Tuesday, August 23, 2011

huevos over easy

Ah breakfast... easily my favourite meal of the day, and as they say (whoever they are) "the most important!".  Perfect for any time of day, whether it's an early morning - getting the day started off right, a late afternoon hangover recovery or midnight snack; it's hard to resist eggs cooked how you like them with some kind of greasy pork product, potatoes and toast.

For years Features was a breakfast staple for me and mine, it is "where Stratford meets for breakfast" after all.  But over the years the prices have jumped - often in the winter? - and the service has started to slip a little (not to mention the decreased size of my bacon portion!).  I feel the overall value has decreased to a point where I have ventured further afield to find a great diner breakfast.  Two of my current favourites are Joe's Diner on Erie st. and if you're feeling ambitious, or have a ride from some generous individual, you can trek to Dave's Diner located in the Sobey's plaza for great tasting, perfectly greasy diner fare (try the local water buffalo lasagna sometime for lunch!).

But here I plan to speak of breakfast beyond the early bird special.  I truly believe that the best breakfast in the city is an ongoing battle between Foster's and The Parlour.  Unfortunately for the latter they only serve their really interesting items on Sundays so the availability is incredibly limited - making it much easier to enjoy the Foster's uber breakfast more often and become quite fond of it.

I place here, for culinary judgement, the Huevos Rancheros, Eggs Benedict and French Toast from both restaurants.  After a large amount of gluttony and a spike in my cholesterol - but also a great deal of Omega 3's and 6's - I have consumed all three of these, times two.

It breaks down basically like this:

Foster's Huevos Rancheros:  In my opinion, this is the best breakfast item in the city.  Spiced hash browns are tossed with house-made beans and local bacon, smothered in cheese, placed into a flour tortilla which is then baked until the edges are just a bit crispy.  Over easy eggs perch atop the deliciousness beneath, finished with Pickles Eh! salsa and sour cream.  A prick from your fork sends the warm yolks cascading down, the perfect testament to a well cooked egg.  If you think you might want to omit the bacon and beans I would encourage you to choose something else, if you're vegetarian, at least get the beans, they're the best part!

The Parlour Huevos Rancheros:  A great bit of spice from the fresh sliced jalapenos (a wonderful addition to the dish!) is the highlight here for me, along with a perfectly flavoured guacamole.  I find the potatoes, etc. on the inside of the tortilla to be a little under seasoned but the eggs are impeccably cooked, like little spheres of gooey sunshine!

The Parlour Stuffed French Toast:  If you like the sweeter side of breakfast then this is for you!  Blueberry cheesecake is decadently sandwiched between two generous pieces of house-made brioche.  The bread itself is eggy and fluffy with crunchy toasted edges - perfect!  Final additions of fresh blueberries and real maple syrup round out the plate (and my waistline), and I happily sop up every last drop.  It's dessert for breakfast, and you deserve it!

Foster's French Toast: Apple pie without cheese is, well, not a concern with this sweet/savoury breakfast item.  Thinly sliced, lightly caramelised apples adorn thick cut, dense white baguette (made in house) that has been covered in aged cheddar and baked to golden brown.  Add a few slices of bacon for an extra salty kick and drizzle the whole plate in pure Canadian maple syrup.

Foster's Eggs Benedict: Classically prepared with peameal bacon or enjoyed as one of the variations available on the menu (smoked salmon, crab cakes or portabello mushrooms - great for gluten allergies), this is a breakfast that keeps me coming back.  There is just something about watching a chef/cook whisk your made-to-order hollandaise right in front of you in the open kitchen that makes breakfast taste that much better.  Served with a lightly dressed green salad to help prevent a coronary.

The Parlour Eggs Benedict:  I feel nervous saying it out loud but this is probably the best eggs benedict I have ever had!  A benedict is something that is hard to achieve at a really hot temperature - the physics of the dish usually hold it at 'really warm' - much hotter and the hollandaise will split, the eggs will be poached hard and generally, all the things you love about a benedict will fall apart.  I'm not sure whether it was purposeful brilliance or just serendipity but Max has achieved a wonderful thing.  In place of the peameal stands a quarter inch piece of ham which is served piping hot, this lends itself to the rest of the dish, maintaining the hollandaise intact  and the soft poached eggs but heating it all as you eat it.  Add to this a house-made sourdough english muffin and there is nothing more to say.  Dig in!


  1. Thanks! A solid review crossed with a touch of food porn; this is what I like from The Chew!

  2. Yum... I wish there were photos for my food porn... I'm a visual person. Nonetheless, I am always looking for the perfect eggs benny and must try The Parlour... this Sunday! This and Monteforte are the two things keeping me from being a "true" vegan :(

    But ya gotta have some decadence in life.

  3. thanks Chew, I'm one of the few who've been wondering about your posts lately, and I really enjoyed your two recent reviews. August is a busy month for us all, so I'm especially impressed with the timing of content that I appreciate more. Keep it coming!

  4. Thanks for the comments and support! It takes a while (and available cashflow) to put this kind of post together, sorry they are not more frequent and thanks as always for reading!

  5. Interesting....
    I hear that the breakfast at Sirkel Foods is really yummy. I LOVE breakfast -- it's sometimes my only meal of the day -- but usually don't wander farther than the Asparagus and Swiss omelet at Madeline's, the Breakfast Special at Joes, or the Bruschetta eggs at Features.
    Have you ever had breakfast at Sirkel, Chew?
    I am curious to try it.

  6. Excellent post. Hadn't considered those two places for breakfast. You've got me interested in trying some of those dishes now though.

  7. Sirkel is worth going to - try the smoked salmon with lentil pancakes. I haven't been to The Parlour since some unfortunate meals there a decade or so ago, so it sounds like it's time for a revisit. I think Madelyn's outscores Joe's on everything except location for the transportationally challenged. And Dave's is great value for the money.