Tucked away in the west end’s Baby Point Village is Camp Restaurant, a cozy storefront on bustling Jane Street that could easily be described as the ultimate roadside diner. The über cute woodsy restaurant stems from owner Megan Whiten’s love of camping, a pastime that has taken her across the country and back, three times over. Camp pays homage to all things Campy and Canadiana and is abuzz amongst Toronto’s west enders who flock to the neighborhood joint to feast on delicious brunch fare and cozy classic comfort foods.
The atmosphere at Camp is both whimsical and inviting, making folks feel as though they are sitting down to a home-cooked meal in their grandmother’s kitchen. Open shelves brim high with house made jams and chutneys. A Ken-Doll Winnebago full of troll dolls cheekily hides the beer taps at the bar. The kitchen is in the middle of the restaurant. Water skies and cuckoo clocks are mounted onto the walls and yellow-bellied sapsuckers perch on wooden panels, just one of the many woodpecker species captured by artist Bud Fujikawa. Whiten, an OCAD graduate, brought in many pieces from her personal collection into the restaurant, and the walls boast work from some of Toronto’s finest visual artists.
I instantly get the impression of nostalgia and comfort just by looking at the menu, which features yummy brunch entrees like the Breakfast Burrito and the Canadiana Sandwich. While patrons sip on caesars out of mason jars, kids help themselves to Boondoggle and coloring books, while noshing on Nana Bread and fresh fruit (or caper berries). The coffee is on spot, thanks to a gorgeous fire engine red Sibilla espresso machine and Ezra’s Pound Event Horizon Espresso Roast. But, without a doubt, it is the Camp style French toast which is the most surprising, decadent, and addictive dish on the menu – a brioche-inspired take on the breakfast classic made of shredded chocolate almond and plain croissants. Baked to perfection, it is served stacked with a pile of fresh fruit and maple syrup and goes for under nine bucks. Add an order of turkey links and you are in brunch bliss, my friend.
On Friday nights, the restaurant lights dim and the oyster shuck commences, featuring some of Canada’s finest mollusks courtesy of Oyster Boy. Freshly shucked and expertly served with fresh-shaved horseradish and lemon, these bad boys are paired with a shallot and red wine mignonette and vodka pepper sauce scorching with Scott Bonnet peppers. Of course, one can always order a s’more to end a satisfying meal!
WORDS: LAUREN CULLEN
PHOTOS: CRISTINA ARCE