Today we were downtown to check out Archer’s newer brunch menu, available from Wednesday to Sunday 9am to 2pm. I have heard only good things about this finer dining eatery’s dinner service, so was hoping to get a similar experience this breakfast.
The restaurant feels out of place on the strip with the likes of a fast food Chinese joint and a stand alone A&W. You would expect a quality establishment the likes of and looks of Archer by the water. At this point they are a hidden gem, as a destination worth travelling to, having opened only March of this year.
The entrance isn’t flashy, there isn’t a coloured awning, and if not for the sandwich board calling attention to their new brunch, you may miss it, like we did initially.
But once you walk through the threshold, there is no forgetting them. The space opens up with stark white walls, vaulting ceilings panelled in wooden planks, and lush folded curtains to help divide the space. All its warmer neutral colours stand out against the pops of green from the velvet upholstered booths to the tropical leaves of all their accent plants. An overall homey and comfortable setting in a contemporary space.
For the best view of this be sure to take the trek up to the washroom, just before the chef’s table, in front of the kitchen’s pass. There, you get a view of the entire dining area and bar just below.
At the kitchen’s working counter we saw a gathering of fish bowls adorned with moss and rocks. I immediately wanted to order whatever went in to them. However was told, that they are used as serve ware and display for their oysters, only available during their dinner service. Reason to come back and visit, I guess.
We would begin with drinks, because it is one of my favourite things to order during brunch and all the classics were available.
The Hail Caesar is a salty 2oz with your choice of spice level. Made with vodka and Walters Caesar premix, along with Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and lime. I would have loved to have seen them make this their own with their own spices and seasonings. With the premix it was pretty standard and not all that memorable.
For Mimosas you had a choice between orange, cranberry, and lychee juice to accompany sparkling wine. The cranberry was more tart than sweet. And the lychee was the most memorable with its unique tropical notes.
Their third brunch cocktail option is the Empress 75, made with 1oz Empress 1908 gin and 4oz of bubbly with lemon. This was very gin forward with the lemon as an nice accent, that flowed well with the food.
When it came to food the entire menu sounded good, so I simply ordered the most interesting dishes.
Not on the actual printed menu due to a clerical error is the Sablefish Benny. So if you are reading this, you need to order it by asking for it specifically. I liked the change in fish, a different take, as everyone else does smoked salmon. With the butteriness of the fattier sablefish pairing well with the nduja butter, poached eggs, and hollandaise, texturally. And the pea-shoots offer a nice peppery freshness. With the bread base and the crispy hash browns providing a heartier break in between bites.
The same great hearty potato hashbrown in the dish above also came with a Croque madame below. They were well seasoned with a crispy exterior meets softened centre. So tasty that they could be a dish all their own topped with bacon bits, green onion, and a fried egg.
I never had a Croque Madame like this before. Made with Mortadella ham, onion jam, Gruyère, pea shoots, sunny egg, and bechamel. Served with hashbrowns. Each bite had so much level and depth, depending on what combination of the above you got. The onion jam reminded me of sauerkraut with its slight tang and shredded texture. The mortadella is an interesting take. I would have liked a crispy fried back bacon or thick cut maple wood smoked bacon instead, for more salt to contrast the buttery sauce. Overall this ate on the sweeter side, great for those who like their breakfast with sugar or prefer a sweet and salty combo. Be sure to eat this one fast as the bread gets soggy quickly, due to its cream and runny egg.
For those who want a sweet breakfast item, look to the fun Cereal milk French toast. A brick of fluffy brioche coated in a thick cereal milk custard, and topped with a rainbow fruit loop crumble. Another one you want to eat first and fast to ensure the ideal texture. It is definitely more like dessert with the custard, but not as sweet as it sounds. Unless you drizzle over all of the maple syrup served on the side. Though the fresh fruit offers freshness and some balance to this.
Overall Archer is a great hidden gem for brunch. A great setting, with a spacious dining room, and no wait time for a delicious gourmet breakfast. I will have to return to try their dinner menu, seeing as how impressed I was with brunch. And I also learned they will be launching a happy hour menu from 2-5pm soon!
1152 Alberni St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1A5