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Restaurants

E.L. Ruddy

Posted by Guest Contributor / Reviewed on October 29, 2010 / review policy

EL Ruddy TorontoE.L. Ruddy might have a small, unassuming sign, but with a bright orange facade and the waft of fresh coffee and scones it's almost impossible to miss it. Owner Helena Kosikova's newly opened cafe and brunch/lunch destination is cozy and warm, and the menu is all about vegetarian comfort food. Exposed brick walls reveal a faded mural, a vestige of Toronto advertising firm E.L. Ruddy and the inspiration behind the cafe's name.

Originally intended to become a bookstore, the restaurant's walls are lined with floor to ceiling shelves, which are now populated with a variety of children's toys, antiques, plants and magazines. During this Sunday brunch rush, E.L. Ruddy is packed; the crowd is as diverse as the decor.

We start with loose-leaf tea ($2.50 for the regular size) and coffee ($2.25 for the regular Americano), a warm treat in heavy ceramic mugs. The sugar is served in an antique porcelain bowl along with a tiny souvenir spoon.

EL Ruddy TorontoAll the food at E.L. Ruddy is made from scratch, and many gluten-free or vegan choices are available. This is an exciting revelation for the gluten-intolerant member of our party, who orders the soup of the day with a side of freshly baked cornbread. ($6) A Mexican vegetable medley, the autumnal broth blends a hearty mix of perfectly cooked beans and deliciously crispy pieces of carrot and celery.

The cafe's most popular dish is also gluten free: the Huevos Yelapa ($9) is a tasty combination of fresh salsa, cornbread, refried beans and a choice of eggs or marinated tofu. "It's inspired by a place in Mexico," says Kosikova, describing a tiny village only accessible by horseback or water taxi. "It has no cars, really lovely people and is extremely calm."

Seduced by the description, we order a portion and substitute the beans for tofu. We discover that brunch options include an appetizer, a small fruit salad pleasantly light on the usually ubiquitous melon chunks and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.

While the Huevos are a tad overdone, the home fries instantly win the approval of the group's potato snob. The tofu is firm and tasty, the salsa is a zesty picco de gallo and a crumbly slice of freshly baked cornbread completes the meal.

EL Ruddy TorontoThe Belgian Waffles ($10) are made of spelt and come with a choice of real maple syrup or strawberries and whipped cream. We choose the latter and are presented with a dauntingly large stack of beautifully arranged pastries, sprinkled with icing sugar. Patrons at neighbouring tables gather around for a closer look. The taste does not disappoint - spelt flour gives a hearty texture to the usually fluffy breakfast and contrasts well with the light whipped cream.

E.L. Ruddy also offers lunch, a rotating selection of home-cooked staples at $8 apiece. Specials include risotto, pot pie and shepherd's pie.

Kosikova says she and cook James Ruegg often work until the early hours of the morning to tweak recipes and experiment with new ingredients. She has an endless list of ideas for the cafe, planning to add fresh jams and greeting cards to the inventory of tea and coffee items she is already selling.

"The neighbourhood people have been really welcoming," she says. "I'm very happy that it turned out the way it did." As a line-up begins to form outside, we realize we have overstayed our own welcome and cede our table to the next hungry group.

E.L. Ruddy is open Tuesday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

EL Ruddy TorontoWriting and photos by Brigitte Noel

Discussion

21 Comments

betty / October 29, 2010 at 09:23 am
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What's a waff?
AV / October 29, 2010 at 09:40 am
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Good job adding the actual location (google map) guys. Can we do maybe, one? review a week with complete information BlogTO?
Marion Cobretti / October 29, 2010 at 11:11 am
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I can't believe I live in a neighborhood that now has "gluten free" brunch options. "Gluten". Classic.
Andrew replying to a comment from Marion Cobretti / October 29, 2010 at 02:46 pm
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There's already a dozen other restaurants with such alternatives in a 1km radius.

Might want to learn more about the neighbourhood that you apparently 'just' moved into.
laurel / October 29, 2010 at 02:56 pm
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this place looks amazing!!!
Marion Cobretti / October 29, 2010 at 03:01 pm
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Zing! Nice burn, "Drew"; or should I say "Glu"? [and click "Email me when someone (Glu) replies to this comment" and await the inevitable "counter-burn" ... Glu style!]
Cheri / October 30, 2010 at 03:33 pm
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and a hot waitress to boot!
S / October 31, 2010 at 10:40 pm
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Hot waitress? Allright!!!!
Claire / November 5, 2010 at 06:09 am
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It was really not impressive when I went last week. The waitress(also the owner I think) told us that they ran out of most of the soup on the menu from the weekend and it was already Wednesday. The eggs were way overdone. And the cornbread was meh. Nothing at all memorable about this place, and probably going to fade in with the rest million struggling "hip" cafes on Dundas West.
Arby / November 7, 2010 at 08:21 pm
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Are these the usual wonderful looking strawberries that are hard, not organic and shipped in from California? Besides not tasting good, I worry that they have been exposed to methyl bromide, a big negative. I can live without organic, within limits.
Murray Elliot Breen / November 12, 2010 at 02:52 pm
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Love your name! I'm an artist who apprenticed at The E.L. Ruddy Sign Co. on the Queensway during the 60's and 70's. It was Canada's largest outdoor sign company at that time. I was born in TO.
G / November 12, 2010 at 09:38 pm
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The name makes me think "L. Ron Hubbard" every single time.
Someone / January 10, 2011 at 07:14 pm
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Is anyone concerned that they do not have a green "PASS" sign from Public Health in the front window? Just saying....
Della / January 12, 2011 at 09:47 pm
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Love the food, the coffee, the service, the decor and the location!
j / February 3, 2011 at 05:23 pm
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"Is anyone concerned that they do not have a green "PASS" sign from Public Health in the front window? Just saying...."


Could be posted on the door?
Eya D. G. Kotulsky / March 18, 2011 at 11:29 pm
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We've dined there three times in two days. Each time was really excellent. It is a definite boost to the neighbourhood. So they ran out of something and someone complains about it? Please. Get over yourself. It's not a big corporate fast food joint. If that's the dining experience you want, why don't you go there instead? This is such a sweet place. We love it.
Arby / March 19, 2011 at 11:26 am
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I finally visited E.L. Ruddy. I enjoyed my stay. I liked my simple hot meal, which was a cheese omelet with a little salad on the side. I couldn't taste the tea. It was in a barrel of a cup. If the tea is weak already, maybe from not be rotated, then it won't register on the taste buds in a barrel of hot water.

I think that substituting sea salt and organic pepper would be a big plus for little cost here. And in all restos, big and small. Something was wrong with my omelet however. It tasted seriously funny. My guess is that the dishes weren't being rinsed th0roughly. Dishes are no fun. But we all have to do them, unless we are kids with those kinds of parents. And if you're going to do dishes, especially when you're serving others on them, then take the time to do them right.

The toast was awesome, whatever it was. It wasn't scary cheap white bread anyway. I liked the little bowl of fruit, although it does matter where it came from.

I wouldn't let the omelet thing stop from coming in again, or stop me from getting the same item. A second time would be another matter.

Service was fair. And for those of you who might order lightly but wonder whether that will be enough, I ordered a side of refried beans. It's very cheap and tasty and will ensure that your belly is full. It's not beautiful - being just a paste in a small bowl - but it's perfectly fine.
Rachel / April 10, 2011 at 08:35 am
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My husband and I live a few blocks away from this resto and were rather excited to try it. We went for the first time on a leisurely Friday morning. While we were charmed by the cozy decor, we were really not impressed by the food or coffee. My husband ordered the huevos yelapa and I had the waffles (both items that others have raved about). They were edible but honestly pretty tasteless. Not one item on either plate stood out as a winner. The coffee was also a big disappointment. We had high hopes. With all the other excellent breakfast options in our neighbourhood we likely will not be returning to E.L. Ruddy.
Chris / December 15, 2011 at 04:13 pm
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My partner and I live very close to this spot and have been a four or five times. Each time got worse and worse in terms of service. Although the food is consistent and not terrible, it is most definitely not the best vegan brunch spot.

The last time we were there we waited an hour for a soup and a sandwich. An hour. We shared a table with a person eating alone who had been waiting for a very long time and looked like they were going to eat my arm off. Working class people who want to eat some good food on the weekend- please save yourself the time and money. Unless you want to wait an hour for some tofu on a bun and a soup that you can make much better.

We were extremely disappointed with the service. We were not spoken to by the server, or given menus for 10 minutes. We were not told what the specials were, while the tables around us were being informed. Even when our food took an hour (for a soup. and a sandwich) it was never communicated to us why it was taking so long- or when it would come.

Needless to say, never. again.
Gerry English / November 17, 2012 at 02:29 pm
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We (4 of us) visited L.R. Ruddy for dinner on Saturday October 27, 2012. Over all, we were disappointed. Although the food was tasty, the service was very unfriendly. In very small restaurants like this one, there is usually more of a connection between customer and restaurant staff. Unfortunately, our server was neither interested in us nor made us feel welcome. One could possibly understand a situation like this in a busy restaurant, but there was only one other group in the restaurant while we were there, and they left well before we did. Is it too much to ask for one smile from your server while you’re there?? We go out for dinner most Saturday evenings together and this is the first time we’ve written a (negative) review of a restaurant. We were also disappointed with the 'wine' glasses (they weren't wine glasses, but not a problem for us though) because they were more akin in size to over-sized shot glasses. We estimated that we received about 3 oz of wine. The kicker was that their price was no different than that at most restaurants. Usually, we have a couple of drinks each, but because of the amount of wine we had received, we stopped after only having one. We then proceeded to drink water until our server suddenly took our glasses away without asking. Later, the server’s friends came and she spent the rest of our time there, except to bring our bill and collect our money, talking and laughing with them. As we prepared to leave, our server made no attempt to say anything to us, so we shouted out a friendly thank you as we exited. Afterwards, while we were having some drinks at a nearby establishment, we wondered why we had just given our server at L.R. Ruddy our usual +15% tip before taxes. At any rate, we won't be returning.
Bert / June 28, 2013 at 09:36 pm
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There has to be a shop where one can order clothes based on exactly how
many months of age your baby is, we are often
purchasing clothes for close friends babies, our nieces and our
nephews and often seem to get it wrong

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