Friday, October 9, 2015Mostly Cloudy 16°C


Posted by Brigitte Noel / Listed on April 6, 2011 / review policy

Hadleys TorontoHadley's, nestled between Little Portugal and Dufferin Grove on College Street, is a restaurant with a simple vision: providing "honest, homemade food." For the past six months, owners Eric Hadley and Lex Taman have been building their business in the prime corner spot formerly occupied by cheap Portuguese eatery Verde Minho Tapas & Lounge. "We're big on simple, but done really well," says Hadley.

Hadleys TorontoThe restaurant's beautiful yet simple typeset logo is an instant draw. We walk in to soft lights and a Neil Young melody - a promising combination - and settle into a comfortable booth beside the kitchen. We discover the logo's simplicity is a good match for the restaurant's menu. Most dishes are straightforward and classic, prepared from scratch with seasonal, local ingredients.

The decor is uncomplicated, with striking Toronto-themed photographs hanging over a handful of booths and a few window-side tables. The heart of the restaurant is its bustling open kitchen, which also serves as a bar and offers additional seating.

Hadleys TorontoAs we study the menu to make our selection, our server brings us a plate of tiny cornbread muffins with a small dish of salted butter. Famished, we eat the warm bread in a matter of seconds. Our server returns quickly with a promise to refill our plate as soon as the next batch is out of the oven. We can hardly wait!

Our palates pleased, we are excited to taste more of Hadley's offerings. We start with drinks, choosing from a selection of local brews that includes Mill Street Brewery's Stock Ale, Wit, Tankhouse and Coffee Porter, along with Calgary's Rock Creek Cider, all at $5.50 per pint. A creative and reasonably priced selection of cocktails and martinis is also available, and house wine is $9 for a generous 9 ounces.

Hadleys TorontoWe order our mains and choose to share the Sweet Pea Whitefish Pancakes ($8) as an appetizer. The spectacularly presented dish draws envious glances from neighbouring diners, and its looks do not disappoint. The zesty pea pancakes have a creamy, starchy consistency well suited to the firm smoked fish. A drizzle of balsamic glaze adds a necessary tartness while fresh greens and slivers of sweet red onions add texture. The only downside is the number of portions, which leave our table with one orphaned pancake to fight over.

All of our main dishes are served simultaneously, a thoughtful gesture but one that leaves some of our food slightly cooler than ideal.

I choose the Smoked Roasted Chicken Quarter ($11 - top photo), which comes with two choices of sides - my picks are the baked beans and the roasted veggies. The chicken is succulent and moist, with fatty, crispy skin and dark meat falling from the bone. The sides prove to be excellent complements: the beans are sweet with a slow-building heat and the vegetables are juicy with tender seared edges. However, I suspect my meal was ready first - the veggies are almost cold and my baked beans have formed a crust.

Hadleys TorontoOrdered in tandem, the soup and salad are the next main. The Soup of the Day ($5) is a lentil and smoked bacon concoction. The presentation is unpretentious, and the taste is reminiscent of my grandmother's cooking. Hearty bits of carrot and celery float among lentils in a strong, smoky broth, but we do not manage to find any bacon. Disappointingly, this is also lukewarm.

Hadleys TorontoThe Roasted Beet Salad ($6) is fabulous, with fresh greens, crunchy walnuts and a generous sprinkling of goat cheese. The beets are truly the pièce de résistance, slow-roasted into sweet, fruit-like morsels.

Hadleys TorontoThe ultimate homage to classic comfort food, the Mac 'n Cheese ($12) is the only dish that is served piping hot. This version is prepared with a smooth blend of smoked cheddar, emmental and mozzarella, the creamy sauce mixed with a generous portion of al dente fusilli. The dish comes with a side of green salad, a perfect counterpoint to the rich pasta.

Hadleys TorontoSuckers for the dessert menu, we are easily swayed into trying the Chocolate Coconut Tower Cake ($7.50). An intimidatingly large piece of cake arrives with three spoons, and we dig in without hesitation. The dessert consists of thick slabs of dense chocolate cake fused together with creamy coconut frosting and is an altogether luscious treat we fight each other to finish.

Hadley's also offers a brunch menu. The restaurant is open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday and from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Hadleys TorontoHadleys TorontoPhotos by Courtney Lee Yip



Joey / April 7, 2011 at 02:43 pm
$12 for mac & cheese? Holy cr@p! and it's is the only dish served piping hot? The kitchens' gas bill must be sky high, guys - This is a place to AVOID, for sure.
jam / April 8, 2011 at 09:18 am
I think you need to get out more and maybe even try this place before recommending avoiding this place—not that anyone would listen to you anyway. $12 for a good mac n cheese is pretty standard in Toronto.
yay! / April 8, 2011 at 09:30 am
this is just what the neighbourhood needed - I've been a few times now and I'll be back many more.
Harbord / April 8, 2011 at 09:33 am
I was pretty underwhelmed by this place ... thought it was bland.
TG / April 8, 2011 at 11:27 am
I was under the impression that the "Mac" in Mac 'n Cheese was short for macaroni. Just like "spaghetti" in spaghetti and meat balls.
steve / April 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm
You can pay $10 for MacDo Combo...
Roctop replying to a comment from jam / April 8, 2011 at 01:00 pm
jam - isn't that something one spreads flat?
curgoth / April 8, 2011 at 01:11 pm
I love this place. Their brunch is wonderful - the s'mores french toast was decadent. And I really like the option of pulled pork instead of bacon or sausage as a side with the eggs.
lansdowner / April 8, 2011 at 01:37 pm
I tried Hadley's out for dinner last week. Service was excellent. The cornbread muffins and butter at the beginning set the tone, really nice touch. Here's where I'm going to be a debbie downer (lansdowner)...The food is *almost* good, but not quite there. I ordered the club sandwich and paid the extra $2 for the 'goddess' salad - I think it was called..which looked like a dog's breakfast. The sandwich was bland and I think the bacon was that fake stuff you microwave (no taste). My bf ordered a veggie sandwich and coleslaw, and that was definitely the winner of the night.

My advice to Hedley's would be to stick to the rich old-school ingredients usually found in comfort/home cooked food - if someone orders a club, generally speaking it means they're ok with real mayonnaise and real bacon. Otherwise, great place, just what the neighborhood needs.
Rin / April 8, 2011 at 02:23 pm
I've only been in for brunch, but it was fantastic. I had the "Remedy", they had me at "deep-fried poached egg". Highly recommend brunch, and I'll be back for dinner!
Hadley's replying to a comment from lansdowner / April 8, 2011 at 07:44 pm
Sorry you had that experience lansdowner. Our bacon is definately not microwaved but cured and smoked in house. Because we do a traditional bacon it is quite a bit tougher than the stuff you would be used to from the grocery store. We're still working on getting it perfect. mention who you are next time you come in and I'll see what I can do!
bee / April 8, 2011 at 10:11 pm
Looks like I've got another place to try out for brunch!!
sam / April 9, 2011 at 07:28 am
I like innovative, affordable home cooking.( Fan of Guy Fiery's DDD show. ) All being considered - for $ 12 I can eat at home for two days.This place needs a real makeover.
hay replying to a comment from sam / April 20, 2011 at 07:49 pm
What kind of disgusting places are you eating at, that you think $12 for mac and cheese is overpriced?
hay replying to a comment from sam / April 20, 2011 at 07:49 pm
i bet you get the shits on a regular basis.
Roctop replying to a comment from hay / April 21, 2011 at 08:47 am
Hey, HAY: I got a box of KD I can sell you for $13.00 if it makes your little snob-like tastebuds happy.
native son / April 24, 2011 at 09:57 pm
The bathroom is disgusting... Ruined my experience... Will not be back...
hay replying to a comment from Roctop / April 25, 2011 at 03:01 pm
If you think KD is the same as real mac and cheese i wouldnt trust your opinion on any restaurant. Sorry if i like real food. Try going to the grocery store and buying all the ingredients to make REAL mac and cheese. It'll probably cost you more than $12 and its more work than ordering off a menu.
Gloria / April 26, 2011 at 10:34 am
Had a really wonderful brunch on a VERY BUSY Saturday. My pulled pork eggs benny came on the amazing cornbread. The side of sauteed fruit was delightful!

I had to steal a taste of the beans from my friend's plate - and it was really delicious. I'll probably get an extra side for myself next time.

Full house = slow(er) service. What can you do? Make sure you go with people you like talking too.

roctop replying to a comment from hay / April 26, 2011 at 01:18 pm
Hey, HAY: The point sailed right over you pretentious noggin', kiddo. LOL.
Hay replying to a comment from roctop / April 26, 2011 at 02:33 pm
Yes your point did sail over my "pretentious" little noggin, and i'm glad you find that "LOL" worthy. I dont think you got my point. If you're cheap and you dont want to pay for a nice meal, made with real food, in a sit down restaurant, where they bring it right to your table, then go line up at McDonalds and by yourself an $8 combo. In my opinion, THAT's overpriced. I'm talking about paying for what you get. You expect someone to come to your table, ask you what you want, bring you your drinks, bring you your food, (a nice homecooked meal, made with real food), and not pay anything extra for the service and the quality of ingredients? What IS your point then? That people open restaurants to break even? Or open restaurants to feed the poor? Sorry if thinking that i should pay a little extra to have someone wait on me, makes me pretentious. I think you're pretentious for thinking they should do all that for you without paying extra. If i dont feel like paying 12 bucks for a nice sit down meal, i walk down the street and buy a 7 dollar shwarma and bring it home and eat it. My point is if you're cheap, then dont go to a sit down restaurant. What exactly was your point? Because I certainly didn't get yours either, KIDDO. LOL!
Maureen replying to a comment from Hay / April 27, 2011 at 09:53 am
Looks like someone's cage got rattled, hay-hay. Why don't you get a take out order of macaroni and cheese and curl up with it? It should help warm up your icy ego. By the way, $12 is a fair price for a gourmet pasta dish which is exactly what is served at Hadley's.
hay replying to a comment from Maureen / April 28, 2011 at 09:15 pm
Maureen, that was exactly my point. But i got called snobby and pretentious for saying so.
Jrog / February 25, 2012 at 11:02 am
It's rather disheartening that the economics of pasta can inspire such vitriol.

Add a Comment


Find a restaurant

Or use the options below to assist you in locating a restaurant in Toronto.

Search Results

Please select criteria from the dropdown menus above to start your search.


Recent Reviews

Refine the list using the categories below:

Other Cities: Montreal