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.

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.

Review: Swan Restaurant

July 13, 2009

Address: 892 Queen Street West, Toronto

Rich and Alana both ordered: Grilled cheese with pear and watercress, a side of the soup of the day, and Caesars.

Plus: Amazing Caesars. Extra-gooey grilled cheese. Cute decor.

Minus: Bland soup. Limited vegetarian options. Where’s the pear?

Rating: 7 horseradish roots out of 10

Alana sez: This past Canada Day, Rich and I found ourselves in search of a new (to us) spot to meet up with Rich’s cousins Bob and Laura for lunch. I had heard good things about Swan Restaurant, so we dragged our sleepy, mildly-hungover butts out to Queen West to soak up some sun, national pride, and family fun time. As we stepped into Swan, we were immediately taken by its vintage diner decor and bustling atmosphere — it was a good thing we had made a reservation, because the place was packed. As we waited for Bob and Laura, Rich and I sipped some Diet Coke and perused the lunch menu. Everything, including the daily specials, sounded great, but there were unfortunately not a lot of dishes for us fishetarians to choose from. We settled on the grilled cheese sandwich with pear and watercress, and ordered the soup of the day for the side (a vegetarian Caribbean-spiced bean soup). Since it was our nation’s birthday, we also decided to enjoy a round of all-Canadian Caesars.

First to arrive were our drinks — bright red and served in a tall glass with plenty of ice. At Swan, they grate fresh horseradish into their Caesars, which is a delicious touch. All 4 of us agreed that these were some high-quality Caesars, but I’ll let Rich elaborate since he’s our Caesar connoisseur. Our meals followed soon after, and I could hardly wait to dig into my perfectly-browned sandwich, which was oozing with melted cheese. My first bite did not disappoint — crispy bread, tangy cheese, and an interesting fresh flavour from the watercress. However, the pear in my sandwich had apparently gone the way of Carmen Sandiego because there was no sweetness in sight. I don’t know if it was the type of pear used, over-ripeness, or too-thin slices that was the culprit, but the pear was completely overpowered by the rest of the sandwich ingredients, sadly. I turned my attention to the soup and found it somewhat lacking in flavour, despite the cute dollop of sweet and sour chutney on top. It wasn’t bad soup, just kind of boring next to my gooey grilled cheese sandwich and my perfectly-seasoned Caesar. After lunch, Rich, Bob, Laura, and I piled out onto busy Queen West for some gallery browsing with happy full bellies. All in all,  I was generally impressed with Swan and will definitely return to try out their much-hyped brunch in the near future.

Rich sez: What she said…LOL.

Swan for me stands for So-Where’s the-Art-Neil? I don’t know if the chefs name was Neil or not but Swan is surrounded by a lot of great art studios/ galleries and they do not have one piece of art up on their walls. I guess the old-school Coke cooler they use to ice oysters and make fresh horseradish Caesers makes up for it. I loved the atmosphere, with its retro booths (coat racks attached).  Having reservations did help — the restaurant was consistently busy with a line up outside the door and they even gave us the best seats in the house. I agree with Alana about the food. The soup was bland, the grilled cheese was scrumptious, even though the pear was nowhere to be found. Now on to the Caesars — yes the fresh horseradish was a nice touch, the ingredients were well-balanced, it’s a great Caesar, but not spicy enough. That’s just my own preference, and after having a Crooked Star tandoori Caesar on Ossington and Bryden’s classic Caesar on Jane, Swan’s can take third place ribbon for the time-being.