Since taking over the former Vivo location at the corner of Windsor and Almon Streets, the Brooklyn Warehouse has been making a name for itself with good food, quirky presentation (deconstructed salads, for example) and gracious service.
It's the weekend and I'm anxious to try out the brunch offerings—brunch is a rare luxury for me and I'm eager to see if it lives up to the lunch and dinner standards offered by Brooklyn.
It's a small brunch menu—just a few items—but there are three specials. We settle on one of those, an apple sage French toast ($8.00) and the breakfast club ($7.95), a regular menu offering.
A large selection of coffees, teas and other drinks are available. (I also notice a station for fixing take-out coffee.) While we sip our hot chocolate and double espresso, I take a look around. The cafe's odd name apparently comes from a family trip to Brooklyn. For me, Brooklyn Warehouse conjures up images of dusty old buildings on the river, with mobsters doing business under the dark eaves and wharf rats scurrying about their business. Fortunately, the interior quickly dispels this vision.
The space has changed a little: The wood flooring remains, but where Vivo was more opulent and a little on the ornate side, Brooklyn Warehouse is more streamlined, funkier and has a little more of a cafe feel. New stainless-steel fixtures and lengths of pipe fixed to the walls as art give it a more modern edge, while the beautiful dark wood bar and hammered ceiling are in keeping with the building's older roots.
Before long, our food appears. The club is a massive sandwich, easily enough for two. A rustic bun, sliced in half, holds crisp bacon, ham, ripe tomato, lettuce and a fried egg. On the side sit what are the best sort of hash browns I've had in a restaurant: Chunks of seasoned potato have been pan fried with onions in butter, until the potato is golden and the onions caramelized. I could make do with a whole plate of these.
A small cup of fresh fruit topped with yogurt rounds out the plate.
Two huge slabs of crusty bread with three whole sage leaves pressed into the surface have been dipped in egg and fried in apple butter. Neither too dry nor too soggy, this French toast is sublime. Smoky, crisp bacon comes alongside.
The service is seamless, attentive and friendly. An error in another patron's meal is quickly and graciously corrected without excuses, a sign of professionalism and experience in guest service.
Sadly, we are far too stuffed to choose a sweet ending from the luscious looking display case at the bar—we'll have to sample dessert on a return visit.
On our way out, we take a look at the posted dinner menu and note the variety offered. Though there doesn't seem to be a particular theme or style of food, all the entrees read appealingly. Lamb and steak, as expected, are two higher priced meals but most of the main courses fall in the low teens range, perfect for a neighbourhood restaurant such as this.
Vivo should have done well here in this great location, but was let down by the substandard performance of the kitchen—a problem Brooklyn Warehouse doesn't have.
This lovely neighbourhood cafe should be around for a long time. It appeals to all age groups (as indicated by the cross-section of young, old and middle-aged enjoying brunch) and hits all the right notes.
Brooklyn Warehouse2795 Windsor St446-8181Hours: Mon-Thu 11am-9pmFri 11am-10pmSat 10am–10pmSun 9am-5pmBrunch: Sat-Sun 10am-3pm