Brunch · Fusion · Restaurants

ZCrew Cafe – Brunch with Haskayne 3.0

L drove me to my brunch with Haskayne 3.0. He accidentally dropped me off at the wrong location and I had to hoof it for the last seven blocks. When I got to ZCrew Cafe, Screamy asked me why I didn’t just call L to pick me up again. That idea never even occurred to me. She inquired why L didn’t come with to brunch. I said because he wasn’t invited. Screamy said it should be assumed he’s invited, as he’s my husband. I told her that in the future, she needs to be more specific with me. For this post, let’s listen to Shakira & J. Lo’s Superbowl performance.

Though I was uncharacteristically late, Strong Zero, Queen B, and Shady Bones were even tardier. I guess we aren’t on Japan time anymore! After fielding more questions about L’s absence and whether or not I should call him, we ordered food. Geez – I had no idea L was so popular. Why would they want him when they already have me?

tea

I enjoyed my pot of Jasmine Dragon Pearl Tea ($5.50). The blooming flower inside the clear pot was aesthetically pleasing. The tea was mild and fragrant with a subtle sweetness.

tofu

Screamy enjoyed her Crispy Tofu Bowl ($15). She said the tofu wasn’t crispy but it still tasted good. Her favourite part of the dish was the kimchi as it brought all the ingredients together.

matcha

Shady Bones ordered the Matcha Pancake ($17). She spent a good five minutes debating whether or not to eat the orchid. She shared her dish with Strong Zero.

burger

Strong Zero ordered the Monster Bao-Ger ($19). Man, this dude is precise. He cut his burger and the pancakes into half with surgical precision. Strong Zero said the little potato doughnut tasted like sweet, spicy balls. He offered me a bite of his food and I didn’t think before I spoke and said, “Why, don’t you like it?” He looked taken aback and responded he did like his food, he just wanted to know if I wanted to try it.

fried chicken

Queen B ordered the best looking dish – Korean fried chicken and waffles ($19). You could hear the skin crackle as Queen B cut into the chicken.

poke

My Special Poke Bowl ($17) tasted healthy. The wasabi mayo and teriyaki sauce were minimal, allowing the natural flavours of the vegetables to shine through. The rice was a little hard and I found a fish bone in the salmon. Overall, a tasty bowl.

ZCrew Cafe offers some seriously Instagramable meals. It’s a cool little spot offering brunch with an Asian twist. I can see why it’s such a popular spot with the kids.

ZCREW Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Brunch · French · New York · Restaurants

New York – Buvette

Beep Beep wanted to check out Buvette because it was a Michelin recommended restaurant. We stopped by for a glass of wine and found the bistro so charming, we went again the following morning for her birthday breakfast. We arrived when the restaurant opened at 7:00 a.m.  so we could make it in time for the Wendy Williams show. For this post, let’s listen to the show’s theme song. 

Everything inside the bistro was adorable. I like the Parisian décor and the tiny seats and chairs. The narrow wooden stairs and brick walls added to the room’s vintage vibe.

Beep Beep ordered a latte ($6.5) and I requested an Americano ($4). I don’t normally like lattes but Beep Beep’s beverage was excellent. The foam was thick and creamy. The coffee was strong with just the right amount of milk to take the bitterness out of it.

We ordered Saumon Fume ($16) and the daily Omelette ($16). The steamed eggs in the salmon dish was smooth and custard-like. The salmon wasn’t like the frozen stuff I’m used to eating in Canada. The fish was thicker, fresher and tasted more sashimi-like. I loved the addition of the crème fraiche and the sourness of the pickled caper berries. I’d order this again.

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The omelette was fluffy and moist. Simplicity at its best – I didn’t know eggs could taste this good. The generous layer of chevre was light and melted in my mouth.

Beep Beep and I got out of Buvette and in line for Wendy’s show by 7:55 a.m. As it was her actual birthday, Beep Beep was given a tiara to wear on the show. However, since she had already brought a tiara and it was far nicer, she gave it away. Beep Beep also brought a pink feather and rhinestone crown for me to wear.

I’ve never even seen an episode of Wendy so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Instead of doing her usual Q&A routine, Wendy announced that she was living in a sober house. I was shocked – as was the crew when they stopped filming. Beep Beep spoke to Wendy after the show and gave her words of support. Wendy nodded and asked if it was also my birthday, since I was wearing a tiara. Nope, I’m just a victim of Beep Beep’s love for you.

I told Beep Beep afterwards that I was surprised she didn’t try to shake Wendy’s hand or give her a hug. She told me that she knows better – Wendy is known for slapping fans away when they try to hug her or touch her microphone. Watch the video below for illustration.

Congratulations Beep Beep, that’s one off your bucket list. Next – to Café China – a one star Michelin restaurant. Whoot whoot!

Buvette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Brunch · Restaurants

Vero Bistro Moderne

My friend Westjet called me out of the blue and wanted to do brunch. I’m not fond of brunch. I detest the long line-ups, crowded venue and the calorific dishes that leave me feeling tired and unhealthy. If you feel the same way as I do, you should check out Vero Bistro Moderne.

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The bistro is small and elegant, reminding me of a jazz club. I enjoyed the relaxing ambience. There was ample room to sit and have a conversation without being overheard. Frank Sinatra could be heard crooning in the background.

Westjet and I both ordered the Wild Boar Bacon & Jumbo Prawns. The single organic egg was cooked just how I like it – solid yet the yolk was still warm and creamy. The egg white was fluffy like a cloud and just as light. The hand whipped hollandaise was how I think all hollandaise should taste. Buttery and barely there, just enough to compliment to all the other ingredients. This was not the heavy yellow glop I remember in my past brunch experiences.

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The croissant was so delectable it deserves its own paragraph. The warm layers of the pastry flaked apart. You could see the actual separate layers. The exterior was a glossy dark golden brown.

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Hotchkiss pea shoots added a freshness to the dish. The tomatoes were sweet and ripe, dotted with pesto. The boar bacon was razor-thin, loaded in flavour, with zero grease. So crispy that the bacon shattered when you bit into it. The potato garnish also added a delightful crunch.

The two prawns were large and sweet. These reminded me of the prawns my mother use to get for us in Steveston, Richmond. She would boil the fresh prawns and peel it for us, so good you didn’t really need to do anything else to it.

Hitting the Sauce gives Vero two fat thumbs up. This is one of the best brunches I’ve ever had. Prices are higher than your usual popular, crowded venues, but the experience and quality ingredients make up for it.

Vero Bistro Moderne Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brunch · Restaurants · Special Occasion

Deane House – Stampede 2017 Series

I saw on Facebook that Deane House was celebrating the Stampede festivities in their garden, complete with live music and an oyster station. When we arrived at 7:00 p.m., there was no live music, only some western stuff playing through the speakers. By the time we left at 8:00 p.m., there still wasn’t any live music. Well, that don’t impress me much!

L ordered a Big Rock beer ($7) and I ordered a glass of Blue Mountain sparkling wine ($13). We received complimentary red fife sourdough bread with cultured butter and Vancouver Island Fleur de Sel. We sat at the edge of the patio, which overlooked the river.
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I looked up the menu beforehand and wanted to try the grilled apparatus with fried oysters ($14) and the ricotta agnolotti ($16). However, both items were not on the menu at the restaurant. Instead, we ordered the Bison tartare ($17) and the charcuterie ($32).
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L declared the bison tartare was the best he’s ever tried. He must have liked it as he kept talking about the tartare the next day. The temperature of the bison was cool with textural pops from the pickled mustard seeds, dotted with a flavourful nettle aioli. The potato chips were light and a delicate vessel for the creamy tartare. I would order this again.

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The charcuterie offered a good selection of treats, like duck rillette, mortadella, lamb sausage, blue cheese, homemade preserves and pickled blueberries, beans and pickles. L’s favourite pick was the lamb sausage that was served warm and had a subtle kick to it. I liked the sharp, creamy blue cheese and the dainty homemade nut and fruit crackers.
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Service was warm and professional. Our server suggested we return for brunch. I think I might on a  Sunday, when corkage is free. A nice touch when we left – we could see a plane flying the Canada flag overhead. If you want to do something relaxing and different for Stampede, I’d suggest you visit Deane House.

Deane House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

Special Occasion

Seasons of Bowness Park

Veggie Girl’s parents were in town. She invited my in-laws for brunch at Seasons of Bowness Park. I was game. My boss Tread Lightly has been after me to blog about the restaurants in Bowness for ages. My photos from this meal don’t do the views from Bowness Park justice. You know who is a talented photographer? Jomameeats. You should check his Instagram account here @Jomamaeats as well his food blog.

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I read the reviews on Yelp and Zomato on Seasons and here’s my take on value for food. If you want large portions and a cheap price, you won’t like this restaurant. This is the sort of place you can take guests and have a leisurely meal and absorb the scenery. If I want a cheap meal, I’ll head to Forest Lawn, where there are a plethora of amazing hole in the wall spots.

When I visited, the view of the frozen lagoon sets the mood for an enjoyable holiday meal. The prices for brunch are quite a bit less than dinner. Most brunch and lunch items were around the $16.00 mark while entrees for dinner were $30 and up.

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Everyone except for my mother-in-law ordered several beers and caesars. I enjoyed a cup of strong coffee from our communal carafe of coffee. The coffee was so good, I didn’t need to add any sugar.

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Seasons is also kid-friendly. Jackman was warmly welcomed by the servers and there was a high chair available for him. Jackman’s hair isn’t normally parted like this – this was Uncle Ben’s doing.

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Most of my in-laws ordered the burger with fries ($16). The burger itself was on the small side, but it was very tasty and made with local beef and organic vegetables. The fries were good – crispy and hot.

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Veggie Girl ordered the Vegetarian Masala ($16), which came with two thin pieces of naan bread. The presentation was lovely. I asked her if she liked it – she said yes but didn’t offer to let me try it for the blog. Thanks a lot Veggie Girl.

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This was my dish – Chicken Pot Pie ($16). A square bowl was filled with large pieces of tender, free-range chicken and organic vegetables. My husband wished he ordered this instead of the burger. Lucky for him, I saved more than half of the pie for him to eat later that day when I was out. This dish is a winner.

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The carrots were a dark orange, flavourful and still had that farm fresh crispness to it. The sauce was amazing – my brother-in-law Dave thought he could detect white wine. I would recommend that you ask for a spoon, so you get every drop of the sauce. The puff pastry was soft and pillowy.

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My mother-in-law ordered the Eggs Benny ($16). The egg yolks were a bright molten orange. She said the potatoes were scrumptious.

Service was friendly and geninue. I know my mother would enjoy the service at Seasons and my father would like the view and food. I like Seasons and would return again for a special occasion to celebrate with family and friends.

Seasons of Bowness Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Bars/Lounges · Brunch · Seattle · Special Occasion

Seattle – Lola

Beep Beep and I started our Sunday at Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. Forget the original store in Pike Market. Check this place out instead. Other Yelp reviewers have compared Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Personally, I think it’s more like a Playboy Mansion for coffee nerds. There are two floors to this super sweet pimped up Starbucks.

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We learned from our friendly barista that when this place first opened, to work here you had to 1) be a Starbucks employee 2) be nominated by Starbucks and 3) undergo months of training before even touching the coffee.

Beep Beep use to work at Starbucks too, and I still remember when Gordon Campbell picked up a latte she made. He drank a sip and make a big face, like he drank sour milk. I joked to Beep Beep that she would have never made the cut at Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. She  agreed. She’s better at writing data then pulling shots of espresso.

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I ordered a Nitro Cold Brew ($7.50). This cold brew is infused with nitrogen, which brings out the coffee’s creamy, natural sweetness. I added fior di latte (cold sweet cream) to my brew. Refreshing, but I preferred Beep Beep’s drink over mine.

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Beep Beep ordered the Classic Affogato ($7.50), which is made with two shots of Starbucks Reserve espresso, poured over a scoop of Mora Iced Creamery ice-cream. Oh my. This ice-cream is full of creamy goodness. All this pleasure for only 120 calories.

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There’s something intoxicating in the air here. I swear, when Beep Beep and I were drinking at the bar, we both felt tipsy. The prices are higher than your run-of-the mill Starbucks, but justifiably so. Service is excellent, baristas are knowledgeable, and the drinks are far superior than your standard Starbucks.

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After our Starbucks experience, we walked over to Pappardelle’s Pasta in Pike Place. I bought enough dried pasta to completely fill up my carry-on luggage. There was a team of young kids manning the pasta station. They do a good job engaging with customers and offering samples. When Beep Beep saw how the staff were having a fun time working together, she started to romanticize. “Do you think they hang out after their shifts? What do you think they do when they aren’t here?” I shook my head and retorted, “Do you realize you’re fantasizing about these kids like they are on that show Friends? Do you think they’re talking about us and saying, “Oh. There are those stalkers again. I wonder what those bored, middle-aged office workers do after working in an office all day?”.

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We walked for about ten minute from Pike Market to Belltown for brunch at Lola. Though I made reservations, we still had to wait. We ordered the doughnuts ($9.50), Eggs Benedict ($19.25) and Fava Skordalia ($4.25)  and Kopanisti ($4.25) with freshly griddled pita. The doughnuts were fine but it was the vanilla mascarpone that made this dish so yummy.

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Cool on the tongue, not too sweet and with a rich whip cream like texture, putting this mascarpone on anything would taste good. With the cherry jam, the doughnut reminded me of an old-fashion jelly doughnut.

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Our server recommended two dips. The Fava Skordalia and Kopanisti. The fava skordalia was bland and tasted like a hummus I could make at home (by the way, my homemade hummus sucks). The kopanisti was very tasty. I liked the smooth cheese texture, herbs and the toasted pistachios. The pita was nice when it was warm, but once it got cold, it didn’t taste nearly as good.

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The best dish for me was the Eggs Benedict. Beep Beep and I shared an order, which was plenty of food. The garlic fried smashed potatoes were crunchy and well-seasoned. The Bavarian ham was high-quality. The egg was poached perfectly. I asked for the hollandaise to be served on the side. With the addition of fresh dill, the sauce was light and subtle.

I would return. The prices are on the high-end but the portions and quality make up for it. Note that Lola adds an automatic gratuity of 20% to your bill. Our server saw me exchange Canadian cash with Beep Beep’s American money (I was buying some American money off her).  I could see our server’s face contort in panic. She ran over to take a peek at the bill to ensure we didn’t give her our dreaded Monopoly money. I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t want to be stuck with Canadian currency either.

Lola Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Brunch · Seattle

Seattle – Tilikum Place Cafe

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I’m starting to know Seattle pretty well. In my twenties, I would come with friends for a weekend away. When I hit my thirties, my husband and I would visit so he could get his Nordstrom fix. The purpose of this particular trip was to celebrate my friend’s pregnancy. Beep Beep and I did our usual round at Pike Place Market and then walked over to Tilikum Place Cafe in Belltown for brunch.

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I was impressed with our server and our table. We sat right by the window. Look upwards and you can see the Space Needle. Our server made excellent recommendations for portion sizes, food and booze.

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I ordered a glass of rosé ($9). As Beep Beep’s pregnancy makes her hungrier than usual, we picked three dishes. We ordered a stack of crumpets with plum preserves and ginger butter ($10), poached egg avocado toast ($14) and Dutch babies – baked blueberry pancakes with powdered sugar (14).

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I’ll start with the savoury – the avocado toast. The bread was thick, crusty and rustic. An appropriately hearty vessel for the buttery smoothness of the avocado. Personally, I would have liked more than one egg. There wasn’t enough yolk to eat with the carbs. The toasted Middle Eastern spices over the eggs also nicely accented the salad. I loved everything about this salad – the mix of fresh greens, the assortment of herbs, the light dressing and the generous slices of grapefruit. So refreshing, I could eat this salad all day long.

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The crumpets arrived steaming hot. I watched as the ginger butter trickled down the sides of the fluffy crumpet tower. The sugar icing added a touch of sweetness to the tartness of the plums.

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Beep Beep liked the baked blueberry pancake. The texture was smooth and eggy, like a hot custard. The exterior was crispy and the interior reminded me a bit like quiche.

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We walked around some more and found my  friend Buzzy’s favourite spot for coffee, Top Pot Doughnuts. We were too full to try the doughnuts but I did get a coffee. I can’t believe how cheap everything was – a dollar for coffee or a doughnut. With its free Wifi, friendly staff, cool set-up and inexpensive food, I would frequent this place if I were a local.Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 4.55.51 PM.png

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On our way back to our accommodations, we picked up some mugs at Starbucks to bring home for our husbands. I found another thing Seattle has over Vancouver and Calgary… wine is served at select stores…. Where was this when I was a barista?

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Tilikum Place Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

View my food journey on Zomato!

Brunch

Monki Breakfast Club and Bistro

One of Jaime’s favourite brunch spots is Monki. She raves about the the prosecco hollandaise sauce on the eggs benny. Last Sunday, I arrived at Monki at 12:45 pm. I was told our table would be ready by 2:00 pm. Jaime and I shopped around to kill time. At 2:00 pm we checked our status at Monki. Turned out someone tried to call me but I didn’t see it on my phone, nor heard it ring. I blame my brothers for their constant texting about Walking Dead. Our table was long gone, but Jaime sweetly asked if it was still possible to get a table. Lucky for us, we only had to wait another ten minutes.

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Monki is a tiny restaurant. I remember when it was Petite, one of the first nice restaurants I experienced in Calgary when my husband and I were dating. The vibe is funky and eclectic. I enjoyed the music, boisterous tunes ranging from 60’s to 80’s.

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Our server was friendly and despite how busy it was, he was around to refill my coffee and our water. The action in the open kitchen was awesome. We could see flames flaring up from our table.

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I ordered Fratello coffee ($3.00) while Jaime opted for a decaf cappuccino ($4.50). I liked that the coffee was piping hot. For food, Jaime ordered a vegetarian benny while I took my server’s recommendation to try the Spanish Chorizo Benny.

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I enjoyed popping my yolks and watching the bright dark orange liquid flow over the egg whites. Jaime said she could taste the prosecco and some orange zest in the hollandaise sauce. My tastes are not so refine. I just tasted deliciousness.

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I liked the texture of the ground up chorizo, soft and mealy. The caramelized onions and goat cheese complimented the spicy heat of the sausage. The potatoes crispy, chunky, and well seasoned. I thought the spices tasted a bit like what you get in ketchup chips, sweet and tangy.

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The side of fruits is worth eating. I normally pass on fruit cups, but at Monki, we were treated to blood oranges, grapes, mandarin oranges, melon and pineapple. I found out from our server that they buy all the fruit from the Farmer’s Market.

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For dessert, we received fortune cookies. I received two while Jaime got a lame fortune. Jaime’s fortune isn’t worth a picture, but I’ll tell you what it said, “The best way to get rid of an enemy is to make him a friend.” Now that’s a bad fortune. Like hell I’d make an enemy a friend. Life’s to short to surround yourself with frenemies. Jaime just needs to hang around me more often and avoid sh%!#y advice.

Jaime likes Monki more than Parc because she says the food is more flavourful and unique. Prices are very reasonable considering the quality. I want to go back to try the Frittata and panini. Thanks Jaime for recommending this popular brunch hot spot.

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MONKI Breakfast Club & Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

17th Ave · Brunch · French

Parc Brasserie – Big Taste

My friend Jaime and I wanted to catch up. She told me to pick the restaurant. I chose Parc Brasserie for the Big Taste lunch. However, when we arrived, we were informed that the Big Taste lunch feature was for weekdays only.

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I ordered a Kir Royale ($9) while Jaime stuck to green tea ($4). I will say I prefer the Kir Royale at Cassis, as this version was flat and didn’t have that bright fruit flavour. Sparking water ($2 per person) was kept flowing throughout our lunch by our server Maya.

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Maya told us her favourite thing on the menu was the Vegetarian Eggs Benny. She eats out a lot and the eggs benny at Parc is in her opinion, the best in the city. I agree with her, this dish is a winner.

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The eggs were puffed out and shaped like fluffy white clouds. The yellow of the perfectly cooked medium yolks reminded me of hot molten gold. Okay, I’m being  silly, but the food here is worth the flowery compliments. The portobello mushrooms were meaty and luxurious, the spinach tasted fresh and green. The hollandaise sauce was rich and flavourful, so good that I swirled the delicious pan fried potatoes and sweet caramelized onions in the buttery sauce. The English muffin was fluffy and not puck-like. Excellent flavours, quality ingredients, perfectly cooked food and presentation was very nice.

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Brunch here is relaxing and leisurely. Maya let us stay and linger, always refiling our waters and never rushing us out. My husband hates going out for brunch, but I think Parc’s pace and food will win him over. If you are tired of the no reservation, long line-up brunch hot spots in the city, give Parc a chance.

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Parc Brasserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Brunch · Pizza · Steakhouse

Nick’s Steak House and Pizza – Brunch

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I have fond memories of Nick’s. My master’s thesis supervisor would take me here for lunch. In those days, eating out was a real treat, and I enjoyed the pricey (for a student) pizzas and chats about my work. My mother-in-law also likes Nick’s and recently took us out with grandpa W for a Saturday brunch.

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The buffet lunch ($25.00) is a pretty good deal, particularly if you have a sweet tooth. The trays of desserts were all delicious, my favourite being a Turtles like bar with marshmallows and the tiramisu, which I liked more than Mercato’s.

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You can order baby steaks from your server. Though practically bite-size, the steaks are cooked to your preference, lean and flavourful.

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One of the favourite dishes I tried was the veal pasta. The pasta was creamy with a bit of heat to it. I went back for seconds.

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The Eggs Benedict were fresh, topped with ham and a rich holladaise sauce. I was impressed that despite it being a buffet, nothing tasted like it was sitting out. The quality was there as well.

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Besides the dishes I mentioned above, expect to see salads, cold and hot pasta, hand carved roast beef, French toast, an omelet station, pancakes, cheeses, fruit, raw vegetables, sausages, bacon, hash browns and beans.

We were all surprised that the restaurant was not packed. However, the quiet and relaxing atmosphere was a refreshing change from the packed, cramped brunch places so popular with locals. Our family consisted of four generations and a vegetarian, and everyone was pleased with their meal.

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Nick's Steak House and Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato