The Railtown district in Vancouver is not a very frequented one, but is truly a hidden gem in Vancouver. There are eclectic buildings, doorways and cafes at almost every turn. 2 Chefs and a Table is one of those hidden gems, located within the hidden gem of Railtown.
“You’re like a riddle wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in a vest” – Lisa Simpson
It didn’t matter that there was a 30 minute wait, or that it was absolutely sweltering outside while we waited, or the fact that there were empty tables that were waiting to be sat in. 2 Chefs an a Table is one of the most charming restaurants I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining at.
The menu was not extensive, but rather refined to a single page of gourmet temptations. The kind of place where you don’t dare make customizations to your meal because you know that this is the way the meal should be eaten and must be eaten. I settled on the Spring Omelette which featured roasted vegetables, basil pesto, and parmesan cheese. Served with seasoned potatoes and whole wheat toast. The Omelette satisfied my hunger, albeit I didn’t see or taste a speck of pesto or Parmesan anywhere on my plate. And we all know that Parmesan is not exactly a mild cheese. Still, I was happy because my eyes were being seduced by the romantic interior design and the rustic structure of the building.
The experience wasn’t perfect. Unfortunately, this restaurant does not have a resident DJ, or anyone with a hint of music knowledge that could suss out some appropriate tunes for such a lovely atmosphere. At one point I heard two Taylor Swift songs in a row, blasted so loud I couldn’t even keep up a conversation with my dining partner. Bad music (or inappropriate music) is so distracting. I think there was one Frank Sinatra song thrown into the mix but the rest of the music was an awful array of artificial Top 40 radio hits that just didn’t suit the venue or their target customer, in my opinion.
Would I go back to 2 Chefs and a Table again? Yes. Do I pray every night that they will find someone to curate some appropriate music that will compliment the experience? Hell yes.
2 Chefs and a Table
305 Alexander St
Brunch weekends from 9:30am-2pm
Overrated or not. Seeing that we were visiting from Vancouver it was fair to give the infamous Blue Fox Cafe a try.
What is it about overrated places? They’ve always got a line-up out the door, and you’re forced to stand there with all these miserable, freezing, hungry and hungover strangers who are just as foolish as you are to wait in line just because they want the ‘Best Breakfast in Town’. Pfft, I mean, come on.
Guilty as charged.
Once we sat down and ordered at Blue Fox we quickly realized why this place was so popular. Looking around at the patrons and the wait staff it was obvious that everyone felt cozy and at-home in the open and airy, brick-walled room. There were enough options on the menu to sate a variety of appetites, big, small, healthy, picky… whatever your issue might be.
Feeling adventurous, I ordered the Pacifico Benny: Wild Smoked Salmon, Avocado, Red Onion, Chipotle sauce, dredged in classic Hollandaise and cosied up next to an artistically assembled patch of fruit. The portions were very generous and the flavours surely satisfied my discerning palate.
However, I probably won’t order it again from this particular restaurant. As much as I love the taste of oily, smoked salmon paired with a poached egg and H-sauce, I don’t believe it’s an easy combo to master. The salmon was a bit too thick-cut for my liking and there was so much Hollandaise poured over top that it was actually starting to ‘cook’ it. The smoked salmon on my Benny was no longer an opaque jewel-orange hue, but rather the color was turning a light pastel pink, which salmon normally turns when it is cooked through using heat (like in an oven).
This is simply my take on the dish. You might enjoy a larger helping of salmon on your Benny, or perhaps no salmon at all. Luckily, there are several different Benny options at Blue Fox to keep you happy. But remember, no smiling until your seated and your food’s arrived!
Blue Fox Cafe
919 Fort St
Medina Café. This brunch/lunch spot has a guaranteed line-up on weekends with at least a 40 minute wait. But that doesn’t stop you from waiting for over an hour when you’re already starving or going back every other weekend, if you can afford it
What is it about this place? Could it be their smooth and rich lattes, americanos and espresso? Or maybe it’s their cute Belgium waffles, dusted with icing sugar and served with your choice of assorted gourmet dips, like white chocolate-pistachio-rosewater, raspberry caramel, fig-orange marmalade, berry compote, dark chocolate and so on.
If that’s not enough goodness to sway you, go ahead and order one of their absolutely finger-licking main dishes like le Cassoulet, la Tagine (pictured), or my personal favorite La Santé — a soft boiled egg (I usually ask for over-easy instead), vine ripened tomatoes, olive tapenade, avocado, prosciutto, a pot of extra virgin olive oil, and grilled ciabatta for dipping! Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard. Santé, translated from the French meaning “good health” or “cheers to your good health”. I would cheers to that, oui!
556 Beatty Street
This is the delectable Papas Benny from my new brunch discovery – Jethro’s Fine Grub on Dunbar Street. You might not be able to tell but the poached eggs on this benny are on top of potato skins. The crispy, salty, baked potato skins add a nice texture to this gooey dish, and since some benny’s don’t come with hash browns it’s like killing two birds with one stone! There is a lot of natural light in these photos because we were sitting in the best spot in the house which is right next to their giant street facing window.
If you get to visit Jethro’s then you’ll most likely be faced with a bit of a dilemma on what to order. They have the largest brunch menu I’ve seen around. And their portions are very generous! I’ll definitely be going back to try a few different dishes like The Rooster: a shot of espresso (espresso in pancakes!?) and dark chocolate chips folded into their buttermilk recipe and topped with whipped cream. OR, the Nutella French Toast which they make with 3 pieces of Challah bread layered and topped with whipped cream like a snowy Vancouver mountain. If you’re really brave you’re going to love the Cowboys Breakfast: Three eggs any style, with smoked bacon, sausage, grilled chorizo and chili smothered hash browns, served with authentic corn cakes. Jethro’s even does biscuits and gravy for you old-school country breakfast lovers. What more could you ask for?! Friendly staff, you say? Well, they’ve got that too.
Jethro’s Fine Grub
3420 Dunbar Street
I present you the Traditional breakfast from the Three Lions cafe.
Three Lions is a pub/restaurant with laid back atmosphere, fine food, and a quaint outdoor patio. The only thing worth complaining about is that brunch service is a bit slow. The wait staff are friendly and attentive but the food takes at least 45 minutes to an hour to get to your table during brunch hours. It doesn’t stop me from going back though, I just take an apple with me and eat it on the way over. The Traditional breakfast is only one of the many delicious brunch options on their menu. Make sure you try the black pudding, eggs benny, cheese toasty or bacon butty (giggles).
UPDATE: Sorry folks, the Three Lions Cafe is now closed.
Three Lions Cafe
1 E Broadway Vancouver, BC
(Brunch Sat and Sun 9-3 pm)
Ahhh, finally a place to sit amongst strangers and still feel like you’re at home.
Little Nest is a giant living room, full of understated, antique furniture, kids running rampant, and simply delicious breakfast concoctions. They have it all; chalkboards with chalk: check, play area for children: check, giant window to allow natural light: check, magazines and newspapers: double check! I don’t know why it took me so long to visit this place, maybe because it’s tucked away from busy Commercial Drive on the very tranquil Charles street. Their covert location is a bonus because it adds to the laid-back atmosphere, and makes the place sort of a secret. So keep it on the hush.
Little Nest serves breakfast until 3pm, so make sure you roll out of bed by at least 12:30 to get dressed and drive/bike/walk down in time. And when you get there order something unique, like a toasted baguette with ricotta and honey (my favourite since I was a little) or try it with one of their house-made jams like fig rosemary or pear-cranberry-ginger. If you’re feeling extra adventurous I recommend Marci’s Rice pudding with vanilla soaked pineapple and toasted almonds. Is your mouth watering yet?
I took the simple route this time and tried the poached organic eggs and toasted baguette “soldiers” with a side of prosciutto (fancy!) and ricotta drizzled with honey for dipping. I added the prosciutto to an otherwise very simple dish for an extra $4, and the ricotta and honey for .50 cents. I enjoyed breakfast with Orange Pekoe tea, and some casual chalk colouring on their personal sized blackboards.
Little Nest is worth getting out of bed for, because as soon as you get there you’ll feel so comfortable it will be like you’re right back at home. Or maybe you’ll feel like you’re in someone else’s home — someone who makes way better coffee and lets you colour while they make your food.
1716 Charles Street
Breakfast prices between $4.00 to $12.00
Reviewer’s Rating: 9 out of 10
This is where the Ikea breakfast post should have been, but I got to Ikea at about 10:56 on Saturday morning, and waited in line for what must have been 4 minutes, watching heaps of fluffy eggs, sausage, and potatoes served up to happy customers, and then — BAM! I heard the young mom in line behind me tell her 3 year old daughter that breakfast was over, and that she had to decide on something else to eat that morning.
I can’t speak for the little girl, but my heart was crushed. I felt like a small child, whose dream was snatched away as quick as they swtiched out the trays of eggs for chicken, bleh. But I had to be strong — I couldn’t let people see how disapointed I was. Especially the tiny, future breakfast blogger behind me. So I ordered the kids meatball plate with fries and gravy, and held my head high.
Because in the end, it’s not life or death that I didn’t get to have an Ikea $1 breakfast — instead I paid a $1.99, and held on to a piece of my dignity. Thanks Ingemar.
The Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe (phew, that’s a mouthful!) is comparable to Slickety Jim’s in the way that the interior is completely covered in kitschy decorations and vintage memorabilia, but the Wooden Shoe is also covered in funny and embarrassing photo’s of their past clientele. It’s tacky and also kind of distracting when you’re trying to have a conversation, and your eye drifts to a funny photo of a family, posing mid-bite, during their breakfast.
The menu was limitless. They had so many options of omlettes, pancakes, benny’s, and breakfast combination’s to choose from. I could have almost any topping I wanted on my egg’s benny like ham, salmon, veggies, bacon or spek. Spek is dutch style bacon that is so crispy it almost crumbles in your mouth, I urge you to try it! The Spek Benny I ordered came on a crunchy toasted biscuit (which I believe is essential to a good benedict), creamy hollandaise and tiny cubed hash browns.
I don’t have any complaints about this restaurant, but take note: this isn’t the kind of place that charges less than $10 per meal, so bring at least a twenty if you’re looking to have orange juice $4 or coffee with your meal. Also, If you’re cheeky enough, I dare you to bring your own camera and take a picture of yourself to post on their wall.