As palates broaden, taste buds blossom and restaurants look for a new twists to old favourites I was pleased to discover a new taste combination whilst eating brunch at Crankys, on Vernon and 49th Ave. in Hunters Point.
Brunch dishes are pretty similar around town; eggs Benedict and it’s variants with spinach, smoked salmon and even sausage; omelettes, pancakes and waffles; fry-ups of eggs, steak, sausage, hash browns etc; all usually washed down with coffee, tea or juices.
Cranky’s have been offering mimosas as a brunch thirst quencher for a while and offer a very fine Bloody Mary. Winter, however, begs for something that is a little more warming than a chilled juice or iced tea; so I was pleased to be able to try their mulled wine, that traditional mix of red wine and spices that goes back to the time of Chaucer and his baudy taverns. In doing so I discovered a new, and now favourite, wine and food combination: Mulled wine with Croque Madame. For those who don’t know, Croque Madame is a variation on Croque Monsieur (Toasted Ham and Cheese sandwich), and includes a sunny-side up fried egg. Cranky’s version of this offers a choice of ham or turkey. I chose the traditional ham, a nice thick slice of tasty meat, which sat with gruyere cheese and a nicely made béchamel sauce, wrapped in a country bread and accompanied by a small dressed salad. I could have chosen the fries/frites but the pounds per square inch inside my shirt were a little on the high side. In retrospect I could have asked for the egg to be poached to avoid the frying but the meal was traditional and very pleasing, well cooked and flavorsome. The mulled wine was just right, lots of spice and at a temperature that meant you could drink it right away; a real heartwarmer.
Cranky’s serve their brunch Friday thru Sunday 9-4pm and it is clearly and deservedly popular, judging by the people waiting. If you are there on other days around lunchtime I can recommend their salads. The chef has a great way of marinating chicken and steak so that the meat stays moist on cooking and has subtle tastes of herbs and spices. My favourites are caesar salads with steak or chicken. The mixed salad is fresh and crisp, the meat moist and tasty with the salad dressing (a speciality) enhancing the mix in ways that give just the right mix of sweetness, oil and citrus.
Cranky specializes in French Louisiana Creole dishes, with a few available at lunchtime and more in the evening – try their delicious Gumbo soup and Fra Diablo spaghetti with seafood (freshly cooked to order). More on these in another edition.