If breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day and if everyone really is working for the weekend, then it follows reason that the most important meal of the week is the traditional Sunday brunch. There’s something special about relaxing over a cup of coffee and some extra runny eggs in the later morning hours on a Sunday and that’s what we did a few weekends ago at Merchant’s Oyster Bar on Commercial Drive.
We had been to Merchant’s before for their early bird dinner service, in an effort to take advantage of the happy hour oyster special, but the brunch experience is a little different. It’s even more relaxed and, understandably, the menu offerings are different too. Indeed, the brunch menu seems to get updated on a fairly regular basis.
Buck-A-Shuck Joyce Point Oysters: $12
For whatever reason, Merchant’s Oyster Bar seems to have an abundance of oysters from Joyce Point, supplied by Sawmill Bay. Joyce Point is located off West Redonda Island, one of the Discovery Islands between the Strait of Georgia and Johnstone Strait near Campbell River.
Just like with my earlier experience at Merchant’s, the dozen Joyce Point oysters we had for brunch were also medium-sized with a distinct briny flavor. It was served with the same fresh horseradish, vinaigrette, lemon wedges and hot sauce as before. The difference is that we were able to take advantage of the buck-a-shuck special. Slurp!
Breakfast Tagliarini: $14
I went back to check the Merchant’s Oyster Bar website for the fuller description of this dish only to learn that the brunch menu has since been updated and this is no longer available. What I can tell you is that the pasta, which was similar to a thinner tagliatelle, was cooked beautifully. Combined with the poached eggs and cured pork, this resulted in a carbonara-like explosion of creamy savoriness.
And yes, the eggs were really poached wonderfully, oozing the golden yolk all over the pasta. The portion was decidedly on the smaller side and there wasn’t as much pancetta as I had hoped. What was there was delicious.
Dungeness Crab Tart: $14
Susanne opted for the breakfast tart, which wasn’t really a tart at all. The single puff pastry was shaped more like a slice of toast. It was much lighter and airier than it appeared. Again, portion size was definitely on the small side and there wasn’t as much crab as we had hoped either. This was accompanied by some sauteed onions, ramp pesto and hollandaise sauce, plus a little side salad.
The challenge with Merchant’s Oyster Bar is a clear and obvious one. The food is terrific. Everything tastes great, is beautifully plated, and comes from a place of delicate ingenuity. The problem is there simply is not enough of it.
If you don’t have much of an appetite and want a nice light brunch, Merchant’s might do it. If you want something more substantial, you’re better off going to somewhere like Cafe Medina or Red Wagon Cafe instead.
The total bill, including tax, gratuity and a cup of coffee, came to just a little over $50.