Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Weekend Sixty: Two Chefs Revisit with Company

(This post comes directly from the creative and very amusing mind of Dave's sister, Jane and her girlfriend and muse, Beth.)

"Well, the balls of it," our host explained, "is that you have to wait outside."

So, we did. We waited for a frosty 45 minutes outside Two Chefs and a Table (see previous visit here) until half a large table became available for our group of four. Fortunately, we found ourselves very entertaining and the food was well worth the wait.

We had some new experiences over the morning, the first of which was learning the hip idiom, "The balls of it is...." Catie adopted it immediately and Dave and Beth considered teaching it to their ESL classes. Our wintry wait outside also gave us plenty of time to consider the location, location, location and the other clientele of Two Chefs and a Table. All the pointy shoes and meticulously groomed moustaches were in sharp contrast to the surrounding DTES. Once seated, we found plenty of scope for comment in the freshly distressed decor.

Dave was hoping for his first taste of Terducken sausage, but this had already sold out. His second choice was also a first, though: Chicken and Waffles. That's fried chicken, plunked on a waffle and drizzled with syrup.

Beth, recovering from stomach flu, took it easy with a platter of lean and local sausage with scrambled eggs. The eggs she pronounced "better than your usual" and the sausage very tasty. The potatoes didn't stand out much.

Catie and Jane were both impressed with the Monsieur Andre. Have you ever considered which sandwich you would be, if you were one?* It would be interesting to meet this Andre. He's clearly a luxury-loving sophisticate who is also a master of restraint. Expressed in sandwich, he's the fanciest-pants grilled cheese around. Sourdough bread, goat cheese, slices of the "daily charcuterie," topped with an over-easy egg and Hollandaise sauce. It was decadent but not sickening, and every bite delicious.

We were also served a small container of lemon marmalade. Since none of us had toast, its purpose was mysterious. But it was very nice eaten directly off the spoon.

We give Two Chefs and a Table our thumbs up for flavour. And the server did a fantastic seating and serving the whole busy restaurant almost single-handedly.

* Jane: peanut butter and dill pickle. Or tomato and mayo, toasted.
Beth: a once-in-a-lifetime, end-of-a-camping-trip creation: pepperoni dipped in peanut butter sprinkled with chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, wrapped in a stale tortilla.
Catie: left over turkey, bacon, mayo, dijon mustard, stuffing and sliced brussel sprouts, in a kaiser bun with gravy on top.
Dave: pork belly, sliced cabbage and pickled onions, cheddar and guacamole.

And yourself? Please share in the comments!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Weekend Fifty-Nine: Girls at Cafe Medina

After what seemed like a millennia since getting together with my girlfriends, we all met one Sunday morning at Cafe Medina for a good brunch and a much needed catching up session.

I was a little wary when I left our secret location. I have heard about Cafe Medina's long lines. Normally when tackling a restaurant that has epic waits I arrive as or before they open. My girls aren't as excited about mornings and therefore had asked that we meet at 10 instead of 9 am when Cafe Medina opens it's doors.

I arrived shortly after 10:10, basically on time when taking public transit, and put our name on the ever growing list. A hip host took wrote my name down, as well as three other parties. He then called a name but the lucky name owner's entire party was not present so he moved to the next lucky name. You will not be seated until your entire table is waiting at the door. This fact was in our favour as May and Bev arrive shortly after me and we were seated 20 minutes later, a Sunday morning brunch miracle.

The menu is short but intimidating and pretty expensive. I had the Fricasse at $16, May the healthy Saumon Fume at $12, and Bev the Cassoulet at $15.
On first inspection I was very pleased with my choice. On second impression and tasting I was ecstatic! It was delicious. The braised short ribs were tender and the flavour of the sauce was exceptional.

May was a little disappointed in how her plate appeared as she had wanted a hot pot presentation like Bev and I had. However, once she tasted it May was very happy and it disappeared very quickly. May passes on the following helpful wisdom, don't order the Saumon Fume with sunny side up eggs, it makes eating this sandwich really difficult and messy.

We all decided that Bev's choice was the meat lovers dish of the bunch and she loved all of protein on her plate. Hopefully baby Ramona is just as happy.
Bev and I also drank our way through a latte each. Bev's was soya milk while mine was skim. Both lattes were amazing. After our mains, May and I split a waffle with mixed berry compote (or jam as I like to say). The waffle was superb and only $3.15 + $1 per topping.

Don't go to Cafe Medina if you are in a hurry. We were seated relatively quickly but it took us an hour to order and receive our food. Yes, we were chatting and hadn't decided on food the first time the waitstaff came by but we made a decision quickly after hoping they would reappear promptly... they didn't. The wait for food didn't bother me because I was in exceptional company and could have stayed chatting with my fabulous girls friends all day.

Weekend Fifty-Eight: The Templeton

This weekend we were joined by a regular brunch participant who is giving blogging a go. Without further ado, I give you, Kim.

Hello denizens of the interwebs it is I, Kim sister of Catie and occasional brunch companion to Dave and Catie. Just like a companion of Doctor Who occasionally the companion gets featured in an episode and this blog post is mine. Oh in case you, dear reader, haven’t noticed I’m a bit of a geek, have been this way since I was a young’un. Anyhow to the story of the delicious Templeton brunch and food held within the diner (cue dramatic music).

So it was early on a grey, cold Sunday morning when was roused from my incredibly comfy bed to go to brunch with Catie and Dave, not my first but certainly one of my favourite places I’ve visited in the beautiful city of Vancouver. Originally we had planned to visit a completely different brunch place, a fancy, highbrow place with a minimum half an hour wait even within ten minutes of their initial opening. After placing my name in the lineup I proceeded to retire to a corner of the teeny, tiny waiting area, with one ear listening for my name. However after a long period of time my attention was summoned, not by my name being called but rather by my cell phone chirping at me. It was Catie, calling to ask me how long it would be and would I perhaps consider the Templeton instead? It would be a five minute wait at worst.

Well as it was ungodly early on a Sunday (translation: before noon for me) and so the sooner I had a proper breakfast the safer the world would be. I quite happily acquiesced to the re    quest and quite nearly ran north on Granville Street towards the 1950’s nostalgia haven that is the Templeton Diner, or so it would appear from the outward appearance of this particular establishment. Once inside I saw that the time warp, while still strong, was not complete most evident by the large flat screen television, on the wall behind the counter of the diner, playing episodes of the Muppet Show.
It was a cacophony of time periods, a flat screen television lording itself over the individual jukeboxes for each booth and a dissonance of sound, the clinking of utensils, the chatting of people, the indefinable song playing with the strong bass beat, all combining into a wall of noise so dense it was nearly physical. We were seated quite quickly and the booth was very comfortable, the waitress attentive but not obtrusive. After a little perusal of the menu we all decided on our feasts to break our fasts.

Dave decided on a classic of huevos rancheros, which was delivered promptly after being ordered with his usual orange juice. Once delivered the huevos rancheros were deemed delicious but too tidy on the plate to be perfect, the messier the huevos the tastier it is. In fact he commented that the meal was wonderful and very tasty but sadly lacking in guacamole.

Catie chose the delectable eggs benedict, pausing between savoring mouthfuls to comment on the perfect temperature of the sauce, which was most certainly handmade and not powdered. As a connoisseur of eggs benedict she has developed a discerning palate for this sauce and is seemingly forever in search of the perfect specimen. She had a lovely tea and was quite pleased to see they brought her a small saucer to place her teabag in when finished with it.

As for myself I, after much deliberation settled on the mangled eggs, which was scrambled eggs with brie cheese, with strips of bacon all of this was placed in a croissant as a sort of sandwich which is much more wonderful than it sounds, which is incredible sounding already so you must go have it. I also had a hot chocolate in a mug big enough to swim in is seemed, and a small orange juice so I could allow myself the illusion of health.

We all were fortunate enough to have hash browns with our meals and these were not deep fired pieces of mock potatoes, these hash browns were in fact real potatoes perhaps even earlier that day they had been potatoes tasting pan fired and beautiful flavored. When the bill came it was a breakfast $9 with a coffee $1 and a juice $1 for me, it was a delicious repast and well worth the whopping $11 dollars for a brunch I shall remember fondly and plan to repeat when I next find myself up at the crack of noon or anywhere up to 3 PM for the Templeton Diner.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Weekend Fifty-Seven: Caffé Barney on Main

It was a cold, dreary day, and we had decided that a tasty brunch would be the ticket to making it better. We set out from our secret location and headed off to Seb's on Broadway. After a pleasant walk, we arrived to find locked doors and cold stoves! It turns out that Mr. and Mrs. Seb had given their employees some sort of holiday to start the New Year. We trudged over to Main, wondering just what we could to to assuage our grief, when Caffé Barney appeared before us. We were hungry and it was open - a perfect combination, since we had enjoyed our visit to Caffé Barney on Granville.

We were seated quickly; I with my orange juice and Catie with green tea. The menu is quite extensive, offering variations on all of our traditional favourite brunch foods. After some deliberation, I settled on the chorizo, mozzarella, and mushroom omelette ($12) and Catie on the traditional Benny (with added bacon, naturally) for $11.

We settled in to wait for our brunch. Top Gun was playing on one big screen above the bar, while the other was showing hockey. The crowd was mostly younger people, but there was a choice of tables.

My omelette was tasty, but nothing too exciting. The cheese was only in one place, which made the whole thing rather more like a wrap that used egg instead of flatbread. One might argue that this is a textbook description of what an omelette is supposed to be, but I do like the insides to be cooked in the eggs, not simply scattered upon it and folded in half. The multigrain toast and panfries were good, and I did enjoy the strawberry jam.

Catie's Benny was yummy. "The Hollandaise sauce tastes like it was made in the restaurant, not from a mix!" she said. As well, the bacon was extra-smoky, which I can attest to. All too often 'bacon' becomes a synonym for 'salty meat-like substance.' Not the case here! The English muffin was well-toasted and crispy.

Comfortable food, just what we expect from Caffé Barney. (What's with the extra 'f'? It doesn't make sense in English or French...) Bring a friend here on a rainy day and don't sweat the small details.