Cuisine With A Cure

This won’t be the first time I will have outlined the wonderful social perks of brunch. Somehow I’ve managed to start talking about this meal again, which is odd considering that food-wise, it’s not even my favourite. Perhaps I end up discussing it because I’m an early riser, and for us weekday work warriors, we look forward to a leisurely cup o’ java and some newsworthy updates with friends.

Now, put a whole bunch of trendy characters in a restaurant – the morning after most likely partaking in some debauchery together on the same downtown strip – and it makes for an even more fascinating brunch scene.

That’s where Oz Kafé comes in. Imagine my delight when one of my favourite neighbourhood night spots began unlocking its doors to the late afternoon sun, in order to provide a tasty place of refuge for those brave party animals who courageously made it out of bed and into the public eye. Oz Kafé recently started cooking a Sunday brunch that begins at 2:30 pm (also known as the “hangover brunch”), and let me tell you – if you’re willing to venture back to the scene of the Saturday night crime, I highly suggest it.

As one of Ottawa’s not-so-hidden gems, you might know this groovy night spot as that tiny lit-up shoebox that has trendy tunes overflowing from its front doors, which are located only a few stony steps down from the main Elgin Street strip. At any hour on even the quietest of weekdays, you’ll find exactly what you need at this place – whether it’s a casual afternoon patio-sit, a diverse dinner, a flirty cocktail or a date-night snuggle to the spins of the chic DJ. This firefly-like café is upbeat, oozing with style, and like so many of its colourful patrons and staff – so very alive.

The reasonably-priced brunch aims to be barrels of fun, non-competitive with other early-rising establishments, and innovative in its dishes. There isn’t too much to choose from, but you’re guaranteed to like whatever you get.

My breakfast tacos

When it came to my munching, I opted for the inexpensive but mighty little tacos. Yes, that’s right, breakfast tacos (I must be part-Mexican for my obsession with anything salsa-related). The two soft corn tacos were garnished ever-so-cutely with cilantro, melted cheddar, creamy guacamole, tomato, bulky bacon and unique mayo. They’re a little difficult to maneuver, but totally worth it with the first full-bodied bite (that was made even better with my side of zesty home fries).

My dining pals branched out with succulent pulled-pork French toast (“Pig on a Mattress”) and a hefty vegetable frittata. The pulled pork was falling apart at the seams as it lay on top of the syrup-soaked bread, which had a side garnish of thick bacon and cinnamon yogurt. For someone who doesn’t like maple syrup and stole a bite (don’t judge, I told you I’m more Mexican than Canadian), even I found that the blend of the moist meat and syrup was delish. The frittata was equally as perfect for the hungry diner, with a fluffy stuffing consisting of mushrooms, cheese, asparagus, apricot chutney and side-serving of arugula.

"Pig on a Mattress" and Vegetable Frittata

Two of the best parts of this laid-back meal were perhaps not what was eaten, but what was sipped and heard. Atop the bar, a tall tower of plastic cups and a massive cooler of free orange Gatorade awaits patrons and their nauseated noggins. Whenever you feel the urge, step right up and pour yourself a cup (return pourers aren’t discriminated against, trust me). Similarly, the brunch Caesars (which are a necessity at any weekend gathering according to us nuts) are packed with healthy veggies, olives and Tabasco to cure your weekend woes; so be sure to slap a few of those on your tab. In terms of ear candy, a local DJ was enthusiastically spinning old school soul tracks with modern twists all afternoon, causing everyone to groove in their seats, order another and forget that the weekend was over. Even a female server folding napkins was bouncing from side-to-side and mouthing the lyrics to the beat-filled funk – truly living the true Sunday Funday dream.

So, in a nutshell, you’ve been formally introduced to one of Ottawa’s hottest establishments, for any of your varied hourly needs. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to get into a few cheeky drinks and funny business at night, and then attempt to redeem yourself as a fully-functioning, brunching human the next day. If you want to stretch the weekend to the best of its potential, Oz Kafé is the place for you.

And as for what was playing…