Review: Portland Variety in Toronto

Portland Variety, occupying a space in the corner of King and Portland, is a café, bar, and restaurant all in one. As you walk in, you’ll see several standing marble tables and a display of pastries. Natural light pours in from the right; the entire wall is glass. Here, you can order and pick up coffee. To the left is a hallway that leads to table seats and a bar.

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Seating area for brunch
The first time I went, I ordered their ‘huevos chilaquiles’ and Danica (@danica.hooper) ordered their ‘patatas bravas’. The huevos chilaquiles is basically a bowl of mashed beans, smoked tomatoes, chorizo (Spanish sausage), eggs, melted cheese, and guacamole topped with tortilla chips. I didn’t realize Spanish sausage was spicy, so my eyes were watery for my first initial bites. It’s more than just a little kick, so if you don’t enjoy spicy food, stay away from this dish. If you’re thinking about being able to order it and request it without certain items, you’re out of luck: Portland Variety doesn’t provide substitutions or modifications for their dishes. The bowl looked small and I was skeptical of being full, but the portion packs a punch. I was really full afterwards, and this is coming from someone who had this for the first meal of the day at 2:30 in the afternoon.

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Patatas Bravas (left), Huevos Chi (right)
Danica’s patatas bravas came in a plate, and it was FILLED with potatoes. A typical brunch meal usually consists of eggs, home fries, and/or fruit, right? This was that without fruit, and instead of a small handful of home fries, the entire plate was full of it. They elevated the dish with aioli sauce (similar to mayonnaise) and a mildly spicy tomato base at the bottom of the plate. Her review: “I thought it was really good; portion size was good, there were way more potatoes than I thought there would be, but they might’ve compensated for the bacon I didn’t have. I liked the little kick of spice it had. The eggs were AMAZING.” (She had it sunny side up.)

Portland Variety offers cocktails for $11 after 11am. When we went, all cocktails were $8. Our waiter informed us they had also blended something off-the-menu the night before, so if you’re going for a drink, ask your server for any specials!

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French Toast with strawberries and fresh cream
The second time I visited Portland Variety, I had their french toast. The two slices of toast were extremely fluffy, topped with a gallop of their in-house whipped cream and fresh strawberries. If you’ve ever been to Insomnia Restaurant for their french toast, and you’re looking for a just-as-good alternative, come to Portland. You won’t be disappointed. My first taste of their whipped cream was HEAVENLY: very rich, sweet but not too sweet, with a subtle savour of salt.

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Eggs Benedict (top), americano with cream (left), drip coffee (right)
My mom had the eggs benedict. She found the portion to be a bit small, but she had enjoyed her meal. The eggs were runny, the ham was yummy; everything was ‘seasoned well’. The fruits were fresh and so was her americano. Overall, she would give her meal a 8/10.

I had a cup of black drip coffee, and I suspect it was a dark roast because of the oils that were present at the top of the surface of my cup. I was only hoping to have a little kick of caffeine in my system, so this was perfect the cup of joe I needed that day.

Overall, I feel Portland Variety is a great place to have brunch, despite its slightly smaller-than-normal portions. This is also a place I would drop by in the future for a quick cup of coffee.

Have you been to Portland? Or would you give this place a try? Let me know in the comments below!

Till next time,

Winnie