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Restaurants

School Bakery and Cafe

Posted by Frank / Reviewed on July 23, 2009 / review policy

School Restaurant TorontoSchool Bakery and Cafe in Liberty Village doesn't look like any school I attended. The huge glass displays that cordon off the kitchen from the crowd are definitely cafeteria-esque and there are a few tips of the hat to study hall--the odd chalkboard scattered around this sunny space, a wall full of clocks that have all been magically frozen at "3:30", that golden moment school lets out-- but it doesn't feel like all the pieces add up to a cohesive whole.

I was told the servers would be in school uniform and while the outfits the staff actually sport definitely flatter the statuesque servers; I think most fetishists will be slightly disappointed.

School Restaurant Toronto

The card is comfort food but definitely a step up from your usual high school cafeteria fare. All the dishes we order come in cute, single serving cast iron skillets that add a nice visual touch but their high sides make for slightly more challenge than you should really have to muster on a Sunday morning.

Still, it'll take a lot more than tricky tableware to keep me from sopping up thick, creamy complimentary hollandaise that I've smothered all over School's steak and eggs ($19). The toothsome homefries are well-seasoned and worth ordering an extra side just in case the small portion that comes with your meal doesn't seem like enough (trust me, it isn't). Not strictly 'textbook', the SBC Benni ($13) floats standard poached eggs and bacon atop a crumbly cheese scone.

School Restaurant Toronto

The potato-sausage omelet is definitely a stand out offering a spicy puck of homemade porky goodness pillowed on fluffy, brie-laced eggs'n'spuds ($12) who's recipient is probably left a little puckish since he's forced to share his meal with the rest of the table.

School Bakery and Cafe

Newly sated, the crew at our table agree that school's definitely 'in' for a decent (albeit slightly pricey) brunch if you happen to live in Liberty Village. But unlike its namesake, you might wanna get to this School a little early.

Photographs courtesy Martino Lozej

Discussion

34 Comments

ed / February 3, 2009 at 12:41 pm
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I'm sorry. there's nothing 'best' about this place. ok, maybe this....'best overpriced food in a fancy box'. seriously, one of the worst sandwiches i've had in a while....but i came in some real nice packaging.
cj / February 21, 2009 at 01:35 am
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If you thought the Warehouse Grill was expensive, stay away from this place. The food sucks and everything is way over priced. Long gone are the famous grill burgers and daily pastas.
pamburger & fries / March 20, 2009 at 08:25 pm
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I can't believe Warehouse Grill is no longer there! They had the best egg sandwich ever!!! Where did they go???
Colin / April 27, 2009 at 01:36 pm
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Went here last week for the first time and paid $17 for a cold, pre-made roast beef sandwich and a handful of fries. Sandwich was nothing special, but the fries were good (all 5 of them). Rip. Off.
Gloria / June 7, 2009 at 11:42 pm
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What a terrible brunch experience!
Not only were we led around the whole restaurant (after waiting in line) because they couldn't figure out which table to put us at, but good grief the food was terrible!

My brunch partner ordered coffee, which came in a tall skinny glass. and the spoon she was given was half the height of the glass. when we asked if they had any other spoons, they said no so she used her knife.

we ordered and waited for about 40 minutes before we asked the waitress to check on our food. direct quotes:
"um, we've been waiting a while. can you go to the kitchen and check on our food please?"
*nodding nodding*
"so you want more coffee?" (?!?!?!?!!!!?)

when our food finally arrived, the portions were small, the food was luke warm, the home fries were oily and soggy and we were just really disappointed. the really sad things is, the flavours were there, but the execution and service just killed it.

i agree that the prices are too high and this place is WAY overrated. won't be going back, that's for sure!
Jason / June 15, 2009 at 11:11 am
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What can I say? The first time I decide to go against recommendations from Blog T.O. and I get as advertised, 1 star service and meal. As a concept it should and could work. It just doesn't. The hostess is clueless on how to run a restaurant. She kept 4 couples waiting for tables for 2 while 4 tables for four (that I could see from the entrance) were empty. As a former chef I spent my time looking at the kitchen staff. Most of them had a deer in headlights look that cooks have when they come right out of cooking school. The head chef put the plates down and watched as the staff was borderline sloppy (at one point tossing smoked salmon onto a toasted croissant from 3 feet away). The operation looked like it was organized by someone used to the fine dining brigade system. I worked in fine dining but never in a huge brigade. I don’t get it. Instead of paying 6-8 cooks the minimum to have more hands pay a little more to get a smaller more experienced team back there.

After finally being seated we waited 10 minutes to have our orders taken. Coffee was served in paper cups because they were out of cups. We waited at least 30 minutes for out food. I had the omelette soufflé and my fiancé had the smoked salmon with spicy scrambled. Yikes. Cold plates + hot food = warm food by the time it reaches the client. The kitchen staff was allergic to sodium because no salt touched my food or my fiance’s either. As a matter of fact I tasted her spicy scramble and it was tasteless. I also experienced not having my biscuit (as was already posted by another blogger) with my meal and having to point it out to the waiter who replied “oh yeah, I’ll be right back.”

The topper was receiving the bill in a little envelope that I was ready to pay without looking at it to expedite our exit. Thank god my fiancé is more thorough. We were charged for our meal and coffee (this is where the fun starts) as well as a tea, 2 freshly squeezed o.j. and a side of bacon. We flagged down our waiter after another few minutes to point out the issue before we could go up to the cash and pay to end the experience of School Bakery and Café.

Yikes is all I can think of saying…
Lolita / July 21, 2009 at 11:57 am
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Quite unremarkable and definitely overpriced - the lengthy wait adding insult to injury. The only memorable feature involved the light and flavorful lemon scones given gratis whilst loitering in line.. should've shoved as many in my cheeks as I could chipmunk style and ran..
winnipeglove / July 23, 2009 at 09:57 am
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I've been reading these reviews of restaurants and cafes for some time. How can almost ALL the reviews be positive?!? They all say the food is outstanding, the atmosphere is great, blah, blah, and blah.

I'm starting to think that this reviews are bulls*** and untrustworthy.
Jason / July 23, 2009 at 10:44 am
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winnipeglove might be on to something. I tried this place out despite all the bad comments. You shouldn't have to order extra potatoes. This place is all style and absolutely no substance. A great idea with no execution. You wonder if the reviewers let the staff know of their intention to post on blog to and get treatment not afforded to the other 99% of the paying clientele. I have to say I will dubious any of Frank's future reviews.
Kel / July 23, 2009 at 01:08 pm
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Pretty sure that the author "Frank" is the only person I've ever met who has enjoyed their experience at this restaurant. There is such a deluge of bad word of mouth that I'm surprised there is still a line of the curious _waiting_ to eat here. They certainly aren't building the type of repeat business necessary to stay afloat in any long term sense.
Craig / July 23, 2009 at 01:08 pm
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If the food and service there are so terrible, then why is it still packed with patrons on weekends, hmmmm???
Jason / July 23, 2009 at 04:07 pm
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By Craig's rationale the McDonald's inside of a busy Wal Mart must be top notch. I mean after all there are people waiting in line and the place is packed. hmmmmm???
Moneesha replying to a comment from Jason / July 23, 2009 at 05:14 pm
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Jason, your analogy isn't a good one.

People at McDonald's aren't expecting much in terms of food and service. However, the same can't said for other restaurants like School. It's a no brainer that people are expecting more than what they get at McDonald's.

Compare apples to apples, please--not apples to oranges.
rzy / July 24, 2009 at 01:09 am
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i have to agree that there are better brunches to be had in this city. the atmosphere was not exactly the greatest and neither was the service. i would take a benny's cousin at yasi's over this place any day.

it's not really worth your time (and believe me, it takes a lot of time as the lineup was ridiculous for some reason) but hey if you've got cash to burn and a morning to kill, by all means...
Gloria / July 24, 2009 at 09:52 am
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On Craig's point - I think it's packed every week for several reasons. 1) the misleading reviews - i believe reviewers go at less busy times when the kitchen has an opportunity to prepare the food correctly. 2) there's is a huge influx of residents in the area and a certain lack of brunch options right in the hood. 3) the space is big and you see other people - you assume it'll be good. 4) it's "newer" and everyone loves to try something new.

I don't think the business on the weekends truly reflects the poor organization, service and execution of dishes at School.

Word of mouth will and lack of repeat business will level things out. then MAYBE they'll have time to properly prepare the food and get back on track. so sad.

Zara / July 24, 2009 at 11:16 am
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I've eaten at School a few times and had complete opposite experiences. I thought the food was great, the service was friendly and fun (slow, yes, but it's brunch! why the rush?), atmosphere was awesome, and thought it wasn't all that expensive. All my friends who have been there seem to be on the same page as well.
Robin / July 25, 2009 at 06:21 pm
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Hmm..went today for brunch and was blown away! Sat within two minutes and we couldn't make up our minds what to order.

Nirvana French Toast lived up to its name with strawberries pistachios and chocolate! Artistic coffees and lemon cranberry scones! Souffle omelet light as a feather. Caramel coffee cake to go that we ended up eating in the car!

Going back tomorrow to get the Super cheesy French Toast and Coconut Caramel Pancakes!

Dee / July 29, 2009 at 11:04 pm
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Had the eggplant pannini today and I was truly disappointed! The eggplant was not grilled properly, and there was no pesto on this sandwich. It was basically cooked eggplant and a slice of parmesan cheese on a bun. How boring and unimaginative!! There were flies everwhere to boot! Gross!
Lee Dale / July 31, 2009 at 12:31 am
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Not sure where these horrible reviews are coming from. Maybe all from weekend brunchers. I was there with a group the day after this review came out (Friday) and the afternoon service was exceptional. From 1:30p to 5:00p, when the staff switched over, we were taken care of by several courteous and attentive servers, enjoyed a tremendous meal (everything from eggs to salmon) and even offered separate bills.

As we worked through the cocktails list, the bartender came out to greet us and ask how we were enjoying the mixes, trying to get a better feel for how the new cocktails list was being received. Smart. And later in the afternoon, he brought us all a taste of a new cocktail to try out. Brilliant.

Maybe it was the right time to go, but it was a fantastic experience and I'd be happy to return. And hopefully that banana cinnamon muffin tasting cocktail will be on the menu when I get back. Tasty!
BrunchStar / August 1, 2009 at 09:08 pm
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I've been at School three times. First two times were great experiences both food quality and service. Third time was so disappointing we couldn't figure out what was going on! Then we heard some comments from other brunchers that the owner wasn't there and they had read and heard that it really goes down when he's not around.

Too bad. I know two good experiences and one bad shouldn't keep me from going back but unfortunately it will.
Sonya / August 4, 2009 at 11:56 am
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Wasn't sure what to expect when my friend and I went to School on Sunday. Had the best pancakes of my life! No regular cakes here. Coconut caramel was heavenly! Anita had cheesy french toast and she wouldn't share! Lemon scones to go never made it home. Service was friendly and coffee was illy. Saturday can't come fast enough!

ConsumptionSnob / August 5, 2009 at 02:25 am
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Honestly if you can't handle the lunch/brunch hold-ups (which seem to be no longer anyway), go and hang out after 4 for a late afternoon bevy. Have you guys SEEN the cocktail menu? It's like nothing you'll ever see! What kind of bartender is this "Mixologist Stefan Ravalli", because his drinks look like the work of a chef. You've got to try this saffron-pear thing he does. It's genius!
xtrapnel / August 24, 2009 at 06:41 am
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Would have loved he opportunity to discover just how genius the cocktails and pancakes are. However since, after 15 minutes, all that our waiter(s) had managed to accomplish was to bring us was a glass of water and dicker as to who's section we should be in we thought better of it and went down the street to Liberty Bistro.
Melanie / September 6, 2010 at 02:03 pm
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Greasy and Salty. When we first arrived at this place, I thought it looked really charming and it was pretty busy so my expectations were fairly high. I ordered the parmesan asparagus omelette - I have never tasted anything this salty in my life! After sending it back once and it came back the same, I concluded that it must be the cheese they are using. But last time I checked fresh Parmesan is not that salty... Everything was very greasy. Someone at our party ordered a side of sausages which looked very unappetizing. They were practically inedible. Coffee was just ok, nothing worth mentioning. My water had a hair in it, and I noticed that all the glasses had dishcloth fibres in them. Service was not very attentive. Very disappointing experience overall because they apparently used to serve a mean brunch when they first opened a few years ago.
Laura / November 28, 2010 at 12:45 pm
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Well, I certainly have to agree with the positive reviews. I have only had fantastic meals here and raved to all my friends about the restaurant. Maybe it's because I come before the rush? Regardless, the herb and cheese biscuit is flaky and delicious and worth ordering as I wait for me food (even though I'm stuffed afterwards). I've had the egg souffle twice and both times it was delicious. My chef friend was also impressed with her egg fritatta (though she ordered it with whole eggs rather than just egg whites).

I will definitely come back again and again - but I will also make sure to get there close to opening so that I avoid the rush! Maybe after waiting through the hoards of people, you're grumpy enough that it's very hard to be pleased.
warehouse / March 8, 2011 at 05:58 pm
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I used to come here all the time when I worked in Liberty Village, back when it was called The Warehouse. I'm not sure if the owner is still Frank, but we used to crowd around our office window to watch him pacing back and forth across the parking lot, screaming into his cell phone at whatever poor sap was on the other end. Good memories.
irina / March 9, 2011 at 05:16 pm
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bad cookies.. bad service. didn't try anything else.
Angie / October 8, 2011 at 05:34 pm
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Over priced menu and rude staff who pretend you are not there. Take your business elsewhere.
Her Majesty / November 24, 2012 at 04:33 pm
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Great food. A little more on the expensive side but creative dishes and always fresh. Annoying service before you get seated, they are popular and people line up to get in which is always a good sign. However, we don't get there as often because I hate waiting like a goof single file like we're back in school to get seated. So if it is not the right time, we avoid it. Fun atmosphere and convenient location with parking nearby.
julie / March 27, 2013 at 05:17 pm
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Great food, lovely atmosphere...Terrible service food came so late when it wasn't even that busy
Daniel / May 11, 2013 at 11:18 am
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I recently went there with about 12 people, the serves did a fantastic job seating us during the rush on a sunday, and the food was absolutely amazing. Try the cheese french toast or the chicken waffles. Overpriced? yes ofcourse, its liberty VILLAGE!
kittykat / May 24, 2013 at 08:16 pm
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I went here last weekend with my boyfriend with high expectations that were sadly not met. The menu lacked variety and for a place that was known to the public as a "brunch restaurant," there was not so much breakfast-y items.
Marisa / June 13, 2013 at 11:58 pm
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I've eaten here 3 times and I will continue to bring all my friends here for brunch. I had the orange french toast and it was delicious the first two times and the chicken and waffles the third time. I absolutely recommend the crispy orange french toast!!
Liz / July 29, 2013 at 11:35 am
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The first time I went here was pretty good (friendly service, adequate omelet), but when I came back this past Sunday, I had a completely horrible experience. The 30min wait for a table for 2 was no problem - I expected as much. But then we waited an additional hour after placing our orders, while every table around us was seated, served and finished their meals. To make up for it, we were offered a muffin. The food itself was so disappointing I could barely stomach it. I had the pulled pork and eggs - a signature dish which I'd seen before and looked great. But mine was swimming two inches deep in oil - I did my best to absorb what I could with napkins so I could eat the pork, but just felt sick for the rest of the day. So many people rave about this place, but I can't imagine going back.

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