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Cheap Eats: The Drake Cafe

"We only do brunch on Sundays" explained our helpful waiter at the Cafe at the Drake Hotel. It was Saturday. We were out of luck. It was either the regular cafe menu or a selection from the myriad of cupcakes, cookies or assorted pastries layed out on the counter. Not craving anything sweet and wanting to stick to the advice of my naturopath, I asked if they had anything that was wheat or gluten free. Nope. Sorry.

Such was my lunch at the Drake Cafe. There was owner Jeff Stober making the rounds. The lively atmosphere. But eating there was an exercise in frustration. All I wanted was something healthy and filling - for under 10 bucks - but I couldn't help get the feeling that the Drake's kitchen was having the last laugh in the wake of the low carb craze being declared O-V-E-R.

Take the food options. I couldn't order a soup, salad or the soup and salad combo for $7 because I wasn't convinced they would fill me up. Same goes for the fruit, yogurt and granola combos. But everything else on the menu was bread or, at least, bread-y. There was the $7 quiche or the $7 daily tart, the $10 burger, the $5-$8 sandwiches, or the five different bagel items.

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I ended up settling for a daily salad ($4) and an order of fries (also $4). Both were pretty standard fare. Nothing to rave about. But we did order a pot of tasty chai tea for the table ($3) which came with unlimited hot water refills and soy milk.

I didn't walk out of there with a full stomach and I found the menu pretty blah. But, the Cafe is a fun place to lounge and read the paper. Plus, the staff are friendly and the big windows let in lots of natural light. They also serve shots of wheatgrass and offer up a laundry list of smoothies.

In the coming months, watch out for a greater assortment of snacks. Word is that the

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pastry chef is working on some wheat and dairy free concoctions. They also have a "Starving Artist's Happy Hour" from 6-7pm daily which means that you can get 50% off anything on the menu, except drinks.

The Drake Cafe, 1150 Queen Street West. 416-531-5042


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