One of Vancouver’s most popular brunch spots opened in a new location today (August 12). After six years on Beatty Street, Café Medina has relocated to 780 Richards Street under the L’Hermitage Hotel.
Now under the sole proprietorship of Robbie Kane, who opened the restaurant with Chambar co-owners Nico and Karrie Schuermans in 2008, Café Medina continues to serve Mediterranean-inspired breakfast, lunch, and weekend brunch dishes. Chef Jonathan Chovancek, formerly of boutique catering company Kale & Nori Culinary Arts and co-owner of Bittered Sling Extracts, leads the kitchen team.
At a media preview on August 10, I had the chance to check out the new space and taste some of the menu items. The restaurant is much larger than its former location and includes two bars, an open kitchen, and a spacious dining room. The location formerly housed Quattro’s Q4 al Centro and Tappo RestoBar; however, the room has been completely transformed.
Brian Kane, who is Robbie Kane’s brother and a production designer in the film and television industry, has given the restaurant a vintage, slightly utilitarian look reminiscent of 1920s Paris. The walls have been painted to appear worn-in and aged, light fixtures are mismatched and have an industrial quality, a mosaic tile floor welcomes diners in the entrance foyer, and an oversized mural of the restaurant’s logo adorns the wall above a long, dark-wood bar.
The weekend brunch menu and the weekday breakfast-lunch menu are similar and include over 15 meal options priced between $9 and $18. Starters include a selection of baba ganoush, sunflower tahini, and hummus served with caramelized goat cheese and Middle Eastern flatbread; a smoked salmon dish accompanied by a sweet pepper and artichoke salad on grilled ciabatta bread; as well as a peameal bacon and egg sandwich.
Larger dishes include two hearty fricassees served in cast-iron skillets: a vegetarian version includes roasted mushrooms, potatoes, and caramelized onions, while the other includes braised short ribs topped with applewood smoked cheddar. Moroccan influences infuse a tagine of spiced chicken, lamb sausage, chickpeas, and vegetables. The filling Les Boulettes also feature spicy Moroccan lamb meatballs in a roasted pepper and tomato stew. Poached eggs topping both dishes give them a breakfast feel.
On the weekend brunch menu, the babeurre pancakes are worth sharing. The small, gluten-free pancakes are made from potato starch and cooked in hibiscus brown butter. The blueberry, sumac, and juniper preserve provided as a topping sings with local flavour. For indecisive diners, many of the main dishes are broken down into sides—including small portions of baked beans, Merguez lamb sausages, hummus, marinated olives, and grilled focaccia bread—ranging from $2 to $6.
Of course, a meal at Café Medina might not feel complete without a Belgian-style waffle. Those are available from bar by the front door—where speciality coffees can also be ordered to go—for $3.15. Toppings, which include milk-chocolate lavender and peach-bourbon butterscotch, are an extra $1.
Café Medina is open weekdays at 7 a.m. for coffee and waffles (full breakfast served at 8 a.m.), and at 8 a.m. on weekends (with brunch starting at 9 a.m.). The restaurant will close at 3 p.m. each day.
Check out more photos from the new Café Medina below.