Whenever I fly to Toronto for work, I try to cram in visits to new restaurants and meet up with my sister and old friends. But the most recent trip was truly short: arrive on a Wednesday evening and back out Friday afternoon.

But damn it, I was determined to try somewhere new. Fortuitously, EnRoute magazine had just come out with its best new restaurants list which I got to peruse on my flight. Bar Buca jumped out right away because it served breakfast! I did some quick scheduling in my head. If I got there when it opened at 7 a.m., I’d have enough time to enjoy breakfast and get to work to prep for a 9 a.m. presentation.

Bar Buca, Toronto

Bar Buca, Toronto It was a perfect plan — til I realized I had not taken into account the three-hour time zone change. I was pretty damn tired when I dragged myself into the high-ceilinged restaurant.

All the high tables were empty so I sat down at one facing the open kitchen. I looked like a crazy person sitting in the middle of an empty restaurant, taking photos with my iPhone. I figured they could write me off as an Asian tourist. Which technically, I suppose I was. But without a visor and Chanel fanny pack.

First things first, COFFEE. Bar Buca pulls a strong, wonderful espresso, which made for an enjoyable Americano.

I couldn’t decide what to order, but the gracious server (in all-black with a very stylish brown leather apron) was patient and went through highlights of the short breakfast menu until I settled on the uova al pomodoro ($9).

It was a hearty rustic dish for a blustery crisp winter’s day. Eggs were baked in a spicy tomato sauce with ricotta and crisp proscuitto. Very filling and lovely.

Bar Buca, Toronto

One of the chefs actually brought the dish over to me, and he chatted a bit to me about it. It was obvious he was proud of what he does, even if it’s a simple egg creation. Nice.

I sipped my Americano and savoured my breakfast, having one of Toronto’s hottest restaurants all to myself at this hour. (Also, my children were blissfully asleep thousands of kilometres away. :-p)

Floating on little sleep and a happy breakfast, I stopped at the counter to thank the staff for a wonderful time. I was walking out the heavy glass door, when he called out, “Um, would you like to pay?”

OMG. I was utterly embarrassed. So EMBARRASSING. The server was gracious as I fumbled with my credit card and mumbled something about being on Vancouver time. I couldn’t get out fast enough, but I do hope to return one day for dinner. (And remember to pay.)

Bar Buca, Toronto

Bar Buca, Toronto

Kid-friendly notes
Leave them at home (unless they’re in infant lumpy stage. Then you can leave them in carseats). High tables are not conducive to squirmy toddlers.

Bar Buca, 75 Portland St., Toronto, (416) 599-2822. No reservations.
Open weekdays 7 a.m.-2 a.m., weekends 8 a.m.-2 a.m. (weekend brunch 10 a.m.-4 p.m.).

Bar Buca on Urbanspoon