Friday, January 27

A North End gem

If you ever find yourself driving down Main Street, try to keep an eye out for a mustard yellow sign with a bright red poppy.  It's right beside the former Occidental Hotel, now named the Red Road Lodge, a historical building that was originally established back in 1886.

The Red Road Lodge now offers transitional housing and skills development programs for those living on social assistance in the North End community.  Tucked right beside the facility is a sliver of a restaurant, called The Tallest Poppy.

When it comes to early morning meals, my mouth waters as the thought of a café breakfast from Stella's, or a crepe from Cora's.  Walking into this unchartered breakfast food territory, I didn't quite know what to expect.

And I was absolutely charmed.  The decor is original and antique-y, with book-filled shelves, a single chandelier and fresh flowers adorning every table.  The walls are covered with wooden impressions, the floor has the illusion of plywood and the ceiling looks like something out of a European church.

We visited the The Tallest Poppy on a Sunday afternoon, and every single table was occupied.  Although there was a lack of seating, one of the staff members was friendly and welcoming and offered us coffee and water while waiting for a table to clear up.

We were later seated right by the life-size polar bear in the front window (I wish I remembered to include a shot of it - it sports a wicked sombrero!).  Instead of handing out physical menus, we had to pick from the chalkboard menu at the far end of the restaurant.

Although their menu is brief, the beauty of The Tallest Poppy is that every plate they serve is made with TLC. Whether you're a vegetarian, vegan or have other dietary restrictions, their kitchen will tailor your plate to your unique needs.  The restaurant also proudly sources locally grown produce wherever and whenever possible.

I requested the vegetarian cafe breakfast ($7.95), and I was delightfully surprised by what they came out with.  The dish constituted of homemade hash browns, freshly baked toast, fried tomatoes/peppers/red onions and scrambled eggs.  Not only was the plating attractive, but every bite of the meal was tastier than the last.

The toast, although the pieces were small, was the highlight of my meal.  It was lightly buttered and the dough simply melted in your mouth.  I would buy it by the loaf if I could.

My boyfriend ordered the non-vegetarian cafe breakfast, and the mixed vegetables were replaced with sausages (can be substituted for bacon).  He enjoyed his meal just as much, and said the delectable taste of the meat reminded him of the farmer's sausage he enjoyed as a kid.

Although the restaurant is small in size, it's obvious that the owners have a huge heart.  Advocating for locally grown produce and serving quality meals is why The Tallest Poppy shines in a neighbourhood flattened by negative stigma.

The Tallest Poppy on Urbanspoon

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