Review: Red Umbrella Offers a Fresh Take on the Basic Breakfast

The brunch wheel isn’t reinvented here, but the food is warmly made and presented.

The brunch wheel isn’t reinvented here, but the food is warmly made and presented.

The thing about a breakfast place is that it’s pretty difficult to screw up the basics. Eggs, toast, bacon and homefries—with some variation on the latter—are the attraction (and low bar) to many a greasy spoon that brings in the weekend crowd.

And when Mitra Ameri first took over the Red Umbrella Cafe in the West End four years ago, it had been just such a going, if middling, concern for years. But then Ameri did what’s near impossible in Vancouver these days—she elevated the room to a true neighbourhood joint that feels as though it’s been there for decades under her careful watch. She’s in the kitchen seven days a week, cranking out sourdough breads, braising the 12-hour pulled pork for the Cuban sandwich and baking the date squares and lemon slices that line the front counter.

The classic breakfast (two eggs, meat, toast, home fries) is straightforward, though a hasselbacked and grilled Bavarian sausage—and homemade bread for the toast, of course—let you know there’s a chef in the kitchen. Benedicts are served atop a buttery homemade biscuit instead of the classic English muffin—better to soak up rich hollandaise, but sturdy enough for piling on grilled mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini, avocado and just-runny eggs. A vegetarian breakfast is artfully presented around a heaping mound of grilled spinach surrounded by a fan of avocado slices, tomatoes and hash browns, and made-to-order eggs.

The brunch wheel isn’t reinvented here—you won’t find tagines or particularly creative omelette combinations—but the food is warmly made and presented, in a quirky and crowded space of wooden tables and faux Eames Eiffel chairs that feels like an extension of Ameri’s home kitchen. Just what you’d hope for—if rarely achieved—in those early, pre-caffeinated hours of the morning.

Red Umbrella Cafe

1707 Davie

Hours: Open daily 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.