janelles kitchen

Janelle's Kitchen

Janelle's Kitchen is Little Italy's best kept secret for brunch.

Well-loved by neighbourhood residents, it's a must-visit for anyone who wants a cozy meal.

Easily recognized by a bright blue exterior, it's impossible to miss on the stretch of College Street that's also home to Barbershop Patisserie and Bar Isabel.

janelles kitchenThe eponymous chef-owner is none other than Janelle Gillespie who used to head the kitchen at Bonjour Brioche for more than a decade.

The restaurant first opened in 2019 with takeout service only which made the transition to pandemic times easy for Gillespie who ran the entire operation alone.

The opportunity to open her dream restaurant came up when her optometrist of 24 years - who also owns the antique shop next door - offered her the space.

"It was just complete chance, like when chance meets opportunity - I didn't take him seriously at first, but he wanted to help me out," she explains.

janelles kitchenInside, it's a bright explosion of yellow contrasted with blue tablecloths - a palette that conjures Provençe. 

"Because I'm here so many hours during the day, I want you to feel like you're in my home. I don't offer WiFi so people actually talk to each other," she explains. 

janelles kitchenEggs are Janelle's specialty and for good reason. "I do traditional soft French eggs - most people overcook eggs in this town," she chimes. 

Every corner of the shop has a touch of Janelle. The menu is handwritten in her long script and she also offers local artists space on her walls to exhibit and sell their work two months at a time - free of commission. 

janelles kitchen

Most of her patrons are regulars from the neighbourhood, often people who frequent the YMCA down the street.

There's a constant stream of people popping in to grab something to go - most likely the popular Breakfast Sandwich that features a bed of scrambled chips on spicy mayo with prosciutto chips ($9.50).

Janelle knows everyone by name and asks about updates on their lives - a warmth that is often missing in restaurants today. 

janelles kitchen

It's a care that goes both ways, Janelle tells me the community has been incredibly supportive of her and her hard of hearing. 

Masks made it hard for her to read lips - which she is incredible at - but she says "everyone is so patient and understanding."

She explains her team member "Lenny (Jean-Paul) is her ears." Their partnership is indeed a wonderful thing to witness. 

janelles kitchenThe French Toast ($15) is a popular favourite and the process that goes into it is extra special. 

It's a mixture of brioche and croissant dough, mixed with cream and egg, baked then pan fried to achieve a golden crust. 

It's denser than your usual French toast but it is exquisite. 

janelles kitchen

The Smoked Salmon on Scrambled Eggs ($13) is perfection. A crispy layer of potato rösti (Think: a Swiss hash brown) adds the perfect amount of texture and smoke to contrast the softest eggs you'll ever have. 

Janelle is also generous with modifications, she can adjust the crispiness of the potato, substitute cream or egg whites. 

Regular Sharole Gabriel tells me this dish is her favourite, "I come in once a week for this."

janelles kitchenThe Roast Beef Sandwich ($9.50) is layered with brie and house made garlic aioli - which Janelle insists on making herself for quality purposes.

There's even a Vegan BLT ($8) that uses a marinated rice paper to mimic bacon. 

janelles kitchenWith only three tables inside, the place fills up quickly, especially on weekends. 

In fact, some of the regulars were quite disgruntled by my visit because of the potential loss of their secret neighbourhood favourite.

janelles kitchenFor dessert, you can grab a slice of Chocolate Flourless Cake and soon, Crème Brûlée as well. 

Janelle stresses it's important to her that a meal is affordable- hoping to keep a plate and a drink under $25. 

janelles kitchen

Janelle's Kitchen is located at 843 College St, open Tuesday to Sunday. Closed Mondays. 

janelles kitchen

Photos by

Fareen Karim

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