Notorious for their long waits, I was afraid of what our wait time would be for a group of 6. On a Saturday morning, we decided to meet up for brunch at 9am right when they opened. Arriving ten minutes before opening, there was already a large crowd eager to get their brunch on.
Café Medina (@CafeMedina) is located next to Chambar, a block away from Stadium skytrain station. They won’t seat you until all members of your party have arrived, so keep this in mind if you’re planning on coming with a large group. They also don’t have a ton of seating in their small space. We were a little worried about getting a table during their first seating since there were so many of us. However, since Chambar and Café Medina have the same owners, they open up the back room in Chambar to service the brunch patrons on the weekend.
If you ever drop by Café Medina, don’t leave without ordering a Waffle ($3.15 each). Although they taste great on their own, they have a variety of toppings including dark chocolate, mixed berry compote and salted caramel. For more exotic options, they also have white chocolate pistachio rosewater, raspberry caramel and milk chocolate lavender.
I played it on the safe side and ordered two waffles with dark chocolate and salted caramel. The waffles were a little crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. While the two toppings weren’t anything special, the waffles are a must order!
Note that if you order them with your main, they’ll actually arrive before your meal like a starter as opposed to after your meal.
For my main, I went with the Fricasee - 2 fried eggs, braised short ribs, roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, watercress and smoked applewood cheddar with grilled focaccia ($16). I now understand why this is their most popular brunch dish. I loved the combination of the tender, fatty (in a good way) and oh-so-delicious short ribs with the sweetness from the caramelized onions and the freshness of the watercress. The eggs were cooked perfectly, with the yolk spilling onto the rest of the dish. The grilled focaccia was the perfect vehicle to soak it all up.
My friend Dave also ordered the Fricasee. He told the rest of the group that the trick to dining with me is to order what I order so he doesn’t have to wait for me to capture the perfect picture before diving into it. Smart man.
Mike went with the Tangine – 2 poached eggs, spicy tomato stew, merguez sausage, sundried black olives and cilantro with grilled focaccia ($14). Don’t order this unless you’re a fan of chickpeas…they layer the entire bottom of the tangine. The eggs were poached nicely and while I thought the sausage was tasty, overall, I just thought this dish was just okay.
My friend Owen went with the Cassoulet – 2 fried eggs, baked beans, saucisson de Paris, double smoked bacon, andouille with grilled focaccia ($15). I love how the dishes come served on cast iron pans! Although I didn’t try it, Owen was happy with his dish. Dave, who’s also had this before had great things to say about it.
One of Dave’s friends also came with us and ordered Les Boulettes – 2 poached eggs, spicy Moroccan lamb and beef meatballs, cilantro, houmus, raita with grilled focaccia ($15). I didn’t try this dish but I did pick his brain about it. He said it tasted fine but was “not orgasmic.”
At the end of the meal, more waffles were ordered. This time around, we tried them with fig orange marmalade and raspberry caramel which turned out to be my favourite topping. It wasn’t too sweet and had a great raspberry flavour.
Overall, I really enjoyed having brunch at Café Medina. While there were some misses, if you stick to the fricasee (a must order) and the amazing waffles, you can’t go wrong!
At a glance:
• Notorious for their long waits
• No reservations
• Brunch is only served on weekends
• The Fricasee and waffles are must-orders
• Located downtown, a block away from Stadium skytrain station
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4 stars
• Service: 3 stars
• Atmosphere: 3 stars