Few things will entice me out of bed on a weekend morning the way brunch plans can.
Not only because it means there is actually something I have to get out of bed for — I am highly unmotivated when no plans have been set — but there will be near immediate reward for doing so, in the form of delicious food.
I will take brunch in all its forms, traditional or otherwise, greasy spoon or new hot spot.
So, the addition of two new restaurants to my portmanteau meal options is welcome.
And when they’re dishing up fresh takes on standard egg dishes, chicken and waffles or dim sum, I’m even willing to set an alarm. (But, really, is it brunch — as opposed to breakfast — if one has to wake before desired?)
Both Calcutta Cricket Club and Two Penny Chinese recently began offering weekend brunch options, featuring creative dishes and inventive cocktails for all your “hair of the dog” needs. (Or, you know, to start off a lazy weekend day with a delightfully tipsy feeling.)
While Two Penny (1213 1st St. S.W.) features an a la carte menu that covers the classics, you can also wave down a server weaving the dim sum cart full of steam baskets and covered dishes around the room. Items are changed weekly. Watch for the decadent shrimp toast on brioche, soft white steam buns stuffed with char siu pork, and the lotus root daikon cake.
Order up a sweet Mandarin Mimosa (nearly requisite at brunch) or the fresh and tropical Bandy Shandy with Banded Peak Saison, passion fruit, lemon and pisco.
A few blocks away, Calcutta (340 17th Ave. S.W.) is bringing its Indian street food approach to the morning crowd, flavouring eggs and pancakes with spices far beyond salt and pepper.
Pancakes get a chai makeover with a dollop of pale yellow saffron Chantilly, southern U.S. favourite fried chicken is transformed with ginger, coriander and chili — served with cornbread — and the tender Parsi Akuri scrambled eggs are spiked with turmeric, chilis, ginger and garlic.
A slight nod to British colonialism comes in the form of the “English-ish Breakfast” with a kebab-spiced sausage, eggs, potatoes and toast.
The beauty of brunch, of course, is that as a mixture of meals, you don’t have to stick to standard dishes. Keeping this in mind, I can’t have brunch at Calcutta Cricket Club without an order of the Chips & Curry for the table. Classic fries are doused in a decadent fenugreek cream curry and topped with 62-degree egg. Split it open so the runny yolk spills over the fries and curry.
(Not a brunch fan? The Chips & Curry are available at dinner, just minus the egg.)
With a small glass of chai (or any one of the cocktails, including Calcutta’s version of a Caesar), you’ll be set for the day.
Bonus: both spots are now taking reservations for brunch or dinner.
(Photos by Gwendolyn Richards.)
Gwendolyn Richards is a Calgary-based food writer and the author of Pucker: A Cookbook for Citrus Lovers. She regularly contributes to Avenue Magazine, the Calgary Herald and FoodNetwork.ca. She believes a leisurely brunch should be followed by a nap.