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Scratch Fresh Foods

Posted by Libby Roach / Listed on February 7, 2013 / review policy

scratch fresh foods torontoScratch Fresh Foods is in an absolutely abysmal location. Unless you live near Glencairn subway, you likely wouldn't know about it; but you should. "Fresh" doesn't only apply to the food, but also to the very concept behind the business, which is run by Sonya Spagnola-Lee. Helping like-minded chefs get a head start in an industry synonymous with incredibly expensive upfront costs is a gutsy move.

scratch fresh foodsShe was in the same boat a few years earlier, starting with homemade dips. Prepared dips evolved into catering, and when a small laundromat in her neighbourhood folded (sorry, bad pun) Sonya dove in head first. Catering turned into a market, then with some nudging from customers, a small café, and cooking classes.

scratch fresh foods torontoClosed Monday and Tuesday, the market-cum-café is well-stocked for grab n' go meals or for those not under time constraints: there are about 10 tables in the quaint dining room. Shelves line the entry way, stocked with products made by Sonya's protégés such as ready-to-go sauces, spices and desserts.

It's a family business, so service is swift and friendly. Sonya's daughter was our server, and her son was helping out in the kitchen. The food focuses on breakfast-to-lunch-style dishes, with the most expensive plates hovering around $13. Sonya is adamant that everything is from scratch, hence the obviously straightforward name.

scratch fresh foods torontoThe Full Englishman ($12.99) lives up to its name. A gluttonous portion of three eggs, (perfectly over easy), bangers, thick-cut bacon strips, a mountain of home fries, lightly buttered toast, and a lovely side of baked beans makes for a belt-busting meal.

scratch fresh foods torontoNext up is the yogurt, which sees fresh fruit atop a deep bowl of vanilla yogurt ($6.25), which balances out the cholesterol collision with a welcome splash of colour (and vitamins).

Mini Cinnamon Pancakes ($5.99, or $9.49 for bigger portion) are a bit of a contradiction, in size at least. Three freeform and fluffy pancakes with a dusting of icing sugar and a smattering of cream cheese frosting leave me shaking like a sugar junkie. I probably should refrain from drinking maple syrup, but when it comes in an adorably tiny mug, things get reckless.

scratch fresh foods torontoThe Soup and Sandwich ($6.99) combo is another mega portion. Brothy butternut squash soup is an excellent partner for the king-sized chunky chicken and grilled cheese bacon sandwich, while the crusty, grilled white bread offers exceptional soup-dipping opportunities. I was easily sated by half of the sandwich and couldn't find the bottom of the soup bowl.

scratch fresh foodsWith a focus not solely on her bottom line, Scratch Fresh is unlike anything else I've ever seen. Dedicated to the local food movement and encouraging other wannabe chefs to join her is just the beginning. Sonya's energy is absolutely contagious, and her cooking is unpretentiously delicious. Now, to work on the location.



BrianB / February 6, 2013 at 08:19 pm
WHOA, that big breakfast looks crazy. I'm going to check this place out.
jeff g / February 7, 2013 at 09:16 am
Trust me, that isn't a full english. First, it should all be on one plate- none of this baked beans on a separate dish nonsense. Those sausages look like canadian breakfast sausages instead of a full english sausage or even a nice cumberland, plus the bacon looks like it is streaky (back) bacon instead of english style bacon (which is like peameal plus back bacon). And I would expect it to come with chips (fries) or a mcdonalds style hash brown instead of the north american diner style hashbrowns this comes with. I spy mushrooms there but where's the black pudding, fried tomato, fried slice and all the other usual constituents of a full english. Basically this is just a canadian breakfast with a side of beans.
jamie replying to a comment from jeff g / February 7, 2013 at 09:24 am
crikey. way to be a complete buzzkill jeffg.
Sandra / February 7, 2013 at 09:38 am
That is not a full English breakfast..looks more like a full Canadian breakfast. Full English breakfast has baked beans, fried bread, proper Bangers, black pudding, fried mushrooms and or tomato.
JLL replying to a comment from jeff g / February 7, 2013 at 09:42 am
Well, I don't care if it's an "authentic" English breakfast- it looks really good, and I'd be willing to give it a go.
Peanut gallery / February 7, 2013 at 09:48 am
I would challenge Sandra and Jeff G to nominate another establishment in Toronto that serves, in their view, a "perfect" English breakfast.
Tim W / February 7, 2013 at 10:31 am
When the article says a full english, you expect a full english.

The search is on, maybe the bristol yards?
Terry / February 7, 2013 at 11:40 am
Exactly. This is not a full English.
Daniel / February 7, 2013 at 11:54 am
Whats wrong with Glencairn/Marlee? The area is about to will be the next Avenue Road.
poh / February 7, 2013 at 12:03 pm
That breakfast definitely looks good, but when you advertise Full English, most people would expect blood pudding.
Alan replying to a comment from Daniel / February 7, 2013 at 01:16 pm
because it is north of bloor.........
John D / February 7, 2013 at 01:54 pm
Fully agree about the "Full English" - poor choice of name for a breakfast that looks tasty but isn't like a traditional English fry-up. Calling it a full Canadian would make way more sense/remove the false advertising.

Also +1 for The Bristol Yard - Best English style breakfast I've had in Toronto
RobotCowhand / February 7, 2013 at 03:45 pm
The Full English I had at Bristol Yard wasn't that great. It's not served with black pudding unless you ask for it, the bacon wasn't the right cut, the various parts were served at different temperatures on a cold plate.

I've been on the search for a proper FE for a year now and I was excited when I read about Bristol Yard. I was left wanting.
EoinS / February 7, 2013 at 03:52 pm
I don't think it's a buzzkill to point out the fact that this isn't a full English. It's unfortunate that they've called it a full English, as it looks like a pretty average (although large) breakfast.
Sarah / February 7, 2013 at 03:54 pm
My absolutely favorite brunch spot! As excited as I am that BlogTO featured this, I am also sad because it was always nice and quite..and now it wont be :(
Shane / February 7, 2013 at 05:12 pm
True, this is not at all a full english breakfast, not even close, regardless of the cultural genesis of blood pudding in that part of the world. What exactly though,is a full english breakfast? I know the irish one includes black/white pudding and the irish bacon,fried egg, and the tomato, the sausage, potatoes (not like the ones in the picture though) and a bit of irish soda bread on the side or what have you.. My question is this, and i should do some research black pudding part of the full english? I always thought that the blood puddings were more of a celtic thing in that region of the world and not so much an english thing. Of course, many cultures throughout the world have blood sausage of various types,but i am not too sure if the English do, or if they simply picked up the pudding habbit from the irish or scots. I've never thought black/white pudding to be English at all, but i could be wrong. Ok, time to do a bit of googling and phone call making....
Shane / February 7, 2013 at 05:53 pm
Hi Libby,
What happened to my posting? I've been posting on Blogto since it started, and have given it much critical feedback over the years to help it improve, and have never had anything removed before. Was this an accident? Surely nothing was written that would incite the removal? Ok, thanks, just wondering what's up. Am i being confused with some other person who posts using my name also?

PS. so far, based on some superficial research, black pudding does indeed appear to be celtic in origin.

Thank You
KD / February 7, 2013 at 07:24 pm
Whatever the breakfast is called it looks great! All the food in the pictures looks Awesome. I will be checking this place (sorry in advance to all the regulars)
Jason / February 7, 2013 at 10:45 pm
Looks like the breakfast naming police are out in full force. How about we have a few more people comment on how their breakfast isn't an authentic English breakfast because there's no slice of tomato and the potatoes are the wrong cut? Won't that be fun to read?
Diana / February 7, 2013 at 10:53 pm
Full Englishman. It's not actually called an English breakfast in this case. Play on words. The man is full because of that large breakfast. Guess he doesn't need the blood pudding and tomatoes since he's bloody full! :-) I can see why the association with an English breakfast is troubling though since a few parts are missing.
Sherlock / February 7, 2013 at 11:26 pm
Please don't call a random breakfast Full English Breakfast, it's false advertising.
jeff g / February 8, 2013 at 12:20 am
Jason, it's not that there are just a couple of pieces missing- it's a whole paradigm shift between the two things. One is an egg-based meal with a bit of meat and potato, the other is a combination of many more pieces with no one part more important than the others.

If I was being really picky about a real full english I would have scoffed at the idea of getting three eggs and having them prepared any other way than just "fried".
George / February 8, 2013 at 02:50 am
Agree with many above - not full English. Good food though.
Travis / February 10, 2013 at 10:55 am
To all of the people whose English sensibilities have been offended: The breakfast might not be the full Enlish you had on your one trip to England 15 years ago; but one thing is certain - this thread is a full Toronto. Your neurotic, fickle snootiness both amuses and astounds. Next you'll be accussing a pizza slice of not being Italian enough, a curry of not being Indian enough, or a hamburger of not being American enough, as if it weren't possible to put a new twist on or reimagine an old thing. You people should worry about important things, like not making yourselves sound retarded in the public square of the internet.
barry g / February 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm
Travis, I am english, i regularly return to visit england and I wholeheartedly agree with the comments admonishing this fake full english. Now, I'm not holding Scratch Fresh Foods to blame here- more the stupid (clever?) sub editor who came up with the initial headline "where to find a full english breakfast in north toronto". I'm sure many of my compatriots and sympathisers were drawn to the article on this pretxt and, like myself, horrified at what someone might construe as a "full english". I get it, this cafe calls it a "full englishman" which is a play on the term "full english", but this is nothing close to the meal to which it alludes. To reiterate a point previously made above- this is just a normal canadian breakfast with a side of baked beans.

Now to your point about snootiness. Your comparisons don't hold up. Noone is saying this isn't a valid breakfast- it does indeed bear striking resemblance to a standard canadian breakfast enjoyed by many across the country. However, describing this as a "full english" (which is a relatively specific meal), is very misleading. I imagine people would be put out if a restaurant opened promising traditional napolitan style pizza only to find they made their dough with cornmeal and gluten free flour and topped it with monterray jack cheese. Or curry advertised as a traditional punjabi style dish only to find bland canadian style curry. Or a traditional american style hamburger only to find it's a linda mccartney burger patty in a bun made from riceflour and seaweed. All might be delicious(?) but all are sincerely misleading.
Megan / February 15, 2013 at 02:43 pm
Seirously what's with the downtown chauvinism here? Marlee and Glencairn is not 'abysmal' just because its not in Lesilieville. Its on a subway line as well as on a fairly busy street. There's actually quite a few restaurants in that location. Start at least attempting to cover the whole city Blog TO.
Susie / February 15, 2013 at 06:48 pm
I had a negative experience at this restaurant. Me and my friend had poor service, long waits, order mix-ups, and mediocre food. Also, the heat was turned down too low. This place looks charming and has potential. I won't be going back there but I hope it will improve.
Sonya replying to a comment from Susie / February 16, 2013 at 10:52 pm
Hello Susie,

As the owner and chef of Scratch Fresh Foods, I am saddened to hear that you had a less then satisfying experience here with us. While I don't believe our service is poor, I will say that since this review has come out, we have been overwhelmed with business, and by my own fault, not fully prepared for the volume of new customers we had.

Over the last week or so we have taken drastic steps and made major improvements so that we are able to get our food out faster and handle the volume increase much better.

I wish that you had expressed your issues while visiting us, as we hold high expectations for our customer service and gladly would have done all we could to make your visit more enjoyable.

If you would like to contact me via email or by phone, I would love to discuss your concerns further and try to repair your negative experience with us.

Our sincerest Thank You's to everyone who endured the long waits for their understanding. Although very busy, we have very much enjoyed meeting many new faces and look forward to getting to know you all more!
Torontoborn / February 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm
Marlee is a fantastic area. Get your head straight blog t.o or change your name to blog south of Bloor. It's a big beautiful city with a ton of great places. Maybe you could have more homegrown writers rather than hipsters that moved here from Regina and have never ventured outside of the downtown core. Or perhaps I should write for you bad grammar and all due to the fact that I could name a bunch of places on many of your top 10 lists that are forgotten because they happen to be in rexdale, etobicoke etc...

P.s. scratch is fantastic.
Seaner / February 22, 2013 at 01:09 pm
Abismal is a harsh and really unnecessary assessment of the area. @travis, Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world and I see nothing wrong with an English ex pat expecting a full English to remind them of home. There is such a thing as pizza not being Italian enough. Pizza has been reinvented in many great ways, new York style Chicago style and so on but there is barely anything Italian about the cardboard crap pizza pizza churns out. For me nothing beats a a Naples style pizza. Thai curry isn't Indian enough. How bout those blue jays!!!!
Sadface / February 22, 2013 at 01:40 pm
People who comment on articles are sad. And people who comment on people's comments on articles are sadder and people who comment about people who comment on people who comment on articles and comments are saddest and people who comment on a comment commenting on the sadness of commenting on comments are just being silly. Let's all be happy and get out in the real world and actually comment to eachother in person. Maybe we can hold hands and skip down marlee to scratch. I'll bring the jelly beans. I have a crush on Fran drecher I think she's the bees knees. It's snowing yippeeee!!!
Sara c / February 24, 2013 at 06:26 am
Why is scratch up for sale on
Erin / February 26, 2013 at 11:22 pm
The only thing abysmal about this location (and I've lived here for 4 years now) is the hoity-toity types who come along calling my neighbourhood 'abysmal'. Just because the hipsters downtown don't know about it, I think that might be a good thing!

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