Downtown diner breakfast

The Templeton
1087 Granville
604.685.4612

A delicious assortment of breakfast and lunch fare. They have yummy house made chicken sausage, serve real maple syrup (for a small fee), and decent coffee and pancakes. The burgers are great and the milk shakes are traditional and good. It is always tough to get a table in this small retro diner, but worth taking a seat at the long bar if you’re in more of hurry or if you’ve got the time waiting for a booth.

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Pet Peeve – hard poached eggs…sophies not so cosmic cafe…hmmm…

Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe
2095 4th Avenue West, Vancouver    V6J 1N3  
604.732.6810

 

Beautiful day in Vancouver s I hoped on my bicyclette and headed up to my favorite dive shop IDC (these guys rock) to check on my gear for tomorrow’s dive trip!  On the way back I stopped by Sophie’s Cosmic for a bite to eat.  I pondered for a while over the menu, wondering if I should test out my favorite eggs huevos rancheros, or try out the pancakes.  Since I am in pursuit of good Vancouver best pancakes I gave that a go and ordered the Kits breakfast, poached eggs (soft), no meat.  This breakfast was such a disappointment that I didn’t finish it…(I can’t even believe it cost 14$)   My eggs came hard…very hard, and hard poached eggs is a serious pet peeve of mine.  The pancakes were a great shape and color, but left a lot to be desired in the flavor department.  They also weren’t that hot when they arrived, and weren’t accompanied by any butter…how can you have pancakes without butter?  The rest of the food looks good, but I just don’t know if I’d come back to find out.  I’m giving Sophie’s my second Just Ok of the weekend…

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Try something Nu…

Nu
1661 Granville Street, Vancouver
604.646.4668

 

Farm to table, casual cuisine is their moto, and I have long been a fan of Nu. Growing up on water, I know that having a view from your dining room also usually comes at a sacrifice to food quality. Think of some of Vancouver’s finest restaurants, West, Bishops, Tojo’s and countless others, none have views. What they have is remarkable food. However, since Nu is casual cuisine it seems to get away with great views, and solid food. And this week’s brunch was just that – solid. They started our meal with a treat from the kitchen which was chocolate chaud, and a small scone. I surprised everyone by loving the chocolate chaud! I ordered the fajita wrap served with scrambled eggs. The scrambled eggs had smoked tofu in them that was delicious. It tasted like smoked cheese and it had such a great texture. The house made salsa was yummy with fresh cilantro, and my friends had equally satisfying experiences. The prices are reasonable, the atmosphere and mood is good, the drinks are great, and the view and location are also in its favour. On Sunday’s they even have a jazz brunch. And while this time it was brunch, I’ve also been for special occasion lunches and dinners and had good experiences – both with the food and my companions. The food is not remarkable, but it is reliably good, so I’m giving it overall a Very Good. Nu is owned by the same folks as “C” and “Raincity Grill”. I’m not a big fan of “C”, but definitely give Raincity Grill a try as well.

 

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At Ouisie’s Table I was welcomed home.

Ouisie’s Table
3939 San Felipe Drive Houston, Texas
713.528.2264

 

Sitting on Lucy’s porch last weekend I was reminded of the spirit of my great grandmother, Nana, who owned and operated a tea house in a small lakeside community in the mid 1900’s. And in reading more about Elouise Adams Jones, the proprietress & Executive Chef, I understood why. Her establishment is clearly a labour of love and each room and menu item is thoughtfully arranged and prepared. While I love my life and work, Ouisie’s (pronounced We’ – zee’s) made me dream of a life of afternoon lunches in sundresses and heels with my girlfriends. And sitting there with two of the most beautiful women I know it didn’t take too much imagination. We started with The Original Taster Plate that included amazing egg salad, pimento cheese, and saltine crackers. My main course was Sautéed Belly of the Salmon & Deviled Eggs. I haven’t seen devilled eggs on a menu before, but they were great, and what is more the salmon belly was amazing. I’d eat at Ouisie’s Table again and again, so it gets a Great. And if I lived in Houston I host showers and birthdays here.

Special thanks and congratulations to V.A.J. and S.O.J.B. 

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Celebrating after a seaside run in the cold snowy Vancouver? weather…

Raincity Grill
1193 Denman Street, Vancouver
604.685.7337

 

The perfect location to celebrate a cold and snowy run along the seawall on a Saturday morning. This is another pick I owe to Alyssa, and it is one I love to go to myself, and to pass along to friends. Raincity Grill is located in the west end with view of English bay and in the summer they have a lovely terrace, which is where we sat when we first visited. This weekend it was a chilly minus 6 outside, and surprisingly even snowy, so we enjoyed sitting inside sipping complimentary warm cider with a slice of pear and fresh croissant drizzled in warm chocolate. Our breakfasts were delicious and while I was tempted to venture into more experimental territory I stuck to the classic Benedict. My companions enjoyed the English breakfast and back bacon Benedict. We ordered a maple apple appetizer to share, which I would skip in the future. We enjoyed the mimosas though, such a civilized drink to have with breakfast. The ambiance inside is a classic restaurant with white linens and plates. Nothing witty to say about Raincity Grill, but do come and enjoy, you may pass it along to your friends as well. It was a perfect way to kick off the holidays in Vancouver and I must get back here for dinner someday. Great.

 

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landlocked but dockside? (Calgary comes of age? #2)

big fish
112 edmonton trail ne, calgary 
403.277.3403

 

One of the great questions that remains for me about Calgary is can a place that is landlocked really get it right when it comes to seafood?  big fish has sustainable seafood, thoughtfully prepared and appropriately themed food, and is worth the drive, even in minus 30 degrees Celsius.  They did hit on two of my pet peeves today…ambiguous bathroom gender signs, and hard cooked poached eggs.  But they resolved the most important of these, hard eggs, both promptly and without question.  As for the pictures on the bathroom doors that indicate male and female washrooms, let’s just say the picture on the women’s washroom is quite masculine looking, and you might get confused too. The menu items don’t have names they just have descriptions which makes referencing them a mouthful.  I had the ‘pan fried trout rosemary hash with lemon butter and poached eggs’.  Once the eggs were replaced with soft poached this meal served in mini cast iron pan was delicious.  The trout was flavorful, delicate and melted in my mouth, while the rosemary potatoes and poached eggs made for perfect accompaniments.  The portions were a good size and around the table from the wild mushroom scramble to the smoked trout scramble the food was yummy.  Mimosa’s made with Spanish cava made this a great Sunday brunch.  I was intrigued by the ‘house coffee’ that comes with Vodka, but even I couldn’t have vodka that early!  Service was prompt and friendly.  For me big fish rates a very good, and I will try to make it back for dinner sometime, or stop by one of Dwayne and Alberta’s other restaurants – Diner Deluxe, Open Range, Vue Café, and Urban Baker.

 

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I’ve found my Vancouver pancake, avec real maple syrup!

Paul’s Place Omelettery 2211 Granville Street Vancouver, BC 604.737.2857

Don’t blink or you will miss it…If you turn your head to the right just before crossing the Granville Bridge and look very closely you might spot Paul’s Place Omelettery. The location is great because you can either fuel up before or fill up after shopping for furniture or artwork in nearby shops. Indeed I came across this gem because of my trip to the Reynolds Gallery and Urban Barn. There are very few clever things to say about this place as the service is friendly and attentive and atmosphere is nice but not distinct. We sat up at the bar, which is a great deal if you are one or two and don’t want to wait in line. From the bar you can see the whole joint and hear the steady hum of steamed milk and conversation. Probably the most exciting thing that this restaurant offers is a half order of Benedict! The only problem is they were out of hollandaise sauce (busy making more, but I couldn’t wait) so I can’t report on how good they are. What I can warn though is that the poached egg dish ordered by my friend came with hard eggs instead of soft. If it were mine I would have sent it back…but I had a bite of the hash and it tasted pretty yummy. In search of Vancouver’s best pancake I had to try their hotcakes (which can be ordered for 1.50$ each) and served with a generous portion of real maple syrup. They were yummy, fluffy, perfectly cooked circles of goodness. Their signature dishes are the omelets, but the menu has countless other options including sandwiches, burgers, porridge, and eggs. The prices are very reasonable, 10-12$ per person. Call ahead and get your name on the list, but make sure you stop by if you’re in the neighborhood. This place gets a “Very Good”.

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Donuts with a little spice!

Aurora Bistro closes it doors :( thanks Annie and Alyssa for bringing it to my attention, but we are all sad to see it closed.

Aurora Bistro

2420 Main Street. Vancouver . 604.873.9944

This is the place where granola meets lulu lemon for brunch. From the outside it is unassuming, and from the inside it is muted colors and understated furniture.  The walls are plain wood boards; the lights are dim but add interest with their multi color blown glass shades.  I first ventured here when a friend advised that their fresh five spice donuts were a must try.  And indeed they are.  Fresh out of the fryer donuts with the alluring smell of five spice and maple syrup these hot nuggets of goodness are worth the trip.  The wait staff suggest them as dessert, but I say no way, order them as an appetizer to make sure you have room.  The egg dishes are all delightful, but if you are more in a lunch mood I suggest trying the sandwiches.  On fresh bread and served warm they come with your choice of soup, salad or pomme frites.  Today I had the arugula hazelnut pesto and white bean baguette which was garlicky but delish, and the carrot ginger soup that accompanied it was divine.  The birthday girl had the sablefish hash, which I’ve had and enjoyed on another visit.  The portions are just right, the ingredients fresh and local, the selection is limited, but the choices are excellent.  The service is attentive, but the food can be a bit slow coming to the table, so keep bring your yogic patience with you, because it is on Main Street after all.  The buzz of the busy restaurant and atmosphere make Aurora feel intimate, although I was sitting barely an elbow away from the couple sitting next to us.   I’ve not been for dinner yet, but if breakfast with the goddess of dawn is any indication I’d say dinner is a safe bet, and I’m hoping to try it soon. Mains around 13$, donuts 9$.  Reservations are recommended. 

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Eating here is like bumping your funny bone…

The Elbow Room Café

560 Davie Street 
604.685.3628
Vancouver

 

If you need breakfast, it is in your neighbourhood and your feeling like being harassed by the waiters this is your place.  The signs outside boast famous breakfast, and I will agree it is solid, but it only gets a just okay in my books.  The busy walls are adorned with newspaper stories about the restaurant that ‘serves up breakfast with abuse’ and signed photos of less than famous stars like Rana Davis and Aspen Reign.  There are rules for eating there, but the best one by far is that if you don’t finish your plate of food you have to give a donation to the charity “A loving spoonful” an organization that provides meals to people housebound with AIDS.  There is no maple syrup to be found here; instead the dense, almost undercooked pancakes are served with table syrup that smells like Aunt Jemima.  The spinach soup was rich and too salty, and on another day my grilled cheese with tomato was just okay… My breakfast guests have been equally unimpressed, but for the life of me can’t remember what they ate so I can’t warn you away from it.  But with all that there is something about this eclectic, homey joint that will have me going back at least once more and I will keep you posted if the rating changes.  And in the mean time I’m going to keep looking for the best pancakes in Vancouver, so let me know if you have any tips…

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Hey POPS

POPS RESTAURANT
560 Tremont Street
Boston MA
617.695.1250

If you’re looking for that, “I’m so much cooler than Eddie Bauer or L.L. Bean anything” then you’ll appreciate Pops’ self-involved shabby chic chandeliers, black and white décor, and tin ceiling panels. We were seated at a table overlooking the private garden in the back; the perfect oasis setting for a rainy morning brunch. My companion had the excellent eggs with chorizo and chilaquilles – which roughly translates to tortillas, eggs, and tomato sauce. It’s about as close to Taco Bell as the Beverly Hills Chihuahua is to an Oscar. I had the mushroom and truffle oil omelette, which is always a tricky choice given that the truffle oil can overpower. To my pleasant surprise, it was perfectly done, coupled with eggs of equally perfect consistency. Most surprising, though, was the South End’s best texas toast. This homemade slice of heaven could have been a meal to itself, served with nothing but West Texas “wide open space.” Its density was rich with with flavours of egg and yeast, –leading my companion astray from his gentlemanly duties of sharing. Hard to explain, but It is possible I’ll go back to Boston just for the toast. Our meal was reasonably priced with brunch mains around 10$, with sides in the 2-4$ range.
This place was a solid 8.5, or Very Good using the Malaysian inspired metric.

Special thanks to M.S.

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