From Waffles to Fricasse: Cafe Medina serves Brunch in Sweet and Spicy Style
556 Beatty Street, Vancouver
My three big loves are brunch, waffles and maple syrup. And all three are available at Cafe Medina in Crosstown, Vancouver. On every Sunday that I have visited for brunch, even on the days that I wake up early, there is always a crowd of hungry diners waiting for a table in front of the window of Belgian waffles at Cafe Medina. But believe me, it is well worth the wait. The service, food and ambiance at Cafe Medina is top notch.
I have a huge weakness for Belgian waffles: these waffles are made with a yeast batter, making them slightly denser and chewier than their light and fluffy, American waffle cousins. Another great advantage that Belgian waffles have over American waffles are their large pockets, or as I like to think of them: maple syrup catchers. While waiting for a table, and even just walking down Beatty Street, the sweet smell of hot, freshly made waffles is hard to miss. Stacked on cooling racks at the front window, the Belgian waffles are one of the most popular items at Cafe Medina. I always order maple syrup with my waffles but Cafe Medina offers all types of toppings from dark chocolate to raspberry caramel. I did try the dark chocolate, but was disappointed to find that it tasted a little bit like a melted Hershey’s chocolate bar. I find that it’s best to stick with the Canadian classic of maple syrup.
Aside from their amazing waffles, Cafe Medina is also well-known for their Fricassé, the name refers to the cooking method of stewing and braising. Served in a cast iron skillet, the Fricassé is braised short ribs with two sunny side up eggs, roasted potatoes, some caramelized onions, a bright green sprinkling of arugula, cubes of applewood cheddar, pieces of apple and a side of grilled foccacia. The foccacia is perfect for dipping in the runny egg yolks and moping up the delectable juice at the bottom of the skillet. The short ribs in the Fricassé are cooked to perfection, flavourful and tender to the point of just falling apart at the touch of a fork. The applewood cheddar and the tart, juicy cubes of apple really ties the dish together, as well as offering a wide range of flavours in little memorable bursts throughout the dish. The peppery arugula also gives the dish dimension and sophistication, challenging your breakfast palate, all the while, the eggs and cheese are reminding your taste buds of familiar breakfast flavours.
The Paella at Cafe Medina is also exceptional, featuring curried orzo rice, vegetables, fresh avocado and one of my favourite cheeses, grano padano. I’m not a regular fan of spicy food for brunch but this Paella is definitely an exception. The fresh spices are absorbed into the plump, flavour-soaked morsels of orzo, cooked to a perfect consistency, firm but not hard, chewy but not mushy. The avocados add a refreshing cooling element to the dish, also balanced out by the other greens and slut red, juicy red tomatoes.
My other favourite dish at Cafe Medina is the Tagine, traditionally served with a poached egg, we ordered ours with a sunny side up egg (we are suckers for runny yolks). Bubbly hot in the tagine is spicy tomato stew, spicy merguez sausage, moroccan olives and cilantro. The Tagine definitely gives you a big wake up kick in the taste buds.