Continuing on with the brunch crawl series as part of the Vancouver Dine Out Festival, I was invited to the Downtown Vancouver Brunch Crawl. Miss Y and I were a bit nervous, as the previous day featured rain that would make ducks waddle for cover. But once again, Vanfoodster must've made a deal with someone to give us a glorious Winter's day with the sun trying to peak out from the clouds. Oh, and with temps reaching 15 Celsius, I'm not sure why people haven't heard of this thing called "Global Warming"...
We started at the Kingston Taphouse & Grill with a plate consisting of Corned Beef Hash, Gravlax with dill & chive Hollandaise atop a buttermilk biscuit and Banger with confit cherry tomato & mustard. Initially, I was perplexed at the weird crostini underneath the gravlax, but once I found out it was a biscuit, it made sense. I liked how the crunchy exterior and sweet butteriness worked with the equally buttery gravlax and crispy fried capers. I wasn't particularly fond of the hash as the onions and peppers were a bit too crunchy and hence not completely caramelized and integrated into the mix. The banger was meaty with a crispy snap exterior. I thought the tangy sweet mustard was the perfect compliment. We quickly made our way to Bella Yaletown next for a trio of treats including Italian Toast, Il Brunch Pizza and Chocolate G Cookie with Tahitian vanilla gelato. Made up of freshly baked Italian brioche coated in organic free-range eggs, the toast had a quasi-bread pudding texture. It was semi-sweet which allowed the kiwi puree to be noticed. With a crispy crust that was appealingly chewy, the brunch pizza with spinach, cherry tomatoes, crispy pancetta and fior di latte was remarkably better than my first visit. Lastly, the cookie was chewy and chocolaty with a small scoop of their fantastic gelato.
Taking the quick jaunt up to Homer, we found ourselves at Small Victory Bread & Coffee. With a kitchen/prep area larger than the seating area, the place was busy with customers sipping on coffees and teas while snacking on sandwiches and pastries. For our beverages, Miss Y had the Cappuccino and I had the Latte, both made with Quebradon Columbia by Bows & Arrows. I enjoyed my latte as it was smooth, aromatic and at the right temp. Furthermore, the designs were nicely done. Onto the pastries, we were presented with a selection including Almond & Blueberry Brioche, Chocolate Hazelnut Croissant and Almond Kouign Amann. I left these until I got home as the amount of food that was in the queue was quite daunting. A touch dry, but still light, the brioche featured a buttery sweet centre with plenty of blueberries. Aromatic and considerably more sugary, the croissant was crispy and buttery. As for the kouign amann, it was crunchy, flaky and sweet. It ate very much like a heavier croissant, yet with a sticky sweetness. Lastly, we were given a freshly baked Baguette to go (which was fantastic being crusty and appealingly chewy inside).
Seeing how there were 8 spots to visit, we decided on hitting the heaviest items first. That brought us to Frankie's Italian Kitchen where we were presented with Chicken & Waffles (Rossdown farms chicken, vanilla butter, syrup and crisp waffle) and Monsieur Andre (griddle rye bread filled with brie, fontina cheese, soprasetta and prosciutto topped with egg and Hollandaise. There is no other way to describe the dish other than "heavy". On the other hand, that didn't mean it wasn't any good though. The fried chicken thigh was succulent and juicy with a crispy exterior. Personally, I would've taken the skin off as it wasn't crispy at all being fatty and chewy. As for the waffle, it was indeed crispy as described. Moving onto the Monsieur Andre, it featured a very buttery and rich Hollandaise which could've benefited from more acidity to cut the heaviness. I found the combination of meats and cheese to be pleasant with a balanced amount of saltiness. Fortunately, our next stop, Shuraku Sake Bar & Bistro, featured some veggies in the form of Broccoli & Green Bean marinated with sweet sesame puree. The veggies were crunchy and sauced just enough with an aromatic sweetness. They also treated us to their tasty Baby Back Rib with their signature teriyaki glaze. The last item was a California Roll coated with migas. Nothing much to say other than it was a solid version with chewy rice and fresh avocado.
Onto some Indian fare, we traveled to the Copper Chimney in the quaint boutique Executive Hotel Le Soleil. At this point we couldn't eat another dish of anything, so we ended up packing one of them to go. As you can see in the picture, we shared Butter Chicken with basmati rice and garlic naan. As mentioned by Miss Y, this version was more towards the tomato side rather than being creamy. For us, this was fine since most of the food we'd been eating was rich already. As a result, the dish was tangy with noticeable flavours from the spices. The pieces of tandoori chicken were cooked enough in the sauce where it took on the flavours while the texture was soft. From there, we headed over to Trees Organic on Granville for a sample cup of their Fair Trade Organic Coffee from the Penachi region of Peru. I enjoyed the smoothness and relatively mild acidity and flavour. Served on the side were 2 scones - Savory Spinach & Feta and Sweet Raspberry White Chocolate. Predictably, the raspberry scone was sweet, however, the spinach & feta had sugary elements as well. They were not overly dense while being actually quite moist.
Heading into the homestretch, I guess we saved the "healthiest" for last. At Nourish Vancouver, we sampled 2 cold-pressed juices from The Juice Box including Carrot Orange Ginger and Deep Green with Lemon. We liked both juices as there was a balance of flavours with a purposeful amount of sweetness. Even the addition of ginger didn't overwhelm as there was just enough of it for some pop without the sharpness. As for food, the Breakfast Sandwich (frittata made with farm fresh eggs, roasted leeks, kale and shiitake mushrooms with kale hazelnut pesto on a whole wheat flatbread) was an almost refreshing break from all the other dishes. The flavours were bright with a light frittata enhanced by veggies not obliterated by the cooking process. Lastly, we had the Dark Chocolate Ganache crafted by Living Lotus. Consisting of cocoa powder, coconut nectar, coconut oil, coconut butter, medjool dates, vanilla bean powder and Himalayan crystal salt, these could've fooled me for something much more sinful in construction. These were rich with a fudge-like consistency while being semi-sweet with the nice finish of toasted coconut. That, my friends was the conclusion of pure gluttony. So much food over a period of less than 3 hours, very satisfying indeed. Until the next one... on February 1st on Commercial Drive.