Eggspectations, a feast
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Back in February I got an email from a Caroline Bergevin asking if I would be interested in a coupon for four people at Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff) . Of course I said yes. She wanted me to have the coupon because Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff) had just redone their menu and wanted to find
guinea pigs people willing to try it. But then I discovered that finding three other people who were as keen on trying their new menu as I was, was not an easy proposition. So the coupon sat and gathered dust in my apartment until it was no longer valid.
Fortunately, Ms. Bergevin understood my pain, commiserated with my predicament and emailed me to inform me that my coupon was good until the end of April. As a consequence I was able to find
willing victims guests.
She had asked me because I wrote this insanely long and detailed review called The First First Annual Montreal Taco Tour®™ I had done with a friend. That taco tour also garnered me an invitation to Cartel, which I wrote up as The Second First Annual Montreal Taco Tour®™. A La Carte Express contacted me as well about reviewing their services, but unfortunately that fell through. If it wasn’t already obvious I like free food and am willing to write insanely long and detailed reviews which then get recorded as podcasts in return. If you know of anyone who is in a position to give away food (preferably delicious food) feel free to let them know of my preferences. Hear that Toqué!? Helena? Scarpetta?
Back when I was a child I had a pretty hefty appetite. Now a days I can still eat an awful lot (the all you can eat buffet hasn’t lost its allure to me) but unfortunately now when I eat a lot, I gain weight. No matter how much I try to convince myself that I should just accept myself for who I am and not beat myself up because of my body shape or that I can no longer fit into my old jeans. I still weigh myself religiously every morning and make disparaging comments under my breath about my bedaine. As a consequence I try to limit the times that I do the all you can eats, adolescent pig-outs and binge eating. While it is happening it is a good thing. Afterwards it isn’t. But if I can’t walk the walk, I shouldn’t talk the talk.
Anyhows since the menu at Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff) is rather large. 16 pages, 17 sections, 109 food items I figured it was worth a shot to try multiple items. Or in plainer language, instead of the usual one item (two eggs over, sausage, white toast and potatoes) with coffee for breakfast, I figured it would be more representative if we tried multiple items. After all for a review in the New York Times they go back three to four times in order to be able to better sample the entire menu.
But Ms. Bergevin had not given me three or four coupons, and I was too chickenshit to ask for more, especially since she had been so gracious with the first one. Therefore it meant that we were going to have to try to sample as much of the menu as possible in one sitting. As it turned out we were able to do slightly more than 10% of the menu. If I were to get a mulligan and be able to redo it, I would have paid more attention to ordering something from every section of the menu. As it turned out we were able to try stuff from more than half the sections. Not bad, but not as professional as we could have been.
For those who aren’t aware, Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff) is a breakfast/lunch restaurant. Most (including the location we ate at) open at 6h and close by 17h. Depending on the lifestyle you lead this is either utterly amazing, or completely ridiculous. As I age and wake up earlier and earlier I am falling further and further into the utterly amazing camp. I find it more and more difficult these days to stay up as late as I used to. Maybe it has something to do with all the all you can eats, adolescent pigouts and binge eating. Probably not, I’ve been told by authority (and I always listen to authority) that as one ages it is natural to wake up earlier and earlier. I guess that if this trend continues I might end up waking up before I fall asleep.
But I’m getting off topic, slightly. The location we went to was at 1313 de Maisonneuve O. It’s been an Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff) at that location since 1996 (Eggspectations itself came into existence in 1993 – I wonder what they’re planning or what they did for their 20th anniversary?) Before it was an Eggspectations, it was a Movenpick and prior to that something called Boutique D’Tokio. No I don’t remember Boutique D’Tokio either.
It’s located on the ground floor of a vaguely post modern eleven story mostly condo building at the corner of de Maisonneuve and de la Montagne. The kind of building that you initially think was made by some fancy-ass international starchitect because you’re wet behind the ears and don’t know jack about architecture. But then after some years you discover was in fact just a renovation done by a hack hired on the cheap to make it look more contemporary for the condo conversion so the developer can make even more money. The building was built in the early 60s, gutted and renovated at the turn of the century with some sort of shiny aluminum siding that gets funky on top. As far as renovations go, probably not worth the time, money or effort to pay any more attention to it than necessary.
It was a gray and damp day when we went and as a consequence the restaurant was darker than it would be on a bright and sunny day (when I’m writing and recording this). The interior was a lot of brown. Brown copper, brown exposed bricks, brown wood trim, brown faux antiques. Similar in style and feel to some Boni-Soirs and Trois Brasseurs that I have visited. Nothing earth-shattering, but obviously done with a purpose.
Come to think of it after a night of intimacy you’re not going to exactly really want to rush somewhere brightly lit or where the design means you spend less time looking at your sweetie. And judging by the other clientele it appeared that most of them had quite likely shared some bodily fluids the previous night. As there was a high percentage of couples holding hands, gazing fondly into each others eyes while stroking each other softly. That and large groups of families on vacation – four or more people, multiple generations, speaking English (or some other non-French language) a little bit too loudly while asking rather simple questions unrelated to the food or their server.
I would imagine that the clientele would be considerably different on a weekday morning. Personally, while brown isn’t exactly my favorite color, it is a far sight better than beige. And no matter which Pantone chart you use, Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff) is not beige. Which is a good thing.
The background noise is kept to a dull roar, that surprisingly doesn’t hinder conversation all that much, due to the 20 foot (ok, I didn’t measure them, but they are really high) ceilings and the various faux antiques cum bric-a-brac that serve to break up the sound waves. I never was able to completely identify any of the songs playing while we were there but could tap along to the beat. The restaurant itself is on two floors, and we were seated in the back on the ground floor. The kitchen is in the middle and “open” in that there is only a small bar separating it from the rest of the restaurant, but the way the tables, booths, and seats are laid out it is practically impossible to watch anything being made.
I arrived slightly early and was promptly seated. While waiting I was very pleased to notice that there was no real segregation of the staff. Unfortunately here in Montreal it is all too common to have front of house staff (waiters, hosts, the people who interact with customers) be 100% Lilly-white, while all the back of house staff (busboys, dishwashers, line cooks, etc) are all significantly darker. Here while not quite 50/50 there were a significant number of front of house staff whose skin tone matched the wall color. A very good thing in my book.
I ordered a Bloody Mary which was quite nice, gave the waitress the coupon that informed her were were eating for free, pulled out my note-taking equipment, and proceeded to wait for my dining companions. Cranky Frank arrived first. He order a Bloody Caesar and a coffee. Since my note-taking equipment was functioning I can tell you that it took 4 minutes and 16 seconds for his Caesar and coffee to hit the table. He wasn’t as sure about his Caesar as I was about my Bloody Mary. But I think that had more to do with a combination of him drinking it on an empty stomach, not having all that much experience drinking before noon, and as a suburban calvinist with a palate to match, I’m not entirely certain if he had ever consumed Tabasco before.
Fancy Crank arrived soon afterward he ordered a coffee which only took 1 minute and 5 seconds to arrive. Being Russian, he promptly took out his flask and poured a healthy shot of vodka into his coffee. Extremely discreetly. For whatever reasons the coupon was not good for alcoholic beverages and the accountants at his day job are tight ass bastards. Being Russian he also had some kind of Spidey sense and when our waitress returned started to converse with her in Russian. Turns out his Spidey sense was right, she was. Her name was (is) Yana; she came to Canada as a child; and was (still is as far as I know) working full-time at Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff). Which is a good thing for them as she is a kick-ass and amazing waitress.
The basic rules of engagement were aim for 5,000 calories with bonuses given for going over. For those keeping score at home, a Bloody Mary has about 125 calories, a Bloody Caesar 156 and a shot of vodka in black coffee 55. But Fancy Crank’s calories got disqualified because he did not order them, they came with him.
For our first round Fancy Crank ordered the Bravocado, I initially ordered the Lobster Benny but when Cranky Frank decided that he too wanted a Lobster Benny I changed my order to a Lobster Omelette. After all if we were trying to sample as much of the menu as possible it wouldn’t do to order the same dish twice, right? This is how they are described in the menu
Lobster Omelette: A quarter pound of gently sauteed Nova Scotia lobster, provolone cheese and green onions, topped with our famous hollandaise sauce and broiled to perfection. Served with Lyonnaise style potatoes $18.95
Lobster Benny: Two perfectly poached eggs accompanied by gently sauteed Nova Scotia lobster on a toasted English muffin and a natural lobster reduction sauce. Served with Lyonnaise style potatoes $18.95
Bravocado: Two perfectly poached eggs served on half an avocado with a lightly spiced tomato sauce and melted Parmesan and cheddar cheeses. Served with Lyonnaise style potatoes $13.95
If you are reading along with this recording at Zeke Dot Com you can see pictures of what they looked like, if not this is how I would describe them:
Lobster Omelette: An approximately eight by three inch blob of yellowness with some bits of thawed industrial lobster bits, you know the tough to get yourself bits without some kind of industrial vacuum scattered gracefully on one side with an equally graceful sprinkling of paprika on the other side in order to balance everything. The top half of the plate (I’m certain everyone is trained on which way the plates are served) has some beige fried potato slices that are adroitly flecked with something green (probably parsley because when I went to taste them it wasn’t cilantro, coriander, or chive and I can’t think of any other bright green herb that is normally used as a garnish). In the upper right quadrant a slice of industrial cantaloupe, industrial pineapple and six thin slices of industrial strawberries.
Lobster Benny: Two approximately three by three inch blobs of yellowness, kind of like… no lets not go there I don’t think it is a good idea to talk about pubescent Asian girls… each gracefully sprinkled with paprika and the exact same potato and fruit delivery as with the omelette (which by the way if you are only listening they insist on spelling with three Es and two Ts).
Bravocado: This is where it got interesting. On first glance they have that same two blob look of the Lobster Benny. But because they are not uniform in color, they are a red over yellow on green it is completely and utterly impossible to make any pedophilic (good or bad) jokes about them, unless you start getting into body painting by which point the whole thing probably becomes moot. So I prefer to think of them more like tiny three dimensional Rothko paintings. One of those slow build ab ex (ok Abstract expressionism for you folks who can’t tell a Picasso from a Parrish from a Pellan from a Picabia from a Pissarro from a Polke from a Pollock) things where the expression doesn’t come from the way the paint was physically placed on the canvas but from the way the paint looks on the canvas.
Unlike the flags of Bolivia or Mali the colors aren’t separated out into individual sections. But at the same time they aren’t mixed together into one brown (or in this case two brown) blobs. It’s more like each color exerts its own influence through the use of layering and density that enables an exquisite equilibrium that is completely dependent on the density of each layer. And that combination of influences exerted a kind of zen oneness over everything at the table including the same damn potatoes and fruit that occupied the other two plates and the other two thirds of this plate in particular.
If I were to be giving grades on aesthetics, I’d strongly suggest that the good folk running Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff) come up with multiple means of presenting the potatoes and fruit. Either by not offering the same damn Lyonnaise style potatoes with each dish. Or perhaps by switching the fruits offered with each plate (ohmigod! oranges with an omelet, blueberries with a benedict). And speaking of those same damn Lyonnaise style potatoes, they are supposed to be pan-fried in butter with their skin on, not deep fried in some kind of vegetable oil after having been previously industrially peeled. OK, perhaps they are first deep fried in oil and then pan fried… Of the 20 odd sugar packet sized slices of potato that came with my lobster omelet I ate maybe six. I was unable to really make any distinction between them and your standard issue french fries and as I am not a big fan of french fries they didn’t do anything for me.
I cut a really long paragraph about how delicious potatoes can be when done properly. Trust me on this one. And given that they are the same damn potatoes served with just about every breakfast dish (25 plates in total if you want me to be specific) and as they write in the menu “sauteed to a golden brown with caramelized onions, butter, fresh herbs and a few other secret (but all natural!) ingredients” it’s a darn shame that they weren’t executed better.
The Lobster Omelette did not live up to expectations. At first I was a tad confused, as after I bit into the omelet I couldn’t taste any lobster and was trying to figure out how the bits of lobster that were sprinkled on top could weigh a quarter of a pound let alone 100 grams. After my third bite I was able to ascertain that indeed there was lobster in there. Unfortunately everything (including the cheese, the eggs and the green onions) was overwhelmed by the “famous hollandaise sauce.” and ended up being more about the texture than the tastes. Tripe is supposed to be about texture. Brains are supposed to be about texture. Omelettes are supposed to be about taste. This omelette was a rubbery congealed mess of industrial cheese and lobster that could have easily been mistaken for an overworked piece of bubblegum doused in a too sweet, too thick and too waxy sauce that had no tang. Pity. As Fancy Crank quipped “the sauce looks like it came out of a jar.” It did not occur to me at the time to ask what jar, but my best guess would one with a Kraft logo on it.
This is as good of a time as any to talk about how Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff) handles Maillard reactions. Or more succinctly, doesn’t handle them. The omelet was supposed to be broiled (and I am 100% certain it was) but not for long enough. For those of you who don’t know, the Maillard reaction is the “nonenzymatic browning” that results from proteins being heated. Go look it up on Wikipedia or in Modernist Cuisine, I’ll wait. OK? Good.
The important thing to remember about the Maillard reaction is not that it turns food brown, but while turning food brown it also changes the tastes and flavors by rearranging the molecules in ever more complex ways. It accounts for why there can be a symphony of flavors in your mouth (ok, I might be exaggerating slightly, how about a melody of taste? Some toothsome chords?) Without it everything tends to resonate on one note, more like a drone than anything else. And while it can be pleasing in its own right, for the most part nuanced and refined food is more popular than simple and plain, especially when ordering at a restaurant. It might be one reason why Cheerios and Rice Krispies aren’t on the menu at Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff).
In a nutshell the lobster omelette would have been infinitely better had they broiled it enough so as to get a Maillard reaction going. Oh, and before I forget it came with toast, I went for the white, and as you can see from the picture it did have a Maillard reaction, and it was fine.
The Lobster Benny fared better due to the fact that as long as they are done right, poached eggs are pretty darn close to a perfect food. Top 10 globally if not Top 5 internationally. While the English muffin could have used a little more toasting for my taste. I wasn’t the one who ordered it, and Cranky Frank, due to his suburban calvinist background is far more similar to the masses in preferring a light toast that imparts a delicate and discreet crunch, rather than the tooth busting, crumb flying 120 db mess that happens when I get to toast my own muffins. While it was obvious that the lobster was the same as in the omelet, it worked out much better in the benedict due to the obvious and overwhelming differences in textures. I would also venture a guess that the hollandaise sauce itself might be missing some egg, as it didn’t have the same sweet, thick and waxy consistency once the yolks in the eggs broke.
The clear winner of the first round was the Bravocado. Not only was it the most visually appealing of the three dishes, it was also the most thought provoking. And as you might expect the tastiest as well. I don’t know if it was because of the tomato sauce, the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses (which have more flavor in their industrial versions than provolone) the avocados or the poached eggs. In fact it was probably a combination of all four.
For those of you with a scorecard, it took six minutes and 38 seconds from ordering to delivery for our first round of food. (I told you Yana was really really good). And as far as I can tell there are 740 calories in a lobster omelet, 572 in the lobster benny and 653 in the Bravocado.
Cranky Frank we discovered was a very slow eater. It was kind of like he wanted to not only relish and savor every bite, but every chew. So while he was dawdling around on the lobster benny Fancy Crank and I decided to go for round two, without waiting for Cranky Frank to finish. Rude behavior, I know, but if we hadn’t it is quite likely we would still be sitting at our table today.
For reasons unknown to me, there was an item on the menu called a Nouveau Deli that was screaming my name out at me. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Even while I was eating my omelette, I would surreptitiously sneak glances at its entry just to make sure that it really existed and wasn’t a figment of my imagination – at this point I had ordered a screwdriver (181 calories), I think I ordered mine when Fancy Crank ordered his grapefruit juice (96 calories) – and it was quite possible that my imagination was getting the better of me. I might have been getting a little buzzed, or it might have been the trauma tourist in me always on the look out for the two headed pig that survives the plane crash.
This is how it is described in the menu: Nouveau Deli: This smoked meat panini with Swiss cheese is our take on the classic Montreal deli sandwich. $11.95
One of the great things in life is a properly done smoked meat sandwich. The meaty, spiced and smoked brisket gently accompanied by a touch of mustard on two slices of fresh rye bread. It’s kind of like a brass marching band in your mouth. There is nothing that can really out do a bunch of trombones, Sousaphones and bass drums all marching in formation. But there is always some petite drum majorette pirouetting while twirling and tossing her baton high in the air. The brisket serves as the band and the bread and mustard like the majorette, a little tingle that doesn’t compete with the meat but complements and announces it.
Slapping it on a panini and adding Swiss cheese is kind of like having a bris in Lugano. While theoretically possible, practically impossible. (For those of you who don’t follow my logic; a panini is an Italian bread. Swiss cheese is swiss. Smoked meat is a Jewish delicacy. Another Jewish, Swiss, Italian combination could be done by having a bris in Lugano. Lugano is the largest Italian speaking city in Switzerland. A bris is “Jewish religious male circumcision ceremony”).
The combination made by the melted cheese, smoked meat and thick and sweet bread was extremely similar to the combination made by the lobster omelette “a rubbery congealed mess of industrial cheese, industrial smoked meat and too much bread that could have easily been mistaken for an overworked piece of bubblegum…” While it might appear to be alright to treat industrially produced smoked meat in that manner. All it really ends up doing is highlighting how whomever was responsible for creating the menu really doesn’t respect or appreciate the ingredients. Even after putting Tabasco on it, it was still inedible. And Tabasco normally can make anything yummy.
If they really wanted to make some sort of weird concoction using smoked meat, I would have suggested (if asked) to do some sort of bagel and cream cheese variation with onions and capers and some sort of mustard dip, or perhaps a mustard cream cheese. I strongly doubt that it would be good either, but at least it would have been strange and weird enough that numerous university aged males would have ordered it just to be able to tell people that they ordered it. I ordered mine with a side salad instead of the Lyonnaise style potatoes, but we don’t have to rehash them again. The salad was exactly what I would have expected and probably is exactly what you would expect.
As for the presentation, I have no idea who thought it would be a good idea to spear each half of the sandwich (sliced on the diagonal) with a cellophane topped toothpick. It wasn’t like the sandwich itself was in danger of falling apart or toppling over. The bread was very nicely toasted enough for my liking, but as a consequence the stray bits of meat that had been protruding from the edges of the sandwich were the consistency of beef jerky, just not as good looking.
By my calculations the Nouveau Deli sandwich had about 490 calories, giving me a running total of 1,536 for the meal.
Once again Fancy Crank lucked out. He ordered something called the Sugar Shack. Replaced the potatoes with fruit and got side orders of bacon and sausage. This is how it is described on the menu: Sugar Shack: A classic sugar shack dish, packed with pure Canadian maple syrup: Two scrambled eggs, a crepe bretonne, sliced ham, baked beans and our tasty Lyonnaise style potatoes. $11.25 Replaced with fresh fruit $2.25 Extra bacon, extra sausage $2.25/ch
About as conservative as you can get. Come to think of it Fancy Crank is kind of conservative. Despite being a Russian immigrant (and Russian immigrants have been traditionally extremely socialist). Personally no matter how hard you try, it is really really hard to screw up two scrambled eggs, a crepe bretonne, sliced ham, baked beans, fresh fruit, bacon and breakfast sausages.
He mentioned in passing how the ham wasn’t quite up to par with the sausages, bacon, beans, crepe and eggs doused in syrup. While Fancy Crank himself might not be the be all and end all about ham, after all he is a Russian immigrant, if I were middle level management at Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff) I would definitely consider sending out an RFP for ham. Perhaps doing some discrete testing myself in advance. Not that I’m saying anything, but just saying.
The presentation was exactly like the description. As you might expect, even if you tried very hard it would be next to impossible to screw up. It had approximately 617 calories, which is surprisingly little given how large the dish itself it.
As Yana was laying the heavily modified Sugar Shack and the Nouveau Deli on our table Cranky Frank appeared to have swallowed the last of his Lobster Benny. He (to our great surprise) asked Yana for a Bagel and Lox. While he had been slowly chewing and perusing the menu he mentioned how he had misread something as “placenta.” I have no idea what he misread, and to be perfectly clear they do not serve placenta at Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff). But it did remind me of the Placenta Helper skit that aired on Saturday Night Live in 1976. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I have no idea how many calories there are in placenta.
For those of you keeping score at home, it took 8:19 from time of order to time of arrival for our second order (I attribute that to the Nouveau Deli, as we were there smack dab in the middle of prime brunch time and some line cook probably had to scurry all the way to the back of the walk in fridge to prep for it).
Just after Yana left with Cranky Frank’s second order, a family came and sat behind us, now normally I wouldn’t bother mentioning any other clients specifically, because it is highly unlikely that they will be there if and when you visit. But this family was just so incredibly bizarre that they need their own paragraph, if not separate section. They were four people, appeared to be three different generations and spoke English very loudly. But what made them stand out from the crowd, wasn’t the volume of their conversation it was the combination of sun worshiping and what appeared to be an almost religious devotion to medical aesthetics. All the adults had skin that would have fit right in with the color scheme of the restaurant. But unlike the staff, it was patently obvious that they weren’t born that way. Then in just two very brief glances (once as they passed our table and then a quick look over my shoulder – my mother always taught me that it was rude to stare) it was obvious that not only did the man have an incredibly bad toupée? or hair implants, but that one or both of the women had blepharoplasty, retinoic acid peels, lip augmentation, rhinoplasty, rhytidectomy, liposuction and brachioplasty that I might have diagnosed them with dysmorphophobia if I was a psychiatrist.
They weren’t quite sideshow stars like Chang and Eng Bunker, Grady Stiles or a Fiji mermaid, but more noteworthy than an overturned tractor trailer of chickens.
It took 6:25 for Cranky Frank’s Bagel & Lox to arrive, and it arrived pretty much as described in the menu: Bagel and Lox: A toasted Montreal-style bagel with Philadelphia cream cheese, smoked wild sockeye salmon, and a traditional red onion and caper garnish. This is a dish you’ll keep coming back for! $14.95. Just as before it arrived, Cranky Frank excused himself to go to the bathroom. I never quite know what to do when nature calls in the middle of a meal. On one hand when you gotta go, you gotta go. On the other hand I find it incredibly strange interrupting a meal. Somehow I figure a meal, especially a meal in a restaurant is, while not quite, but kind of like mass at a church. Something outside of regular life, something special and to be treated with a certain amount of respect.
As Yana served Cranky Frank (or to be more precise, Cranky Frank’s place setting) Fancy Crank and I were trying to make up our minds about round three. I asked what she would recommend. I’m a big fan of ordering omakase in restaurants that are decidedly not Japanese. Invariably it works out phenomenally well as a) the waiter will know what is freshest, b) the waiter will have most likely tried many, if not all the dishes on the menu, and c) the waiter is the last person in the restaurant who wants to see you disappointed, their tip depends on it.
She asked if we were planning on having desert, and suggested I get the French Toast Flambé. After some consultation she and Fancy Crank decided on the Belgian Waffles Pagé. It was very cute seeing how solicitous she was towards him. I have no idea if she has a sweetie, but if she doesn’t I am pretty darn positive that Fancy Crank would not only volunteer, but also jump at the chance. Then again, as I have mentioned, she is a very good waitress and being solicitous, chatting with the customers (did you know that she has three passports?) and smiling just might be how she treats every customer and Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff) is extremely lucky to have her on staff.
While we were waiting for our order (and for Cranky Frank to return from the bathroom) Fancy Crank and I discussed the concept of a secret menu at Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff) (and decided that there wasn’t a secret menu), borrowed some cutlery from the table next to us (the busboys who cleared our plates had a habit of taking our knives and forks, but forgetting to inform Yana nor remembering to replace them themselves – I would guess that they don’t get too many people ordering multiple courses) and then tried to figure out what the allure of food trucks was (we still have no clue).
For some reason it took 12:21 for the third round to arrive. I don’t know if it was because Yana had some skin in the game, having recommended both dishes and therefore she refused the first set that was made by the kitchen (it took roughly twice as long for our order to arrive) because they weren’t up to par and asked them to make a second set. Or if someone forgot our order (unlikely) or if it was something else. Whatever it was, we will never know, and because the quality of the conversation was so high we did not even notice at the time that it had taken so long.
This is the way they describe them on the menu: French Toast Flambé: Fire it up! Our brioche French toast, topped with strawberries, bananas and walnuts that have been sauteed in Triple Sec orange liqueur and pure Canadian maple syrup. $12.95 and the Belgian Waffles Pagé: Served with a fresh fruit mix, pure Canadian Maple syrup and crème anglaise, this dish is sure to kick your taste buds into overdrive! $11.95.
Despite what they say, there were no flames. Nonetheless the dish was delicious. Yana knew whereof what she spoke. Initially when she asked if we were having desert, I thought she meant were we going to have another course after the third. Upon biting into the French Toast I realized she meant did we want something sweet for this round. The French Toast was sweet, but not in a you’re-gonna-get-seven-cavities way. More in a fleeting and ephemeral way sort of like your memory of the cake on your sixth birthday. I go through phases with bananas, either I think they are one of nature’s bestest foods – or I won’t touch them with a ten-foot pole. Right now I am in one of the ten-foot pole phases. But I had never had sauteed bananas (notice the Maillard reaction in the picture) and I can say without a doubt that bananas sauteed in Triple Sec and Maple Syrup are quite tasty. Slightly firmer than perfect mashed potatoes, but not much. You know, that consistency where you’re glad you have your teeth, but you really don’t need them?
Needless to say they didn’t taste like potatoes at all. The Maillard reaction and the syrup added something to the experience to make it remarkable. When combined on my fork with some French Toast and a slice of strawberry, it kind of hit almost all the basic flavors and the combination of textures made me stop and pause, in a good way – letting it all just kind of hangout in my mouth as I smiled both inwardly and outwardly.
As for Fancy Crank’s Belgian Waffles Pagé (we asked Yana and she said that pagé means all dressed, but when I stuck it into Google Translate the only languages that came up were these:
Albanian pagé = salary, Dutch pagé = train bearer, German pagé = bellhop, Portuguese pagé = shaman. But then doing a little bit more research “à la page” (without the accent) means “à la mode” or in style. Then I went back to the root. The verb “pager” is slang (not Quebecois, most likely Parisian) for “to put to bed” which in turn means that “pagé” is the past participle of “pager.” Or a long winded and roundabout way of saying that the correct translation is “bedded.”
So what did they taste like? Fruity. The waffle itself was more than suitable as a vehicle for delivery of the fruits, but did not add much to the equation. Fancy Crank noted that the crème anglaise looked an awful lot like the Hollandaise sauce. Overall they were not exceptional, but perfectly acceptable. I guessed that the maple syrup that accompanied it (and was used with my French toast) was Canada No. 2 Amber or Quebec No. 1 Medium Maple Syrup.
At some point Cranky Frank had made his way back from the bathroom, after some good natured ribbing (it seemed like he had been in there for pretty much close to an eternity) about eating disorders and anonymous sex he launched into his bagel and lox. It is served DIY style. So that you can make it however you like. As he was constructing his he noted that for someone not familiar with bagel, lox and cream cheese that they might misconstruct it. I parried with the fact that smoked salmon is fairly pervasive in the Western world. Fancy Crank declared the debate a tie and Cranky Frank dove in. He noted that the bagel was not toasted enough, that there was no butter, he thought the cream cheese bland and the salmon leathery. The onions on the other hand were delicious (he is not a big fan of capers). Overall he gave them a C+ for effort
For those of you still keeping score according to my calculations, the bagel and lox had 577 calories. Giving Cranky Frank a running total of 1,305. The waffle 253, giving Fancy Crank a running total of 1,619 and the French toast 456 giving me a running total of 1,992. It’s not as bad as it looks. It takes about 7,700 calories to gain a kilo.
Cranky Frank came by his suburban calvinist upbringing honestly. He fretted each and every time we ordered, couldn’t bear to leave any food over and seriously tried to convince Fancy Crank and myself that we should be asking for doggy bags. He obviously wasn’t aware that in many cultures it is considered impolite to finish everything on your plate as that implies that you haven’t eaten enough and you are still hungry. Once we had all done with the third round I kind of goaded the boys into a fourth round, after explaining how I had been confused by Yana’s question about desert.
I decided that since I had already had desert, that I would go back to a main course and order a Cobb Salad. Fancy Crank apparently has a serious sweet tooth and decided up the crepe Suzette, Cranky Frank initially tried to beg off on the grounds that he wasn’t hungry. Fancy Crank and I took full advantage of our ability to induce peer pressure and he quickly buckled and settled for a fruit cup. Knowing that we were going to be getting more food, I went to borrow some more cutlery from another table next to us and was quickly berated by both Fancy Crank and Cranky Frank for denying them an opportunity to flirt with Yana. I apologized and said I would make it up to them, and that could be one possible reason why this review is pushing 7,000 words.
A busboy came around and cleared our plates. I don’t know if it was because this particular busboy was seriously pumped, or if his guns were just freakishly large, but I noticed that he definitely worked out in a gym and then in looking around I realized that it seemed that most of the other men working at Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff) also worked out. Some to better results than others. We tried to ascertain if it was because of the place or something else. Both Cranky Frank and Fancy Crank thought that it was due to the place and that there was some manager who was either explicitly telling guys that they should work out or that there was some more indefinite and vague culture of working out. I chalked it up to the fact that most of the guys (heck most of the people) working at Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff) were under the age of 30 and that by definition a group of younger people who do not need to be intellectual on the job are much more likely to be interested in getting buff. By the time Yana came around to take our orders, we had not quite come to an agreement, and once she showed up the conversation itself became moot.
I’m not quite sure what was the catalyst, but after our order was taken, Cranky Frank somehow decided that we should discuss the Dyatlov Pass incident. Both Fancy Crank and I were confused, but we nodded along. I figured it was an easy enough way to pass the 6:55 that it took for our food to arrive so I just nodded my head sagely in agreement. As long as I am talking about statistics I should mention that the average time in between ordering and receiving our food was 6:06. If we behaved like the International Skating Union and tossed the high and low values the average would be 5:54. As I’ve mentioned previously, Yana was a spectacular waitress.
This is how they are described in the menu Crepe Suzette: Flaming flavour from a flambeed butter and orange brandy sauce. $9.95. Fruit Cup: A deliciously ripe selection of seasonal fruits and berries. $4.95. Hollywood Cobb Salad: Our inspired rendition of the LA original: grilled chicken, tomato, bacon, avocado, cucumber, goat cheese, hard boiled egg, romaine lettuce and our own flavor-packed twist on the classic Caesar dressing. $14.95.
Obviously, since I had chosen my own dish I was bound to be disappointed, and the Cobb salad came through with flying colors. The chicken was an industrially processed unidentifiable part that had been pumped full of water in order to insure “juiciness.” A very distinct beige in color, it had the same kind of rubbery texture as the lobster. However all was not completely horrible, the lettuce was suitably crispy. The cucumber, tomato and avocado were all as expected. The eggs were overcooked which didn’t really affect the taste, but added that gray tinge to the yolk that when combined with the beige of the unidentifiable chicken part made for an extremely appetizing dish [end sarcasm]. Then finally the bacon and the goat cheese kind of got lost. There wasn’t anything particularly notable about them.
The fruit cup was obviously a winner, as Cranky Frank held onto it like it was a chalice of some sort used in an important suburban calvinist ceremony. I’m not certain what season they thought it was as it came with blueberries, bananas, cantaloupe, kiwis, strawberries and pineapple. Or perhaps I should not have inferred the local part. Given the manner in which Cranky Frank was holding on to it, it either had some kind of life sustaining capabilities or was an integral part of the most important religious holiday on the suburban calvinist calendar (do they even know what Easter is?) Or most likely some combination of the two. The grin in his face was contagious.
As soon as Fancy Crank got his Crepe Suzette he took his lighter and tried to make it flame (as it wasn’t flaming when it arrived). Fortunately for his eyebrows he wasn’t successful. This did not stop him from devouring the dish. The only comment I was able to ascertain while he was eating was that they weren’t too sweet. Which I presume is a good thing. The calorie count for the dishes was Cobb salad: 728, Crepe Suzette: 683 and Fruit Cup: 60. Which gave Cranky Frank a grand total of 1,365 calories (or 27% of the goal). Fancy Crank clocked in at an impressive 2,302 calories or almost half of the goal. Myself I managed 2,720 calories. I’m still trying to lose the weight I gained…
Next time (if there is a next time) I’d like to sample a smoothie, a different type of eggs Benedict or omelette. The enchilada breakfast wrap, one of their poutines, a burger and the mac and cheese. That way we would have sampled at least one thing from every section of the menu. The entire meal took slightly more than 2 hours and 15 minutes and was a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining way to spend part of a weekend.
Once we realized that we were in fact done, in what could only be called a type of Russian surrealist comedy, not quite Revizor (aka The Government Inspector) by Gogol, but close. Fancy Crank tried to get Yana’s attention but thought he hadn’t, when in fact he had. OK, maybe you had to be there. He asked her for the bills (alcohol wasn’t covered) and without too much muss and fuss she brought them. The total for the food, including tax, but not tip was $183.16 or an average of $16.65/dish. But thanks to the generosity of Ms. Bergevin and Eggsepctations, all we had to leave was the tip.
If I was half my age, getting laid on weekends I would frequent Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff) each and every time. If I was in my 30s or 40s and worked downtown in some kind of cubicle in a middle management position Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff) would be my “go-to” lunch place for special occasions or my breakfast place on those days when I had a presentation or something else special. As I live on the Plateau and am in my 50s I can’t really claim that I will frequent Eggspectations (or “Eggs” as it is called by staff) anytime soon. On the other hand I would probably eat as frequently as I could in any restaurant where Yana was serving. She is a marvelous waitress and as I am fond of saying good service can trump bad food any day of the week.
2 thoughts on “Eggspectations, a feast”
Love the article/audio/photos of Yana/and your sense of humour! All the best, Dom
That was one heck of a review, in depth and it made me laugh. So I’d like to thank the gang at Eggspectations or Eggs as it is called by the staff for giving you that coupon.
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