British Columbia

Victoria's thriving brunch scene profiled in new book

Food writer Rebecca Wellman's new book, First, We Brunch, features more than 60 recipes from some of Victoria's best brunch spots.

'I know for sure I could write a second edition without a problem and still write a 300-page book'

Many of Victoria's brunch menus feature plenty of greens and fresh, local ingredients, says food writer Rebecca Wellman. (Rebecca Wellman)

Would you wait for Sunday brunch?

Diners in Victoria often don't have a choice. The city's mid-morning eateries are a magnet for big lineups.

Food author and photographer Rebecca Wellman admits that she's joined in the ritual.

But, "there are places to go where you don't have to line up that are outstanding," she told CBC's North by Northwest guest host Khalil Akhtar on a recent outing at Nourish Bistro.

That's the impetus behind her new book, First, We Brunch, a showcase of Victoria's explosive brunch scene.

Don't just take it from her. In 2016, the Food Network named Victoria Canada's brunch capital.

"I think every second restaurant is a brunch place in Victoria," host John Catucci said at the time.

Wellman's book introduces the players and stories behind the Garden City's best brunch spots, from coffee shops to bistros to bakeries.

"I like to call us a West Coast casual folk with some high food standards," she said.

"Brunch is the place that encapsulates all of those things. We can go and linger. We can be casual. And we can hang out and have fun."

Healthy offerings

As she explained her book, Wellman tucked into a creamy egg scramble laid atop lentil hummus and paired with roasted radishes and foraged mushrooms.

It's the quintessential Victoria brunch dish: plenty of greens and fresh, local ingredients.

"We're so lucky to have so many resources," she said. "We've got gardens, farmers, suppliers and producers."

"Regardless of where you go, whether it be an indulgent brunch or a really fresh, healthy brunch, we're using local items. And we're collaborating," she added.

The book features 60-plus recipes from the city's most popular brunch spots, with resources for finding the freshest ingredients.

"I know for sure I could write a second edition without a problem and still write a 300-page book."

'Brunch is reachable'

So why is Victoria gung-ho about brunch?

"Brunch is reachable for everybody. We have this casual West Coast attitude that's perfect for it," Wellman said.

"We're also an entrepreneurial town. We have breakfast meetings and lunch meetings."

Victoria chefs are curating "beautiful" brunch menus that challenge some food critics who view brunch as uninspired cuisine, she said.

"You can really find what you're looking for — any day of the week, almost any time of the day."

With files from CBC's North by Northwest