brunch

Pip, Pip, Hooray: Brunch Every Day

February 12, 2018

When I was growing up my parents would always talk about Sunday brunch, the breakfast and lunch hybrid reserved for Sundays. Once I hit my 20's, brunch with friends would be scheduled for Saturdays too, so for as long as I can remember brunch has always been a weekend affair. But what if you're craving brunch on a Wednesday?

Pip - 10403 83 Avenue - Edmonton AB

Whether I'm cutting into perfectly poached eggs with a loved one or toasting mimosas with friends over good conversation, there's just something special about brunch that makes it high priority on my weekend to-do list. But given the nature of my profession brunch only happens on alternate weekends, so it definitely feels like I'm missing out on the weekends that I'm scheduled to work. I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels this way, but luckily there's a new option for those of us that work weekends; say hello to weekday brunch at Pip!

Down the street from MEAT and next door to the Next Act Pub, Pip is the little sister to these two well-loved restaurants of Old Strathcona. Pip's 28-seat space is much smaller than the space occupied by its big sisters and differs with it's minimalist decor and a hip, sophisticated vibe. The space is cute and cozy with soothing shades of slate, mint, and birch.

Pip serves brunch daily until 3 pm, which is perfect whether you're an early riser or you like to start your day a little later. The brunch menu is short and sweet with 8 dishes, some optional sides, and a handful of fresh cocktails to enjoy.

I've been to Pip on two occasions now and enjoyed the Traditional Eggs Benedict ($17) both times. Two perfectly soft poached eggs sit on thinly shaved ham and are generously covered in a rich, buttery dill hollandaise sauce. I could argue that the hollandaise is one of the best in the city - I almost licked my plate clean! The accompanying pan-fried house hash was flavourful, although the potatoes could be a little more crispy for me.

The menu offers a Quinoa Breakfast Bowl ($14) for those looking for lighter fare, served with arugula, avocado, basil pesto, toasted hemp seeds and a hard boiled egg. With all the components mixed together and a generous squeeze of lemon juice the bowl is a fresh start to your day.

Perfect for a cold winter morning, the Eggs & Bocconcini ($15) baked in a tomato basil sauce and served with toast is a soul-warming dish. The rich egg yolks are well balanced by the tangy tomato sauce. Spoon it onto a crispy slice of toast and you have a hearty breakfast!

Pip also offers a rotating breakfast sandwich special paired with house hash, and on our particular visit the sandwich featured a Meuwly's Italian sausage patty with artichoke mayo, tomato, arugula, melted cheddar and a runny fried egg on a sourdough bun. The sausage was well seasoned with a little kick and the sandwich was delicious with all the components combined. Who doesn't love a breakfast sandwich with an oozy egg?

If the line-ups out the door are any indication, Edmonton's brunch game is picking up and I'm glad to have a weekday option available in the city. Unfortunately there are no reservations for brunch, so line up early or be prepared for a wait. Given the small space, tables for two have the quickest turn over, so bring a loved one or a close friend for brunch any day of the week.

Downtown

Plant-based Delights: The Moth Cafe

January 19, 2018

The start of a new year brings forward the idea of New Year's resolutions. Eating healthier is one that often tops the list for many people, and a big food trend this year is to adopt a more plant-based diet.

The Moth Cafe - 9449 Jasper Avenue - Edmonton AB

Plant-based diets are gaining in popularity, where vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes and fruits make up a majority of the diet. While I'm not moving towards a plant-based diet, I definitely appreciate the movement as I'm learning to incorporate more pulses as a source of protein in my diet. After all, Alberta is rich in pulses - we are one of the biggest pulse producers in the country!

Just east of the downtown core, amidst the revitalization of the Quarters, a new plant-based cafe has opened up in the space formerly occupied by Trang Tien. The Moth Cafe is the little sister to vegan and vegetarian restaurant Cafe Mosaics, but The Moth differs with it's focus on plant-based food and drink and healing elixirs made with nutritious raw ingredients.

Walking through the arched doorway into The Moth, the space is bright and inviting with accents of exposed brick and greenery. Any remnants of the family-run Vietnamese restaurant are gone and replaced with a beautifully tiled counter space, marble-top furniture, and a cozy lounge area complete with seating suspended from the ceiling.

I will admit that I am not a person to go out of my way to eat plant-based food - I've actually had some previous bad experiences at vegan restaurants, which has steered me away from them. But I'm always willing to give things another shot, and The Moth answered the call.

I have stopped by The Moth on two occasions now, the first of which was for lunch on a weekday. My fiance and I were pleasantly surprised by how busy the cafe was, given that they had only opened their doors a few days prior, but that's always a good sign. The menu can appear overwhelmingly long, but three quarters of the pages were dedicated to teas, elixirs, and other blended drinks. We chose to start with some smaller bites and ended up with a main dish to share.

We started with the Gluten-free Jackfruit Crabcakes ($12) which arrived as a plate of four with a light citrus cream for dipping. One of the things I truly admire about vegan cuisine is the use of a variety of different ingredients for texture, and the jackfruit really worked for this dish. While the texture differed from a traditional crab cake, the ingredients held together nicely and gently flaked apart with each bite. The cakes were flavourful on their own with their crispy exterior and kick of heat, but the citrus cream gave it that extra little zing.

The name makes this dish sound less appealing, but the Moth Banh Mi ($10) was a truly delicious homage to the traditional Vietnamese sub. Sandwiched within the crispy baguette was a delicious vegan mutton made primarily of soy protein and mushrooms. The texture of the mutton really did mimic that of meat and there was so much umami in each bite. The mutton also packed a generous amount of heat, which was balanced by the the lentil paste, pickled carrots and cucumber. I loved The Moth's banh mi, and would almost pick it over my usual banh mi.

The menu featured two noodle soups, so as a self proclaimed noodle soup lover it wouldn't be right if I didn't give them a try. We chose the Banana Blossom Shiitake Miso ($15) noodle soup, which came topped with meaty shiitake mushroom slices, chives, sliced banana blossom and silken tofu. We were surprised at just how large the portion was - it was quite the substantial meal for one person. After the first few bites of the noodles it became evident to us that our bowl probably wasn't prepared properly. The clear broth had a predominant lemongrass flavour, overpowering any trace of miso, and all the rice noodles in the bowl were broken into short 1 inch pieces. I was fairly certain no miso had been added to the broth, and the bowl was pretty difficult to eat using the chopsticks provided. We looked around the restaurant at others who had ordered the same bowl and their noodles were long and easy to pick up, leading us to our conclusion. The noodle soup wasn't bad, but had the preparation been executed properly I'm sure I would have enjoyed it much more.

On our second visit to The Moth we found ourselves seated for breakfast shortly after the cafe opened. We were the first customers for the day, but soon after the room started to fill up even on one of the coldest mornings this winter. I wanted something hearty to kick off my day so I ordered the Moth Breakfast Bowl ($15). The colourful breakfast bowl was filled with roasted vegetables (eggplant, mushroom, peppers, brussel sprouts, asparagus), fresh cherry tomatoes, soy-based sausage, and an egg-like crumble. On it's own the bowl was comforting, but the cashew sauce on the side really brought the dish together. Think of it as vegan hollandaise and you'll understand why I poured it all over the contents of my bowl.

Gordon opted for the Gluten-free Chai Pancakes with Cinnamon Banana ($15) and extra blueberries. The portion of fluffy pancakes was more than generous and sweetened perfectly with the side syrup and bananas. He did find the whipped 'cream' to be a bit too sweet for his liking, making the bites with all the components together a bit too rich.

The Moth Cafe is a great addition to the Quarters and will hopefully appeal to the diverse residents that the community currently serves. The prices are affordable and the space has a relaxing vibe, which makes it a perfect setting for a coffee or bite to eat at any time of day. Gordon and I were actually quite surprised at how long we were satiated after each visit, and we really didn't miss the meat at either meal. Both of my visits have been pleasant and have left me excited to return again in the future. So if you're hesitant to try plant-based, give it a shot! It may surprise you, like it did me.

The Moth Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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