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Food

Sweet Fantasy: Brunch at Regine Cafe

Posted by Adriana / May 31, 2013

Hangover Ceasar Regine Cafe.JPG

Maybe you're one to judge a restaurant by it's namesake. If you're anything like me, upon first hearing mention of Regine Cafe, images of traditional diner fare dished up by someone's belle vieille tante Reg initially filled my head. And while these greasy spoon-type breakfasts are certainly not without merit, Regine Cafe certainly falls short of any of these nominal preconceptions- it's certinly not what you'd expect, unless of course your old franco aunt has a neon-tinged old-World baroque & brocade fetish to serve alongside your brunch order.

Regine's team hails from the now-defunct Mont Royal Ave. cantine La Cantine, where they highlighted eclectically spun comfort food like shephard's pie and meatloaf. They've moved on to the spot formerly occupied by Le Jolifou in the Rosemont-Petite Patrie district, providing a lunch and brunch menu happily available even on weekdays (a welcome rarity!)

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The two adjoining rooms are more open than intimate, full of the lively din of weekend chatter as friends catch up and young families test out their toddler's ability to be out and about in public. Your surroundings are romantic furnishings that include elaborately upholstered chairs in electric hues, a decorative parambulator hosting a stack of newspapers, and bright but ever-empty picture frames along the walls. If you're lucky enough, yours may be the group that snares the sprawling velvety purple couch for your table, where you can brunch pretending you're taking part in a scene from Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette.

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You'll begin your meal presented with a shooter of freshly squeezed juice, be it the alluring anti-oxidant-hinting green of the surprising and bright melange of celery and green apple, or the even more charmingly unusual mix of richly deep purple-hued beet, apple & cinnamon. Lovely! I contemplated buying a juicer with my parents' extra air miles rewards just so that I would be able to recreate this healthful elixir on a matinal basis.

First off, I sampled Regine's version of the brunch-on-the-town staple: the Bloody Ceasar. Here it's labelled as the Hangover Ceasar, its massive size positioning it to take the place of an actual meal should solid food seem too taxing to the diner after an overzealous night out. The inclusion of nachos and a skewer stuck several-deep with cocktail olives was an interesting twist and definitely made it a head-turning "Look at me going all out for brunch!" choice.

Mac

Requiring more from my meal than that of the mere liquid variety, I selected the day's special: Mac & Cheese. Made with aged cheddar and served in a little cast-iron skillet, the comforting array of noodles were garnished with bacon and a breaded & deep-fried soft-boiled egg. The sharpness of the cheddar cut nicely through the soft texture of the sauce, all the more enhanced by the silky yolk of the egg once the breading was pierced through. The chunky bacon also invited some welcome variance to the palate, as a dish of this kind always leaves me desiring a little more to sink my teeth into. That little whimsical egg definitely made the dish for me though, and along with the bacon bridged the gap perfectly between breakfast and lunch.

Champi

My companion's choice of the Champi was also a good one. Mushrooms and country-style toast don't sound like much, but, as she put it, the dish was in fact like a hearty steak dinner, minus the steak. The mushrooms provided ample bite, and bathed in herbbed gravy they were plump and meaty. Perhaps unable to do without any actual protein though, she added a scotch egg (3$) to her order, receiving the sausage-wrapped slightly-weightier cousin of the battered little poached number I received with my plate.

Chic

Again on the savory front, another visit saw me trying the Chic Croissant, Regine's little wink to green eggs & ham. Filled with an intriguing shredded pulled ham and scrambled egg, the whole croissant was bathed in spinach sauce and accompanied by baked beans and fruit. While tasty, I felt myself wishing for some more dimension. Perhaps I was bothered by the slight sogginess and uniform texture that could have easily elevated the plate with the use of a more crisp and flaky (fresh?) criossant. I found myself enjoying the smoky-laced Bbq baked beans served on the side most of all.

On my first visit, I had been much too full from that sky-high Ceasar to order anything resembling dessert (mistake!) so my second round return came with a mission to consume some of Regine's more sugary offerings.

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Ordering the "Un Peu de Tout" ("A little of everything") delivers to your table a two-tiered pyramid of homemade baked goods and sweet condiment accompaniments for $18 (you can also order the featured items individually as little sweet sides for around $3-4 each). Crumpets and country style bread provide worthy bases for mixing and matching your topping combinations: There is the slightly-less than hazelnutty house Nutella and a lovely tart, refreshing grapefruit marmalade. The silky and unctuous caramel banana spread with the addictively light peanut butter crunch. The airy mascarpone best in which to dip the weighty/dense lemon-cranberry scones. Experiment, don't be shy. There is even a fun breakfast-y take on the standard crème brûlée, here cutely, the yogurt brûlée: a small remekin filled with a citrusy yogurt complete with a crusting of caramelized sugar on its surface. And the crowning large whorl of a cinnamon bun which had to accompany us home in a small paper bag due to our abundant fullness! I absolutely loved this little selection of inventive items reminiscent of an English afternoon high tea!

Nutella Regine Cafe.JPG

In short, Regine has more than enough to satisfy the sweetache. Cakes here adorn the front counter and aim to impress. From the innumerably layered red velvet to the coconut praline, baked items seemed to be competing for the height title, and even the Doré, towering thick bricks of spiced French Toast caught and kept my gaze again and again as waiters whisked the desirable plate away to other tables.

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An always-changing omelette special (feta cheese & zucchini for example, on one of my visits), as well as interesting daily specials that have included anything from pain-perdu to a savoury breakfast pizza-pop tart, all add up, showing that Regine Cafe has a lot going for it. With coffee sourced from Cafe Saint Henri helping them ride the third wave coffee culture craze and enough options to satisfy even an indecisive vegetarian companion, Regine Cafe is an undeniably tempting destination. Come here if you have an affinity for flashyness and an incurable sweet-tooth, and you'll certainly leave happy.

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Regine Cafe

1840 Beaubien E.
(514)903-0676

Monday - Friday: 8:00 am - 3:00 pm
Saturday - Sunday: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

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