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The Federal Reserve

Posted by Ryan Spencer / Reviewed on March 12, 2012 / review policy

Federal Reserve TorontoThe Federal Reserve has annexed the former Zoots Cafe location on Dundas West. This up and coming area has seen an influx of new restaurants and bars of late (including the excellent Midfield Wine Bar) and yet lacks the ever important Sunday (or in my case Monday) hangover cure brunch food. With its laid back vibe and a menu full of brunch necessities, the Federal is bound to become and Dundas West neighbourhood hot-spot.

Federal ReserveFirst, the coffee — the cornerstone to rebuild my splitting headache. They brew a flavourful strong cup that's neither bitter nor burnt, and most importantly, bottomless. I nursed my nerves while waiting on a friend to join me. In the meantime, my blood-sugar dropped so I ordered a house-made soda. Syrups and sodas seem to be the latest trend, so I opted for the maple creme soda prototype. The bits of vanilla seed testified to the authenticity of the ingredients, while the maple has a sweeter punch than sugar. Add a bit more carbonation and lose the odd pink hue, and I'd say that's a drank.

Federal ReserveSandwiches, salads and a smattering of egg-centric dishes outline the menu. The roasted pork and ham Cubano Sandwich ($12) looked mighty fine but a bit heavy on a stomach rightfully upset with my actions from the previous night. Their version of Muesli ($7) is a safer bet, but I needed more sustenance and protein. Taking a risk, I went with a classic (well mostly): the restaurant's version of Eggs Benny, aptly named Eggs Federal ($11). What caught my eye is the exclusion of Hollandaise for a Mushroom Tarragon Sauce, a play on BĂ©arnaise.

I usually opt out of Hollandaise because it's a tricky sauce that's often improperly served as an overly tangy coagulated mess. Besides, given that the dish comes with a side of rosti, the deal was sealed for me. My friend ordered the other classic brunch staple, the Cobb.

Federal Reserve TorontoThe eagerly anticipated sauce is delicate with a subtle hint of earthiness courtesy of the mushrooms. The still-intact soft poached egg released its contents when pierced and added a welcome bit of saltiness. We commented that there was a certain flavour to the sausage patty that we couldn't pinpoint. When we asked our server about the seasoning, the owner approached with the answer. It's his grandfather's recipe, which includes cinnamon, cloves and the like. The sausage is also delicious and refreshingly different -a conversation starter as it were. The rosti was more of a hash brown but the house-made ketchup was amazing — definitely, on point with Auntie's and Uncle's version sans the wait.

I know it's only a salad but we're talking brunch here, so let's get down to basics. The Cobb salad contained most of the necessary ingredients to be classified as such. Avocado, blue cheese crumbles, bacon and bits of chicken confit over a bed of baby spinach. Very refreshing and a palate cleanser, I loved the addition of Asian Pear. The portion ain't skimpy either, which ensures that one feels he's had a full meal when ordering the salad.

Dinner service will begin shortly with beer and wine also on offer. The Federal is promising spot with an unfussy and gregarious atmosphere. I plan on returning to try their Belgian Waffle ($5); hopefully next time I won't have that Irish Flu that's been going around.




Beadle / March 2, 2012 at 05:49 pm
What are their hours please! Can't wait to try it out!
Yummy / March 3, 2012 at 02:16 pm
Delicious! Highly recommend The Fed.
Derek replying to a comment from Beadle / March 13, 2012 at 09:17 am
We don't provide hours on most of these reviews because they're often subject to change in the months that follow our visit, and lest we be updating previously published articles, we could end up spreading incorrect info. In this case, all you need to do is follow the link to the restaurant's website in the sidebar on the right to see that it's open daily until 4 p.m. That is, for now.
Rizie / March 13, 2012 at 09:22 am
Another great review from Ryan! I live in the neighbourhood...I'll definitely try this spot out on a sunny day.
Pro / March 13, 2012 at 10:23 am
I dont care for this.
Ben / March 13, 2012 at 10:43 am
Looks disgusting.
You know ... / March 13, 2012 at 11:18 am
... I'd have a lot more respect for the armchair critics who sniff "how disgusting" on a regular basis on BlogTO if they got off their butts and ate there first before giving their oh so important verdicts
Christopher / March 13, 2012 at 11:18 am
Well into it!
Scott / March 13, 2012 at 01:01 pm
You say Dundas West is " lacks the ever important Sunday (or in my case Monday) hangover cure &mdash brunch food." and you're quite wrong. Have you forgot about great places such as Gayley's? Great place for brunch/hangover fixer upper.

Now with that being said, I can't wait to check out this place. Looks fantastic!
ryan replying to a comment from Scott / March 13, 2012 at 01:04 pm
Agree, also EL Ruddy, Sunshine Grill, GCB, and the famous Brockton General within 100 metres. However I'll give this place a shot too.
DUMPTOWN MAN / March 13, 2012 at 01:39 pm
liz / March 13, 2012 at 01:42 pm
Had brunch here the other day and it was effing delicious! I had the omelet of the day with a side of the bacon and sausage. Normally I hate brekfast sausages and find them disgusting, but it was insanely tasty... also, the fresh squeezed tangerine juice was to die for!!!!! I will be back there a lot!
eggs / March 13, 2012 at 02:43 pm
this place is delicious! had the chicken curry sandwich on walnut raisin bread. rosti is cooked perfectly. delicate dressing on the greens. atmosphere inside is warm and inviting. i could hang out here all day!
Lola / March 13, 2012 at 05:07 pm
I ate there on Saturday with 2 friends who love food. We loved the atmosphere. It's easy to judge a new restaurant when they first open, but we should give them a few months to settle into themselves.
That said...
-The sausage is awful, unless you like sausage that tastes like a Christmas cookie or Thanksgiving flavoured sausage.
-There was nutmeg in everything.
-The grilled cheese sandwich is the best I've ever had, hands down.
-the french onion soup was quite off the map, too sweet also.
- rosti was great, but needed to be cooked for less time
- americano's were really great.

I'll go back, in a few months. ;)
nightsoil / March 13, 2012 at 06:55 pm
Agreed. Be way better if they toned down the Xmas spice mix in the sausage. But an awesome spot.
Spike / March 14, 2012 at 11:35 am
Iv eaten there a couple times and it is awesome! Great coffee, the signature breakfast is delicious and the cubano sandwich is my new favorite sandwich! So good! I'll be visiting them again soon!
Lamb / April 3, 2012 at 11:45 pm
Everything's great, except the sausage. Just get the bacon. The staff is great and know what to do.
Chris / May 18, 2012 at 01:47 pm
Over rated, Over-Prioced, Prententious Hipster crap.
Mike / May 20, 2012 at 11:40 am
I've eaten here twice. First time was the Chicken Salad Sandwich. It was just okay--the meal as a whole was a little small.

However, the second time--yesterday--I had the Ploughman's Lunch. Maybe it was because I was starving but while dining, I thought it the best meal I've had yet this year. Fantastic.
food101 / September 23, 2012 at 03:12 pm
A dose of bad customer service served up with your eggs. With all of the great reviews I'd read about this place and the tantalizing food photos, I didn't expect a sunday morning scolding from the manager/owner of this joint. Lesson learned: Make sure you arrive with your full party before hoping to get seated for breakfast and parties of one beware! Instead of the owner taking the high road to make his customer feel welcome he chose to serve up a guilt laden lecture on how my seemingly selfish request to be seated for 5 minutes on my own before my friend arrived, (after standing for 20 minutes at the bar and being asked to grab my own sugar from the service pantry) would cost the couple who had been waiting at the door for all of 5 minutes, precious ordering time. No matter how good the food might be, no one should be made to feel like a rotten egg first thing in the morning.
Ilovebrunch / October 27, 2012 at 02:52 pm
Unfortunately, I can't say anything great about the federal. We were asked to sit at the window bench while we waited for a table. However, they never moved us over, leaving the four of us in the cramped corner.The food was bland, uninspired, over-priced and cheaply made. The cappachino and lattes were so bitter we had to send them back. And despite our positive and polite attitude toward the whole situation, the servers were unfriendly, at times rude and incredibly slow. No clue how this place got any hype. Bad through and through.
lisaD / January 11, 2013 at 04:53 pm
I've been here twice for breakfast. The food was excellent both times, the coffee was horrible both times. The few people above who said their coffee was tasty may just have been lucky (a new machine? someone else brewed it?). I did not finish the coffee and when asked what was wrong with it, gave an honest answer and was not charged for the drink. Fair enough. But still, I would expect a place that serves brunch to serve better coffee, and am surprised they can get away with such a burnt bitter brew. Anyway. I will go here again for the food (their home made lemon custard served with scone was really delicious), but will make coffee at home or grab one on the way there. (maybe that's how they get away with their bad coffee)
Tube / January 19, 2013 at 09:10 pm
Never had a chance to sit down and actually eat at this place, due to the fact that the host "forgot" that we were in queue for a table. After waiting about 20 mins outside in the cold, we walk in expecting to be seated as a large group had just left. The host apologies that she messed up and didnt write our names down, and tells us we can wait another 15-20 if we want to wait for another table (as two tables sit empty while she is speaking to us)! Terrible service here, false apologies and the manager/own is somewhat of a dick too. Any reputable place would know how to fix this type of problem, but inexperienced hipster n00bs unfortunately do not know how to run a business.
hmmm / January 28, 2013 at 10:51 am
i'm a little sad that Zoots' gone. It actually served up pretty good waffles breakfast!
Tanya / February 2, 2013 at 05:25 pm
This place is great, but because of that it's popular and takes forever to get a table. Although every hip brunch place in Toronto always has a line...

Great food if you're patient.
S / April 7, 2013 at 05:32 pm
I went there for the first time on a Tuesday afternoon and I liked it. The service was fast and friendly. I had the Cubano sandwich which was delicious but greasy. It came with salad and the smallest amount of hash browns which is u fortunate because they were pretty good. Lol the coffee was good too. I'd go back.
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