Cover story: Joanne Kates on the new T.O. brunch
How is it that an unassuming 24 seater on Greenwood Avenue has captured so many hearts? Methinks it’s Maha Barsoom’s fault. She is the matriarch and head chef who, along with her daughter, son and a small army of cooks in the cramped kitchen, make Maha’s such a hot brunch destination.
Maha’s Egyptian cooking is what turned falafel et al from fast food into fine food. Her small falafels (homemade of course!) come as crisp half-spheres overflowing with perfect soft-boiled eggs in dreamy garlic mayo. With classic Middle Eastern chopped salad and cumin-spiked ungreasy home fries, this might be Toronto’s best brunch item. Maha’s grilled cheese is a dream sammy, butter-sautéed dates in melted Havarti, Swiss and Gouda on pressed grilled egg bread. Her basturma scramble is Egyptian heaven — thin-sliced cured beef with fenugreek and garlic in scrambled eggs. Even the classic foole is better in Maha’s deft hands: She stews the fava beans with tomato and onion and garnishes with hard-boiled egg, falafel, tomato-inflected feta and charred snazzy pita.
Chef ’s justly famous lentil soup sells out early most days, so caveat emptor. Also beware the weekend lineups, for Maha’s is a poorly kept neighbourhood secret, and they don’t take reservations. One more caveat: do not leave without inhaling the hazelnut latte. The combo of strong espresso with hazelnut syrup in foamed milk and Nutella on top is pure Eros. Maha’s Brunch, 226 Greenwood Ave., 416-462-2703