I went for brunch last weekend with the sous chef, little sister and her fiancee Ashley. But this meal experience was something out of the ordinary. Little Sister and Ashley are both Vegans and through the Vancouver Vegan community got on the mailing list for a grassroots underground restaurant for Vegan Mischief. There are a handful of fairly well-known underground restaurants organizing events and serving dinners that I have been curious to try but haven't made the effort yet. Little Sister and Ashley keep telling us how great the food is and how cool it is and finally the sous chef and I were able to make it on the one weekend that the gals from Vancouver Vegan Brunch. I was blown away when Little Sister sent me a text in February about getting a reservation in March. She told me that they always "sell out" with early bookings for reservations.
We arrived for our 10:30 am seating reservation and waited as the guests from the 9:30am all left. Essentially, you enter through a sliding glass patio door and are seated in their small living room at mismatched chairs tables and chairs. We had to shuffle tables a bit and squeeze to create a seating set up for our group of 4. The room seats about 16 people and was surprisingly comfortable. There was a definite positive energy in the small room- everyone was smiling and really friendly and seemed really pumped to be there. I think many of their guests were monthly regulars.
This underground brunch restaurant is run by a few ladies who were unimpressed by Vancouver's brunch options for vegan diners. They decided to do something about it and started their own brunch restaurant serving all vegan options out of their East Van home. They all work in the industry, so they know their stuff. This isn't basic home cooking just served in a devil may care manner. They are cranking out really inventive vegan meals using quality ingredients and plated in a beautiful, professional, casually stylized way (even though the plates, mugs, and cutlery don't match.) I briefly chatted with our server about the popularity of this brunch and the "underground restaurant movement." She said that she thinks people are really ready and receptive to it- that people are wanting to experience different ways of socializing and eating good food- and that maybe people also are into the doing something "on the fringe."
Coffee was $2 and came with a side of their homemade almond milk (which was amazing!) They were even offering a Vegan Bailey's drink for $4 with Coconut milk, espresso, and Jameson's Irish Whisky.
Since it was St. Patrick's Day, the whole menu was slightly themed and titled "Kiss me, I'm Vegan: Irish Brunch." I ordered Peasant Bread $10 Toasted bread, roasted fennel-garlic spread, kale, foraged chanterelle mushrooms, green apple, toasted hazelnuts. This was a gorgeous looking plate, full of colour and a variety of textures. You can tell that they really care about using fresh, high-quality ingredients. It was a really elevated simple dish. The elements all came together really well: the richness of the mushrooms and roasted fennel-garlic spread, the soft salty kale, and the crunchiness of the crisp green thin slices of green apple and toasted hazelnuts. I thought it was perhaps a wee bit too salty and that my bread was a bit over-toasted and crunchy but other than those minor details, this was a delightful, earthy brunch dish.
Little Sister and the Sous Chef ordered the Irish Breakfast $10 Corned tempeh, gravy, potatoes O'Brien, and cabbage slaw. They both really enjoyed this dish. The Sous Chef noted that he could taste that they were really using quality ingredients but also wished that the portion size was a bit bigger (he was hungry!) Another thing to note is that this dish is one of two gluten free options on the menu. The Vegan Brunch gals send out their menu ahead of time to people who have made reservations and they can tweak dishes to work around most food allergies or dietary sensitivities if you pre-order your food with plenty of notice.
Ash ordered the Sticky Buns $10 Local apple, cinnamon, walnuts, Irish whiskey sauce. I didn't taste these but they looked absolutely gorgeous and decadent. Ash said they were fantastic!
Ash is a sucker for sweets and also ordered their dessert option for $5: Chocolate Pie with a mint-chocolate cookie. Gluten-free. More smiles, yums, and thumbs up. I did get a bite of this and loved it- light and mousse-y with a delicate crust and the chocolate cookie was soft and ever-so-slightly minty.
One thing to note: each seating is an hour- so for slow eaters like myself, I did feel a little bit rushed at the end.
I really enjoyed this experience. It was really creative and fun Vegan food with a fair price point served in a fun, cozy, comfortable way.