Cafe Medina: Lunch of Champions

MedicalGiraffe August 5, 2010 Brunch, Cafe, Four Beakers, Gastown

Fricassee was on my mind. I heard that the best fricassee in town was at Café Medina, so I called up DesignGirl for a taste quest. Sitting on Beatty Street, Café Medina thrives adjacent to its classy Belgium nighttime counterpart, Chambar. When we arrived, the cafe was bustling with alfresco diners relishing in the summer sun and Café Medina’s renowned Belgium waffles.

While waiting for a lunchtime seat, we were startled by a “Hellloo there!” behind us. I realized then that this was a warm welcome from our host and server – there are no apron-donning busboys, or penguin waiters (the classic black and white look) here! Medina’s servers are warm and casual – blending well with the clientele and truly lending the café an ‘at home’ feel.

I have a fresh-squeezed juice addiction and needed my fix that afternoon! For an eatery that prides itself on brunch items, Café Medina surprisingly does not offer freshly-squeezed juice. Nonetheless, I settled for a “just as awesome” OJ, upon our server’s recommendation, while DesignGirl opted for a vanilla latte, after deliberating between chocolate, vanilla, or raspberry caramel. My OJ arrived – although lacking the subtlety of fresh OJ – and still tasted smooth and saccharine. DesignGirl’s latte came oddly in a glass juice cup, but she said that the coffee tasted so delightful and looked so pretty that it wouldn’t have mattered if it arrived in an egg shell! Her coffee came with leafy latte art, and after sneaking a few sips, I concurred that it indeed was a luscious latte. The menu also has a wide selection of mimosas and beers.

Café Medina’s menu has extensive breakfast, lunch, and brunch options, ranging from the classic omelet to exotic paella. We saw that there were two items served all day – the fricassee and the saumon fume (smoked salmon). Without hesitating, we decided that these two must have been the most popular to allow for its AM-to-PM availability.

My fricassee arrived with two fried eggs (I love runny yolks!) and verdant arugula greens covering the roasted potatoes, braised short ribs, caramelized onions, apple, and chedder cheese beneath. The fricassee is meant to be mixed to allow the juiciness of the ribs and the smokiness of the cheese to mingle with the succulent onions, and crispy greens and apple bits. The side of focaccia bread came unadorned of any herbs – warm backed Italian bread that perfectly complemented the firework of flavors from the fricassee, without taking way from it. The fricassee is a breakfast item, but I recommend selecting it for either brunch or lunch. I found it to be a very heavy breakfast-eat due to its large quantity and overabundance of meat, and would wish for more applewood chedder.

DesignGirl’s saumon fume was served as an open-faced ciabatta sandwich, with smoked-salmon, caper cream cheese, and fried egg on one side, and arugula pepperdew and artichoke salad on the other. The two sides of the sandwich offered contrasting textures and tastes – the cold smoked salmon mixed well with the warm runny yolk of the fried egg, creating a richer feel upon the palate; the arugula and artichoke salad held a an acidic vinaigrette and offered a light zest and freshness.

Even with our stomachs satisfied, we couldn’t pass up the chance to sample Café Medina’s fresh Belgium waffles, especially with their aroma wafting through the café corridors. The waffles come with a variety of toppings – everything from dark chocolate to yoghurt to white chocolate pistachio rosewater. Our waffle arrived daintily dusted with confectioner’s sugar and a side of white chocolate pistachio rosewater topping. At first, I thought the name was just a fancy tag, but upon digging and dipping into our topping, we could really taste the smoothness of the white chocolate, the nuttiness of the pistachio, and the softness of rosewater – what a surprise! The waffles were not overly sweet and were the perfect ending to a delectable lunch.

Cafe Medina’s varied menu provides an amazing array of choices at a reasonable fare (most items range between $10-$16). They also offer grab-and-go coffee/tea and impeccable service.

We rated Cafe Media:

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