The last breakfast of 2012

Logo Normandin The year is ending. 2012 breakfasts would soon be a thing of the past. Since our hotel was serving the same brunch as yesterday, we decided to leave on an adventure to find a suitable location.

It didn’t take long – once on Henri-Bourassa, the familiar n logo soon appeared, and so Normandin would be our last breakfast destination of 2012.

Normandin is a chain of family restaurants originating from Quebec City. Their delivery service is quite popular – and noticeable, with a fleet of blinking n logos on top of red cars. It is also open late, making it a destination for the bar crowd looking for a late snack. Normandin is also sells a lot of their products at a counter, where you can get buckets of their spaghetti sauce, family size dishes such as Lasagna, Macaroni, Pâté Chinois, and savoury or sweet pies.

The first one opened in 1969 in the the Neufchâtel restaurant and was quite popular. By the 90s, there were 19 Normandin established mostly in the Quebec City region. Normandin is still expanding into other regions, and now counts 40 restaurants from Mont-Joli to the East, Sherbrooke to the South and Ste-Julie to the West. They have yet to breakthrough on the Island of Montreal.

Normandin also diversified its business, with two hotels in Quebec City, the Hôtel & Suites Normandin on Pierre-Bertrand and the N Hotel on Ste-Anne.

We settled down in our booth, and our waitress soon brought to the Waffle Jr. a coloring mat with a small bucket of Crayola crayons, and a bowl of Froot Loops, much to Mrs. Waffle’s amused dismay.

We peered at the breakfast menu, which is always available, a great feature for those getting up late.

Jr. wanted pancakes, so that settled that pretty quickly. The pancakes ($4.25) came with a glass of milk, a bowl of fruit and real Maple Syrup, for which Normandin needs to be commended.

Normandin’s breakfast options feature many egg options, from the casserole to the omelettes to the benedict or the standard bacon n’ egg plate. Other options include bagels, pancakes, french toasts and also a Breakfast Pizza.

Mel felt like having a traditional breakfast, so she ordered the #5-plus ($7.55).

That would give her two eggs, her choice of meat (she picked bacon), a side of home fries, a bowl of mixed-fruit (watermelon, kiwi, bananas, grapes, oranges), toast and coffee. That’s the regular #5, going for $6.10.

The plus? A scoop of Normandin’s cretons (also available at take-out counter) for an extra $1.45. “I’m getting the cretons for you!”, she said. Awesome!

For my part, I was kind of tempted by the Breakfast Pizza, but in the end I decided to go for a healthier option: l’Assiette Campagnarde aux Légumes ($9.95).

A casserole dish with a mix of onions, green peppers, mushrooms, brocoli, home fries, smothered in Hollandaise sauce, au gratin, and served with two eggs on top – I went with poached eggs. A few pieces of fresh fruit came as a garnish on the side.

The food arrived fairly promptly. The Waffle Jr. dug into her pancake and seemed to enjoy it tremendously. The cloud of whipped cream? She mostly used it to dip her fruit in it, and the home fries she manage to scavenge from her mother’s plate.

From her plate, Mel seemed to enjoy the bacon the most. Strange, isn’t it? The eggs, scrambled, were cooked well. The home fries, she felt were a little dry and commercial, but not terrible, really the Waffle Jr. ate most of them anyways. As for the mixi-fruit, she didn’t like it much: “It’s obviously right out of the fridge.” Though here Normandin gets points for at least going beyond the traditional melon-pineapple from a can (which is what Jr. got), the mixi-fruit is obviously prepped ahead of time and refrigerated, killing some of the freshness and flavour in the process. That is especially true for the kiwi, which doesn’t support that kind of handling.

My Assiette Campagnarde was alright. On the plus side, the veggies were crunchy and juicy, and there was plenty of it – though there could have been more tomatoes. The eggs were poached as I asked them, but they were poached in a mould, removing some of that cloudyness one should get with poached eggs. On the alright side, the home fries were hit and miss. Some were crispy on the outside and fluffy inside, but some were simply mushy all around. On the down side, the Hollandaise sauce was only there in spirit – I mean, there were traces, but it’s like it had evaporated. The cheese also was lacking – perhaps evaporated with the Hollandaise? You see, the point of this casserole dish is to really smother the veggies with Hollandaise sauce and to then cover the dish with cheese, in order to create a cheesy-eggy-gooeyness filled with bold flavours, supported by crunchy veggies. (Normandin also has a meaty version, but I wanted to be a good boy to end the year – and I was getting cretons!) The portion, however, was quite sufficient, especially considering the very generous scoop of cretons I was spreading on my toast. The cretons were quite smooth, but dense. Quite good, though I prefer less creamy and more meaty.

Before tax and tip, our last breakfast of 2012 cost us $25. Without being the most amazing breakfast we ever had, it certainly did the trick, and got us ready to go for the remainder of 2012!

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