Honey Salt

Some years ago, the new casino opened on Windsor’s waterfront. My mother, who was vehemently opposed to gambling, said, ‘I can’t stop you from going into the casino, but don’t take your hands out of your pocket. You work too hard for your money to throw it away.’ And, for once, I listened to her. But now that mom has gone to her glory I thought maybe now is the time to darken the doorstep of the newly opened casino at the Parq Hotel complex. When we walked in to Honey Salt for brunch, I thought we walked into a Crate & Barrel showroom and that’s not a bad thing.

James’ Breakfast

nfdWriting a brunch review for a restaurant at a casino leads to temptation – clichés like “roll the dice,” “hit the jackpot,” and “come up empty handed” are all too obvious. So, I won’t go there. I’ll do my best to stick to narrative as straightforward as the restaurant’s name: Honey Salt. Honey Salt sets the tone for a relaxing meal with its bright, airy space. One of the first things that struck me was the age range of the serving staff, from millennials to baby boomers. Our waiter, from the latter group, gave attentive, prompt service.

nfd

Theresa and I split the monkey bread ($10) as a starter. It was delicious – warm, pull-apart brioche flavoured with citrus and a sweet, boozy dipping sauce – I thought it was rum, but Theresa’s guess, bourbon, was the right one. My main dish, tourtiere ($16), was equally scrumptious. It is served as an individual pie, accompanied by savoury tomato jam and an arugula and apple salad. The tourtiere’s beef and pork flavour hit the mark: robust but not fatty, and the nicely-browned pastry was flakey. One minor point: the salad tasted as if it was dressed with only vinegar: the pie’s richness was countered by the tomato jam’s mild spiciness, so the arugula could have used some, or more, olive oil for balance. Overall, a very satisfying brunch: the food, setting and service put Honey Salt on my recommended list.

Rating:🥚🥚🥚🥚 out of 🥚🥚🥚🥚🥚

Theresa’s Breakfast

Galette.jpgOur adventure started off with Monkey Bread, definitely one of the better interpretations I’ve had. The flavour notes were subtle: orange, butter, cinnamon, sweet. When dipped in the bourbon-infused caramel dip, well right there ladies and gentlemen is about as close to culinary heaven as you’re gonna get on a Sunday morning.

For my main I had the Breakfast Galette ($17) consisting of tender puff pastry topped with scrambled eggs, berkshire ham, spinach, mushrooms and gruyère cheese. In a word, lovely. The eggs were perfectly cooked: tender, fluffy, buttery. All the elements were made with quality ingredients and the dish was well prepared and presented.

I also have to commend Honey Salt on their tea service. We both ordered the English Breakfast, supplied by TWG tea (sold at the Urban Tea Merchant). Most restaurants don’t put a lot of thought into the tea service so it was nice to see good china and quality tea.

TWG Tea.jpgBy the way, we did walk through the casino. It was okay, but honestly it was kind of sad to see people gambling on a beautiful Sunday morning, especially when there was good eats to be had just a few steps away.

Rating:🥚🥚🥚🥚 out of 🥚🥚🥚🥚🥚 + a bonus egg for the tea

39 Smithe Street, Vancouver

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Slickety Jim’s Chat and Chew (The Sequel)

Slickity Jim’s is a Main Street go-to for breakfast and lunch seekers, but west-side appetites hungry for casual, home-style food can find a cute-as-a-button second location at Hemlock St. and West 7th Ave.

James’ Breakfast

hateTheresa and I journeyed there easily from the West End: we hopped on a False Creek ferry to Granville Is. and sauntered up the hill.

I ordered a somewhat awkwardly named dish: “Revolution Eggs (a breakfast called h.a.t.e.)” but the plate that arrived after a bit of a wait (it was Mother’s Day mind you, and the place was packed) was skillfully assembled and absolutely tasty.

Casual food is a label that can be used to “hide” messy or poorly prepared kitchen offerings. Not in this case: what the menu described as scrambled eggs arrived as a tidy, thin omelet, enfolded with roasted tomatoes, ham and asiago, atop a yummy slice of corn bread. Deliciously seasoned potatoes and a salad with a zippy vinaigrette rounded things out, for a very reasonable $11.50.

The servers, who never stopped whipping in and out of the kitchen with smartly presented plates of food, were good natured and apologetic as they maneuvered the tight space. And if you have a hankering for 60s and 70s decor, this is the place to get your fill: they have bric-a-brak and lighting fixtures that took me back to a time when shag carpet and Harvest Gold appliances ruled the land. The food however, is firmly in the present and worth sampling ASAP.

Rating: 🥚🥚🥚🥚 out of 🥚🥚🥚🥚🥚

Theresa’s Breakfast

BenniesFaithful readers of this blog will note that this our second review of Slickety Jim’s. In the olden days, Jim’s was tucked in a cosy spot on Main and Broadway. The building perished in a fire (there’s a Tim Horton’s there now, more’s the pity). The good news is this fine establishment rose from the flames not only on Main Street, but in Kits too.

What I loved about the first incarnation were the names of the food offerings. Both James, and Jennifer, who joined me on first visit, stuck it to the man by ordering the Revolution Eggs (a breakfast called h.a.t.e.). This time, though, not all the menu items were so charmingly named. The first breakfast I had was called “Je suis un petit canard” breakfast. I only ordered it because I wanted to say “Je suis un petit canard.”

This time I had eggs benny with avocado, roast pepper and goat feta ($13.50). And that’s what it was called. It wasn’t much different than the Je suis un petit canard (this one featured scrambled eggs). So they could have called “The breakfast formerly known as Je suis un petit canard.”

Was it good? Sure. Resoundly, absolutely, predictably, boringly good. Nice balance of flavours and textures, good service, and a really fun retro decor. For a lazy Mother’s Day breakfast between two long-time friends, neither of whom have children, it was a lovely chat and chew (but I really wanted to quack, Je suis un petit canard!).

Rating: 🥚🥚🥚 out of 🥚🥚🥚🥚🥚

Slickety Jim’s Chat and Chew
1387 West 7th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
http://www.skinnyfatjack.com

 

 

 

 

 

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

IMG_20180311_1124191-1.jpg

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 🥚🥚🥚🥚🥚

 

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.

IMG_20180121_0956213

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