Chef Rodney Bowers recently expanded his College Street shop to Roncesvalles, dropping the meatballs from the name and instead focusing on a wider range of homespun staples. The split-level room exudes a ’50s-style Leave it to Beaver ambiance, with kitchen chairs and tables, bushel baskets filled with fruit, and whitewashed walls lined with pickles and preserves. It opens early, serving coffee, breakfast and fresh-pressed juices from 7 a.m. and baked goods (chocolate doughnuts, vanilla layer cake) throughout the day. The menu is as comforting as the space. Pick-me-ups include creamy mac-and-cheese and crispy, moist Southern fried chicken with yeasty waffles and wilted spinach. Tender house-made gnocchi are ladled with a rich peperonata and threaded with savoury slow-roasted pork shreds. A rustic panzanella salad gets an Ontario twist with sweet local beets and juicy heirloom tomatoes. T-shirted cooks make magic with the oft-maligned Brussels sprouts, roasting the little cabbages to a tender crisp and adding a welcome dose of garlic. Come nighttime, the juice counter transforms into a cocktail bar, delivering wine, beer and cocktails in Mason jars. Servers can be a little confused, but they’re friendly enough.
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