It’s rare to find a new breakfast spot before everyone else. When I asked how long The Gray Olive Cafeteria had been open, the answer was roughly a month and a half. You wouldn’t have known that as the place filled up with an early lunch crowd. The secret was clearly out.
I had a meeting scheduled on a Friday morning in Burnaby so chose this cozy little spot in The Heights and am I ever glad I did. The Gray Olive has a neighbourhood feel even though it’s so shiny and new.
There’s a breakfast menu and a weekend brunch menu and I cannot wait to drive back across town for brunch. Be prepared when you get there though, it’s not one of those hang out all morning brunch spots. There’s window counter seating and a banquette with tables and stools for additional seating but it’s not a huge place, and it fills up quickly. Food is served on papered cafeteria trays and compostable dishes. It’s all about that “cafeteria feel.”
The menu is divided between breakfast, lunch and brunch dishes. There are salads, a burger, and some mouth-watering sandwiches. The Brunch menu has four items including chicken and waffles and a pork belly breaky sandwich.
I chose the G.O. Breaky Sandwich; marbled egg, chives, oven-roasted tomatoes, smoked shallot aioli on a burger bun with your choice of bacon, sausage or avocado. I chose the avocado and added cheese for an extra dollar. I felt there could been more avocado, but otherwise, it had great flavour and the bun was fabulously fresh.
My companion chose The Kitchen Sink; two eggs (choice of sunny-side, marbled or poached) sauteed vegetables, green onions, sausage, bacon, cheese and the g.o. potatoes (which are deep fried). It was loaded just as you’d expect a kitchen sink dish to be. I was most impressed with the amount of sausage that was in the bowl. They don’t skimp on meat at The Gray Olive Cafeteria.
The coffee was good, the service friendly, and everything coming out of their shiny new kitchen whispered “come back and order me” to my ever-loving brunch heart. Did I mention there were pastries? Yes, beautiful buttery chocolate croissants which seemed to disappear from the pastry display before I had a chance to look at them twice. My suggestion is to go early if you plan to try their baked goods. One they are gone, they are gone.
The Gray Olive Cafeteria won’t stay a hidden gem for much longer. I think you might want to pop in when you’re in The Heights. If you don’t live in the area it would be a shame not to try their fresh modernized classics. The food will look familiar but the taste will be anything but average.
4190 Hastings St, Burnaby
Open from 8 am Tuesday through Friday
Open from 9 am weekends holidays
Movie Recommendation: Popeye (1980) stars Robin Williams as the eponymous cartoon character with a wonderful turn in the big shoes by Shelley Duvall as the always supportive Olive Oyl.