I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: it’s a great time to be vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free. Yes, there was a time when, if you walked into a restaurant and asked what was vegan on the menu, they’d look at you askance and then bring you a bowl of dry lettuce.
Not any more, not in Vancouver. We have had several wonderful vegan/vegetarian restaurants open up here over the last few years where, not only is there no meat, but there’s no need for it. And these are restaurants with classically trained chefs, determined to elevate that poor plate of lettuce.
And elevate they do. I challenge you to try The Acorn, Exile Bistro, Graze or Heirloom, and not walk out feeling fully satisfied, even if you are an omnivore.
I’ve been to Heirloom a few times, but this was my first brunch there.
I love the room. I don’t know how you can’t. The ceilings soar, and the walls are painted white, giving it the feeling of expanse and space. There are huge windows facing 12th, with tons of natural light, and lots of warm, antique touches. The overall effect is warm and welcoming.
Let’s warm up with a brunch bevvie, shall we? Coffee, the most important beverage of the day, is from local roasters 49th Parallel (in drip) or Republica (in bar drinks). Tea comes from Whistler fave Namasthe. Heirloom has just opened up a second location around the corner that deals exclusively in juices, so there are lots of freshly-pressed live juices on offer here, as well as kombucha, if that’s your jam (y’all know how I feel about that stuff).
If you’re looking for something with a bigger kick, there are cocktails, as well as local beers and wines. For brunch, a good option would be the Heirloom Bloody Mary: Luksusowa vodka, tomato, vegan house-made worcestershire, Heirloom hot sauce and a squeeze of lemon.
Alrighty: mains. Let’s get to it!
I was brunching with a girlfriend, so we decided to order one vegan and one vegetarian item. Often, when I’m reviewing a restaurant, I like to order the vegetarian or vegan option, because I feel like, if they do that right, they are a good chef. With this place, however, everything is either vegan or vegetarian, so there’s not really any way you can go wrong.
The menu is pretty extensive on the vegetarian side. There are hearty, traditional breakfast dishes like your classic eggs/hashbrowns/toast (in this case, you can order Field Roast sausage in the place of bacon if you really need it), Huevos Rancheros, French Toast, a scramble, or their “Ninja Bowl,” which is their twist on a BiBimBap.
There are also 4 omelets, 4 bennys, and a couple different sandwiches and salads to choose from.
Vegans need not feel neglected, as there’s just as much delicious variety on the other side of the menu.
Huevos Rancheros? They make it with tofu! There are three different types of hash, some with scrambled tofu, and some without. There’s also a lovely muesli, banana pancakes, and a vegan french toast. There’s also a full menu of more lunch-y items, like soups, salads and sandwiches.
My girlfriend decided on the Benny Special. Instead of english muffins or some kind of bread as the base for her benny, her poached eggs came atop two beautiful potato rostis. This particular benny’s nod to the season came in the form of the yam schmear on the plate, which was blooming with all the gorgeous fall spices it pairs so well with. In addition, the sprinkle of crushed hazelnuts gave a lovely texture and crunch to the dish.
I opted for the vegan french toast. Instead of making the batter with eggs, they make it with banana blended with almond milk, then fry it. The three generous slices come with a topping of bananas and seasonal compote (in this case, apples and raisins–it tasted a lot like mincemeat), as well as maple syrup.
I know these aren’t a brunch dish, but I have to give a shout out to Heirloom’s Avocado Frites. These have been on the menu since the beginning, and they are pretty famous for them. Imagine an avocado, cut into wedges, then tempura-dipped and deep-fried. It’s the ultimate creamy-crisp combo, and they are delicious. See if you can talk your server into getting the kitchen to make you some, even though they aren’t on the brunch menu.
Prices here are higher than most other brunch joints. Mains run in the high teens. However, nearly everything on the menu is organic, non GMO, and locally-sourced. It’s really fresh, and the portion sizes are large. It’s high quality food, and yes, it costs a bit more.
Vegetarian or vegan or not, Heirloom is a wonderful place for brunch. You will walk out the door feeling satisfied and full.
Go early, there are lineups.
1509 W 12th (at Granville)
Hours: Brunch and lunch menu available from 9am-4pm every day