Monday, January 11, 2010

Cora's Breakfast and Lunch

Cora's Breakfast and Lunch

75 King St. South
Waterloo, Ontario N2J 1P2
(Waterloo Town Square)

725 Ottawa St. South
Kitchener, Ontario
(Across from Laurentian Centre)

Going out for breakfast (at anytime of day or night) is a sinful indulgence for me. I'll eat anything greasy and unhealthy for breakfast, from thousand plus calorie McGriddle sandwiches, to eggs drowning in a buttery Hollandaise sauce with a pile of sugary maple breakfast sausages on the side. Cora's has attempted to put a healthier spin on restaurant breakfasts, but at its core Cora's is still a satisfying greasy spoon diner. There may be mounds on fruit on the plate, but you're not going to leave satisfied without some eggs, toast and greasy meat in your belly.

Interestingly, people can generally have the same breakfast day after day, whereas if you feed someone the same thing for dinner over and over you'll hear complaints pretty fast. Almost everyone wants familiar, routine items for breakfast, so there's not a lot of room for creativity (artful fruit sculptures not withstanding). So the key for a successful breakfast restaurant is execution. Cora's has the formula down fairly well -- and as long as you're not expecting fine dining levels of service and quality -- manages to pull it off.

I started off with a strawberry banana smoothie, which could be more accurately be described as a "crunchie". There was enough ice blended in that I suspect the ice to drink ratio was similar to what you'd find in a movie theatre fountain drink. As you can see from the picture, the strawberry on top wasn't very ripe at all, although being the middle of winter probably doesn't help.

For my main, I had the "Eggs Ben et Dictine" which was described as two poached eggs on an english muffin covered with Hollandaise sauce with roasted potatoes and fresh fruit. I chose the version with mushrooms and brie. Overall, it was a hearty portion and looked fantastic with an artful pile of sculpted fruit. On closer inspection, there were unfortunately a few flaws - the most glaring one as you can see in the second picture was that the Hollandaise had broken. Fruit wise, the pineapple wasn't trimmed very well and had a lot of "eyes" remaining. The apple was slightly browned and had a somewhat meely texture. However, I can sympathize with them due to the difficulties of sourcing high quality fresh fruit in the middle of winter and hopefully their offerings in the summer would be better. I don't know if they change up their fruit servings depending on the season, but I suspect they don't because of the inclusion of strawberries (and the fact people like consistency in the breakfasts). The poached eggs were cooked perfectly with lots of runny yolk inside.

Sapphire had the 1990's Harvest. This is cinnamon raisin brioche dipped in french toast batter with egg and bacon on one side and a mountain of fresh fruit on the other. The cinnamon bun was sweet and stale, probably because of all the items sitting on top. It was interesting for the first few bites but things were just not cohesive and she got bored with it and could easily pick
out every flaw: fruit wasn't ripe, apples soggy, bacon over-fried, and buns soggy.

Service was quick and friendly, and the kitchen was reasonably quick with about half of the restaurant filled. Portions were large and very filling for a breakfast or lunch. But don't mistake Cora's for a homely, family run diner where the owner knows your order by heart. With 100 locations now open, this is a corporate chain through and through. While we went to the Kitchener location, if the Waterloo Town Square spot is just as similar, I fear for the future of Angie's which is just outside the mall. While the prices are quite a bit higher, the healthy veneer of lots of fresh fruit will probably attract more of today's health conscious diners.


Anonymous said...

The owner of Angie's really should have spent her time on making her place more attractive to today's diners, instead of fighting the public square and wanting to keep the parking spaces. Personally, this made me stop go to Angie's. As the long lines at Cora's show, people are willing to come to uptown for a business that serves their needs.

Rob Drimmie said...

The fresh fruit at Cora's was nice, and having a good breakfast restaurant almost literally in my backyard (we live very close to Alpine & Ottawa - the Kitchener location) was quite appealing.

But we don't go there, we drive to Country Boy when we want breakfast, because my wife was unable to find a fairly standard "two eggs and bacon and toast" option on the menu, and because the prices were just too high for the quality of the food.

We went in late summer or early fall, and found the fruit to be as disappointing.

I've heard good things about the Fireside's breakfast (just up the street at Strausberg & Ottawa) but with a three year old we're not willing to deal with the lines that start pretty early.

Anonymous said...

That Hollandaise sauce looks like it is separating. I love my eggs benedict, but a separated sauce just spoils the whole thing.