City: Vancouver, Canada
Location: 556 Beatty Street, Crosstown
Eaten: Soft-boiled egg, bacon, and Belgian waffle with white chocolate pistachio rosewater sauce
Damage: $12CAD + tax
David N. (who treated me to breakfast – thanks, honey!) and I like to joke that Medina represents everything that is simultaneously great and absolutely wrong about Vancouver. Located in Crosstown, a bit of a developing (read: gentrifying) neighbourhood sandwiched between the affluent Downtown core and homeless/prostitution/drug-riddled Downtown Eastside, and next door to our old first-year dinner hangout, Chambar, Medina looks like a typical Vancouver café from the first step inside. The glass windows run from about three feet off the ground up to the vaulted ceiling, and single light bulbs hang from the ceiling. The bar sits on the right side, the espresso machine waiting, with a few stools lined up at the counter. Along the opposite wall (brick, of course) runs a padded bench behind lacquered wood tables. The restaurant itself is narrow, but long – typical, because Vancouver retail lots seem to be becoming increasingly disproportionately rectangular (window space must be a premium!).
The food at Medina’s is quite good – in addition to the typical eggs-bacon-fruit fare (which, as I will explain later, is not all so typical after all), there are brunch specials like Les Boulettes (2 poached eggs, spicy Moroccan meatballs, cilantro, hummus cucumber tomato salad and a piece of grilled focaccia) and the Fricasse (2 fried eggs on braised short ribs, roasted potatoes, carmelized onions, arugula and smoked applewood cheddar with grilled focaccia, both descriptions from Medina’s website!), which I can both heartily recommend, as we tried them the last time I was in Vancouver. Their waffles are slightly crispy with a soft inside, with additional sauces on the side (ranging from classic mixed berry compote and fig orange marmalade to the more adventurous milk chocolate lavender and white chocolate pistachio rosewater).
I said I’d say something about the bacon, so here it is. If there’s one dish that really just embodies why exactly I would call Medina’s just plain wrong sometimes, it’s this one. First of all, four strips of bacon shouldn’t cost $5CAD. Ever. Granted, it was really good bacon, but that’s not the point. Secondly, this ain’t no Average Joe rasher, no sir – this is thick-cut, farmers-style bacon. And lastly, it’s served on a square white plate with – get this – a drizzle of balsamic on the side. Too much, perhaps?
Overall, Medina’s is a good place to sit down once in a while and have a chat with some friends over breakfast or brunch. The food is good, but it definitely won’t be cheap (if you are looking for cheap breakfast food, Denny’s is both cheap and filling – Grand Slam, anyone?). The service is attentive, but the place really isn’t all that big, anyway. I’d come here again, but only once every few weeks as a nice treat!