Whippoorwill Restaurant and Tavern
Whippoorwill is somewhat tucked away at the southeast corner of Bloor and Landsdowne in the spot formerly occupied by the Bloordale Pantry. This latest incarnation of a diner at 1285 Bloor West has a slightly more rustic feel with an updated menu. Having only opened in early December, they've quickly attracted the attention of the neighborhood with a packed room for Sunday brunch.
Within 20 minutes, our party was seated in a bright red vinyl booth. In an otherwise sparsely decorated dining room, the visual centrepiece of this throwback diner is an authentic Detroit tire shop sign, now converted into a fully stocked bar. The mid-century vibe is matched by the mostly vintage-wearing clientele digging into their brunch.
Five wait staff darted about, clearing plates and running drinks. After a ten-minute wait, a server set us up with coffees and breakfast cocktails.
With coffee ($1.50), Caesars, and a mimosa ($6.50 each) in hand, each of us found our brunch favorites on the one-page menu. The recommended Albacore Tuna Sandwich ($14) is not your average tuna sandwich. Under a crunchy half baguette sits five pieces of well-prepared seared tuna steak, which is topped with hardboiled eggs, pickles, and celery and served alongside crispy potatoes. The dry baguette would have been helped by some sauce, but the sandwich deserved four stars nevertheless.
The poached eggs ($13, lead image), covered in a well-balanced and lemony béarnaise, are served on top of buttery biscuits, watercress and a side of potatoes. The standard two-egg breakfast served with crispy bacon and multigrain toast is dressed up with spicy n'duja braised beans, which helps to justify its $9 price tag.
The big winner at brunch was the Whippoorwill burger ($12). This sloppy, greasy burger doused in Russian dressing and melted cheddar cheese is served with crispy potatoes. The perfectly cooked — still pink in the middle — prime beef patty is flanked by a buttery bun and standard fixings. Be warned: it's a juice bomb. Cloth napkins were needed to keep some semblance of manners while devouring the burger.
With reasonable prices ($12 to $25 each after tip), and quick coffee fill ups (one caffeine-dependent member of our party counted 7 personal refills); we're all sure to return. Next time we might sample the dinner and late night menus — and take better advantage of their drink specials. If a brief late night visit is any proof, the cocktails here are very good.
While the whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus) may be listed as threatened with extinction in Ontario, owners Shawn Creamer and Tyler Cunningham have positioned their restaurant to thrive in its current habitat. With the recently opened Emerson bar two doors east, this block of Bloor West, much like the nocturnal bird, will come alive at night.
Brunch, dinner and late-night menus are all available on the Whippoorwills' twitter feed: @WhippoorwillTO.
Writing by Josh Wise / photos by Marni Wolf