Hello Darling is a super cute, sunny week-round brunch spot on Lansdowne at Wallace. It's owned by Kimberley England, a career art school student, who finished off an academic tour at OCAD, NSCAD, TSA and finally George Brown's pastry and baking program. England is especially comfortable at brunch having formerly worked at Saving Grace .
Service is warm and friendly. The restaurant is staffed by friends and family. Locals dining at lunch on a weekday are apparently all on a first name basis already. There's ample stroller parking inside and high chairs are supplied.
The deep space offers sunny cafe seating upfront, an espresso bar (brewing Alternative Grounds) is situated midway down and a spacious open kitchen takes up the rear. There's room and shelving dedicated for a pantry of preserves, pickles and baked goods that still needs a little time (and a local growing season) to reach its full potential.
Every dish on the menu happens to be vegetarian though there's bacon and sausage from Rowe Farms available on the side ($3) if meat is really missed. Vegan coconut bacon ($2) has proved so popular they've run out on the day I visit.
The house favourite is the mushroom Wellington ($12), a pate of mushrooms and nuts wrapped in buttery made-from-scratch puff pastry and topped with chunky gravy. A side of salad and house-pickled beans add brightness and blueberry chutney offers a sweet note to contrast the rest of the savoury dish.
Baked eggs shakshuka ($12) (a medley of peppers, onions, and tomatoes) hides two soft poached eggs. Breaking the yolk and watching it run into the still bubbling stew is one of those simple pleasures that make this one of my most favourite morning foods. The rest of the plate makes use of every spare inch of real estate and is packed with shredded potato hash, salad, fruit and house-made ketchup.
Sweet tooths can get down with ultra fluffy chocolate chip pancakes ($10) doused in orange sauce and a dollop of lemon whipped cream.
Hello Darling is closed Tuesdays but is otherwise open 9am to 4pm on weekdays and from 10am to 3pm on weekends. Hours are expected to extend earlier and later in summer months. Local runners should inquire about plans for a run club.
Photos by Jesse Milns