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Category: breakfast Page 1 of 5

Blue Fox Cafe, Victoria BC

On our last day in Victoria we sought out brunch at one of their most popular breakfast spots, as proven by the 30 minute wait we endured. And like everyone else in line, we deemed the wait worth it.

The “Blue Fox Cafe” is one of many businesses operating out of an all brick building with teal trim. Easy to miss, if not for the line out the door at 10:30am on a Saturday.

This brick facade continues inwards and meets up with a bright orange wall. On it hangs several colourful paintings of nature and plant life. Towering mountains, gentle waters, sweet peas ready for picking, and a rooster in mid strut. And centring it all, above the blue fire place is a portrait of blue fox frolicking in the same hue. All together with the wooden tables, it made for a very cozy setting, with country cottage vibes.

The menu was a page turner, offering all the breakfast and lunch classics with various topping and filling combinations. Scratch made griddle cakes, porridge and granola, omelettes, French toast, egg platters, sandwiches, salads, burgers, and a dozen different bennies.

As I normally do, I went for the most unique sounding option, which was the “Butter chicken migas”. Two large eggs scrambled with brown jasmine rice, topped with butter chicken, crisp batter fried onions, and fresh cilantro. Served with a banana, navel orange, hot butter toast, and fresh fruit jam. I went for raisin toast over whole wheat or sourdough, because how often do you treat yourself to raisin bread? But forgetting that there was rice in this mix, I instinctively squeezed ketchup over my eggs. And it made for an interesting mash up. But I wanted more flavour from my butter chicken, a more decadent sauce. I did appreciate the toast as they offered a break in flavour, and the fruit a nice way to cleanse the palette after.

My guest got the “Huevos rancheros” 2 large local eggs over easy with stewed beans, melted cheddar and Monterey Jack, corn tortilla, fresh avocado, house salsa, and sour cream. It was a nice fresh offering, a Tex mex breakfast with punchy salsa and herbed potato chunks.

My second guest ordered the “Moroccan chicken Benny”. Moroccan spiced free run chicken breast, sautéed brown button mushroom, onions, plum date apple chutney, and Moroccan spiced hollandaise. It was fragrant, but you didn’t taste any of the spice your smelled. The hollandaise was creamy, but it offered nothing to help perk up the bland chicken.

Similarly, the side of mushrooms lacked flavour and salt.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A fulsome option for breakfast in Victoria. Plenty of choices so that everyone can find something they like. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BLUE FOX
919 Fort Street, Victoria BC, V8V 3K3
250-380-1683
thebluefoxcafe.com

O.E.B. Breakfast Company

My guest is a fan of this newer breakfast spot, so when looking for a place to meet up for a meal, she suggested “O.E.B.” Her first visit of the chain was in Calgary, 8 years ago, and it left a lasting impression. Apparently back then they severed their food in Chinese take out containers with chopsticks.

Be warned, if you decide to visit yourself, you will want to call in and/or go online to leave your name on their wait list. This place gets busy. A large space with so many bodies inside and out. I was surprised by the traffic given that this was a random Tuesday, mid afternoon. But the sun was out, the summer weather was upon us, and their waterside patio is a popular destination because of it.

Given the patio was full we sat inside and it was just as nice. A modern diner with many corners and crevices to create private dining areas, with enough space to also seat whole families. The restaurant is themed in eggs, much like their logo. Cracked shells inverted become lamp shades with jagged edges. A cluster of oval lights are gathered together to look like a bouquet of eggs. And the host booth stands in front of a sculpture that like looks like an egg sliced in half, with a fluorescent orange centre.

We grabbed a seat by their impressive looking bar. Despite the fun and whimsical setting, this is a counter you would post up in front of for a late night glass of veuve clicquot, as suggested by their bar display.

The menu is as overwhelming as the restaurant, there is so much to see and go through. Both spoke to the volume they were expecting and the following they already garnered. It was a full page in tiny print listing egg platters, bennies, breakfast poutines, their “blue plate specials”, three egg “scram-blotted”, “grown up sandwiches”, and sweeter breakfast options they categorized as “fully worth the calories”.

My guest got her favourite dish, one of their signature breakfast poutines. “Chasing Chickens” with poached eggs, duck fried herb potatoes, Saint cyrille curds, smoked pulled chicken, and a brown butter hollandaise. She doesn’t like a runny yolk, but ordered her’s medium in order to be able to break into it and stir in some additional creaminess to the poutine gravy. This is a decadent serving, I don’t know how she was able to finish it herself. It is also a little rich as the first meal of your day. Best as a snack or a side to share. The smokiness of the chicken was very prominent, lean white meat that tasted like smokey bacon without all the grease. The potato base was just as flavourful, more herb than the lard used to cook it to a crisp.

Looking for something more light I went for one of their farm fresh classics, choosing the side of fingerling potatoes over the same duck fat fried herb potatoes with wild arugula as my guest had in her poutine. As a side, the fingerling potatoes offered a nice break in taste and freshness with the green onion and more tomatoey ketchup dip.

The idea of an “Artisanal bagel Sammy” peaked my interest and the addition of white truffle mayo sealed the deal. Two free run eggs, white truffle mayo, hass avocado, micro watercress, and semi fried cherry tomatoes; sandwiched between two bagel slices made with the texture of a croissant and white bread combined. Served with a side of market fresh fruit, this was a full meal. But to add on more salt and protein, bacon or a series of hams are available for $3 more. Here, I opted for the hog & rabbit mortadella for $4 because I thought it would be interesting to try.

Little did I know, adding on the processed meat product didn’t have it coming as part of the bagel sandwich. Instead it came on the side as 4 slices, fried. And although I was appreciative of how much I got here, I wish I had the option of having only one slice for $1. This was too much for one person, in one sitting. The mortadella was zesty and salty, like a more seasoned spam, it overpowers anything you eat with it.

As for the bagel sandwich, the bread was so chewy that you couldn’t cut it with a regular butter knife and fork. Yet it was far too messy to eat with your hands; with all that luscious cream, in just the right amount of truffle flavour. The fresh ingredients over flowed and the chunks of avocado slid out. The latter would have been better as a mash. And if it weren’t for the bagel hole, the former would have stayed better in place. The remedy, a carving knife with a segregated age. Delicious as a whole.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A great spot for breakfast with a view, offering a fulsome menu that can keep you trying new things for months to come. They are definitely bringing something different to Vancouver’s brunch scene. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

OEB
1137 Marinaside Crescent, Vancouver BC, V6Z 2Y3
604-423-3447
eatoeb.com

Pangea Pod Hotel

The owners of “Pangea” (a husband and wife duo) met at a hostel, loving the accessibility of them, but wanting a more upscale experience from them. And thus their, and British Columbia’s first pod hotel was born.

The inspiration is taken from the Japanese style of quick and confined accommodations. Pod hotels offer travellers reasonable lodgings for one. The premise is that you only pay for what you need: a place to sleep. Utilities like toilets, showers, and sinks are shared amongst a cluster of stacked pods. You need not pay for the hotel desk you don’t work on, the lounger you never use, or the art work you don’t appreciate.

All guests are required to be 18 years of age or older, this is to maintain a certain environment. These accommodations aren’t designed with families in mind, and with the necessity to keep noise and talking to a minimum, the age restriction makes sense.

Each individual pod is shaped and equipped with practicality as a focus. A double bed gives you extra room; after all just because you are sleeping in a box, it doesn’t mean it should feel like a coffin. Each mattress fits two comfortably, but only 15% of their guests take advantage of this. And speaking from my own experience, even if I visited with my partner, I would want my own pod, for all the leg and arm room.

They are shelves and a cupboard for storage space. Plus, ample room at the carpeted foot of your bed; a place to position your luggage or overnight bag. A cubby allows you to lock up your devices safely with your own pad lock (or you can purchase one at the front desk).
A rail with hangers gives you the option to hang pieces, or you can prevent others from wrinkling, by hanging it off one of the hooks.

You even have your own mirror in your pod for easy make up applications or touch ups. And what many will appreciate, your own outlet that you can charge two separate electronics with. You can also feed your cable through to the above mentioned lockable cabinet, for a more secure charge.

For the security of larger items, they have a “toy box”. A stylish and secure place to store snowboards, skis, and mountain bikes; basically any paraphernalia you would need to get active in Whistler with.

As for the actual stay, check in is self serve, with attendants on stand by, should you need directions verbalized. You follow touch screen prompts that have you conforming your name and email, and swiping your credit card for incidentals. The process if finished with the activation of a chip that you wear as a bracelet. Not only does this identify you as a guest, but it also functions as your hotel key and form of payment.

Like at other hotels, if you don’t use anything, you won’t be charged for it. But here there isn’t a mini bar or pay per view to add on, instead you can use your sensor bracelet to charge any food or drink purchases. Both of which are available at their indoor lounge (fondly referred to as “the living room”), or the roof top bar with a bird’s eye view of the heart of Whistler Village. All and any purchases “tapped” will be reconciled at check out, with a bill emailed to you. Everything is paperless here.

Similarly, there aren’t any hotel phones in which you can call for room service. Instead, “Pangea” utilizes the technology you already own. With extra high speed internet connection, you use your phone for room service or concierge help, in place of a hotel phone. Your check-in is greeted with a text, and a response from you opens the air waves for requests. You can text the number (now in your phone), when you need more towels (though three are waiting for you in your pod: one for your body, another for your face, and a black one for make up removal). You can text for concierge suggestions, and complaints if your bunk mates are too loud. The messages get sent to one of their many employees. The first available responds, and the others get a prompt, knowing some one is on the job.

Of note, you don’t actually get to choose which pod you inhabit. You make a reservation but your pod is assigned based on your desired exit from the back or front, or if you prefer a women’s only space. You get to make this selection during your touch screen self check in and are informed by way of printed receipt. Similarly you get a receipt to place on your dash if you need to park your vehicle underground, overnight.

However if you are going as a large group you do have the ability to rent out an entire suite, like our party of 10 did. This makes a great option for a girls night, pyjama party in. Simply close the door and lock everyone else out. You can also rent out any additional pods to ensure a similar sort of privacy in any of their suites.

As for the rest you get, I have never felt so safe and secure sleeping outside of my own bed; all boxed up and protected by 5.5 walls. For fire safety reasons you cannot be inclosed in your pod, with a fully closed door. However, I found the curtain that you could draw, to shut yourself in, plenty of a barrier. I was tucked in and cozy. And with sound dampening walls, and a white noise fan, you really don’t hear much around you. You can just sink in and relax on the hotel quality mattress. A mattress that doesn’t need a bed frame or a box spring. It was just as comfortable without, and more so with the crisp white linens. The same linens you expect from a 4 star hotel stay. Truly, “Pangea” gave me one of the best sleeps I have ever had at any hotel.

As I mentioned earlier, they do offer food and drink solutions in common spaces. These, they encourage their guests to linger at. The “living room” is kitty corner from their lobby counter with a lounge to brunch feel. Large windows, mirrored walls, mirrors on the ceilings, colourful murals, a portable fireplace, a long banquet table, coffee and cocktail bar, and board games. Basically plenty to make anyone’s stay a little more personalized.

Here, I would enjoy breakfast after my check out at, as they offer a fulsome menu with plenty of healthy options, coupled with those key hangover helpers. I would indulge in the former. More details below, later.

Check in is at 4pm so after we sorted our selves out, we climbed the stairs up to their roof top patio for happy hour. Here, you take in cold drinks and small bites overlooking the hub of Whistler Village. And with a hot sunny day like today, this is definitely the place to be.

Keeping cool with their trademark cocktail, the “Dalmatian”: vodka, peppercorn syrup, grapefruit, lemon, and rosemary. A citrusy mix with the spice of the smashed rosemary.

The “Espresso martini” was a great pick me up with vodka, coffee liqueur, and Pangea espresso.

In contrast is the “Romina Sour” with gin, cassis, lemon, and egg white. A lighter and sweeter cocktail for a sunny day.

I thought the “Smoked Sriracha Caesar” was a little watered down. It could have use more tomato flavour with the vodka, Clamato juice, sriracha, lemon, DescriptionWorcestershire sauce, and pepper.

I liked the “Canadian Whiskey Sour” a lot more with rye, sortilege, lemon, and egg white. It was a stronger cocktail, yet easy to sip with the egg white foam. I especially liked the cherry that top it as a last sip, finishing touch.

For food, we shared a few of their hand held appetizers. Each featuring their flatbread crust, which they do so well. “Caramelized pear and blue cheese flat bread” with a white sauce base, topped with mozzarella, Parmesan, caramelized pear, walnuts, blue cheese, and olive oil. It was my favourite of the three varieties I tried. A sweet and salty combination with the chucks of pear as the highlight.

“Portobello mushroom + bacon flatbread”. Tomato sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan, portobello mushroom, asparagus, bacon, red pesto, and olive oil.

“Carbonara flatbread”. White sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan, bacon, onion, mushroom, and garlic cream.

The meat and cheese boards were great for grazing. The meat board included prosciutto, chorizo campesino, Genoa salami, grainy mustard, olives, walnuts, balsamic reduction, olive tapenade, and stone baked flatbread. The cheese board had brie, blue cheese, manchego, whipped goat cheese, quince, olives, walnuts, balsamic reduction, olive tapenade, and stone baked flatbread.

When it came time to check out the next morning, it was just a matter of cutting off your bracelet and shedding a tear that you have to leave. Like camping in a tree house with rooms stacked one on top of each other, and one beside another, this was a one of a kind experience.

But before we got into our cars for the 2 hour drive back to Vancouver, we made sure to have breakfast at the “Living room”. “Pangea power smoothie” with mixed berries, banana, Greek yogurt, honey and almond milk. I liked the consistency of this compared to bowl below, however thought the drink could use more fruit flavour.

“Strawberry cheese cake smoothie bowl”. Banana, rolled oats, cream cheese, honey, almond milk; and sunflower, chia, and pumpkin seeds. It was thick with a graininess to it, much like what would imagine drinking a smoothie out of a bowl would feel. I liked the taste, but not the texture and not enough to finish.

The “Spinach Bennie” was a nice meat-free option. Made with sautéed spinach, red onion, roasted garlic, white wine, poached eggs, and homemade hollandaise, all on an English muffin. It was tasty from the full bodied sauce, and the runny yolk added a nice creaminess to each bite. But I personally would have like it greasier with bacon and tomato.

The “Avocado toast” was smashed avocado dressed in feta, chilli, coriander, red pesto, lime, and sourdough. Ironically, I thought it needed more avocado, or maybe to keep the avocado as sliced, for a 1:1 ratio of avocado and bread.

In short, these pod hotels are worth traveling to for a weekend getaway at, and worth looking in to the next time you are in Whistler. I can see why they are rated the #1 specialty lodging in Whistler by TripAdvisor users. A great solution for solo travellers wanting to save, but not compromise. Or the place to party with a group of friends.

 

For the more interactive recap, check out my latest vlog now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

Pangea Pod Hotel
4333 Sunrise Alley, Whistler BC, V8E 1B4
604-962-1011
pangeapod.com

Il Posto, #pizzachallengeyvr

This is another restaurant I would not otherwise know about if not for the Vancouver Foodster. As I continued to judge all the contestants of this year’s Pizza Challenge I found myself in Ladner, at the threshold of “Il Posto”. A beautiful building, symmetrical with red and teal trimmed windows.

The restaurant is modern with several spaces to enjoy their food at. The main dining area by their bar, a private room towards the back, and a little breakfast nook up front by the windows. We picked the latter to be able to get a look at the sidewalk and the currently closed patio up front.

”Il Posto” has been open for a little over a year now. They are located on a popular strip of Ladner. The street is often closed to host such events as the Delta Classic car show, the cycling competition, Tour de Delta; and the lower mainland’s largest farmer’s market in summer.

They have only been offering brunch since November, and today we were here to get a taste. But first we would accompany our food with some classic brunch time cocktails. The easy to down “Aperol Spritz” in a large glass. Aperol, Prosecco, soda, and orange. And a double Caesar with vodka, Clamato and spices. This was the classic recipe with olives and pickled asparagus as garnish. Though they do ask you if you like it spicer or with extra Worcester.

In general the service here is amazing. You felt the good energy walking in. The hostess is welcoming and vibrant. She and our server made small talk and jokes, you immediately felt comfortable in your seat. During our stay we would meet many faces and it was the same for each. The table next to ours was celebrating a birthday and their server surprised him with a personal sized tiramisu, a lit candle, and a song.

Our second round of drinks included their “Italian 75” made with gin, lemon, and Prosecco. It packed a punch like an adult lemonade. And the Bellini with Prosecco and peach was a lot lighter by comparison. This wasn’t the classic rendition. No frozen slush, but all the flavours you’d expect. Sweet like a fuzzy peach.

For food I considered ordering their waffle dish, but decided against it after hearing that they weren’t made in house. They were prepared locally and brought in as a sweet breakfast option. So instead I took our server’s recommendation and had their salmon Benedict.

“Wild smoked salmon Benny”. Smoked salmon, pickled red onion, caponata, fried capers, and hollandaise on an English muffin. I never had a mix of onions and red peppers on a benny before. It gave this a zesty fajita feel, but it wasn’t one I liked. I found it combative against the likes of the salmon, an already very pronounced flavour. I found myself removing one or the other. I would have liked either on the side as a change of taste. Although the fresh greens and herbed potatoes proved capable in that regard. In fact the potatoes were my favourite part of this order. The restaurant doesn’t have a deep fryer in house, the chef works off of a pizza oven. So these cubes of tasty potato were cook within it at high temperatures for a great crispy shell. They were well seasoned, and for the first time I didn’t reach for ketchup on my breakfast potatoes. I also liked the creaminess of the perfectly poached egg and its runny yolk, and the foamy hollandaise that was much lighter than others I have had.

We also tried one of the “stone oven skillets”, the heaviest of the three options that had “Two poached eggs” with red wine braised beef short rib, leeks, roasted red pepper, mushrooms, potato hash, and a mornay sauce (a white, light, cheese cream sauce). Utilizing the skillet kept our meal warmer for longer, a good thing as the oil and sauce congealed once cooled. By comparison to the above I found these potatoes saucy and soggy. They were a lot heavier with the tender strands of meat. The first few bites were good, but I found myself wanting a break from the flavour. Here, the house made focaccia was great, but there was not enough of it. I could have eaten a loaf as is, it was so well seasoned with coarse salt and herbs. It was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside with its air bubbles.

I didn’t need any additional seasoning, but if you do, the restaurant offers up bottles of their house made chilli oil and/or a rosemary thyme oil. These are best use as a drizzle or a dip on one of their pizzas. Like the one I was here to try.

This is the “Fat Tony”. Its name comes from the starter dough that they use. A dough that is made and allowed to rest for 48 hours. I liked it, as it was much like the focaccia above. A thin crust dressed with red sauce, sliced meatballs, caramelized onion, caciocavallo, pecorino, basil, and oregano; then finished with a garlic focaccia crumb. I liked the presentation, the fresh and full basil leaves, and the round meatball that crowned it. Although when it came time to eat, I would have preferred the leaves chopped up and the meat ball better divvied up. You got two meat balls in total, the other one was already sliced up and shared amongst the 6 slices. They are perfectly prepared, moist and still a little pink. And they sliced like butter. At the core of it, this is a solid margherita pizza, but with some creative and dressed up elements. It is also a little sweeter due to the caramelized onions and the sweetness in the tomato sauce. The sauce gets drippy and things get messy, it is best to eat with your hands.

 

To learn more about the Vancouver Foodster Pizza Challenge, visit the link. And then try all the competitors to vote for your favourite to win the people’s choice award.

Pizza Challenge

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
If they were in Vancouver I could see myself returning and frequenting. It is a nice restaurant, but a far commute for a meal, from my home in Burnaby. I don’t know much about Ladner, but based on our experience and overhearing all the positive conversations of the customers around us, this is the place to be. In their food you could taste the farms that surrounds them. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

IL POSTO
4866 Delta Street, Delta BC, V4K 2T8
604-946-1300
ilpostoresto.com

River Rock Casino, brunch

When I think of brunch spots, I don’t immediately think of Richmond as a destination, however “River Rock Casino” is about to change that with their introduction to brunch. As of March they have introduced Sunday brunch to their “Curve Lounge” menu, and today I had the opportunity to get a closer look at it all, dish after scrumptious dish.

This is part of “River Rock Casino’s” goal for the year ahead, to get back to entertainment with a food focused plan. The goal, to get visitors in for a fun night at the casino with live gaming and entertainment coupled with great drinks, to spend the night, then enjoy a comforting brunch the morning after. A “greasy morning breakfast after a night of indulging” featuring plenty of butter and carbs.

“Curve Lounge” is located in the foyer of the casino/hotel, just behind a set of ascending staircase. They offer happy hour specials, a late night menu with live music, an open patio during longer summer evenings, and now brunch on Sundays from 11am to 2:30pm.

Our morning began with some drinks, which included the launch of their build your own Caesar bar. Here, it is a choose your own adventure of spirits, rims, spices, and assorted house made pickled garnishes.

You begin by rimming your glass with lemon juice then follow it with either their house made steak spice, bacon bits, or a Parmesan black pepper mix. Next, you choose your liquor between vodka, tequila or gin. The bartender helps you with this part, adding ice over top. For now they only offer the Motts Clamato juice, with the hope of bringing more tomato based juices to their line up. You fill your glass then season with the classic Worcestershire sauce, cracked pepper, and chilli flakes (if you like).

And finally my favourite part: the toppings, where the world is your oyster. You can choose between two kinds of olives, dried sausages, bacon bits, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, celery, bacon strips, corn segments, pickled green beans, pepperette, jalapeño, dill pickles, cornichons and shrimp. Technically there are no limitations on stacking, and no restrictions on how many of each; but a good rule of thumb is, if you can’t carry it from the bar to your table you have gone too far.

However, if the decision making process is too much this early, just choose one of their premade creations. “The dark and dirty” features vodka with olive juice. “The social”, beefeater gin with a bacon Parmesan peppered rim. And “The little devil” features olmeca gold tequila with a spicy chilli flake rim, Tabasco, and jalapeño.

If you need something caffeinated to perk you up, they also offer Starbucks coffee from their pour over station. It’s best to ask for help from the staff here, as you can burn yourself.

The food portion of our meal began with a little treat from our chef. It isn’t on their brunch menu, but I think it should be added. These are “Okanagan Apple fritters” and they are available at the casino’s West A food court. They are squishy balls of dough with chunks of apple. Each is covered in a thick coating of melt-in-your-mouth powdered sugar that sticks to your lips and coat your tongue. Half the fun is licking your fingers clean of its tasty cinnamon and sugar.

For those who like a sweeter breakfast “Curve” offers a “Cinnamon toast walnut crunch”. Dark rye French toast, cinnamon candied walnuts, whipped mascarpone, and brown sugar glaze. This was the brainchild of their cooking team embracing creativity. The chefs were asked to come up with some great ideas and this one “won”. Here, their dark rye sits and soaks in egg for two days. The use of rye is suppose to give it more chew, but I found the French toast soggy. Though this could have been because we waited to long to eat in order to take photos. I did however get the dark coffee notes that were described. This was an interesting twist, but I wanted more crunch from it, the walnuts although candied helped, but they left me wanting more of its texture and it’s sweetness.

My favourite dish was the “Curvalicious rancheros”, I found its presentation fun and the taste and textures most balanced. Farmhouse sausage, brunch potatoes, black beans, house roasted pepper sauce, crisp tortilla, pico de gallo, fried hen’s eggs and guacamole. (Note: I liked how their menu gussied up eggs by calling each a “hen’s egg”, fancy.) The tortilla is baked to a crisp and they stay that way through the duration of your meal. They ate like nachos with a dull spice. Saucy, crispy, fresh, and tangy. Light and hearty all at once. Great as a healthier breakfast option and even better as a late night snack, shame that it’s only offered 11-2:30pm on Sundays.

The name says it all. The “Hangover healer” is that greasy burger you want to eat after a night of heavy drinking. Shaved beef, bacon, fried egg, cheddar, and a bacon hollandaise sauce; all between two sweet buns from a local bakery. The buns made all the difference, it reminded me of Chinese style cocktail buns. Its sweetness paired well with the salted pile of meat, the freshness of the tomato, and the pickle for tang. All coated in the sumptuous, rich bacon hollandaise sauce that would continue to win me over below.

The “Proper butcher Bennie” was similar to the above, in richness and meatiness. But with two burger patties on a toasted English muffin, along with cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon, bacon hollandaise, fried tomato, and their kid Cali sauce. Served with a side of their brunch potatoes. It is also normally served with two fried eggs, but they gave us poached for a more visual sensation today. This was like bacon and eggs elevated in a convenient to eat hand held. And I say hand held because the English muffin was tough to cut into, much like the over cooked beef patty. But the bacon and hollandaise hides most of that behind its crispy and creamy tastiness.

The “Almost English breakfast” is for those who want a more fulsome meal. The traditional eggs, sausage, bacon, and brunch potatoes; but to it add roasted mushrooms, black beans, grilled tomato, and toast. All that was missing was some ham to make it a proper London breakfast. It was hearty assembly, yet healthy tasting. A very clean serving with no excess oil or grease. Even the bacon felt lean between your teeth. And the sausage dull with flavour, where you expected and wanted a fatty and zesty bite.

And for the vegetarians they do have you covered as well, we didn’t try it but they have a customizable dish called “The lousy hunter”. (I enjoyed the playfulness of its name.) Roasted seasonal veggies, brunch potatoes, black beans, house roasted pepper sauce, crisp tortilla, pico de gallo, guacamole, and a fried hens egg should you choose.

In between courses we snacked on their bowl of “Curve social nuts”, served in the lounge at night. A mix of corn nuts, peanuts, and rice cracker seasoned in a barbecue sauce.

And for dessert our heavy feast ended in a plate of fresh fruit and one bite desserts. Although this is only available through their banquet and catering options. On top of a rainbow of gold flake topped tropical fruit this platter also included chocolate truffles, lemon tarts, chocolate mousse cups, and chocolate covered strawberries. Only the macaron are not made in house.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
“River Rock Casino” now gives traditional brunch seekers a new place to visit when in Richmond. Come for the game play and stay for the breakfast the morning after. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CURVE
River Rock Casino Resort
8811 River Road, Richmond BC, V6X 3P8
604-273-1895
riverrock.com/dining/curve

Mamie Taylor, brunch

Today I was back at one of my favourite establishments to recommend, the Southern restaurant with a taxidermy theme in Chinatown: “Mamie Taylor”. A fun spot for some great food, and even better drinks. And today I brought a group of my friends down to show them a new option for their brunch time cravings.

They were in awe of the restaurant’s decor with its throwback to Chinatown’s yester-years in the form of historic signs and antiques with a story. They loved posing with the animal bust dressed up in hats, glasses, and necklaces. But best of all they enjoyed the food.

We started our meal with their brunch time cocktails. Their “Bloody mamie” was a caesar and made with Clamato juice despite its name. (Bloody Mary’s are more common in the states, they use tomato juice without the clam juice.) The cocktail comes with your choice of gin or tequila mixed with their house spice mix. It was tasty with its salty rim, making it a great savoury start to the meal ahead.

For those who like a bit of a boost with their breakfast they also have a “Spiked coffee” made with your choice of rumchata or baileys. The creamy shot comes separately for you to pour into the coffee to your tastes. I am not a fan of coffee, but will always get behind a mug of something this delicious and warming. Even one of my guests, who doesn’t like to drink enjoyed this, drinking it down to its last drop.

For something more refreshing, I suggest the “Pegu royal”. Gin, Cointreau, fresh lime, bitters, and bubbles. It was citrusy like a punch, with acid that hits the back of your throat. Once again, sipping this was easy, like you weren’t drinking alcohol.

And for those who like the classics, there is their “Mamie mimosa” with fresh orange juice and bubbles.

For food we started with their “Chicken and waffle sandwich”. We had our choice of bourbon honey or spicy buffalo for the seasoning and went for the former. We wanted a little sweetness to play off the salty bacon we requested as an add on. Together they flowed well with the tangy and refreshing apple kale slaw. My only critique here was that the waffle was a little dry. They are made before the morning rush, so it would be nice to have them pressed to order instead; at least be accompanied with some more syrup or a pot of gravy on the side for moisture.

The “Homemade chorizo biscuit” wasn’t want we expected. When we read it on the menu we thought it was a buttermilk biscuit made with bits of chorizo sausage embedded within. Instead this was a buttermilk biscuit sandwich with a chorizo patty, topped with dill ranch slaw and spicy mayo. The patty was dry, and it tasted like a veggie patty with a similar texture. It needed a sauce: some gravy, barbecue, or better yet the hollandaise from the Benny below. I wasn’t impressed by this, and passed on the feedback to the owner. In the photo we asked for extra chorizo, not realizing we would get two patties stacked.

By comparison the “Fried green tomato Benny” was a winner. A crispy battered tomato slice, chunked avocado, soft boiled egg, and hollandaise; all over a buttery biscuit. This had all the flavours and textures I am looking for in a delicious Benny. Smooth gooey yolk, chewy biscuit, and creamy sauce. The only thing I could have used was some spice in the tomato’s batter, just for some kick.

The “Mamie’s pork belly” is the kind of sandwich you want for a greasy morning after. Thick pieces of caramelized pork topped with a sweet onion jam, gruyere and cheddar cheese, between two slices of toasted sourdough; then finished off with a perfect sunny side up egg. Sweet and salty goodness like a bacon and egg breakfast sandwich but with thicker and meatier pork pieces that make all the difference.

One of my guests is lactose intolerant, so was happy to find a brunch option that excluded butter, milk, and cream; that was tasty and she could enjoy. This was the “Smoked brisket hash” with pico de gaillo, salsa verde, poached egg, and jalapeño. She opted for no cheddar cheese and instead substituted it for some avocado slices. The generous amounts of tender and chewy brisket meat made all the difference here and the crispy breakfast potatoes.

More breakfast potatoes were included as a side for each of our plates above. And on each, they were toasted and crispy. One of my guests declared his distain for cubes of potatoes pan fried like this, only to find himself rummaging through all the plates looking for the crispy, slightly burnt pieces and loving it.

But not as much as the “White cheddar grits”. At $5, this side stole the show. It was super cheesy and simply delicious. We also passed on the feedback that this should be made the star of a breakfast platter. A meaty side to help feature it. Either way, I would suggest getting this as an add on to try.

This isn’t on the brunch menu, but could be, and should be something that you try is their deep fried apple dessert. This is one of my favourite desserts to recommend, so had to treat my friends to a bite. An apple cored and filled with vanilla ice cream, coated and deep fried in cornflakes, then topped with raisins and apple chunks sautéed in cinnamon and sugar. It is as good as I described it.

We also got to try one of the newest drink flights to hit their ever growing menu. They offer whiskey, bourbon, and even absinthe flights. And now an Old Fashion flight made with their own mix, left to sit in a cast for three months. One taster was mixed with rum, another tequila mezcal, and the last bourbon. It also included some water, should you need to dilute the beverage. Simply delicious, for those who like a stiff sip.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A great place to have drinks with friends, and now a great stop for brunch. Get out of downtown and discover a unique spot in Chinatown for something unexpected. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MAMIE TAYLOR’S
251 East Georgia Street, Vancouver BC
604-620-8818
mamietaylors.ca

Arc Dining, brunch

This morning we were downtown by waterfront for brunch. Wanting to have a hearty start to the day, (before the wine festival tasting hall), we found ourself here, within walking distance to the convention centre.

The name explained the restaurant’s floor plan well. From the entrance, the restaurant spreads out on either ends. They narrow, but never quite meet, like an arc. To your left is the lounge created with nooks and crannies for some more intimate seating, eventually leading you to the Fairmont Hotel’s lobby. To the right is the central dining room, set over hardwood floors. We would be seated here for brunch, with plenty of natural light streaming in from the all glass exterior and vaulted ceiling.

Our meal began with complimentary “Sundried tomato buns”. Warm to the centre with actual chunks of tomato visible. You don’t get much of it in terms of taste, but with the whipped butter than was quick to melt over the bread, you aren’t missing anything.

From the brunch menu one of my guests had the “Lamb shakshuka”. Spicy lamb sausage, organic eggs, grilled pita bread, and chermoula. It was served piping hot with a “baseball mitt glove” around the handle of the cast iron pan it was served in. Not only did it add interest to the presentation, but it also helped to keep it from burning you. This was a hearty meal with plenty of spicy chewy sausage to work through. The pieces of pita were a great base to scoop up chunky tomato paste with, and the eggs with their runny yolk gave the mash a certain creaminess.

I had the “Corn crusted French toast”. I don’t often order a sweet breakfast option, but this was a very original assembly worth exploring more of. Brioche bread, matcha solids, yuzu curd, maple syrup, and field berries. It was delicious as is, but our waiter offered to add on bacon to my meal, and I took him up on it. This way I was able to get some salty with my sweet. What I didn’t appreciate was the price.

When he suggested a side of bacon I assumed 2-3 strips which is typical for any breakfast platter, this plate was excessive and our waiter made it seem like the kitchen was being generous when he delivered it. So I ate it happily, until I was slapped with the $7 cost for it all. Not to mention each strip was over cooked, crunchy with hints of an acrid burn. Though they did bacon as a whole did its job, the French toast was given a new taste. A great add on to the citrus flavoured custard, and the toasted matcha crumbs without any actual matcha flavour. It and the corn flake breading gave the toast plenty of crunch.

My other guest enjoyed the “Arc burger” from off the lunch menu. It was a standard beef burger with house made patty, dill pickle, onion, lettuce, tomato, house mustard, and farmhouse cheddar. Served with a Caesar salad on the side. The salad was presented in a metal container to avoid having it get warmed up by the hot plate that the burger was served on.

With it he enjoyed their “Waterfront gun and tonic”.

Our server was really engaged. He checked in often and gave us plenty of small talk. He was forward with a few comments and jokes, like teasing me about the photos I took to write this review. But overall you could tell he was simply trying to connect, and that he enjoyed his job.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I wouldn’t necessarily make them a destination, but if looking for brunch in the area they are a nice solution, set to a great backdrop. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ARC
900 Canada Place Way, Vancouver BC, V6C 3L5
604-691-1818
fairmont.com/waterfront-vancouver/dining/arc-restaurant

2nd Annual OneCoffee Brunch & Guided Tasting

One Coffee’s Brunch Takeover at Chambar

This marks the 2nd annual “OneCoffee” brunch takeover, this year hosted by the Belgium restaurant, “Chambar”. Having never enjoyed brunch at “Chambar” before, I was doubly excited for what was to come. Last year we were celebrating “OneCoffee’s” single-serve coffee pods being 100% compostable, and this year we were gathered to acknowledge that fact, and help lead to some change.

Clocking in their 5th year, “One Coffee” is still Western Canada’s largest coffee roaster, operating out of Burnaby and Richmond. Details about the brand we would learn from “OneCoffee’s Q-Grader”, Tim Cole. He is one of Canada’s only certified coffee experts, much like what a sommelier is to wine. He earned this destination by passing several palette and scent tests. Meaning he has a “nose for coffee”.

And today he spoke to us on the quality of each pod and the amount of work that goes into their coffee. It begins with finding the right framers to grow the best and most sustainable beans. They pride themselves on being organic and fair trade, meaning that the farmers they work with get more than just a dollar a pound. Each batch is tested to ensure it is roasted to perfection. A process that concludes with their coffee being wrapped up in a 100% compostable pod, which is nothing but a mesh filter and no plastic: meaning no waste.

And now they have put 4 years of work into making their pods 100% compostable, they want other coffee pod producers to do the same. They are enlisting fans of their product and all those who care for the environment to sign their petition. A petition urging the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change to ban the sale of non-compostable coffee pods across Canada, and to enact legislation requiring all green-waste contractors across the country to accept 100% compostable coffee pods at their facilities. And all this comes at a perfect time when our city is already more aware and in the midst of decreasing its plastic waste by banning plastic straws.

So take 5 minutes and sign the petition by visiting the link below. There is also ways on how you can donate to the cause or share the petition to increase its awareness.

http://chng.it/PGfrjmvKDM

But now back to the coffee. Everything we tried today was brewed from a single serve machine. And we were recommended to sip each cup black, as is. The effective argument was, you don’t add cream or sugar to wine or beer, so why would you do it to coffee. Coffee, begins a similar product that is specially gathered and brewed with a specific flavour in mind.

The following three blends were chosen for today’s sampling given how they paired with our brunch items to come.

But first we started with a specialty crafted coffee cocktail.: “Friar Frappe”. “OneCoffee” French roast, Bailey’s Irish cream, green chartreuse, and mint. This was a great pick me up and got everyone in the mood for more coffee.

Then one by one we tried the Columbian, Ethiopian, and Peruvian blends
The “Colombian blend” was a mild cup with overtones of sweet wine. It is finished with clean and subtle notes of citrus and herbs.
The “Ethiopian blend” is grown in the rolling hills of Ethiopia. It is hand picked and gently washed, then sun-dried. It stars with floral notes and finishes off with a delicate and lingering flavour.
The “Peruvian blend” is a dark roast found in the uppermost regions of Peru. It is an understated coffee with a mildly acidic and rounded body. It is finished with the sweetness of honey sourced from neighbouring countries.

Our two-course brunch, started with a Belgium waffle served with a custom made “OneCoffee” Sumatran blended ganache. The waffle was sweet and fluffy, and the dipping sauce spiced, warming you up with its nutty tones.

The second course gave diners four options to choose from including granola and fruit yoghurt or a mushroom omelette.

I had the “Bob Matin” which was a deconstructed sandwich. You picked and curated each bite with either thin slices of prosciutto, sweet tomato, mashed avocado, a briny olive tapenade, softened Brie, a perfect soft boiled egg, and/or crunchy sourdough. I built it all into a full sandwich and enjoyed each colourful bite. This was best paired with “One Coffee’s Ethiopian blend”.

But the “Paella” was the most popular choice, and what majority of the room ordered. It was served in a skillet with one fried egg, curried orzo, hot Spanish chorizo, charred tomato salsa, cucumber, and pickled cilantro. This was a slightly spicy and hearty portion that paired best with “One Coffee’s Peruvian Blend”.

A delicious meal, some terrific coffee, and a brunch with a mission. For those looking to try “OneCoffee” 100% compostable coffee machine pods, they are available in “London Drugs, the organic isle of “Superstore”, “Choices, and “Whole Foods”.

ONE COFFEE
http://onecoffee.com

Carl’s Jr. Froot Loops mini donuts

On September 1st Carl’s Jr. launched their limited edition Froot Loop mini donuts (its only available in the states, therefore I am spelling it as such). These colourful rings promises to match the popular cereal’s own loops in colour and in taste. But sadly, just as it is with the cereal, each ring tastes just like the next, the colours do not designate a fruit flavour. A rumour that Kelloggs has long confirmed.

Residing in Canada meant I didn’t have easy assess to this novelty dessert, but thankfully I have good friends who care enough to grab me a box when they visit the states. She even made sure that they gave me one of each colour, and even fought them on doing so when they claimed it all tastes the same. But sadly she wasn’t able to bring them back in the intended branded box. A red cardboard carrier with the Carl’s mascot star, and photos of the bold coloured donuts within.

The minis come in a pack of five: red, blue, purple, green, and yellow for $1.99. And they delivered! They smelled just like a box of Froot Loops cereal. Artificial childhood as I recalled it. I like the fact that the donuts were flavoured like the cereal they mimicked throughout, and not just because it has a few rings of it as topping along with frosting. Not just coated in its namesake cereal, but tasting like the cereal itself from batter to icing.

 

For the more animated review of my experience, check out my latest test taste video, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei!

If you get the chance, I highly suggest heading down to the states, or dipping past a Carl’s Jr. fast food chain, as these minis are worth experiencing for yourself! Don’t deny your cravings!

 

Saturday Morning, cereal popup

This Saturday morning I had the day off, so thought what better way to spend it then reliving my childhood with the “Saturday Morning” pop up. This is a monthly pop up that brings Vancouverites a fun place to have a light breakfast at. Organizers take over a shop space and theme it to your childhood bedroom. The date and location are in flux, so be sure to follow them on social media to stay in the loop.

This month’s locale was the eye glass shop, “Ollie Quinn” on Commercial Drive. “Saturday Morning’s” advertisement spoke to this, as their hand outs featured an eye chart and the looney toons gang showcasing their offer of $5 dressed up cereal bowls. The collaboration had people trying on readers and sunnies vowing to come back, to purchase their next pair of frames. Although the eye glasses shop wasn’t actually open for business or sales this 10:30-3:30pm, (the duration of the pop up).

If you didn’t get the memo for the event, you couldn’t miss it walking by. The music was bumping all the way to the sidewalk, and those passing by couldn’t help but feel themselves gravitating closer with its bouncy pull. The DJ was spinning Saturday morning cartoon jams like the themes from your favourite tv shows including “Recess”, “Doug”, and the “Goof Troop’ movie. There was also plenty of 90’s club bangers playing, like “Rhythm of the Night”, “What is love?”, and even that “Crazy Frog” song.

Looking through the window you also couldn’t help but have your curiosity peaked with their colourful toys and playful displays. In the main window was a collection of the bizzaro versions of your favourite “Kellogg’s” and “General Mills” cereal mascots. Cubby versions of Captain Crunch, Tony the Tiger, the leprechaun from “Lucky Charms”, the Tucan from “Fruit Loops” and there was even “Snap, Crackle, and Pop” merged into one three faced and three legged entity. Behind it a pop culture take on the Sailor Scouts. The pretty guardians were dressed in sports attire and branded gear by “Supreme”, “North Face”, and “Nike”.

The other window was rearranged into a play nook with fuzzy carpet, plush toys, and character pillows. “Carebears”, “Garfield”, “Scooby Doo”, “Mickey Mouse”, and even an original “Treasure Troll” (not the Justin Timberlake version). Here, they had a vintage television set up with a functioning “Nintendo” gaming system, allowing attendees the ability to try their hand a classic games like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Super Mario”.

At the very back of the space was their service counter. Here you ordered and paid for your bowl of cereal. Be warn this is a cash only affair.

I have been to cereal popup before, a different event run by a different team and where I left unsatisfied there, all my issues and suggestions were address and improved upon at this pop up. They offered up limited edition cereals and flavours you don’t normally see you at your grocery store shelves, so that in itself is a reason to visit. They also allow you to mix boxes of cereal, which would be the point in visiting a cereal bar. Who wants to keep it only one flavour when there are a shelf-full of boxes to choose from. And then they take everything to a new level by offering you the ability to top your cereal bowl like you would a sundae: various sauces and toppings to make it your own. Strawberries, banana, marshmallow, strawberry sauce, Nutella, and even cookie butter spread.

There was a menu of speciality crafted bowls. Each had a combination of cereals topped with fruit and/or ice cream syrups and sauces. The ones with international cereal offerings were highlighted by the USA and Japan flags. You make your choice and after it’s poured into disposable bowl you choose and pour your own milk into the mix. They had two non-dairy options like soy and almond milk available. Whereas they only offered 3.25% for your regular cow-milk option. I personally prefer a 2% or a skim if I am counting calories. Although the heavier 3.25% made things creamier and more befitting of my dessert-like cereal bowl.

If you don’t see something you like off their menu, or maybe prefer not to mix things up, you can choose your cereal from their shelf of boxes and custom make your own. They had a chocolate and a strawberry doughnut cereal, a cereal that tasted like birthday cake, one that was mini chocolate chip cookies, a limited edition “Frosted Flakes”; and even the popular spooky cereal trio “Frankenberry”, “Booberry”, and “Count Chocola” made an appearance. Not to mention, there were a handful of Japanese cereals worth trying, including one with a syrupy chocolate at a centre of a crispy wafer chocolate shell.

The following is a list of the bowls they offer, then the ones myself and our group ordered.

I went for the “Yogi bear”, as suggested by the cashier. She would pour a pre-blended mix of “Cinnamon Toast Crunch”, “Lucky Charms”, and “Cocoa Pebbles” together; then topped it with torched mini marshmallows and a chocolate “Nesquik” drizzle. You can’t go wrong with crispy cereal, that leaves you with sweetened milk at the end.

“Cookie Monster”. “Oreo O’s” and “Cookie Crisp” with crushed Oreos and a condensed milk drizzle.

“Sylvester the cat”. “Hershey cocoa nibs”, strawberry slices, and French vanilla whipped cream.

Tasmanian devil. Cap’n crunch, Reese’s puffs, coco puffs, banana slices, and a Nutella and coconut butter drizzle.

Rainbow brite. Fruity “Pebbles” and “Trix” with strawberry “Nesquik” syrup

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This was such a fun scene. I highly suggest following their social media to find out when the next one is and attending for yourself. There is nothing else like it being offered in the city, and this is what the city needs to inject some colour and liveliness. With “Saturday Mornings” we are one step closer to Vancouver getting its own full time cereal bar. Offering cereal bowls with milk by day, and sundaes and milkshake with ice cream and crushed up cereals by night. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SUNDAY MORNINGS
https://www.instagram.com/saturdaymorningscereal/

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