Ready, Set, Brunch: OEB

I’ve often bemoaned the lack of brunch culture in Edmonton, making the joke that Mack and I would be more likely to drive to Calgary to enjoy this meal. While there are a handful of local restaurants that are known for their brunch service (Hathaway’s Diner and Hap’s come to mind) that number multiplies by several factors when we look to our southern neighbour. So in some ways, given this current vacuum, it’s no surprise that Calgary brunch staple OEB decided to expand to Edmonton.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

OEB in the Kelly Ramsey

OEB is on a mission. Now with a trio of locations in Calgary, they’re not only setting up shop in Edmonton (with a second branch opening next fall on 124 Street in the former North 53 space), but in Vancouver and Scottsdale, Arizona, too. Mack and I dined at OEB’s first restaurant in Calgary back in 2010 when it was still known as Over Easy Breakfast, and though the menu in its current iteration is still daunting, the aesthetics of OEB has changed to embrace a more modern and sleek design. At the end of October, Mack, Emily, and I were invited to preview the first Edmonton location of OEB in the Kelly Ramsey Building on Rice Howard Way.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Window seats

It’s really great to have such an eye-catching tenant on street level. Although OEB prides itself on unique interiors in each of its storefronts, it’s apparent their spaces make the most of natural light, bright accent colours, and egg-shaped decorations. The Kelly Ramsey shop features an open kitchen and pantry, so it feels even more welcoming. It’s fun without being too kitschy, and overall makes it a very pleasant place to dine. The only drawback, perhaps, is that there are few sound dampening measures, so the room can get a bit loud.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Interior

To say there is something for everyone on the OEB menu is a bit of an understatement, as there are over 50 items to choose from. To set them apart, OEB not only has an extensive breakfast poutine selection, but also includes some unusual brunch ingredients like rabbit, lamb, duck confit, black truffles, and caviar. On that initial visit and a follow-up trip, I couldn’t resist ordering breakfast poutines both times. They didn’t disappoint.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Ehhh Itza Meatball breakfast poutine

Most poutines are made up of a base of herbed potatoes (half of which could be substituted with spinach if so desired), poached eggs, and hollandaise, then dressed up with a variety of proteins – from the more traditional bacon and cheese curds to the more refined seared scallops and lox.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Chasing Chickens breakfast poutine

Mack and I shared the Ehhh Itza Meatball ($18) and Chasing Chickens ($17) at the preview. Of the two, the pulled chicken was the better cooked protein, easier to eat along with the potatoes and curds. The Spolumbo’s chorizo meatballs were on the dry side, so digging in to create a complete bite of all of the bowl’s components was a challenge. That said, the eggs were poached to yolky perfection (we were advised by the server to request a medium doneness; apparently at OEB, soft poached means a barely cooked egg with a transparent white), and the hollandaise was delicious.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Our spread

Emily was also treated to her very own kids meal (her first!). She enjoyed nibbling on the toast and scrambled eggs. Although OEB is equipped with a couple of high chairs, curiously, neither of the washrooms had a change table.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Emily, content

When I returned for lunch a few weeks later, I ordered their signature Soul in a Bowl ($17), topped with slow-cooked bacon lardons. Again, the medium poached eggs were consistent with my previous visit, and the potatoes were as crispy as I remembered (Emily enjoyed them, too!). And though I appreciated the generous hand that dealt the bacon, because of how salty they were, less may have been more in this case.

OEB

Soul in a Bowl breakfast poutine

At the preview, service (as expected) was superb. On my return visit however, it was equally outstanding. I was particularly impressed with the small details – a shift change had occurred, but the second server didn’t miss a beat, and had already been informed that I was drinking decaf coffee which she topped up without having to clarify.

OEB’s entry into the Edmonton brunch market has already made quite the splash; lineups are commonplace on the weekend. OEB does use a waitlist app to help diners manage their time, but the best advice may be to try and avoid peak times if possible – try for an early or late brunch on weekends, or better yet, check it out on a weekday if able. I know I’m already eyeing up OEB as a place to catch-up with visiting relatives over the holidays.

Thanks again to Bonafide Media for the invitation to the preview!

OEB
10174 100A Street (in the Kelly Ramsey Building/Enbridge Centre)
(587) 520-0936
Monday-Friday 7am-2:45pm, Saturday-Sunday 8am-2:45pm

Spanish Brunch: Bodega Highlands

Sabor Divino and its family of restaurants is a local success story. Sabor is known as one of the top seafood establishments in the city, while Urbano Pizza helped usher in the wave of quick-serve, thin-crust pizza parlours in Edmonton. Bodega, on the other hand, occupies a unique position with its authentic approach to Spanish tapas, allowing diners an accessible way to traverse the globe for Mediterranean flavours. It’s a successful formula that has translated into a need to expand the original location on the Boardwalk downtown, spawned a cozy second location in Highlands, and later this year, will add a third just off 124 Street in the former Dish and the Runaway Spoon space.

That said, each Bodega branch will offer something slightly different; for instance, we were told that the 124 Street location will be open for lunch. The Highlands location on the other hand, serves what they term "Spanish brunch" every Saturday and Sunday from 11am-2pm. The menu carries over some of their tapas-style dishes, but features other, egg-based dishes to tempt the palate of weekend brunch seekers.

The dishes are variations of familiar dishes, but with a Spanish or Portuguese twist – a Spanish potato omelette, baked eggs with chorizo and Serrano ham, and a breakfast sandwich topped with the chef’s special sauce, a unique recipe every Portuguese restaurant has on its roster, or so we were told.

My friend May and I met up at Bodega Highlands for brunch on Saturday. There were only a handful of other tables during our stay, which was a bit surprising given the usual brunch hustle in Edmonton. Our server indicated that it’s typically busier on Sundays, but we also had to wonder whether their brunch program is still relatively under the radar.

Bodega Highlands

Bodega Highlands

I ended up ordering the migas con huevos ($15), sautéed bread crumble and bacon with two fried eggs and beef sausage. May selected the Francesinha ($18), a Portuguese baked sandwich with Edam, sausage, ham, beef tenderloin, chorizo, fried egg, and the aforementioned special sauce – definitely not a dish for the faint of heart. We also decided to share the salt cod fritters ($9) to start.

Given the quiet state of the dining room, we received our dishes relatively quickly. The fritters were nice and light, though probably would have paired better with a glass of wine or beer as opposed to coffee.

Bodega Highlands

Salt cod fritters

Our mains were generous; a side salad wasn’t mentioned on the menu but I appreciated the pop of freshness on the plate. The mixture of toasted bread, bacon, and eggs was satisfying, but it was the well-seasoned beef sausage that was the star of the dish. My only quibble was I had to send my eggs back once to have them cooked to the requested doneness; unfortunately, even after that they were still not right.

Bodega Highlands

Migas con huevos

May really enjoyed her sandwich, a meat eater’s dream. The sauce soaked right through the bread, and provided a nice accompaniment to the different layers of meat.

Bodega Highlands

Francesinha

Service was attentive throughout, and refills of water and tea were plentiful. It may have been different with a busier room, but we were satisfied with the experience overall.

Afterwards, we walked off brunch with a stroll through the neighbourhood – Bodega works well as a starting point to explore Highlands, if you don’t frequent it often (as is the case for me). We checked out the elegant MacGrath Mansion, then popped into some of the shops on 112 Avenue, including Mandolin Books, Majesty and Friends, and Be-a-Bella.

If you’re looking for something different to change up your weekend brunch routine, I’d suggest giving Bodega Highlands a try.

Bodega Highlands
6509 112 Avenue
(780) 757-0137
Monday-Thursday 4:30-10pm, Friday-Saturday 4:30-11pm, Sunday 4:30-9pm; brunch Saturdays and Sundays 11am-2pm