VENUE REVIEW: Delightful Mad Dog Café an east-end Gerrard St. oasis

by Carla Dees
Special to Toronto Moon

Nestled into a store-front 5 doors east of Logan on the south side of Gerrard St. E. at # 817 I’ve discovered a great coffee shop called Mad Dog Café. If you’re looking for a spot to gain sustenance after a night out on the music circuit, or to meet with friends, finalize business arrangements or just to sit and collect your thoughts or check your e-mail via WIFI, the pleasant atmosphere here lends itself to all of the above.

Mad Dog Cafe

Mad Dog Cafe

Because of the proliferation of studios in the area there is also an eclectic clientele of actors, film-makers and musicians. Live-streaming from Toronto Indie station 88.1 plays softly in the back-ground while I sip my coffee —a Brazilian medium roast consistently tastes satisfyingly the same.

The beans are roasted by Detour, a company in Dundas, Ont. Mad Dog Cafe’ grinds these beans on the premises and also sells this delicious blend of beans. A robust espresso and different lattés are also available, as well as a variety of teas by The Tea Emporium.

Owner Johnson Yeh, who personally designed and renovated the space to reflect a unique industrial-retro/chic flair, sources his fare from local suppliers —St. John’s Bakery’s organic multi-grain sourdough bread and cakes, meats from Caplansky’s Deli and fruits and vegetables from a spot on the Danforth.

His signature Mad Dog Breakfast sandwich is a favourite among patrons as well as various luncheon sandwich and salad specials.

Weekends boast a delicious brunch til 3p.m. of various Benny’s, bacon and eggs with hash-browns and baked beans, a salmon platter and freshly- squeezed before your eyes orange and grape-fruit juices. A child-friendly café, it has a children’s menu that includes fluffy buttermilk pancakes topped with a warm homemade strawberry or blueberry compote. And to keep the little ones occupied there is also a cupboard filled with table-friendly toys and books.

“We welcome young families —they are a reflection of the demographic of the neighbourhood”, says Johnson.

What makes this pleasant experience even more so are the servers, who are always friendly, attentive and personable. Numerous works by local artists also hang on the walls and when the weather gets better a glass-paned front window can be slid up to let the breezes blow in and there’s also a small patio out front.

Johnson has had children’s story-telling events and some live music here in the past and plans to occasionally do the same during the summer.