There are restaurants in your neighbourhood and then there are neighbourhood restaurants. To the residents of the West End, The Red Umbrella is a neighbourhood restaurant in all the best possible ways.
I had a breakfast meeting planned for Monday and chose to kill two birds with one stone and try somewhere new for a blog post. My Brunch Bestie was a filmmaker visiting from Ontario and Red Umbrella is that kind of healthy, local, and community breakfast spot that everyone should take a visitor to.
I was surprised the place was packed on a Monday morning at 9:30AM. We almost didn’t get a table, but luckily we were able to secure a tiny oasis in the middle of the hubbub. The tables are tightly packed, but that’s okay because it adds to the neighbourly feel of the place.
The menu has all the usual stuff; classic breakfasts, fresh pastries, always fresh coffee. Red Umbrella Cafe prides itself on the healthiest of ingredients; no GMO food on this menu. This is a local place that goes the extra mile to give their customers the best quality food that they can.
My Bestie had food concerns so kept it simple; the veggie omelette, no toast or hash browns. The omelette was filled with mushrooms, green peppers, green onions, tomatoes, and cheese (although she held the cheese back.) The omelette was packed to the edge with chopped vegetables. The eggs were creamy and light; perfectly cooked. She ordered an English breakfast tea and what came was a black tea called Assam. It was a more than acceptable substitute and the meal got a thumbs up all the way around.
I ordered the Vegetable Breakfast and I loved it. I had two eggs poached, Texas multigrain toast, hash browns, spinach, tomato and avocado. The toast was fresh and flavourful, and the hash browns had a seasoning on them that I loved. Normally I like my potato to be fluffier, but there was a stick to your ribs density that worked well with the seasoning. The spinach was cooked with a healthy dose of salt, which was great because it balanced out when you combined it with the tomato and avocado. My only critique was that the eggs came in a bowl with more of the poaching liquid than I like. I prefer water in my glass, not as a pool for my eggs. The eggs were cooked to order and the whole meal was a big success. Oh, and that always fresh coffee? Yep, it definitely is.
I watched several plates go by (it’s hard to miss in the tight rows) and everything looked delicious. Best of all, for the meat lovers out there, the bacon looked well cooked.
If you’re looking for something else for breakfast, Red Umbrella makes their pastries in house and it all looked wonderful. The menu also boasts a Wild Smoked Salmon and Avocado Omelette, something called The West Ender Breakfast (everything and I mean everything you could possibly order for breakfast on one plate) and a Breakfast Salad. The Salad includes grilled chicken breast, ham, granna padano cheese, avocado, and bacon with mixed greens topped by two eggs sunny side up; definitely not a diet-lover’s salad.
If you’re looking for a great neighbourhood spot you can have a bite to eat before hitting the seawall for a picturesque summer walk, this is the place to try. Red Umbrella Cafe is the kind of local establishment where I suspect the staff knows the names of the regulars, and everyone feels like this is home.
Movie Recommendation: Singing in the Rain (1952). It includes the most iconic use of an umbrella in the history of Hollywood thanks to Gene Kelly’s mesmerizing turn at the theme song, “Singing in the Rain”.
1707 Davie St
Open for breakfast every day from 7:30 am
Michelle Muldoon is a writer, filmmaker, and avid foodie. You can find her on twitter @chat2michelle.