Breakfast at Blue

Karl Wells
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Blue on Water

319 Water Street

Ph. 754-2583

Breakfast and supper are my favourite meals. I'm usually not very hungry at lunchtime. Besides, lunch always seems too rushed with my schedule these days. If I'm dining out, it's usually for supper. Once in a blue moon I'll go out for breakfast. Sometimes it's the only part of the day when I can get together and catch up with friends. I had a blue moon breakfast recently and it happened at a restaurant called Blue.

Banana pancakes with Screech-roasted walnuts. - Photo by Karl Wells/Special to The Telegram

Blue on Water

319 Water Street

Ph. 754-2583

Breakfast and supper are my favourite meals. I'm usually not very hungry at lunchtime. Besides, lunch always seems too rushed with my schedule these days. If I'm dining out, it's usually for supper. Once in a blue moon I'll go out for breakfast. Sometimes it's the only part of the day when I can get together and catch up with friends. I had a blue moon breakfast recently and it happened at a restaurant called Blue.

Blue on Water is a name that makes me wonder where it came from. The restaurant does have a nice blue ceiling. The owner, Jason Brake, was wearing a blue shirt. Maybe blue is his favourite colour. Perhaps his sweetheart has blue eyes. Whatever the reason, Blue on Water is a catchy, memorable name and names are important.

Everything's important in the restaurant business these days. Rising fuel, food and labour costs will make this coming year tough for restaurants everywhere. I'm rooting for them. If you like restaurant dining, the quality and variety we have in the current St. John's restaurant scene makes this capital city a great place to live. I'd hate to see that change. Great restaurants are good for our tourism and good for our economy. As a critic, I believe in evaluation, but I also believe in acclamation.

Morning mellow

In the morning, I love to sit in the window at Blue. The sun is facing north and so is the restaurant. Instead of making you squint as you're trying to enjoy your pancakes, the sun casts a tempered light on the buildings across the street. It's a time for soft light and soft voices. Blue's servers always seem to be turned down a notch in the a.m. - to "mellow." They're attuned to the needs of diners who may be frazzled from the night before. Chatter is sparse. Coffee flows freely. I like that.

The dÉcor at Blue is earth-toned. The chairs are high-backed and black. At breakfast time the tables are bare (except for placemats.) For lunch and dinner the tables are covered in linens so white you'd swear they fell from heaven itself. I've always admired how smart the white linens look from the outside as you peer through Blue's big window. Not so in the early morning however. Then, all you have to look at are those bare brown tables. I'd prefer white linens for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Blue's breakfast menu included plenty of meat and fish choices, as well as lots of grain and cheese. There were side orders including Newfoundland favourites like toutons, baked beans and salt-fish cakes. A few items caught my eye as a bit unusual. These were "kippered mackerel served with shallot cream and molasses toast," "grilled goat cheese, tomato and bacon sandwich" and my personal favourite, "champagne and orange juice." (Now you're talking.)

Breakfast trifle

Guest and I began with something called a breakfast trifle. It came in a clear, stemmed glass. The glass afforded a view of many layers of fresh strawberries, blueberries, other fruit, vanilla yogurt and crunchy, toasty granola. Anyone, of any age, would love this wholesome breakfast standard. It was a perfectly balanced blend of textures, sweetness and very mild acidity. Many restaurants serve similar combinations. Blue's breakfast trifle worked well for me.

I noticed at the top of Blue's menu the line, "Go organic with eggs from our own free range chickens for an additional $1.50." I asked our mellow server if he could tell me where the hens were kept. "In a room in the back," he replied.

For a second I almost believed him. You see, it reminded me of the time a friend's mom - bless her soul - newly arrived in Newfoundland from Portugal, attempted to keep hens in their basement in a St. John's subdivision. (Thankfully it was a short bump in the road to her enlightenment on what was acceptable practice in Canadian suburban basements.) I guess you can appreciate where my imagination was going?

In Blue's case, owner Jason Brake keeps hens at his property outside St. John's. More power to him, I say. I applaud his initiative. The organic eggs were delicious with my smoked salmon eggs Benny. This dish would be a special treat for any smoked salmon lover as the fish was really piled on. Blue's hash browns with bits of red pepper and onion were tasty too. They tasted homemade.

Screech nuts

Finally, guest had her favourite pancakes, "banana with Screech-roasted walnuts."

The large pancakes were light and fluffy, napped in a caramelized, buttery sauce and topped with the Screech flavoured walnuts. I think pecans would have worked well too.

The whole dish was quite satisfying. Yummy, some might say. So was the coffee that flowed and flowed until we were caught up on each other's news. Then, like two ships, we hauled anchor and sailed off in separate directions from our temporary haven.



Karl Wells is a restaurant panellist with enRoute and judge with the Cuisine Canada/University of Guelph Culinary Book Awards. He is also co-host of the upcoming Rogers TV show "One Chef One Critic," debuting 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21. To reach him, log on to his website: www.karlwells.com.w

Organizations: Cuisine Canada, University of Guelph

Geographic location: St. John's, Water Street, Newfoundland Portugal

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