Burgoo on Burrard

I’ve lived in the West End now for 12 years and really, it’s just not the same vibrant neighbourhood it used to be. But two things happened that gave me faith in the old gay village: a Home Hardware opened on Davie, and Burgoo opened on Burrard. There’s a lot of junk food in the West End so it’s nice to a good sit down place on the East End of the West End. I love Burgoo, they make the best grilled cheese (pair it up with soup or salad for An After School Special!). Every dish seems to come with a lot of cheese. A noble property to be sure.

Bruce’s Breakfast

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Theresa and I were off to Burgoo for Brunch last Sunday. Highly anticipated for me as it was time for a good chinwag along with my first time to enjoy brunch at Burgoo.

One must do two things before heading out for brunch. Check the time the restaurant opens and if they serve Eggs Benny in any format. As I scanned the brunch menu my hopes for Eggs Benny were quickly dashed. I opted for the Eggs Ratatouille ($15.50) (Bruce didn’t actually remember what he ordered, this was my best guess) and upon its arrival, the Peggy Lee song “Is That All There Is?” came to mind. Burgoo, while boosting comfort food, lacks presentation. Loving the mix of veggies and goat cheese in a tomato sauce I tasted none of that as the flavor of garlic had taken over the dish!  While the chinwag with Theresa was a hit, Burgoo’s Brunch was a miss for me.

Rating: 🥚🥚 out of 🥚🥚🥚🥚🥚

Theresa’s Breakfast

IMG_20180311_1124296-1.jpgBruce is one of my favourite humans. And we’ve spent a few evenings at Burgoo enjoyed the comfort food menu and carrying on as we do but we’d never actually had brunch there. Honestly, there wasn’t anything on the brunch menu that was calling out to me so I ordered my standby of Gooey Cheese Griller (15.50) with a side of baby Kale caesar salad. It was good as usual, a  sliced baguette stuffed with a variety of cheeses and then grilled. So while I will continue to love and appreciate Burgoo’s presence in the hood, and enjoy future lunches and dinners there, brunch will be elsewhere.

Rating: 🥚🥚🥚 out of 🥚🥚🥚🥚🥚

 

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Au Comptoir

Almond Croissant

Not the Paris Brest

Bonjour mes amis! I can’t remember where I heard about Au Comptoir – maybe it was an Instagram post – but it involved a picture of a mouthwatering Paris Brest. For the uninitiated, Paris Brest is doughnut shaped choux pastry split and piped with a praline cream. The last time I had one was in a patisserie in Lausanne some ten years ago  and I have dreamed of it since. I was really hoping to have one at brunch but after nagging the host and two waiters to check with the pastry chef, they weren’t ready yet. As a consolation prize, James and I shared a rather deflated and disappointing Almond Croissant. But things perked up with the mains, and besides, the anticipation of a Paris Brest is a good reason to go back. And brunch! Yes brunch! Another excellent reason to go back.

 

 

James’ Breakfast

James' BreakfastFor our latest brunch adventure, Theresa and I hopped in the car and drove west along hyper-trendy 4th Avenue to Paris, France.

Well not exactly of course, but our destination offers an approximation of a Parisian café, from the large mirrors lining the walls to the faux distressed tile floor.

We arrived just as breakfast was segueing into brunch, and wanting to eat from the latter menu, we decided to enjoy tea and share an almond croissant. Almond croissants are generally a day-old and stuffed with almond paste, so their light-and-fluffy youth is behind them, but the example that arrived at our table was a disappointment. Greasy, not very flavourful and compacted; the poor thing looked like someone backed their Citroen over it.

Optimism appeared at our table along with the mains. I ordered the Brandade de Cabillaud sur brioche ($17). This flavourful ling cod and leek concoction has a buttery, gratin-like consistency. Served on toasted brioche and topped with two poached eggs and saffron-dill hollandaise, the brandade was really satisfying – rich but not overwhelming.

Equally positive was the serving size: in addition to the two-egger brandade, a zesty frisee salad and a good helping of pomme frites filled the plate. This delicious main dish, and the brisk and helpful service, puts Au Comptoir on my “return for more” list.

Rating: 🥚🥚🥚🥚 out of 🥚🥚🥚🥚🥚

Theresa’s Breakfast

theresa breakfastI had a conundrum when it came to ordering brunch at Au Comptoir. The breakfast I wanted – Confit de canard en salade ($18) – contains two things, one I love, and one I hate. I love confit de canard. I hate kale. I know it’s an incredibly nutrient dense green, but it’s a high maintenance vegetable. To get the full nutrient value of kale, it has to be either whipped into a smoothie, macerated until it’s nearly liquid, or massaged until the tough fibres are loosened. But the lure of confit de canard to strong to resist.

My guess is the chef is a graduate of the Vancouver College of Massage Therapy. The kale arrived from the spa in the kitchen stripped of it’s tough and fibrous bits, gently rubbed and massaged, and lovingly sauteed in butter until it was relaxed and limp. Mixed in with the greens were roasted squares of squash and two perfectly poached eggs. The star of the dish by far was the confit. Most places are skint with confit, but look at the picture. Big, juicy, buttery, perfectly marinated chunks of duck, sacre coeur I was in heaven! Heaven!

And here’s where Au Comptoir really shone. The dish had a really beautiful balance of flavour and texture-the slight bitterness  and bite of the kale, the sweetness and softness of the squash, the salty butteriness and melt in your mouth texture of the duck, the umami and creaminess of the poached eggs. It was a moment of perfect culinary grace. Go here. Just go.

Rating: 🥚🥚🥚🥚.5 out of 🥚🥚🥚🥚🥚

Au Comptoir
2278 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC

Belgard Kitchen

**Tap**Tap**Tap**

Is this thing on?

I know, I know. I don’t call, I don’t write. Sorry for the radio silence breakfast clubbers. A lot has happened in the past three years, and well, somethings had to give, and one of those things was this blog.

Now that things have settled down and with a gentle nudge from one of my favourite breakfast buds James, we are now back in the business of blogging about bacon. First up? Railtown’s Belgard Kitchen.

James’ Brekkie

IMG_20180121_1015005Two food-related phrases spring to mind for this brunch review at Belgard Kitchen, located in the “newest” part of town: does this restaurant have the chops or is it a flash in the pan?

Instant answer: eat here.

I was pretty sure, based on two dinners at BK, that this Railtown restaurant/brew pub would offer the same range of creativity and attention to well-prepared food at brunch. I wasn’t disappointed.

Temporarily virtuous, I quashed my inner Homer Simpson and ordered the Veggie Brunch Burger ($14). The menu describes it as: “house rosemary portobello patty, Village Cheese Works cheddar, caramelized onions, sunflower seed pesto aioli, alfalfa sprouts, tomato, fried egg, ciabatta” with a side of brunch spuds. I omitted the sprouts, and the burger and the potatoes were delicious. Lots of great flavours in every bite, and a very personable server topped off this positive meal.

There was only one oversight: the burger arrived on a small wood board without a paper liner. When I cut the burger in half to make it easier to eat, the egg yolk flowed into a puddle. Hopefully the board enjoyed a long spa session in the dishwasher. Not trying to go all Howie Mandel germ-crazy, but I recently read about restaurants fined for serving food directly on wood boards. It was an oversight, because I saw a similarly served meal with a paper liner.

Rating: 🥚🥚🥚🥚 out of 🥚🥚🥚🥚🥚

Theresa’s Brekkie

IMG_20180121_1014539I was a bit surprised when James pulled up to a plain white building, one that really didn’t stand out from the light industrial and warehouse buildings around it. When I asked where the restaurant was, he announced, this is it. And with that we entered into one of the best appointed restaurants I’ve ever been in. The entrance doors are huge, almost two storeys. Another patron said they were reclaimed from a church in Italy. The inside decor mixed industrial elements with romantic, cosy touches including a gorgeous fireplace. It’s one of those places that’s both perfect for a first date and meeting up with friends after work for beers and appies. Just to prove its versatility, there was a baby shower happening in a private space on the second floor.

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The beautiful fireplace at BK

I mention the decor because sometimes restaurants sacrifice food quality for decor, or sacrifice decor for food quality. And that’s where Belgard Kitchen really excels. It ticks all the boxes. For my inaugural visit, I ordered the Postmark Stout Sausage Skillet ($16). It included crispy potatoes, roasted mushrooms and tomato, poached eggs, smokey onion and parmesan cream and grilled sourdough. The dish was well seasoned and flavourful. I don’t usually order sausages, I find them too bland and greasy. These were peppery and plump-yum. The star of the skillet though, was the smokey onion and parmesan cream. I could have eating a bowl of it with the sourdough and been quite satisfied with that. Minor detail – the poached eggs were rubbery, leading me to believe they pre-poached the eggs and reheated them on order.

Rating: 🥚🥚🥚🥚 out of 🥚🥚🥚🥚🥚

The details:

Belgard Kitchen
55 Dunlevy Ave
Vancouver, BC

Acme Cafe

I always giggle a bit when I see the word “Acme.” It reminds me of Saturday morning cartoons watching Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner. Acme was the company that made a seemingly endless variety of products – most of which blew up at inopportune moments.Thank goodness nothing blew up during our breakfast at the Acme Cafe in the DTES. It’s located at Hastings and Abbott, in a slowly gentrifying area. The restaurant was spotless, as were the loos-a real plus in my books. We arrived right at the 9:00 am opening and it didn’t take long for the place to be a hoppin’.

The diner has a cool 1950s vibe: big booths, a bar with those awesome swivel seats – the perfect setting for breakfast with pals Chris, Marcus, and Randy.

Randy’s Brekkie

breakfastburritoI liked the decor and feel of the diner, our server was cool and funny. For breakfast I had one of three specials offered: the breakfast burrito. It was good, especially after I added hot sauce and ketchup (I like sauces/dips with my burritos) – I should of added salt but didn’t. The portion size was great and the side salad was exploding with flavour (should of asked the name of that dressing). I will go back and try lunch and purchase a pie/dessert to take home. My Hello Dolly bar was as they say “to die for.” That’s all …. and yes I will mention this place to other peeps.

Theresa’s brekkie

baconandeggsAcme was the perfect setting for this bunch of friends: breakfast, gossip, giggles…what’s not to love? This morning I had the basic: eggs, bacon, toast, hash browns. I don’t think Acme has a grill. They only offer eggs sunny side up so when I asked for scrambled the waitress said sure, but it won’t look like scrambled eggs. And she was right. What arrived was were eggs that had been baked into a flat and rubbery round. The breakfast was redeemed by an ample portion of bacon, toast, hash browns and fresh fruit. I have to give props to our waitress: she was funny, irreverent and attentive. Acme also offers a wonderful array of baked goods: house made cakes, pies, cookies and squares. I grabbed a Hello Dolly bar and chocolate chip cookies – which I promptly devoured once I got home. All good things.

Chris’ Breakfast

chrisbreakfastI liked the general atmosphere if the place and our server was sweet! I had the baked eggs benny which were good but i like more traditional style. The sample of preserves was good!!

 

 

Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe

So the other day James says, are we still doing that blog thingie? You bet we are. It had been a long since we’d broken fast together. Our reunion didn’t come without at hitch…we were hoping to review Burgoo on 4th. Alas, when we arrived at Burgoo we discovered it was closed and wouldn’t open for another hour and half. So what’s a couple of hungry reviewers to do? We walked down a couple of blocks to Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe!

James’ Brekkie

It’s been some time since Theresa and I reviewed a brunch spot, but we’re back on track. We chose Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe to reacquaint ourselves with brunch rules of engagement. Did we want something sweet or savoury? Sophie’s offers a good selection of either, and several hybrid dishes common to brunch spots, e.g., waffles with bacon. I decided to tangle (or tango?) with the Ole! side of the menu, and ordered the Eggs Mexicana ($11.99). Scrambled eggs with bell pepper, onions and ground Italian sausage were surrounded by black beans, deliciously rich homemade salsa, sour cream, and a carb troika of soft tortillas, toast and corn chips. They could leave the latter off the platter – they weren’t large enough for scooping the condiments. But a satisfying meal and pleasant service.

Theresa’s Brekkie

Well folks, I owe you an apology. There are no pictures of breakfast. The second our plates hit the table, we dug in and complete forgot about taking a picture. So I will be as descriptive as possible: two huge pancakes, fluffy, light, perfectly golden; two eggs, scrambled; bacon, two slices, crispy. Real butter. Real maple syrup. Real good.

James’ rating: 3 eggs out of 5
Theresa’s rating: 3 eggs out of 5

 

Catch 122

Catch 122 is a hip spot located in the heart of Gastown. My guest for this breakfast was my friend Kama, whom I don’t get to see nearly enough. We spent our breakfast getting caught up on our news and views, and then walked over to Dressew. You know, girl stuff.

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Theresa’s Brekkie

Vancouver restaurants are really upping their tea game. Usually when I order tea, I have no greater expectation than a Twinings tea bag in a metal pot. Catch 122 was a wonderful surprise: delivered unto me was a carafe of  well blended, properly prepared loose leaf English Breakfast tea. Our waiter, who was also responsible for preparing the tea service mentioned the name of the supplier, and I promptly forgot it. It was as a good English Breakfast should be: slightly smoky, slightly caramelly, a bit astringent, brewed strong. Perfect start to the day. Breakfast was good, it wasn’t spectacular, but I enjoyed the offerings: poached eggs, toast, beans, home fries and bacon. The only drawback was the the beans: they were sweet with maple syrup but a tad undercooked.

 Kama’s Brekkie

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My breakfast was a smoked salmon croissant. My eggs were poached perfectly soft and the croissant was fresh. They said they had their own smoked in house salmon. It was fine, not that much flavour though. The hash browns were good, home style and browned nicely. The coffee was amazing! Our server said that only 2 other places are carrying this brand. It’s from Chicago and I would recommend going just for the coffee if you like it really strong and dark. Our service was friendly and the atmosphere is very comfortable. Would go back….

 

The details

Theresa’s rating: 3 eggs out of 5
Kama’s rating: 3.5 eggs out of 5

 

 

Oakwood Canadian Bistro

In a divine fit of madness, James and I attempted to do brunch on Mother’s Day. Without  mothers. I offered to bring plastic baby doll but I couldn’t find the head. But we braved the crowds and arrived promptly for our reserved seats at Oakwood.

James’ Brekkie

James Brekkie

A workmate tipped me off to Oakwood Canadian Bistro. It didn’t sound like your regular bacon and eggs joint – sounded classy-like, as she swooned on a Monday morning over the asparagus omelette she’d eaten the day before. I passed the intel on to T and we decided to go on Mother’s day – early! I considered buying T a corsage just to creep her out, but didn’t -’cause it would creep her out…. Ah yes, the Oakwood – executive summary: eat here. Space has a cool-cabin vibe, service was prompt and cheery, prices are ridiculously right. My open faced corned beef sandwich (over easy eggs, sauerkraut, dijon hollandaise and home fries) was pure tastiness. Nicely assembled with enough corned beef for two, I savoured every bite as I considered many places would charge 50% more than its $14 pricetag. Also enjoyed a non-alcohol Mai Tai for $4.

Theresa’s brekkie

Theresa's BrekkieOakwood, located in the deeps of Kitsilano is a wonderful bistro. It’s casual but definitely a good enough place to bring your mother, a place that will reassure her that yes, you’re earning enough to get by and have a wee bit extra to take your beloved mom out for brunch. I ordered the breakfast special: scrambled eggs, pork belly confit, hash browns and toast. The room was dim and the picture doesn’t do it justice: the eggs were creamy and moist, the pork belly confit was melt in your mouth, and the hash browns were extra crispy just the way I like em. Now take a good look at the toast – that there folks is a hunk of bread taken from a homemade loaf. Heavenly. Someone’s momma should be very proud. I will definitely go back to Oakwood, just not on a holiday, our table was reserved all day and I felt a bit rushed to eat it and beat it when all I really wanted to was order more tea and toast. Sigh.

 The details:

James’ rating: 4 eggs out of 5
Theresa’s rating: 4 eggs out of 5