=travel
lame review / July 8, 2009 at 12:22 pm
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anyone with a sense of quality will enjoy this place. the food is great!
Lisa / July 10, 2009 at 08:19 pm
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That is the tiniest slice/morsel of watermelon I have ever seen.
david / September 13, 2009 at 12:21 am
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I agree the portions are rather small for the price, however, their best meal deal--that has become one of my favourite meals in Toronto--is the chicken sausage taco special--the coriander, onions, spicy chicken and cheese is heaped onto the corn tortillas--that makes me wish this place would become only a Mexican restaurant. Also, try their unique spiced iced coffee!
anony-mouse / September 21, 2009 at 11:28 am
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The breakfast is anything but uninspired. This review is awful. Please send someone else to update it. The food here is terrific. Best french toast in the city.
smith mcgee / October 2, 2009 at 02:32 pm
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i discovered this incredible place about a year ago and have enjoyed the atmosphere and the food immensely. Well done! I always also enjoy looking at their art and architecture magazines while I wait for the food. Wonderful.
C / November 2, 2009 at 11:13 am
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Sorry to have to go against the grain, but the 2 times I've eaten here (I live in the Junction) the food has been horrible. Also, self serve & who cares employee attitude... and you still want a tip? Good luck with that art-snobs
kelli / November 7, 2009 at 04:24 pm
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their food is thoughtful and delicious. their new number -416-832-1076
AV / June 11, 2010 at 11:07 am
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Went last week, still terrible. Can't wait for the new Junction Grill to open on the corner near them.... real breakfast joint for that strip... finally!
EL / July 29, 2010 at 09:11 pm
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LOVE LOVE LOVE their sandwiches! Chicken Tarragon is the best, Avocado Parmesan is yummy too.
EL / July 29, 2010 at 09:12 pm
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I wish they were open for dinner too though.
Andrea / September 18, 2011 at 06:30 pm
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Since others have seen fit to correct spelling, etc., I feel I should point out that there's no such word as "anyways" (look it up). The word is "anyway". Kudos to the author for correcting former errors.
fiddleton / September 19, 2011 at 04:31 pm
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The food here is mediocre at best, and not really worth commenting on - that photo of the scrambled eggs with toast above sums it all up perfectly. I digress on any sandwich claims, I haven't had them. However, food aside, what I find really silly about this place, is the fact that the servers will almost always take a moment to walk over to your table to tell you that it's counter service only. So you follow them back to the counter to give your order, and go back to your seat. Then they'll bring your coffee to you, but then you have to take your coffee back to the counter if you want milk/sugar etc. Their time/work saving systems actually eat up more time and work for everyone involved.
Ricky replying to a comment from fiddleton / October 15, 2013 at 11:29 am
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Agreed, the lazy servers and bland food keep us from returning.
Scott / December 16, 2013 at 04:23 am
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Went for lunch with a few friends. As we were eating we noticed a cockroach crawling up the wall, given the area we were not surprised. Food was ok, can get this kind of food anywhere. Some customer said she was going to call the Health Inspector.
Junctionite / August 21, 2014 at 02:35 pm
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I live and work in the area, eat here all of the time, food is always great and fresh. Staff is friendly and helpful. I have never seen anything unclean about this place. Its just a great neighbourhood spot.

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