Whether you’re a visitor or a resident of Toronto, an adventure within the city is riding the 501 Queen TTC streetcar from one end to the other. With close to 25 km of track, it is considered the longest streetcar route in North America. It runs from east to west and while the streetcar can get really crowded in some sections of the route (mainly in downtown), you really get a sense of the diversity in the city. Best to reserve two hours for this trip. Fare is $3.00 cash for adults, $2.00 for people ages 13-19 or 65+ and 75 cents for kids 12 and under. Keep in mind that cash fare is only for one-way. However if you go on the weekend and you have a small group, a day pass for $11 is good for unlimited travel for two adults and maximum four children 19 years old and under.
My brother and I took our mom on a little adventure. As a residence of Toronto for over 20 years, she has never rode the streetcar that far east and west so it was truly an adventure for her. While en route west, we made a pit stop to the West Queen West neighbourhood for brunch at Lisa Marie.
Lisa Marie was built on the success of the owner Matt Basile’s food truck, Fidel Gastro and various pop-ups. Paying homage to the King of Rock’N Roll, Elvis, the restaurant has a casual atmosphere. It was loud though with people chattering and 80s music blasting. The restaurant also has communal style seating, so if you plan to take a date to Lisa Marie, take that into consideration if you don’t want neighbouring diners to hear you yell to your date.
My mom ordered the Eggy, Sausage and Biscuits ($14), which came with double stacked open faced biscuit topped with sausage gravy, cheese (omitted) and a fried egg. She noted the gravy wasn’t too salty and hello, perfectly cooked sunny side up egg!
I chose a much lighter option, the Open-faced Smoke Fish Club ($16) with daily smoked fish, in house smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, lemon ricotta cream cheese (omitted), capers and green onions. The fish does not have a prominent smoky flavour, but I love smoked salmon and I love bacon so I personally really enjoyed it. The duck fat fries with mustard was okay; salty and overdone with the mustard.
My brother got the Double Pancake Pork Burgers ($14) that included two stacked 4 oz. pork burger patties with pancake buns topped with lettuce, cheese, and tomato and served with a side of maple syrup. Needless to say, like the pancakes at IHOP, he barely made it through. It was massive. The pad thai fries were good, if you love spicy food, skip the duck fat home fries and choose this.
Overall, it was a good brunch. Depending on what you get, the portion can be quite a bit (we’ve seen the fried Cornish hen and corn bread waffles come out of the kitchen taking up the entire plate). Even though it was good, I am a little bit on the fence about whether it warrants a return visit, I kind of prefer my traditional brunch fare.
Edit: This is a revisit from April 2016:
It’s been almost two years since we last visited Lisa Marie and at that time, I wondered whether it deserved a second visit. Turns out, I ended up revisit when a restaurant that seemingly gets booked up way in advanced had messed up my brunch reservation (I had asked why and got a response of “I don’t know”) and some of the people attending couldn’t make it in the end. I am reminded at how hard it is to organize a large get-together — better leave that to someone else.
Later, I learned that my friend called up the restaurant to inquire why they messed up my reservation (because the answer I got was not good enough) and she got a really rude reception from the staff that answered the call. And then you hear that the restaurant’s service isn’t that great and now, no one wants to go to brunch there anymore.
I’ll still go and try it on my own or something, I’m a firm believer in giving certain things a chance before fully dismissing it. After all, someone’s experience is probably going to be different than yours. Anyways…
I ordered the Shakshukah ($14), which is probably my new found love. Eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce? HELLO!!! It was served in a small saucepan, with roasted peppers, eggplants zucchini and red onions. Omitted the crumbled feta and served with rustic bread. The bread was burnt on the bottom (or top, however you want to look at it), which I consider kind of a saving grace because I typically don’t eat bread, but I usually end up eating the free bread that restaurants give you as you wait for your food.
Anh ordered the Lamb Shank’n Hash ($16) – Braised lamb shank with sauteed red onions and peppers cooked in a chipotle lamb jus and russet potatoes and topped with two sunny side up eggs.
Tien ordered the Fried Cornish Hen and Corn Bread Waffles ($17) – Ol’skool fried cornish hen served on a jalapeño corn bread waffle with maple syrup and hot sauce. He chose a side of duck fat home fries.
Not much as changed at Lisa Marie. It’s still a busy place during brunch. I now don’t mind the non-traditional brunch fare.
638 Queen St. W
Toronto, ON M6J 1E3