So, here at Brunchcouver, we eat a lot of eggs. It’s kind of an occupational hazard. In the course of our brunch research, we eat a lot of eggs, a lot of toast, a lot of breakfast potatoes.
So when we come across something different, like really different, for brunch, it’s always a breath of fresh air.
Now, don’t get me wrong, we love eggs. If we didn’t, we’d clearly be in the wrong business. But still, one can only eat so many…
I recently hooked up with some foodie friends for brunch on a weekend a few weeks back, and we chose Calabash because it was a good mid-point between all our houses.
Calabash Bistro is a bit hard to find; it’s kind of tucked away on a side street on the edge of Chinatown. A Caribbean restaurant in Chinatown? I love this city so hard.
I’ve crossed paths with Chef David Cullin many times through his involvement with The Wellness Show, and he’s a cool and laid-back dude that makes some tasty food.
The room is a bit crowded with tables; you’ll likely make friends with your neighbours pretty quick. It is also a darker room, lit primarily by a bank of windows on the street side. The decor is nothing really special; mostly personal momentos.
The service is great. This was my second time having brunch at Calabash, and the service is very attentive but not invasive. The servers are well-informed and can answer any of your questions about the cuisine, which is important, because I imagine a lot of this stuff is out of many people’s comfort zones.
The brunch menu includes things like: roti, salara, ackee, escovitch, choka, and goat. Traditional North American brunch items? Not so much.
But here’s what you need to know: almost everything is made from scratch. It’s made with care. It’s fresh. And it’s delicious.
Many of the breads, sausages and sauces are all made in-house. And because it’s Caribbean, there’s liberal amounts of heat and spice. One of my brunch companions began sweating profusely over his oxtail.
My brunch companions all had variations of the Brunch Bowl: instead of potatoes, it comes with fried plantains, and includes rice and peas, a very traditional Jamaican dish. Those are topped with two poached free run eggs, and Chef Cullin’s coconut rundown hollandaise. This is a sauce that’s made by boiling down coconut milk to form a thick, hollandaise-like consistency. You then get your choice of either oxtail stew, vegetable curry, goat curry, free-range chicken curry, or jerked beef stew. That’s a hearty breakfast! Plates were cleaned.
One of the things I really love about Calabash is how vegan- and vegetarian-friendly they are. There are loads of vegan and vegetarian options on the menu. For example, one of the options with the Rise and Shine Roti (two sunny side up free-range eggs, fried plantains, roasted cumin potatoes, fresh-cut fruit) is a veggie patty. They also do a french toast made out of Salara. Salara is a Guyanese bread that has coconut baked inside; it kind of looks like a pinwheel. It’s delicious, vegan, and the french toast comes with a banana cream (swoon) and a spiced mango maple syrup. This was the second time I’d had it, and I’d go back for it again.
I didn’t get to try the Caribbean Crab Cakes (made with rock crab, saltfish, baby shrimp, two poached free-range eggs, coconut rundown hollandaise, and roasted cumin potatoes), but man, I need to go back for those.
Calabash Bistro is a great brunch choice if you are looking for a laid-back comfort-food kinda brunch experience, ideally with close friends who are okay with trying something a little different.
428 Carrall St
Open for brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 10-3