Sunday, April 5, 2009

Fraser Cafe - a cut above for brunch

Chris and I regularly go out for brunch with a couple we have been friends with since my university days. It's a great way to catch up every few weeks, and we like to try a different place every time. Last month we were wavering between the Ottawa Bagelshop and the Fraser Cafe, and the Bagelshop won out that time, but we resolved to try Fraser Cafe the next time. That's exactly what we did this morning, and were rewarded with a truly lovely experience.

The menu is fairly short and changes seasonally, as Fraser Cafe bills itself as a "seasonal kitchen" that aims to source ingredients locally. The place is tiny, with seating for perhaps 20 people plus a small bar with four seats. The kitchen is open, separated from the dining area only by a counter. That said, the place smells lovely but not overpowering, and I never once felt as though I was IN the kitchen, despite being seated next to it. The tables are dark, with purple-upholstered chairs and banquettes, and pots of purple basil used as centrepieces. Lots of windows open the space up beautifully, and the front door is a vibrant green.

We began with drinks hot and cold - Chris selected apple cider from the juices on offer, while I had an excellent decaf Americano and our friends K and N split the daily smoothie (mango and banana) and N supplemented with regular coffee. They also pour water for everyone without being asked, which was nice.

We ended up ordering in pairs - N and I both had the Fraser's take on the traditional breakfast plate, with fluffy scrambled eggs, sauteed potato cubes with onion and plenty of pepper, melted cheese curds, half a roasted tomato, a house-made sausage patty (divine, subtly seasoned and not at all greasy) and the piece de resistance, sauteed mushrooms doused in Worcestershire sauce. The plate was generous without being gargantuan, and all the flavours were bright and vibrant. Needless to say, no complaints from either of us.

Chris and K, meanwhile, both ordered the breakfast sandwich, which comes on multigrain bread and encompasses fried eggs, tomatoes, bacon (for Chris; K is a vegetarian, which was no problem at all for the kitchen) and cheese, alongside a lightly dressed salad of Boston lettuce. Chris raved about it, and the bite I had was pretty awesome. K enjoyed hers immensely as well.

There were other gorgeous-sounding things on the menu as well, like the cinnamon french toast with fruit compote and whipped cream, or the panzanella salad with lemon dressing, arugula, tomato, olives and feta. I think there's going to have to be a next time, so we can try those out.

It's not what I'd call a bargain sort of place - brunch for two of us was $38 with tax and tip - but the food was definitely a cut above many brunch places we've eaten at. The service was pleasant and efficient, the room comfortable and welcoming, and the place lacks pretension or attitude. Well done, indeed.

No comments: