It was 11:00 am on a Saturday when I walked along King Street West. It was still sleepy town compared to my neighbourhood that’s usually up and at ’em early thanks to little kids and dogs. I hadn’t been down this way in a while. Certainly not the vibe I was expecting but I know that TIFF is just around the corner and the streets here will be buzzing soon enough. Once I had turned the corner onto John Street, things started to feel a bit more alive. This is the time when the friends living in the core roll out of bed. This is the time when brunch is waiting to greet them and there are so many great options. On this day, we ventured to MARKED, a South American influenced restaurant with Maria Morales at the helm. It is described as “a love letter to the culture, flavours, and spirit of South America.”
Ahhh, South American fare is a perfect choice since we’ve been missing all our travels and their Weekend Resort Brunch will whisk you away even if only for a couple of hours. Grab your sunnies and your besties and follow your heart.
We drew our attention to visit MARKED is their “All Inclusive” Weekend Resort Brunch. The name was ever so intriguing. The all-inclusiveness not only means that everyone is welcomed here but also means we don’t have to overthink what to order. Just bring it all!
The Weekend Resort All Inclusive Brunch is a tasty option. For $65 pp treat yourself to unlimited small plates and a bottle of Prosecco (or $55 pp without the bubbly). Alternatively there are cocktails like Caipirinhas, Micheladas, Mojitos and Caesars (additional $) and juices ($) available if that is more your vibe. Then select an option from both the ‘shareable’ and ‘sweet’ menus.
So, wait, unlimited small plates? Yes, you order order all, any, and as much as you like. The server will keep bringing them. The small bites are outstanding. The Chicken Coxinha (croquettes) that is a popular street food snack in Brazil is a crunchy coated teardrop shaped ball with a creamy moist chicken filling that are super satisfying. The Bacon, Manchego Cheese Dates are too easy to eat. I’ve stuffed dates at home with Manchego for when we have guests and they are always a hit. These are next level with bacon — that’s what bacon does, right? Portobello Arepas, Salmon Tostadas and Mushroom Coxinhas round up a flavourful “small plates”. They remind me of the Pintxo or Spanish Tapas bars we’ve encountered over the years travelling.
Searching for Ceviche? There are two choices including a refreshing Tropical Fruit option as well as their signature MARKED Ceviche dish made with the freshest fresh available. If you still crave the brunch dishes that are more familiar, the kitchen magically creates Egg Benny with South American flavours. The Manchego Biscuit Benny offers an option of smoked salmon or house smoked bacon on their freshly baked biscuit. We highly recommend the Picanha, a top sirloin that’s marinated with the restaurant’s special rub that’s perfectly grilled and comes with with piri piri, chimichurri and bbq sauce. All found under the “shareable” menu.
If you think you have space for a final sweet dish all of the offerings on the brunch menu are great choices. The pancake is a soufflé like fluffy pillow that’s topped with toasted coconut, fresh fruit and coconut ice cream. Reminded us of Fuwa Fuwa Japanese pancake cafe in the city. What’s it doing on a South American menu? Well, there are tons people of Japanese descent living in the region so it’s no surprise there are some cross over in influence in the culinary world. The Rabanadas (French Toast) is a colourful option as well. It comes with goji berries, sweet mascarpone, pistachio and chancasa syrup. Of course they have churros! Both Apple Pie and Chocolate and Sea Salt options are perfect finishers.
This relatively new restaurant (opened early Fall of 2020) tantalizes and delights all your senses whether you opt for the patio or indoor dining. But where did the name MARKED come from? We learned that Morales was a former athlete – a Javelin thrower so there’s a possibility but the hope is that the restaurant experience will leave a lasting mark.
By the way, Morales has a sense of humour so don’t be surprised if something unexpected happens — I can still hear the server’s giggle as she brought out a dish Chef sent to our table!
You can read more about the restaurant here.
MARKED is located at 132 John Street, Toronto. Reservations recommended.
*Patio photo credit to Sarjoun Faour. Other photos credited to Sonya Davidson