On workdays, I usually have a light breakfast at home or, when I don’t have time, I snack on fruit at the office. But from time to time, I need something more substantial to get going. When that happens, I head towards the 5th floor cafeteria in Centre Block and order the best deal on the Hill: the healthy breakfast special.
For $3.59, you get two toast (whole grain of course), your choice of an egg white omelet, scrambled or poached, a cup of cottage cheese, and a mountain of fruit (2 slices of tomato, 3 slices of honeydew, 2 slices of cantaloupe, 3 quarters of orange, 2 slices of watermelon, 1 quarter of grapefruit and a small bunch of grapes.) You also get a milk or a juice. All that for $3.59!
Now, of course, it is not the fanciest omelet. Pre-separated egg whites poured on the hot plaque. After a bit, addition of bell peppers and onions. Because they are added after the fact, they actually get steamed on top of the eggs as opposed to being fried. It works in a way, as the veggies remain quite crunchy and juicy. The omelet is quite size-able, too. The fruit are fresh, and as you can see, there was plenty.
Now, of course, you can go for the unhealthy breakfast special, which is the same price – but your eggs are yolky, your fruit are potatoey and your cottage cheese is meaty.
But you know me, always a bias towards healthy.
The first meal of the last day was had in Montréal at the Delta Centre-Ville. Like our last breakfast here, the scrambled eggs could be topped by crushed tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese. I also had Potato wedges, bacon, sausage, fruits, and a peanut butter toast!
After a mainstreeting visit to the Atwater Farmer’s Market in Montreal, we hopped on the bus to head west. Along for the ride, croissants et pain au chocolat – I had a croissant somewhere on the 401.
We stopped at the Marriott on Kingston’s waterfront for filing and lunch. Roasted Garlic and Tomato Soup, Poached Asparagus and Apple Salad with Roasted Pinenuts, Truffle Macaroni Salad, Fingerling Potato Salad with Bocconcini and White Balsamic, and a make your own sandwich station – I chose a thick brown bread, added all the cold cuts: ham, turkey, prosciutto, salami; all the veggies: tomatoes, lettuce and onions; and all the cheese: pepper jack, cheddar, aged cheddar. And also, mayo, mustard and horseradish.
Blitzing on the 401, we stopped in Kingston and then Oshawa. We loaded the bus with Swiss Chalet! I had a Chicken Breast Dinner, with french fries, bbq sauce, a roll, and a garden salad with ranch dressing. After filling up, we hit the road again, towards Beaches and then Scarborough.
People love breakfast, and they love eating out for breakfast. You can eat for cheap, food menus are simple and therefore hard to screw up, bottomless coffee cups are offered in a lot of cases.
So it is not surprising to see more and more speacialized breakfast chains moving in to capitalize on that lucrative market. I’m not talking Donuts shop or Fast Food chains. I’m talking Breakfast chains like Cora (1987). Eggspectation (1993). Eggsquis (1995). Ben & Florentine (2008).
And Tutti Frutti, which was founded as a franchise in 1992 by the Pentefoutas family in Montreal. The chain has been growing steadily ever since, and was acquired in September 2008 by the MTY Group, the franchise giant behind 26 banners (over 1700 locations) such as Sushi Shop, Vanelli’s and TCBY.
Tutti Frutti is now expanding into Ontario, after establishing themselves solidly in Quebec. Tutti Frutti has just expanded into the National Capital Region by opening a new location in Nepean (reviewed last month by Eva’s Food World), adding to the first Gatineau location and most recently, a new one in Hull, high up on St-Joseph.
And that’s where we decided we had to start our first Family Day together. We were attracted to the location by a coupon printed in Le Droit which gave us $5 off any of their Eggs Benedict selection. Significant deal.
We arrived around 8:30 and the place was basically empty, which I didn’t particularly mind. For some reason, the hostess, who welcomed us promptly and nicely, thought that the best table to sit the three of us at was right beside an already occupied table in an otherwise fully empty section. Strange, but oh well, it didn’t really matter to us. (But it did to the gentleman, who soon after asked if he could move “near the windows – if it’s not too cold over there. For the record, the Waffle Jr. was minding her own business.)
Mel wanted coffee, I ordered a large apple juice. It came with a slice of kiwi as garnish, a simple but nice touch. However, at $3.25, it was quite pricey! No wonder their coupons are worth $5.00! Of course, the coffee was included with a breakfast, another example of non-coffee-drinker discrimination. However, if you are a coffee drinker, I should point out that the re-filling was not very prompt. “If you are a breakfast place, there is no reason to ever allow your patrons to see the bottom of their cup!” Mel informed me. In fact, after being asked directly for more coffee, our server simply forgot about it and I had to wave her over again while to remind her of my tender-half ‘s need for more caffeine.
Looking around the restaurant, one could not help to notice how clean the place was. Don’t let yourself be fooled by the bright orange canopy outside the restaurant - the interior decor is warm and sober, and they get high marks for the natural light blasting in.
The open concept basically lets you peek into the open kitchen from anywhere you sit. The tables are not too close together, but I bet the place would get loud fast. But with 6 tables occupied, not a problem.
The menu is varied, offering many types of crêpes, pancakes, French toast, omelettes, waffles, fruit platters, and of course the classic bacon n’ eggs and other usual combinations (most of them available in a cheaper early-bird version). On the sides side of things, one should note the presence of cretons and of fried baloney. Tempting!
Melissa decided she would try the Eggs Benedict, and she picked the Ham version ($10.55).
Two poached eggs, served on a thin slice of ham, sitting on english muffins, covered but definitely not drowned with hollandaise sauce. Melissa did note that she was not asked how she would like the eggs cooked, which normally means (she assumed) they would be done medium (no runny stuff) but these came cooked soft (with runny stuff). She would have rather they had been medium, but she still enjoyed the meal.
Her plate, as was mine, came with home fries and was decorated with pieces of fresh fruit. (“Why are the fruits touching my food?!” Mel cried. “I hate it when my breakfast food is contaminated by oranges,” she added, as she created separation between the culprits and her eggs.)
The fruits were stacked to look like a floral bouquet but did not quite match the pictures in the menu. Nevertheless, there was some effort put into the presentation, a nice variety of melons, citrus and apples. The fruits were fresh, juicy, nothing to complain here. In fact, even The Waffle jr. joined in and tried her first piece of watermelon ever – and asked for more.)
I’m not really a breakfast guy, I usually have some fruit, something simple. But when I go to a breakfast place, I like to try things that are out of the ordinary. Three things here caught my eye: The Three Little Pigs (breakfast sausages wrapped in buckwheat crepes and cheese), and the Tutti Frutti Special (two cinnamon buns, one covered with fruits and the other one with egg and bacon). But the one item that was calling my name was the Tutti Mini ($11.95), three omelette sliders. How original! How ambitious! I had high hopes.
First, a word about the home fries. Real slices of potatoes, a nice change from the deep-fried frozen tatters you too often get served for breakfast, they were a tad soft but not mushy. There was some sign of crispyness, but minimal crunch. An honest rendition.
The sliders were the main attraction of the plate. There was three Tutti Mini on the plate: one with sausage, one with bacon, one with ham.
The buns selected for the breakfast burgs were of a standard, non-descript industrial make. They were fresh, with almost a cake-like texture. But sadly, they were served right out of the bag. Not grilled, not toasted, not warmed up at all. Unfortunate.
The omelettes were pretty bland. Just plain pre-mixed eggs on a plaque, barely seasoned. No cheese, no veggies. Even the meat wasn’t mixed in, it was simply cooked separately and added under and over the eggs as they put the sandwich together.
Talking of the meat, I really didn’t like the sausage one. It had an unpleasant aftertaste, the texture was oily,greasy, it simply wasn’t good. The bacon version fared little better – instead of a couple of nice bacon slices, I had a bunch of small bacon bits – either broken pieces they keep for this purposes or that is simply the way they plate it, but whatever the reason, it didn’t work. The best of the three was the Ham version. Again, they had the ham slice cut up into chunks, but at least the chunks had some substance to them, it had the best flavour of the pork trio, a tad salty but hey, it’s ham.
The omelette slider is a great idea, but it didn’t live up to my expectations. It wouldn’t be hard to make this a home run. Season the eggs better, adds some onions, and finish it with melted cheese. Toast the buns. Improve the quality of the meat and give the slider a nice finish with some garnish – maybe a hollandaise mayo or a fresh salsa to bring it together. This dish has so much potential. It should be better.
All things considered, Tutti Frutti is similar in what it delivers to other breakfast chains. Some things are good, some things not as much. The variety and quantity of the fruits on the plate is impressive – you aren’t stuck with a single slice of orange with half a strawberry on your plate. Yet, execution is far from stellar. As for the service, it was familiar, friendly. The food arrived quickly, and what was meant to be warm, was warm. The place is not cheap, though (unless you go for the Early Birds’ special) as our bill, before taxes, tips and coupons, was $25.75 for two persons. Not quite worth it, but not a total rip-off either.
“Are you in town?”
That’s how it all began. An email from my friend Sonja, wondering about my whereabouts. Yes, I was in town. Lucky for me – her partner had a pair of tickets for the Ottawa Senators, and didn’t – couldn’t – wouldn’t go. Whatever the reason, I was very thankful that they thought of me to dispose of said tickets. And I was even more so once I showed up.
First surprise: location. These babies were located in a Suite 105 A. Second surprise, the suite sponsor: Bell Canada. Don’t ask me how he got them – I do not know. Third surprise: that one was one for the folks from Bell Canada, who were wondering how the heck I got the tickets. ”No worries, my cell phone is with Bell.” (And it’s not like anybody checked our tickets…)
“We have plenty of food, help yourself,” stated the Bell Canada man.
No worries, I thought. I’ll try to eat for as much as I have paid ever since becoming a Bell customer.
“Would you like a beer, a glass of wine?” our host continued.
No worries, I thought, I’ll try to drink for as much as I have paid ever since I became a Bell customer.
“No, you won’t!” thought my wife, loud enough for me to hear.
We looked for our seats. They were in the first row of the suite. We didn’t have too sit there, said the Master Host from Bell, we all sit wherever. The Hell with that – I sit where my tickets said I should sit. I sat down, a Corona in one hand, a program in the other. Game on!
After a few plays, we decided to explore the food options, They were not kidding when they said they had plenty of food.
In the middle of the suite, was a nice spread of fresh fruits, dried fruits, crackers, cheeses, and the highlight, smoked salmon and pumperknickel bread.
The salmon was great. Fresh lemon was available. I had a healthy helping – no bread, I went for a few crackers instead.
Sometimes, when you are on tour, people are quite happy to see you or have you as guest.
But it was the case in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.
As I checked into my room at the Days Inn and Conference Centre, I was surprised to find a huge fruit basket waiting for me, along with a nice letter from the assistant manager.
Here are some excerpts:
“We are pleased to have you and Mr. Layton as our guests this evening.
We have just celebrated our first year with this new franchise and are looking forward to experiencing continued growth for this business.
We look forward to sharing our hospitality with you.
We are especially looking forward to the changes that will be brought about by the New Democratic Party.”
Next time I am in Bridgewater, guess where I am going to stay?
Unless you fly First or Business class, domestic flights are indeed feeding you badly, and most often you have to pay extra for it.
But one airline does understand that a nice flight includes a nice meal – no matter where you sit.
Here is what the tray looked like when it appeared in front of me:
The menu was printed as follows:
Tabbouleh with tuna
Choice of main course
Curried chicken accompanied by rice with raisins
Filet of barracuda with sorrel and mushrooms, dauphinoise potatoes au gratin
Coffee and tea
Jacquart Brut Mosaïque
Vin de Pays d’Oc Chardonnay 2008 La Baume
Vin de Pays d’Oc Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 La Baume
Coffee and Tea
Brandy and Liqueur
This was probably the best meal I’ve ever had on a commercial flight.
Even though the tabbouleh was low on parsely and mostly made of couscous, and the tuna was from a can, it was not bad. The baracuda was tender and moist, the potatoes were nicely done. The cheese, a camembert from Président, was half-decent, the bread was fresh, the fruits were alright, and the crème caramel was not the worst I’ve ever had.
All in all, a very decent meal.
Which is a good thing, considering the long layover I had at Charles-de-Gaule. Exhausted, I could not sustain myself in the Food Court, which was closed, and could not bring myself to indulge in caviar from one of the Expensive Duty Free Stores in Terminal 2E.
I had the choice between an Illy coffee shop and an Exki outlet. I hesitated, passing the time reading, playing some games on the courtesy PS3 machines in the terminal or on my own PSP, and even was able to get some micro-sleep. After hesitating, I finally settled for the Belgian chain.
Exki’s philosophy is to serve high-qualiy fast food, “offering natural fresh produducts (sic) at all the times of the day.” Their motto? “Natural, Fresh, Ready.”
Their fare is simple: salads, sandwiches, soups. They claim not to use any additives, and some of their products are organic, such as their bread.
I decided to go with something simple, so I picked the Louise from their Vitalis selection , which was only 376 calories: homemade cooked ham and gouda cheese, served with a honey mustard dressing on an organic bread made with Malt. The bread was of a very good quality, with nice tasty flakes of cereal. The ham was also very good, nice and thick. They were a bit cheap on the cheese, and they could have added more honey mustard as the sandwich was a tad dry. Thankfully, I had a Coca-Cola to help me out.
Even by airport standards, at 9.60 Euros, this was a pricey meal.
After a night of enjoying Alexandria Bay’s lively nightlife, our eightsome was in need of a greasy breakfast before hitting the alleys of the Thousand Islands Country Club. And we certainly could not find a greasy spoon quite like Beefer’s.
A breakfast buffet family restaurant, it is located on the State Route 12 just on the way out of Alexandria Bay, Beefer’s is open six days a week until at least 11h30 or until later if they are busy. It is closed on Tuesdays, for some strange reason.
And, what do you know, the original “Beefer’s” is back, as Bobby Williams decided that the breakfast business in Alexandria Bay was too good to stay out of any longer. He apparently “renovated everything and built a new state-of-the-art buffet area that is designed to impress.” Well, some might be easily impressed, so good job Bobby W. Perhaps you could spend a little more time upgrading the bathrooms, though. Just a thought.
The buffet is quite diversified for a breakfast-only place, but it certainly doesn’t have the quality you can find in upper scale hotels. It consisted of scrambled eggs – with or without onions and peppers, home fries - with or without onions and peppers, hashbrowns, pancakes – regular or blueberries, French toasts, pastries, muffins, a toast station, english muffins, biscuits, fresh fruits, bacon, ham, corn beef hash, sausages, sausage gravy. Yes, sausage gravy.
I don’t know about you, but that item, I didn’t even go near it. I was actually afraid something would jump out of the grey slime and grab me. Oh, and there was a chocolate fondue fountain too!
For all-you-can-eat, you pay 9.99$, plus an extra 2.00$ for a bottomless drink. I don’t drink coffee, so I ordered a Sierra Mist, Pepsi’s response to Sprite and 7 Up. I have to admit it is a very good lemon-lime soft drink, quite refreshing and not too sweet, perfect to balance the fat I was about to consume.
I choose both my home fries and my scrambled eggs with peppers and onions. The eggs were not bad, considering the mass production, and the veggies added a nice twist to the eggs. It didn’t worked as well for the home fries, which were way too soft and way to soggy to be enjoyable. Some of them were even burned, but yet not crunchy. How that can happen is beyond me.
The corn beef hash were also soggy, but in that case it kind of worked – the moisture coming from the corn beef fat and not exclusively from steam. The bacon was crisp and not overcooked, and was the highlight of my meal. Not too salty either. The sausages were small and a little dry by moment. Not exquisite, not juicy enough, but nevertheless edible. The ham was overcooked and chewy because of it.
I cleaned my palate with a serving of strawberries, bananas and pineapple. No chocolate, I abstained on that one, so I can’t really tell you about it. But it was a very popular items with the kids, I can tell you that much. And, in the end, I survived Beefer’s Gorilla Buffet. And I got the t-shirt to prove it.
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