Modest is hottest
Tucked away on the backside of the Old City Quarter on Selby Street in downtown Nanaimo is The Breakfast Nook. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but this humble little shop will surprise you with excellent food, good prices, and authentically friendly staff.
We tend to be early risers. We appreciate restaurants that are open early on the weekends for people like us who don’t want to sit around for five hours waiting for an eleven o’clock brunch. Our visit took place right at 8 a.m. on a chilly Saturday morning. The chilliness is relevant because one of the only complaints we have with the Breakfast Nook is that they can never seem to get the heat up in that place. Wear a sweater because if it’s cold outside, it’s cold inside too.
Fortunately for our visit, after taking our seats, our server was with us promptly for our order and brought warm coffees out to us, so we could start warming up. Speaking of coffee, this restaurant is apparently known for delicious coffee. While we found the coffee to be good, it wasn’t particularly special to our taste buds.
What is special, however, is the food. This wasn’t our first visit, so we knew what we wanted to order. For her, the breakfast wrap. For him, the hash.
The breakfast wrap is a lightly toasted soft tortilla filled with potatoes, ham, bacon, mushrooms, peppers, and lots of cheese. It’s served with a generous dollop of mild salsa. It might not look like much from the photo, but this thing has a lot of flavour and just the right amount of crispiness and squishyness. It is a perfectly satisfying breakfast that is heartier than its small portion size suggests. It’s a great option for a modest appetite.
If your appetite is larger, the centrepiece of The Breakfast Nook’s menu is their hash. Maybe we should say THE HASH so that we better have your attention.
Here we have potatoes, onions, ham AND bacon, peppers, mushrooms, and even some jalapeños (oh baby!). It’s all fried to perfection and topped with eggs cooked to your liking. At your option, the whole thing is then soused with Hollandiase and seasoned with a pinch of paprika.
There are so many flavours happening at once in this dish, it’s incredible. The potatoes and the bacon provide familiarity to anchor things. The ham on its own is quite good and we found ourselves seeking out little bits to eat by themselves. The peppers and mushrooms are aromatic and deeply flavourful, and the jalapeños add some warmth without getting outright spicy. The Hollandaise is creamy and turns the whole affair into a gooey melange that is, quite frankly, one of our favourite breakfast dishes.
Now, as much as we loved our food at The Breakfast Nook, what really impressed was the prices. That breakfast wrap was $9 and the hash was $15 (up from $13 pre-pandemic, sadly). For the two of us to have breakfast and coffees, our bill with taxes and a modest tip came to $37. We think this is great value.
We also enjoyed the service, which was friendly and also attentive without being overbearing.
We highly recommend The Breakfast Nook. The small staff here cook up some marvelous foods at the crack of dawn each day and the prices are excellent. If you’re not near downtown, it’s worth the drive to check it out. If you’re already near downtown (as we are) then you really have no reason not to head over. When you do, let them know we sent you!
Just be sure to dress warmly.