Acme Cafe was the perfect location for my last Celebrunch interview with the fabulous Johannah Newmarch. Acme is a Gastown cafe that focuses on local ingredients crafted with a creative eye to the limitations of the restaurant. You see, they don’t have a grill.
The cafe can be found in the historic Paris Block on Hastings Street. The building is the original home of Pierre Paris and Sons Shoes (1919), a business that is now Paris Orthotics, one of the biggest orthotic companies in Canada. The design of the room is in the tradition of the diners you might have found in the neighbourhood in its heyday. This area was once the entertainment and theatre district of the city, so to enjoy a brunch at a diner with an artist like Johannah seemed a perfect fit.
As I mentioned, they don’t have a grill at Acme Cafe so all the brunch dishes, made with free range eggs, are baked. We opened our meals with a great cup of coffee. We were both intrigued by the boozy coffee special; a maple bourbon latté, but as I was driving, Johannah took one for the team and ordered it. I have to say, it was spectacular. If you want a mimosa and perhaps a fancy a dessert after brunch, skip them both and order this.
I ordered the Acme Frittata for brunch; lightly whipped free range eggs, oven-baked with portabella mushrooms, goat cheese and sun-dried tomato, with shredded redskin potatoes and toast. It was light and fresh and went perfectly with the shredded potatoes. Usually I like my shredded home fries with a crisp outer crust but these really aren’t home fries. It’s hard to describe but the shreds were fluffy and well seasoned. They fell apart on the fork and didn’t sit in your stomach. If you struggle with wanting a brunch that lasts you to dinner but don’t want to feel so heavy that you need a nap, then this meal’s for you.
Johannah ordered what is probably Acme’s signature brunch dish, the Baked Eggs Benny; layers of English muffin, free-range eggs, ham and cheddar, oven baked and topped with hollandaise sauce with shredded redskin potatoes. She ordered the sausage from the specials dish to go with it. The dish is not only a creative interpretation of a benny, it’s gorgeous to look at. Since we eat with our eyes first, it isn’t a stretch to say that the meal was satisfying from plate arrival to plate cleaned.
You won’t find friendlier staff in the city. The place is pure diner joy and the line-ups outside attest to how busy this java joint gets. If you’re like us, and arrive before the rush starts, you might be lucky enough to be seated at the counter. I love counter seating in a diner-style cafe because it adds to the specialness of a weekend brunch.
I think you should give the Acme Cafe a try, but don’t take my word for it, take Johannah’s. She gets the last one.
“ACME was just charming all around. The wait staff were friendly and upbeat, the decor had a fun retro 50’s diner vibe (as did the hostess’s fab beehive hairdo) and the food was hearty and delicious without being heavy. I will definitely go back. Oh, and who doesn’t love a maple bourbon coffee? Am I right, ladies?!”
Movie Recommendation: In honour of Johannah’s love for Cate Blanchett’s work and my love of English history, today’s recommendation is Elizabeth (1998), the story of the great Queen herself, Elizabeth I.