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Category: brunch Page 1 of 6

Easter Weekend Brunch with Water St. Cafe

As we move on to week 5 of quarantine, many popular restaurants are finding their footing in this uncertain times. They are starting to open and/or expand their limited take out menus. Doing what they can to stay afloat, and keeping what little staff they can employed.

Water St. Cafe is one such establishment. This Gastown restaurant is keeping things on the brighter side, offering a whimsical Easter brunch box for purchase. $50 feeds 2 across 3 dishes with both a meat and vegetarian option. Both with sausages, French toast, quiche, breakfast potatoes, fruit, croissant, and Easter candy. Online they encourage sharing with the loved ones you are social distancing with, or to be virtually had with others through Zoom meeting, FaceTime chat, or Skype.

The box set is only available for pick up this long weekend Friday April 10 to Monday April 13, and they are asking for all orders to be placed 24 hours in advance, through their website. You select your pick up time, and simply grab and go.

And for those who need the appropriate drink to have with brunch, Water St. Cafe is also offering a mimosa kit to add on. Choose between 3 options with size and quality of bubble differences, to mix with orange juice.

Each purchase is in support of this independently owned and family-run restaurant. (As taken from the press release) “Chef and Co-Owner, Alan Tse, and the team work with local suppliers to bring in the freshest of products to showcase the best that BC has to offer. They strive to achieve what every small restaurant ought to be: committed to quality, service and value that keeps our guests coming back time and time again. Lead by Host and Co-Owner Eli Brennan, they create a true guest connection every visit, and offer the best hospitality experience in Vancouver.”

The following is their “Meat Lovers Easter Brunch Box for 2!” Enjoyed as a picnic in the park. The only hitch it doesn’t come with cutlery and we forgot to check, so ended up eating with out hands.

But thankfully the “Mimosa Kit #3” came with actual glass flutes that were wrapped in a white cloth napkin that we could use when things got messy. Two bottles of Tropicana orange juice and a bottle of “Blue Mountain Brut Gold Label” to self pour and serve. The glassware was a nice added touch, it helped to elevate the setting and experience to where the food was.

 

The following is what is included in the brunch box to share. Packed individually, it is easy enough to take home and assemble, or in our case, nibble from one box to another.

Two local grilled Pork and Leek Sausages were a nice savoury start. Fragrantly spiced and juicy, it did get greasy sitting in the bottom of the box. It was only second to the four pieces of Ponzu glazed Pork Belly Bacon. The pork belly was caramelized with a nice sweet sauce, not too gristly, sumptuous when paired with a bite of potatoes.

The crispy potatoes came tossed with red and yellow peppers and purple cabbage. It was all dressed in lemon and fresh herbs. They offered a nice side and some freshness to the set. And breakfast isn’t the same without some solid potatoes. I just wish they were cut smaller for easier eating without cutlery or plates.

The asiago, parmesan, and free-run eggs quiche was cut into four slices. This was a fluffy omelette with plenty of eggy flavour, sitting on a flaky pastry crust. I really enjoyed this one.

And to help transition from savoury to sweet the fresh fruit salad was a nice break and palette refresher. A bunch of grapes sitting on cubes of honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon.

For a sweeter finish, the Water St. Cafe large Stuffed French Toast is best shared. A thick chunk of doughy and eggy bread filled with Guava infused mascarpone. I enjoyed it as is, but you can have it with the sides of lemon curd and berry compote they come with for some added sweetness.

And in case you were still hungry, you also get two in house-baked croissants. They were similar in flakiness to the quiche crust, with a wonderfully buttery taste.

And finally, to connect the “Meat Lovers Easter Brunch Box for 2!” They included some Easter grass with two boxes of chocolate eggs and bunnies from Lindt. Not hidden, but just as fun to eat.

In short this is such a great deal for only $50. You get so much. For those interested in ordering their own brunch, or maybe their turkey dinner to feed 1-20, visit the Water St Café’s link below.

https://www.exploretock.com/waterstcafe/

Water St. Café
300 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1B6
(604) 689-2832
waterstreetcafe.ca

Farina a Legna, brunch

With all that is going on with COVID-19 restaurants and the hospitality industry are doing their best in these times to stay a float. Remaining open and making money, without being able to pay their staff or serve a gathering of customers in their physical restaurants. Social distancing and staying at home is encouraged, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy good food from your favourite establishments. An initiative to serve local business by serving customers from the comfort of their own homes. Spearheaded by local marketing company SMC, meant to support local businesses through an initiative called “breaking bread now”.

What started off as a noble attempt to continue to reassure the community with the highest of cleaning and hygiene standards, has now transformed into take out menus. And “Farina” is offering their food to go from Wednesday to Sunday, between 4-9pm. Wherein you are able to place your order via phone at 604-980-3300.

Here is their full messaging on the situation, as taken from their website.

IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO OUR VALUED GUESTS:

Due to the uncertain conditions in our community, we are taking measures above the requirements mandated by the government and have made the decision to close the dining rooms of all of our restaurants. The health and safety of our staff, customers and people in our community is our top priority.

IN THE MEANTIME – We are doing our best to help those who can’t get groceries, or want to avoid the crowds, by offering takeout friendly menus. We will keep you informed over social media as things progress and more details are available.

Please know that we are listening intently to the advice from government and health authorities and are taking all extra precautions in sanitation and cleanliness to ensure everything and everyone is safe. As things change we will keep you informed.

We thank you all for your patronage – friends, guests and staff, and we look forward to having you dine with us in person again on the other side of this.

I have yet to try this abbreviated take out menu, but I can speak to the skill of their chef and the quality of food through the limited run they had of their new brunch. Naturally, the following won’t be available, but I am choosing to still cover the full experience, as hope of things to return.

A couple of weeks back we were the first ones in for the launch of their new brunch menu, at their North Vancouver location. This would be the last restaurant I dined at for a while.

This Italian cafe has a causal charm to it. Checkered floors, wooden tables and chairs, green booths and furniture, and colourful posters set a modern tone. The menu takes inspiration from their wood oven, which is the heart of their kitchen. All dishes were designed to be shared family-style, with a selection of antipasti, risotto, pasta, and pizza.

The following is what we had on that day that now feels so long, long ago.

They have a bar/pastry counter right up front, when you enter. It tempts and teases for those who find themselves waiting on one of the benches in the foyer, across from it. From behind a glass showcase you can pick and chose your sweet treat. All great on their own, but better paired with any of their speciality coffees.

We sampled from a platter that included a chocolate and nut brownie, a blueberry cake, a flaky croissant, and a jam tart. The chocolate brownie was dense, not too sweet, with a surprise crunch from the bits of nuts that you find hidden within. The blueberry was your typical coffee cake. A mild flavour with a dryer texture, ideal for nibbling on with a side of coffee that you can use to moisten the slice. I liked the butteriness of the tart, along with its maple accented filling and shortbread crust. It was extra cute with the pastry stars on top of thin jam layer. But out of the four, the croissant was my favourite. Its shell was crispy layers that flaked off to reveal a soft cakey centre. A centre that was spongy with a sweet orange and almond flavour, punctuated by the sweetness of cinnamon and sugar. I would come back just to take this out.

I am not a coffee drinker, but I appreciate the way they present theirs. Fluffy foam tops, dainty espressos with perfect milk drawn hearts, and even a dessert option that offers a shot of espresso with custard cream.

The latter was just as much a dessert as it was a pick me up. One that I recommend, even as a non-avid coffee drinker. This one isn’t on regular menu, you only get it with a special secret menu request. You fold whipped custard into thick coffee, and gobble it all up with a spoon. It has a similar sensation to tiramisu.

For something a lot more boozier, order one of their mimosas made with fresh squeezed orange juice, or the classic citrus diced aperol spritz. Both a served in glasses with an additional bottle on the side, for an at the table refill.

Even during brunch their wood fire pizza is fully utilized. One of their thin crust pizza becomes more breakfast friendly with the addition of a sunny side up egg at its centre. This is aptly named the “breakfast pizza” with white sauce, pancetta and a soft egg. The crust had a great stone baked crunch to it. It was delightful as is, and given more panache with the a sprinkle of either their own chilli or oregano infused olive oil.

For the vegetarians you can get it without the pork, and instead plenty of mushrooms for an earthy mouthful. Both are equally delicious and worth trying.

One of my favourite dishes was their “Italian Benny” featuring house made focaccia. It is topped with a pomodoro sauce, two perfectly poached eggs, and parmigiano reggiano. And served with a evenly dressed side salad of arugula and crispy polenta. The tang of the saucy tomato was best exemplified by the herbaceous, spongy bread. This was a great take on a classic that I found myself preferring to the English muffin Benny; it is all in the bread. And its side of polenta was no slough either, it was light and almost eggy with a delicious mix of Italian seasonings. For a bit of freshness look to bites of peppery greens in between. The gluten free polenta is a great substitution that didn’t have me missing the typical breakfast accompaniment of hash browns.

And what is Italian food without pasta? At “Farina” there are 2 options available for breakfast, both are worth exploring. Featuring perfectly done noodles that is not only fun to chew through, but overall highly satisfying as well. The “pesto genovese” was a vegan option that doesn’t leave you missing meat. Basil pesto, roasted garlic, pine nuts, and parmigiano reggiano. Fragrant and herbaceous with a most enjoyable, springy chew. Writing about it now makes me wish I had a bowl before me.

This was only second to the “carbonara” pasta with guanciale, egg yolk, pecorino Romano, and black pepper. A sumptuous serving of el dente noodles that are made decadently luscious with thick cream and runny yolk. Silken, creamy, and peppery; beautifully done. So good you keep wanting to wrap your mouth around it. Fun to slurp and toss between your tongue and teeth.

Another vegan and gluten free option is the “mushroom frittata” topped with pesto and parmigiano reggiano. Served with crispy polenta and fresh arugula. It is basically a mushroom omelette. It had a light egginess to it, with the great texture of squishy mushrooms to gnaw through. Good, but bland by comparison to everything else before and after.

For a little more of anything, there are sides you can add to perk up any serving. We sampled the thick cut, salty guanciale bacon and their red wine fennel sausage. Both salty as is, but added a nice heartiness to our meal over all.

Moving on to sweet breakfast offerings, everyone was enamoured by the “Nutella toast”. It featured their own house made chocolate and hazelnut chocolate spread, topped with roasted banana jam, vanilla whipped ricotta, fresh berries, and toasted hazelnut. This was a gourmet, grown up version of Nutella that wasn’t too sweet, it allowed all the other toppings to have their moment on the spongy, cake-like bread. The bread was also slightly salty, well highlighting the tart fruit, and airy creams. I am not a fan of sweet things, but did appreciate this.

It was recommend that we end with the pannettone as the sweetest of all the plates. Not enough as a solo serving, but great as a dessert you don’t want to share. “Zabaglione”, an airy and sweet pannettone with sweet custard to dip into and fresh fruit to enjoy with.

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.
I was floored by the consistency and quality of everything we had at brunch. There was nothing major that I didn’t like or anything that I would want to change. When they reopen, I highly suggest making them one of our first brunch destinations, as you will not regret it. I can still remember the flavours of everything we had clearly, which made me want to try each menu during all their seatings, and now their take out. Don’t deny your cravings.

Holy Crab, brunch

Today, breakfast practitioner and enthusiastic food lover, Diana of @foodologyca and I were out for brunch. We stopped at the well known, Louisiana inspired seafood shack: “Holy Crab”. Here, to try their seafood focused brunch, the entire menu’s worth. Be warned, if you order as much as we did, it does take some time for all of it to come out. With so many different components per dish, (from a kitchen that typically offers simply steamed seafood or deep fried snacks), these were a bit more complex to push out.

“Holy Crab” might not have the most extensive brunch menu, but for what they do have, they stand out. Any brunch place can do eggs Benedicts, but where else can you get it topped with blackened catfish, a crab cake, or lobster as the main protein? Given all the options above and smoke salmon, we decided on the “lobster klaws”. Because when given a choice, lobster is always the way to go. But sadly the claw meat wasn’t as expected, I wanted buttery and juicy, but it came out dry. We should have taken our server’s suggestion and gotten the crab cakes instead, in hindsight I am certain that, that would have been the best option. Be warned, you want to dig into this one quickly as the slightly spiced, creamy hollandaise does congeal and the lobster meat does harden as they cool. But the biscuit base we choose over the regular English muffin one stood the test of time. And it proved to be a great variation on a classic breakfast staple, especially with perfectly poached, ooey and gooey yolk that dropped down its sides.

Available during brunch, but great any time of day is their seafood grilled cheese served with the soup of the day. You started with a grilled cheddar and mozzarella sandwich and to it can add shrimp or lobster, or keep it the classic cheese only. Made with whole wheat toast, it is full of seeds and finished with a deep grill. The toast choice made it crispier and heartier than most; ideal for all the large chunks of lobster we choose as our filling today. This is another one to eat quick, before the bread gets soggy and the cheese oiler than necessary. Though if that is the case, a dip in soup is an easy remedy.

Today’s soup was a seafood chowder. It was thick, yet bright with a slow back of your throat spice. I especially liked the chunks of potato and clam bobbing about, giving it a watery stew texture. But truth be told, this was better by itself or with a side of garlic toast, to better highlight the soup. And the grilled cheese best with a tomato bisque to give the sandwich some needed tang.

The “Breakfast poutine” took the Canadian favourite of fries, cheese curds, and gravy. And to the assembly added an egg to give it more of a breakfast feel. Followed by some shrimp and snow crab claws to make it “Holy Crab” specific, with their Cajun-spiced fries. The result, an easy to graze on skillet. Tasty, but I was left wanting more diversity in my seafood, not just shrimp. Maybe some squid rings and scallop, plus the crab claw meat shredded over top. A little more panache to elevate the serving to the impressive standing of the others dishes. This felt very normal, comparatively.

For a lighter offering the “toast board” gave you two open face slices of toast, served with their rice salad. The latter was a chilled mix of black bean, corn, and wild rice. I didn’t find that the salad added anything to the board, or was even all that complimentary given the toast options available like shrimp and egg or vegetarian with avocado and spouts. A regular leafy green and tomato side salad would have been nicer. Better served as a full break from all the flavour each toast was bringing.

As for the actual toast, the menu doesn’t include any sweet breakfast options, so we sought out the banana toast with sliced banana, peanut butter, chopped toasted walnut, and a caramel drizzle. However, they didn’t have bananas on this day, so we opted for two savoury choices instead.

The smoke salmon was a familiar classic made with cream cheese, capers, shallots, and fresh dill. A fresh bite that offered a break between the heavier, denser plates before and after.

I also liked the truffled scramble egg toast as a palette refresher. A black truffle tapenade spread over crispy broiled white bread, topped with fluffy scrambled egg; and seasoned with truffle oil, Cajun spices, and chives. There was no mistaking the truffle flavour in this.

I was most excited for the Southern fried chicken and pancakes”, out of preference. No seafood in this one, just a twist in the batter and the spices used. Southern fried chicken seasoned with their signature Cajun spices, served on top of three fluffy cornmeal buttermilk pancakes. I liked the thorough crunch that the breaded chicken had, but wanted more meat on bone and seasoning to have gone through. There was gravy, but it was better suited to the poutine (as they are both use the same gravy). I could also make out the taste of oil and the need of plenty of pepper to balance it. To take it in a sweeter direction, there was also some maple syrup served on the side. It was nice, but I didn’t add any of it as the pancakes were served pre-dressed in jam and syrup with the butter melting slowly over them. This I felt this added unnecessary decadence to the dish. Whereas I would have liked the pancakes undressed and therefore less soggy, to better match the the crispy crunch of the chicken. Instead, they were sticky sponges that served as a base. Although given how stunning this looks, I ain’t even mad. This dish was all about presentation; a leaning tower topped with thyme and it worked.

The next dish I didn’t like out of personal preference, but I had to give it a bite in order to say that I have had “Holy Crab’s” entire brunch menu. The “Egg Sardou” are poached eggs and more of the Cajun hollandaise over artichoke hearts and creamed spinach. So basically a keto take on eggs benny, plus an toast or two. This is available as a half serving and a full. The texture of wilted greens makes me gag, so I worked my way around it. Not for me, but I recognize it as a very creative alternative for those who are looking for something more lean.

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.
In conclusion a great spot for seafood lovers, and those looking for a differing kind of brunch. With no other options in the are they are your go-to. Don’t deny your cravings.

HOLY CRAB
1588 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 2G5
604-661-8533
theholycrab.ca

Hawksworth, brunch

My girl friend and I decided to do brunch this Saturday. We wanted a nicer venue and meal, and were willing to pay for it; so decided on “Hawksworth” at Hotel Georgia. It wasn’t very busy, we walked in and were able to get a lovely table by the window. And here, with the natural light I was able make out the interior of the restaurant clearly, having only visited during the dark of the evening, previously. The white of the upholstered chairs and booths brightened up the space with some freshness, while the shards of crystal from the oblong chandelier glinted in the sun. Light, that found its way in past the drapes and on to my shoulders. All in all it was a very lovely scene.

And since the setting was so delightful, we decided to linger in it for longer with the “BC mimosa kit”. A full bottle of sparkling served with three different juices that you can use to mix your own table side mimosa. “Blue Mountain Brut” with either blueberry, peach, or cherry juice. The bottle was kept on ice by the kitchen, yet our glasses remained dutifully full, thanks to the eagle eye sommelier. I tasted lavender in the blueberry juice, rose along side the cherry, and a bit of citrus with the peach juice. I found this a nice way to change up the flavour from drink to drink.

For food I originally wanted the “crab and prawn toast”, only to learn that for $27 you simply get the listed ingredients on a small piece of bread. Not enough to fill me, let alone pair with all the sparkling wine we committed to.

So instead, I opted for the omelette filled with brie, apples and walnut, served along side their “Parmesan new potatoes”. The omelette had a beautiful texture, a smooth blanket of egg that was not too sweet, and reminded me a lot like angel food cake in its mild flavour. I like the flavour combination, I just didn’t get enough of it. I specially wanted more salty brie. The potatoes looked like they had a good bake, but they could have been more crispy around the edges, as a nicer contrast to their soft centres. As for taste, the were seasoned enough that I didn’t ask for ketchup to squeeze over it.

My guest got the “Eggs royale”. An eggs Benedict where a toasted English muffin is topped with smoked salmon, and Hollandaise; and also served with the same Parmesan new potatoes as above. The salmon was not as expected. You read smoked salmon and imagine thin sheets of sashimi-like fish. But what we got was flaky chunks, a little nicer than what you get out of a can.

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.
Nothing was bad per se, it just didn’t measure up to the level that I associate with “Hawksworth”. Minus the mimosas, I felt like I could get this almost anywhere. Don’t deny your cravings.

HAWKSWORTH
801 West Georgia St, Vancouver BC
Rosewood Hotel Georgia
604-673-7000
hawksworthrestaurant.com

Ham and Eggman’s

Today I was having brunch with my foodie family. Our group of like-minded food lovers and food writers ascended on “Ham and Eggman’s” in East Vancouver. An area I am familiar with, having grown up in it. The breakfast restaurant turns 1 in March, but before it the space belonged to a sushi restaurant. The rock garden with still water and live greens by the entrance spoke to that history.

Given their location and offering they serve their community well for brunch. An elementary school is near by and two adjacent lots are being cited for high rises in years to come. That and the already heavy residential neighbourhood gives them lots of potential regulars to pull in. And with larger portion sizes and an more exciting menu than at other breakfast spots, they are well on their way. Not to mention they are unique to the area, where majority of the established restaurants are asian in cuisine, they stand out as the only breakfast spot and internationally driven with their egg focused menu. Two points of pride for the owner, whom we were able to chat up during our visit.

The space is pretty straight forward with painted black walls and white furnishing. Seating is across a series of tables that can be pushed together for larger parties at either ends of the restaurant. We nabbed the one closest to the window of the best lighting. It gets pretty dark the further in you go.

The menu is easy to navigate with familiar breakfast items and a healthy description of what each dish is so that there are no surprises. The following is what we ordered, exploring savoury and sweet options as well as everything that had an international flare to it.

The “Sweet oatmeal” was a surprising favourite of the table. You don’t often think of ordering oatmeal when it is something you can easily make at home. But their sweet rendition was a wonderful addition to our breakfast buffet. It offered a nice buffer in between the more salty plates. The oatmeal resembled small beads, a different texture than what I am use to. It had an interesting mouth feel, along with the harder crunch of chopped nuts and sweet dried fruit.

“Ham & Eggmans” do their best to make everything in house, but give the lack of kitchen space they are forced to out source their bread and waffle needs. As such, their waffles are procured from “Patisserie Lebeau”. So they were good, but not as fresh as I have had them. It could also be that we didn’t get to eating them right away due to our little photo session, so they were at room temperature when we did. But with enough Chantilly cream, fruit compote and, maple syrup it didn’t really make a difference. I did like the addition of the small portion of hash browns that came as a side on the plate. I don’t often order sweet breakfast dishes because I want to start with some savoury before moving on to sweet as a treat. So this way you get to do just that. Plus their hash browns are amazing.

The hash browns are another point of pride for the “Ham & Eggman’s” team. They have worked on them, getting them to the crispy delights that they are now. Plenty of flavour in a golden brown shell that stays crunchy throughout the entire meal. Our group unanimously enjoyed them.

We were able to snag the last “Chicken and waffles” order, to my delight. Whenever I see this on any menu, I have to have it. Who doesn’t like Buttermilk marinated, boneless fried chicken served with sweet Belgium waffles, Chantilly cream, bourbon maple syrup, and a fresh fruit salad for good measure. Here, the doughy waffles made the ideal base for the juicy dark meat chicken. The chicken’s saltiness playing off well against the sugar crystals in the waffle; with m the bourbon syrup bringing it all together. I would order this one again.

The “Pork belly hash” was also pretty memorable. Crispy pork belly, asian greens, cabbage, shiitake, and Kennebec hash browns tossed in a gochujang bbq sauce. Then make more breakfast-y with two poached eggs. Sweet and salty asian flavours make this hash one of a kind. You do get quite a bit of pork belly, which maybe hard to discern, given how similar they look to the potato chunks. But biting down there was no mistake. Mostly fatty they are better with the other ingredients as a base. I wouldn’t want to commit to the whole serving myself, but a nice side to share.

They have a few options for their “Scrambles”, each with three eggs served alongside their kennebec hash browns and toast. We went with the “Mexican” version prepared with house made chorizo, fajita peppers, onions, aged cheddar, and topped with salsa and sour cream. This didn’t read Mexican for me. Maybe with more beans, a punchier chorizo, and zestier seasoning it would have. I did like it for what it was, and would have liked it rolled up into a breakfast wrap, with more of that sour cream sauce for dipping into. But you did get two halves of toast in you choice of either multigrain or sourdough. We went with the latter.

Similarly, there were a few choices for “Eggs Benedict”, each served on a toasted English muffins with perfectly poached eggs, their house made hollandaise sauce and more tasty hash browns. Upon our server’s suggestion we went for the one with the mix of wild mushroom and green onion. A delicious plate with the creamy hollandaise smothering the tender mushrooms, made further decadent with luscious yolks we broke into. This is another one I would order again.

The “Lomo Saltado hash” had Peruvian style marinated steak, fajita peppers and onions, grape tomatoes, and fresh herbs; all topped with two poached eggs. Another dish I wanted to wrap in a carb. The heavier fajita flavours also had me craving a sour cream or something else to brighten it up, like an avocado mash maybe?

The “Shakshuka” is a Turkish style spiced tomato sauce served with poached eggs, feta cheese, and fresh herbs. It comes with two pieces of toast for dipping into. Which would have been nicer with a thicker stew to scoop up, instead of the watery tomato mash to sop up. It also lacked flavour compared to the other dishes above. Here I would have liked some beef to help make the dish heartier.

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.
Overall a really great option for breakfast in the community. And it is a treat to not have to drive all the way downtown for a modern breakfast platter. Fair prices for the portion sizes and the consistent quality. They definitely live up to their name with their perfect eggs. Don’t deny your cravings.

HAM & EGGMAN’s
3883 Rupert St, Vancouver, BC V5R 2G7
(604) 620-8942
hamandeggmans.com

El Camino’s brunch

My friend and I were meeting up on Main Street, and looking for a quick bite to eat. She suggested “El Camino’s”, and seeing as we both have never been, we made it our destination.

Named after the vintage car, they have used its likeness as their logo. A red Chevrolet in front of a orangey-yellow sunburst. The exterior isn’t much to look at with the patio covered by a waterproof tarp. A large contrast to the warm and photographic exterior that awaits within. As their sign out front advertised, they have cocktails and a very well furnished bar to craft almost anything. Its expanse greets you at the door, shelves featuring tequila reaching out towards either direction. To the right a more formal dining area, set to a backdrop of Spanish painted on to cement bricks. To the left, more of a bar feel with high top tables in front for a mural. Yellow eyes peering out from behind a wall of blood red roses. We would grab a seat in between, two high stools against a makeshift table top, balanced on an ornately painted barrel. The lot of it gave the room a certain western feel, befitting of their namesake.

The brunch menu included the usual famialr breakfast offerings of fruit bowls and fried eggs; but with Latin American-inspired sides and flourishes like salsa, tortilla chips, and black beans.

My guest got the “Tomatican hash”, a Chilean stew of tomatoes, onions, peppers, corn and potatoes; topped with braised short rib, a poached egg, hollandaise, and tortilla chips. It ate like chips and salsa but with stew for dipping into. Thanks to the side of potatoes and the tortilla, this ate like two different plates in its variety.

I had one of the three Benedicts. It was a plate of two poached egg, a smokey hollandaise, hash browns, pulled pork, and pickled jalapeño on cornbread. This was deliciously done and exactly as how I envisioned it when ordering. The sweetness of the cornbread played off the salty pork, and now and again you would get the heat from a rouge jalapeño. Not to mention both eggs were perfectly poached and creamy with the hollandaise. I would return just for this.

But if you needed a bit more zip to your plate, look to any of the three bottles of house made hot sauces and barbecue sauces, stationed at every table.

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.
Given how much we both liked our plates, I would want to come back to try more of their brunch menu and work my way through dinner and lunch as well. Don’t deny your cravings.

EL CAMINO’S
3250 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V 3M6
(604) 875-6246
elcaminos.ca

Gyoza Bar, Dine Out Brunch 2020

This morning we were at “Gyoza Bar”, here to try their Dine Out Vancouver brunch menu. $15 got you a 4 piece set with plenty of value to take advantage of, before February 3rd, 2020.

It opens at 12pm on a Saturday and the crowds flooded in soon after. A large space with plenty of seating. A lounge feel with a bar backed by bricks, that transitions into an open stainless steel kitchen. We grabbed a small narrow table by the door, with plenty of light and enough space for our two square set trays below.

Since it was the weekend we started with a couple of their new drinks. The “Blue Hawaiian” is the classic tropical cocktail with blue curaçao, pineapple, lime, and vodka. Fairly sweet, leaving you with a back of your throat soreness. I much preferred the “Chu-Hai” with pink grapefruit, lemon, orange bitters, soda, and gin. The citrus flavour was pronounced, and the drink refreshing as a whole with the spritzy soda. But with both you don’t get enough alcohol to actually taste it.

The $15 Dine Out brunch menu is this spicy tuna rice bowl teishoku set.

It comes with their daily miso soup. And today it included cut up woodear mushroom and seaweed.

The salad is a mix of greens, red onion, pickled cabbage, and cherry tomatoes, all coated in a sesame and citrus vinaigrette. Then finished off with a mashed tofu paste. I didn’t know what I was looking at, I never had tofu like this before. It added some heartiness and texture to the side, making it a more fulsome start.

Our server recommend that we enjoy the soft boiled, lightly soy sauced egg mixed into the rice dish below.

The main is like a poké with a spicy tuna mash and avocado purée over sweet citrus rice. It is topped with red onion and sliced cucumber which offer the only variation in crunch. The flavours were there, but the textures lacking. It was all the same soften gumminess, so that you grew bored of chewing. You got the flavour of the spicy tuna loud and clear, but wanted it more solid. Tuna sashimi, or perhaps some deep fried onion sprinkled over top for crunch?

And because it was my first time and called the “Gyoza Bar”, we made sure to try an order of their “pork teppan gyoza”. I liked the grilled skin of these pork and chive dumplings, but wanted more pizzazz and flavour from the filling. Though I guess that is what the side of spicy miso and umami soy is for.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Based on this limited experience, I would like to come back for a more filling meal. To be able to try more dishes in order to get a better feel of their regular service. But at this point, all I can say is that this set is a deal. Don’t deny your cravings.

GYOZA BAR
622 W Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1V8
(604) 336-5563
gyozabar.ca

Rumpus Room, brunch

Today I was enjoying the warmth and coziness of Main Street’s “Rumpus Room” 2.0. The space is themed with a retro flare. 70’s inspired with psychedelic orange tone on tone wall paper, floral patterned curtains, and vintage dish ware. The “living room” scene looks cozy with a worn, chartreuse, corduroy couch and a collection of garage sale finds surrounding it. Adjacent is a well stocked board game shelf. Diners were able to linger long after their meal, engaging in a match of “Hungry hungry hippos”, or testing their dexterity with a “Jenga” tower.

The menu is a colourful, laminated sheet. Fun to look over and easy to order from. We started with a few of their fun share-friendly appetizers, before committing to one of their brunch mains each.

The “Free range chicken bites” are buttermilk marinated free range chicken, battered and fried. Available with your choice of sauce. But I highly recommend getting a sampler of each for $3 more. The chicken is crispy, more breading and skin that meat, but the reason why you order it is for the sauces anyways. A choose your own adventure between Honey mustard, Bbq, Raspberry aioli, Curry aioli, Chilli lime, and Ranch. You don’t get much sweetness or fruit with the raspberry aioli, the honey mustard was more sweet that a spicy mustard, the chilli sauce drank like a tomato juice, the barbecue sauce came with a relish-like pickle tang, and the dill was creamy with a different tang. My favourite was the curry aioli, it was the most pronounced and easiest to identify in a blind taste test.

The “Lil Cornies” are Nathan’s famous 100% beef mini corn dogs fried in corn batter. These were juicy and crispy wieners, classically served with a squeeze bottle of ketchup and mustard for easy dressing.

Similar batter was used on the “deep fried pickles”, but flavoured differently with dill salt and its own dill based creamy pickle dip. Great for pickle enthusiasts who love its sour tang, now coupled with a crispy doughy texture to chew though. They also served as a great side to our brunch mains below.

One of us got the “Rumpus Room’s” take on “Toad in the Hole”. Two slices of sourdough, grilled to a golden brown, with fried egg centres. There is also an option to make it into a grilled cheese. It is exactly as it sounds, served with your choice of sides between hash browns, fries, chilli, or side salads.

The “chicken and waffles Benny” combines two brunch time favourites into one. Two poached eggs, and a house made maple chicken sausage patty, over two mini waffles. All topped with gravy, hollandaise, sriracha, and deep fried chicken skin. It had a bevy if texture and flavours, making it great as a greasy morning, after a night of drinking breakfast platter. The chicken sausage patty was a unique twist, it offered sweetness to the Benny with plenty of maple. The crispy skin gave you the crunch you wanted from any chicken and waffle combo. And the gravy and hollandaise coexisted well, bringing a peppery quality and a creamy finish to the dish.

As a lover of peanut butter, with a preference for savoury over sweet, I had to get the “Fat Elvis” breakfast sandwich. When I read its name I wanted it, when I read its ingredients, and I wanted it more. This was Elvis’ favourite late night snack, which had him adding on the pounds (hence the name). Peanut butter, bacon, banana, and frosted flake cereal; all between toasted sourdough. Best enjoyed when the cereal flakes are still crispy, a nice contrast to the mashed banana. But it is the gooey peanut butter sauce is what ties it all together. A fun indulgence, but not one that I would crave as much as Elvis did. I would also kick it up a notch with the inclusion of yellow American cheese and bacon, for a salty and sweet pairing.

With it, i had the vegetable chilli as my side. The two did no go well together, but I wanted to try the chilli. It was fairly runny, and drank more like a soup than the stew I expected. I did like the flavour the cream brought to the well seasoned side.

But the side I liked best was the vegan slaw with kale, cabbage, and pumpkin seeds. It was crispy, refreshing, and only slightly bitter. A great bite to have in between everything else that was a lot heavier.

Similarly, I really enjoyed their “soda fountain cocktail” program for its palate refreshing qualities. Instead of having a regular breakfast orange juice, this one was Galliano & Jones orange cream soda with vodka, two scoops of ice cream, and a vodka soaked gummy bear for added booziness. Having it is like drinking your dessert.

They also have more traditional brunch cocktails like mimosas as well. Orange juice and sparkling wine is a good time.

And save room for dessert, because they have mini doughnuts taken to the next level with frosting, sprinkles and gummies. I appreciated the effort it took to dress each one differently.

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 fun setting with great staff and energy. Serving up unique comfort creations and good times. I highly recommend them for a more memorable brunch experience. Don’t deny your cravings.

RUMPUS ROOM
2301, Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5T 3E7
604-708-0881
rumpusroom.ca

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

Backcountry Brewing, #pizzachallengeyvr

Today the weather was beautiful, the skies were blue and the sun was shining. Ideal conditions for a nice cruise up the Sea to Sky highway. And since we would be driving to it, this was also as good of a time as any to stop at Squamish for lunch. Squamish, home of the town’s only brewery, “Backcountry” and their tasting room with full bar and pizza kitchen. It was also the next stop on my Vancouver Foodster #pizzachallengeyvr tour, with me playing the role of one of the three judges.

And this Easter long weekend the neighbourhood too decided to come out to “Backcountry Brewing” for a pint and a pie. Luckily, we were able to grab the tail end of a share style table, without any wait. You order your drinks and your meal at the bar, the former you take with you back to your seat, the latter gets brought out to you.

But many more visitors came in to purchase beers in bulk. Their full assortment was available for grab and go in refrigerator units, you also had the option to buy a grower and fill it from their taps. And to complete the experience, you can drink your “Backcountry” beer out of one of their branded glasses, while wearing their outdoor lifestyle merch. All also available for purchase.

Naturally, we had to start our meal with said beers. Especially considering this is a brewery, and that you can see the tanks from any seat in their open dining area.

My guest had the “Ridge runner Pilsner” for a nice crisp drink.

I will always opt for a flight, to be able to taste more in one go. I choose the following based on their names. Each more and more fun as I moved along. The “I’ll have what she is having” is a peach, boysenberry, and mango sour that actually isn’t all that sour. The “Dead of night galaxy IPA” uses galaxy hops exclusively, for a lighter and fruiter brew. “Everything is coming up Milhouse” is the West coast version of their popular “Widow Maker” beer, but crisper and lighter. And the “Really really ridiculous looking” is new on tap, a lighter and fruitier lager that ended up being my favourite of the afternoon. Each brew I tasted was just as good as the next, each unique, each delicious. They weren’t overwhelming, but easy to drink.

When it came to food, first came the pizza I was sent here to try. “I pity the falafool”, a vegetarian pizza that catered to Squamish’s plant-based eating. Tahini, feta, falafel, halloumi, yogurt, and mint. This was the only vegetarian entry for this year’s competition. I have never had a pizza like this before, and it lived up to its name and the expectations you had reading it. You absolutely got the promised flavour a falafel. It ate like a whole other meal, making it a great vegetarian offering that didn’t have it feeling like you were missing anything. It was also just as complex as any other meat-happy pies on the menu. It had an all encompassing Mediterranean feel, that I would be happy with the next time I am craving the distinct flavour of a falafel.

We also tried their Margherita pizza, wanting a base pizza flavour that we are familiar, and could use to gauge the quality of the pizzas coming out of their kitchen. The crust was beautifully baked with plenty of air bubbles and crispy blackened bits. It checked off all the boxes. Where it lacked was in the depth of the sauce. It was a little two sweet for my taste, whereas I would have liked more seasoning and a lot more fior di latte cheese. Therefore I suggest getting one of their specialty pizzas that they do so well, instead.

Like the “Wake-N-Bacon 3.0”. Maple garlic cream, roasted potato, guanciale, mozzarella, oven cured tomato, and a sunny side up egg. A delicious assembly altogether, but it was really the maple syrup that made all the difference. This was also the chef’s favourite pizza, and a popular brunch option. Salty, sweet, and savoury all rolled into one. My only critique is I wanted more runny egg to go around, only one slice and one person gets to have egg.

We also tried their new “Galaxy Pastrami Sandwich”. The pastrami is brined in their Galaxy IPA, hence the name. It is stacked between two thick slices of herbed focaccia, along with gruyere cheese and a mustard vinaigrette slaw. Served with a side of regular chips, and their in-house made beer pickles. It was a thick and delicious looking sandwich, but a little too dry for my tastes. I was left craving a creamy sauce, more mayonnaise, or even a gravy dip to dunk the sandwich into for moisture. The sides offered a change of taste and texture and helped in getting this down. I liked the pickles the most, but would have liked them sweeter for a better contrast. I did like the meat as is, they were quality you can taste. Similarly the crispy toasted bread would have been great as is with a slather of salted butter.

For some spice in any of the above, each seating had a bottle of their beer infused “Backcountry Brewing” hot sauce. It is prepared locally using their “Ridge Runner Pilsner”. Like their beers it gives you want you expect, without being overpowering.

 

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 spot to stop at when in Squamish great pizzas and beers coming together for a delicious lunch or brunch. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BACKCOUNTRY
405-1201 Commercial Way, Squamish BC, V8B 0R5
604-567-2739
backcountrybrewing.com

 

 

To learn more about the Vancouver Foodster Pizza Challenge, visit the link. And then try all the competitors to vote for your favourite.

Pizza Challenge

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