The weather in Vancouver has been crazy lately–random snow, random rain, sudden bouts of sunshine. On Tuesday morning I woke up to snow piling up on my windowsill (with my cat alternately gazing out at it and slapping me in the face with her tail). But it would take more than snow for us to bail on food! So Samantha, Yvonne, Darek, and I met up at Chez Meme Baguette Bistro on Hastings St. for breakfast.
It’s a small place, with less than ten tables, and only one waitress was on duty. Still, she was very friendly (and authentically French!) At times the service was slow, but it was friendly and attentive enough that I wasn’t annoyed.
Darek ordered a coffee to go along with his breakfast. He wasn’t exactly descriptive when I asked how it was. (ie. “How’s your coffee?” “It’s good.”) But he did comment that it was not too strong and not too weak. I liked how the cream was served on the side, although Samantha did comment that this way, the cream would just be sitting out for a while, not being used. Ah well. Also I was a bit troubled by the not-too-clean surface of the coffee cup–I realize it’s just one waitress, but still.
Sam went for the Forestiere Omelet. All their omelets come with potatoes as well as freshly toasted baguette. The baguette was crispy and a nice compliment to the other items. I really liked the potatoes–they weren’t greasy at all like normal hash browns. I believe they’d been boiled and then pan-fried. Sam’s omelette consisted of assorted mushrooms (she could taste shiitake and button) as well as herbs. It tasted very earthy (well, mushrooms)–not much to say about this except that there were no complaints!
Yvonne chose the Montagnarde Omelet, with the same accompaniments. Her omelet was my favourite of the three that we ordered, and consisted of black forest ham, onions, potatoes, and Raclette cheese. You could really taste the cheese, which I liked. The potatoes and baguette were, again, excellent, although I guess her baguette was a little more burnt than Samantha’s. Still, it was a well-executed breakfast, with a good balance of flavours. Nothing was too salty. I love all the ingredients in this omelet (ham, onion, potatoes…what’s not to love?) so I enjoyed it (well, the bits she let me eat off her plate).
Darek had the Chevre Omelet, which consists of goat cheese, tomatoes, and pistou, which is a cold sauce made from garlic and olive oil (similar to pesto, I think). Like the Montagnarde above, you could really taste the cheese in this one. If you’re a fan of goat cheese (which Darek is), you’ll enjoy this. I’m not so keen on goat cheese but I still found it savoury and delicious, with a great compliment of flavours. Not much else to say about this–well, in Darek’s words, “it was good”.
I’ve never been much of an omelet person, so I went for something a little different in the French Toast Brioche. (Also, the man at the table beside us was having it and it looked delicious.) I chose to have warm banana slices and maple syrup (the other options being fresh strawberries and caramelized apple-raisins, respectively). This was definitely an overload of sweet. The brioche was soft and spongy. As long as I got a balanced forkful (some of the fresh whipped cream, warm gooey banana, and brioche in each bite) it was delicious. Although I’m usually not a fan of overly sweet food, I still managed to eat quite a bit of this. I also liked the presentation (powdered sugar!) of this as well as the other dishes.
We enjoyed our breakfast here, but if you’re planning a visit, you should keep in mind that it’s a very small place. Apparently the lineup gets quite long around 11am (we saw no lineup, but then again, it was snowing that day), so you might want to consider that as well. The service is slow but friendly, and the food takes a while, but I personally don’t mind waiting for good food. Next time I’ll have to try their sandwiches and soup!
Chez Meme Baguette Bistro
4016 Hastings Street
I know what you’re thinking–IKEA and Denny’s are not really your idea of blog-worthy restaurants. But I’m not a food snob. To me, food is food. Sure, I probably enjoy a meal at, say, Guu more than a breakfast at Denny’s or a $1 meal at IKEA. But I think the key to enjoying your meal (or any experience, for that matter) is having realistic experiences. I never expect to be blown away by the food at Denny’s or IKEA…at the prices they offer, you can’t be expecting anything phenomenal.
My most recent trek to IKEA was to the Coquitlam location with a group of friends. I ended up taking a photo of only one of our breakfasts, since we all had the IKEA $1 breakfast (with various add-ons). The $1 breakfast consists of scrambled eggs, two sausages, and cubed potatoes. Like I said, there’s not much you can expect for a dollar. The sausages were pretty decent (they actually tasted like they were made of some kind of meat and had a bit of spice). The potatoes were fried nicely and were pleasantly crispy. However, the eggs…to be honest, I’m kind of an egg snob. My parents buy these amazing Omega-3 eggs from Costco which are delicious beyond belief. The IKEA eggs taste somewhat…mealy? They have a weird texture and don’t taste like anything at all. I peppered mine quite generously but I ended up just leaving them uneaten on my plate (as did a few of my friends). I also added a piece of French toast to my breakfast. It had been sitting around for a while and was very tough and impossible to cut. The bacon was very greasy (well, it’s bacon), and while not very crispy, everyone who had the bacon seemed to enjoy it.
Considering how expensive even a simple breakfast is getting nowadays, paying under $5 for a meal feels great. Of course there has to be compromises (those eggs, for example). But personally I like walking through IKEA and looking at all the cute furniture afterward anyway. It’s not a gourmet meal by any means, but it’s definitely good for what it is.
Now…Denny’s. Denny’s isn’t normally at the top of my list when thinking of restaurants to visit. But whatever, like I said, we can’t be eating at nice places all the time. This particular visit was to the location at North Road and Austin Avenue, to grab a quick lunch with my dad.
I stuck to the usual Denny’s menu and had a breakfast Grand Slam, with two sausage links, hash browns, scrambled eggs, and two buttermilk pancakes. It was pretty much what I expected from Denny’s, nothing more, nothing less. The sausages were disgusting. They didn’t resemble any sort of meat at all, just two finger-sized portions of grease and fat…the rest of the meal was nothing phenomenal, but nothing particularly to complain about. Although halfway through eating my meal, my dad suddenly goes, “Didn’t you order your eggs sunny-side up?” Oh yeah…I did. I didn’t really care and I was already halfway through my food anyway, so I didn’t bother telling the waitress, but it is kind of weird that she didn’t ever realize her mistake.
More notes on the service. For one thing, the waitress did not refill our water once during the entire meal and brought an almost-empty pitcher of maple syrup to the table. At some point, one of the older customers won a stuffed animal from the nearby toy claw machine and gave it to her–she took it and didn’t bother washing her hands before touching other customers’ food. I realize she is a waitress and not directly cooking anyone’s food, but I know how dusty it is inside those machines and I was a bit disturbed by how she didn’t bother washing her hands. I know she probably doesn’t score much tip, but still…
My dad had the Western Skillet, which is part of their current Skillet promotion. The one pictured on the menu was with eggs sunny side up, while my dad had the scrambled eggs–not exactly aesthetically pleasing. I realize the idea of a skillet is just a bunch of ingredients tossed together, but could this look more messy? It consisted of hash browns, the eggs, ham, mushrooms, onions, and some sort of cheese sauce served on a hot skillet. My dad had been craving something warm and enjoyed it for that reason, but he commented that it was very salty and ended up drinking up a lot of water. Wouldn’t say he’d order this again if he could help it. So yeah, two mediocre breakfasts in one week! I would probably say I prefer IKEA breakfast over Denny’s–most of the items at Denny’s are around $10 and I definitely wouldn’t want to pay that much for what we had. My favourite breakfast place in Coquitlam is actually Jimmy’s Place on North Road…but more on that later.
1000 Lougheed Hwy
500 Austin Ave