The Well

Restaurant: The Well
Cuisine: Brunch/Breakfast/Italian/West Coast
Last visited: April 2, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC
Address: 3048 Main Street (Mount Pleasant/Main Street)
Price Range: $10-20 (brunch) $20-30+ (dinner)

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 2.5
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Brunch/Lunch/Dinner
  • West Coast brunch
  • Italian dinner
  • Good portions
  • Affordable/Moderately priced
  • Local ingredients
  • Home made/gourmet sauces
  • Nice presentation
  • Friendly service
  • Local favourite
  • Hidden gem
  • Line-ups/busy brunch
  • No reservations
  • Popular for brunch
  • Hidden/local gem
  • Sun-Thurs: 9am-9pm
  • Fri-Sat: 9am-11pm

**Recommendations: Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict, Upside Down Pineapple Pancake, Well’s Pancake… I hinted Chef to make pulled pork pancakes… so *fingers crossed*

I’ve heard so much about the gourmet breakfast and brunch at The Well, and even the dinner is supposed to be great, although I haven’t tried it yet. My expectations were high and I did have a taste of what they were capable of at the 12th Annual Healthy Chef’s Competition. I also had the pleasure of meeting The Well’s young Executive Chef Romeo at the event, and was quite impressed with his Rabbit’s Feast main. I actually already had plans to try the restaurant prior to the event because my friend had asked me to suggest a place for her birthday brunch, so after trying the rabbit dish my anticipation was only growing.

Speaking of growing, watching this restaurant will be like watching a flower blossom. The restaurant flies under the radar, but it is popular to locals living in the neighbourhood. The outside is unassuming and even the inside is very casual and diner like, but the dishes that come out of that kitchen go beyond its image. It specializes in moderately priced modern Italian dining with local ingredients, but breakfast and brunch is more American and West Coast in style.

For a Saturday brunch it wasn’t as packed as a Sunday, but the room was still looking friendly with what seemed like regular diners. Having met Chef Romeo once before there was a nice mutual acknowledgment exchanged, and to my surprise even a couple of chef’s treats! I’m not sure how long he’s been running the kitchen, as I heard there was a recent change in chefs and ownership. However to me it seems like he was still getting his feet wet and the menu didn’t seem quite “his” yet, although the specials were representable of what to expect in the near future. (I’m making assumptions here). The specials of the day were the highlights at brunch and what also sounded the most aspiring, so despite the number of diners, the dent in the menu was limited.

The dishes were definitely more gourmet than the atmosphere suggested and they fell somewhere along the lines of gourmet comfort and modern diner. There was some sort of rustic elegance in the presentation with roughly chopped chunks of fresh ingredients. The portions were pretty big and the ideas were creative, but some aspects of it were bordering traditional hotel techniques. I really think that this visit was just scratching the surface of what The Well will eventually offer, because as good as everything was, it had much more potential, at least for brunch. There were simple steps that could have been taken to make it outstanding and the specials were getting warmer.

On the table:

Complimentary Fruit

  • I think all brunch places should do this.
  • Even better is when they give you banana bread like Glowbal, or even bite sized scones like Giraffe Restaurant.

Amuse Bouche

  • This was a special treat from chef.
  • It was a toasted focaccia with a smoked mussel topped with “bil-a-b” sauce… I’m not sure what kind of sauce that is, but it tasted like a salty tangy shallot chive butter cream sauce meets hollandaise sauce. It almost tasted like it was made with an egg yolk base.
  • A delicious amuse bouche and now I want to try dinner.

**Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict – 4.5/6

  • Your choice of salad or hash, but you can request half of each $13
  • This was pretty delicious but I lost a bit of texture along the way and everything was very soft.
  • It was really moist and juicy with 3 sauces including the egg yolk, but the sauces could have been better and more developed.
  • It actually wasn’t that heavy for what it was, and a Southern BBQ house would have made it much heartier and bolder in flavour.

  • The ratio of ingredients were good but it was almost like a sweet Southern sloppy joe eggs benedict.
  • The corn bread was really crumbly and I’m guessing soaked with honey butter, or just the sauce from the pulled pork, but either way it was quite sweet and obviously super moist and falling apart.
  • I did wish the corn bread had a crispy baked outside and there was also pieces of frozen corn in it and it was giving off a starchy “stuck in your teeth” texture, so I wasn’t a fan of that part. Considering the season, canned corn would have been a better alternative, or even no corn (although I love corn).
  • I wish there had been more hollandaise sauce to contrast all the sweetness going on and I wouldn’t have minded more of a tangy or bold kick from the barbeque sauce.
  • The hollandaise sauce was a bit minimal and it seemed a bit “hotel recipe” and flat.

  • It was all pretty saucy so everything just melted in your mouth except for the chew of beans and frozen corn, which again the corn I found distracting.
  • The pulled pork itself was delicious, but I liked the texture more than the sauce and flavour. It was super juicy and moist and almost creamy, but it wasn’t that heavily sauced with much BBQ sauce and it’s not comparable to BBQ house pulled pork.
  • It wasn’t that smokey, but it was a bit too sweet for me, especially since the cornbread was already sweet and on top there was also some sweet caramelized onions.
  • It’s not honey sweet, but more like brown sugar sweet and the BBQ sauce is light and almost soupy rather than thick and rich.
  • The thin layer of beans was a nice addition, and they were home made with some black beans and that gave nice texture.
  • It was very good, but if I can compare something similar, I do like the Southwest Kicka** Benny at The Refinery better – see here.

1/2 Organic House Salad – 5/6

  • The salad is fresh and well executed here!
  • It’s no ordinary “house salad” but a nutty Asian style salad and all I wanted was some edamame in it as well.
  • There were toasted candied peanuts on top and it had a sesame soy vinaigrette dressing and it was great!
  • Nice and savoury, nutty, not only tangy and well dressed.

1/2 Hand Cut Crisp Potatoes – 3/6

  • The hash is quite good, with roasted tedner Russet potatoes with the skins on. A crispier skin would be nice and they were slightly under seasoned, but still good.
  • I think they could up the Russets to Yukon Golds, nugget potatoes or even Red potatoes, it’s more suitable and tastes better too.

The Well’s Signature Hashes – Surf Hash – 3.5/6

  • All served with hand cut potatoes, 2 eggs and hollandaise sauce.
  • Surf: Smoked salmon, wild mushrooms, tomato butter, chive garlic emulsion $12
  • The hashes are super popular here and it’s the brunch favourite, but I actually wasn’t too impressed by it.
  • I asked for 1 sunny side up (soft) and 1 poached (soft).
  • I thought it was pretty good, but the Turf Hash might be a better choice because the only “surfing” happening was from smoked salmon, which was too dry even as a smoked salmon.
  • There was buttery flavour in the Hollandaise, but it didn’t have much of a thick creamy texture, tang or much else going on. I wish there was more of it because it was too subtle in flavour and the egg yolks didn’t help with saucing the dish too much.
  • The tomato butter and chive garlic emulsion also wasn’t substantial or strong enough to really make any sort of impact on the dish overall so it did seem under seasoned and rather sauceless despite having it there.

  • The potatoes, bell peppers, and red onions are cut in big chunks and I liked being able to see and bite into everything, but it was hard to get some of everything in each bite, so a bit smaller would be better.
  • The best part of the hash was the 3 kinds of mushrooms used to make it. It’s made with Oysters, Shiitakes and button mushrooms and that was the best part.
  • I couldn’t really taste any of the sauces going on and in this case there were so many potatoes I really wished they were creamy Yukon Golds or nugget potatoes where the skins just pop off and the flesh is creamy. These Russet potatoes just got a bit starchy at times like New York Fries.
  • It came with some mediocre grilled garlic focaccia bread, but I know they can do better than this too.

Surf Hash – 3/6

  • Same as above, but with scrambled eggs.
  • Without the help of a runny yolk to act as sauce, I would find the scramble option to be too dry.
  • The scrambled eggs are made quite well and nicely folded into layers and almost like an omelette, but they were under seasoned.
  • I personally would ask for them to be soft scrambled so that it’s almost a bit runny still, but that’s just me.

**Upside Down Pineapple Pancake – 5.5/6

  • $9 (Special of the day, soon to be on regular menu)
  • This was HUGE! And we had TWO! It was pretty much a dutch oven pancake and it seemed almost baked.
  • It was definitely cake like and incredibly fluffy, light, airy, soft and moist. It was excellent in texture and flavour.

It was at least an 1-1.5′ inches thick!

  • I’m quite certain it’s made with buttermilk and cake flour and it was very tender and fluffy.
  • There was a slight tang and saltiness to it which offset the sweetness of the pineapples and at the same time complemented its citrus tartness while bringing out its natural flavours.
  • It would have been great with some ground almonds in the batter too.
  • It was topped with tons of fresh pineapples and a caramelized brown sugar syrup that crystallized and tasted like corn syrup with a hint of maple syrup.
  • It wasn’t too sweet and there was a nice tang of pineapples and I/we just wanted to top it off with toasted coconut, bananas and macadamia nuts… a la mode! YUM!

**Well’s Pancake – 4.5/6

  • Caramelized banana and apples with nutty maple syrup $9
  • This was originally on the itinerary for “dessert”, but after a main each and 2 Upside Down Pineapple Pancakes, we were quite stuffed… that was until I glanced over at the table behind me and saw THIS. Holy crap. There was no way I was leaving without trying the Well’s Pancake.
  • I wasn’t expecting it to be topped with apples and bananas, but it was kind of nice to see the big chunks “sprinkled” on top.
  • I do wish the bananas and apples were incorporated into the batter of the pancake too though.
  • The pancakes were still somewhat fluffy and cakey and still made with buttermilk and cake flour (I assume), but the massive Upside Down Pineapple Pancake was just ultra fluffy that nothing could beat the texture of it.

  • I loved the creamy warm bananas on top, but the Granny Smith apples were crunchy so I felt like it was just a pancake “topping” rather than an “apple banana pancake”.
  • I prefer sauteing or baking apples to fork tender so they can release their natural sweet juices.
  • I definitely could have used more bananas as well and the ratio was a bit off.
  • Still incredibly delicious, with a sweet brown butter maple syrup sauce (no actual nuts that I could see or taste), but it could have been even better with just the execution… and maybe a touch of cinnamon, nutmeg or even vanilla… or all of the above… and walnuts!

[geotag]

The Well on Urbanspoon

20 Comments

  • Anne says:

    Great review and delicious breakfast! πŸ™‚ Craving for some more upside down pineapple pancake again

  • Linda says:

    mmm i always walk by the well everytime i dine at burgoo and i’ve always wondered just how good the food was – everyone always says that they have the best breakfast in the city and by the looks of it, i can see why πŸ™‚

    mmmmm cornbread + pulled pork for breakfast? what a southern treat πŸ™‚ and the addition of the hollandaise sauce makes it even better – i tend to not like too much sauce with the pulled pork just because for me, i think it makes the dish too moist but in this case, it seems like the sauce was totally needed πŸ™‚ mmm i always order hash when i go eat brunch – just because i like the variety having potatoes, meat and eggs – yummmmmmmmers πŸ™‚ my fave is actually the prime rib hash at milestones haha

    those scrambled eggs look really fluffy but i totally get what you mean when you say that you need the runny yolk for the hash – the potatoes need that extra bit of moisture lol holy cow that pineapple upside down pancake is HUGE! and it looks really good too πŸ™‚ i usually don’t order sweets for breakfast, be it french toast or special pancakes but those apples and that caramel sauce looks too good to resist – i will definitely try this place out the next chance i get! πŸ™‚

  • Mijune says:

    @anne – hiii anne!! lol YUM!!! so much fun!! xo

    @Linda – yayayay!! another comment from you!! oh if you dont’ like saucy pulled pork then you should try the pulled pork sandwich at The Crave on Main.. my post will be up for it next week or so πŸ™‚ You might also want to try the corn beef hash at O’Doul’s which I had today! Let me know what you think after you try The Well!! x

  • Would never have figured what food they served at The Well — thanks!

  • Bow says:

    Perhaps the salmon in the Surf Hash was overwhelmed by the eggs…try substituting a side of smoked mackerel(not expensive)…Asian fusion would be unagi or eel. These fish are heavier in texture and more substantial than paper thin smoked salmon. The amuse bouche looks good. Too bad that the pulled pork didn’t have a stronger flavour, meat and sauce wise. Tender meat doesn’t always translate to great taste.Just like you, Mijune to bravely plow through the dessert menu whilst absolutely stuffed !

  • Linda says:

    mmmm i love crave! they have the best burger! can’t wait to hear what you think and i’ll keep you posted when i go to the well πŸ™‚

  • Mijune says:

    @eatingclubvancouver_js – lol I know!!! the outside looks so ghetto!! Great surprise!!

    @Bow – mmm I love mackerel, but I wonder if it’s too fishy for most? Mmmmm UNAGI!! lol the pancakes were too tempting!!! Especially after seeing them on another table!!

    @Linda – I know!!! I missed out on their burger!! Heard about it, but wasn’t feeling “beefy”. Next time!

  • Dilara says:

    I’ve been meaning to check out this place for quite some time – brunch is my absolute favorite meal and I HAVE to have at least one brunch on weekends! The upside down pineapple pancake looks amazing (I’m salivating just typing this!) Thanks Mijune =)

  • Mijune says:

    @Dilara – Well that’s perfect!! Sunday brunch here and then dinner at The Apron! Hmmmm what’s a stop in between… ahhh Baker’s Market! Hope Flip N Funny enjoys the date i just planned for you guys πŸ˜‰ xo

  • Dilara says:

    Awesome date idea! I’m sure he’ll love it – if there’s food involed he’s a happy man πŸ™‚

  • Robert says:

    went there with my girl friend on a weekend, place was empty, had the smoked salmon benny, benny was good, potatoes were not, wasnt given the option for a salad or free fruit

  • Mijune says:

    @Robert – Oh that’s not fair… I would ask them next time for sure! It’s standard.

  • Robert says:

    There probably won’t be a next time, first impressions is a big deal to me

  • Mijune says:

    @Robert – Oh that’s too bad… but fair enough if you were that disappointed.

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