I just haven’t had much luck with brunch places lately. First, it was the disappointing experience I had at A Ladybug Bakery and Cafe. Then a couple of weeks later, I had some friends visiting from out-of-town and they requested a lighter brunch. I suggested Vendome Cafe since on my first visit earlier on in the year, the food was pretty tasty. On my first visit, I had gone with one friend and with only the two of us, we didn’t have much trouble finding seating. Unlike my first visit, there were five of us on this occasion. If you are familiar with Vendome Cafe, it’s similar to A Ladybug Bakery and Cafe as the set up is a hybrid between a fast-food restaurant and a full-service casual restaurant or the so-called fast-casual type of restaurant except that the decor is a little more upscale. When customers first walk in, they go up to the counter to place their order and are given a number to take to their table. The key part here though is that customers are responsible for finding an empty table themselves. With the place being packed on a weekend, it was nearly impossible for us to find a table that seated five. To say the least, it was quite the frustrating experience and it took us over half an hour of standing around before we managed to find a table that would seat all of us and the staff couldn’t be bothered to help us at all even when we asked. I don’t know what would have happened had our food arrived and we weren’t able to find a table yet. One might say that this set up is no different from the set up at a pub where one has to fend for oneself in securing a table. However, at least, I wouldn’t be ordering my drinks and food first prior to securing a table. And if we had waited at the pub for more than half an hour to get a table, at least we would have the option to leave and go elsewhere as nothing would have been ordered yet. But here, since we had paid for our food already, we had no choice but to stick it out. As if the seating ordeal wasn’t enough, once we were seated, we waited another 20 plus minutes before our food arrived. Basically, from the time of ordering, it took almost 50 minutes for our food to arrive even though our order wasn’t particularly fancy nor complicated.
Seating issues and wait time aside, one of my dining companions and I decided to share a few items since we couldn’t decide on what to order. We each started off with a bowl of their Daily Soup ($5.95). I had the Cream of Mushroom while my friend tried the Butternut Squash. The bowls of soup were served with strips of grilled fresh focaccia. The focaccia was delicious. I loved how fluffy and soft it was. It was actually my favourite part of the meal. The soups tasted fine but weren’t particularly memorable.
Next, we shared the Organic Marinated Beet Salad ($6.95), which consisted of red and golden beets, artisan greens and chunks of goat cheese. I was actually quite surprised at how large the portion was. This was practically a meal-sized salad. However, the large quantity did make up for the taste. Unlike the Marinated Beet Salad from Double Zero Pizza, which is still by far my favourite in town, this beet salad at Vendome unfortunately was not adequately dressed/seasoned and lacked acidity to cut through the creaminess of the goat cheese. I actually had a hard time finishing this salad as the flavours just didn’t gel together. Both my dining companion and I agreed that this was our least favourite out of all the items we’d tried.
Lastly, we shared the Duck Confit Panini ($10.95). This was an item that I’d been looking forward to try as I’d heard many good things about it and I love duck confit.
The panini was filled with duck confit and caramelized onions and was served with a side of Brassica grainy mustard aioli. To my pleasant surprise, the duck confit was not very salty. This is usually a good thing but the caramelized onions were actually quite sweet so overall, I found the panini to be a touch on the sweet side and the flavours seemed somewhat muted.
This meal wasn’t inexpensive. It ended up costing over $30 for the two of us. And at that price point for brunch or lunch, I can think of many other places where I wouldn’t have to fend for myself to get a table and possibly, might even be able to make reservations ahead of time. While Vendome Cafe might be a decent place to go to for one or two people, I certainly wouldn’t recommend going in a larger group, especially on weekends. Taste-wise, the food we ordered on this visit didn’t help to justify the long wait and the seating issues either.
940 2nd Ave NW