Cardinal Rule is comfort food at its finest. The dim lighting, the cozy wood tables, and the food, oh the food. The place is perfect for a pub stop, some intimate conversation, or the post-hangover meal - maybe all at once.
Located at 5 Roncesvalles (at Queen), Cardinal Rule has a simple teal exterior. Walking into the diner, I pass the kitchen and the bar, which has a selection of regional beers on tap, including Steamwhistle, Wellington and Beau's.
It's too early to start on the drinks; I am at Cardinal Rule for Sunday Brunch. We are immediately greeted and ushered to our seats with menus, but take awhile to decide. The options are all intriguing: Breakfast Pie; Hawaiian Stuffed French Toast; Quinoa Coconut Pancakes; Hail Caesar Eggs Benedict; or The Chwaley, a family breakfast for two or more that includes a pitcher of Caesars. In the end, I choose the Breakfast Pie, sold on its crust of bacon. My eating companion orders the classic Eggs Benedict with potato latkes.
The fillings of the Breakfast Pie ($9) alternate regularly. Today's version features the standard bacon crust, with Italian sausage, provolone cheese, eggs and potato latke inside. The pie is soft and flavourful, the eggs and cheese delicately blended. It melts in my mouth. Despite the combination of meat, cheese and potatoes, it is not overly dense, nor too heavy. The crispy bacon gently counters the taste and texture of the filling. To balance the pie is a simple salad of mixed greens, doused very lightly in vinaigrette.
The Eggs Benedict ($10) are also a success. Set on English muffins and peameal bacon, the eggs are poached flawlessly, falling apart when prodded by knife. The hollandaise is light but flavourful. My friend much appreciates the modest dollop, a fresh change from the hollandaise drown that often accompanies an eggs benedict.
The potato latkes are crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside--creamy almost, and not in a mushy-potato way. Leaks are added for flavour. These latkes need no sour cream or applesauce on the side; they are not dry, and are savory all on their own.
IOur total bill for two is $23.50, one of the cheapest and most delicious brunches I've had in this city. This includes our meals, one coffee and an orange juice. Right now, payment is by cash-only; for those unprepared, an ATM is conveniently located beside the bar.
Cardinal Rule takes the standards of home comfort food to a whole new level, with a cozy neighbourhood vibe. Food is prepared with care and creativity, and despite the hearty meals consumed at my visit, they offer veggie, vegan and gluten-free options. Cardinal Rule is exactly what I need on a Sunday morning, or for that matter, any other day of the week. Whatever rule this place is playing by, I want to stay in the game.
Photos and text by Jenna Lianne.