Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Jackalope: Birthday Breakfast, the Hipster Herd Mentality, and Sizzling Skillets.

The end of August is a wistful time to have a birthday. You might get sunshine and heat. But even if you do, the leaves are changing and falling, there is a nip to the air as the sun sets, and the clouds are just as likely to start rolling in and reminding you that the seasons are changing.
Lucky me! Last Saturday was my birthday, but it will be remembered by Vancouverites not for being the happy day of my birth, but because there was an epic windstorm that left many thousands without power, and uprooted trees and flung branches far and wide. I tell you, it's been hard to believe that last Wednesday I was basking in the sun at the PNE. Even harder to believe that the PNE is still on. Feels like a lifetime ago.
Anyway, before the winds really ramped up on that fateful Saturday, my mom took me out for a birthday breakfast. Our first stop was Yolks, but I'd dragged my feet, as I'd forgotten it was the weekend. By the time we got there the lineup was out the door. Now, much as I love Yolks, I wasn't going to wait in any damn line, not on my birthday! So we did what any self-respecting people of gently English extraction do: we slunk away and tried to think of another place to eat that wouldn't be packed to the gills.
As we were in east van anyway, a thought struck me: why not try Jackalope? I'd looked them up recently and noticed that they had a brunch-on-weekends menu. We weren't far away... We hopped in the car and headed east to take a look.
As I suspected, the lineup across the street at Red Wagon was ridiculous, while Jackalope was warm, welcoming, and blessedly empty, considering the wind and threatening skies outside.
An aside here- In a city as large and as blessed with amazing restaurants as we are, it absolutely boggles my mind that people will line up for breakfast, or any other meal for that matter. But especially breakfast! Picture this: it's the weekend, perhaps it's your only day off after a tough work week. You want everything to go your way. You've slept in, you've stretched lazily, and now it's mid day and you're in serious need of sustenance. So you go to the same trendy place as every other hipster in the freakin' city and stand in line for an hour? What the actual fuck? There are so many places to eat in Vancouver! And while some places, like Yolks, put out a breakfast so seriously good that I would-almost-stand in line for them, most of them are mediocre at best. Okay, rant over. It works to my advantage anyway, because I will always look for the place that doesn't have a lineup, and now that I have a boyfriend who is practically allergic to waiting in line (and adores breakfast), this isn't about to change.
So, Jackalope. Serious hipster vibe: Tom Waits on the system, deer heads and the mythical Jackalope itself peering down from various walls, beefy wooden tables. (They call themselves a Dive Bar on their website. Guys, if you call yourself a dive, you're not one. Hell, if you have a damn website, you're not a dive bar.) But for all that it's trying a little hard, it's a charming place, and one that I'd like to hang out in some stormy winter night, drinking too many ridiculously delicious cocktails and boring someone with my life story.
Hey look, it's a Jackalope! 
In fact, I did hang out in Jackalope one night last year, with an ex-flame, and indeed drank at least one wonderful cocktail. Unfortunately, the evening- which had begun pleasantly enough- took a left turn into Awkwardsville when I mentioned that I was seeing someone new, and soon I had to scramble off to band practice, as both of us had had very different ideas of where the evening was going.
Now I was back, and determined to try a meal, because I remembered being sorely tempted last time I'd been there.
Jackalope loves their skillets, and many of their meals- especially of the brunch variety- nestle in mini skillets brought to your table resting on a wooden board. Watch your flailing limbs: these things are HOT! After some deliberation I ordered the Skillet Hash, with a side of bacon, and Mom ordered the Huevos Rancheros. Service was friendly, fast and attentive, and soon we were munching happily on our brunch. No lineups for us!
Jackalope's brunch menu.
My skillet hash was, in a word, fantastic, with some nice touches that elevated it above the everyday version. My notes simply say kale and corn in the hash, which is true- plus there was some yam in there as well, making the hash seem almost...healthy? (But in such a delicious, tasty way.) The bacon was meaty and cooked just right: not too crunchy, not too limp. Mom's Huevos Rancheros was also in a skillet (of course), and equally yummy, although I was in the mood for potatoes, not rice, so I was glad I'd chosen the hash instead. Our drip coffee was fine as well, although I'm an espresso girl, so I wished they'd had a machine. But that wouldn't really fit in with a dive bar, would it?
So now I've discovered what an excellent breakfast Jackalope does, will I be back? Damn straight, at least until the lineups start. "You know," I mused to my mom as we munched "I could have eaten at Denny's for free today, seeing as it's my birthday and all." But that was only to get a rise out of her,
because of course, I'm so glad we didn't.

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