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Restaurants

Universal Grill

Posted by Trish Starling / Reviewed on October 13, 2012 / review policy

Universal GrillUniversal Grill is a cherished gem at Shaw and Dupont, located amongst the surrounding residential, and somewhat industrial neighbourhood. We indulged in a leisurely Sunday brunch outing, arriving just before 11am. We got there just in time, the brunch rush followed us and filled the restaurant (and some of the patio) less than fifteen minutes later.

Universal Grill TorontoWe made good use of the coffee menu while we waited, ordering a drip coffee ($2.95), a cappuccino ($3.50) and two Americanos ($3). Surprisingly the drip coffee was the winner this round, as the espresso based drinks were weak in flavour, hardly matching the rich, bold body found in the refillable drip option.

Universal Grill TorontoA restaurant well-known for its Huevos Rancheros ($12 - top photo) ordering this item was a no-brainer. Other selections were not so easily made, as the Black Angus Steak 'N' Eggs ($15) and the Potato Latke ($13) were viable options that eventually went unordered. Soon our chosen items reached the table, one by one, all mouth-watering in their beautiful presentation.

First, the popular Huevos Rancheros. Living up to high expectations, the dish was the perfect conversation of flavour and texture. Maintaining a spicy kick throughout, the fusion of eggs, beans, salsa and crispy tortilla made for a hearty and appealing breakfast, good to the last bite and complimented by the sour cream and guacamole sides.

Universal Grill TorontoNext to arrive were the Chocolate Chip Pancakes ($11), one of the daily specials. Baked in in cast-iron dishes, the pancakes were fluffy and thick, while buttery crisp on the outside. The tasty raspberry compote was a perfect compliment to the chocolate chips, making this a deliciously sweet option off the menu.

Universal Grill TorontoThe next dish was a variation of the menu item, Cheesy Scrambled Eggs ($8). We opted against the cheese, and went for poached eggs, served with potatoes and toast. The poached eggs arrived perfectly medium as requested, and the potatoes were simply delicious, not battered down by complicated seasoning. This meal was a perfect companion for the delicious house-made hot sauce found at the table.

Universal Grill TorontoLast to arrive was the Omelette of the Day ($11), featuring mushrooms, spinach and cheese. The stuffing was perfectly proportioned, allowing each ingredient its dignity without overpowering the dish. The eggs were fluffy and flawlessly cooked, avoiding the runniness that is sometimes the culprit of other breakfast venues. The dish is normally served with potatoes but we substituted for tomato and were pleased to find a generous portion of fresh and flavourful tomato arrive on the plate.

Universal Grill TorontoThe Universal Grill is cozily decorated in diner-kitsch, not pretentious in its ambiance and laid-back atmosphere. Although the service was sometimes a bit tardy (we waited quite a time for the Visa machine on our way out, and in between drink and food orders), it makes up for it with the value and quality of the food served, as well as the flexibility when it came to substitutions.

Discussion

20 Comments

Mal / February 19, 2010 at 02:35 pm
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I went out of my way to try this place only to find it closed. I would have expected a restaurant that serves brunch to be open at 11am on a Friday morning. If they're going to keep odd hours, they should at least consider posting them on their website.
Sebastian Speier / March 16, 2010 at 11:47 am
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@Mal: It's not odd for a dinner restaurant to only be open for brunch on the weekends ... It sucks that you went out of your way, but in argument to what you said - their hours are listed on their website. It says for brunch, SAT - SUN

Kristine Salmon / April 24, 2010 at 07:25 pm
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This place is amazing. The staff is so friggin nice, as they never mind your low brim hat, and JD smell, required and obtained from the night before! The only bummer is they are always closed on Monday! For brunch i recommend starting with the latkes, and having the pancakes for dessert!
Iggie / May 24, 2010 at 12:43 pm
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I went there once, at the end of the brunch rush. Big mistake!

They were out of pretty much everything, but substituted ingredients they had run out of. The french toast made with a baguette was so tough and hard I swear it cut the roof of my mouth. To this day, I still have no idea what they did to the bacon to make it look, taste and smell like that.

I had heard good things, but I'm not willing to gve it a second chance.
David Adams / May 30, 2010 at 11:31 am
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I spent the morning exploring a little of the area that I'm moving to soonish and decided to try out this local with my bro and a friend at noon on a Saturday. Got a seat right away, were attended to attentively, and... Oh. My. God. Those were THE best Huevos Rancheros I've ever had. Big. Beautiful. Textural. Flavourful. I'm even more stoked to be moving to the hood now.
Kevin / August 20, 2011 at 01:31 pm
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The Huevos Rancheros here really are the best in the city, and the staff couldn't be sweeter.
Mark / January 4, 2012 at 11:26 am
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Very rude, obnoxious service at this place - and owner doesn't seem concerned. I would spend my hard-earned money elsewhere.
joe mama replying to a comment from Mal / October 13, 2012 at 12:40 am
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Who eats brunch at 11am on a Friday morning? LOL. Odd hours? That's probably the unlikeliest time for a brunch place to be open.
Ken / October 13, 2012 at 01:04 am
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The huevos indeed look enticing.
Thanks for the comprehensive review of various menu options!
UniversalGrillRegular / October 13, 2012 at 01:54 pm
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I've lived in this neighbourhood for over five years. I used to love this place and went all the time, but over the past year the food quality has gone downhill terribly. The last time I went was a few months ago. I ordered the latke (which I have had numerous times in the past). It arrived extremely burnt on the outside edges with a mammoth heap of slightly-off salmon gravlax on top. We had waited a long time already and I was starving so I dug in anyway. I guess I figured I could focus on the greens and eat the un-burned centre of the latke. Problem was, the centre was frozen... So, burned outside and frozen in the middle. I have never sent food back to a kitchen before but after about ten minutes of mulling I decided to send it back and ask for some toast so as not to keep my brunch companions waiting for me. The waitress was visibly angry at me for sending the dish back and when I asked if I could have some toast instead she informed me the kitchen was closed. I'm no chef but I do know that making toast doesn't take much skill, especially if the bread is already sliced. The place was about half cleared out by then but they were still delivering meals to a few tables so I think there still would have been enough time for someone to throw a slice of bread in the toaster for me. Anyway, I didn't push the issue with the waitress and shared my partner's toast instead. We haven't been back since which is unfortunate because this used to be my favourite brunch spot in the city.
Rmund / October 13, 2012 at 08:58 pm
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Places off the beaten path are always worth a look. As for the varying quality of service and food here, it's pretty much par for the course with any restaurant in town. Some just recover better than others.
confused / October 14, 2012 at 12:26 am
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wait a minute...how could a review written today have comments from 2 years ago?
does blog t.o recycle reviews?
Rick / October 14, 2012 at 01:07 am
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Anyone know a place that serves a British Breakfast or Irish Breakfast?
Erik replying to a comment from Rick / October 14, 2012 at 12:12 pm
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Dog and Bear
Leah replying to a comment from Mark / October 15, 2012 at 09:08 am
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Mark you must just be an asshole, I've going here for years and all the servers are amazing.
MEZIMEEN replying to a comment from Rick / October 15, 2012 at 09:12 am
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The Bristol Yard on Christie Street. Doesn't get more British then that.
Rick replying to a comment from MEZIMEEN / October 15, 2012 at 09:26 am
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Sounds good, will check it out. Been aching for a full British Breakfast. Thanks.
loper / October 17, 2012 at 08:04 am
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FIrst comment FEBRUARY 19, 2010 AT 02:35 PM yet the review is posted OCTOBER 13, 2012
pz replying to a comment from loper / October 19, 2012 at 03:38 pm
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it's called an update.
Mark / November 23, 2012 at 02:48 pm
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Amazing that this crap hole (Universal Grill) and its pompous, arrogant owner are still in business. Spend your money elsewhere!

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