For bartender Murder Mike and head chef Linda, the brunch is more than an opportunity to play blasphemous music and cook up a storm for the city. It’s a way to reach out to people who seek a dining experience that provides an enjoyable soundtrack for the soul.
The brunch was an idea that came about by fluke. While the now deceased punk hangout Planet Kensington was the original venue, Linda decided to play her music of choice due to the lack of live bands. As the owner was required to work frequently at another restaurant, Mike stepped in as bartender. Because the two are heavily involved in the metal scene, it was fitting for both to play their vast taste of extreme metal, punk, grindcore, and doom amongst many.
“We don’t feel that it’s necessary to be a slave to the name, cause I’ve heard people say ‘Oh, that’s not black metal. They’re not playing black metal.’ Well we play other stuff, too. It’s not just black metal,” Linda states. Even though some brunch attendees have declared that the two ‘wouldn’t know black metal if it bit them in the ass,’ there is no shortage of heavy sounds emitted or limitations as to where the list of genres end. “We’re fans of all metal, you know. We did this wake for a friend that passed away, and he listened to everything. People were complaining that because we were playing what he liked to listen to, we weren’t true black metal.” Mike adds, “It is not all about church burnings and stuff. It is about metal and good food.”
In an accumulative between Plant Kensington and Graffiti’s, the brunch has been running for approximately five years and counting. Catering to all walks of life and sub-cultures from above and below, the Black Metal Brunch has risen from a strict cult following to a wide range of patrons. Regulars from the Kensington lofts or in and around the city are not the only individuals to stop by for a delicious meal. The brunch has also garnered a global following, all gained by the simple use of an online search engine.
“We get a lot of people from Europe. People from England, Scotland, Ireland,” Mike claims proudly. “There was a couple that showed up from Alabama because they were in town. They were metalheads and they did a Google search and came up with Black Metal Brunch,” Linda adds.
If you’re wondering why the weekly event is praised so much, it is most likely for the honest service, atmosphere and fairly priced fantastic food. Every Sunday features something for everyone. You’ve got your classic brunch specials consisting of meat, veggies and eggs and an appetizer of a soup du jour or sweet sides of French toast and pancakes.
You have to hand it to them both, for the job isn’t easy. With one person in the kitchen preparing each homemade meal adding superb presentation and another tending to requests from every table, preparation is everything making the team’s hard work and dedication visible.
So, according to the coolest metalhead foodies of all time, who wins the crown for best metal band? The list ranges from Judas Priest to Melechesh to Venom and all the way back to Bathory. “Judas Priest is my favourite band of all time,” Mike remarks, “but when it came to Venom, ‘cause I was just getting into punk at the time, Venom had the same attitude of punk but they were metalheads. I just loved that whole carefree, ‘fuck you’, thrash-the-shit-out-of-everything attitude”.
“I am a huge fan of Nile, Amon Amarth and Emperor.” Overall, Linda may prefer death metal to most, but never ceases to keep an open mind to all the rest. But the pals are not only into the classics and scene progenitors. Seeing some of today’s leading forefathers like Behemoth, Chthtonic, Bloodbath and Vader spark high interest, Linda and Mike are always researching new bands by delving into useful online music tools and international metal publications allowing access to underground music from around the world.
The Sunday gathering of cuisine and music is not only a part of their careers or everyday lives; it has a much more significant effect. “I love the legacy of it. I love people getting together to eat, metalheads from wherever, in town or traveling,” Mike says. As for the people who can’t quite grasp the marriage between music and fare, you either like it or you don’t. Linda adds, “I think it’s a great concept because there are enough people who like to eat good food that also like to listen to our kind of music”.
The Black Metal Brunch is a metallic dream. I view it as one of those things you look forward to, that’s once a week in a fantastic city filled with so much life. You hit the market on a Sunday afternoon and while you’re at it, you stop by Graffiti’s for the legendary BMB. As you walk in, you crack a smile because inside a familiar track off of Immortal’s Sons of Northern Darkness is blasted through the speakers. When you take your seat and order your Chicken Pot Pie with a side of greens, an epiphany ensues bringing you to the title of “One by One,” preparing you for the most metal meal you’ll ever enjoy.
“Eat Out With Satan” on Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm at Graffiti’s Bar and Grill (170 Baldwin Street) in Toronto’s colourful Kensington Market.
Check out the Black Metal Brunch on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=44379616719&ref=ts