Saturday, March 29, 2014

Yolk’s Restaurant

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ask for Luigi

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Tuc Craft Kitchen

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Provence Mediterranean Grill

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie (Kits)

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Village Table (Deep Cove)

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

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

Thanks for the special treat, my friends!

437 North Dollarton Highway
Breakfast hours: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m, Daily

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Heirloom Vegetarian Restaurant

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Burdock & Co

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

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

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

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