A couple weekends ago we wanted to keep up our Vancouver tradition of brunch on Saturday so we went to one of the big brunch places around here, Cora. It's a bright yellow building that you can't miss on Harvey Street (Hwy 97).
The interesting thing about Cora is that it is a Canadian-based business. Cora Tsouflidou opened a diner in Montreal twenty-five years ago in 1987. Over the years her breakfast business has expanded to now include more than 130 franchised restaurants (two in the Lower Mainland - Richmond and Coquitlam). Cora still keeps the business family-based, with her family personally training new business partners and her son recently taking over as CEO.
Cora herself still tries out new menu items in her own kitchen before approving them to go on the menu. The restaurant's service model is based on the idea that customers should be wowed by the extra steps that staff take to leave them feeling at home and satisfied.
When we arrived the restaurant was packed and there was a lineup but because there are so many tables we only had to wait for about ten minutes. The hostesses were friendly and the inside of the restaurant matched the outside with cheerful yellow walls featuring cartoons of smiling suns and menu items written in bold lettering. Everything seems geared towards kids and families and the decor makes you feel at home and happy in the morning, sort of like having breakfast in a kooky Aunt's farmhouse kitchen.
When we were seated our waitress was personable and told us the specials of the day. The menu has quite an extensive list of unique breakfast items as well as a few lunch meals as well. The nice thing about this menu is that with every meal you are guaranteed to get fresh fruit. It is a heavily fruit-based menu with several particularly french-inspired items including Crepes, Omelets and lots of Nutella. I chose the Strawberry Crepe with Vanilla Pudding and my husband chose the Crepomelette.
My husband's meal was delicious! It was a spinach and cheese omelet that had been rolled in a crepe and covered with hollandaise sauce. It came with a side of toast and of course a side of fresh fruit. The fruit included kiwis and strawberries and was not your typical canned fruit cocktail that many places serve. I tried a bite of his Crepomellette and the flavor of the spinach and cheese really came through and mixed well with the savory crepe and light hollandaise. If you can get over the hard-to-pronounce name this is a tasty item to order.
I ordered the strawberry crepe and as you can see from the picture, it was huge!!! The plate could not even contain it. When I first tasted the crepe I was delighted because it was light, fluffy and crispy all at the same time and had a pleasant vanilla flavour, delicious. The crepe was stuffed with sliced strawberries and I chose a vanilla custard filling rather than Nutella. There were three generous dollops of whipped cream on top and it was lightly dusted with icing sugar.
As I munched my way through I started realizing that this breakfast was an overload of sweetness! It was more of a dessert than a breakfast and the combination of the vanilla pudding and the whipped cream made me feel a little bit sick. I love sweet breakfast on the weekend and to be honest, I was out-sweetened by this one. A half portion would have been better because it was delicious at first, but just too much by the time I got more than halfway through. If you want to try it, I would recommend asking for it with no whipped cream.
As I mentioned before, sometimes I like to indulge with a sweet breakfast and cut it with the bitterness of a decaf coffee and I was craving this particular combination that morning. Our waitress brewed a decaf just for me and surprisingly, it was sooo tasty. Usually decaf coffee tastes like over-brewed watered-down dishwater but this was full flavoured and didn't have the metallic aftertaste that I hate in coffee. I also noticed they have an espresso machine and was delighted to have the option to order a latte or cappuccino.
To sum up, the staff did make the extra effort to be friendly and accommodating, the coffee was great and my husband's meal was outstanding. Although mine was too sweet, there are many other breakfast options to try so I think we will go back for another dose of early-morning cheer at Cora's.