Wednesday, August 27, 2014Partly Cloudy 18°C
Restaurants

Mars Food

Posted by Liora Ipsum / Profiled on August 23, 2014 / review policy

Mars Food TorontoMars Food on College is a place I had previously written off. I had stopped in once, maybe a year ago, for a grilled cheese sandwich, only to be disappointed by an unremarkable single slice of American cheese smooshed between lacklustre bread.

More recently, the outdoor sandwich board advertising lobster wraps or crab cake benny specials caught my attention. After a little more investigating, I was surprised to discover that the menu appears to be entirely new.

Mars Food TorontoAs it turns out, changes have quietly been afoot over the last few months. The diner, which opened in 1951 and has been operated by the Taecaris family since the mid-'80s, is now being helmed by Sathiyatharsan Arumugam, a red-seal chef.

Mars Food TorontoThe patina'd interior remains entirely unchanged, as does the bran muffin recipe, which is still so popular, they're already sold out. The original vinyl stools and chrome counter run down the length of the narrow 50-seat room, while faded photos and newpaper clippings a plastered around the cash register. There are no plans to reno - the updates start and end with the menu, which has been edited down and updated with a few new fresh options added to the all-day breakfasts, diner staples and bottomless cups of coffee.

Mars Food TorontoThe grilled cheese ($5) is now offered with cheddar or Brie on challah, but today I opt for the chicken club ($9). Built on a puffy, fresh herbed ciabatta bun, it's layered with peppery cajun chicken, brie, bacon, lettuce, tomato and a chipotle mayo. It comes with a choice of soup or salad; today's soup, a mushroom barley, is flavourful and peppered with a mix of mushrooms like cremini, porcini and oysters.

Mars Food TorontoThe omelette of the day ($8.50) is packed with fresh spinach, chunks of avocado, tomatoes, onions and goat cheese. It comes with potatoes which aren't quite fried enough, and are more like mash than breakfast hash. Dark rye on the side is a welcome option, though.

The Mars combo platter ($10.55) arrives on a packed plate. It includes two eggs, any style, along with a slice of French toast and a buttermilk pancake topped with caramel sauce and sliced peaches. Fresh fruit - on today's visit, triangles of a watermelon - are included to help cut the grease. Bacon (or any of the other breakfasty meats) can be added for another $2.

Mars Food TorontoPerhaps Mars' biggest legacy is that it reliably stays open on weekends around the clock. Currently, the diner shutters at 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays before reopening at 11pm to serve after-hours grub to College Street revellers.

Mars Food TorontoPhotos by Jesse Milns.

Discussion

11 Comments

norm / August 24, 2014 at 04:32 pm
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When I was a delivery boy for the drug store on Queen W. & Bathurst St. next to the Orpheum Theatre (forgot the pharmacy name), the owner pharmacist insisted on a Mars Restaurant scrambled egg on Kaiser twice a week. This was around 1958 and, of course, we rode a bike to make deliveries in the neighborhood. Winter & Summer, whatever the weather, he had to have his scrambled egg on Kaiser 2 times a week, so had to ride up to College & get it for him (25 cents as I recall). Glad Mars is still slinging the hash & eggs, etc.
Perry Como / August 24, 2014 at 05:41 pm
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Mars sucks ass
Derek / August 24, 2014 at 09:18 pm
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This should'e been listed in the other article for drunk places to eat. I have many goodbut-dim-barely-there-sloshed-haze memories of 4am breakfasts with friends at Mars!
C / August 25, 2014 at 08:52 am
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What a shame that a brilliant greasy spoon is no attempting to masquerade itself as a gourmand spot. The quality has totally dropped and they even manage to screw up corned beef hash. Pathetic. I've lost a great breakfast spot.
Blayne P. / August 25, 2014 at 08:54 am
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"Lobster wraps or crab cake benny specials". Really? This is a place for bacon and eggs. Sathiyatharsan Arumugam, you've destroyed Toronto tradition.
not sure / August 25, 2014 at 09:54 am
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I think the best thing is to stick to diner food, but make GOOD diner food. Lobster rolls are not something one associates with diners.
mixed / August 25, 2014 at 11:38 am
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Lobster cake benny is nice only if the glasses aren't so dirty that they're disgusting to touch - dishware is supposed to be clean both inside and out
stonerjoe / August 25, 2014 at 05:36 pm
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went to Mars on sunday morning looking for a simple greasy spoon breakfast - went for their souped up "gourmand" french toast, and you know what? it was great.. and it wasn't $15 either



okey dokey / August 25, 2014 at 09:46 pm
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In the top photo, there is a round brown thing being attacked by a pound of fruit. Was it cut from a baseball glove?
KhayeJao / August 26, 2014 at 01:18 am
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Good.......
matt / August 27, 2014 at 10:26 am
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the red seal is the biggest joke in cooking. I've met "red seal" chefs who make béchamel with oil and cornstarch. anyone with half a brain and basic reading skills can study the material and get their red seal. it only means something to people who think a degree or some sort of certification is the be all and end all of life. there is no hands on practical test, just 150 or so multiple choice questions. 70% to pass and a good 68% of those questions are so obvious that anyone whos watched the food network for a couple of hours would know the answer. diner food by a red seal chef. that about sums up the skill level of the majority of em.

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