Harry Hodge/Metro Toronto photos
Old Mill Dining Room executive chef Bill Tucker poses on the grounds of the Old Mill. Below, left: Lobster for brunch, anyone?
Old Mill Dining Room
Address: 21 Old Mill Rd.
Sunday Brunch: 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Capacity: 350 in the dining room, 40 in the tearoom
Brunch: w/tax & tip $36.06 per person; children 6-12 $15.41; children 5 and under, are free
*** 1/2 (out of five)
Sunday brunch at the Old Mill has become a tradition in west Toronto.
Nestled off Bloor West on the banks of the Humber River, the Old Mill has actually been a place to gather for the better part of the last 50 years, with its interior marked by its distinctive beamed ceilings and original flagstone flooring. The resort also houses a spa, chapel and colourful gardens.
“I love the property, it’s very unique,” said executive chef Bill Tucker, back with the mill after a four-year stint at the Toronto Cricket Club.
He explained that some patrons have been enjoying Sunday brunch at the mill since its inception, while others are from a younger crowd and have different expectations in terms of what should be found in the buffet.
“The most challenging part is the clientèle is so diverse,” Tucker said. “We try to appeal to everybody.”
Of course, more than just the menu has been updated over the years, as the popular Calypso Family Brunch theme includes live steel drum music, with such Caribbean staples as jerk chicken and fried plantain.
Business doesn’t seem to be slowing down either, as a late August Sunday yielded a mostly packed dining room in a period that Tucker says is usually quieter than the rest of the year. The crowd truly was a mixed bag, with newborns mingling with the grandparent set. And despite what you may think, there’s no need to worry about turning up head-to-toe in Gucci and bling.
With buffets, it’s also not fair to compare dishes that are laid out for mass consumption with those that are made individually in a typical restaurant setting. That being said, while the odd bit of pasta salad might have suffered, fruit and seafood were all very fresh. Seeing staff carry trays loaded with lobster, shrimp and mussels every so often is enough to get the mouth watering.
Afternoon tea and a family dinner buffet are also available Sundays at the Old Mill. Reservations are wise for any occasion, especially for brunch in the fall and for holiday weekends such as Thanksgiving. A number of packages are also available for large groups or catering.
Reservations can be made for eight or more people.