January 22, 2017

Hawk & Hen, Downtown (revisit)

Number 6 on Brunch Places to visit in 2017 is "Hawk and Hen".  Which is convenient, as it is fast become a favourite regular place for my friends and I to eat at.    That's because there's no line up, decent coffee and buttery, waxy, golden potatoes.

I reviewed Hawk & Hen in 2015, not long after it opened.  I haven't been back for anything but brunch, but feel it's probably time I did.  The space does seem to have gathered more customers in the mean time, and the menu has changed up a little, but it's still looking at serving up classic, fresh west coast breakfasts with small, but good twists.

The restaurant is split over three levels, with the front side having two tiers next to tall windows. The windows deserve to get lots of warm light in. They instead face north, looking at the old brick heritage buildings of Yates Street.  Buildings much improved and renovated in recent years, mind you. The time I went, the main feature of those buildings was two ladies shotgunning Lucky Lager to Black Sabbath's "War Pigs".

Good on them.

Inside, the tables on the lower levels are big and friendly and relaxing. But always feels cramped being underneath on the ground floor.  Even now I have my head bent down, feeling like I've crawled underneath a tree house to have lunch.  It's not that low at all in there, but has air of enclosure that i wish it didn't.

But the food.  Last time I went I ordered the BC Salmon Skillet: a layer of buttery, golden Yukon potatoes, covered in smoked salmon, latkes and capers.  Topped with two poached eggs and some fresh Hollandaise.  In cast iron skillet.

I suspect my cholesterol is up several points.  But it was worth it.  Some how they make the potatoes both firm and waxy in consistency, and rich tasting as well. The earthy nice of the spuds comes through.  It's clearly the butter that does the trick. I am sure it's not just covering everything melted butter and hoping.  I do that at home sometimes, and it doesn't quite have this result.

The eggs were done to around medium/medium soft.  Hard to get perfect, but they were pretty damn near, and oozed the yolks nicely over the salmon and capers.  This made for a savory, fishy forkful.The slight smoke in the salmon cuts through the eggs just enough to make it a great combination.  In fact, even though they serve thick hand-sliced rashers of bacon, and one of my friends had it sitting there in my eyeline, I didn't feel the least bit jealous. And I've had the bacon.  It's good bacon.  Just this is good salmon too.

(I'm just sending a message to suggest we go back soon for another brunch, as I do want the bacon next time).

They serve hipster friendly Bows and Arrow coffee.  Hipster friendly, and well roasted, good coffee. All the while kept freshened up by a pair of attentive servers.  The staff definitely seemed more relaxed and on the ball than my first visit,

One to visit for sure, and deserving in a top ten of Victoria brunch places.  But hopefully this post won't get too much attention so there's a queue to get in.

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