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).