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Emma's Country Kitchen

Posted by Alexandra Grigorescu / Reviewed on August 17, 2012 / review policy

emmas country kitchen torontoEmma's Country Kitchen has been open just 3 weeks on St. Clair West, but gauging by the warm-toned and casually decorated interior, and the families that spill in around lunchtime, you'd expect it to already be a neighbourhood mainstay.

The homestyle and comfort food-oriented spot sees Rachel Pellett (who previously ran The Stockyards) in the kitchen, and her long-time friend Heather Mee manning the front of house.

emmas country kitchen torontoThe interior is a throwback and loving tribute to country diners, with its long counter, speckled black marble bar tables, and glossed, blonde wood tables and chairs. A haphazard array of family heirlooms line the walls. The space as a whole is a homage to Rachel's grandmother, who ran the original Emma's Country Kitchen for 20 years, and many of her tried-and-true recipes have found their way onto the menu.

emmas country kitchen torontoThe restaurant is open 9 am-4 pm currently (with no plans to serve dinner), and serves a rotating selection of breakfast and lunch classics on weekdays, and a full, elaborate brunch on weekends. When asked how she'd describe the food, Rachel doesn't hesitate. "Really simple. We're not trying to change how food is done, we're just going back to basics. We bake the bread, we cure the meats, and we're just trying to do things the best we can."

emmas country kitchen torontoOn an early Thursday morning, we start with Reunion Island coffee ($2, with free refills). Heather explains that their bakery offerings--such as cookies, squares and loaves--are baked fresh daily, and are available as a quick take-out snack. They also have Boylan's sodas ($3), juices and teas.

emmas country kitchen torontoFrom the menu, we choose the breakfast sandwich ($4.50) to start. Sound boring? How wrong you are. It arrives plated with orange slices and plump strawberries, and we quickly realize it's a counterintuitive knife and fork dish. A sunnyside-up egg and aged cheddar are placed on a buttermilk biscuit, and it can be paired with sausage or bacon ($1).

Take note: always choose the bacon--the thick, succulent strips are smoked in-house, and eye-puffingly salty. They're the no-contest star of the dish, although the house-made (and already garnering something of a local following) buttermilk biscuits put up a fight. The biscuits are fluffy, soft, and suffer only for falling slightly on the plain side.

emmas country kitchen torontoNext comes the quiche ($11), served with a choice of fries, greens or soup. We opt for soup--a pureed and perfectly spiced blend of roasted root vegetables--and a small salad composed of mixed greens, cucumbers, yellow baby tomatoes, and a dijon poppyseed vinaigrette. The quiche itself blends broccoli and cheddar, although the particular flavours rotate from day to day. For me, the crust is among the most telltale signs of a successful quiche, and this one is flaky, soft, and not the least bit singed.

The soup is complex, and would be a great complement for the early days of fall. It's lightly spiced and crowned with parsnip chips, and each spoonful yields black pepper and a full bouquet of flavours, with sweet potato lingering. As for the salad, it's simple. The vinaigrette is its saving grace, and I would've preferred it to come drizzled on arugula.

emmas country kitchen torontoWe're full, but the Lazy Susan oatmeal cake ($2 per generous slice) has been calling out from its glassed pedestal on the counter. It's presented simply and without flourish on the plate, and served cool. "It's moist enough," Rachel tells me, with a sly smile.

One bite, and I'm convinced. It has the lush, buttery signature of home-baking in spades, due largely to its topping--a fragrant blend of brown sugar, butter, coconut and walnuts. The texture is reminiscent of a coffee cake, courtesy of the oatmeal, with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. It's a great finish to the meal, but for its size, would've honestly sufficed as a meal itself.

emmas country kitchen torontoFans of the dishes (and there are sure to be many) will be happy to learn that their freezer section stocks freshly-made soups, sauces, pies, and savoury prepared meals, and their bread (also baked in-house) is available for purchase at the front.

emmas country kitchen torontoPhotos by Jesse Milns



Elle Dubs / August 17, 2012 at 01:28 pm
I had their steak, mushroom and onion turnover along with the sweet potato, scallion and bacon salad the other day. So. Insanely. Delicious. So excited to have this awesome place on Corso!
St. Clair West Community / August 17, 2012 at 03:01 pm
Come visit Emma's Country Kitchen at St.Clair West.!/pages/St-Clair-West-Community/182855901816744
local / August 17, 2012 at 03:23 pm
I've tried quite a few things already - both fresh and frozen - and they've all been really, really tasty. My only disappointment is with the interior, as I was hoping for more vintage charm and less Second Cup. No doubt they were on a shoestring budget, and I'm grateful to have a local establishment that makes expertly prepared comfort food, but this area of town seriously needs some cool/charming places on the level of other restaurants and shops in more happening parts of the city. I'm sure these ladies will do well (and they deserve to), as serving good food is of paramount importance. However I honestly believe if they had a more appealing interior, they'd be overrun. This neighbourhood is starved for that sort of thing. We're certainly not looking for flash, rather just simple, good design. Anyway, I want to end on a positive note, as these women are working hard to bring fantastic food to a neglected part of town. Thank you!
Angie / August 17, 2012 at 04:04 pm
My husband and I have been here 4 times already (and it only opened 3 weeks ago). Everything we have tried is wonderful. My personal favorite is the breakfast biscuit sandwich- amazing, flaky biscuit, haven't found a better one in Toronto. Contrary to the Blog TO comment about opting for the bacon, I LOVE the homemade sage sausage patty personally. Amazing. And just over 5 bucks... what a deal! Welcome to St. Clair Emma's!
AddedKM's / August 17, 2012 at 04:23 pm
Wow..this place is really far from things.
Steve / August 17, 2012 at 05:46 pm
If the restaurant hadn't put its municipal number on its sign we wouldn't know where exactly Emma's was. Would it not be possible always to give basic info when reviewing a place?
Smilie / August 17, 2012 at 06:00 pm
I had BLT with side green and extra order of tomato cream soup and all were very very satisfying. Also bought oatmeal cake and dates square to go which were fresh and yummie. I liked the simple decor and reasonable space. So glad this place came about on St. Clair W!
christopher / August 17, 2012 at 06:00 pm
generally blogto resto reviews have a map and contact info at the top right of the page....and as far as i can see...they are, contact info, website...sorry steve
Lisa / August 17, 2012 at 07:30 pm
Tasty breakfast! Love the look of their cafe!
TG / August 18, 2012 at 09:53 am
Interior is actually refreshing, looks exactly like a small town family type restaurant. There are too many places with exposed brick/barn board, I hope this is a sign of the end of that trend.
Mana / August 19, 2012 at 01:23 pm
Went for Brunch today with the mister an it was so delicious! We both had the classic breakfast and opted to get both the in house cured bacon and the sage and onion sausage... Wow! Freshly squeezed orange juice, a great cup of black coffee and those biscuits are to die for! Will most certainly be back - welcome to the neighborhood, Ladies!
John / August 19, 2012 at 01:25 pm
Tried it out this morning - food was great (especially the bacon and bread), service was attentive, although our server seemed a little stressed out which detracted from the relaxed Sunday morning vibe. Definitely not a trendy or sceney place, but who cares if the food is good. Brunch for two came to about $30 with coffee, tax and tip.
Elizabeth / August 20, 2012 at 01:00 pm
Exciting! So close to me. Must go check it out asap...
Simon L / August 20, 2012 at 01:49 pm
@local - it seems as if you have missed the concept entirely as far as the decor is concerned. if you would like to see more "vintage charm", i suggest you pop by ECK sometime durring the week and make a sizeable donation so they can invest in some "charming" items to make the space "cooler" and more to your liking - they are on a shoestring budget remember.

with regards to the food, the I Know What You Did Last Night burger is one of the cities best, be a man and add an egg.
local replying to a comment from Simon L / August 23, 2012 at 03:04 pm
Not sure if you noticed in my previous comment that I had in fact pointed out that the restaurant was likely pulled together on a ‘shoestring’ budget - which I am sensitive to - and that I’ve already been by many times to support them. In fact, I’ve shopped there more times than I’ve actually had the need for prepared food, just to give them business. Now, is it really so wrong to wish the strip would rise above the mediocrity that seems to plague it? This isn’t about elitism, as good design can be done on the cheap. I assure you many neighbours I talk to feel the same way (and no, they’re not douchebags, but yeah, they all used to live in the downtown core and keep hoping this area would step it up a little). All that said, I do feel bad about directing some of my frustration with the neighbourhood onto Emma’s debut. For that I am deeply sorry and regretful. They’re doing a terrific job with the food they’re putting out and I sincerely wish them great success.
misstdot / September 17, 2012 at 09:22 pm
Lovely small town cafe decor. Coffee was great, very happy with the bottomless cup. After my third visit there, the eggs benny is by far my favourite! Best biscuit in town.

The hangover sausage patty is very small and over rated. Fries really should be for lunch. Red potatoes great !

Obviously becoming a local favourite. I prefer this crowd over Boom.
Julia / October 14, 2012 at 04:22 pm
I went there today and was delighted! There was initially only space at the bar, which consisted of stools (and my legs were so sore after the half-marathon), but they were so accommodating and quickly moved us to a table. I had the french toast with a side of bacon. It was delicious!! My husband had the classic breakfast: bacon, eggs, and hash browns and was also impressed. I am so happy a great brunch place has opened on this strip! We will certainly be back!
Poppy montgomery / December 29, 2012 at 01:13 pm
Some friends & I tried it last week. It looked like it was thrown together on a budget for sure. Did a four year old draw the sign.? My sandwich was good . The place was cold and not very inviting. We had to put our jackets on to eat. Not my idea of a place for brunch in the city,
smiley / January 13, 2013 at 02:24 am
I've been to this place more than a few times already since it opened, and I've enjoyed their food very much every time. It is my personal taste, though, that I find their food a tad strong on garlic. I choose to go when I don't have to worry about it. Food is really good and as a proof I keep coming back!
St.Clair resident / February 11, 2013 at 02:00 pm
Just tried this place for the first time this weekend. Welcome to the 'hood! We are desperate for this kind of establishment along St. Clair West. This is the best breakfast going. Very much like Stockyards, but for brunch. The food is fantastic, the staff and friendly, the atmosphere is homey and laid back. As for all the decor comments on this thread - it's a country kitchen! I grew up in the country; thsi is spot-on. As for the handwritten sign -it's a replica of the original Emma's Country Kitchen (see their website for more informatin). Welcome to the 'hood, Emma! You've got return customers in us. Fantastic.
Cheftothestars / August 1, 2013 at 06:53 pm
We heard about this restaurant from a friend of a friend & thought we would give it a try! Not! Both times we went on a Tuesday they were closed! Hope to try sometime. Suggest to call before before you go!
Cheflinda / October 8, 2013 at 01:09 pm
Heard the food is great but they seem to be closed quite often! Some free advice you can't make
Money with the doors locked!
Living Toronto / December 11, 2013 at 07:38 pm
A small group of us recently visited this little gem. Some had been before, some not. All were happy with the food and the service:
Joy / April 12, 2014 at 10:39 am
This place lacks good vegetarian and vegan brunch items.
JC / August 2, 2014 at 02:58 pm
Went on a weekday. There are literally 6 things on the menu so variety was definitely lacking. The pancakes were practically still batter. Given that they are known for their donuts, maybe they should have them available more than just weekend brunch hours. No latte options, just coffee or tea. Overall, not the least bit impressed.
Marjorie Snow / January 19, 2015 at 09:01 pm
My cousin is Rachel Pellett the owner of Emma's Country Kichen. From all your nice coments you are lucky you have been there and trust me her food is good right.I AM LUCKY TO HAVE RACHEL AS A COUSIN ;);)....

Marjorie , age 9!!!!!!!
Ali Bee / February 14, 2015 at 04:40 pm
Feb 14th
Just came in from brunch here..arrived at 1pm waited 30 minutes for a seat was told while waiting they are all out of French Toast and all out of a seat waited 30 minutes to be served at this point the restaurant wasn't so busy .waiter tells us they are all out of pancakes and all out of Beignets..that leaves us very limited options a hamburger, regular bacon and egg breakfast or eggs Benedict. we order bacon and eggs and eggs benny.. arrives 20 minutes later average bacon and eggs over easy with fries ..nuthin special and eggs benny which would have been nice had the scone it was based on not been FROZEN in the center! sent the scon back to get a warm one and got another frozen one back WTF?? Also the guy sitting next to me seemed to have an order of eggs Florentine ..there is no mention of that on the menu.. they charged me for half on the eggs benny.. nice after the 2 hour wait for average crappy food..I could have gone to any greasy spoon and had a wonderful breakfast where the whole menu would have been available and i would have had good service..GET OVER YOURSELF EMMA'S TV APPEARANCES CANT MAKE UP FOR LOUSY FOOD AND SERVICE!!! THIS CITY IS FULL OF WONDERFUL RESTAURANTS! PEOPLE LISTEN UP GO WHERE YOU AREN'T OVERCHARGED AND TREATED LIKE CRAP.. DONT BE TAKEN IN LIKE I WAS HERE! BTW all this greatness for over $25.00 RIP OFF!!!!
Amir Keranovic / February 28, 2015 at 01:21 pm
Well worth the wait! Food was abesutely delicious and I will make an effort to be there a little earlier to get first picks on there amazing donuts. I Very happy with the service and will definitely be going back soon.
Code / May 10, 2015 at 08:50 am
Use Uber code UBERTORONTOFREERIDE to get $20 off your first ride. Just download the Uber app and enter the code. Valid anywhere in Canada!!

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