Where to go for brunch in Vancouver: from pancakes to eggs Benedict and bubbles
Judging by the lineups on the weekends at certain places (think: Sophie's Cosmic Cafe), people can't get enough of brunch. And why, exactly? The reasons are many: it's a relaxing weekend social occasion; gluttons get two meals in one; certain items are dessert disguised as a meal (waffles and whipped cream? Yes, please); and best of all, it's socially acceptable to drink before noon. Plus, there are as many brunch personalities as there are people that you want to enjoy eggs Benedict with.
Those friends or family members who dress impeccably and have good taste in everything, including food? Take them to West (2881 Granville Street) where a bottomless-bubbles brunch option ($19.50) helps with the social imbibing. Mimosas, round 10?
Executive chef Quang Dang offers the classics, done extremely well. “You're getting a nice comforting brunch menu with all the hospitality of West service. The room in the afternoon is bright and lively, especially with the skylights,” says restaurant/wine director Owen Knowlton over the phone. He also stresses that brunch at West shouldn't just be reserved for “occasions”. Knowlton is a fan of a hash of short ribs, Helmer's Organic Farm potatoes, and sautéed mushrooms that is plated over focaccia, and topped with a poached egg ($17). For that sweet tooth, there's the French toast, consisting of mascarpone-stuffed brioche, warm maple syrup, and a quince, apricot, and peach compote ($15.50).
Your chatty friends who want to catch up over eggs in a laid-back place will kick back nicely at Café Zen (1631 Yew Street), Kitsilano's go-to brunch spot. Benny lovers will appreciate the 15 options, from the Greek Flo, with spinach, feta, and ham ($9.99), to the Benji, with mushrooms and bacon ($9.99). There's also a wide selection of omelettes, including a Mexican one with tomatoes, green peppers, jalapeño, and onion ($9.29), and a shrimp-and-avocado option ($12.29). Besides pancakes, waffles, and French toast, there are also specialities, like tofu rancheros ($12.49), and healthier choices, like fruit and yogurt on granola ($11.59).
For your hipster pals who hang out on Main Street and want a slightly edgier, yet very comfy place to fuel up on a weekend, Locus (4121 Main Street) may be your best bet. Owner Fredric Miller is incredibly affable, has an infectious laugh, and has a great time at brunch. “Everyone gets together and talks about good times, and perhaps the night before. Brunch is time for conversation,” he says during a phone chat. He says Locus attracts the younger set but also lots of families, with grandparents and tots, who all come for items like the orange-and-vanilla-infused waffles with orange curd and vanilla whipping cream, and the pulled-wild-boar Benny. Changing brunch features are posted on the website (locusonmain.com/ ) every weekend. Locus's protein and veggie quiches are also highly popular, and often sell out. People who arrive late, or don't phone ahead, are sometimes disappointed. “I have some people come in here and if we're sold out of the quiche, then they leave,” says Miller, laughing.
Gramps and little Baby Johnny will be equally contented at the Dutch Wooden Shoe Café (3292 Cambie Street). It's certainly not fancy, but much better than a certain pannekoek chain. If you've never had one, a pannekoek is a large, eggy Dutch pancake, that's slightly thicker than a crepe, and apparently, can be cut into 113 square-inch pieces if you're feeling meticulous. Their crazy selection includes everything from a bahmi goreng option that has Indonesian stir-fried noodles with ham folded into the pannekoek, and then topped with scrambled egg ($12.40); to a pannekoek with baked-in apples, cinnamon sugar, and grilled banana, served with maple syrup and whipped cream or ice cream ($12.25). Best of all, thrifty family members over 80 get a free pannekoek on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Unpretentious brunch partners with hefty appetites will like diner standout Deacon's Corner (101 Main Street). Chef/co-owner Virender Perhar says that people come for the “casual atmosphere, nice friendly service, and big portions of food”. Best of all, the South Carolina–inspired menu features fresh, made-from-scratch offerings. Perhar calls the Carolina pancakes and eggs “one hell of a breakfast”. It comes with two buttermilk pancakes with pulled pork, grilled hash browns, toast, and three eggs ($13). Also good for filling up are two biscuits with country gravy, three sausage patties, three eggs, and your choice of toast ($13.25). It may seem like a lot, but you are eating breakfast and lunch, after all.