Sunday, August 26, 2012

Weekend Thirty-Nine: Joe's Grill Kitsilano

(Ed. note: This week was a larger group than usual, and with a special guest author too! Hope you enjoy! D.)

The three guest bloggers this week are Georgina, Debra and André, who joined us on a beautiful Vancouver Sunday morning, with the sun bright but not blazing and the pee-boo birds pee-booing away in the foliage. We were all looking forward to the prospect of a fun and tasty brunch together, and we were well pleased with the result.

At Joe’s Grill on West 4th Ave., we were seated quickly by an excellent server who was attentive and friendly but not annoying. It was decorated in a simple, retro style, with abundant tables and booths. There's even one table on the sidewalk! The menu features “Eggs and things,” Bennys, griddled stuff (pancakes, waffles, crepes and French toast) and omelettes. We wondered about the difference between Bennys “topped” with Hollandaise or “smothered” with it, and our server explained that Joe likes his thesaurus. Round one to the pedants!

Georgina had the day’s special omelette, with onions, tomato and bacon, and which was “totally delicious.” Also she was pleased that she asked for (and got - sometimes this becomes a theoretical request) only two eggs instead of three, plus unbuttered toast. Round two to a server who listens! 

We all agreed that the panfries were great = they were real potatoes fried in a real frying pan without too much fat, and they even had the crusty sticky bits that are so good doused with ketchup (G.’s statement here, and a real compliment). As G. thinks the potato is Mater Nature’s most nearly perfect food, she would love to return for a simple plateful of Joe’s best. So many restaurants, and not cheap ones either, advertise “panfries” and then serve deep-fried identical cubes of possible former potato that even ketchup can’t salvage. Round three to accuracy in menu descriptions! 

Debra's breakfast wrap was a delicious blend of scrambled eggs,  bacon and 2 kinds of beans wrapped neatly in a tortilla.    With the hot sauce (spontaneously offered by the waitperson and brought promptly!) it was a bit like huevos rancheros but more manageable.  Debra, who is taking beginner Spanish, says " Muy bueno!"

AndrĂ©'s chorizo benny was good with the poached eggs cooked perfectly.  "I would definitely go there again."

Dave had Joe's special omelette. Different from the day's special omelette because it is always on the menu though it doesn't differ in it's "totally delicious"ness. 

Catie had the special benny which featured bacon instead of ham. The sauce that smothered or topped her benny tasted freshly homemade, which is comforting as well as fantastic! 

In summary, then, it was a fine meal with excellent service, affordable prices, hearty portions and fine company. We loved it all and would go back anytime!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekend Thirty-Eight: 2 Chefs and a Table

Today was a bright, sunny day, and we wanted a bright, sunny brunch. We headed out from our secret location, soon arriving at 2 Chefs and a Table. Located at 300 Alexander St. in Gastown, this cozy restaurant is tucked into an industrial-ish, highrise-filled area near Main and Hastings. We were seated promptly, and settled in to peruse the menu.

I enjoyed my orange juice, fresh-squeezed, and Catie's coffee came in a giant French press, which she appreciated. The menu has what you'd expect for a casual brunch, but the devil was truly in the details, as each item had something that made it stand out from other brunch spots. Homemade jam, local meats, and eggs from happy chickens, to name but a few.

Catie chose the Classic Benny ($9,) which featured a thick slice of real ham and house-made English muffins, and I selected Big Lou's Breakfast ($12,) consisting of a pancake, breakfast sausage, ham, eggs, toast, and hashbrowns. As we settled in to wait for our food, the restaurant slowly started to fill up, so much so that by 10:00 there was a lineup outside. There was entertainment, though - the server said that the 5 police cars were responding to a report of a stolen car, and that the suspect didn't want to get out of the car, even after the dog unit showed up. 99 problems...

Anyhow, I digress. The wait was short, and our food soon showed up at our table. (While there are actually two chefs, as advertised, there is more than one table. There are actually quite a few.) The plates were well-presented, and the server brought the plate of garnishes first, just to increase our anticipation. The maple syrup, strawberry jam, ketchup, and vanilla butter were all delicious.

My meal was giant. The sausage and ham were really delicious, not fatty as at other places, and there was a blob of grainy mustard beside. The eggs were tasty, but the pancake really stands out in my mind. It was cooked with a thin slice of apple inside! The toast was toast-y, but the hashbrowns were a bit of a letdown. They were perhaps deep-fried, rather than cooked in a pan. After the care that had gone into the rest of the meal, they were a bit of a surprise. Nonetheless, I noshed happily.

Catie's Benny, on the other hand, were perhaps the perfect specimen of Benny. Light English muffins, toasted, with a piece of real ham, not deli meat, topped with poached eggs ("Just the way I like them! Not too runny!" she said) and with a dollop of hollandaise sauce, Catie was very pleased with her selection. Her potatoes, on the other hand, had suffered the same cooking fate as mine - a bit of a blot on an otherwise delightful meal.

A comfy atmosphere, friendly and attentive service, and tasty food makes this an ideal spot for a re-visit. Perhaps this could be the perfect brunch!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Weekend Thirty-Seven - Burgoo Revisit

Leaving our secret location later than usual gave us the opportunity to revisit Burgoo. On our last visit to Burgoo, we loved the food but didn't love the atmosphere due to the people celebrating at the next table.

On this visit we were seated promptly by a very friendly waitress. Dave ordered a luxurious strawberry lemonade and I had a delicious iced latte. Yum!

Our order was then taken by a trainee who was attentive and liked to laugh, not to mention very good looking. I picked the sandwich special, a chicken club, and Dave decided to have the scrambled eggs on kentucky burgoo.

The tempting trainee waiter then tempted me with dessert. The cookie monster was a wonderfully rich treat!

Our food was amazing as always, the service was fantastic, and the atmosphere was much more relaxing as no one shrieked with crazy joy.

Excellent Brunch.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Weekend Thirty-Six: Main Street Sausage Cook Out

Last year I went to a delicious event put on by Liveable Laneways Vancouver to benefit the Food Bank. This year, they did it again.

At the Main Street Sausage Cook Out fabulous Main Street restaurants make, cook, and serve their own sausages in the hope to create the best sausage and crush the competition. Regular folks donate to the food bank (minimum donation is less than a dollar a sausage), devour the sausages, then vote for their favourites.

Okay, okay, I know it's not strictly brunch, but although this event didn't happen early in the day sausages can be brunch. I love this event, it's great fun, and the proceeds go to a great cause.

Advice if you go next year, which you should: get there early as the line up can become very long and take a water bottle as drinks aren't provided, though this year they did have coffee and eventually water.

Here's a photo montage of our experience at the Main Street Sausage Cook Out!

Next weekend, more brunch!