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The Federal has annexed the former Zoots Cafe location on Dundas West. This up and coming area has seen an influx of new restaurants and bars of late (including the excellent Midfield Wine Bar ) and yet lacks the ever important Sunday (or in my case Monday) hangover cure brunch food.
With its laid back vibe and a menu full of brunch necessities, the Federal is bound to become and Dundas West neighbourhood hot-spot.
First, the coffee — the cornerstone to rebuild my splitting headache. They brew a flavourful strong cup that's neither bitter nor burnt, and most importantly, bottomless. I nursed my nerves while waiting on a friend to join me. In the meantime, my blood-sugar dropped so I ordered a house-made soda.
Syrups and sodas seem to be the latest trend, so I opted for the maple creme soda prototype. The bits of vanilla seed testified to the authenticity of the ingredients, while the maple has a sweeter punch than sugar. Add a bit more carbonation and lose the odd pink hue, and I'd say that's a drank.
Sandwiches, salads and a smattering of egg-centric dishes outline the menu. The roasted pork and ham Cubano Sandwich ($12) looked mighty fine but a bit heavy on a stomach rightfully upset with my actions from the previous night. Their version of Muesli ($7) is a safer bet, but I needed more sustenance and protein. Taking a risk, I went with a classic (well mostly): the restaurant's version of Eggs Benny, aptly named Eggs Federal ($11). What caught my eye is the exclusion of Hollandaise for a Mushroom Tarragon Sauce, a play on Béarnaise.
I usually opt out of Hollandaise because it's a tricky sauce that's often improperly served as an overly tangy coagulated mess. Besides, given that the dish comes with a side of rosti, the deal was sealed for me. My friend ordered the other classic brunch staple, the Cobb.
The eagerly anticipated sauce is delicate with a subtle hint of earthiness courtesy of the mushrooms. The still-intact soft poached egg released its contents when pierced and added a welcome bit of saltiness. We commented that there was a certain flavour to the sausage patty that we couldn't pinpoint. When we asked our server about the seasoning, the owner approached with the answer. It's his grandfather's recipe, which includes cinnamon, cloves and the like. The sausage is also delicious and refreshingly different -a conversation starter as it were. The rosti was more of a hash brown but the house-made ketchup was amazing — definitely, on point with Auntie's and Uncle's version sans the wait.
I know it's only a salad but we're talking brunch here, so let's get down to basics. The Cobb salad contained most of the necessary ingredients to be classified as such. Avocado, blue cheese crumbles, bacon and bits of chicken confit over a bed of baby spinach. Very refreshing and a palate cleanser, I loved the addition of Asian Pear. The portion ain't skimpy either, which ensures that one feels he's had a full meal when ordering the salad.
Dinner service will begin shortly with beer and wine also on offer. The Federal is promising spot with an unfussy and gregarious atmosphere. I plan on returning to try their Belgian Waffle ($5); hopefully next time I won't have that Irish Flu that's been going around.