The 200-East Block of Georgia in Chinatown is becoming quite the Vancouver foodie hotspot. It started with Matchstick coffee about a year ago, and now includes Caffe Brixton, and the newly-opened Ramen Butcher. And, of course, Mamie Taylor’s.
Mamie’s pure kitsch, but in a really good way. Ever since they opened their doors nearly two years ago, Mamie’s has become known for three things: great cocktails, it’s southern-influenced, meat-forward menu, and taxidermy. Yeah, that’s right. There’s stuffed, dead animals everywhere.
They’ve been serving brunch for almost a year, and they have been on my personal brunch list since before I started this blog. I decided to kill two partridges with one stone (and then stuff them)–so to speak–by reviewing brunch, while at the same time, interviewing Fiona Forbes. Plus, when you’re reviewing brunch, the more stomachs you have along, the better.
The space is a lot bigger than it looks. It’s a deep room with a small storefront, which makes the back a little dark, but it works for this kind of a joint. Everything is exposed brick, hunter green, and there are stuffed heads of deer and other critters (many of them have jaunty scarves) everywhere. There is tons of beautiful, naturally-finished wood everywhere–on the bar, in the tables, and on the walls. The overall effect is of a wealthy lawyer’s hunting lodge in the early ’80’s. But because it doesn’t take itself seriously, the result is cheeky and fun.
Mamie’s is owned by three friends, one of whom, Simon, who, along with his charming Aussie accent, was on duty the morning we went in for brunch. He was very friendly and nice, as was our lovely server.
But the food! Let’s talk about the food. That’s why we’re here, right?
Everything on the menu contains at least a nod to Mamie’s Southern heritage. There are biscuits, fried green tomatoes, and grits, oh my! But they aren’t served in entirely traditional ways. The biscuits make a lovely base for the eggs benny, the fried green tomatoes become part of a Bacon, Egg, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich, and the grits are served with steak and eggs.
Other than one basic breakfast item, a standard, two-egg breakfast with bacon and sourdough, everything here is done with an interesting twist I don’t think you can find anywhere else in the city. There is, for example, a croque monseiur, but this one is made with house-smoked braised veal tongue instead of ham. The hash is made with a 16-hour, in-house-braised ham hock, and includes brussels sprouts. French toast? Yeah, they got that, but it’s stuffed with a milk caramel, and comes with candied walnuts.
No southern-inspired brunch joint could hold their head up, unless they had chicken ‘n’ waffles on the menu. And Mamie’s does. And it’s good. Fluffy waffle, crispy fried chicken, spicy pickled jalapeños, and a boozy, boozy Jim Beam-infused honey drizzled over (so boozy, my brunch companion felt like she was getting a bit of a buzz from it) . My only beef with the chicken and waffles was that they used pieces with the bone still in. I get that bones equal flavour, but I much prefer boneless chicken, as it’s so much easier to eat on a waffle.
Mamie’s isn’t a great place to bring your vegetarian friends. Pretty much everything has meat in it. The one exception was the stuffed french toast, which I tried. I like to test vegetarian dishes at restaurants known for their meat, and the stuffed french toast was delicious. The milk caramel was sweet, but the acidity of the apples helped to cut it. This dish would also make a great dessert to share, post-brunch. Assuming you had room. The portions were pretty generous.
All in all, a great brunch experience. Mamie Taylor’s is fun, the food is made with lots of love, the portion sizes were good, and the price was really decent. If you haven’t been there yet, get down to Chinatown this weekend. Just maybe leave your vegetarian friends behind.