Do you remember Hell’s Kitchen? A few years back, I went there for brunch with a bunch of girlfriends, and while the food, I think, was okay, the decor… well, it was called Hell’s Kitchen, right? Yeah, it wasn’t very fancy. Definitely on the divey side.
Well, a couple weeks ago, I walked into what used to be Hell’s Kitchen, and is now Roland’s on Fourth. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.
I’m pretty sure the new owner, Roland, must have gutted the place entirely and built it from the ground up. The result is sleek, modern, and clean.
The restaurant itself is quite large, with distinct levels and areas with booth seating, bar seating and even a patio. You could do everything from a cozy dinner to a rowdy Canucks game here.
But I was here for brunch.
There isn’t anything out-of-this-world about the brunch menu. You won’t find anything crazy or off-the-wall. But what you will find is simple, affordable food, well-prepared. Brunch offerings include fruit, yogurt and granola (for the crowd coming in from yoga), oatmeal (served with a side of house-made banana bread), pancakes, omelettes, bennys, and french toast.
What they are famous for, though, is the $4.99 breakfast. And their Caesars.
Roland’s Caesar comes garnished with a slice of bacon, a deep-fried pickle, and is rimmed with bacon salt. Bacon salt. Nirvana achieved.
The 4.99 breakfast is pretty impressive. I make it my business to try the $5 breakfast (if possible) wherever I go. It’s a great way to judge a restaurant, because there’s nothing fancy-pants to hide behind. It’s simply eggs, bacon, toast and potatoes. A mark of a good chef is if they can prepare these simple ingredients well.
The Roland’s $4.99 breakfast (if you add coffee and toast, it costs an additional $2.50, and toast options include sourdough–my fave) is actually pretty impressive. He uses free-range eggs and a really high-quality bacon in his breakfast, both details I don’t expect in a budget breakfast. My poached eggs were cooked exactly to my liking, and although there wasn’t a ton of bacon, I felt satisfied, because the bacon was delicious. I wasn’t blown away by the potatoes, but to be fair, I’m not a huge fan of a deep-fried potato for breakfast.
My brunch companion had; a deep bowl of fried potatoes, onions and red peppers, topped with cheese, two fried eggs, and chorizo. No complaints from him, and he let me sample the chorizo. Yummy.
The thing that really impressed me the most (other than the amazing makeover of the space) was the personal touch. The service was friendly and very good, and Roland himself was wandering around, attending to business and customers, despite having been at the restaurant late the night before. The chef, David Uyeyama, also shows a real love of the details, given that many things that appear on the menu are house-made, like the banana bread and the croissants. It’s obvious when you eat his food, that the details matter to him, and he chooses ingredients carefully. You gotta respect that.
Roland’s is casual Kits brunch. Unpretentious, but the fine attention to detail makes all the difference in the world.
2041 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver
Open: 9 am to 2 pm, Saturday and Sunday