In the last year, there has been an increase in the number of non-traditional venues hosting brunch. This includes Sailin’ On’s Breakfast Club at The Buckingham, and the fairly new Wild Heart Brunch Club at The Mercury Room. Another recent addition to the weekend scene is Get Cooking’s Brunch Pop-Ups.
They launched just over a month ago at the end of January, and seek to provide people with a relaxed opportunity to gather and socialize. It takes place every Saturday at noon, and based on our experience last week, it isn’t a meal you will rush through (we were there a total of 2.5 hours). Brunch at Get Cooking is meant to be savoured, and if you don’t know the folks around your communal table, you will by the end of the afternoon! Plus, the food we consumed was so rich we needed time between courses just to recuperate.
Mack and I were invited by Get Cooking to experience their brunch last weekend. We arrived just after noon to a nearly full house. For those who prefer one of the coveted island seats, I’d recommend arriving early to guarantee yourself a front row vantage point. Some of the kitchen action can be seen from other areas of the room on the TV monitors, but cooking tips and tricks (unlike other Get Cooking classes) are not the focus here. In fact, Chef Doreen Prei wasn’t miked, so she was difficult to hear above the din of social chatter. We did wander over to the stove every now and then, but the open kitchen was more of an incidental presence than a deliberate attraction. Personally, I would have appreciated more details about where the ingredients were sourced (even if only on a menu), but I was probably in the minority.
Chef Doreen Prei
The $45 ticket ($22.50 for kids aged 7-13) includes a tasting board, an amuse, four courses, coffee or tea and a welcome cocktail. The cocktail was served family-style in a generous punch bowl – Ann’s Garden Punch was an easy-to-drink combination of pineapple-infused rum, lemon, almond syrup, sumac, mint, cucumber and strawberries.
Ann’s Garden Punch
It might have been a small detail, but Mack and I appreciated that the coffee, made with Iconoclast-roasted beans, kept coming. Staff ensured the French presses at our table were refreshed as necessary, and the milk for coffee was even thoughtfully warmed.
Before the hot courses arrived, we were invited to sip our drinks and fill up our plates at their tasting board. Changing weekly, the selections that day included margarita scones (served with compote and cream), and a variety of cheeses and charcuterie.
Chef Prei’s amuse bouche consisted of shot glasses of Gold Forest Grains steel cut oats, bits of chorizo, and a garnish of whipped cream, blueberries and pistachios. I’ve never been a fan of oatmeal, but the addition of chorizo was genius – the fat and flavour boost has made me reconsider this breakfast option.
Steel cut oats with chorizo, whipped cream, blueberries and pistachios
Ricotta fritters, served on beautiful table-length wooden planks, were a delight to eat, lightly battered, fried, and accompanied by a tomato and orange jam.
Eggs made their appearance in the next course – poached over smoked salmon and a delectable potato rosti and bernaise. Chef Prei shared her secret for poaching eggs: a splash of vinegar and vigorous whisking of the water prior to slipping the eggs in, as the motion helps draw the whites in around the yolk.
Eggs benedict with smoked salmon and potato rosti
My favourite dish was one I would never order on my own at brunch – a beer-marinated flank steak with greens, a German bread dumpling and mushroom sauce. The beef was perfectly medium rare, and the dumpling, pan-fried in butter, was delicious.
Beer-marinated flank steak with greens and a German bread dumpling
Dessert combined hot and cold elements: fried brioche rolled in lavender sugar with a brandy chocolate drizzle plus a white chocolate elderflower parfait.
Fried brioche and white chocolate elderflower parfait
As a whole, the meal at Get Cooking featured some of the most refined dishes I’ve ever had at brunch. As everything was made fresh, it does distinguish itself from the buffet-style brunches aligned by price alone. In this case, the ticket price is justified based on the quality and unique nature of the dishes. And because of the ever-changing menu, this brunch stays true to its pop-up inspiration.
Up close and personal with plating
Thanks again to Kathryn and Liv for the invitation! If you’re interested in trying their brunch, make sure to reserve online in advance, or stay tuned to their Twitter account for information about seats available on the day of.
11050 104 Avenue
Check out Athena’s review of the same brunch experience here.