Being a new addition to the ever growing blogger scene in Calgary, I’m blown away by just how many of us there are out there. Whether it’s food & lifestyle bloggers or fashion bloggers and everything in between, it’s always interesting to read about everyone’s experiences in this great city. So in an effort to introduce myself and my individual take on all things Calgary, I’ve decided to start a Bloggers Brunch Series. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I’d like to meet up with bloggers over brunch to chat about all things blogging and non-blogging related. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a good brunch every now and then?!
To start off my Bloggers Brunch Series, I was joined by Tahira, a fashion blogger (check out her blog, Style Stories) for brunch at East Village’s newest hot spot charbar. Now I’ve known Tahira for awhile now, so technically I cheated on this one but you’ve got to start somewhere!
The Simmons Building hosts charbar, Phil & Sebastian and Sidewalk Citizen Bakery and it is an amazing space! What was once a mattress factory has been transformed into a remarkable, and unique building – requiring a photo blog of it’s own! Keep your eyes out for something soon!
charbar has a very unique brunch menu that features light & fresh items, such as a fruit ceviche, as well as rich & hearty items such as the asado plate (more on that below!). While you’re perusing the brunch menu, there is no better accompaniment than a fresh cup of Phil & Sebastian coffee!
In order to try a little bit of everything, Tahira and I decided to split the avocado toast while she ordered the baked eggs and I chose the asado plate. This was my first trip to charbar, so it only seems appropriate to go with the meatiest option!
Everyone knows the worst part about brunch is waiting for your food to come to the table (actually it may be the worst part of any meal), however between chatting about food, fashion, blogging and life the wait seemed like mere minutes.
First up was the avocado toast, which featured a whole crushed avocado on fresh sourdough bread with two fried eggs. Now I’m a sucker for sourdough bread at any time of the day but to get freshly baked sourdough from Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, I was really getting spoiled. The egg was perfectly fried and was topped with a few chili flakes, when you cut into the egg, the yolk engulfed the bread like hot lava. The richness of the egg, combined with the creaminess of the avocado paired perfectly. But there was something else dancing on my palate and I couldn’t figure out what this tangy, mildly spicy kick was. I later discovered that the bread is dressed with a red chimichurri, hiding underneath the avocado! If you’re looking for a light, balanced breakfast this bite should be at the top of your list.
I will pass it off to Ms. Style Stories to describe her brunch offering.
As a lover of Shakshuka (a Middle Eastern egg dish with tomatoes), the baked eggs with tomatoes and eggplants was right up my alley. The dish was presented in a shallow baking dish with a piece of toasted sourdough on the side – perfect for dipping! The tomato and eggplant base was seasoned with herbs and a little bit of spice, and two eggs baked into the top. The eggs were soft enough that the yolk was still a bit runny and the tomato and eggplant were baked to perfection, soft and flavourful but not slimy. There was a little bit more oil than I would have liked, but if you are looking to indulge in a hearty vegetarian brunch this dish hits the spot!
I’m back to talk about the last dish of our brunch. The asado plate featured three fried eggs, four grilled beef short ribs with some classic chimichurri and a hollandaise sauce. I had asked for sunny side up eggs but they came over easy, however I felt there was no need to send the dish back for a minor inconvenience. The short ribs aren’t your traditional braised variety that will fall off the bone, but are grilled to keep their meaty texture. That being said, these ribs were very tender and deliciously smoky, while the chimichurri garnish added some brightness to this rich dish. Overall this dish, while being tasty, was very heavy and desperately screamed out for some acidity or fresh herbs to cut through the richness. I would have preferred a larger portion of chimichurri with a smaller side of the hollandaise.
After such an extensive meal, I felt like I could barely move. And just as we were ready to get the bill, Chef Jessica Pelland came by our table to see how we found our meal. After staring at me for a few seconds, she finally recognized her old co-worker! Jess and I worked together almost 10 long years ago at the Den, so I’ve always paid a bit more attention to her culinary success. After chatting for a few minutes, we asked what her favorite dishes on the brunch menu were and she confirmed that we ordered all of them except the french toast bites. She quickly made sure we got a tasting of this fan favorite.
Perfectly crisp exterior, with a pillowy soft interior, these french toast bites delivered a savory and sweet taste. A hint of sea salt and a pinch of sweetness from the icing sugar provided an enjoyable end to the meal for me. The dulce deleche dipping sauce provided was super decadent but not cloyingly sweet, as dipping sauces tend to be, but adds that dessert feel to this brunch offering. As someone who does not enjoy sweet dishes, I enjoyed these bites down to the last one This is a home run dish for those who are craving salty and sweet!!
In case you were wondering, this meal left me in a food coma for the rest of the day but all in a day’s work for a food blogger! charbar gives it’s own unique spin on brunch and I can’t wait to visit again for dinner.
That wraps up the food for this brunch! I want to thank Tahira for joining me and making me realize that I’m completely out of my depth when it comes to fashion! ha
If any bloggers are interested in meeting up for brunch, feel free to get in touch with me!! Until next time foodies!