Brunch is my favourite meal of the week. There’s nothing like sleeping in late, and then catching up with a group of friends over coffee and eggs. Plus, there’s Caesars. Or Mimosas.
Vancouver is blessed with some really great brunch spots, and Forage is on that list.
Open a little over a year, in the Listel Hotel on Robson Street, Forage, as the name implies, specializes in rustic, farm-to-table fare. Dishes are served family-style to further enhance the experience of community with family and friends. In addition, Forage’s values around sustainability include a focus on locally-grown and -sourced ingredients, a commitment to zero waste (all food scraps from the restaurant go into compost) and solar panels on the roof.
When you go for brunch with a bunch of friends, you’re probably looking for comfort food. And maybe something to cure the previous night’s excess. Or perhaps the hair of the dog that bit you. The best brunches for me combine a little grease, a little decadence, and some really good coffee.
Forage delivers. The meal starts with Chef Whittaker’s seasonal scones. These were magic. The day I was there, they had apricots folded in, but they were the perfect balance of crispy exterior with a fluffy, warm interior, a perfect vehicle for butter and homemade jam: a blueberry/orange/cinnamon/fennel or a bright strawberry/cherry/vanilla, which tasted like summer.
Then there was hash. A brunch staple, ours came delivered in its own miniature cast iron pan, with a side of toast on a wooden board. Like any good hash, it included roasted vegetables, topped with a perfectly-poached free-range egg (runny when you cut it open, adding to the sauce), and a locally-produced turkey sausage. Warm and rustic, this is a comforting breakfast.
Next up, a sophisticated salad. Hannah Brook Farm greens, topped with a poached egg, and on the side, Dungeness crab, charred onion, and croutons that had been soaked in bone marrow, then baked. I’ve never had such a flavourful crouton. With a more complex flavour profile, this is the breakfast for those of you who want to feel decadent, but not too decadent.
Finally, dessert: the brioche french toast. Rich brioche, egg battered and fried, served atop a maple squash purée, rye-spiked blueberries, and garnished with candied bacon. Candied. Bacon. There’s maple syrup, too. It’s decadent and as Canadian as it gets, eh?
The menu also includes buttermilk pancakes, bennys, a standard two-eggs-potatoes-bacon-toast, and a frittata. It’s not really on the menu, but order a side of Chef Whittaker’s chicken pate. It’s smooth and rich and perfectly seasoned.
No piece on Forage would be complete without talking about the service. Our server was friendly and welcoming, and incredibly knowledgeable about the menu. He helped us immensely to identify what we wanted to eat by asking the right questions. I saw him hugging several of the customers, so it’s pretty clear to me that he was someone who really loved his job and took a great deal of pride in it.
The next time you head out to brunch, head to Forage. They have decadence, beautiful flavors and textures, perfectly-cooked eggs, and good coffee. All you need for a perfect brunch. Just add friends.
Address: 1300 Robson Street, Vancouver
Breakfast: Mon-Fri, 6:30 to 10 a.m., Sat/Sun, 7 to 10 a.m.
Brunch: Sat/Sun, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dinner: Daily 5 p.m. to close