ALTHOUGH HAZEL’S SEEMS to struggle with settling into one identity on this popular strip of Yonge north of Lawrence, the kitchen offers a few gems that might very well see them through the confusion.
Many elements of the long, skinny room give off a high-end bistro feel. Two modern art pieces and a large framed mirror hang on the exposed brick and baby blue–painted walls. Black banquettes run along one wall, and a handful of stools pull up to elevated tables near the door.
But other aspects of the decor lend themselves more to an economical diner style. And the food, as outlined in the confusing plastic menu, firmly falls under the diner category.
Groups of moms shushing babies in Bugaboos and local workers socializing at lunch choose from all-day breakfasts, sandwiches, burgers, salads and mains such as fish and chips.
A whopping, killer chocolate milkshake ($4) stands up to the straw test, and it’s tempting to suck back the whole thing before the food comes.
Egg lovers choose from six offerings, ranging from the most creative Tuscan omelette, with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes and baby spinach, to all-day breakfast of two eggs, bacon, toast and home fries (just $3.99 before 11 a.m. or $6.95 after).
The star of the eggs Benedict breakfast ($9.95) is its hash browns. Wickedly peppery, cooked with onion, these potatoes alone may deserve a second visit.
Elsewhere on the plate, two extrafirm poached eggs (no runny yolk here!) sit on their nests of very thinly sliced peameal and toasted English muffin.
A good but meager serving of hollandaise unites the two stacks in flavour while a small assortment of fruit contributes colour and sweetness.
Classic assemblies line the sandwich list: grilled cheese, tuna melt, hot roast beef, western, BLT, clubhouse and Reuben.
The clubhouse plate ($10) succeeds in some ways and disappoints in others. Toothpicks pierce each quarter of ho-hum whole wheat, moist chicken, cold and somewhat rubbery bacon, a single layer of lettuce and fresh, juicy tomatoes. Mayo — or any other condiment for that matter — is MIA, giving an overall dry texture. Expert deep-frying brings thinly cut French fries to perfect crispness.
Our health-conscious taste buds tingle at the sight of a side order of house salad ($3): thick (and I mean thick!) slabs of cucumber cut on the bias, chopped purple onion and juicy wedges of tomato mingle with fresh mixed green lettuces. Sadly, the lot could be colder and more crisp.
Desserts, if you’ve got room for them, are made in-house and follow the delicious diner theme: pie with ice cream, apple-berry crumble, bread pudding and cheesecake.
Ratings are on a scale of one to five stars