Patio brunch beckons in summer's last days

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It may well be the most civilized meal of the week. The hour of service affords the chance to sleep late, the menu offerings always include light fare as well as something more substantial (often both sweet and savoury), and the weekend time slot promotes dining at a slower pace. This makes it especially popular for get-togethers with family and friends who wouldn't otherwise have time during the week.

Glowbal Grill & Satay Bar'}

1079 Mainland Street
604-602-0835
brunch weekends 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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“We've tripled our brunch volume over the past three years,” says food and beverage manager John Crook by phone. “I think replacing the banana bread with homemade buttermilk doughnuts might have had something to do with that,” he says, laughing. Indeed it might. If the appetite still calls after downing the pot of coffee that arrives at the table as you're being seated and the complimentary mini organic smoothie that follows, the menu items are sure to hit the spot. At $14, the lobster-pancetta-cheese biscuit Benny is a steal given the generous amount of seafood. Same goes for the crab-crusted sablefish ($14). And that's fresh local honeycomb in the granola martini ($10). “We have a lot of fun with the menu,” Crook says, pointing to the oatmeal crème brûlée that will be available on the soon-to-be launched fall menu as one of the more unexpected offerings.

Situated next to the always animated intersection near the Gassy Jack statue, the patio at Chill Winston

{sidebar title='Chill Winston'}

3 Alexander Street
604-288-9575
brunch weekends 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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is one of the best people-watching venues in the city. Weekday manager Julie Christie recommends arriving before the 12 to 1 p.m. rush on weekends “or you'll have to fight for a table on the patio,” she says. The scenery isn't the only draw, though. Executive chef Richard Tyhy serves up a menu that's sure to please everyone, including those with special dietary needs. Vegan options are plentiful, and there's even tasty choices for the celiac community. Fruit-laden quinoa with almond milk and vanilla-lime maple syrup ($9) ain't yer mama's porridge. The smoked albacore tuna Benny ($13) is an interesting interpretation of a brunch favourite, as is the stuffed (with coconut and pecans, no less) brioche French toast ($13).

Okay, so it doesn't offer a designated brunch service, but the Gallery Café

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at the Vancouver Art Gallery
750 Hornby Street
604-688-2233

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still boasts one of the finest patios in town. “It's really more of a garden terrace than a patio,” says operations manager Natasha Batiste. “It's very tranquil. We're above street level, so you don't hear much of the Robson Street traffic.” Gallery hours mean rush hour at the café is a bit later than at other eateries, around 1 to 2 p.m. Quiche seems to be one of the more popular dishes, and six varieties (two seafood, two meat, two veg) are always on offer. “[Quiche] is really old school,” Batiste says by phone, “but people really like it.” At just over $7 including a side salad, it's a bargain. Salad bowls (such as the rare ahi tuna version at $9.25) and the homemade soup ($3.50 to $6.50) have their fans too. For those with bigger appetites, panini and a number of hot entrées are also available. Perfect patio fare, especially when washed down with an ice-cold beer or a glass of wine.

Given the views of the marina and the sea wall across the road, along with the smells and flavours emanating from the kitchen of Provence Marinaside,

{sidebar title='Provence Marinaside

1177 Marinaside Crescent
604-681-4144
brunch weekends 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Brunch does indeed have a lot going for it.

When the weather's warm, it seems like a waste to eat indoors; fortunately, some of Vancouver's most popular brunch spots also offer alfresco service to soak up those last rays of summer. Reservations are recommended, especially if you insist on having a seat with a view. Here are a few brunch places to consider.

The bounty of the local food scene inspired the Milk & Honey brunch at Yaletown stalwart Glowbal Grill & Satay Bar

it's easy to imagine you're taking brunch at a sidewalk bistro in the south of France. Weather permitting, a patio seat is an absolute must for the brunch crowd here. “If you don't come before 11 a.m. or after 1:30 p.m., you'll be out of luck,” warns general manager Lisa Baldwin.

While the view is enticing, the food is the big draw. Chefs Alessandra and Jean-Francis Quaglia translate eggs Benedict into unexpected creations by substituting crab and shrimp cakes in place of the usual English muffin ($18). At $13, the smoked salmon version on corn pancakes is equally popular. Sweet or savoury crepes ($12 to $15.50), the logical flapjack option for a French restaurant, are faves of the younger set, as is the baguette-based French toast ($11).

Given the vast array of offerings, it's little wonder that brunch alfresco is a favourite midday dining option.

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