Sunday, December 22, 2013

Burdock & Co

Sometimes an address has bad restaurant karma. You know those ones, restaurant after restaurant opens and closes without much fanfare, never seeming to catch on. The spot where Burdock & Co resides is the opposite. I’ve enjoyed every restaurant that’s occupied this location in the last several years – Ping’s, Cafeteria, and now Burdock & Co. Sure, they have come and gone, but I appreciated them while they were here. I quote Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

This morning, I was the first customer to cross the threshold into the welcoming space. This modern rustic/industrial decor seems to be my thing lately. I also liked the attention to small details such as the purse hooks on the bar tables. This buoyed my hope that the same care will be given to the food. While waiting for my often-ever-so-slightly-less-than-on-time friends, I glanced through the menu. Even though it is a relatively short list – only 8 items – it covered the entire gamut of appetites from vegan to vegetarian to chicken to pork to beef. I was impressed by its versatility. I thought this would suit my party well as one friend is a decided carnivore, the other leans to vegetarian, and I fall somewhere in the middle. And as I predicted, we all ordered accordingly. One friend ordered the Beef Brisket Ramen, the other the Fried Eggs on Toast with Humous and Wild Mushrooms, and I the Fried Chicken with Pickled Vegetables. We also ordered “for the table” the Grilled Maple Fennel Bacon and Gluten-Free Scone with Preserves. Just as I had presumed, the specialness of these dishes were in the subtle details. Delicately roasted baby mushrooms, beautifully presented beet pickles, and perfectly cooked eggs were some of the highlights.

Speaking of minding the details, our server, who was great overall attending to our various finicky requests, also divvied up the bill correctly without even needing to ask. It’s the little things that add up to a bountiful experience.

2702 Main Street
Brunch hours:
Weekends: 10:30 a.m to 2:00 p.m.
burdockandco.com
Photos

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Catch 122

Over the past couple of months, I have been completely remiss in my breakfast adventures. My delinquency was not from lack of desire, it was due to lack of priority. My schedule recently changed so that I am temporarily working weekend mornings, and my business takes precedence over breakfast – happily (I’m one of those oddballs who loves their work).

But two months was my limit, I needed a breakfast outing so I invited friends to join me for a late meal. It was a bit challenging to source a restaurant serving brunch after 2:30 p.m. Hooray for Catch 122! When I arrived, I thought it would be fairly empty due to the time, but apparently we were not the only ones who wanted to enjoy an afternoon feast. My friends opted for lunch selections, but I was happy with the brunch menu. I was debating between the Short Rib Eggs Benedict and the Pumpkin Bread French Toast, until one of my companions piped up voicing her desire to try the french toast. I suggested we all share it for breakfast dessert, that way I got to have both of my choices, and they concurred. Good friends.

After my steaming mulled apple cider arrived, I had a moment to sit back and take in the scene. Catch 122 has great ambience, a juxtaposition of historical industrial with modern comfort. The energy was lively, but not loud. The service was on top of everything, I felt well taken care of. Overall, a pleasing experience – interesting menu, good vibe, good hours, and the icing on the cake was the incredible pumpkin french toast stuffed with apple chutney and topped with vanilla sour cream cheese. Actually, it would have been better if we had each ordered our own dessert. Go on, breakfast dessert is perfectly reasonable, especially if your belated repast ends up being breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

122 West Hastings Street
Breakfast hours: Weekdays, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Brunch hours: Weekends and holidays, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
www.catch122.ca
Photos

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Finch’s Tea & Coffee House

Finch’s Tea & Coffee House is a Vancouver favourite for lunchtime, but I had not considered it before for breakfast. They serve a short breakfast menu, but really, their entire menu of baguette sandwiches, salads, and cheese plates would all make for a delicious breakfast.

Their food is beautifully presented, think of it as “picnic style”. Baguettes brimming with fresh ingredients are delivered to your table in butcher paper. The most popular sandwich is their Pear, Blue Brie, Prosciutto, and Walnuts – a great union of salty-sweet, creamy-crunchy.

Finch’s has an inviting charm, decorated in farmhouse chic. While sipping my loose-leaf tea, I admired small touches like the chipped vintage plates, antique table lamps, and the fresh flowers. Lineups are perpetual and seating is limited. Regardless, there always seems to be a table available for you.

353 West Pender Street
Breakfast hours:
Monday to Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
www.finchteahouse.com
Photos

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Tipper

Having been sequestered for the summer on a book-writing sabbatical, it’s been a while since I’ve been to breakfast. Yesterday was my first foray out to a restaurant in two months. My, how time flies. With the weather turning chilly, I was on a mission to the Daniadown Factory Outlet Store in search of a new down comforter. On the way, we stopped in at The Tipper, also known as The Bottle Tipper, an East Van neighbourhood pub and restaurant.

Even though it was later in the afternoon, I was delighted by the fact that the breakfast menu was served til 5 p.m. At first glance the menu seems typical, but actually it offers some twists on the usual. Nutella french toast, spicy sambal oelek scrambled eggs, or buckwheat pancakes are some good examples. I went with the more familiar BELTCH Sandwich – bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato and cheddar cheese. A very tasty breakfast sandwich, name notwithstanding.

By the way, the outlet store was sold out of queen-size quilts. Apparently I’m not the only one who is cold.

2066 Kingsway Avenue
Breakfast hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Daily
thetipperrestaurant.blogspot.ca
Photos

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chouchou Crêpes

Back in the late 1960s an enterprising Canadian started manufacturing Boler Trailers. They are super cute. And in 2013, an enterprising French woman started manufacturing Chouchou Crêpes in her converted Boler. Très chic.

Most often she’s located in the newest Vancouver food “pod” on Hamilton between Georgia and Dunsmuir. I needed breakfast this morning before heading out of town on the train. I ordered the Madame Marie – Ham, Mozzarella, Apple Compote and Greens. Made in minutes, devoured in less time.

The whole experience was no fuss, no muss. Just the way it should be. Merci.

Hamilton Street at Georgia Street
Breakfast hours: Check Vancouver Street Food App for most reliable times
Photos

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Tacofino Commissary

When I experienced the original taco truck in Tofino years ago, I was an instant fan. The food was ah-mazing, and you cannot beat the environ. Of course, being on holiday in magical Tofino, fresh from a day on the water, lends an irreplaceable mystique to the whole situation. I have followed up with many visits to the Tacofino truck here in Vancouver, where I am always enamoured with the eats. I was happy to find the same goes for the Tacofino Commissary.

My Skirt Steak Torta with fried egg and pickled vegetables pacified a craving I didn’t even know I had. Since my recent move, I no longer have a BBQ. I was reminded of the primal instinct for tasting food cooked over fire when that smoky, tender grilled beef hit my palate. It was like being plugged into the font of all flavour. My friend, who always orders chorizo burritos wherever we go, had the Chorizo Verde Burrito, which was probably the best rendition I've ever tasted. Not sure what fairy dust the cook threw in there, but it packed punch. And without any fanfare, the Tater Tots are listed on the bottom of the menu, but don’t miss these salty, crunchy potato bits of yum served with homemade ketchup. Thankfully, I also had the foresight to request the Banana Churros for dessert at the time of ordering. Otherwise, we might have been too full and given them a pass. These are the pinnacle of deep-fried, sugar-coated doughy goodness.

Granted, East Hastings doesn’t match Tofino in ambiance, but don’t let that stop you from riding over to this great spot. The communal picnic tables and cranked music will cause you to reminisce about that time when you were somewhere fun.

2327 East Hastings Street
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday: 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
tacofinocommissary.com
Photos

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Aussie Pie Guy

Given my current nomadic lifestyle, I do appreciate the appearance of more and more food trucks on the streets of Vancouver. Aussie Pie Guy just started their engine last week. Parked in front of the QE theatre, it was a great spot for me as it was in between my work gigs.

These pies are the perfect street food. Easy to hold and eat with one hand. Neatly contain the fillings, no food falling on my clothes. Right-sized for a on-the-go bite to eat. Great crust, flaky and light. I had the Brekkie Pie (of course), which was filled with eggs, bacon, and caramelized onions. They have several other more lunch-y options. I liked the sound of the Porky Pie and the Sweetie Pie.

My only disappointment was I didn’t get to meet the Aussie guy on the Aussie Pie Guy truck.

Hamilton Street at West Georgia
Hours: 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
www.aussiepieguy.com
Photos

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vancouver loves breakfast

Today my breakfast blog hit 400,000 page views – wowza! Vancouverites et al, you love your breakfasts! Me, too.

More to come...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Beljam’s Waffles

NOTE (12/20/13): They are closed for the winter season, reopening in the spring.
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Another quick spot close to where I work, another waffle joint. Beljam’s is a brand new food truck, just launched last week. Seems as though they will be roaming the Broadway and Cambie area.

Their waffles are presented as cones to contain the fillings – a nice variety of sweet or savoury, breakfast or lunch. I went for the Traditional Bacon and Egg Waffle Cone for breakfast. The waffle itself has good flavour, and I liked the texture, it was slightly on the soft side, which helped because you’re eating it with a fork.

They say their fried chicken waffle cone is already a bestseller. Next time I’ll be having lunch.

Cambie and 8th (check website to confirm exact location)
Breakfast hours: Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
www.beljams.com
Photos

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Relish (Victoria)

Even though it was early on a Saturday morning, I was surprised to arrive to a near empty restaurant as I was expecting a lineup out the door. And after our breakfast experience, I am super surprised. I’m not clear on the backstory of Relish, perhaps they only started serving brunch recently, thus people aren’t aware of it yet. Lucky us.

I couldn’t have been more impressed with the food. I love a creative menu, and even more, I love the perfect execution of that menu. I had difficulty choosing between the locally-sourced, culturally-diverse inspired options – congee, tagine, katsu. A friend had recommended the House Smoked Mackerel Benny, and I’m grateful I took her advice. My benny came on a beautifully crisped and seasoned rosti and topped with a fennel frond vinaigrette. The accompanying slow-roasted tomatoes and house salad were incredibly flavourful, as well. My Mom’s House Made Meats breakfast was, as she said, a “man’s breakfast”, the highlight being a sampling of the in-house made maple sausages, thick-cut bacon, and smoked pork. Served with roasted potatoes, toast, eggs, salad, and stewed onions and peppers, it was way more food than she could finish herself.

On top of the great food, it’s a great space and the staff are sweet. Highly recommended. Go before there’s a permanent lineup.

920 Pandora Avenue, Victoria
Brunch hours: Saturday only: 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
www.relishfoodcoffee.com
Photos

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Forage

I’m beginning to wonder if I have a lot of (hotel) travelling in my near future. You’ve heard me say it before and I’ll say it again – I love hotel restaurants! Is this weird? Am I the only one? I love the mixed crowd of locals and tourists, especially the tourists. I can feel their excited anticipation of yet another day of adventure, open to whatever unfolds. There always seems to be a heightened sense of lightness and fun in these types of establishments. Forage was no different.

Forage is located in the Listel Hotel, taking space from what used to be O’Douls. Though they are not known for their location, but instead for their food philosophy. They were recently given the “Green Award” from Vancouver Magazine. They emphasize sustainability by using locally-sourced food products, enacting energy and water conservation principles, and composting. Though, the only aspect we are able to see is the food. And it is beauteous.

My friend knew right away that she wanted the Turkey Sausage Hash. I had trouble choosing as I wanted to try several dishes, and after talking my friend into sharing breakfast dessert, I went with the Seafood Chowder, so that I would have room for the Pumpkin Brioche French Toast. My plan worked perfectly.

1300 Robson Street
Breakfast hours:
Monday to Friday: 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Saturday/Sunday: 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Brunch hours:
Saturday/Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
www.foragevancouver.com
Photos

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Commune Café

I was on my way from here to there this morning, running errands on foot, and Commune Café was in between my destinations – sort of. As I sat waiting for my meal watching the busy vehicle morning commuter traffic on both Seymour and Nelson Streets, it struck me how different the restaurant would feel if it were situated overlooking a park or the water. Those settings would serve to amplify its simplicity in design and clean aesthetic.

The idea behind the Commune Café is to bring people together, which is why, obviously, the seating area is monopolized by a communal table. I guess I wasn’t feeling communal today as I settled myself into one of the four booths instead. My Corned Beef Hash was enough to share, however. A substantial amount of potatoes with a generous sprinkling of corned beef, caramelized onions, and steamed kale, topped with two poached eggs and hollandaise.

Full up, I was ready to hit the pavement again and carry on to my next stop.

1002 Seymour Street
Breakfast hours:
Monday to Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Saturday/Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
communecafe.ca
Photos

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Solly’s Bagelry

I wanted a quick breakfast today, so I walked over to the nearby Solly’s Bagelry (there are three locations around town). They identify themselves as a homestyle Jewish bakery and deli, their specialty being bagels - boiled and baked in the traditional way. I prefer these type of bagels - the soft, chewy, dense texture with the crusty exterior.

Breakfast options are several different egg-wiches. My Roasted Veggie Eggel consisted of onions, peppers, and mushrooms over scrambled eggs topped with melted cheddar, my choice of bagel (always sesame). If I had been thinking clearly, I would have added a shmear of cream cheese. I also opted for a potato latke for an extra $1.50.

The thought kept popping into my head that this would be good hangover food.

368 West 7th Avenue
Breakfast hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Saturday/Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
www.sollysbagelry.com
Photos

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Scandilicious

Even though the hundredth monkey effect has been “discredited” by scientists, I think a study of local eateries proves otherwise. Why is it that so many of the same type of fooderie pop up at the same general time? Recently, Vancouver has had its taco phenomenon, a fired-oven pizza phase, and now waffles. Five new spots have opened in the last several months, Scandilicious being one of them.

Putting sweet or savoury options atop freshly baked waffles has always been a good idea. I went sweet and savoury by ordering the Valhalla – a Brussels waffle with maple bacon jam, back bacon, bacon bits, and maple syrup. The housemade maple bacon jam was the kicker with subtle spicy heat making it the perfect breakfast dish. They also had some sweet spread options I was eager to try – such as peanut butter caramel or gingerbread spice – however I was already so satisfied, I decided to wait for another time.

I foresee a lot of waffles in my near future.

1340 Commercial Drive
Breakfast hours:
Monday to Saturday: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
www.scandilicious.com
Photos

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Snug Café (Bowen Island)

I am currently writing a book (not breakfast related – though maybe one day), and for that reason among others, I recently moved to Bowen Island. I still operate my business in Vancouver and spend half my week in the city, then I return home to peaceful, spacious, tree-filled Bowen Island.

Today a friend came to visit and we spent the day experiencing many of the highlights Bowen has to offer, starting with breakfast at The Snug. This locals-filled, cozy spot is always busy and chatty. Ordering is done first at the front, and when I chose The Royal (scrambled eggs with salmon, cream cheese, and dill), the owner proclaimed my good taste (and it was good tasting). Then help yourself to the self-serve coffee and tea station, your choice of bagged or loose teas, and grab a seat.

After soaking up the friendly vibes, head out, as we did, and enjoy the 1.5 hour walk around Killarney Lake. On your way back, visit the Knick Knack Nook (thrift store), and then hike up the hill to have a beverage or snack at Artisan Eats. Explore the little shops and galleries, before slowly making your way back through the village and onto the ferry. A most pleasant day for locals and visitors alike.

445 Bowen Island Trunk Road, Bowen Island
Breakfast hours: 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., Daily
www.snugcafe.ca
Photos

Friday, February 22, 2013

Argo Café

Walking through the front door, I felt like I had stepped into a time capsule. The Argo is an authentic old school diner open since the 50s, and it still has the same formica countertops and fluorescent lighting. Reminiscent of a humble “working man’s” eatery, the majority of the booths were full up with construction workers from local sites, and elbowed up to the counter were guys reading newspapers. When asked what I wanted to drink, I actually felt a bit silly asking if they had any herbal tea, the request seemed so at odds with the place.

Because the lunch menu changes almost daily, there are no printed menus, only chalkboards on the walls. And while the breakfast offerings were typical greasy spoon, the cooking was not. The kitchen here knows how to cook. My flapjacks were fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside, just the way I love them. My friend’s sunny-up eggs were perfectly done.

The staff here are completely unaffected and easy-going. And they did manage to find me some green tea, bless them.

1836 Ontario Street
Breakfast hours: Monday to Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Note: cash only
www.argocafe.ca
Photos

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hot Chocolate Festival 2013

This falls a little outside the realm of breakfast, however, for the last few weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, several bakeries, cafés, and chocolatiers have been participating in the 3rd annual Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival, hosted by City Food Magazine. There were over 60 flavours available, I had the opportunity to try eight different offerings, and was so impressed by the diversity and creativity, I wanted to give the artisans and the event a small shout-out.

While I enjoyed each chocolatey concoction for its own uniqueness, there were a few standouts. The owner at Leonidas shared her brainchild, which wasn’t even on the festival menu. The Boho consisted of dark chocolate with turmeric, pepper, peppermint, and honey. It sounds a little strange, but it was outstanding. Imagine earthy, spicy mint chocolate. Not surprisingly, Thierry Chocolaterie produced a divine drink, the Oh Canada!, maple pecan hot chocolate. The other that made me swoon was Beaucoup Bakery’s Joy + Salt, salted caramel milk hot chocolate.

Looking forward to trying more at next year’s event.

For descriptions of the others, visit Photos.
Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival 2013

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Le Parisien

When my brother commented jokingly to our server that she is too nice to be working at a French restaurant, she replied, “everyone here is nice. And, it’s only my second day, I’ll work on my scowl.” In ambiance, Le Parisien truly feels like an authentic Parisian bistro. Bringing back memories of my travels years ago, “you have to go to Paris,” I told my brother. He rolled his eyes at me. Apparently I was stating the obvious.

The menu offers traditional French bistro food. Although, my choice was a North American invention, still, my Duck Confit Eggs Benedict was divine. My comedian brother commented that it looked like I was “vibrating” after every bite. It came with a choice of hash brown potatoes or salad or both. That’s an easy decision. My brother also enjoyed his Braised Beef Hash, similar ingredients to mine, just a different arrangement.

Being located in West End, notoriously challenged for parking, a big bonus is the free lot out back. You have to go.

751 Denman Street
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
www.leparisien.ca
Photos

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Dunlevy Snackbar (UPDATED)

UPDATE (07/23/13): After receiving the aforementioned liquor licence, the owner has decided to focus on bevvies and snacks for evening service only. No more brunch.
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Dunlevy Snackbar epitomizes the latest entrepreneurial movement towards everything handmade. It has the feel of an artists studio – a commercial space in an under-utilized area, filled with particle-board counters, assorted vintage dishware, hand-stamped paper art, and repurposed light fixtures. From what I understand, this 22-seater started with the owner building the space and running the show himself, yet continues to evolve over time (just got their liquor licence this month). Our server seemed so delighted that she could offer us Caesars or Mimosas.

Their 4-item breakfast menu changes randomly, I assume according to whimsey and/or supplies, and usually there is a special available. We had the Baked Eggs and the Euro Breakfast. Love the idea of the Euro breakfast, curious that it’s not offered at more places. The experience was low key, like a buddy was making us breakfast over at his place.

433 Dunlevy Avenue
Breakfast hours (according to menu):
Saturday/Sunday: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
www.dunlevysnackbar.com
Photos

Friday, January 11, 2013

Lucky’s Doughnuts by 49th Parallel Coffee

For a moment the thought crossed my mind, “Coffee and doughnuts? That’s not really breakfast.“ Then that thought passed. What’s more breakfasty than a Peanut Butter and Jelly Doughnut or a Apple Bacon Fritter with Maple Glaze? I loved these doughnuts. The PB&J had strong peanut butter flavour and the jelly filling was perfect, a liberal amount, not to sweet, not to tart. The fritter tasted like eating pancakes with maple syrup and bacon. Smoky salty sweet.

And my Americano coffee was also alarmingly delicious. I quit drinking coffee over 10 years ago, and this drink just might start my habit again. Now I know why people have been raving about 49th Parallel Coffee for years.

Coffee and doughnuts. Mmmm, breakfast.

2902 Main Street
Breakfast hours (as long as they don’t sell out):
Monday to Saturday: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
www.luckysdoughnuts.com
Photos

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fable

As many people know, the restaurant’s name was born on Top Chef Canada and comes from the concept of “farm to table”. Because of Fable’s origins, I realize that I went in today with uncharacteristically high expectations. As a result, I found myself being finicky and vocal about it, “this table’s too small”, “it’s cold in here”. Our server took it all in stride, solved every grievance calmly and effectively, without a single ounce of resistance, “let’s change out this table”, “I'll check on the heat”. I was so impressed with her. She also keenly navigated my non-pork eating friend through the pork-riddled menu.

To me, what makes the food at Fable stand out is its execution. I had the scrambled eggs, hash browns, toast, and a side of bacon. It sounds like every day fare, but each element was uniquely crafted and brought together to tell an original tale. Thoughtfulness could be found in every detail on the plate such as velvety creamy parmesan eggs, a brick-shaped rosti lending many sides for tasty caramelization, delicate house-made brioche, and the perfect thick slice of bacon served with seasonally-spiced apple jam.

True to their name, they are becoming a legendary story.

1944 West 4th Avenue
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday: 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
www.fablekitchen.ca
Photos

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Yummy Sushi

I agree with comments I’ve read from others about this place – this restaurant is misnamed. More appropriate would be “bare-bones, hole-in-the-wall that serves straight-up $2.99 breakfast from enthusiastic husband/wife team”.

Being a business owner myself, I know the challenges of surviving in the business world. To be honest, I don’t know how they do it – serving large portion breakfasts for such a little price in such a small place. It was empty when we arrived, but soon filled with regulars who were greeted with a similar statement, “You don’t need menu, right Bob?” Obviously, they are meeting the needs of their loyal customers who keep coming back for more. Aha! The secret to business success.

1980 Pine Street
Breakfast hours:
Monday: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tuesday-Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday/Sunday/Holidays: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Photos