Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nate's Deli, Merivale Road, Ottawa

Just the two of us this week for Sunday brunch and as we took the dog to Petsmart for a Christmas groom we decided to try Nate's Deli which is the new site of the famous Nate's that used to be opposite the Bytown Cinema on Rideau Street.

Nate's was an institution that was demolished to make way for something new that wouldn't ever be as good as the old place but apparently the owner thought it was time so they sold and the place was replaced with a Shoppers Drugmart (I think - who cares?).

After a year this place sprang up where Cora's used to be on Merivale and Nate's Mk2 was born.

I'd never eaten at the old place so I have nothing to compare but my smoked salmon benny was perfect - the egg was soft, the hollandaise tasty - even if it has slightly split - and the salmon actually tasted of salmon - a rarity nowadays!

Mrs Drude had the breakfast club which, strangely, had no mayo on it and was a bit dry - but served with a pile of fruit which kept her happy (and dipping her dry club in my leftover hollandaise sauce).

Coffe was ok but charged for ($2.25 - we had 2 refills) - this is a deli place that serves breakfast rather than a greasy spoon and the menu makes for an interesting read - sandwiches all seem to have chopped liver in them and are named after local celebs, Max Keeping, Alanis, Pierre Trudeau - you get the picture.

The food here is good - I'd rather come for a lunch and have one of the sandwiches but breakfast fare is good.

It's definitely on the list for the full 'club' meet in the new year.......which brings me nicely to wish you all a Merry Christmas (or whatever you celebrate) and a great 2012.

Be safe.

The Drude.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Another chance for the new Cozy's to shine.......a deconstruction.

I always thought that Cozys should have an apostrophe, as per the restaurant of Cozy, thus: Cozy's - I'll get to the bottom of this at some stage but it now appears they have added the '! Anyway, we went for an 'economy' breakfast this week and there were going to be a lot of us so we decided the big table at Cozy's would do just fine. As it turned out a couple of the 'Club' were at a concert in NYC and another was starting to feel ill so it was just a '6' this week rather than the potential 11 it could have been.

Cozy's underwent a bit of a make-over a couple months ago and when we tried it then we were not that impressed by the changes, I guess we were ready to see if improvements had been made. As it turned out, they changed the menu just a few days ago!! (Nothing huge, btw)

The service was attentive but a little bit haphazard with orders that were brought to the table with the wrong toast or missing toast or an order missed completely. The food, generally, was ok - but it's hard to mess up toast, egg, beans and some bacon - or is it????

I always have the 'Trucker's' - which should, but does not, have an apostrophe in the new menu - so lets take this plate item by item for a full deconstruction?

We'll start with the positive - 3 x soft poached eggs; perfectly cooked but these must be the smallest hen eggs in Ontario! I didn't know you could get XS eggs. That's not excess but extra small.

The 3 strips of back bacon were tasty and well cooked.

The 3 small breakfast sausages could have been full of sawdust for all I could taste.

The slice of ham - same, no taste to it whatsoever.

The home fries - these have changed - no longer do you get small cubed potato pieces but slices that are undercooked and covered in a powder that could be paprika - but as this powder tastes of nothing it could be anything. It's possible these also come from a bag - but I can't say that for certain.

The onions that were requested on the homefries - mild flavour and undercooked, no colour on them at all.

Side of beans - from the cheapest can of beans you could find anywhere.

3 rounds of buttered toast - well toasted!

Decent coffee.

That little lot costs $10.50 and 99c for the beans - $11.50 give or take a penny.

If they served a better sausage (just one that tasted of something sausage-like), improved the ham and reverted to the old home-fries with crispy cooked onion this would be a great deal and a great breakfast - as it stands it's low on the totem pole of brunch experiences from my perspective.

Maybe next Sunday we'll go to Ikea and see what you get for $1 - I'm hearing good things, not that I'm unaware of the Ikea breakfast, I've indulged many times and always enjoyed it but keep forgetting to order 2 breakfasts! maybe the new bigger Ikea serves a bigger $1 brekky!

It's been a strange old week; coming back from Montreal last weekend to a very poorly kitten who had to be put to sleep on Tuesday didn't help the week go well; we went to the soft opening night of Fatboy's Smokehouse in the market on Tuesday night (Son is a chef there); found our new kitten on Thursday; picked him up on Friday.

Then with those surfer dudes from the Amazing race who got sent packing but won almost all the legs of the race to-date and the appalling and spineless judging fiasco on X-Factor USA (from that Nicole women) I'm in a bit of a flux this week - I hope December gets better.

Until next week, be safe.

The Drude

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Brunch is cancelled this week........

Due to the Craft Walk involving the Daily Grind, Shanghai Restaurant and Raw Sugar we are not brunching this week - add to that that we are off to Montreal overnight to see a 'gig' - go to the Craft Walk though - it'll be fun and we might see you all there around 2ish.

Until next week, be safe,


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Back, back, back to the Back Lane Cafe

It seems we are addicted to this place and find ourselves in our usual seats at the Back Lane Cafe which has some nice new interior faux windows and shutters on the wall. Apparently the place became a tad noisy when busy and these new additions deaden the sound a bit. I didn't think it was a problem but in any case - they look good.

Menu additions and changes that we noticed were a Tomato tarte-tatin and the 'hash' was of the turkey variety; both were ordered. Coffee is so good here and you get nice little jugs of cream rather than those UHT packs of 18% cream. We were 7 this rainy Sunday.

As always the food not only tastes good, it looks good too - the presentation is very good. The usual rectangular plates of food were served and devoured in no time.

The turkey hash that I ordered was popular, I got the last one and it was excellent - again, just the right mix of meat, potato, onion, mushroom and salsa; that, mixed with the two eggs you get, makes this an excellent brunch plate.

The turkey hash.

The tomato tarte-tatin was apparently very good, also, and was served with a really nice rocket (arugula) salad which I tried a fork-full of. It was all good but if I was making this I would have put some shaved parmesan on the salad and maybe topped the tarte with a poached egg. 

Tomato tarte-tatin

The consumers of dishes with bacon noticed this week that the bacon was less smoked and thinner than usual; it turned out (after asking the proprietor) that their supplier didn't deliver and they had to run out and buy a replacement. Normal service will be resumed.

Again, I/We can't recommend this place enough and it seems that people agree with our assessment as the place was full and at times a short wait for a table was occurring - this is the place to brunch on a Sunday!

Now, as this review is the third I'm writing it seems fitting to add a bit of value to the post by providing a PAS (public service announcement) with regards to the opening of Fatboy's Southern Smokehouse at 34 Murray Street. If you follow the Facebook page you'll know that they have had a slight hiccup with their liquor license due to a number of residents that live across the road making a complaint, I think, based on their imaginations on the place becoming some 50's style biker hangout. 

Frankly, most bikers these days are lawyers, architects and doctors so I don't really 'get' the inference that 'biker' is any bad or negative person anyone would like to frequent their establishment.

Also, at the risk of entering into the debacle from the periphery; what did these people expect when they bought their condo in one of Ottawa's most vibrant areas with regard to nightlife? It's akin to someone buying a house in the country and then complaining that the air is too fresh, the church bells are too loud and they get stranded in winter!

Anyhow, the debacle looks like it's over and the Facebook page announced the opening date will be 11.30am on Thursday December 8th; they start their 'Gospel' brunch service on New Year's Day and the opening party is January 25th '12.

I declare an 'interest' in the place as my eldest is to be one of the chefs here - but the place will be reviewed for brunch without any favouritism! ;-))

I have to say that smoked pulled pork with a trio of eggs and baked beans maybe with some corn bread on the side just sounds extremely yummy, even though no menu has been produced yet for brunch!

Too many exclamation marks in this post - but who cares about that? My old english teacher doesn't read this!!!!!

Until next week, be safe,


Friday, November 25, 2011

Art-Is-In update, follow-up and report.

In my review of Art-Is-In bakeries brunch a few weeks ago I made reference to an improvement that they could make with regard to increasing their floor space and seating area. Well, I popped in for a coffee and a croissant this morning and they've taken down a wall and added 2 more tables and about 10 chairs.

I have no idea if this is in any way connected to our OBC blog nor do I know if the owners even read it but I'd like to think that at least we think alike and that they identified the same need and acted accordingly.

The new seating area doesn't look finished and probably there is more work planned, but as it stands now the seating is close to a giant mixer which is fascinating to watch with all the ingredients being added. I hope this feature is kept - like a bakery version of a 'chef's table' - they just need to tart up the area maybe with perspex screens so the 'audience' don't get splattered and for the usually 'nanny-like' health and safety rules.

Who doesn't want to have their croissant and coffee while the mixer mixes the next day's bread?

Until the Sabbath,


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Atomic Rooster: not as nuclear as you'd think!

When pubs do food you don't expect too much from them, except when it comes to the basics of a brunch menu. Did Atomic Rooster get the basics right? Well, yes and no! It's a mixed experience here, this week, but let's qualify this a bit. It's a pub, so don't expect table cloths, homemade ketchup and silver cutlery.

Atomic Rooster is a medium sized pub on Bank Street between Somerset and MacLaren and the brunch menu  has all the regulars; benny (4 kinds including a salmon one), steak and eggs as well as the usual omelette, eggs and meats mixture. It was suggested by a new member of our group and we are always happy to try new places. (Probationary period has been served, BTW.... welcome to the club!).

The tables are rough with wear and the tables and chairs I touched were too far on the side of 'sticky' for my liking. This week we were a table of 7 and found a suitable table (which required stabilizing with some beer mats), even though they were quite busy. We ordered coffee which took a while to arrive. We really expect to be served coffee within a minute or two of being seated rather than within 15 minutes.

When it came the coffee was good and, as it turned out, was included in the price of breakfast, with unlimited refills - which we like. One oddity with the coffee was that most of our mugs came with straws in them as stir sticks and a couple had spoons! Odd but it didn't detract from the enjoyment. One of us thought the coffee was a bit bitter but as I like my coffee strong and bitter it didn't pose a problem for me.

We ordered and the food came out in a reasonable time. Nothing really looked as if it had been plated with any love - very low on garnish which, with breakfast plates, always means a lot of yellow. Yellow toast, yellow omelette, yellow homefries; a bit of green would have been nice, or a piece of fruit.

I had the steak and eggs this week. I seldom have steak and eggs as breakfast cooks seldom cook it right. My steak (cooked rare) was perfect (as was another member's who requested medium rare) so kudos to the grill chef there and the cut was a decent piece (6oz) of sirloin strip steak served with 3 eggs (I ordered poached as did another member and they were all hard poached even though we asked for soft poached) and homefries that had a sprinkling of onion. The poached eggs were ok tasting but I've had better and, again, they were hard poached. The homefries had little taste and may have been frozen/from a bag. The toast was good quality bread. Apart from the quality of the coffee and the steak itself the plate really was just average.

The steak and eggs

One member had the '3 eggs/3 ingredients' omelette and had bacon, goat's cheese and jalapeño peppers and it was good but had an overdose of jalapeño.

I paid for 3 brunches and it cost $44 all in, including tax and tip so it's very reasonably priced considering I had a steak.

Not to be unkind to the Atomic Rooster, it's a good solid pub brunch place and there is little to be critically negative about, there is also little to shout about either. It's a noisy place too, some people like that, others don't - we don't, so be warned if you don't like noisy brunches - this ain't the place for you.

The limberjack!

The benny.

The omelette

Parking is free on the roads around the Atomic Rooster on Sunday and if you can get a spot within a block away you've done well.

Post brunch coffee at Highjinx as usual, thanks girls! Looking forward to the tree next week!

Until next week, dear readers, have a good one and be safe - you readers in Sweden stay warm!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

The return to Todric's Restaurant, Vanier, Ottawa.

Sunday is a day of rest but also of change. Today we started brunch at Noon rather than our usual 11am, mainly as No.1 son needed dropping off at the 'orientation' for his new job in a new restaurant in town (more to be revealed soon). We actually also decided to move all future brunches to Noon as it was deemed far more civilised.

We also welcomed a new member to the group, voted in and everything; although she is on a probationary period of undetermined length!

The vote this week went to Todric's Restaurant on MacArthur; we've been here before but it's been a while and the last time we tried they were closed for vacations.

The coffee here is just so good, you also get unlimited refills and a decent creamer on the table and the mugs are also a decent size which avoids the request for constant refills.

The menu hasn't changed much but they do have specials on the black board.

I wasn't in the mood for too much adventure so I went with the salmon poach which is basically a salmon eggs benedict but on a toasted slice of rye bread rather than an english muffin, served with home fries and fruit. The home fries are always very well cooked here, love them crispy and crunchy.

Everyone enjoyed their plate except for the club sandwich which had no mayo on it and was really a bit tasteless but other than that, a solid performance.

The heating was on a bit high for my liking and a couple of us commented on the temp but what can you do when a kitchen is 'open' - you just 'suck it up' and get out into the fresh air ASAP, no lingering today!

Here are the pics of today's breakfast/brunch plates:

Bagel, cream cheese and salmon.

The club.

The frittata. 

Salmon Poach (benny)

The 'outing' was, as is the tradition most Sunday's, rounded off with a visit to Highjinx in Chinatown for a square and a coffee. Christmas decorations are up (Christmas starts 12th November in this establishment).

If you haven't checked out Highjinx yet, you should. They also accept items for donation and on consignment - but no clothes, just cool nic-naks and furniture.

We always end up spending a bit of cash with Karen and Leigh and it's always a pleasure to do so.

Next week? Who knows, maybe our new member will introduce us to somewhere new?

Be safe.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Back to the Back Lane Cafe!

Seldom do we all agree to visit a new place again so quickly, but the Back Lane Cafe had so many great sounding (and tasting) items on their brunch menu last week that another visit was in order so that we may quench ourselves of the 'fare'.

I don't know if I just hadn't found them or they set it up in the last week but they have a Twitter account now, so you can follow them (@backlanecafe) and this was the way that I reserved this week (via DM) so as to avoid the table debacle from last week. UPDATE - they now have a Facebook page, get to it here.

This week we were a 7 and were given the same two round 4 tops as last time. We are also 'rumbled' this week as the owner had read the blog, in fact he has been a reader for about a year; who knew our humble little blog would get so famous?!

So food was ordered and served and it all looked just as good as it did last Sunday, this time pictures were taken. Ketchup was brought along in a little jar but wasn't needed as the BLC now serve ketchup and it's homemade AND it was a real hit with everyone who used it - BONUS POINT!

The 'scramble'; with beans, bacon and bulgar pilaf.

The BLC changes their menu from week to week which is great and it's the way it should be with all food establishments - if you don't at least see a specials board you know that the menu is stagnent and the chef doesn't really have any ambition. The only time when changing the menu is bad in any way is when you return to try something and it's been changed or is omitted. This was my experience today as I was really looking forward to the duck pastrami hash. The replacement was a corned beef hash served with two poached (perfectly) eggs and toasted mini baguette. Gorgeous! The hollandaise, egg and salsa goes so well with the spicy hash which had potato, mushrooms and sweet peppers in it. It was so good I forgot all about the duck pastrami.

The corn beef hash.

Others had the 'scramble' which is the nearest you get at the BLC to a 'normal' breakfast, another had the omelette and a new item; raspberry pancakes with bacon and fruit. 

The owner and staff at the BLC are very friendly and attentive and the atmosphere makes for a very restful and laid-back brunch. I/We can't recommend this place enough.

Raspberry pancakes with bacon and fruit.
To finish off the meal they serve raspberry jam/preserve which is aslo made in-house and tastes great on the toasted bread.

If we didn't think that going back here next week was excessive (with a need to try other places) we'd be eating here almost every week, but 'duty' calls.

The omelette with goats cheese and arugula/parmesan.
So, next week we are going 'off piste' a little and trying out the brunch menu at one of the Local Heroes in Ottawa, more specifically the one on Bank Street as we have 'connections' there now!! 

Until next week, Ottawa, we wish you a fantastic week.

Drude (not a trucker).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Back Lane Cafe is superb......

A cafe so new that the web site isn't up yet, there is no Facebook page but they do have a twitter feed to follow (@backlanecafe). The Back Lane Cafe is in Hintonburg where the Ethiopian Cafe was next to Giant Tiger. We've had it in our periphery vision recently so it was time to try it out as the Ottawa Breakfast Club.

We walked into a revamped cafe with interesting art on the walls hung from old knob and tube fixtures. It was busy but not full and we asked for a table for 6. The (I think) owner initially refused to put two tables together and insisted on having us dine at two side-by-side '4 tops' - really not ideal but we had little choice. Then the waiter came over and saw the dilemma and suggested we move the tables together! The first guy relented and we were allowed to move together. Not a great start to brunch!

The menu is interesting and not your usual brunch fair. The 'benny' is on a 'biscuit' with a homemade sausage patty and served with a bulgar pilaff and some fruit. There was a duck pastrami hash served with a couple of eggs. The scramble came with bacon, beans and the pilaff.

Coffee was served (very good coffee and only $2 for endless refills), water was poured and orders taken by a very pleasant young man (the one who saw fit to allow us to eat together). 

A range of food was soon winging it's way out of the kitchen served on rectangular platters rather than normal round plates. The presentation was excellent. One of us wanted ketchup and had to do without; this isn't a 'ketchup type' place!

Most agreed that the food was very good. My 'benny' was superb; the sausage had a hint of fennel, the biscuit was delightful and the poached eggs cooked perfectly. Together with the bulgar pilaff this all made for one very tasty breakfast. If I had been super hungry you could argue that it wasn't a great deal of food but this isn't a greasy spoon, pile it high place. This is brunch fine dining and at $16 and $14 for most of the plates it should be.

The coffee flowed, the eggs were eaten and the homemade bread was slathered with the in-house raspberry jam. Wonderful food.

I also tasted the duck pastrami hash and that was lovely and spicy and I'm definitely having that when we go back (maybe next week).

Apart from the lack of ketchup it's hard to say anything bad about this place. I didn't need it but, come on, if you have a brunch menu at least have it available for those who want it. Presented in a small dish perhaps rather than spoiling the table with plastic squeeze bottles. I understand the reasoning behind not having it out but not as to why it's not available if requested.

One of the best brunch places ever!

Looking forward to next week and the plate of duck pastrami all to myself.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2 in the same week? Art-Is-In bakery; a belated blog post.

I got my thinking cap on this morning and remembered that we did, indeed, go to somewhere new (to the OBC) recently but I didn't post anything. This post hopefully rectifies that omission.

Art-Is-In bakery and cafe is in a strange location, not for a bakery, but for a cafe/bistro type affair. City Centre is a well known light industrial complex that, among other businesses, houses printers, laminators, framers and dry cleaners. So you don't expect to find a medium sized bakery selling it's wares, soups, sandwiches and, of course, coffee.

It works, though.

We decided to try out AII's brunch menu a few weeks ago. I'd already tried their AMAZING croissants and I have to state here and now that they are the BEST in town (the French Bakery on Murray comes a close second in my book).

The cafe seating area is mainly benches and long tables with a small couch and coffee table and also a stool/bar area in the window. When this place gets busy it can get cramped but that is all part of the ambience of the place. We found that after you lined up and ordered your breakfast choice, got a coffee and paid - tables sort of free up, magically.

We got a long table and as there were 8 of us it was still cozy but in a good way. While our food was being prepared we were able to watch the customers coming in and getting bread, croissants and coffee to go and it's a mixed bunch. People seem to come from all around. People seem to travel to get here too, it's a big draw when you produce breads of this quality.

Breakfast was superb with the highlight being a fennel sausage.

This place would be on our regular list if the seating area could be a bit bigger. I imagine the unit has enough room to re-jig the layout but I have no idea if the owners are thinking of doing that.

Art-Is-In bakery gets a 8/10 but would get a 9 if seating was super-sized.


Monday, October 24, 2011

The resurrection blog; Ralph and Sons.........

It's been a while, but until recently there really hasn't been any new places to write about (unless you count the paint and carpet job at Cozys, which is just 'that' and a dip in food quality and taste). Well that's controversial in and of itself, having a 'go' at our mainstay of a Sunday breakfast in the first paragraph!

When you 'revamp' a place as 'under new management' and assume the old management got it wrong, you could be in deep trouble! The walls are bare, the ambiance (what there was of it) has gone, our favourite waitress has gone, the plates are smaller and the food doesn't have the taste it had. I imagine these are some of the improvements. Well, none of us were impressed and although we'll probably give it another chance sometime soon, it's got a lot of things to revamp back to the way it was.

OK, now that's off my chest on to the new place. Not new for Ottawa, it's a mainstay and a popular place, but new for the OBC or 'Brunch bunch' as we've come to be known as, thanks to the girls at Highjinx.

Ralph and Sons is a diner attached to the convenience store part of a gas station on Carling up in the Crystal Bay/Beach area. It's out a ways but most of us thought it was worth the extra 10 minutes it took to get there.

One of our 'bunch' had passed the placed for 30 years and never eaten here and it's been on our radar a while, so this was the sunday to try it out.

This place is busy with a capital B! We grabbed a table for 4 next to a table of 4 about to leave so we were lucky! Although another waitress almost gave the second table away before we alerted her! We were a 7 that became a 9 so it was a bit cramped on a table for 8 but we were accommodated.

The menu is basic and easy to make choices from yet some of the calculations don't always add up (one extra egg as a side was $1.49 and 2 extra eggs as a side were $2.99! Do the math!

Coffee was flowing as well as an included OJ (although it was a shooter glass size) and orders were given. Service was fast and efficient if a little inpersonal, but hey, they were very busy.

They say (other reviews and accounts of the place) that the bacon is the best in Ottawa. Well I thought it was OK and others thought it was exactly that. The beans are good here, my eggs as well as others' eggs were cooked perfectly and I guess my only gripe is that the home fries were undercooked and mushy as if they had been under-fried and then left in a heap to steam away. Oh, and the toast was a little bit under-toasted.

A pic of one of the plates.

On the whole, everyone liked the place and it's def on the 'go again' list.

A pic of James Dean and unidentified bystander outside Ralph's.

While I'm here I just wanted to give a shout out to the new place that served me the best espresso I have had in a very long time; a new coffee house on Somerset just on the outskirts of CT called The Daily Grind Art Cafe. Very laid back place, great coffee and great pastry and cake. Check it out!

until next time........


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Royal Wedding Breakfast #fail

So, I was one of the 'silly people' getting up at 4am last week to prepare to watch a couple of strangers get married in the presence of billions. My task was to serve Pimms, champagne and a 'full english' to my wife and a couple friends.

The day before I shopped for my ingredients. Sausage (english bangers), pea-meal bacon (closest to back bacon I could find), eggs, mushrooms and black pudding......... BUT that last item is almost impossible to locate in this country's capital city.

I failed at 3 supermarkets so when I need a specialty meat product I travel to the Glebe Meat Market. Expecting to secure said item i strolled in and looked in the freezer. Nothing! When I asked a lady behind the counter she told me, "Can't get the blood, government won't release it!"

Really? A full english without black pudding, blood pudding or Irish pudding (whatever you call it) is like hockey without a puck (not that I'm a hockey fan) but you get the idea.

Come on Canada - it's one of the best tasting parts of an 'English Fry-Up" - I'm so disappointed.

In the end I cooked some steak and kidney but it wasn't the same.

Ho hum.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Move over Todrics, we love you but...........

Todrics was our favourite 'non-greasy-spoon' brunch venue up until just recently when we discovered the delights of the brunch menu at the Courtyard Restaurant in the Byward Market. We have breakfasted here twice in 3 weeks, the first was for my birthday and then again just this last Sunday.

Firstly, I follow the foodie scene a bit in Ottawa from the comfort of my Twitter feed so I know that the Chef, Michael Hay, is an avid tweeter who even asks for suggestions about his menu and food etc. - I really like that attitude to food - it says, "the food I cook is for you, how can I make it better".

Anyway, back to the, stop....there is something else here before we even ate a morsel that we all liked - the staff here seem to actually enjoy working here - bloody hell! That is so rare nowadays, they were all lovely, attentive without bugging us, requests were met with swift service even though they may have been serving a table of 8 at the time. Top marks for the wait staff.

My birthday brunch was the first time we'd been here so I always have to have the one dish that allows me to 'judge' for myself the standards (a bit like ordering a chicken madras at an indian restaurant), so I had the benny!

Really good! With a great rosti/hash and lovely compressed (is this dehydrated?) fruit. The coffee is endless and good and we all also got a brunch 'amuse buche' which consisted of a small scone and a compote or preserve. I'm english so I'm afraid the scone didn't do it for me, a little too dry. I liked the idea and the thought though.

We had a vegetarian with us the first time and she ordered the dish with the chorizo in it which she gave away and wow - what do they do to that chorizo? It was the BEST chorizo I've ever tasted - and I lived in Spain for 4 years!

The portions are not huge, if you want a 'truckers' don't come here - but it's enough. Brunch fine dining at it's best and at a very reasonable price.

This last Sunday we returned to sample more from the imaginative menu and 2 dishes topped even the 'benny' and the lovely 'ranchero'; the french toast is a 'step' of bread with fruit chutney and smoked bacon and was enthusiastically devoured even though it was thought it may not fit in said stomach!

I had the southern fried steak but as it doesn't come with egg I ordered a couple poached eggs with it. Someone else had this in it's sans egg form and said it would be better with an egg or two. I have to say that I'm no fan of 'steak and eggs' but this steak was cooked to perfection and had the best coating, a lovely adobe (?) hot sauce and stacked on some greens. With the 2 poached eggs this is the best breakfast I've had in a very long time.

I'm/we're a fan of the Courtyard; Mr Hay and staff - well done!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Zola's (Bells Corners)

Happy New Year dear reader!

My company gave me a selection of vouchers and gift cards for Christmas which was nice and appreciated. One of them was a barter voucher for $50 for Zola's Italian restaurant in Bells Corners. So we all went to brunch there this past Sunday to help mop up the over exuberance of manhattans drunk on NYE!

I put the $50 in the 'pot' and we all had a great 'limited' choice breakfast. I say limited as their full brunch menu wasn't on; they had a limited 'holiday' menu at $12 an item which consisted of a plate of eggs and choice of meat with the home fries and fruit etc.; pancakes; club; pasta and a salmon pizza.

I was disappointed but everyone found something to settle on. The pancakes, even though undercooked in a couple of places, were packed with blueberries and the egg plates were helped along my some very peppery home fries and a slice of rosemary tomato. A nice touch was the mint that mingled amongst the small bowl of fruit.

It was a pleasant morning and nothing went wrong with the food....oh and they serve Art-Is-In bread!! Another bonus.

All in all a solid 6/10