Last spring IKEA — the furniture company — announced it had plans to establish stand-alone restaurants. It’s already known for its in-store cafeterias, which apparently have been serving respectable Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes since 1985. So, what do I say to myself as soon as I walk inside the Omelette Wizard?
“This place could be a ringer for a stand-alone IKEA restaurant.”
Of course, it was the IKEA “look” that impressed. You won’t find a Swedish meatball at the Wizard to save your life. If it’s ham, bacon or sausages you’re after, that’s a different story.
Omelette Wizard is in the strip mall next to Dooly’s on Topsail Road. On the way in I noticed that on the concrete landing outside, a sitting area has been set aside for those wanting to enjoy coffee or food in the sunshine — when we have sun, of course.
As you enter, you’ll notice a wizard logo above your head. He’s holding a magic wand and appears to be ready to either zap or anoint. The pointy hatted, bearded sprite looks benevolent, although I’m convinced he has some leprechaun in him. Why a wizard? I guess the idea here is that you’ll find the omelettes so good you’ll think that only wizardry could have produced them. Personally, I’ve always believed wizardry was needed to make good crêpes not omelettes.
Omelette Wizard provides the kind of dining space that, even without many customers or without a music soundtrack, can lift your spirits and make you feel good. It’s a textured, colourful restaurant. Lighting fixtures and furniture — mainly stools, chairs and tables — are of a clean design, like IKEA’s.
I needed coffee. I got a good cup of regular diner coffee. The Wizard’s wizardry doesn’t extend to espresso beverages apparently. One of those automatic cappuccino-French vanilla-hot chocolate dispensers found at service stations and convenience stores stood on a shelf behind the counter. Whenever I get something from one of those, it all tastes the same.
Omelette Wizard’s menu contains all the breakfast items you’d expect – even the famous “Full English” breakfast, complete with roasted tomato — and, because it’s open until 3 p.m., sandwiches made with toutons, waffles and pancakes are available. Newfoundland favourites, in addition to toutons, include baked beans, salt fish cakes and fried bologna. The Wizard’s menu also contains several kids’ options.
The omelette named “Meat Lovers” was my choice. It was filled with ham, farmer’s sausage, bacon and cheese. Mostly it was filled with ham, and since farmer’s sausage tastes quite a bit like ham, there was no way it could taste of anything except ham and eggs, which was fine. It was a well-made omelette with enough creaminess to say it wasn’t overcooked. No wizardry was employed, just proper cooking.
Spouse had a breakfast from the Eggstravaganza section called, “Morning on the Rock.” It featured two over-easy fried eggs, two fish cakes, baked beans and one large touton, which came on a separate plate. As with my breakfast, the plate was decorated with several roasted potato wedges, a slice of orange and a small piece of fresh pineapple.
It was an excellent breakfast. I should warn that the beans were a tad sweet and the fish cakes contained lots of savoury — the herb. Spouse was delighted by the size of the touton. At first glance, I thought it was a hubcap. A nicely browned one, with cooked — but still tender — centre.
I couldn’t resist ordering the weekly special, “Chunky Monkey Pancakes.” Unfortunately, even after our server told me that the restaurant was out of bananas, I persisted. (By the way, what kind of wizard can’t rustle up a banana? Is that a fake magic wand?) The stack of about six pancakes was liberally drizzled in chocolate sauce and dressed with shreds of coconut. While Wizard’s pancakes were steamy and tender, I found the chocolate sauce slightly bitter. My remedy was to pour maple syrup over everything. What can I say? It worked. Beautifully.
The Omelette Wizard has a franchise quality about it, but, it isn’t. It was created locally and is locally owned. If the owners were open to the idea of franchising the Omelette Wizard, I think they could certainly give Cora’s a run for its money — even without a real magic wand.
* Good * * Very good * * * Excellent * * * * Exceptional
Price Breakfast for two with coffee, tax and tip costs approximately $40.
Service Friendly, quick, professional.
Atmosphere Warm, welcoming, bright and relaxing.
Sound level Low to moderate.
Open Daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.Reservations Walk-ins are welcome.
Credit cards All major.
Parking Building’s parking lot.
Beverages Tea, coffee, juices, soft drinks and water.
Best bets Omelettes, eggs, fish cakes.
Gluten free options Toast only. Cross-contamination cannot be guaranteed.
Wheelchair access Yes.
Karl Wells is an accredited personal chef, author of “Cooking with One Chef One Critic” and recipient of awards from the national body of the Canadian Culinary Federation and the Restaurant Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. Contact him through his website: www.karlwells.com
Follow him on Twitter: @karl_wells