I really thought 9:45 on a Sunday morning was early enough to escape the brunch-line crunch, but I was wrong. Arriving at Cora’s today, I was greeted with a crowd that not only snaked through the lobby, but onto the sidewalk outside. It made me wonder if the same resilience would hold in colder weather.
Eventually, I was joined by two more of our party of four. Our wait actually didn’t end up being that long – around twenty minutes. As we edged closer to the front of the line, we were able to peer into the kitchen to watch the “breakfast artists” (Cora’s term, not mine) at work firsthand, busily blending smoothies and assembling plates.
“Breakfast artists” at work
The restaurant itself was also larger than it appeared from the outside, with basic wooden tables and chairs divided by four foot high partitions. They broke up the space somewhat, and definitely helped Cora’s maximize the room. Janice made the apt observation that she felt a bit like she was in an elementary classroom – colourful cartoon representations of Cora’s dishes graced the walls, alongside random animal figures perched high on shelves. And though Cora’s is a chain, where each restaurant is likely decorated in a similar way, I had to say I liked the sense of lightness and fun expressed by the interior.
The family-friendly atmosphere was also highlighted by the many children dining alongside their parents. Moreover, we noticed that the patron demographic seemed to skew pretty young, with the majority of diners in the 20-35 age range.
Our friendly server got the three of us started with beverages right away while we waited for Annie. May ordered the smoothie ($3.95), which changes daily, while Janice and I stuck with coffee ($2.35). After our drinks arrived, and our server knew a friend was still to join us, she checked on us periodically to see if we needed refills, but never pushed us to order, despite the consistent line outside. At some point, recognizing that Annie was running really late, we ordered without her anyway, but with noted appreciation for our server’s patience.
I was excited to see the menu, with some knowledge of Cora’s reputation, especially out east. I loved how visual the menu was, with photos of every dish to illustrate the artistry that goes into every plate. While I usually settle on my meal fairly rapidly, with the choices so vividly represented in front of me, my decision was made all the more difficult. In the end, the ham and swiss crepomelette ($10.95) won out for both May and myself, while Janice ordered the ham panini-crepe, and Annie opted for Cora’s special.
Though our server apologized profusely for our wait for the food to arrive, I didn’t think the length of time was unreasonable at all (especially given our tardy order placement). My crepe, which had been stuffed with a ham and swiss omelette, was good overall – the lightness of the crepe was notable, as was their generosity with the fillings. The hollandaise was a little on the rich side for my taste however, though I must admit I don’t usually order any dishes containing the sauce. The fruit included was a nice touch (and for me, the small bowl was enough – Janice’s “mountain” of fruit with the panini-crepe would have been too much for me), but the cantaloupe slice made me wish they used only fruits in season.
Ham and Swiss Crepomelette
Panini-Crepe (lovely grill marks)
Cora’s Special (2 eggs, bacon, ham, sausage and crepe)
With excellent service (the roving coffee servers were great), I would not hesitate to recommend Cora’s as a brunch destination. My only nitpick is its location, towards South Edmonton Common, and not easily accessible by public transit. With the success of this outpost, however, perhaps TPTB at Cora’s will consider opening a second branch closer to the core? I can only hope.
111, 2920 Calgary Trail
Monday-Saturday 6am-3pm, Sunday 7am-3pm