Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Whip Restaurant Gallery

Because I was breakfasting today with my sister-in-law, who is an ah-ma-zing artist, I wanted to investigate The Whip and it’s “gallery” status. Not only is it a rotating showcase for local artists, it is a restaurant, a café, and a bar. If I wanted to give them one label only, though, it would be “hangout”. With it’s casual wooden-table-and-chair decor, it feels like the perfect spot to gather with friends and chitchat.

To match, the food is informal, yet still tasty. My Roasted Tomato and Avocado Benny had a nice hollandaise, her Shrimp, Pesto, and Feta Omelette was savoury (is there a better adjective for “salty” when it’s a positive attribute?), and both were served with paprika-spiced roasted yams and potatoes and fruit salad.

209 East 6th Avenue
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
www.thewhiprestaurant.com
Photos

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Oakwood

I am reminded of the benefits of having an open mind. Upon entering The Oakwood, I was honestly surprised by what I saw – a packed house, a space filled with warmth, and pleasingly contemporary design. There have been many restaurants come and go in this location over the years and I believe this owner may have finally found the magic formula to transform the mojo.

We sat at the bar, which allowed for a clear view into the kitchen. I knew the food was going to be great by seeing the way the chefs approached their cooking. You can just tell when someone is serious about food. These guys are. Their concept is Canadian Bistro with a focus on locally-sourced and made-from-scratch. They nailed my criteria for food success – obvious passion, clear concept, delicious flavour, exacting execution, and playful presentation. The Blueberry-Mascarpone Filled French Toast was cooked to buttery, crispy perfection. And the Braised Short Rib with Potato Pancake and Marinated Tomato was succulent and boldly flavoured.

I believe if this owner embraces what he is already doing so well – hiring great staff, offering a welcoming environment, and serving great food – he’s here to stay.

2741 West 4th Avenue
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
www.theoakwood.ca
Photos

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Soul (Honolulu, HI) (CLOSED)

UPDATE (11/18/12): Sadly, this location of Soul is closed. A new downtown location has opened, but is only serving lunch.
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I recently realized that there is only one thing that will move me to do the things I am terrified of doing – love. My best friend currently lives in Hawaii and she is the reason I will get on a plane and endure what amounts to 6 hours of emotional agony. There is another love, however, not quite as powerful, but still enticing – great food!

At Soul they specialize in soul food, obviously. The chef here exudes soul, a genuine warm smile, and an obvious love for his business and his food. When I travel, I love being able to enjoy cuisines that I cannot find in Vancouver. I also love it when a chef will take a classic item and give it a twist using local ingredients, such as the Crab Cake Benedict with Mango Hollandaise. Our other choices included Smoked Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash, Fried Chicken with Biscuits and Sausage Gravy, and my favourite, Fried Chicken with Southern Spiced Sweet Potato Pancakes and Local Banana.

A whole lotta love.

3040 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI
Breakfast hours: 10:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Sunday only

www.pacificsoulhawaii.com
Photos

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Brunch Mexicana at The Waldorf Hotel (CLOSED)

UPDATE (01/24/13): Alas, it is no longer.
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There’s something exciting about sharing unique places with others who are new to Vancouver. It’s like getting to see something so familiar through new eyes again. My brother has been living here just less than a year, and when I invited him out for breakfast today, I wanted to see him, of course, as well as perhaps share an area of Vancouver he had yet to experience. Though I had never been to The Waldorf before, either.

The Waldorf Hotel has modernized itself recently into an internationally-inspired art, music, and food destination. And on the weekends they serve Desayuno! Brunch Mexicana. I have no standards to be able to attest to the authenticity of the food, as I realize there are some purists out there. However, for me, my metric for international cuisine is “does it taste yummy?” Brunch Mexicana: yes, it does!

All three dishes impressed: Huevos Rancheros, Chilaquiles with Eggs, and the Mexican Hotcakes with dulce de leche sauce. Frequently I am asked the question, “where are the best pancakes?”, and I usually have a difficult time in answering as I tend to crave savoury dishes more for breakfast. Today I couldn’t keep myself from going back again and again to the hotcakes. Unfortunately for my partner, it was his breakfast, not mine. Grin.

1489 East Hastings Street
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
www.waldorfhotel.com/desayuno
Photos

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Edible Canada at the Market

Ingredients matter. Edible Canada at the Market, the newest addition to the Granville Island restaurant scene, is a modern casual bistro focusing on BC and Canadian-sourced products. Even more than locality, I believe what makes food special is the love that goes into its creation. My breakfast tasted as though those who created it actually love food.

My Spiced Ricotta Belgian Waffles were divine. Scented with cinnamon and nutmeg and topped with a warm apple compote, it was the perfect Fall dish. My guy had the Island Breakfast including scrambled eggs, duck fat fried hash browns, and Sloping Hills pork sausage and pork belly – the pork was outstanding. Also amazing was his side of toast and jam, an elevated version with artisan bread and locally-produced jam.

If you love food, try it out, just be mindful of what time you arrive, as there are two distinct menus and brunch is served only after 11:00 a.m.

1596 Johnston Street (at Granville Island)
Breakfast hours:
Breakfast menu: 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday/Sunday
Brunch menu: 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday/Sunday
www.ediblecanada.com
Photos

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Café Katzenjammer

Ghost story or fairy tale? Up until recently, this restaurant sat abandoned for four years and locals created their own myths about why. Some felt the place was mysteriously deserted, aprons left hanging over the chairs and dishes on tables as though the customers and staff disappeared one night never to return. Others believed that, having amassed his fortune, the owner returned to his native Germany to live in his Bavarian castle. A visit today to Café Katzenjammer dispelled both stories. The truth is much simpler (it always is). The owner of the restaurant is also the owner of the building and made a decision a while back that he needed a break from the business and shut the doors.

After breakfast today, we were both glad to see its reactivation. My Brat and Eggs and his Big Bavarian Breakfast were hearty, generous in portion, and delivered on flavour, especially the meat and potatoes. Recommended are the ham and bratwurst, and the pan fried potatoes and the potato pancakes. Extras like sour cream, apple sauce, and mustard accent the German influence on the meals.

4441 West 10th Avenue
Breakfast hours: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Saturday/Sunday only
www.cafekatzenjammer.com
Photos

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Heidi’s Café

Previous to breakfast this morning, I was relatively ignorant of the fact that Vancouver has its very own “Sunset Strip”. Fraser Street is the heart of the Sunset neighbourhood, and from 41st to 51st Avenues it is a diverse community of shops, services, and restaurants. I ask myself, how have I lived in this magnificent city for over 20 years and have never explored this area?

Well, today was the day and Heidi’s Café was the inspiration for the journey. This spot reflects its surroundings – a mixed clientele, delightful staff, and low-key atmosphere. Logistics such as order at the counter and self-serve coffee support its café status. Chosen from a simple menu, my Pancakes and his Jumbo Breakfast were nicely prepared, my partner even commented “mmm, they are good cooks.” Remember to check the big chalk board for daily specials.

5943 Fraser Street
Breakfast hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Daily
Photos

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Docker’s Diner (CLOSED)

UPDATE: (10/14/13) Docker’s is now closed.
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Docker’s Diner is a locals joint. Customers were saying hello to each other across the room and the staff knew their stories, and some of their orders. This Sunday morning, the 30-seater was full-up. A gentleman walked in (I felt sure he was a regular), shook his head in disgust at the lack of seating, and walked right out again. The hubbub was keeping the small staff on their toes, yet our waitress maintained her “how ya doin’ sweetheart?” composure the entire time. 

The food is classic diner food – primarily eggs, hotcakes, or omelettes. No fuss, no muss. And while it satisfies one’s breakfast needs, I think people primarily come here for the homestyle feeling of the place. I feel good about a place where the decoration includes an orange stuffed horse.

1869 Powell Street
Breakfast hours: 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Daily
Photos

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Grove Inn

Me: “Let’s go for breakfast this morning.”
Him (half-joking): “OK, let’s go to the Grove.”
Me: “OK.”
Him (half-surprised): “What do you mean, OK?”
Me: “OK. I haven’t blogged about the Grove before.”
Him: “How is that possible?”

After breakfast blogging for over four years now, it does seem hard to believe that there are still these classic locations which I haven't been to in all this time. Of course, in my yesteryears when I lived in the West End and was on a 20-something’s budget, I would visit on more frequent occasion. A lot has changed, yet little has changed since then.

Same tacky diner dive decor (said lovingly), yet new owners who have “touched up” the place. Same greasy spoon all-day breakfasts, yet new all-day Japanese menu items. Same customers, yet... uh, same customers.

1047 Denman Street
Breakfast hours: 7:00 a.m. to close, Daily
Photos

Sunday, September 4, 2011

IHOP (West Broadway)

Did you see “West Broadway” in the title and go, “huh?”, like I did? I wanted pancakes this morning so I was poking around the internet to see what I could come up with and came across a listing for IHOP on Broadway. “Huh, when did that happen?”, I wondered. Well, I found out today – they opened just one month ago. Before arriving, I was kind of hoping that this meant that hardly anyone knew about it yet – silly me. The place was packed to the gunnels, with a lineup to boot. It is relatively large, seating approximately 120 people, so we were seated fairly quickly, in about 5 minutes or so. The kitchen was having a little bit of a harder time keeping up with the flow.

I wanted pancakes, that’s why I was at IHOP. I decided on the Blueberry Pancake Platter – berries and sausages – classic. And of course, IHOP is known for their (very sweet) syrups. The highlight of my meal was the butter pecan syrup. Slurp.

200-950 West Broadway (Upstairs)
Breakfast hours: 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Daily
www.ihop.com
Photos

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Pointe Restaurant at The Wickaninnish Inn (Tofino)

If, for some weird reason, you ever find yourself wondering why you live in BC, I highly recommend a mini-getaway to Tofino. Breathtaking scenery hosting a multitude of outdoor activities combined with an adorable village and restaurants featuring a plentitude of local seafood will be enough to remind.

After several mornings of toast and peanut butter, we finished off our holiday with breakfast at the world-famous Wickaninnish Inn. The “point” of visiting The Pointe Restaurant is its precarious perch overlooking the spectacular Chesterman Beach. Of course, the morning we went it was fogged in (locals refer to this month as ”fogust”). Luckily we had just spent four glorious days in a cottage down the beach and already had our share of stunning views. Besides, the food was so delicious, it was still worth it.

Over the course of our trip, I enjoyed the freshest seafood in almost every way imaginable – seafood chowder, cod burger, fish tacos, prawn and scallop ceviche, seafood gumbo, salmon jerky. Therefore, I wanted to round out my seafood experience by having the Tofino Dungeness Crab Benedict. It was perfect, just like our time in Tofino.

500 Osprey Lane, Tofino, BC
Brunch hours: 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Daily
www.wickinn.com/restaurant
Photos

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Save-On-Meats

One of the many elements I enjoy so much about these breakfast adventures is the people I get to share them with. I have discovered that what makes a breakfast great is the overall experience, not just the food. Of course, the food is an extremely important part, but not the whole.

Today I had the opportunity to experience the re-created Save-On-Meats for the first time with a first-time breakfasting friend. One of the traits she and I share is our love of talking about food. So I knew exactly what she meant when she said, “don’t you love it when you love what you ordered!” The “what” she was referring to was her 3 Egg Scramble with sausage, cheddar, and tomatoes, and a savoury herb biscuit subbed for the standard toast. I sneaked a taste and the sausage was the obvious standout - good marketing for the butcher shop.

I was so busy having a good time, however, I forgot to explore the other side where the butcher shop and take-out window are located, delivering the already infamous $1.50 breakfast sandwich. I may have to abandon my “new places only” practice to return and try this signature item.

43 West Hastings Street
Breakfast hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Saturday/Sunday: 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

www.saveonmeats.ca
Photos

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Red Wagon

It finally felt like summer today! We just so happened to have the perfect summer activity planned – venturing out to Deep Cove, again, this time for stand up paddleboarding. The Red Wagon, on Hastings near Nanaimo, was ideally located for breakfast on the way. This diner is a relative newcomer, less than a year old, yet it feels completely integrated into the neighbourhood, as if it’s been there forever.

They’ve accomplished the same integration with the menu items – classic dishes with modern elements. Between the three of us, we chose the Pulled Pork Benny, the Pulled Pork Pancakes with Jack Daniels maple syrup, and the Crisp Pork Belly with salsa verde and hollandaise – a veritable pig-fest. I was particularly enamored with my choice, the pork belly was succulent and the salsa verde and hollandaise were both excellent renditions of each.

Combining our upbeat breakfast experience with paddleboarding (my first time, so fun!), it was a memorable day.

2296 East Hastings Street
Breakfast hours:
Monday to Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Saturday/Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
www.redwagoncafe.com
Photos

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Honey Doughnuts and Goodies (Deep Cove)

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet, "What’s the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What’s for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It’s the same thing," he said


When a friend of mine shared this passage with me from Winnie-the-Pooh, it became the inspiration for our breakfast adventure. To honour the Pooh stories, I wanted to go for a walk through the forest and go to Honey’s.

Honey’s doughnuts are famous and I find either you love them or you don’t. I fall into the “love them” camp. Yes, they’re dense and cakey and sweet and greasy... they’re awesome. There are three options – honey-dipped, maple-glazed or chocolate. To have the optimal Honey doughnut experience, be sure to eat one freshly made.

To maintain some sense of decorum, I started breakfast with an eggy thing, but really, I was there for the doughnuts. And besides fulfilling my once-every-three-year Honey’s doughnut fix, I needed fuel for our walk. I’ve been wanting to do the Quarry Rock hike for years now, it’s the last 2 km piece of the Baden-Powell Trail (which runs from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove). An hour walk over rugged terrain, through glorious trees, past numerous waterfalls, on a slightly uphill grade is rewarded with an amazing view over Deep Cove and beyond to downtown Vancouver.

So, go, enjoy doughnuts, and see what exciting thing is going to happen today. Thanks, Pooh.

4373 Gallant Avenue, Deep Cove
Breakfast hours: 6:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Daily
Photos

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Slickity Jim’s Chat ’n’ Chew (REOPENED)

After reading recent reviews, I was hesitant to visit the re-emerged Slickity Jim’s. Some are lamenting “it’s not the same as it used to be”. After going this morning,
I, too, think it’s not the same as it used to be – it’s better! I found the service to be friendlier, the restaurant to feel cleaner, and the food to be executed smack-dab-lier. Yet again, I am reminded to enjoy each experience for itself.

From a menu known for its oddball combinations and descriptions, my partner choose the most “square” meal of the bunch – waffles. Goes to show they have something for everyone, he was happy. For me, my special-of-the-day benny, the Money Maker was perfect – the combination bacon, tomato, and avocado was the right balance of salty, fatty, creamy, and acidity. Slickity Jim’s has one of the top two “best benedict selections” in town.

This is just my opinion, however, go see and decide for yourself.

3475 Main Street
Breakfast hours: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Daily
Website
Photos

Friday, July 1, 2011

Pacific Buffet on the BC Ferries

We are one ferry ride away from paradise on earth. Another Canada Day long weekend, another camping trip to Nitinat Lake. I realize I am slightly biased to the beauty of Vancouver Island as I grew up there. For me, the ferry ride always gives that comforting feeling of “coming home”. And even though I’ve ridden these ferries hundreds of times, I am still able to count the number of times I’ve eaten at the Pacific Buffet on one hand only. We did today, almost out of necessity, as the ferry was so busy there was an hour wait to eat at the cafeteria. I’m not complaining.

Being ferry food, they actually provide relatively good value and a nice selection. Cold stations include: salads, pastries, cereal, fruit and yogurt. Hot stations include: french toast and waffles, sausages, bacon, ham, baked beans, corned beef hash, hashed browns, omelets, and a couple of dim sum items. And of course, unlimited tea, coffee, and juice.

My favourite features are enjoying the spectacular views and having our own spacious table to play Ingenious.

BC Ferries (Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay Route)
Breakfast buffet hours: 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. sailings, Daily
www.bcferries.com
Photos

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Miura Waffle Milk Bar (MOVED)

UPDATE (01/16/14): The Davie Street location is closed. They are now open at 2521 Main Street.
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This café, run by a husband and wife team, offers a very focused menu – waffle sandos (sando being a derivative of the Japanese word for sandwich) plus real fruit-flavoured milks. Order at the counter and then watch your waffle be made right before your eyes – the waffle irons lining the counter were delivering some appetizing aromas.

There are several sweet or savoury options. I went for the Ham, Egg, and Cheese. The ham is cooked right into the seasoned, savoury waffle batter. When ready, they remove the waffle, cut it in half, stuff with the egg omelette and cheese and place it back in the iron so that all the ingredients melt and mingle together. Tasty. My two friends gave their thumbs up to their choices – one had the Hoisin Pork with Pickled Daikon and Carrot and the other the Fruits and Cream made with a sweet waffle batter.

A great option for a quick, inexpensive breaky, and very kid friendly.

829 Davie Street 2521 Main Street
Breakfast hours:
Monday to Friday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
www.miurawafflemilkbar.ca
Photos

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tableau Bar Bistro

Same chef, new concept. At the Loden Hotel, what was Voya is now Tableau Bar Bistro, where the room and menu have been repurposed to cater more to locals – meaning less formal. Yes, we Vancouverites love good food, and we appreciate sophisticated food, however, essentially we are a casual town.

The French-inspired bistro theme creates a comfortable space and an approachable menu. While their offerings are classic, I think the specialness of the food is about its execution. My friend’s Duck Confit Hash with Poached Egg and Tomato Caponata was fresh-tasting and playfully presented and my Croque Monsieur was perfectly greasy (in the best way possible). Being a spot known for its cocktails, I was happy to see some interesting non-alcoholic drinks also available. The Spiced Apple Mule made with apple cider, lime juice and ginger beer was a highlight.

1181 Melville Street
Brunch hours: Sunday: 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
www.tableaubarbistro.com
Photos

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tango Contemporary Café (Honolulu, HI)

Given the fact that my friends live on the other side of the island from “town” and that I was on vacation, we had to make a concerted effort for the three of us to be up, ready and out of the house in time to make it to breakfast at Tango due to their short window for breakfast hours. After a couple of attempts, we finally made it.

Once there, I couldn’t decide between the Crab Hash Benedict or the “Loco Moco” Benedict. When I asked the server which of the two she would recommend, she said I didn’t have to choose, the kitchen would do one of each. Really?! Woohoo! I was embarrassingly excited about this revelation and most appreciative. The more flavours the better. Even though I loved the 5-spice braised beef on the loco moco, the crab benny was my favourite this day.

This café is run by a Swedish chef who appears to be running a tight ship, a little more refined than your average spot in town.

120-1288 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI
Breakfast hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Saturday/Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
www.tangocafehawaii.com
Photos

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

He’eia Pier General Store (Kaneohe, HI)

The He’eia Pier General Store and Deli, located at the end of the He’eia Pier (I suppose that goes without saying), has re-opened to great acclaim. Having sat empty for 3 years, this truly out-the-way gem (though only 5 minutes from my friend’s house) was recently taken over by a group of high-end chefs and restauranteurs, the nicest guys you would ever want to meet. They plan to use the revamped deli as a vehicle for sourcing and serving up the best local grindz. This is as Hawaiian as it gets, super casual, where seating consists of a couple of outdoor picnic tables and benches overlooking the bay.

My friend and I had stopped by a few days previous and we were both impressed immensely with our lunch. My Ahi BLT and her Guava-glazed Chicken with Taro Mac Salad were fantastic. When they mentioned “open for breakfast”, you know we had to come back, and we did. Meaning we ate there twice before they had even had their actual grand opening. Because of this, they were still operating from a limited menu. Our breakfast plates were fried rice with 2 eggs and our choice of sausages, ham, or bacon. By now they will be running with their full menus.

This is one of those places I do not want to tell people about as I want it keep it a secret. However, it is out of the way enough, that only those serious about food will make the effort. See you there!

46-499 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, HI
Breakfast hours: 7:00 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., Daily
www.heeiapier.com
Photos

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cinnamon’s (Kailua, HI)

Yes, Hawai’i. I am here again visiting friends and, of course, they indulge me in my breakfast quest – quite happily, I believe. First up, Cinnamon’s, a local institution since 1985 and they have the decor to prove it.

When I’m not in Vancouver, what I am looking for are breakfast items that I can’t get at home. For local flavour, I ordered their signature Guava Chiffon Pancakes. They looked syrupy sweet, but the sauce was just right. In fact, I added coconut sauce on top. Quite worthy of their “signature” designation, I say. My friend, after living here for over two years, is local enough that she is past the novelty of it all. She just orders what she feels like eating, which was the Baja Breakfast.

This was a great start to our breakfast in Hawai’i journey.

315 Uluniu Street, Kailua, HI
Breakfast hours: 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Daily
www.cinnamonsrestaurant.com
Photos

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Griffins at Hotel Vancouver

UPDATE (01/04/14): Griffins is temporarily closed for remodelling. 
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Today was another special birthday celebration for one of my closest friends, who happens to love Griffins. They serve an à la carte breakfast menu, as well as a breakfast buffet. We opted to go early for the buffet. I love a buffet for two reasons: one, the option of choosing from many different items; and two, the mini food.

The breakfast buffet here is what I would describe as family-style. Big dishes of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns casually displayed along with quiches, omelettes, and more. A make-your-own toast or cereal station plus a fruit station. We planned our strategy of starting out savoury first, finishing up with sweet, which included options of pancakes, waffles, crepes, cinnamon buns, pastries, and french toast.

We spent some of our time talking about her recent trip to Morocco, which she loved. We couldn’t help but discuss the contrast from how we live here. I feel truly grateful for the limitless choices that I have, in terms of food, and in life.

900 West Georgia Street, Hotel Vancouver
Breakfast hours (buffet only until 10:30 a.m.):
Monday to Friday: 6:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Saturday/Sunday 7:00 to 11:30 a.m.
Website
Photos

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mo:Lé (Victoria)

Another trip to Victoria, this time to celebrate a special birthday for my Mom. We drove out to one of her favourite ocean beach spots called Point no Point. She thought it would be funny to spend her birthday reflecting on the meaning of life while sitting at a place called “no point”. We had a good laugh.

We did make a point of having breakfast, however, at one of Victoria’s best breakfast spots, Mo:Lé. This trendy spot was busy, as usual, what they referred to as “controlled chaos”. I have to give the staff full credit, they handled the line-ups and the slightly high-maintenance customers (that being us) with enormous grace and genuine smiles.

Our food was on point, as well. My Mo:Lé Benny on a herbed biscuit with avocado and roasted tomato was served with their signature pesto potatoes. My Mom had the Creamy Sausage Omelette – rich enough for a Queen. Happy Birthday, Mom.

554 Pandora Avenue
Breakfast hours:
Monday to Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Saturday/Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
www.molerestaurant.ca
Photos

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Secret Garden Tea Company

My brother and his family recently moved to Vancouver from jolly old Victoria. I am happy to have them here, it has been a very long time since he and I have lived in the same city. We wanted to celebrate Easter brunch together and I thought that the Secret Garden Tea Company, given its English teahouse atmosphere, would make them feel right at home.

Renowned for their High Tea service, Secret Garden also offers breakfast and lunch menus. Without a doubt, the highlights here are the baked goods and beverage teas. Over 40 premium teas are available, and as a table we enjoyed the Vanilla Rooibos, Creamy Earl Grey, and Strawberry Kiwi Herbal. For food, my family mostly ordered cheddar omelettes (birds of a feather), but I think I hit the jackpot with my Gammy’s Apple Pancakes. I loved these pancakes – richly textured, crisped edges, and just the right amount of apples and cinnamon.

And remember the baked goods. We took some Easter treats home – egg-shaped sugar cookies, decorated fudge brownie bites, and heart-shaped cheddar scones.

5559 West Boulevard
Breakfast hours:
Monday to Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Sunday: 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.
www.secretgardentea.com
Photos

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Siegel’s Bagels

I realize that if I use the adjective “best”, I am inviting argy-bargy. Well, I’ll say it – Siegel’s Bagels has the best bagels in town. No contest.

This eat-in/take-out spot has been permeating Kits with its wood-fired baking aroma for over 20 years, and I’ve been stopping here for just as long. Most visits, however, have been for afternoon or late night snacks. As I was running around accomplishing errands today, my Egg McBagel fulfilled my same snack needs – quick, easy, tasty – in breakfast form. Besides the obvious bagel and cream cheese, there are a few other breakfast menu items all served 24 hours a day.

Signage at the store indicated an impending renovation to be completed next week.

1883 Cornwall Avenue
Breakfast hours: 24 hours/day, 7 days/week
www.siegelsbagels.com
Photos

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Geraldine’s Counter (Seattle, WA)

Seattle is similar to Vancouver in the way that it is a city of neighbourhoods. Our tourist destination this day was The Museum of Flight, and it’s location south of downtown Seattle led me to finding a breakfast spot in a neighbourhood I had never heard of before – Columbia City. This shows what I know, as after a little research, I discovered that it is deemed one of Seattle’s “hottest” and most diverse neighbourhoods. The business district is a charming strip of galleries, shops, yoga studios, and restaurants nestled in historic buildings, surrounded by mostly single-family, bungalow-style homes. A real small-town vibe.

Geraldine’s Counter has a similar feel – warm and welcoming as soon as we stepped in the door. Their all-day breakfast menu serves comfort food, with a few twists, executed at a high level. My Bacon, Egg, and Arugula Sandwich with tomato and aioli on a sourdough batard was delish. I am always amazed how the basic ingredients of bacon, eggs, and bread can be transformed from dish to dish, place to place.

This spot is popular and for very good reason.

4872 Rainier Avenue S, Seattle, WA
Breakfast hours:
Tuesday to Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Saturday/Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
www.geraldinescounter.com
Photos

Friday, April 1, 2011

5 Spot (Seattle, WA)

The 5 Spot is a long-time Seattle favourite and now one of mine. Their emphasis is on “American Regional Food”, meaning every three months or so, they change up their specials to reflect a different region of American cuisine. The current theme is “Tornado Alley”, referencing the states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa. The interesting folk art was also reflective of the motif including an Oklahoman farm house, a painting of Dorothy’s shoes, Nebraska Huskers memorabilia, and a giant hanging tornado sculpture. Even the washrooms were involved by playing The Wizard of Oz over the speaker system. This is what I call commitment to a theme.

To honour this dedication, we felt it necessary to order from the specials menu.
Him – Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs, and me – Tart Cherry and Cream Cheese French Toast. Yes, many places serve chicken fried steak or french toast, but when a restaurant does it right, such as the 5 Spot, it can be an elevating experience. I was caught up in their breakfast whirlwind.

1502 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle, WA
Breakfast hours: 8:30 a.m. to Midnight, Daily
(Note: closed 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday/Sunday)
www.chowfoods.com/five
Photos

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Calico Cupboard Café (Mount Vernon, WA)

What does a weekend getaway to Seattle mean? Yes! Breakfast in America! It seems to me that there are more restaurants in the States who dedicate themselves specifically to my favourite meal and the Calico Cupboard Café is one of them. With three locations in Skagit County (Anacortes, La Conner and Mount Vernon), we stopped in Mount Vernon as it was just off the highway on the way South. Those who are familiar with this drive will know the spot as it’s just beside the “tulip smokestack”.

The decor and menu reflect their country farmhouse theme. They are known for their baked goods, especially their giant cinnamon buns (apple, pecan, or raspberry). My partner’s Blueberry Cakes were made with whole wheat flour, which gave them a lovely nutty flavour. My Morning Glory Omelette was served with their delicious house-made bread and freezer jam. We left with big smiles and bellies.

On the road again.

121-B Freeway Drive, Mount Vernon, WA
Breakfast hours: 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Daily
www.calicocupboardcafe.com
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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Café Régalade (CLOSED)

UPDATE (02/07/14): When walking by I noticed a sign on the door that claimed they would be closed for one day due to “circumstances beyond their control”. The note was dated 01/15/14 and they haven’t yet reopened. Not sure if this is permanent or temporary. Upon further research it looks like there have been challenges since change of staff, and they have been open and closed several times over the past months. I’ll post if they reopen, but it doesn’t look likely.
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The pig decor was my first clue that I was going to love this place. I wish I could say I was letting you in on a little secret by telling you about this only one-week-old spot, however, given the lineups this morning the word is already out! Born as a sister to La Régalade in West Van (or some kind of relative, anyway), this family has the formula just right – French bistro flare with Kitsilano casual style. I especially want to acknowledge our hostess – she was fabulously charming.

Our meals reminded me that there is good reason why chefs often refer to themselves as “French-trained”. What is it that makes French food so special – passion? ingredients? technique? Whatever it is, it sent me to my “happy place”. My Paris Breakfast consisted of cast iron pan-roasted tomatoes with ham and garlic, coated in gooey Swiss cheese topped with perfectly cooked sunny up eggs, accompanied by amazing roasted potatoes, fresh baguette with butter, and a delicately dressed green salad. Shhh. Don’t talk. Just let me enjoy. My partner’s Lyon Breakfast was equally drool-worthy – as above but instead with bacon, mushrooms, spinach, pearl onions in a red wine sauce. We were cochon-ified.

I could wax poetic about Café Régalade, but I'll shorten it to a bold statement: this is my new favourite breakfast spot. J’adore!

2836 West 4th Avenue
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday: 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
www.caferegalade.ca
Photos

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Beachside Forno

UPDATE (04/16/13): They are now closed.
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Sunshine – score! We had plans to meet friends in Ambleside for a round of pitch and putt golf and thankfully, the weather played along. But, of course, first we needed a warmup. Just a short drive from the golf course, the Beachside Forno was the perfect location. With plenty of free parking, there are no obstacles to dining here. Another striking feature of this location is their patio with a view to the beach and beyond to Stanley Park and English Bay, definitely one of the best patio brunch destinations in the city.

The menu has a few highlights, as well. I’m always up for a non-traditional take on a benny, and my Braised Short Rib on Apple-Potato Pancake Benny was just that. But I think they’ve really hit their sweet spot with their Breakfast Pizza concoctions. Today’s special was chorizo, provolone, topped with an herb egg scramble.

I score this experience as a par. As expected, and completely satisfying.

1362 Marine Drive, West Vancouver
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
www.beachsideforno.com
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Friday, March 18, 2011

Marulilu Café

I am known to be a stickler for many things, but menu spelling is not one of them. I love seriously misspelled menu items. (Side note: no lie, I just had to look up how to spell “misspell”.) On this particular menu, my favourite was the “toasted cinammon raisen bagle”. Super cute.

I admire the folks who run Marulilu - they are sweet beyond belief and obviously run their café with their heart. And their combination Japanese/Canadian all-day breakfast menu is strangely unique. On the Canadian side, items such as simple bacon, eggs, and toast. On the Japanese side breakfast is salmon, rice, plain omelet, and tofu. For me, the highlight was definitely my waffle, served with whipped cream, chocolate whipped cream, and syrup.

451 West Broadway
Breakfast hours:
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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Banners Friendly Restaurant

Because we were in our “Vancouver” sweats this morning (me in yoga gear and him in fleece pants), we wanted a low-key joint. Banners was it, serving up no-fuss, all-day breakfast.

Our server was great. We appreciated her efficient, friendly service, and she directed us to the best bang-for-our-buck options, such as the Mountain Breakfast – 2 eggs, 2 bacon, 2 sausage, 2 pancakes and country potatoes for $6.25. Nothin’ fancy, just hearty breakfast.

No lineups, big portions, cheap, free refills, booth seating – pappy approved.

1690 East 12th Avenue
Breakfast hours: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Daily
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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Caffé Barney (Main Street)

Sunday, 11:00 a.m. – breakfast prime time – I wasn’t surprised to find Caffé Barney busy. Even so, there was a table or two still available. And yes, they will direct you to your table by yelling at you. The reason for the yelling? It was LOUD! I share this not to deter you, instead to prepare you. Anyone interested in sound engineering would find the acoustics here fascinating.

Me, I found my Eggsotic Benny fascinating. Rich avocado, briny shrimp, and fresh tomato – a great combo. And the surprise for me was the hollandaise. It’s one of those foods where I cannot really determine its excellence by visual alone. Upon tasting, this one is yummy. I wonder if it’s made from scratch, does anyone know?

I know that if you go on a weekend, get ready to yell.

2526 Main Street
Breakfast hours:

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sylvia Hotel

I am continually amazed by the fact that there always seems to be the perfect place to go for breakfast which suits my mood and needs. Today it was the landmark Sylvia Hotel. A friend and I were meeting to catch up, so we needed somewhere where we would feel free to take our time. Also I was feeling a little under the weather and wanted to be somewhere that felt warm and comforting. And it is located 3 blocks from said friend’s home. Choice made.

I believe the best word I can think of to describe the setting, menu, and service here is “classic”. Overlooking English Bay, what view is more Vancouver than this? Our Stanley Park Benny and Denver Omelette, served with crispy fried potatoes, were executed in a way that I feel would appeal to a broad audience from children to elderly patrons, which is mostly who you will find here. Cute.

The next time you need a big hug for breakfast, go here.

1154 Gilford Street
Breakfast hours:
Monday to Saturday: 7:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Sunday: 7:00 a.m to 11:00 a.m.
Sunday brunch: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
www.sylviahotel.com/restaurant
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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bon’s Off Broadway

I cannot believe after living in Vancouver for 22 years, today was the first time I’ve made it to Bon’s. Crazy, but true.

Yes, they’ve been delivering their $2.95 breakfast special for 25 years now. Not much else has changed in the past 25 years, either. I would put money on the fact that it’s still the same tableware (now chipped), tables (now wobbly), decor (80s movie posters and graffiti), paint (mustard yellow), music (rockin’ at high decibels), and carpets (just don’t look). The place is real.

I was fascinated by the broad cross-section of customers (from crusty to cultured), and everyone seemed quite content with their experience. It’s a must-see Vancouver institution – I’m just not sure which kind. ;)

2451 Nanaimo Street
Breakfast hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00 a.m to 8:00 p.m.
Saturday/Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Crème de la Crumb Bakery

While on my way to a meeting this morning, I wanted a quick bite, and this sweet little bakery provided the perfect solution. What caught my eye immediately were the Cinnamon Buns – perfect ratio of dough to filling, more cinnamon-y than sweet, soft chewy texture.

As I was waiting for my bun and tea, the owner let me know that they are known for their scones. There was a great selection: lime and coconut, cranberry and white chocolate, cheddar and apple, apple and cinnamon, vanilla and pear. I was sold. I bought one “to take home”. Ha! Didn’t make it 5 minutes before I tore off a piece.

As I continued to eat my Cheddar and Apple Scone, I heard myself thinking “wow, what a light, fluffy crumb.” Then I thought, “strange, I have never heard myself refer to the “crumb” of a baked good before. Either this bakery has the name (and baking) just right or I’ve been watching too many episodes of the Next Great Baker.” Probably both.

466 Granville Street
Breakfast hours: Monday to Friday, 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
www.cremedelacrumb.com
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tapenade Bistro (Steveston)

In honour of my recent birthday, I was treated to a lovely brunch by a very special person – my aunt. Because she lives in Richmond, I wanted to take the opportunity to breakfast in charming Steveston. Although the Tapenade Bistro is located on the tourist trail, do not let the location fool you, the food is quality.

For those of you who know me, you know I would never pass up a menu item called "The Piggy” – a bean ragout with pork belly confit, poached eggs and hollandaise. But even more intriguing was the item called “The Piggy Royale”. The menu said “ask your server about the Royale”. So I did. The above with duck confit? She said every time someone ordered it, it made the chef very happy. Wow, duck confit and making someone else happy? Uh, yes, please. Upon first bite, I had one of those moments where I quiver with delight. In fact, I loved every bite from first to last. My aunt’s Bacon and Gruyere Frittata with caramelized onions was also delicious. We ended the meal on a perfect note sharing the Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Afterwards, we strolled the shops around the village. A wonderful time!

3711 Bayview Street, Steveston
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
www.tapenade.ca
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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Au Petit Chavignol (CLOSED)

UPDATE (04/14/13): Sadly they are now closed.
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I want to go back already! For those who aren’t aware, Au Petit Chavignol is a wine- and cheese-focused restaurant partnered with neighbouring shop, Les Amis du Fromage. Forgoing the wine, I did venture ever so delicately into the cheese arena. In hindsight, I should have dove in!

We had a scrumptious brunch – Pork Belly Eggs Benedict, Corned Beef Hash, Serrano Ham, Manchego, and Egg Sandwich, Grilled Cheese Sandwich, and French Onion Soup - all executed in a simple, classic manner. Yet, I am now wondering why I did not order the poutine? Or the Croque Madame? Or the Raclette? Next time. And soon.

Gratefully, we did have the smarts to get two orders of the fresh-from-the-oven-to-table chocolate cookies! Slightly crispy outside and warm, oozing chocolate on the inside, almost brownie-like. The cookies are incredibly rich and I noticed they were served in paper bags, as if it was assumed one would not be able to finish them all in one sitting, and could take them home. Yeah, right. Nothing but empty paper bags were left.

845 East Hastings Street
Brunch Hours: Saturday/Sunday: 11:00 to 3:00 p.m.
www.aupetitchavignol.com
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