Saturday, April 19, 2014Partly Cloudy 2°C

Uncle Betty's

Posted by Simon Yau / Reviewed on June 28, 2011 / review policy

Uncle Bettys DinerUncle Betty's wants your kids. I know that sounds like a public service announcement about a neighbourhood deviant, but it's more an observation I make as I sit waiting for a table at this new Yonge and Eglinton area diner full of young, vibrant families.

On top of this being a sit down restaurant, Uncle Betty's also acts as an ice cream parlour, serving up scoops of Greg's ice cream in cups, cones and sandwiched between freshly made Dreesen donuts (similar to the ubiquitous Tom's Donuts from the CNE). The pitter patter of little feet scamper by our waiting area, bringing with them a parade of parents to the ice cream counter like moths to an icy flame.

Adding to the kids vibe, the decor of the narrow space skews decidedly "fun". Turquoise counters and a youthful orange accent wall compliment the more mature and contemporary dark stained wood floor. The logo features a mustachioed word mark that looks straight out of a Hanna-Barbera special.

The space is somewhat narrow but extremely bright, thanks to the colours and the fact the restaurant is at the end of a row, allowing windows to wrap around two sides. The front of Uncle Betty's opens up entirely to a patio and tables throughout the space are very generously laid out, leaving more than ample space for the parking of strollers (a necessity judging from today's neighbourhood crowd) and the ogling of passing pedestrians.

Uncle Bettys TorontoService is cheerful if not a bit slow, as a small group of patrons including ourselves wait roughly 20 minutes for tables despite the restaurant being just moderately busy. Having only been open for a handful of months, the sheer enthusiasm of Uncle Betty's' servers forgives the lacklustre wait times (our food would ultimately also takes a good 25 minutes to arrive). One hopes for their sake however these kinks are worked out sooner rather than later.

Although a diner menu is served here, today we opt for brunch options. The choices being fairly routine, I go for the eggs benedict ($12) that is, interestingly, served on donuts instead of english muffins. I pair it with a strawberry milkshake ($5.75). My companion elects for a bacon and mushroom omelet ($15) with sides of sausage and home fries.

The donut-eggs arrive as advertised, a generic spring mix dressed with balsamic vinaigrette on the side. The eggs are slightly over poached but the lemon hollandaise is a pleasantly zesty surprise. The star of the plate, the donut, is halved and somewhat stale and crumbly, bringing a mushy, sweet element to each mouthful that is unique but loses its novelty quickly. The peameal bacon everything sandwiches is well prepared and provides a bit of a reprieve from the overarching sweetness of the plate.

The milkshake I'm sucking down alongside the eggs is excellent. A traditional shake, it's viscous enough to make drinking with the straw difficult and the Greg's ice cream is delicately flavoured, without any of the artificial strawberry aftertaste so infused in fast food version of this treat.

Uncle Bettys Diner TorontoMy friend's omelet is a generous portion of egg wrapped around strips of bacon and button mushrooms. It's a fairly utilitarian version of an omelet, also slightly overcooked and rolled somewhat like a burrito.The accompanying sausage and homefries are decent, but nothing to write home about.

When we get the bill (which also takes a little longer than one would hope) the server chats us up cheerfully and tells us about a dinner item they serve called the Ultimate Grilled Cheese. This is apparently a sandwich, stuffed with macaroni-and-cheese and your choice of pulled pork or meatloaf, all within a bun.

Uncle Bettys DinerI've never eaten mac-and-cheese-and-meat inside a sandwich before and the novelty is undeniable. Again though, it's a dish that seems "fun", and if that's what Uncle Betty's is going for they've certainly nailed their niche. The food (for brunch at least) is just average considering the prices. This is somewhat of a letdown as the head chef at Betty's was once a sous at Coquine Restaurant.

Regardless, the ice cream, spacious seating and Dreesen donuts made in store should be attractive for local patrons wanting a place to take the kids that also has a liquor license.

The donuts, it should be noted, are made fresh several times daily but if you want to buy more than a dozen (which is not a lot in my mind) our server informs us you probably want to call and order in advance.

This being the first place in Toronto to make fresh Dreesen's donuts available, it appears the machine -- just like Uncle Betty's itself -- still has yet to hit it's stride.



Michael / June 28, 2011 at 09:27 am
I ate here a few weeks ago mid afternoon after the lunch rush. The donuts are pretty good. I wasn't hungry enough for some of the main lunch features (and didn't feel like spending $15-20), but they had no problem with me ordering off of the kids menu since what I really wanted was the Captain Crunch chicken fingers (under $9). Their fries are delicious. It's a nice new addition to the neighborhood.
Y'Egger / June 29, 2011 at 10:31 pm
The review made me eager to try out this new brunch spot in the neighbourhood. Pics capture what I want to see.

But it also made me wary of reading anything else by this writer. Does do any editing at all? This is poorly written. Odd style, grammar misshaps, elementary vocabulary.

I know these aren't professional writers, but a little editing would go a long way.
mike / June 30, 2011 at 10:29 am
it's a blog. not the New York Times.
Midtown Diner / June 30, 2011 at 09:00 pm
I ate the eggs benny at Uncle Betty's a month ago and was pretty disappointed. Don't think I will be going back there anytime soon.
sansie / August 24, 2011 at 10:22 pm
I tried the grilled cheese today with the pulled pork. I would have preferred a more dense bread, but it was pretty tasty. Needs more macaroni though.
mi / September 5, 2011 at 11:51 pm
Ok, if u want to be in a zoo, just go there.
Not only are the kids out of control, so is the owner manager.. She cant seem to do it all, and her lack of staff is probably because she isnt capable of running a resturant.. and they quit..
its local and there are very few resturants so that is why it is busy.. no other reason...
the food is lousy... everything is served cold, and dont expect to get the staff to ask if u need anything else... or if everything is ok.
even paying took too long....
i would not go back, not even for the famous ice cream, why?????because this owners managers hand would go into it, She had meat sauce dripping down her arm while she served ice cream and was dipping deep into the container so her arm became covered with icecreamtoo..... i noticed when she was serving someone icecream she added mini marshmellows to a ice cream cone using her bare fingers, no spoon and shoved them in the ice cream to secure them in place... as if this is her home perhaps serving it to her own was so gross, she was so umkempt, those fingernails probably were too.
dont go, save urself the money, as its expensive for nothing..
the place wont last long.
MBR / February 17, 2012 at 11:42 pm
Wow, expected better reviews after just watching Uncle Betty's featured on Food Network's "You've got to Eat Here" Featured the Eggs Benedict on the donut and the Mac and cheese, meatloaf grilled cheese sandwich. Sounded yummy but now wondering if it might be worth the hour drive to T.O. to check it out. Huh, maybe in better weather or when in the area for something else.
Moo / February 21, 2012 at 03:48 pm
Don't go. the owners are miserable.
Gembah replying to a comment from Moo / February 22, 2012 at 08:47 am
Hmmm...sounds like Uncle Betty has symptoms of owner incompetence. The restaurant concept is sliding our of her grasp for the clientele she has chosen to serve. All parties lose. Serve cold food to my kids, babe, and I just won't pay a cent! Shut down and reboot.
MelodySoul / March 4, 2012 at 08:04 pm
The food is overpriced and generic, the service was friendly when you could get attention, but for the most part the waiters were too busy flirting with the tables of single women (I guess they are hurting for tips?) and it was just jammed with babies and strollers. No thanks, never again.
Shary / October 13, 2012 at 09:22 am
super expensive...unreasonable prices... Yorkville diners are way more classy expensive but priceless experiences. Serving food was not ok,less than i expected from NOW magazine. My family waited for 45 mins and flies were flying all over the place, crap! nasty. Just because they were on food network, they think it's the best diner!!! nooooo waaay...NOPE NOT....super arrogant servers...i can make my own benny's for less than 3 bucks. i will aaaaaaask my friends not to recommend this to my friends from now on. EXPENSIVE AND LESS SERVING...SUPER cheap place and the menus are expensive...what the heck with the mac & cheese???? yah, peepz its FAKE not made from the scratch as seen on tv. YAH...if u have money and don't know what to do with it? Please go to uncle Betty's. I'd rather loose my money in casino than crappy food, that's no fun.
Brody / November 4, 2012 at 09:57 pm
I've been there a few times and have had some awesome comfort food.
My server was a tiny adorable blonde who was incredible and so friendly she
made us feel right at home. My one complaint would have to be the manager, or maybe
she was the owner? I'm not sure, her name started with an S or something, but she was
horrible. I sure hope they go under new management because I would hate to have to see
her again if I go there again!
Dolly / December 27, 2012 at 09:49 pm
I went to Uncle Betty's today after doing some shopping and I have never experienced such terrible service. It took over 20mins to have 2 glasses of water delivered to the table, and as we waited we could see the wait staff standing by the cash not helping customers.
We ordered a toasted BLT with avocado minus the bacon. The sandwich came only after my mother asked it was ready (more than 30mins of waiting). The sandwich had 1 slice of tomato and barely any avocado. The sandwich wasn't toasted and the waiter said it was "lightly toasted," we sent it it back only to get a sandwich that was burnt and they had even burned the letttuce when they re-toasted it!
The server also told us the kitchen had made the sandwich with bacon, but then took it mother is a vegetarian, why won't they have just made a new one?
Needless to say, I do not recommend this restaurant to anyone. And the 1 star - that's for the sweet potato fries, the only thing that was close to expectations.
david / January 12, 2013 at 01:50 pm
are you kidding me!!! not only does this place suck but im concidering never watching the food networks "you got to eat here" again. john catuchi must have been paid to say it was good.
so im not the pickiest guy, but come on,how is this place still in business. move over betty, let a real owner step in and serve up something other than frozen food.
service sucks too
love the doughnuts, only plus to this place
oh and my kid was able to run around likle she owned the place, thats a plus too. but what good is that if i cant eat the food, or have to look at servers that look like they crawled out from under a rock. ill take my doughnuts to go and eat elsewhere.
take your chances people
Kathryn / February 16, 2014 at 11:50 am
This place is the worst place I have ever eaten at in regards to service. Not only are the staff racist and anti-sematic, as I heard comments being said from the Kitchen. I was shocked and appalled at what I was hearing to the point where I left my food because I didn't want my 5yr old daughter to hear anymore of the foul language coming from this establishment. If I could report this restaurant to human rights tribunal, I would. As a person who identifies with the Jewish religion, I am disgusted and will NEVER EVER return to this place. Close down, get new ownership or let a breakfast joint that isn't so poorly run take over. This neighbourhood deserves better then this heap of garbage.
Jane / February 17, 2014 at 10:19 pm
I am shocked to be reading all these horrible write ups. I love the place and I am there almost every weekend.

The staff is fantastic and you can tell they love their job. Many times they walk by and leave a free sample of donuts for the us and the other tables. The egg benny is amazing, I crave it all the times.

The service is sometimes a little slow, but for me it`s exactly what I want. Bruch should never be rushed. I like that it`s a place where I can relax and enjoy a meal where I am not rushed in and out and treated like a number. I love this place and always walkout laughing and happy. I highly recommend this place
Dan replying to a comment from Jane / February 20, 2014 at 08:05 pm
Hey jane, is you breakfast paid for to recommend this place? Have a look at the city's website "dinesafe to" and after reading it I would love to see if you still recommend this place. Think about the kids that eat there not only your friendship with the wait staff. Wanna eat there no problem, but don't try and defend it without thinking of the kids that are fascinated with the no rules manner in which this business is run.
Have kids Jane? No? Think about those that do.
I'm an angry man because my wife and 2 daughters got sick after a breakfast there, after researching this place on the dine safe to website I was not surprises of there sickness.
I will never dine at a place without the research first. Thanks Betty you taught me and my family a lesson, don't be fooled by the hype, its usually a cover up.
Betty / February 22, 2014 at 04:48 pm
@Dan, I totally agree with you... I watched some food show about this place (cant remember the name) so i gave it a try ... Yes all I would have to say is do not believe in the hype! After reading about some of the experiences some of you have wrote, i kick myself for not checking the review properly before. Thanks BlogTo this makes trying new things less painful. (Btw great place a few doors down ... Just saying)

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