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Eat & Drink

Where to get your weekly Dutch brunch fix in Toronto

Posted by Liora Ipsum / March 24, 2014

Borrel BrunchBorrel is the term for a casual get-together in the Netherlands and is also a new weekly pop-up fixture helmed by Justin Go and Alison Broverman at The Ossington on Sunday afternoons from 1pm to 6pm. On the menu are three dishes of Dutch origin: stamppot, bitterballen and poffertjes, traditional foods that are typically scarce on Toronto menus.

Borrel BrunchMy first introduction comes in the form of bitterballen ($7.50), golden fried croquettes made up of a savoury roux mixed with a choice of minced chicken, beef or vegetables. Whole grain, Zaanse mustard imported from Holland, is served on the side for dipping.

Borrel BrunchStamppot ($9), a hearty mash of kale and potato is studded with bacon lardons and topped with a pool of gravy. Smoked pork sausage fanned out on the plate is similar to Keilbassa and sourced from a Dutch butcher in Dundas, Ontario. Vegetarians can opt for a meatless version for $8.

Borrel BrunchPoffertjes ($6.50), poured from batter and browned in a specialized press (like a waffle iron) are addictive miniature pancakes served with a dusting of confection sugar and a nob of cold butter that melts at the table. Polishing off two orders is hardly a challenge.

Borrel BrunchThe duo is toying with how to expand the menu for the summer months and potentially introduce Dutch libations like Jenever, a gin-like alcohol that is traditionally served with a spoonful of sugar to mix in or as a shot alongside beer. For now, take advantage of $5 tall cans of Old Style Pilsner offered by the bar.

Borrel BrunchTake note that, food and drink are billed separately and this is a cash only operation.

Borrel BrunchPhotos by Jesse Milns



WTF?` / March 24, 2014 at 01:58 pm
"Take note that, food and drink are billed separately and this is a cash only operation." WTF?

the lemur / March 24, 2014 at 02:06 pm
This sounds promising but there are a bunch of things not quite right about this article/the concept.

A borrel is just a drink (alcoholic) and by extension an occasion with drinks and snacks (such as bitterballen, but not the other two). It's not brunch. None of these dishes would be served as brunch.

It would be more accurate to refer to it as Zaandam mustard (Zaanse mosterd means 'mustard from Zaandam'; 'Zaanse' means nothing in English).

Jenever is not just 'gin-like', it IS gin. It is arguably the original gin, and its name means 'juniper'. Adding sugar is NOT traditional (it may be a regional custom) and a fair amount of sugar goes into its preparation as it is.

Numnums / March 24, 2014 at 02:52 pm
Does this place serve the baked Belgian endives wrapped in ham and covered in a wine-bechamel sauce dish? How about frikadel sandwiches?
Joyce / March 24, 2014 at 03:19 pm
Looking forward to stop by, have a borrel with bitterballen, boerekoolstampot as a main dish and then coffee with poffertjes as dessert. This would make my day, but I don't live closeby. So whenever I am in town I will see you guys. Love what you're doing at Ossingtons'.
vangogh / March 24, 2014 at 03:45 pm

Lemur - your corrections on Dutch culinary and cultural matters are spot on..

But I'm very happy to see these menu items. They appear to be served true to tradition, and have kept their proper dutch names!
the lemur replying to a comment from Salvation / March 24, 2014 at 03:51 pm
Because people don't really brunch in the NL, and bitterballen is not a meal - it's something to have with a drink. Nothing wrong with having them at lunch time though.

Jen / March 24, 2014 at 03:57 pm
I was here, having lived in Holland for a while I can say that the food was great, but expensive! 6.50 for just a few tiny Poffertjes (but tasty). Also there is alot of confusion as to where you can sit, where you can pay....needs better organization.

It was a nice experience though.
Rachel / March 24, 2014 at 03:59 pm
I'm glad Lemur cleared up a lot of the inaccurate information about Dutch cuisine and culture. A borrel is kind of like a cinq à sept and has nothing to do with brunch. It's a nice concept, and one I miss greatly about the Netherlands, but it's not brunch.

My fingers are crossed that they will have a killer Dutch cheese plate and some Indonesian snacks. Yum!
Jason / March 24, 2014 at 04:02 pm
Brunch hardly happens between 1pm and 6pm, the title of the article is misleading.
Ek replying to a comment from the lemur / March 24, 2014 at 04:02 pm
They need to add kaasstengels to this list!

Also, Poffertjes is a very random "borrel" snack... But I'm not complaining.
goldmember / March 24, 2014 at 04:06 pm
I tried all 3 of their dishes yesterday (including two varieties of the bitterballen - chicken and vegetarian). All were tasty and worth the price. I will likely go back next weekend and bring a few extra people who like to try foods that are not so ubitquitous in Toronto restaurants.

Oh, and to whomever was complaining about the separate bills? Chill. The people operating this service are not employees of the Ossington. The Ossington has graciously provided them a space to serve these items to their patrons for a limited (but possibly extendable) amount of time. So, you pay for your drinks at the bar, then walk about 8 feet to your table where Alison takes your food order and provides you great food. Same applies with the cash thing.
goldmember / March 24, 2014 at 04:07 pm
*ubiquitous, not ubitquitous... duhh....
Louise DenBleker / March 24, 2014 at 04:30 pm
You can get your Dutch fix, at Dutch Treats in Bradford On. just north of Toronto, and worth the drive! They serve Croquettes, Frikadellen, Tosti's, Poffertjes any time of the day!
gr1 replying to a comment from Louise DenBleker / March 24, 2014 at 04:50 pm
you shill.
Frank / March 24, 2014 at 05:20 pm
I think that Lemur is what we commonly refer to in Holland as a : Zeikerd.
Lisa de Jong replying to a comment from Louise DenBleker / March 24, 2014 at 06:01 pm
That's all great and dandy but this is BlogTO.. and this Dutch gal doesn't have a car. Last time I checked the TTC doesn't go to Bradford ;)
Lisa de Jong / March 24, 2014 at 06:03 pm
So jazzed about this! The Dutch don't have much of a cuisine but Boerenkool is pretty awesome - a dish I appreciate so much more now that it's not a weekly staple as it was growing up.

Now, if they added oliebollen... that'd be bad ass.
Joyce / March 24, 2014 at 06:23 pm
Boerekoolstampot is delicious, but isn't really a brunch food. It really is more of a dinner/supper dish, depending on when you normally eat your "warm" meal of the day. I like the photo though, it's served exactly the way it should be.
In my opinion, though, if bitterballen are being served, they should be complemented with kroketten. Delicious. It's a great start, and nice to see some traditional Dutch foods being served in Canada, someplace other than my table :)!
Nummy replying to a comment from Louise DenBleker / March 24, 2014 at 10:16 pm
Thanks for mentioning about, I had no idea of its existence. Definitely worth the drive north to check it out! Dank je vell (or however it is spelled!).
kirk / March 24, 2014 at 11:33 pm
All of you weirdos need to chill out with your classifications of what is or isn't brunch and just learn to stop being annoying.
claire hogenkamp / March 25, 2014 at 01:34 am
Groetjes an Justin and Allison,
What a wonderful idea. All the nitpicking aside (typically "Dutch" reaction to anyone trying something new. I wish Peterborough was not so far away or I would be in every Sunday.
We do have a Dutch Deli here called Maggies where I buy frozen prepared dinners as well as Zoutjes, Strop wafelen,apple strop and kaas. I will definitely try to make it in to TO some spring Sunday, so I can report back to your family in Rotterdam.

Beste wensen,

din din / March 25, 2014 at 01:45 am
The know-it-all nitpicking, as you accurately call it, is irritating and happens way too often on these boards. It may be intended to impress the rest of us, but it doesn't.
Klootzak replying to a comment from din din / March 25, 2014 at 10:14 am
It impressed me!

Having lived in Den Haag for a few years, we used to brunch on pannenkoeken met ham en kaas, basically an open face crepe with ham and cheese. Lekker!
the lemur replying to a comment from Frank / March 25, 2014 at 10:26 am
So I'm a 'complainer' just for pointing out that the food described here, which may be excellent, I don't know, has been subjected to a kind of clued-out hipsterification in terms of its presentation? Good to know, oetlul.
the lemur replying to a comment from Rachel / March 25, 2014 at 10:31 am
'A borrel is kind of like a cinq à sept and has nothing to do with brunch. It's a nice concept, and one I miss greatly about the Netherlands, but it's not brunch'

Thanks. I wish I'd thought of the cinq à sept thing. This all seems like trying to combine a bunch of disparate elements. It doesn't work.

Serve bitterballen with beer and cocktails? Fine. Stamppot/boerenkool met worst for dinner? With a beer? Why not?
Poffertjes in a café setting? Any time!

But not all of it all at once, FFS.
Salvation replying to a comment from the lemur / March 25, 2014 at 10:54 am
Oh, give it a break already lemur. You are being pompous. Firstly, we are not in the Netherlands, are we? So let go of it. So what if this lunch menu is not EXACTLY what you used to personally eat back in NL? I'm North American, and I wouldn't be as presumptuous to complain that any "American style" restaurant in the UK or Europe was not authentic because they didn't follow the exact pattern of my diet back home. "Hamburgers with clam chowder? Oh, NEVER"!! See how silly it sounds?
The rest of us are just glad to be having this variety to add to the local mix. Rather than just find fault, why don't we go to this place and try it out?
DutchGirl / March 25, 2014 at 11:58 am
have to agree with the Lemur….

This is all wrong.. in the way they are presenting the food / meal times.

However, I would give it a go, but it would also be really nice to see some indonesian dutch food on the menu :)
Justin / March 25, 2014 at 12:33 pm
Hi Lemur,

Thanks for your comments. You’re right to point out our leniency taken with some Dutch terminology to suit our event but we honestly didn’t mean to mislead anyone. As our Borrel takes place every Sunday afternoon, we just thought we’d introduce ourselves as a possible alternative for Torontonians tired of waiting in line for brunch to sample some Dutch eats instead. It’s no bacon and eggs and definitely not a brunch in the Dutch sense (or perhaps any sense at all), but we do hope you would approve of the quality of the foods. (So far we’ve had a great response from our Dutch customers so I hope we’re doing something right.) The last thing we want is to get bogged down in the technicalities of our time slot. 1-6 p.m. is simply the time we have at The Ossington to do this (they host an excellent trivia night there every Sunday at 7 p.m.), so we’re trying to offer as good a meal (whether a snack or late lunch/early dinner) and as cozy or “gezellig” an atmosphere as possible every Sunday afternoon. I take it you speak Dutch so it would be great to rap with you some more about it in our mother tongue over some bitterballen one of these Sundays if you can make it by.

Groetjes, Justin
Ruud van Kampen / March 25, 2014 at 03:06 pm
I'm a dutchman and enjoy the discussion that is going on here. Lemure is right. But, a borrel also means a gathering of people in order to have a drink and have fun. Often snacks are served, sometimes bitterballen and Dutch cheese. The stamppot is meant for dinner. After a days hard work theae meals are excelent. In some dutch regions this food used to be eaten at lunchtime. Then in the evening a light meal is used. Having stamppot dor brunch is not so wrong! Enjoy the good Dutch things in life!
Ivo / March 25, 2014 at 07:52 pm
Nice to see some Dutch food in Toronto. The comments are killing me. Very Dutch behavior. ;-) For what it's worth, I regularly have brunch at dinner time and eat whatever I feel like and I am VERY Dutch!
Arlene Vandersloot replying to a comment from the lemur / March 25, 2014 at 10:33 pm
I'm going to cut and paste my cousin's answer to the comment that Borrel was only a drink:

Justine Euser-Kugel It is also a get together. Arround 5 o'clock. Then you invité friends " op de borrel". And eat snacks like cheese, nuts, olives, sausage and toast with salade, chips. ....... After you do not have to diner :)) Try some poffertjes flavored with liqueur on the top of it.
Theodoor Holtzheuser / March 26, 2014 at 06:43 pm
Zo. Als ik het goed begrijpt. A little bit of Nederland, through snacks, food and drink, on a Sunday afternoon in Toronto. Many of the establishments that had offered NL and Indonesian cuisine in the past, are no longer. I don't get technical. "Een klein hap voor mij en een grote stap" for Torontokind. I'm in!!!
Louise DenBleker / March 27, 2014 at 12:58 pm
This thread is becoming too funny! I only posted because I know there are only a few dutch stores around serving food too! But let me say that Dutch food is great anytime! LOL - When I arrive in Holland the first thing I go for is the little quaint bar and have croquettes!
Sh333n / March 28, 2014 at 12:46 pm
Guys stop hating, who cares about the semantics, you are all showing off your knowledge of Dutch culture, cool I get it, your either authentically dutch or you did some lame semester aboard in holland. Good for you your well acquainted with the word Borrel and that Dutch dont do Brunch. Being from Holland and truly missing the food, the poffertijes the bitterballen I AM TOTALLY PSYCHED since this food is completely lacking in Toronto. Why dont all you hater try it out before you knock it.
Tony Bouwman / March 30, 2014 at 08:41 am
Stampot, in my younger years, was only for the poor people like us. Stampot can be made with carrots etc. Even now in Holland, they advertise "old fashioned" stampot at outrageous prizes! Same goes voor stroop. I was a poor man's sandwich and now you're paying through the nose for the same thing. How times have changed!
Carolyn Prince / April 2, 2014 at 06:12 am
Our family run business (Country Meat Packing) has been proudly serving Dutch Stores since 1976. We make all the typical Dutch treats, Croquettes, Frikadellen, Gelderse, Metworst (only to name a few) Thankful for all our supporters!
ernest sprong replying to a comment from Joyce / February 2, 2015 at 11:10 am
that is just a great idea i second this thanks ernie
Andy Bowman / May 18, 2015 at 05:34 pm
Would help displaying the exact address!
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