Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weekend Twenty-Two: Revolution at Havana

This weekend brought with it some sleeping in, mild weather, and a desire to ride bikes. We immediately leapt onto our cycles and pedaled over to Havana's on Commercial Drive, only to arrive early. A few other eager brunchers joined us as we waited for them to open.

Seated quickly, we opened the menu and took a look at the offerings on, um, offer. I started with orange juice (fresh squeezed? tasty!) and Catie ordered a Boochie Coffee, which was delicious, though perhaps a bit bitter.

Our food came fast, even though the restaurant was filling up. I ordered the Chef's Scramble ($13) with hashbrowns, and Catie chose the Huevos Rancheros ($11.) My guacamole was delicious, the salsa was fresh, and the hashbrowns were crispy. I like my cheddar cheese the same way I like my wit - sharp - and it did not disappoint. The server brought me half hashbrowns and half salad by mistake, but she corrected it by bringing a small mountain of hashbrowns on the side. Bonus points! I was quite happy with the salad, though it wasn't really too exciting.

Catie's Huevos Rancheros were presented well, tucked in the middle of a giant flour tortilla. Now, as astute readers of this blog will know, huevos are usually not the best to look at - messier is often more delicious - but these really did look appetizing. The tortilla was soft, the salsa was spicy, and the eggs tasted pretty darn good. The beans also had a good flavour.

So, the negative. It's crowded, and the music was kind of loud. However, it's crowded for a reason - the food is good! If you don't like lineups, arrive just before 10. If you like lineups, arrive after about 10:30 and strand around looking cool on The Drive.

This guacamole should be a part of the perfect brunch. So should the orange juice. Hmmm, but what else does the perfect brunch need?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekend Twenty-One: Locus Remedy

After starting the weekend with the plague and managing to pass it onto Dave in record time, brunch was in jeopardy. As I lay in bed trying to decide if it was worth getting up my stomach rumbled. We had to eat something, be it at home or at a restaurant.

I hate traveling on public transit when sick. I hate the dirty looks I get from others. It's as if their eyes are saying, "Stay back, Typhoid Catie!" Therefore, our brunch provider had to be with in walking distance. It also had to be close enough that my pocket tissue supply would last the duration.

A single location came to mind, Locus!

We haven't been to Locus since our after-Christmas visit (a good and bad thing about this blog is that we visit a lot of great brunch spots but so rarely repeat...) and have wanted to go back ever since.

Today the walk was pleasantly short. Locus had just opened when we arrived. There was a notable lag between being seated and receiving our menus and drinks, as they were just starting up for the day (This caused the pocket tissue supply to dwindle).
The coffee was as good and fresh as I remembered. Dave drank his traditional drink choice, orange juice.

They delivered on the fresh and warm bread served with two spreads. Yummy.
Dave picked the Special Omlette: lamb merguez, mushrooms, caramelized onions and smoked cheddar folded into free range eggs ($13)  and I had the Early Bird: two free-range eggs and double-smoked bacon ($8). Both were served with roasted rosemary nugget potatoes and fresh fruit. I added a side of rye toast on which I could eat my eggs.

The food was excellent, though I must confess my taste-buds are definitely dulled by my plague. I think Dave felt the same way.

After refreshing my pocket tissue supply from Locus's unisex bathroom,  I recommend the toilet paper over paper towel as it is softer, we had a short walk home before collapsing into bed. Hopefully our fevered brows and faucet noses will heal soon...

This could have been a perfect brunch if we had been minus our viral friends.

Weekend Twenty: Starting a Habit

Back to Vancouver for this one. As usual, we woke up hungry. Originally we thought about venturing to the mystical wilds of Nanaimo Street, but soon realized that today was to be a lazy day. That being said, we soon found ourselves scampering down the street to Habit Lounge.

We arrived on the dot of 9, and were seated quickly. We had our choice of tables, as we were the first to arrive. Catie chose a booth, luxuriously upholstered in brown leather-style vinyl and lit by a swirly lightshade-thing. Having successfully arrived in the '70s, we ordered our customary OJ and coffee, and sat back to peruse the menu.

Jimi Hendrix and Wilson Pickett were playing, and several tasty items caught our eyes. Should it be the Breakfast Perogies? The Braised Beef and Eggs? Or the Breakfast Martini Bento Box? Hmmm. Surprise surprise, Catie went for the Two Eggs (medium, with strip bacon and multigrain toast, for $9) and I requested the Huevos Rancheros ($11.) We are such creatures of habit. They say that they use free-range happy eggs, meat, and seafood, all of which we were pleased to see.

The food came, and we were both initially pleased. However, our happy faces turned sad as we saw our underdone eggs. Not all was lost, however, as Catie asked for some fresh strawberry jam for her toast (so crisp!) and tucked into her hash browns with enthusiasm. Crispy all over, and lightly salted. I particularly enjoyed my black beans, yummy salsa and newly-made guacamole.

Just as we were about to leave, however, Catie spied some raspberry crème caramels, just sitting near the bar. We asked "?," to which the waitress said "..." and checked with the kitchen, who replied "!" We agreed! Definitely the right way to end out our meal. I can't find them on the menu - perhaps they were a daily special - but you should ask if you go.

This could be a perfect brunch, if only the medium eggs were medium, and not gloopy. Raspberry crème caramel, though... stroke of genius.

(how to type the accent grave? option+the key beside the 1, then your vowel. à è ì ò ù - dh)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Weekend Nineteen - Pluto's with Special Guest Writers Dave's Mum and Dad!

This is a bonus brunch from our weekend in Victoria, featuring the accomplished word stylings of Dave's Mum and Dad! - cf

With Dave and Catie in Victoria for a round of visits and events, it was a real treat to have brunch with them on Monday morning. We went to Pluto's on Cook Street. It's been there for many years -- from the beginning of the Rebirth of the Diner in Victoria and is a recycled 50's gas station. We don't know how the name was chosen. Whether because it's a Dog eat Dog world? Or is it to commemorate the Former Planet?

The menu was the usual diner fare: ommies, bennies, heuvos for breakfast and soups, salads, burgers, steaks, and stir-fry for lunch and dinner. The decor was bright with funkiness at "moderate" on the dial -- art on the walls, and Tibetan prayer flags over the cash-desk.

The crowd was pretty much just ourselves, so naturally, it was hip, fun, smart, modestly brilliant and the ambience was very good for chatting and laughing.

The staff person was friendly and attentive but never intrusive. Coffee re-fills came just when needed. With no crowd, it was easy to get our orders cooked and to the table quickly.

Dave's Dad had the Siesta ommie, with chorizo, mexi-cheese and Santa Fe pesto. It was tasty, but not too fiery, so he asked for some hot-sauce to perk it up. Great accompaniment was the thick slab of toasted cornbread.

Dave's Mum had the Huevo's Rancheros. Two fried eggs on a whole wheat tortilla, with the usual fixins. For her, the best part was the side of beans.

Catie went for the Standard Two-egg Breakfast with bacon, toast and coffee. (The coffee was so fresh and the refills came often. It was a cup of caffeinated perfection. -cf)

Dave had an ommie with corn bread too. (The ommie was pretty standard but the corn bread was expectional. -dh)

Best feature of the brunch: seeing Dave and Catie!

Weekend Eighteen: Spoon's with guest writers, Kevin and Christabel Savage!

Today, special guest writers. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Kevin and Christabel Savage! -cf

I resisted going to Spoons for the longest time.   I'd regularly read friends' gushing reviews on Facebook, and somehow the diner still failed to appeal.  Which is odd, because I rather like food that I don't have to cook, and restaurants sort of have that by definition. Turns out, it's just the name.  Apparently all Spoons evokes in me is a sense of boring, greasy spoon food.  Thankfully, the reality is substantially better than the stuff my unfevered imagination conjured up.

Party of four: Dave and Catie were already admiring the vintage decor when my wife, Christabel, and I rolled through the door.  Our waitress (Can you still say waitress? Screw it, I'm using it anyways.) was there by the time we were settled to take our orders for the requisite pre-crack-of-noon caffeinated beverages.  Dave and Catie had OJ and coffee respectively, while Cbel and I had tea.  I'm pretty sure I didn't see any grimaces over these drinks, but my observation skills aren't exactly top-notch while I'm still in my boot-up phase.

It had been quite a while since the last time we had seen Dave and Catie, so our little group inevitably became the chatty little group that I've always suspected annoys the bejeebus out of waitresses.  Ours took it well in stride though, she even cracked a funny.  I think it was the second or third time that she came to take our orders that we got serious about the whole 'ordering food' thing.

Catie had the huevos rancheros.  I distinctly recall hearing happy noises issuing from her vicinity during her meal.  She had a smile at the end, as well.  It's not wholly conclusive, but I think the evidence leans heavily towards satisfied customer.

Dave and I both went for omelets.  His choice was the Mr. Zirk, which is named after a friend of mine who apparently got bonus naming rights for attendance and merciless Facebook flogging.  There was the teeniest serving mistake whereby we were given each other's plate.  We detected the error, but not before I had a chance to nuke Dave's meal from orbit with pepper.  I had the Mr. Jones, chosen largely for the fact that it contained chicken and some seriously appropriate vegetables.  Also, it had pan-fried potatoes.  They require their own paragraph.

They were very, very good.

Christabel had the Idol benny.  The most unusual aspect was the pesto hollandaise sauce.  I'm going to admit freely that I didn't think it was going to make any kind of sense.  I was wrong.  It was so good, I'm liable to develop a taste for being wrong.  Also, more pan-fried potatoes.  If you make your hash browns like that, don't be surprised if I switch straight into fanboy mode.

So here's the final tally, after we eliminate the Russian and French judges' wildly inaccurate scores:
 - four happy tummies
 - prompt and enjoyable service
 - they have a big parking lot
 - ... that isn't downtown!