Sunday, October 19, 2014

Calabash Bistro

Calabash Bistro was the perfect setting for an extended catch-up session with a good friend. As advertised, this place really does have good vibes – and good food – both of the Caribbean flavour. Ah, my feet are tapping and my mouth is watering just remembering it now.

My Caribbean Crab Cakes Benny with Coconut Hollandaise was both spicy and tangy. A dance on the tongue. My friend’s Oxtail Stew was rich in depth of flavour and braised to tender. She moved in her seat with delight. The perfect beverage to accompany is the head-bopping housemade sparkling Ginger Beer.

If you are looking for somewhere to groove brunch, look no further.

428 Carrall Street
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
calabashbistro.com
Photos

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Salmon House on the Hill

A small group of us were gathering for brunch to celebrate my friend’s fortieth birthday. She requested a “room with a view”, thus we ended up at the Salmon House on the Hill – a window-wrapped room perched up on the hillside of the West Vancouver neighbourhood Panorama Village, looking out over downtown Vancouver and beyond.

This restaurant is what I would refer to as traditional West coast – a conventional, wood-beamed room serving an approachable menu. It’s the type of place where you could take any family member from 1 to 99 and all would be comfortable. We were well catered to and felt suitably pampered for a birthday brunch.

The Salmon House is a long-standing choice for special family celebrations. If you go for the view, you will be charmed, for sure.

2229 Folkestone Way, West Vancouver
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
www.salmonhouse.com
Photos

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Linh Café

The Linh Café has recently opened its doors as a “new” brunch spot in Kits. I use quotes because I’m not sure if it’s an entirely fresh creation, or a rejuvenated version of Café Régalade, which used to occupy this location. I don’t know the actual story, but there seemed to be clues that there were strong ties between the Linh Café and its predecessor. The first clue was that the pig décor remains (actually, almost all of the furnishings were still the same). The second clue was the some of the brunch menu items seemed very close in nature to the previous menu. The final clue was that my breakfast was served in the same execution as before – in an oven-hot, cast-iron skillet served atop wooden planks covered with the classic red gingham paper.

My Paris Breakfast, while obviously not intending to be an authentic Parisian breakfast (i.e., it’s not coffee and bread), was appropriately decadent: grilled tomatoes and ham topped with gooey cheese and sunny up eggs, served with French baguette and delicately dressed greens. My breakfast was also representative of the amazing-looking ham and cheese croissants on display. My friend made a bold claim and announced her Hanoi Breakfast was the best Pho she had ever tasted. She loved the rich beef broth, lightly seasoned with five spice.

Whether it’s reborn or an original, the Linh Café is welcome.

2836 West 4th Avenue
Brunch hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
linhcafe.com
Photos

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Troll’s Restaurant (Horseshoe Bay)

Today’s breakfast was impromptu, occurring due to the fact that I missed my ferry by two minutes resulting in an hour wait in Horseshoe Bay. I wandered by Troll’s and their outdoor patio was too inviting to pass up on this glorious sunny day.

Troll’s is renowned for their fish and chips, so I assumed anything fried on the menu would be good. And I was right. The hashbrowns were deep-fried with rosemary. Love that. My Ham and Cheese Omelette was simple, just what my appetite fancied.

Horseshoe Bay is a small community that primarily serves as a stopping point for the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal and destinations beyond – Bowen Island, the Sunshine Coast, and Nanaimo. Because most of the businesses here are used to serving the ferry commuters, they are experienced with people only having short periods of time for dining. As a result, the service and food here is a snap. Forty minutes all told – check in, sit down, peruse menu, order, sip tea, gaze at scenery, receive food, eat leisurely, pay bill, visit washroom to check no food in teeth, and walk back to ferry terminal to catch my ride. Just right.

6408 Bay Street, Horseshoe Bay
Breakfast hours:
Monday to Friday: 6:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Saturday/Sunday: 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
www.trollsrestaurant.com
Photos

Saturday, June 21, 2014

El Camino’s

I’m not one to allow other’s opinions affect me having my own experience. Before visiting El Camino’s, I did check out some online reviews, which were mixed between “meh” and “yeah!”. After visiting I think I get why. This is one of those places that can be polarizing depending on your preferences.

I loved the space. It had a lively atmosphere with great taste in music, just loud enough to get my morning energy pumping. Others complained the tables were too close and music a little too loud. The servers were very laid back, perfect for a lazy brunch, but others might grouch and call them slow. There were plenty of interesting options on the South-of-the-Border–inspired menu. My vegetarian-inclined friend ordered the Huevos Divorciados – two tostadas, each topped with beans, eggs and a split of red and green salsas. Her report was kind, but not raving. On the other hand, I was extremely enthused about my Chorizo Benny with guacamole. One of the tastiest bennys I remember having in a very long time.

Final thoughts... My friend said, “Okay.” I said, “Hooray!” You’ll have to go to decide for yourself.

3250 Main Street
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

www.elcaminos.ca
Photos

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Mamie Taylor’s

This is the second time I’ve been treated to a special occasion meal at Mamie Taylor’s. The first was a birthday dinner; this time a thank you brunch. I was as thrilled this time as the last. Mamie Taylor’s cooks up my favourite bill of fare – modern twists on comfort food classics, more specifically, riffs on American Southern dishes.

While I’ve heard of the Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich before, this is the first time I’ve ever seen it on a Vancouver restaurant menu, and also the first time I’ve ever consumed one. The sandwich consists of several decadent layers of turkey confit, mornay sauce, fresh ripe tomatoes, onion jam (Mamie’s unique addition), and crispy bacon. Instead of traditional white toast, this mess of deliciousness was set atop their “freedom” toast. My treating friend relished the Chicken Fried Steak with charred green tomatoes. Another winner.

There were also some serious contenders for dessert, but we were already across the finish line. I’ll have to wait until someone else wants to take me here for a celebratory meal. Who’s buying?

212 East Georgia Street
Brunch hours:
Saturday/Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
www.mamietaylors.ca
Photos

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Waffle Gone Wild

Adorable. All of it. The space. The staff. The waffles. Even the hand-drawn art on the takeout boxes.

Waffle Gone Wild offers unique fruity combinations such as the Orange Delight or the Banana Split. The staff take pride in presentation delivering artfully-crafted plates. I opted for the Strawberry Heaven, a strawberry coconut waffle topped with a bouquet of strawberries, whipped cream, and a generous swirl of dark chocolate syrup. My friend selected the more Japanese-inspired California Waffle filled with crab and nori, essentially a California roll in wafflewich form. He followed it up with a heart-healthy bowl of hot oatmeal and maple syrup topped with plenty of perfectly ripe fresh fruit.

This place made my heart happy.

2967 West Broadway
Breakfast hours:
Sunday/Monday/Wednesday/Thursday: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Friday/Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 10 p.m.
www.wafflegonewild.com
Photos

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Rustique Bistro (Bowen Island)

Given there are only six restaurants on the entire island, the opening of a new eatery is a much-anticipated occurrence. Opened in January of this year, the country casual Rustique Bistro is already receiving acclaim from Islanders.

Local chef-owner Thierry focuses on French bistro classics for lunch and dinner, while breakfast revolves around the unpretentious crêpe. There are beaucoup sweet or savoury options, with the added flexibility of combining ingredients to create your own concoction. Traditionally, crêpes (wheat flour) are served with sweet fillings and galettes (buckwheat flour) are served with savoury, but here you have your choice of either or.

After a week of indulgences, my friend was certain she wanted vegetables and no cheese. She was delighted by the Super Green filled with roasted vegetables and garlic butter. I was faced with my constant head-scratcher – go sweet or savoury? The Rustique offered relief. Loaded with scrambled eggs, sausages, cheddar and caramelizes apples, it was like having breakfast with an apple pie chaser. These crêpes are extremely well done, the ingredients are quality and expertly prepared.

Come on over on the ferry this summer and enjoy their lovely patio alongside some local island flavour.

433 Bowen Island Trunk Road (first building off the ferry)
Breakfast hours:
Tuesday to Thursday: 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Friday/Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Facebook page
Photos

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Yolk’s Restaurant

Yolk’s Restaurant is deservedly popular. What originated as a food truck (see Breakfast Adventure No. 200) has recently evolved into a full-on, eat-in restaurant. Previously used solely as their commissary, the owner of Yolk’s secured a temporary lease on this location until its pending demolition. A dab of paint, some local art on the walls, a few tables and chairs, open the doors, and let the line-ups begin. Apparently it is permanently busy, but don’t let that stop you, we sat down after only a short wait.

What people are lining up for is the food. A succinct selection of food items – no filler, all flavour. The two popular choices are their bennys or their chicken and waffles. My friend and I both went for the benny options: her, the Portobello Mushroom Benny and me, the Bacon Benny. Because of my breakfast blog adventures, I am frequently asked where are the best [fill in the blank]. In the case of where are the best eggs benedicts, folks, this is it! And Yolk’s might also squeeze into the winner of the category for best breakfast potatoes. The truffle-lemon hashbrowns were even better than I remember from my food truck visit. The kicker was the house-made spicy ketchup.

To finish off an already yummy breakfast, I introduced my visiting-from-out-of-town friend to two things she had never heard of before: breakfast dessert and beignets. She was grateful. The beignets were fluffy, sugary pillows of deep-fried dough, but what took it way over the top was the buttery, salty caramel that came with. A strong punctuation point on an already full experience.

The walls will be coming down here soon, best to get in line while you still can.

1298 East Hastings Street
Breakfast hours: Monday to Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Saturday/Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
yolks.ca/restaurant
Photos

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ask for Luigi

When planning my brunch experiences, part of the fun for me is to choose a destination that matches my friends. So when I made plans to meet my stylish-designer, crazy-foodie friend, I had high hopes for Ask for Luigi in terms of offering charming decor and quality of food. It was a good choice.

We went all out. I think it was the highest bill I’ve ever incurred for breakfast, and not at all because of the prices, but because we approached brunch like a full-on, three-course Italian meal.

For starters, we ordered two appetizers: the Bocconcini Fritti and Luigi’s Meatballs. Two sets of ball love. The first dish was bite-sized globes of deep-fried, breaded mozzarella served with basil pesto, and the second, luscious meatballs studded with raisins and pine nuts bathed in a tomato sauce. Both dishes worth the trip alone. For our mains, mia amica chose the Pork Belly with Green Salsa, Fried Egg, and Creamy Polenta, and I had the Ricotta Stuffed Eggplant with Poached Eggs and Tomato Sauce. My only regret was that my dish, while absolutely delicious, was the same flavour profile as the meatballs. I felt as though I missed an opportunity to taste something different. The solution was obvious, we had to order dessert. The moist, dense Olive Oil Cake flavoured with sweet orange completely appeased my palate.

From start to finish, it was a truly enjoyable experience and we left high on an espresso buzz.

305 Alexander Street
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday: 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
www.askforluigi.com
Photos

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Tuc Craft Kitchen

“Holy s**t this is good!” This expletive involuntarily leaped into my thoughts multiple times while making my way through my mountain range of Crispy Chicken & Waffles. Tuc has taken a breakfast classic and elevated it to a peak level. Two savory crisp waffles are topped with a jumbo stack of heavily-seasoned fried chicken. When I cook at home I like to claim, “The secret’s in the sauce.” In this dish, the secret is in the three sauces. When placed in front of me, I was politely instructed that the intention is to liberally pour the Dijon Mournaise, Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette, and the Maple Syrup over top the range of chicken and enjoy the collective flavours in each bite. I complied. “Holy s**t.”

My friend also loved her Hanger Steak Skillet with Poached Eggs, but I could barely hear her kudos through the murmurings of my own mind. I was still eating my fried chicken. “Holy s**t.”

Because I seek out new breakfast spots each time I venture out, I almost never return to where I’ve been before (I’ve only revisited the same restaurant two times in the these last 7 years I’ve been breakfasting). What this means is whenever there is something on the menu I am keen to try, I want to order it then and there. I did attempt to also request the Bacon-wrapped Egg Tempura, but our server balked. “Mm, that’s a lot of food,” she advised. I begrudgingly bowed to her wisdom, and she was right, of course. But this has given me the perfect reason to return... and soon.

60 West Cordova Street
Brunch hours: Saturday, 10:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m.

tucrestaurant.com
Photos

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Provence Mediterranean Grill

The eldest sibling of the Provence family of restaurants, Provence Mediterranean Grill was the perfect location for my aunt and I to host our biennial birthday brunch. We share close birth dates and every couple of years or so we are actually organized enough to get together and celebrate.

This outlet of Provence is casually elegant, if such a paradox exists. They serve a refined clientele, which is an apt description of their menu, as well. They are noted for their antipasti bar, but, of course, I wanted traditional brunch. My Croque Monsieur Benedict was as mentioned – elegant and refined. My aunt’s Pancetta Fritatta looked delicious, but I forgot to ask her opinion of it as we were preoccupied with family stories.

The small restaurant was crowded, which our server attributed to the fact that Family Day has made this Canada’s newest favourite long weekend. We were but one amongst many mixed parties of nieces, aunts, and grandmas out to enjoy a classy brunch.

4473 West 10th Avenue
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
www.provencepointgrey.ca
Photos

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie (Kits)

Although I was working only a couple of blocks away and thus made for a convenient stop for a quick bite, truly it was the fact that the 4th Annual Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival is on is what drew me into Thomas Haas today.

“The Campfire” Hot Chocolate was high on my list of must-try drinks. Thomas Haas’ hot chocolate is already famous unto itself, but the addition of smoky caramel, smoked sea salt, and vanilla marshmallow elevated it to “blazing” status. I couldn’t drop in without also enjoying their other legendary creation – the Double Baked Almond Croissant. And what are croissant, really, but a great reason to eat butter – lots and lots of butter.

Meeting a human’s basic needs for fire and fleshly delights, it was all very civilized.

2539 West Broadway Avenue
Breakfast hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 8 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
www.thomashaas.com
Photos

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Village Table (Deep Cove)

This weekend I was staying with friends who live in North Vancouver. I know my friends know me well when we wake up in the morning and they gleefully announce, “We want to take you for breakfast to a new place you’ve never been before!” Surely, this my favourite Sunday morning activity.

As soon as we rubbed the sleep from our eyes, we scooted over to this charming casual spot located in the Dollarton Village Mall, just outside of Deep Cove. A small 24-seater thoughtfully decorated with reclaimed wood tables and a simple sign encouraging, “Eat Together”. This signifies their community-driven philosophy of serving quality ingredients prepared well. My Chorizo Omelette and toast with housemade organic strawberry preserves was exactly that.

Thanks for the special treat, my friends!

437 North Dollarton Highway
Breakfast hours: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m, Daily
villagetable.ca
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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Heirloom Vegetarian Restaurant

Last week I was at a vegan restaurant; this week, vegetarian. No, this is not part of some New Year resolution to eat more veggies – it just worked out this way. Today, I was meeting up with a friend who I hadn’t seen for a while, so I knew we’d be in for a chatfest. I wanted a place that would be comfy, where we wouldn’t feel rushed, and because she is vegetarian, I hoped Heirloom would be ideal. Even though we arrived at 2:00 p.m., it was still mad full with a wait list.

Finally settled into our table 15 minutes later, I had an opportunity to appreciate the atmosphere. They’ve completely transformed the space from its previous incarnation. I smiled inwardly, though, when I saw they had left a nod to its previous life as a Mexican restaurant on the front door – a small painted sign waving, “Bienvenidos!” It felt respectful. Pictures don’t do justice to its ambiance now. It is a light (tall South-facing windows, everything painted white), airy (super-high ceilings), and attractive (modern rustic - again!) room. They’ve achieved the tricky blend of creating a space that feels inclusive – I felt a part of a happening – yet still intimate and personal. I believe this accomplishment is what contributes to the big draw of customers. That and that there are relatively few, albeit a growing number, of vegetarian-focused dining establishments.

The menu contains several different veggie combinations in benny and omelette forms. There was a bit of a wait for our meal, but we were so busy talking we didn’t even notice until our server apologized for the delay. When it appeared, I did enjoy my Red Pepper and Swiss Chard Benny, and my friend her Mushroom and Leek Benny. Side note: the potatoes are “extra”. I say, just throw them in already! Who doesn’t want fried potatoes? After the food was long gone, we continued to gab. Eventually the sun passed by and the room started to darken. Realizing they were prepping for dinner service, we decided it was time to go.

1509 West 12th Avenue
Brunch hours: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Daily

heirloomrestaurant.ca
Photos

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Graze

One of my dear friends and her hubby just bought their first house, making the leap from their rooftop Yaletown condo to the grassy plains of East Van. I thought it would be a fun introduction to her new ’hood for us to visit Graze.

Neither of us is vegan, but both appreciate good food whatever form it takes. If asked before brunch, I would have told you that we wouldn’t consider ourselves to be picky eaters. But ordering felt like we were participating in some sketch comedy about two stereotypical, fanatical vegans. My friend shies away from tofu, which the menu here relies upon. We wondered about replacing this with that or that with this. Our server graciously smiled through it all and then whisked herself away to the kitchen to ask what our options were. Turns out they were very accommodating. Eventually, my friend made it easy and chose the Vegetable Hash with peppers, potatoes, zucchini and black beans – no tofu in sight. I, myself, will eat almost anything, or so I thought. I wanted the Smoked Tofu Benny. I was intrigued by the smoky eggplant “bacon” and the avocado cashew crème “hollandaise”, but the benny came atop a caraway biscuit. Due to an unfortunate caraway incident in childhood, it is one of the very few edibles that even the mention of makes me queasy. Again, the kitchen was very obliging and replaced the biscuit with slices of their homemade sourdough bread, fresh out of the oven no less.

We were right to ask for exactly what we wanted because, in the end, we were happy.

3980 Fraser Street
Brunch hours: Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
grazerestaurant.ca
Photos