Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Weekend One Hundred and Seventeen: James Bay Coffee Co

We left our secret location and were very quickly at one of our local coffee spots. James Bay Coffee provides great coffee, good food, lots of books, and a community gathering space making for excellent people watching.

The offer a coffee card and good conversation while they make your food and coffee. I ordered an Americano and a bagel with cream cheese, while Dave ordered an orange juice and a mediterranean bagel melt. The food is not fancy, but very tasty and reliable.

James Bay Coffee Co: 143 Menzies Street, Victoria

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Weekend One Hundred and Sixteen: Cafe 1891

Catie, holding a Kleenex in one hand and a dog leash in the other, walked down the foggy street between two attractive but greying bros who walked, waiting for her to say something. But she said nothing; she had been silent much of the morning, except now, walking down Wharf Street, she seemed even more distant, staring out through the fog and morning light into a large void between herself and the new Johnson Street Bridge. Catie with a cold is Picasso without paint, Ferrari without fuel - only worse. For the common cold robs Catie of that uninsurable jewel, her brunch, cutting into the core of her confidence, and it affects not only her psyche but also seems to cause a kind of psychosomatic post nasal drip within the people who brunch with her (A rewritten Frank Sinatra has a cold, 1966).

Catie, Dave, and Charlie had left their secret location on a mission to go to Capital Iron. It was the biggest outing Catie had been on since getting her sinus infection. Between blowing her nose, coughing, and lying in bed, she had been very busy for the last week. But the walk was a relatively short and simple one. Once downtown, take Wharf all the way to Capital Iron, the everything store, then home. Though today, Capital Iron would turn out to be the everything-except-the-thing-you-are-looking-for-store.

However, at Wharf and Pandora a sign caught Catie's glazed eye: Coffee, Mount Royal Bagels, Parachute Ice Cream, Cafe 1891. So they stopped. Catie got a flat white and a lemon melt cookie ($okay$). Dave got a breakfast danish, featuring ham, egg, cheese, and tomato, ($okay$) and a cold pressed hipster juice drink featuring beets and ginger ($omg$). Both Catie and Dave enjoyed their drinks and treats. They would have the flat white, lemon melt cookie, and danish again, but not the cold pressed juice though because it's just too expensive. Pro Tip: Always shake a cold pressed mason jar juice before drinking, otherwise the last gulp will be all the ginger that should have been dispersed through the first 98% of the drink (!!!).

In short, YUM and great location for people watching.

Cafe 1891, 460 Pandora Ave, Victoria

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Weekend One Hundred and Fifteen: Yolks on Hastings

After a late night out dancing at the Rhythm City Mess Around we were looking for a relaxed brunch near the Ukaranian Hall where RCMA is located. Low on power, physical and brain, we wandered down Hastings past the old Yolks location to the new Yolks location and joined the line. Since we were just a party of two we were seated quickly. Pro tip: if you are a large group (or any size group) you can join the waitlist from home on Yolks website.

We have review Yolks before at their Cambie location and quite liked it. Today we tired something completely different, not featuring the egg. We were sat on their very pleasant patio, which had the perfect weather. As we basked in the sun and relaxed waiting for our food, I sipped my ice americano, which was very strong, and Dave drank his orange juice.

Our food arrived quickly given how busy the restaurant was. I ordered the Lemon-Berry Cripsy French Toast ($16.75) while Dave ordered the Double Blueberry Pancakes ($15.50).

My food was delicious! The coating on the french toast is something I haven't had before and gave the french toast a perfect texture. I would never have thought to pair lemon curd, whipping cream, and french toast but it was absolutely perfect.

Dave loved his blueberry loaded pancakes along with all the extra fruit that came with it. The stack was very high but he finished all of it happily. We both enjoyed the bacon, though it really wasn't the highlight of the meal.

After finishing our meal, we managed to get back to RCMA before falling into full brunch comas.

Yolks, 1598 East Hastings, Vancouver

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Weekend One Hundred and Fourteen: Angelina's at the Quay

This week’s blog is a crossover post with and was written by our best brunchmates, Julie and Michel from the blog Dancing in Irreverence. This long weekend they are in town for some swing dancing-related activities, and we felt it was important to get a brunch in, so we’re back at Angelina’s, our go-to breakfast spot.

As mentioned in my previous post about Angelina’s, they are in a new, much larger location than they used to be. This is very helpful in situations where you want to meet friends at a specific time and don’t want to wait around for ages to get seated.

We had a new waitress today who I had never seen before. She was cheerful and prompt and she checked in with us enough, but not too much. We had coffees ($3.25) or in Dave’s case, orange juice ($5) within minutes of sitting down, and our breakfasts followed shortly thereafter. We had lots of time to eat and chat, but when we were ready to leave, we were taken care of and on our way without a lot of arm waving or waiting around.

I ordered my usual breakfast of French Toast with Raspberries and Whipped Cream ($13). When it arrived it seemed like maybe there were slightly fewer raspberries than usual, but I did manage to make them last until the final bite, so it could have been my imagination. I do have photo evidence and will compare next time we go there to keep an eye out for any downward trend in raspberries.

Catie also ordered Raspberries and Whipped Cream, but on a waffle instead of French toast. I know from experience that this was an excellent choice on her part. She also added crispy bacon ($4) on the side, which arrived as round bacon, not strips – it looked good, but I wasn’t thinking of this blog post as we were eating so I didn’t ask if she has a preference for a particular shape.

Dave and Michel each ordered the Big Pannekoeken ($18), which comes with eggs, baby potatoes and various fried meats. Again, not thinking ahead to this post, I didn’t follow up on their experiences, but they both ate every last bite so I’m thinking they were pleased.

Over breakfast we discussed our plans for next weekend’s getaway to the Pentastic Hot Jazz Festival in Penticton, which is guaranteed to be the topic of next week’s blog post. We’ll be spending the weekend dancing and listening to jazz with many elderly people. For me and Michel, this will be our second year attending, and likely not our last.

This morning’s breakfast was a fun change of pace, and a nice chance to catch up with friends over good food, but I do have one regret: It just occurred to me now that I have an Entertainment Book coupon for Angelina’s in my purse and I didn’t use it. Fingers crossed, I will remember next time.

Angelina's Dutch Corner, 810 Quayside Dr #122, New Westminster

Weekend One Hundred and Thirteen: Fable Diner at the Lee

We left our secret location in Victoria for the weekend to attend the Rhythm City Mess Around in Vancouver and found ourselves wanting to brunch. Vancouver has undergone a lot of changes, especially around Main and Broadway, and Fable Diner at the Lee is one of them. This spot used to be a greasy spoon of the most traditional sort, but now it has been transformed.

We arrived early, looking for dance class fuel, and were not disappointed. We didn't need to wait, and were seated with a scenic view of the bar and kitchen. Really - it was neat to see how the seemingly well-oiled kitchen machine created plate after plate of brunches.

True to form, Catie and I both had our favourites. Huevos Rancheros ($14) for me and a Benny with bacon ($16) for C. Our helpful server recommended we have a Rosti potato cake ($5) each, and he wasn't wrong. Kind of like a latke, but deep-fried and crispy, with sour cream as an accompaniment. We'd recommend them to you too.

My huevos were tasty. I liked the mountain of cabbage concealing the guac, sour cream, salsa - spicy for real - and eggs. I'd recommend adding a meat next time - perhaps pork belly? - just for a bit more.

C enjoyed her Benny. The hollandaise was superb and creamy. The bacon was judged to be crispy, thick-cut, and delicious, and the cheese-and-onion scones were a nice change from the traditional English muffins. But the best part of the brunch for Catie was being able to see straight into the kitchen and watch the 4 cooks efficiently put together dishes for the awaiting brunchers. If you can, get the two top that looks into the kitchen, it's quite the show.

Breakfast in our bellies, we scampered off to dance class. We were well-fuelled, and would recommend a stop at the Fable Diner for friends at RCMA, ardent shoppers, students, or workers of all kinds. Check it out!

Fable Diner, 151 East Broadway at Main. Open at 7:30!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Weekend One Hundred and Twelve: Paul's Diner by Fol Epi

Of course, we have our ears to the ground for new brunch spots. While we were at Fol Epi, we found out about their new venture at Paul's Motor Inn. While Paul's had mainly been connected with university karaoke in our minds, we were pleased to hear that it had had a facelift and transformation. As I write this, their website says that it is coming soon, but rest assured, dear reader - it is already here.

We left our secret location and headed out of downtown. Arriving at about 8:30, there were many seats available, both at the booths and at the cute bar. We selected a booth for two, and settled in to read the menu. Looks like more than brunch, but, of course, we selected brunch favourites. Classic Benny for Catie, (sub strip bacon for back bacon, eggs poached medium please,) and Ham Hock Hash for me. Catie's coffee was good, but my orange juice was fantastic. Fresh squeezed, nicely chilled, and just what the doctor ordered.

I really enjoyed the ham hock hash. I think I ate three whole potatoes in total, along with most of an onion, a plethora of peppers, and perhaps a fist-sized piece of pork. The waitress said that the ham had maybe been cooked with a maple sauce, but it tasted almost sweet and sour to me - in a good way. Nicely contrasting with the crunchy potatoes, it was. I'd eat it again.

Catie, on the other hand, wasn't so enthusiastic about her benny. Not that it was bad, mind you, but that it was not really a stand-out meal. The Hollandaise was creamy, her potatoes were also crunchy/delicious, and the eggs were poached medium, as requested, but there wasn't anything that made it special. Would she eat it again? Probably, but there are others breakfast items on the menu that she'd like to try.

Pro-Tip from our server: Come early on the weekend. There will always be a lineup by 11am, she says.

Pro-Tip from Catie: The ketchup is probably made in-house, as it isn't the sugary tomato stuff that comes from a bottle. This ketchup has an almost chunky texture, with a more vinegary taste. Delish!

Paul's Diner by Fol Epi, 1900 Douglas St. at Chatham.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Weekend One Hundred and Eleven: Caffe Fantastico is

It was a sunny Saturday,  and many classic cars had come to a car show near our secret location. We promptly went to investigate with Bearded Muppet Dog in tow. After ooh-ing and aah-ing over the amazing paintwork, vintage speed parts, and impressive upholstery, we ended up at Caffe Fantastico, 810 Humboldt, near St. Ann's Academy. Now, we have stopped here many times in the past for a coffee and scone - usually on a dog walk - but we had never ordered from the menu. Today was the day!

Catie selected the Breakfast Sandwich for $9, and added bacon for $3. The cafĂ© has no facilities for frying, and she was thus offered a choice of a poached or scrambled egg for her sandwich. She chose hard poached, and said that it was the right choice. The guacamole had a strong lime taste, almost like  a lime salsa verde with hints of avocado, which she said was "delicious." Would she order it again? "Yes," was the reply. She also ordered a coffee, which she says was "absolutely delicious."

Catie ordered the bagel and lox for me, which was $8. The pickled onions were tasty, the lox was flavourful, and the bagel was spread with just the right amount of cream cheese. I missed having capers on the top, but I think that is just me being fussy. I would order it again. I also had the local apple juice, which was pleasantly unsweetened. It tasted like an apple - but it was liquid. Highly recommended!

Even if there isn't a car show, or if you have no dog, we'd suggest walking on down to the aptly-named Caffe Fantastico. Close to both Beacon Hill Park and St. Ann's Academy, it's a tasty place for a little snack or a brunch. The patio is shaded and the street isn't too busy, so it's a good place to recharge yourself before braving the rest of your walk.

Caffe Fantastico, 810 Humboldt, Victoria

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Weekend One Hundred and Ten: Agrius Restaurant at Fol Epi

Now, there are few things we like better than not running in a marathon. With nothing but admiration (and amusement) for those who do, we settled in to Agrius Restaurant at Fol Epi at 732 Yates St to watch the marathoners speed on by.

We've reviewed Agrius/Fol Epi before, and have since learned that the bakery is Fol Epi and the restaurant is Agrius. Regardless of the naming, we settled in to a sidewalk table and awaited our food.  In a stunning surprise, Catie and I both had the same brunch! The Fried Egg Sandwich ($14) caught all of our attention, so we ordered it.

In contrast to a future breakfast sandwich review (foreshadowing!), the fried egg included is quite runny. The melty cheese, bacon, and sauces combine with the egg into a blur of tasty taste, but the combination also makes the sandwich rather difficult to eat without making a mess. This is not a sandwich that should be ordered when you're brunching with someone that you don't know very well, especially if your are trying to impress them with your tidy eating skills. That being said, it's awesome. We have actually eaten there several times, and we've each ordered the fried egg sandwich every visit.

Catie had a coffee, which was quite strong, and I had a fresh-tasting orange juice. The server was very friendly to the Bearded Muppet Dog, which is always a point in the restaurant's favour. We ate our sandwiches, drank our drinks, and enjoyed the busy street scene: tourists walking about, marathoners marathoning, and city workers hanging Victoria's famous flower baskets on the lamp posts. We will go there again before too long - will you?

(Bonus Secret Review and Brunching Top Tip! You will need to wait while your food is prepared. If you find yourself hungry after ordering, go to the bakery counter and get something to stave off your hunger. I recommend the ginger cookie (pleasantly gingery and not too hard) and Catie suggests you have the lemon tart (not too sweet - aptly named) while you're waiting.)

Agrius Restaurant, 32 Yates Street, Victoria

Monday, July 22, 2019

Weekend One Hundred and Nine: BC Ferries Coastal Celebration Sea West Lounge

Dave and I left our secret location in Victoria for the mainland. Yes, this is another BC Ferries related brunch, but this one is good.

Something you should know about me is that I take the ferry a lot, so I know a thing or two. One thing that has made being a BC Ferries commuter tolerable is the Sea West Lounge, or SWL for short. The SWL is a quiet lounge (think library voices) where the ringing of cell phones is not tolerated. The SWL also serves snacks. These snacks though.... they're good. Breakfast snacks are different than afternoon/dinner snacks and they have the components to make a tidy meal. Yes, the SWL does cost money, $12. BC Ferries calls this amazing value. I don't know about amazing, but I do know what that is less money than any meal in the cafeteria and the SWL comes with comfortable seating and guaranteed peace.

For this brunch Dave and I hustled to the SWL and took up my favourite seats. We paid our money and picked up our food and drinks (did I mention they are "all you can eat"). I had yogurt and granola, a slice of watermelon, some mini honey donuts, and some white cheese slices. Dave had a bran muffin, mini honey donuts, yogurt and granola, and a slice of watermelon. The food was tasty and unlimited, which is above average for BC Ferries. The atmosphere is sublime. Dave and I ate our food, drank our orange juice and tea, and read our books in absolute peace.

The next time you are on a full-out-the-port-holes ferry, may I recommend the Sea West Lounge.

Sea West Lounge, any BC Ferries on a major route.