Inconsistent hours, no air conditioning (though there are a couple of fans) and construction blocking your every move on the way in. Sounds great right? No but really, it is great. However, the first time we tried to go to E.L. Ruddy (1371 Dundas West, Toronto, ON,) we were stopped by a big sad “CLOSED due to construction” sign. This time, I went with a friend visiting from out of town, and it was actually open. Hurrah!
A friendly server welcomed us in, and we took a seat at one of the tables, each with multiple hot sauce options and an old mill pepper grinder. It was empty, except for us, but they weren’t really supposed to be open anyway since it was Monday. I have heard great things about the grilled cheese sandwich (huge amounts of twitter enthusiasm), and I’m assuming it has something to do with the in house baked bread (because daiya is daiya, but the bread is quite lovely.)
Recommendations aside, I opted for a BBQ Tofu Sandwich instead. What arrived was a big sandwich with a couple of pieces of marinated tofu, sprouts, a few tomatoes and covered in a sweet salty sauce, all in a thick slices of wholewheat bread. It was tasty and filling, and I’d definitely recommend it (and I’d order it again, though probably pair it with a salad next time.)
My friend ordered the huevos brunch, with salsa (which she loved), re-fried beans (which I noticed she kept adding pepper, salt, etc to), pieces of tofu, fried potatos, and a piece of gluten free cornbread (it tasted good, but the texture reminded me a lot of freshly made cornflour tortillas – which makes some sense.)
With the exception of the heat, I really liked the atmosphere inside E.L. Ruddy. It’s comfortable and cozy, exposed brick walls, with functional “decorations,” like magazines you can actually read while waiting, and neatly arranged “natural food products” available for sale on the side shelving.
I was curious about the story behind E.L. Ruddy, and it turns out it was the name of an American newspaper advertising salesman that had set up a billboard advertising business and it was once upon a time a Toronto advertising firm that dominated the Downtown core in billboards (so now I/you know.) If you want more info go here to learn more from Richard Anderson and his Urban Historical Geography (GEOG4040) class slides, especially this one on Visual Culture of Modernity.