I feel that this is the in-the-know haunt of beardo's and beardo-fanciers alike. Somehow between location and menu, the clientele at the Bellevue (located at 61A Bellevue at the corner of Nassau) have a certain style in common, a style reflected in the low-ceremony resto. I've been here for coffee previously, which is when I first lit on the homogeny of the indie joint. It's a kind of crowd that I feel comfortable with: those looking for cheap booze, coffee and good food, a casual setting and a lovable location. It feels like my uncles house back when I was a kid. Maybe that's just all the moustache's doing the cooking and serving...or the brown and speckled pottery?
The building used to be an eco-friendly clothes store, and the transformation is surprising to me. The new decor looks like it's been around forever or at least since the seventies. I know that this was a complete renovation, but the Bellevue has arrived with a quiet calm to announce that, actually, it's always been here, thank you. At least in spirit.
Their patio is a scattering of wood slotted tables and chairs, a bit wobbly. There's no fence, and the windows are big, open wide so that the interior restaurant seems to flow into the front yard, where we sit. Mary and I both order americano's to wake up (2.38$), and as I browse the menu I'm happy to note that they opt for sustainable options as much as possible. In todays geography that may no longer be unusual, but it certainly tickles me. I also read that many (or all?) their breads come from Woodlot, a bakery/restaurant that has been hanging out on my to-review list for a while. This gets me excited indeed!
The coffees are served in beautiful retro cups by our friendly lady server. I found the staff here very good. They seemed to be having fun, didn't mind answering a few questions, and didn't leave us wanting for anything. I can recommend the americano. It's got a thick froth of crema, and is pretty strong, though having more citrus than is my preference.
A fan of all things Latin American, Mary gets El Special (12$), which is a brekky plate of bacon or ham or sausage, cheesy scrambled eggs, tomatillo sauce, tortillas and black beans. Unfortunately this dishware is not very special! Plain white, oh well. The food is bright and the side bowl of black beans has punchy green avocado cubes on top. The tortillas remind me of cannoli's because of their shape, rolled into small tubes. Maybe a bit too small. There are only two, and they look more crisp and chewy than spongy. They prove a good dipper for the zesty tomatillo sauce, laced with lemon and cilantro but mostly full of itself. They don't help with the beans which are sitting in a soup of juice. We both find the beans sadly bland, even with the chili powder noticeable in them, onions, tomato cubes and avocado. They needed more salt, and less juice. I would also suggest baking them with a dash of sesame oil, but that's just me. The cheesy scrambled eggs please Mary who never met a wet egg she could eat. They are robust and well cooked with onions and herbs. The cheese was hard to notice. I think The Bellevue is using a soft and mild cheese, like babybel (I had something similar on my plate). Mary had asked for bacon with hers, but the kind of bacon used by the Bellevue is a thicker cut that when cooked crispy (as requested) has too strong a flavour of pork rind, and neither of us liked it much.
Interested as always in exploration, but craving eggs, I went for a plate with a unlikely assembly of nibbles, The Unusual (12$). Sunnyside eggs, sausage (chipolata, I think), sliced oven roasted beets, cheddar (though I again swear this was Babybel), kimchi (not house-made, but procured elsewhere in Kensington), with Woodlot's toast and fresh fruit. Yummy! It was a bit of a multicultural smorgasbord, and all things I enjoy separately. The Woodlot bread was GREAT. It was sliced thin and toasted to the texture of crostini, but still chewy and absorbant. Like all my favourite breads it was really grainy. The butter had melted and seeped in. Some flavours matched better than others. I tried kimchi with runny egg on the toast. Good combo. GREAT combo, with the vinegar, chili, tomato sauce and egg! The beets with green onions were sweet, cool and refreshing after the spicy kimchi, and tasted nice with the strawberries and blueberries. We both loved the sausage. It was meaty without being fatty. It tasted like a traditional English banger, but not nearly so fatty, with a crisper skin.
I think for what you get the price is right, moreso knowing the sourcing of ingredients is considerate to the environment. There are other things on this menu I would be interested in trying, namely gluten-free ricotta pancakes.
Note: Their online menu does not match the menu you will be served. Prices are slightly different, some descriptions have been changed. But it gives an idea!