Le Petit Dejeuner
This is thanks in large part to the Belgian heritage of owner and chef Johan Maes, along with his attention to detail in terms of his use of fresh ingredients, traditional equipment and house preparation methods.
A painting on the wall hanging above sparkly green vinyl booths depicting De Hel Restaurant pays homage to the Belgian neighbourhood of Ghent, but the quirky decor doesn’t follow much of a theme from there other than personal affection.
Antique market finds like a giant retro sign commingle with marionettes and newspapers from 1899.
Brussels’ Style waffles ($7 on their own with just a little cream and icing sugar) are mainly what’s on offer here. Light, crispy, and airy, there’s actually no sugar in the waffles themselves.
They’re only sweetened by the accompaniments, which makes for an incredibly balanced flavour. You can get the sturdy, square waffles stacked into the shape of a house for kids (or maybe by request for kids at heart).
Eggs Benjamin ($16) is the classic take on Eggs Benedict with house smoked salmon instead of bacon. The oiliness of the fish goes nicely with the buttery citrus flavour of the hollandaise, a sauce that’s actually very popular in Belgium with savoury dishes, and which Maes has mastered.
Aside from the silky hollandaise, his secret to a brilliant eggs benny is turning the English muffins upside down so they’re more sturdy, the perforated underside soaking up sauce and yolk. Bennies are accompanied by crispy potatoes and an original apple pickle salad with a paprika mayo dressing.
A Waffle Benny ($14) teams up the famous eggs benny and Belgian waffles. You can get a Benjamin version of this too, but we opt for straight-up thick and juicy peameal from Brown Brothers in St. Lawrence Market.
Brussels’ Strawberries ($13) is a bonafide classic with cut strawberries and chantilly cream. Maes came to Canada in 1997 and saw plenty of round “Belgian” waffles that weren’t anything close to the real deal, and so opened up Petit Dejeuner in 2003 with a waffle iron from Belgium.
This makes for square waffles with gigantic grids that gobble up syrup, with the thinnest barrier possible between cells. The other secret to the fluffy waffles here is a healthy amount of expertly whipped egg white in the batter.
Maes also does Liege waffles with pearl sugar, as well as less breakfast-y items like bang-up soups, salads and sandwiches.
You might not find over-the-top, out-of-the-box brunches here, but the classics are done absolute justice.