Review: The Egg and I

April 29, 2010

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Address: 275 Highway 20 South, Stoney Creek

Rich ordered: Greek omelette with homefries.

Alana ordered: Cheese omelette with homefries.

Plus: Good seats, nice staff, pleasuring potatoes.

Minus: The building is a a bunch of pink shacks, no one but the chef had a mustache.

Rating: 7 Uggs-wearing teenagers out of 10

Rich sez:  A while ago, Alana and I were in Hamilton to attend a Stag n’ Doe and to celebrate a friend’s birthday. The next morning, we were in dire need of the  best hangover brunch spot in Hamilton. We found it at the Egg and I on Highway 20.

My previous visits to the E.I. had been tainted with over-dressed church goers, crying babies, college girls wearing sweat pants to hide their freshmen 15, and greasy cold food. My hopes were not high as we made our way up the Hamilton “Mountain.” On the way, I explained to Alana that the Egg and I looks like a bunch of mashed shacks, but the interior has your typical country-diner vibe.  As we entered, we were greeted by a professional and young teenage staff.

We were seated right in front of the kitchen, where I immediately noticed that the chef seemed to be 15 years old, but with an enviable moustache. He was barking out orders and checking each plate that went to the pass for quality control. I was like DAMN! Someone has watched way too much Hell’s Kitchen, but he was killing it.

I ordered the Greek omelette. It was packed full of flavorful veggies and the side of potatoes was perfect. Finally, someone gets it. Good potatoes can save a bad brunch. I could be eating a omelette of goose droppings and, as long as the home fries are spiced just right, I am a happy camper.  My advice to The Egg and I is to keep the young mustachio chef for life. He’s a keeper. Did I just develop a man crush? Well, he’s no Ryan Reynolds. Never mind.

Alana sez: As we pulled into the parking lot for the Egg and I, my hopes were not high. It looks like a shanty town populated by The Hills’ casting-call rejects, AND it’s in Hamilton: a designated food dead-zone. By the time our food arrived, my expectations were so low that they were hanging out with some CHUDs in the sewer.

Strangely, my omelette arrived with a perfectly square slice of bright-orange cheese melted on top. The homefries on the side were a matching shade of orange. Bracing myself, I put some eggs in my mouth. And chewed. And … it wasn’t half bad. In fact, it was even GOOD! Our mustached friend in the kitchen had managed to turn out a tender, velvety omelette with plenty of real melted cheese inside. I next scooped up some of the homefries to find that they were fluffy and spicy, with some crispy browned edges that added textural contrast. I was amazed — we had found a decent brunch in the Hammer!

With my hangover chased off by the holy trinity of cheese, eggs, and potatoes, I was ready to face the long drive back to Toronto. Granted, we may have caught them on a good day, but I would definitely recommend The Egg and I if you find yourself in need of a tasty breakfast in Steeltown. Especially if you appreciate teenage mustaches.

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Review: Brad’s Eatery

April 5, 2010

Address: 325 Roncesvalles Ave

Rich ordered: Eggs benedict with smoked salmon, on a potato rosti, with a side salad.

Alana ordered: Croissant breakfast sandwich with homefries.

Plus: Amazing homefries. Large portions. Friendly atmosphere. Solid brunch.

Minus: Mediocre coffee. Oily salad.

Rating: 8 annoying grunts out of 10

Rich sez: After a fun night of twelve-dollar 40s and sweet mash-ups with DJ Lockdown at my second-favorite bar in Toronto, Margret, a Good Friday morning brunch was needed. Alana and I had recently heard from a friend of ours that Brad’s on Roncesvalles was the place to go. When I think of the name Brad, I associate it with the eldest son from Home Improvement. As such, my expectations for this place were very low. I asked Alana on the drive to Brad’s, “How long do you think it will take Brad to come talk to us about his girl troubles with Ashley?” Alana: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Alana was a JTT fan, I guess.

As we walked towards the entrance, they were just opening up the front windows so we could sit and enjoy the new warm weather — lucky us. Alana ordered a Coke Diete and I had a the coffee. As we sat and sipped our drinks, I was not terribly impressed with my coffee’s flavour (or lack thereof) — maybe I was too distracted by the half dozen crazies walking by. I orded the eggs benny with smoked salmon on a potato rosti, and a side of garden salad.

Before our food got to us and 2.5 cups of coffee in, a family of 7 came skipping into the restaurant. The family’s youngest boy was riding a bike with new trainies on it — his dad called out , “Mark come on, lets go!”, but he would not set foot in the door, and who can blame him? Noogies and adoption jokes from Brad awaited him inside, and who knows where Randy was hiding, waiting for the perfect time to tie him to a tree, or steal all the attention away with a cancer scar … uh, sorry — back to reality. The poor l’il guy was actually hesitating because he didn’t want to leave his bike outside with the Roncy riff-raff. Alana and I assigned ourselves as his bike security team, since we had the window seat. With a gracious thanks and tip of the hat from dad, off went future Goth Mark in to the restaurant.

Our food arrived, and as soon as our plates were placed on the table I immediately regretted not ordering the homefries. Alana’s plate was stacked with the toasty, spicy squares from heaven. My garden salad was alright — it was a little to oily for my liking, but I enjoyed that the dressing was freshly-made, rather than store-bought garbage. This was my first time having eggs benny with potato rosti underneath and, let me tell you, it will be very hard to go back to english muffins (not that hard, actually — I had them again today at Milestones. Yes Milestones has a brunch menu. Weird right?). The eggs were cooked perfectly — piercing the yolk caused a rich, creamy yellow river to pour out and mingle with the hollandaise. I wished I had eaten my brunch more slowly, so as to better enjoy its well-balanced flavours, but I tried to whiz through it so I could steal more of Alana’s homefries. Over all, I think Brad’s is right up there with some of the great spots in Toronto to get a good brunch and a nice walk in a cool neighborhood. One thing not to expect is Brad himself to come over and entertain you with his soccer skills while you eat.

Alana sez: While Rich was busy peeping on Jill with Wilson in one of his (not infrequent) Home Improvement hallucinations, I was having a very enjoyable brunch to kick off the Easter long weekend. The vegetarian options on Brad’s menu are quite limited, so I ordered the croissant breakfast sandwich with oven-roasted tomatoes in place of the usual peameal bacon — the kitchen was happy to oblige. I think people who order salad at brunch are crazy (see: Rich and his Tim Allen obsession), so I went with homefries on the side.

Before long, I was digging into one of the best breakfast sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. The croissant was lightly toasted, and piled high with scrambled eggs, aged white cheddar, and exceptionally flavourful roasted tomatoes. Each bite was better than the last, and I was a little sad when I finished it. But only for a second — I had a mountain of homefries waiting for me that weren’t going to eat themselves. I was as impressed with my side as I was with my sandwich. The homefries were spiced generously with smoked paprika, and perfectly crispy-on-the-outside-and-fluffy-on-the-inside (or COTOAFOTI to homefry connoisseurs such as myself). I finished my meal at Brad’s completely sated, and hangover cured. I think Rich enjoyed his brunch, too — he kept mumbling about JTT’s dreamy eyes as we paid the bill.

Review: The Kit Wat

August 24, 2009

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Address: 71 Sauble Falls Rd, Sauble Beach, ON

Rich ordered: Veggie omelette, with homefries and toast.

Alana ordered: Fried egg sandwich with a side of homefries.

Plus: Very friendly staff. Great patio.

Minus: Mediocre breakfast. Rich got a tummy-ache.

Rating: 5 cottages out of 10

Rich sez: I have been going to Sauble Beach with my family every summer, for as long as I can remember. It’s like a second home to me, so breakfast at the Kit Wat is nothing out of the ordinary. The staff is amazingly friendly and they know my family by name. I’s located near the marina, attached to a motel across the street from a small grocery called Joseph’s. The inside has a small-town feel, with beachwood-like furniture and, when you step outside, you find a relaxing patio overlooking the marina. As people in paddle-boats pass, they greet you with friendly waves and high-spirited “good morning”s while you shovel your breaky down.

I usually order the ham and eggs, but decided on to switch it up on this particular occasion and went for the veggie omelette. The breakfast this time around seemed more store-bought than the home-made, heart-warming cooking that I’ve had at the Kit Wat in the past. I don’t want to knock this restaurant from this one bad experience, because it has filled my life and stomach with so much joy, BUT, the potatoes were very dry, the omelette was oddly-spiced, and I think I had some sort of bad reaction to the food. I can’t say for sure that my breakfast was the cause, but I ended up spending most of my cottage weekend in dire tummy pain. The weird thing about my stomach-ache was that the waitress at the Kit Wat had said to me, before I took my first bite, “the cook put something special in the middle of your omelette for you.” I didn’t taste anything unusual, but I definitely felt that “special something” donkey-punching my insides all weekend. That said, this recent weekend-ruining experience has not altered my view of this cozy restaurant at all but, next time I order, I will just get the ham and eggs.

Alana sez: On my first-ever visit to Sauble Beach, I was excited to try out some of Rich’s favourite childhood restaurants. Near the top of the list was the Kit Wat, a greasy-spoon hotel restaurant on the water, purported to serve up some pretty tasty breakfast — just what I was looking for on this particular morning.

Like Rich mentioned, the Kit Wat is a cozy, small-town diner with a great patio overlooking the lake. We took a seat outside, and our very friendly and accomodating, if somewhat absent-minded, waitress was quick to take our drink order. I ordered a Diet Coke, but ended up with a coffee — no biggie. I was a little chilly anyways, and it was nice to wrap my hands around the piping hot beverage.

From the pretty standard breakfast menu, I decided to try the fried egg sandwich. I also ordered some homefries, because a diner breakfast is not complete without potatoes. We enjoyed the scenery during the short wait for our food. When they arrived, my sandwich and potatoes looked appetizing — I quickly learned that looks can be deceiving. This wasn’t really a bad breakfast. It was just extremely boring. The potatoes had no flavour, and had clearly been previously frozen. The fried egg sandwich was also nothing special, served on Wonder bread and with absolutely no seasoning to speak of.

It’s too bad that our meals were so uninspiring, because the Kit Wat is a charming little restaurant and has the potential to be a great go-to breakfast joint in cottage country. However, unless the food improves greatly, I’ll be sticking with cereal next time I visit Sauble Beach.

Fatima's

Address: 3108 Dundas Street West, Toronto

Alana ordered: A plain omelette and a Diet Coke

Rich ordered: Eggs Florentine and a coffee

Plus: Very pleasant service. Old movies playing on the TV.

Minus: The food.

Rating: 3 fake flowers out of 10

 Alana sez: When Rich and I walked into Fatima’s, we were impressed by the calming decor and atmosphere in this new addition to the Junction neighborhood — we were immediately soothed by the exposed brick walls, modern furniture with clean lines, Casablanca on the TV, opera on the stereo, and the single flower on every table. When we were seated by the extremely pleasant and friendly Fatima, however, we noticed that these flowers were 100% fake — pretty on the surface, but with no real life to them. This would become a metaphor for our entire experience at Fatima’s.

We were encouraged when Rich received his coffee, which was delicious, and also when we began to look at the menu – everything sounded amazing. I went with the plain omelette, which comes with frites, and Rich ordered the eggs florentine. Our attentive server refilled my Diet Coke and brought us butter, jam, ketchup, and aioli in individual serving dishes while we waited for our food. We were hopeful that Fatima’s could become our new regular bruch spot in the Junction. Then the food arrived, and everything went downhill. My omelette was a mass of dark brown, overcooked and oversalted eggs piled messily on my plate. The “frites” were actually thick-cut, soggy, and greasy french fries and dipping them in the runny, flavourless aioli did nothing to improve them. My multigrain toast looked pretty, decorated with appetizing grill lines, but it was too cold to melt the butter I spread on it.  While Fatima’s looks nice, and the service is excellent, the most important part of any restaurant experience — the food — is an epic fail.

Rich sez:  Brunch is one of my favorite things to do in life and when something goes awry, I get screw-faced. Sure Casablanca playing on a flat screen was a nice calming brunch mood-setter, sure the coffee had a slight chocolate taste to it, but with bagged store bought bagels sitting on the counter, I knew the food was going to be an experience. I ordered the Eggs Florentine, one of my favorite dishes. When brought to the table it looked delicious, with frites and three little dipping sauces. Yes BRUNCH!!! I immediately grabbed a frite and sauced that bad boy up with some aioli. I was so hungry that I didn’t even realize that I was holding a limp soggy sponge and the aioli was like a watered-down Pizza Pizza garlic sauce. And I hate Pizza Pizza – you might as well deep-fry some cheese on cardboard. Anyway, back to Fatima’s. Let’s try the Florentine…Smells good.

Before I cut into my eggs Alana asked the waitress for some salt. The waitress quickly replied, “Oh I’m sorry dear, we are all out of salt, we used it all in your boyfriend’s Eggs Florentine…” BWHAAA??? With the amount of salt they put in my eggs, it could have salted a pathway for a snowed-in school day. I have no idea why they even added salt with smoked salmon already on the dish. Oh well, the hollandaise sauce will make up for it. Oh wait, where is that mouth watering fatty hollandaise sauce I love so much??? Oh, it was replaced by lemon-water-salt sauce. So, with limp fries, garlic water dip, and salty eggs, I downed four cups of their yummy coffee to get as much bang for Alana’s buck as I could (I made her grab the bill, LOL). Final thoughts – Fatima’s is like your dirt mall Santa. On the outside it looks so friendly, loving and inviting, with its bright décor, cute elves and soothing melodies, but once you get closer you can smell the booze on his breath, see his actual hair color sticking out from his beard, and the candy canes are from last year.

Diclaimer: Clearly, we do not recommend brunch at Fatima’s, but we have not had a chance to try this place for any other meals — to be fair, dinner or lunch may be better.