Sunday Brunch ~ The Boiler House

It did! The waiting list mentioned in last week’s piece on brunch reached my name. They called me on Saturday evening to confirm the reservation and I was excited about going back there, and taking my friend, whom I was meeting after 10 years (we’d met a few times after high school), to one of my favourite spots in the city: The Distillery District! Unfortunately, she wasn’t sure if she’d wake up in time since she was feeling unwell and wanted to sleep in. They’d had two spots open, one at 11:00 am and the other at 1:45 pm. I picked 11 o’clock because I wanted our day to start early; she was in the city for only 48 hours and we wanted to make the most of it.

The Boiler House serves a fabulous brunch buffet and we didn’t want to lose our reservation so I woke her up early. We were able to make it there in 10 minutes by cab; we reached well in time and were among the first to arrive. The first batch of mini croissants laid out (you must know, by now, it’s my favourite form of bread ever) were still warm when I got to them. There were eggs, ham, french toast, waffles, bacon, sausage, roasted potatoes, omelettes made-to-order, different types of meat waiting to be cut for you, jam tarts, several varieties of mini bagels, smoked salmon, potato salad, artichoke salad, pasta salad, greens, tomato and bocconcini salad, lots of syrup, cheese, and I’m sure I’m missing many other large trays of food. Oh and did I mention the scrumptious jazz band?! The perfect topping to the meal.As we caught up on the last 10 years of our lives and more, I thought of how we weren’t really that close in boarding school but seemed to get along so well now. Why weren’t we friends back then, I wondered. She wondered that too, out loud. I was more the geeky, nerdy kid who helped everyone with their academics, excelled in studies, elocutions, debates and everything intellectual, but I’d be considered a “social misfit”  because I wasn’t part of any of the large cliques or groups and only had a couple of close friends. I love those girls even today, although we aren’t in regular contact, and I’m sure we would still get along famously.

I went back to the buffet with a fresh plate thinking of an omelette with mushrooms and peppers, but that was too ambitious a thought. It was easy to stuff myself with little portions of everything else which wasn’t custom-made. It all smelled so good and I had to try it! I was on a caffeine high and became more talkative, telling her stories about The Childhood Sweetheart, The Guy who Didn’t Want to be Exclusive, The Ex-Boyfriend, The “This-is-too-Relationship-y” Guy, and my favourite one of all, Mr. Busy. I’m fondest of him. She listened and shared some of her own experiences, as is usually the case in such conversations between girls. “Ok, one last round,” I said, excusing myself. The desserts were tempting me. The last plate I brought to our table upstairs was like a platter of custard tarts, lemon tarts, brownies, apple pie. By now I was starting to realise just how different we actually were. The points of view presented and reading suggestions which were insisted upon were making me see that. I asked her to try the custard tart because that Portuguese sweet dish is a real treat. Wouldn’t you believe me if I told you that I thought I couldn’t possibly eat another bite for the rest of the day when we were finally ready to get the bill at 1 pm?

Our incessant chatting helped digest the food and to further aid the process we walked around the area for hours after it, taking pictures of large metal sculptures in between visits to the unique boutiques around us and dispensing sage advice when walking from one art gallery to another. We, I thought, haven’t really changed. I’m less geeky compared to high-school-me and maybe I’m surer of myself but I haven’t learned how not to be nice or accommodating. I still haven’t learned how to be mean and inconsiderate of the feelings of the person sitting in front of me. I wonder if I’ll ever learn those lessons. Wasn’t there another lesson in there somewhere?

We spent some time at SOMA Chocolatemaker where she picked up a box of the sweet stuff and then stopped at the Mill St. Brewery so she could sample a quartet of different beers. As it was her first time in Toronto we had to make a trip to the CN Tower. I don’t suppose there are many tourists who don’t ride to its top and peer through the glass floor which, incidentally, can hold the weight of 14 large hippos. Despite this knowledge, I walked across it gingerly and my heart frequently plummeted as I tried to capture her in different poses with the ground visible more than 1100 feet below us. We had walked from The Distillery District to the Harbourfront to the Rogers Centre and were tired now. We waited to see the sunset from the tower and headed towards the Danforth for a Greek dinner.

Swapping stories late into the night, there was never a lull in the conversation since she’s a good talker; when I’d drift away into my thoughts she’d pull me back with a quick word. It was easy to talk to each other, I thought, because we’d known each other when we were running around in navy blue pinafores and blue, checked, formal Sunday dresses, and we were both there when the other was growing up, but then so were 30 other girls. It was then the thought that I did learn something came to me. I learned that catching up with someone you knew a long time ago can make you realise how much you’ve both changed and how many qualities you appear to now have in common. I learned that simultaneously you may realise that all the glorified commonalities are merely superficial, and no matter how different you look, how much you know you’ve changed and how self-confident you now are, you’re really just a grown-up version of that young kid you used to be.

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