On a beautiful, winter Saturday morning, we ventured to Cresta, right across from the world-famous St. Lawrence Market. Formerly Pastizza up until last November, it is named after the iconic Cresta Ridge vineyards in California, and hopes to bring the casual California vibe alongside its innovative Italian menu, more befitting of its surrounding neighbourhood. On this day we came for brunch – a favourite weekend activity of many Torontonians.
We started off with some coffee – a cappuccino, a latte, and a misto. These were served in beautiful double-walled glasses and with a little bowl of sugar. The sugar was not your typical sugar – it was whipped with espresso, forming a smooth, coffee-flavoured sweetener. Our server recommended we taste the whipped sugar first, rather than adding to the coffee immediately, to properly gauge the amount of sweetness we want to add. After a few minutes, our food order arrived one by one.
The steak and eggs came with a side of roasted potatoes and housemade ketchup, and several slices of toast. The steak was well-seasoned, and prepared using the sous-vide technique, resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. The uovo pizza was loaded with toppings, including pancetta and mushrooms, and two poached eggs (hence the name). I was a fan of the pizzas at Pastizza, with its fresh toppings, and perfectly made crust, and this pizza continues in that tradition.
When we saw the truffled grilled cheese on the menu, we knew we had to order it; truffles and cheese – who could resist? The ratio of mushroom to cheese to bread was just right. To balance the richness of the dish, it was served with a mista salad. My only critique is that the salad had perhaps a little too much dressing; I would prefer if the dressing was on the side. Finally, what brunch would be complete without pancakes? Pancakes are so commonplace that they’re normally not worth mentioning, but Cresta’s buttermilk pancakes were particularly memorable. They were extremely light and fluffy, and had a slight crispiness that gave that little bit of surprise texture. It came with apple saffron and blueberry compotes, and was topped with apples and strawberries, and of course maple syrup on the side. This was definitely my favourite item.
Cresta is a great place to have brunch after a morning visit to the St. Lawrence Market. Once the weather warms up, it will have even more of a California feel when its patio becomes available and the massive windows open up to bring the outside in. Cresta is located at 118 The Esplanade, just west of Market St.
Photos by John Tan and Nick Lee