Modern Cafe (Breakfast) Review

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Oh, they serve other meals here too?

Do any of you remember a little diner on Commercial St. from a few years back called Two Chefs Affair? Well we do. We remember rolling in to that place at the crack of dawn on many different Saturdays and squeezing into a rickety table for what we thought at the time was Nanaimo’s best breakfast. We particularly liked their eggs Benedict as their Hollandaise was second to none – just the right amount of lemon to make it zing, without curdling it. They also always seemed to have an interesting daily special Benny which we could never resist.

You all know it. Time to go in?

Sadly, Two Chefs Affair is no more. We were never quite sure what closed it down but the rumour we heard a few years ago was that the owners had simply desired to consolidate their breakfast and lunch diner with their upscale lunch/dinner/cocktail lounge into one operation – The Modern Cafe.

The good news for us was that the Two Chefs Affair breakfast menu had migrated over to the Modern. Hooray! We could still get those great breakfasts we liked, and only a block away – and the Modern started opening early for breakfast – perfect.

It’s been a while since we visited, so we decided it was time to go back and see if the Modern still had it where it counts. Armed with our trusty gift certificates (acquired from Costco at a discount, heh) we headed down there on Saturday morning to see what’s what.

Just a note before getting to the food, the Modern has done a good job implementing Covid measures. There’s good one-way flow in the restaurant, and staff were wearing protective gear. There’s also plenty of outdoor patio space should you so choose.

Oh yeah.

Ok let’s eat. We ordered our usual: Love at First Bite (with a side of bacon) for him and the Benny special (obvie) for her.

Love at First Bite is french toast. Why it’s not called french toast on the menu is a mystery to us but ok. Instead of bread, the restaurant uses a sliced up pretzel bun (perhaps from Portofino in Victoria?) which has been griddled to perfection. Our french toast was served with strawberries and a great big dollop of extremely soft blueberry cream cheese. A generous side bowl of real maple syrup was provided, and a nice dusting of icing sugar was there too to add some sweetness. This is an awesome breakfast on its own, but we always like to order a side of bacon to really complete the experience. Love it. Always order it.

The special we ordered was a braised beef and onion Benny. The beef was flavourful but the onions weren’t quite carmelized as promised. Fortunately that amazing Hollandaise brought everything together.

Yep. That’s a beefy Benny.

The Benny was served with homemade hash browns which were well cooked and nicely seasoned. The real star though was the homemade ketchup they came with. They could have served a plate of raw eggplant with that stuff and we would still have eaten it all up. The ketchup is that good. We also stuck some of it on the beef, onions, and poached egg. Why not? So good.

Being breakfast, we kept our drinks simple and didn’t have any dessert.

The service at the Modern has almost never been bad, but it’s also rarely exceeded expectations. This visit was no different. The hostess and our server were both friendly and prompt. Our server was quick to take orders and was quite observant. We like that she noticed there was no bacon with our french toast but that was because one of us was a piglet and ate it really quickly. 🙂 Despite that, it did feel like service from a script. We could hardly find fault with it, but it wasn’t inspiring either.

Our total bill with the two entrees and a small orange juice was $42. We find $20+ each for breakfast – even a good breakfast – to be a bit of a tough nut to swallow. Because we love the food so much, we consider this ok value.


The Modern has been one of our favourite breakfast spots for years. That didn’t change with this visit. They need to take care to watch those prices and to never change their Hollandaise recipe. If they can stick to that, they’ll continue to separate us from our money for years to come.

Go check them out and let them know we sent you!

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