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Breaking the fast in Brackendale

Breakfast: the English term comes from a Middle English word meaning "breaking the fast." Any meal that breaks the overnight fast that occurs while we sleep is considered "breakfast."

The weekends are the only time I seem to find the time (or the appetite) to enjoy a solid breakfast; most days, I just make a latte, grab a granola bar and am out the door. But on a lazy Saturday or Sunday, when I've had the luxury of lazing around in bed for a few hours, dozing or reading a good book, I find my stomach starts rumbling around mid-day and the vision of eggs benedict starts dancing in my head.

A greasy, early-morning fry-up definitely isn't my style, but I can't seem to resist the lure of rich, creamy eggs benedict: soft poached eggs perched atop a toasted English muffin and crowned with a dollop of buttery hollandaise sauce, served with a side of crisp, home-fried potatoes and a mug of Earl Grey tea. Mmm... a luxurious slice of weekend heaven! And no one does this dish better than the chef at The Nest restaurant, Gabriella Chrapavy.

Located in Brackendale, this establishment is something of a local's hidden gem, offering a laidback take on fine dining; all of the flavour without any of the fanfare. In fact, if you don't know where it is (on Government Road, just past the dyke and next door to the Brackendale Bean coffee shop), you definitely couldn't be faulted for missing it. But their unassuming exterior gives way to a hip yet casually elegant dining room festooned with contemporary canvases by Milan Basic and elegantly set linen-covered tables.

While the morning menu offers up the standard classic breakfast (two eggs any style, three pieces of crisp bacon, toast, and organic roasted potatoes for $10), a solid selection of frittatas (honey ham, grilled vegetables and artichokes and spicy chorizo sausage, roasted roma tomato and red onion for $11 to $13) and the heartier steak and eggs option, I haven't been able to move past their eggs benedict menu. Though their French toast ($10) topped with peach, caramel and pecan compote may just tempt me to change things up next week.

At the risk of getting stuck in an ordering rut, I've reluctantly moved past my usual pick of the eggs benny topped with smoked salmon, goat cheese and basil spread, spinach and fried caper hollandaise ($12) and branched out to sample the equally satisfying tomato, avocado and pancetta ($13) option. I've even poached a bite of the "Todd Benny" ($12). Named after one of the restaurant's owners, Todd Good, this one is apparently a real crowd pleaser, and it's easy to see why: it boasts a layer of sautéed bacon, mushroom and onion, which acts as a bed for perfectly-poached eggs covered in hollandaise, while the roasted organic hash browns receive their own separate sauce - a dollop of crème fraîche. And here's the best part: if you go on Saturday morning, all the bennies are two-for-one, which means breakfast for two usually works out to be just over $20.

Brackendale also has another new addition to the breakfast scene: the Red Bench Diner opened almost two months ago in the former home of the Brackendale Bistro (a bit further north down Government, past The Nest).

As the name implies, this is a much more casual diner-style spot for breakfast (the white linen tablecloths are replaced by racks of jams, peanut butter and honey), but it's bright and clean with classic rock playing in the background; the kind of place you'd go with friends to nurse a mutual hangover, perhaps? And here's the best part for all you early-morning eaters: they offer an all-day breakfast, and at very reasonable prices.

An "Egger and Hash" (egg any way with toast and hash browns) is just $4, while the straight-up "Egger" (egg any way with back, ham or bratwurst, plus hash browns and toast) is $8. Their menu also features three types of benedicts (traditional, "Red Bench" with bacon and tomato, and Pacific, with smoked salmon, all served with hash browns and priced between $9 and $11). Or, if you're absolutely ravenous, try all three in the "Menage a Trois" ($14).

In a bit of a devilish mood, I opted for the "Eggs From Heck" (two poached eggs served in two crisp tortilla cups, topped with a tangy chili and creamy hollandaise, with a side of hash browns for $8) and wasn't disappointed. But next time, the "Giant Apple Pancake" - a 10-inch pancake baked with Granny Smith apples and topped with cinnamon sugar and whipped butter - has my name written all over it!

 

 

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