Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Big Brunch at Little Nest

Little Nest on Urbanspoon Last Sunday I went to Little Nest just off Commercial Drive for 10 am brunch. It's a short walk off Commercial Drive into Charles Street, but that short distance makes all the difference if you're keen on leaving the busy Drive behind. Once inside, you're in a different sort of busy-ness, however, with chatty parents and noisy kids (not that parents-with-kids are the only patrons).
They are open at 9am, and by 10am the place was at capacity, though we only had a brief wait for a table. The tables outside were empty (and on a beautiful cloudy morning too) so we opted to sit there, away from the bustle inside.

 The brunch special of the day was chili-braised pulled pork with salad, eggs, and baguette. My dining companion chose a veggie plate with beans, which I passed on trying because beans give me gas so I'm usually choosy about my bean intake. She also got an Americano, myself a peppermint tea, and to share, an apple-ricotta-almond muffin bigger than a softball. At the counter were a wide variety of muffins and cakes, so I'm making a mental note to go by for tea some time.
Little Nest is order-at-the-counter and the food gets brought to your table when it's ready. The place was packed, so service was on the slow side.

That Sunday was one of those days where either the food was kind of bland or my taste buds were taking a day off. The muffin had clearly large chunks of apple and what looked like a layer of ricotta cheese. Slices of toasted almond were on top. Fans of muffin caps will appreciate the large cap on it. Overall it was moist but crumbly, probably because of the large chunks of apple and its moistness. Strangely bland, especially the cheese. I was also disappointed that the apple chunks didn't add a sweetness to it, but they were probably cut from fresh apples instead of the syrupy chunks you see in apple pies.

My brunch plate had a cool side of still-cool-from-the-fridge(?) chopped up veggies on some guacamole and enough pulled pork to make a decent sandwich. There was also remarkably deep-yellow scrambled eggs, which colour my companion attributed to their being organic.
The toasted baguette halves came pre-buttered. There were two choices: Whole wheat, and one with mixed fruits baked in it, including cranberry and something yellow. The fruit gave it a nice colour, but didn't really add much to the baguette (which was fine, since I wasn't charged extra for choosing it).
The pulled pork was okay. Tender enough, but a go-easy-on-Westerners style spiciness to the chili. Overall, I'd give this plate a passing grade, and bonus points for freshness and the colourful and appetizing presentation (which was also the case on my dining companion's veggie option beans platter).

For $13, this was a decent-sized portion for brunch/lunch. But considering 1/3rd of your plate was the pulled pork, 1/3rd was the baguette, and 1/3rd was the greens plus eggs, this is also on the pricey side. However, the ingredients are "fresh, local and organic wherever possible", so that adds to the cost, whether you seek out that distinction of better food or not. And these "invisible extras" are an in-built problem for restaurants that want to offer it. Says Elena Sarasom, raw food restaurant consultant and co-author of Rewild Your Life, "whenever you do go healthier, if you want to be as ethical as possible about the cleanliness of your ingredients (meaning 'biodynamic' as they label it, organic, ethically sourced, truly vegan - as in no animal broths or anything that is discreetly non-vegan, etc.) you may face ... some tighter profit margins because generally customers don't want to have to pay THAT much more for healthier food but you on the other hand do have to pay more for better quality ingredients."

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