Brunch is my favourite meal of the week. I love meeting up with a group of friends over coffee (and possibly something a little stronger) and eggs.
For me, the key to a good brunch is to keep it simple, but to have everything prepared perfectly so that there is a mix of flavours and textures: the softness and ooze of the egg yolk when my fork bites into it, the crispy edges of the potatoes and the pleasing crunch, along with the savory-sweet flavour of the bacon. Toast, warm and crispy, but softened with melted butter. These simple things: eggs, potatoes, bread, bacon, coffee, are all so simple by themselves, but add up to so much more than the sum of their parts if done right.
Chewie’s Oyster and Steam Bar in Kits has long been a Vancouver weekend Brunch institution. The new Coal Harbour location is much larger, almost twice as big, and therefore, if you’re willing to truck downtown, you won’t have to wait in line to get your muddy caesar or your chicken ‘n’ waffles. Chewie’s Coal Harbour location has recently started serving weekend brunch.
Chewie’s nod to the traditional breakfast comes with house-made, double-smoked bacon, two eggs how you like them, and fluffy buttermilk biscuits (instead of toast) with white gravy. White gravy is a southern thing: it is similar to a bechamel sauce, but the roux is usually made with meat drippings, and then milk or cream is added. You’ll also find it gracing the Chicken Fried Steak.
If bennys are your thing, Chewie’s has four to choose from: one over with house-made sausage, one over house-smoked bacon, one over buttermilk biscuits and southern fried chicken, and one (my fave) over plump, moist crabcakes. The “cajun hollandaise” is made with Chewie’s secret blend of cajun spices.
If meat is your thing, try the Pulled Beef Brisket hash. They smoke their brisket for 6 hours, and then braise it for another two. They make a potato hash and serve it to you in a cast iron frying pan with the brisket (which is incredibly tender), their signature barbecue sauce, and two eggs up on top. I should mention that I could bathe in Chewie’s Barbecue sauce: a vinegar-based sauce, it’s tangy, but sweet, and makes your mouth and everything else it touches so, so happy.
If you prefer a sweeter brunch, try the French Quarter French toast. It features a house-made cinnamon bun bread, dipped in eggs and pecan-crusted, then fried, and served with an apple butter.
For me, though, the clear winner is Chicken and Waffles. I don’t know which brilliant individual thought invented Chicken and Waffles, but I am forever in their debt. The chicken here is breaded breast cutlets, thin and tender, under a peppery, crisp, buttermilk batter. It comes with a stack of soft belgian waffles and maple syrup. It’s the ultimate combination of savoury and sweet.
For those of you who are not meat-eaters, there’s the Chia Seed pudding: gluten-free, healthy, delicious, and served with a side of fresh fruit.
If you’re looking for the hair of the dog, look no further than Chewie’s signature muddy caesar. Spicy with tons of freshly-grated horseradish, it comes either with bacon-infused vodka, or garnished with a prawn. It’s perfect for curing what ails you. If you don’t require such extreme measures, you may also like to indulge in a Bailey’s Coffee or a mimosa.
The best thing, of course, about eating at Chewie’s, is the gracious, southern hospitality and the wonderful service. All of the servers (primarily dudes) are warm and fun and attentive.
Good friends, great service, champagne and orange juice, coffee, chicken ‘n’ waffles. Your weekend is complete.
Chewie’s Oyster and Steam Bar
Address: 110-1055 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
Open daily 11 a.m. to midnight