The Breakfast Project: East City Coffee Shop

This week, BPC and I agreed to review a breakfast joint very near and dear to both of our hearts (and stomachs)–the East City Coffee Shop. We’d been debating doing this one for a while as we knew we’d have a slight bias, seeing as this has been our favourite diner in town for years. However, we’re entirely open to exploring new breakfasts and keeping an open mind, so I’ll keep that into consideration as I review this one.

As anyone who has been to the East City Coffee Shop before knows, the staff and ambience is something you won’t find anywhere else. The Eastern European couple who own the restaurant are quick to tell you exactly what they feel, and I’ve seen them even refuse to fill a coffee or two just for the fun of it.

Be warned. If you have long hair and you’re male, you will most definitely be made fun of, but it’s all in good humour, right?! Don’t get scared off by this because the breakfast is well worth the witty and sometimes a little too personal banter.

The diner is a classic neighbourhood staple, complete with a faded breakfast bar and old chipped stools, permanently nailed to the ground in an inconvenient position, forcing you to lean over in a slightly uncomfortable way.

If you sit at the bar, you get a bird’s eye view of the breakfast prep–just don’t take too much notice to the amount of butter on the potatoes. Trust me, it’s worth a few extra crunchies at the end of the day. The last time BPC and I went, we had to sit at the counter because the restaurant was so packed. Keep in mind that this was a Wednesday morning at 11:30am. Don’t even bother trying to get a table on a Saturday morning since it’s next to impossible.

This was the first time we’d sat at the bar and we enjoyed the view and extra dose of ambience we got chatting with Ramsay, one of the owners. BPC even got brave this time and asked for marmalade, something he’s never dared to do before! They’re a little stingy on the jam and they only give you one each. Of their own choosing, of course.

I also love the role reversal of the diner. The woman is the line cook, preparing everything perfectly on their giant griddle, while Ramsay takes everyone’s orders and throws a few jokes around here and there.

After finding our way to the counter, we ordered our teas and settled in, listening to the usual banter of the restaurant. Quite promptly after that, we ordered our breakfast, the same as always, two eggs over-easy (over-medium for BPC), bacon, home fries and multigrain toast.

The wait for your breakfast really varies depending on the day and how many people are there. This time we had quite a wait, but when our breakfast finally arrived, we remembered why we had just waited for over 30 minutes.

As always, it was a complete masterpiece. The potatoes were perfectly fried with their usual blend of spices. Their potatoes are a little greasier than some, but I find it’s never too unbearable, and they’re so tasty, so what does it even matter? They’re always perfectly flavoured and cooked.

The bacon is some of the thickest in town and she always manages to cook it perfectly. Just on the verge of crispy, but never undercooked. Sometimes you get three slices, sometimes you get four; it’s a little hit and miss.Every time I’ve gone, the eggs have been cooked exactly to our specifications. Like the potatoes, they’re a little heavy-handed with the butter, but it just adds to the overall atmosphere I think. It’s certainly not a good breakfast for those on a diet.

I once overheard someone being accused of not eating enough, so always eat your breakfast or else!

East City Coffee Shop’s toast is probably our favourite so far. They offer either brown or multigrain, and the multigrain seems to have a little more substance than other diner breads. And remember, you only get one jam, so use it wisely (or just go with someone who doesn’t eat their jam, like me).

As for the tea, it comes in a teapot that pours and is served with a little container of milk instead of those stupid little packages I loathe.

As you can tell, this is definitely one of my favourite breakfasts in town (plus it’s in my neighbourhood). I love the breakfast but I’m also a sucker for the atmosphere of the place. It’s also one of the cheapest diners. BPC and I pay $13 combined, which is a really great price, especially for students.

The best part of the experience happens as you’re leaving though. After you’ve paid and turned towards the door, Ramsay happily shouts at you, “Thanks for coming, thanks for leaving!” which is the cherry on top of a perfect diner experience.

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