By Anne DesBrisay
My favourite downtown breakfast spot is Benny’s Bistro, but Benny’s doesn’t open till 8 — a darn pity — so if it’s before eight, and it often is, I simply resolve to be more in the mood for a scone than a croissant and head here. The Scone Witch has been baking the city’s finest biscuits, sweet and savoury, for years, and she opens her doors sensibly at seven.
Sometimes I pop in for a half dozen vanillas – they are golden topped well risen treats, crumbly and feather light, with a clean aroma that indicates good content – but lately I’ve been picking up the blueberry scones, imbedded with the last of the wild crop. Soon there will be pumpkin versions, and summer will be truly over.
If I have the time to sit, it’s usually with a scone, a pot of Devon cream and one of Stratford’s Moss jams. (Fresh from the oven, these scones are almost good enough to eat on their own, but so much better with the comfort blanket of fat and jam.)
But when I’m hungry, I go for the works: an aged cheddar scone with a side of wet and buttery scrambled eggs topped with a deeply woodsy mushroom ragout (reconstituted wilds in the mix) plus a bit of fruit, a bit of greens, and a pot of blackberry jam. Other than the greens being boxed and dreary, it’s a very fine breakfast.
There is the disappointment of having to settle for drip coffee, but I can mostly live with it. What I can’t live with is having to enjoy a peaceful breakfast with Freddy Mercury (may he rest in peace) played at a volume designed to rev up the kitchen staff but leave their customers rattled. A table of women — trying to conduct a meeting — got up and left. Last time — over lunch — when I asked them to turn down the music, my gentle request was met with a glare.
So that would be my peeve about this ‘Pick’, and something I’ve been wanting to say about the Witch for some time now: great food, shame about the service.
Scone Witch, 35 Beechwood Ave., 613-741-4141 (a second location is at 388 Albert St., 613-232-2173).