Sunday, January 24, 2010

.......back to Cozy's.

Just a quicky for this week's post as we decided to balance the 'books' after last week's expensive brekky at the Empire Grill.

The thing about Cozy's is that you know what to expect; it's the MacDonald's of the 'greasy spoon' establishments.

Our waitress was 'frazzled' and her perfume was stronger than it should be and the orders were a little messed up but nothing was too much trouble to get fixed, missing beans,missing onions, extra coffee, wrong toast etc. no big shakes.

They mess up the eggs too but at under $15 for 2 breakfasts which includes coffee and a refill (the coffee is very good too) you can't really complain.

The star of any breakfast here is their bacon; now I'm a ham/pea-meal bacon guy really but this streaky bacon they serve here is great. The biggest let down is the beans.

The breakfast steak is also a bit thin but at under $10 for steak and eggs it's still a detail.

Talk of where to go next Sunday seemed to be moot, it seems we are back at Cozy's a while!


Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Empire Grill

The Empire Grill is on Clarence Street in the Byward Market and looks modern and roomy and inviting. We got the big table in the front window which was a good job as we had guests this last Sunday and so the Breakfast Club was suddenly a swollen 10!!

Coffee was served quickly although it was not free with breakfast, $3 for a cup of coffee, however many refills is just not a breakfast feature any of us enjoy! Note to Ottawa breakfast establishments: we pay enough for some meat, eggs and toast; give us the brown water for free and we'll keep you on our regular list!! Isn't this simple 'come back soon' economics??? Anyway as we wait for our table to fill up the menu was studied, choices made and finally ordered.

The only problem with this place apart from the price was the long wait to get the food. Now I know a '10top' in the window is considered a 'prisoner table' but 40 minutes is too long. The kitchen staff looked overwhelmed and, frankly, slow.

When it did arrive the reactions were varied but, mainly, good. The breakfast poutine had hollandaise which wasn't a good match and had such a small amount of 'hog' bacon it had to be searched for.

My breakfast pizza was one of the best things I've ever eaten at breakfast/brunch. The mix of very good chorizo, bacon, egg, spicy tomato sauce and smoked brie was magnificent; the fresh basil was a triumph of taste. My wife ordered the same and I ate half of her pizza too.

Portions, barring the pizza, were on the small side but the sausage on the regular plate was of good quality and most were happy with what they got in front of them.

With the inability to discover the fact that the green 2 hour parking meters are free on a Sunday we parked in the multi-storey for $6 which effectively made our breakfast $25  each. Too much when we can usually get away with a $20 including tip.

At these prices you don't expect to find a patty of jam with a slashed foil top on the table. If this place was less expensive and the coffee was free it would get 8/10 but the price tag forces a 6/10.

Most of us would return for another 'shot' but not anytime soon.

This week, a nostalgic return to the 'first born'. Cozy's (dress to unimpress) and then a trip to see the medals at the Mint!

Anyone who wants authoring rights contact me. If you don't know how to contact me you won't really expect those rights will you? Feel free to comment.


Thursday, January 14, 2010


So Trella's poor performance at providing the same level of quality as their breakfast fare led us to move on to somewhere new once again and JC suggested Pubwells on Preston at Spruce.

Pubwells is a pub that serves food and, most importantly to our club, breakfast. The place is small but service is quick and friendly.

One of the nice things about the menu is that you can order a single benedict if you wish, for those with smaller appetites. The menu is standard breakfast fare with tea (non fancy) or coffee for free with your breakfast.

On the positive side, the eggs were the best and freshest eggs I've had for a long time. The hash were great but quantity was a bit low. The toast wasn't well buttered though and the patties of jam were very low quality and almost watery. One member experienced confusion with normal tea and fancy tea and cost an extra dollar or so, so check when ordering.

Overall this place is a good breakfast venue, we'll be back. 7/10.

Next week: The Empire Grill in the Market.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

A quick adhoc visit to The SconeWitch

Just before the Trella swap/change we tried a place we've been longing to go to for a while, The Scone Witch on Albert Street.

TSW is a small cafe on Albert next to the Alterna Bank. It has small tables and seating is chairs or stools at high tables. The menu is based around their baking of their own scones and you choose your scone of choice at the kitchen 'bar' and decide what you want with it. The food is then brought to you.

The coffee here was very good.

The scone I choose was a cheese scone and I wasn't that impressed as it was a bit dry, and got progressively dryer as it cooled down. The others ordered the platter meals that came with the best ham I've seen so far at a breakfast venue it looked and tasted like real off the bone ham, a triumph!

TSW was ok, I ordered badly (partly my fault), the stools were not comfy and the table was not big enough to fit 4 plates and 4 coffee mugs on. I had a taste of the ginger and rhubarb marmalade and it was good, not my 'bag' but I coud tell that it was special.

The thing I didn't like about this place was it was just too cramped and I didn't feel like spending a 2 hour breakfast here, not that we felt rushed - just that it wasn't very comfortable.

The Scone Witch gets 5/10.


To Trella we will go.....

It only took a couple of 'incidents', minor ones at that, to get us to search for a new venue and JC had heard of a new place on Preston called Trella.

It's just south of the Queensway and, on a Sunday, parking is usually easy up the Xerox side road.

I think it was the 75c peanut butter 'incident' that urged us to move on from Cozy's but it was time for a new place in any case.

Trella is a 'Mediterranean' grill and it's basically a newly designed contemporary Italian eatery that also happens to serve a good breakfast with, most of the time, excellent service (unless very busy then holes start to appear).

The coffee was free with the breakfast and peanut butter was complimentary with toast, we were happy!

All the breakfast food here is great and if they have it made when your order hits the kitchen you can also swap out the hash for garlic mash, which is divine!

They have a superb salmon benedict made more special as they add caremilised onions and a slice of cheese to the mix; my standard fair most Sunday's.

The coffee here isn't only free but very good, even the decaf' and they have a good selection of 'fancy' tea to choose from too.

Occasionally the omelets are a bit overcooked and dry and the hash is sometimes not cooked enough but other than that the breakfast menu is a delight.

One of the great things about our new venue was/is that it's a big place and almost never had we to wait for a table......unlike one attempt a year ago to get a breakfast at the Baker Street Cafe in Westboro Village.

Trella became our new venue of choice and apart from a couple trips back to Cozy's we were happy.

Then one Sunday it was busy, the service, the order and the food was crazy bad and thanks to some, what I can only describe as, "forceful complaining" by RJ that we hardly paid for a thing that day.

Even so, we started thinking the time had arrived again.

Last week (4th Jan) we decided to go a little later and try the lunch menu; not great and not as good value as the breakfast menu - the 'move' was a GO!


...the beginning: Cozy's

Cozy's is an unassuming little cafe on Wellington between Irving and Fairmont

It's where it all began sometime in 2007. Four of us just sort of fell into a 'brunch thing' on a Sunday at 11am. The place we chose was Cozy's, mainly as it was, at the time, a 10 minute walk for all of us at the time.

Cozy's is actually nothing special, but it's also not really bad at all. They have a menu with the usual items on it and breakfast comes with coffee and 2 refills.

We've been on a Saturday a couple times and I would suggest it's to be avoided unless you are a fan of Euchre! If you are, this is the place to be!!!

Our group grew by a couple in this time and often had the odd guest member so that our table sizes went from 4 to sometimes 8 or even 10. I have to say that the place handles any size of group with equal ease and seldom have we had to ask for anything and wait very long.

Our orders span the menu from one egg and 2 sausage through fruit and french toast all the way to the "truckers" and the benedicts.

All the food is good, but not excellent. Sometimes the egg will be a bit harder than usual, the beans are awful, the hash is sometimes under cooked or overcooked and if you want onions with those they are sometimes the same with regard to the 'cookedness'.

The ham is thin, the sausage always a basic one and often a bit browner than you'd like but on the whole it's all a 7/10 experience. The service is fair to OK but never bad.

It gets a little frustrating when you inadvertently get that 3rd refill that costs another buck or so, especially when others at the table have not had their 2 allowable refills, and charging 75c for a patty of peanut butter is a bit 'off' but Cozy's was our staple place for about 9 moths when we decided to try somewhere new.

So Cozy's is a 7/10 and we still occassionally go back there just because it was our groups 'first' so to speak.

......and we're off to pastures new.


The Breakfast (Ottawa chapter) inaugral post........a catch up, if you will.

It's not a hard concept to grasp, is it? A few people meet at 11am each Sunday for brunch and become breakfast experts or 'brekkies'. They start to wander each week in search of the best service, best sausage, best egg and cheapest bill etc.

Well, that's what we do and it occurred to me that we should probably start a blog so we can at least record for our own filing memories of where we've been and what it was like.

Obviously the first few posts will be in the form of a retroactive 'catch-up' on the many places we've already been and sampled eggs at.

You might think that cooking a decent breakfast for under $10 and serving it with a smile would be easy and every establishment would excel in this regard, you of course would be mistaken.

The blog will protect the club and have full anonymity so that we don't fall foul of the usual 'food reviewers' fallibility: being recognised.

The core crew started off with CW, MW, DK and JC and soon grew to include GJ and RJ and, of late, EK and NK (the "maybe's" we'll call those last 2).

No leader and no other agenda than eating some good breakfast fair and 'shooting the shit' for a couple hours.

Hope it's useful in your quest for the best breakfast in Ottawa.