There’s a new Birds and Beets… wait, there’s a new coffee shop called Hunnybees Bruncheonette… wait, nope it’s a Birds and Beets popup? WTF is going on here? Is this some sort of coffee shop with an identity crisis? To whom am I supposed to send the Christmas card to? What happens if I accidentally get the name wrong, will they get offended? Where DO babies come from, the birds or the beets? Why are beets so popular when they make your pee red?
All these questions and more will barely be answered in my review of Hunnybees Bruncheonette, Chinatowns amazing new coffee shop and brunch spot, where you may find people learning about the birds and the bees in the back alleys.
Hunnybees Bruncheonette is a spin-off from the popular Gastown hangout The Birds and the Beets, so as expected they’re using Bows and Arrows beans for their coffee drinks. The latte was smooth, luxurious and the espresso balanced well with the dairy. Bonus points for some nice latte art.
On one of my followup visits the temperature in Vancouver was about 50 degrees Celsius (2500F for any Americans reading), so I opted for the iced version of an Americano. The balance of espresso to water was good, with a generous serving of ice. Bonus points to the server for not grimacing at the sweaty mess I was when she handed it over.
Breakfast Sandwich – $8
DAMN this was good! This is not your typical breakfast sando; it’s a monster of a dish, with a generous serving of braised beef, some spicy mayo and a perfectly fried egg inside.
The salad added a nice fresh taste to it, without too much Arugula (which I find sometimes overpowers other flavours). At this price, I could eat these every day.
Ricotta Pancakes – $12
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of pancakes, but these works of art were too good to turn down. The pancake itself was light, fluffy and more importantly not too sweet. The toppings were definitely a sugar bomb though, with the apricot curd adding a tart note and the ‘seasonal’ crumb providing a crunchy texture to liven things up.
Whilst this was a bit too sugary for my palate there are no points lost here, as I know this will be popular with the masses. Also, can someone tell me the correct way to eat figs, please? Am I supposed to eat the green bit? Should I be using a special spoon to scoop out the purple stuff or use my hands?
Rose Coconut Bircher Museli – $8
The first thing that hits you with this dish is the powerful Rose aroma and taste, which I was worried was going to be a bit too much for me. After a couple of spoonfuls I got used to it and it faded to a perfectly balanced floral accent that absolutely was not overwhelming.
The oats were tender, the fruit compote (my guess was apricot) added a tangy kick and the figs confused me, yet again. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this visual masterpiece.
Friendly, smiley and definitely knew their products well. I got some help deciding on my breakfast items from the greeter, who was nice a patient with me as I uhm’d and ah’d about the options. Once you’re seated the staff more or less leave you alone, stopping by every so often to scoop up empty plates.
Sidenote: To get the full rundown on the owners and the new Hunnybees/SOAP concept I recommend the great write-up from Scout here.
Hunnybees Bruncheonette is in the old Roost venue, so regulars will be familiar with the layout; a nice sized bar and prep area, with about 10 tables and chairs dotted around the place, including a patio. There’s always enjoyable, chilled music playing and the atmosphere of great looking people makes an uggo like me feel fancy. It’s nicely appointed with the right amount of design accents to give the place a light and airy feel. I’m told they’ll be doing some reno’s before a full launch, so expect this to get even more beautiful.
My one gripe is that it can be quite hot in there when the airflow is not working well, leading to an even more ugly-sweaty version of myself. I think that can be fixed with a few strategically placed fans though.
The venue is located on the edge of Chinatown on the corner of Gore and Union Streets. What this means is that you should stay on the street and not wander down the back alleys, where you’re sure to find some of the most interesting smells Vancouver has to offer, courtesy of the many Chinese grocery stores. Summer days are especially bad for this.
There are lots of buses that stop on Main Street, as well as a SkyTrain station about 5 minutes walk away. On-street parking is all paid in this area and there is Mobi stop about 2 minutes away.
There’s one, it’s clean and has everything you need, but it’s bloody hot inside.
Is Huneybees Bruncheonette finally going to be the business that succeeds in that location? I really hope so, because it’s got an amazing selection of food and coffee, as well as a great chilled out atmosphere. I can see this place becoming one of the top spots for brunch in Vancouver in next years poll. It’s a beautiful space, run by a very competent team, so I’m really looking forward to the future of Hunnybees.
And at the very least I know that I have somewhere to practice eating figs. #figlife
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