Culina Muttart has had different chefs and menus over the past three years. But, despite the changes, it continues to wear the belt as the top brunch spot in the city. Three straight years it’s been at the top of Avenue’s brunch list. Jeremy Johnson took over as chef late last year, and Culina’s brunch reflects some of his French savvy; sample some of the wonderful baguette sandwiches. Try the salmon with the yogurt cheese, which has a bit of spice and zip. The flaky pastry, sweet fish and horseradish notes of the sauce make for a decadent treat. But there are some standards that have bridged the gap; the sweet-potato bread toast is crusty and flaky. Served with fresh local preserves from The Jam Lady, it’s a treat unto itself. And the breakfast burrito, served with a tomatillo sauce that wouldn’t be out of place anywhere in the southwest, is still my favourite brunch item anywhere in the city. In an idyllic location, nestled in the Muttart Conservatory, it’s an oasis. But, remember to be the early bird on the weekend if you want the specials or the oh-so-good eggs Benedict. They’re often sold out by the time the afternoon rolls around. -S.S. 9626 96 A St., 780-466-1181, culinafamily.com
UNDER THE HIGH WHEEL
Under the High Wheel has an open feel; the restaurant shares the same space with the cafe, Da Capo, within the Roots on Whyte building. While the restaurant has an urban aura, the down-home menu options lend it the air of a rural diner. Brunch means breakfast is served until around 4 p.m., and the options range from savoury to sweet. The chocolate and hazelnut crepe sounds like it would make an amazing dessert, but instead we opt for the savoury Belgian waffle. By the time we’re done, dessert is long forgotten. The waffle comes topped with either bacon or smoked salmon and we go for the latter. It has a smokiness that infuses the soft waffle, and complements the creamy poached eggs. -Caroline Barlott 8135 102 St., 780-439-4442, underthehighwheel.com
Cafe Bicyclette starts the day as a French bistro, a place you can get a quick sandwich or poutine before heading to the French Quarter Farmers’ Market. On weekends, the restaurant, located in La Cit Francophone, offers all-day brunch options, including the croque-monsieur, a French-style grilled cheese. The cafe serves a twist on the classic by switching out white bread for a toasted baguette. Simple items like the spinach or ham omelettes are on the menu next to granola and smoothies. Later in the evening, the mood shifts to a more serious tone, when the casual bistro transforms into a sit-down restaurant. And while part of the menu switches to match the dim lighting and French music, the brunch items remain. -C.B. 8627 91 St., 587-524-8090, lacitefranco.ca
OK, be honest, have you taken your Christmas decorations down, yet?