Sherman's Food Adventures: Gastown Brunch Crawl (Presented by Vanfoodster & Dine Out Vancouver)

Gastown Brunch Crawl (Presented by Vanfoodster & Dine Out Vancouver)

Despite the fact we weren't planning on participating in Dine Out Vancouver, we were (or specifically myself) slated to attend all 6 of the Brunch Crawls as part of the DOV festival.  Of course it didn't hurt that I was invited to all of them by Richard, but I find some of them (depends on the restaurant lineup and locations) a good reason to socialize and to satisfy my food ADD.  The Gastown Brunch Crawl led off the lineup this year with a rather rainy morning and wait at the registration point of Prado Cafe.

Walking into the warm confines of Prado Cafe, we were offered a choice of beverage.  I went for the prettiest one in a paper cup being the Holiday Spice Latte.  This was definitely Fall/Winter tasting with a muted sweetness to compliment the smooth and milky coffee.  From there, we sauntered next door to Zero Zero Pizzeria where we were presented with a choice of 2 pizzas.  We got one of each, with the one with hot dogs, bacon, olives, artichokes and rosemary potato being the Zero Zero. This was on a thicker crust being crispy on the bottom while chewy and soft throughout.  The thinner mini-pizza (with potato, bacon, spinach and red pepper scrambled eggs) was too crunchy and hard for my liking (and was probably the victim of the reheat in the oven).

When we moved down the block over to The Capilano, we almost missed the small little shop.  Well, it was rather obscure since its official grand opening is slated for February 1st.  We were given a selection of teas and my choice was the Seankw Village (False Creek) comprised of hibiscus, rosehips, black currant, cranberry, blueberry, elderberry, lemongrass and rooibos.  As expected, the tea was full-flavoured with plenty of berries and a noted tartness and aroma from the lemongrass.  We snacked on Baked Bannock with butter and jam as well as Ancient Phyllo stuffed with bison, sweet potato and herbs.  I personally have a bias towards fried bannock so I found this one a bit dense and dry.  However, the phyllo was on point with a flaky exterior giving way to a tasty filling that was meaty and hearty.

Heading East, we sampled a selection from Grain, hosted at the Bird's & The Beets, that consisted of Sprouted Curry French and Green Lentils, Kale, farro and toasted bread salad, Spicy Lentil Spread on seeded bread and a Wholegrain Stoneground Chocolate Chip Cookie.  Of all the items, my favourite was the kale salad as the ranch dressing was creamy and accented nicely by the savoury and crunchy toasted bread.  The cookie was also a highlight as it was crisp and chewy at the same time while mildly sweet.

A quick jay walk across the street, we lined up briefly at Rodney's Oyster House where we had one each of the Smoked Salmon Croque Madam and the Crab Cake Eggs Benedict.  Hands down, we all preferred the crab cakes over the croque.  In actuality, the only thing that prevented the croque from being spot on was the choice of bread (baguette).  It was thick and too chewy.  Otherwise, the egg was perfectly runny and complimented nicely by the buttery smoked salmon.  We enjoyed the crab cake as it was full of crab that wasn't exactly fluffy, but the exterior crust was appealingly crispy.  The egg was runny while the Hollandaise was super-buttery with a slight hint of lemon.

For some strange reason, Bao Down was not ready to go until 11:30am, which meant a lineup and a bottleneck for the crawl.  We were presented with 2 options and of course we went for one of each including the Morning Glory Bao with sausage, bacon, chive omelette, cheese, banana ketchup, mayo, hashbrowns and scallions.  Frankly, this was "meh" as the individual ingredients were cold and lifeless as well as the lukewarm bao.  I really didn't like the fried bao posing as "Beignets" as they were too hard, oil-soaked and too sweet.  They were more like overly sweet biscotti.

Our last stop was at the Smallflower Cafe & Bakeshop occupying the former Burgundy Restaurant space. As much as I loathed to sample gluten-free and vegan food, it turned out to be surprisingly good.  I loved the Tomato Basil Soup as it was bright, tart, sweet and natural-tasting.  Loved the consistency too.  Despite not looking so appetizing, the BBQ Tofu Slider featured a tasty biscuit that was crispy and sweet on the outside and fairly soft on the inside.  The tofu was tender but not too soft while the BBQ sauce was sweet and savoury.  Our last treat was the Mini-Waffle Cone with vegan ice cream, chocolate sauce and caramel.  Made with coconut milk, the ice cream was a touch icy, but still creamy enough while moderately sweet.  However, the chocolate and caramel raised the sugariness a few notches. In the end, this was a fairly decent kick-off to the 6 brunch crawls with enough variety and amount of food.

*All food and beverages excluding gratuities were complimentary*

The Good:
- Enough food in terms of variety and portion
- Walkable distances between establishments

The Bad:
- There was a bottleneck at Bao Down since they weren't ready until 11:30am