I made reservations at the Evergreen Brick Works’ Café Belong for a Wednesday lunch thinking that the place would be relatively quiet. Silly me! Obviously many other Torontonians know about the superb local, organic and sustainable food served by the restaurant in the Don Valley owned by Restaurant Makeover’s Brad Long and the café was full except for our table waiting for us.
We waited at least 15 minutes before we were greeted by our charming server; however, that did not bother us one bit since my dining partners (family members) and I were dialled down for a leisurely lunch in this casually chic café. While waiting for our menus, we caught a glimpse of a towering dish that was headed outside to the patio and found out that it was tempura-fried perch and fries ($22). One thing my family and I cannot resist is perfectly-cooked pickerel or perch, which are some of the mildest, sweetest fish you will ever taste. So much for variety; it was clear all three of us would order the perch.
While waiting for the fish, one family member ordered a glass of 13th Street 2011 Sauvignon Blanc VQA from the Niagara Region ($8.50) from the extensive menu of wines by the glass. The white wine was delicate and fruity and a perfect pairing with fish. The dishes arrived with three pieces of perch lightly fried in a crispy tempura batter forming a tent sitting on a bed of julienned vegetables, deliciously home-cut fries and homemade tartar sauce. The perch was fried with the skin on, retaining the nutritious Omega 3 oils, as well as contributing to a succulent flavour. The plate would have been pitch perfect with the addition of a slice of lemon to complement the perch’s acidity; nevertheless, we all deemed it Food for the Gods.
We ordered the St. Lawrence Salad in the small size ($14) to share, although the salad is actually large enough for one person. A delightful combination of spring greens, quinoa, julienned apple, pecans, almonds and feta, the salad was topped with a sweet and sour dressing that merged all of the flavours together.
Although we were all pretty full at this point, we didn’t want to leave without trying some of the artfully prepared desserts we had spied upon our arrival so we opted to share the Chocolate Cake with Mascarpone and Raspberry Compote ($12) and the Lemon Polenta Cake with Blueberry Compote ($10), which was recommended by our server. The chocolate cake looked like a scoop of ice cream; however, it was a dense cake made of organic cacao powder that would be satisfying for true chocoholics. I found the cake required a bit more sugar for my liking; however the brownie that sat upon the cake scoop was satisfyingly sweet.
The lemon polenta cake, however, was a rock star. As our server advised us, the polenta base was not as filling as we had anticipated and the burst of lemon tucked under a cap of decadent whipped cream lit up the taste buds. To top it off, the blueberry compote reduction was so skillfully executed with the addition of just the slightest amount of sugar leaving one to enjoy the natural flavour of the blueberries. A truly wonderful dish!
If you can’t leave without taking a piece of Café Belong home with you, you can stop at their Grab and Go counter for coffee, sandwiches, salads, baked goods and refreshments. I spotted these bottles of Raspberry, Lavender and Cloudberry Ice Tea on the way out. These teas would definitely quench a thirst on hot summer day.
Well, I certainly found out what all the fuss was about and will definitely return to Café Belong for an unsurpassed and truly organic eating experience.