The Hawk & Hen’s name is symbolic. The Hawk refers to night: dinner and after dinner carousing. Adam deLevie, co-owner, claims that the restaurant is a great date spot, for its almost total lack of TVs: guys have nothing else to focus on. The setting is casual and relaxed, and the cavernous space allows for different moods. Up front, behind two stories of glass, lacquered wooden tables are set in a grid pattern beneath the upper mezzanine. This area seems appropriate for quick dining either solo or with a friend. Up a short flight of stairs is a large, beautiful and fully stocked bar and tables set further apart to allow more intimate dining, or to be brought together to accommodate large groups.
The Hen refers to day, particularly brunch, and it was for brunch that I attended the Hawk & Hen. I had the rare opportunity to sit at table with both of the restaurant’s owners, Adam deLevie and Kabir Baburi, as they entertained Canadian pop-rock legend Stephen Page with a belly-busting display of their daytime specialties. Also present was Cynthia Barry, Stephen’s promoter, and Phil Sutton, manager of the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney.
Our feast began with a trio of bennies. The first featured braised short rib served over mushroom risotto. The second featured smoked salmon and fried capers with pink pickled onion served over a potato latke (like a shredded potato pancake). The third featured Dungeness crab and bacon also served on a latke. All were topped with a soft poached egg and grainy hollandaise. Chef Mike explained his rationale for nixing the English muffin: That which is so rich, that the muffin merely overfills the stomach. I observed also that the fried potato latkes provide the very breakfasty flavour of hashbrowns, and marries that flavour directly to the benny. Inventive and delicious. Steven was particularly happy, claiming that “breakfast is my favourite food,” and happily “moving on” from the beef to the salmon and crab.
The bennies were soon followed by a plate of assorted toasts and a collection of small dishes in which were assorted house made jams and Kabir’s secret recipe coriander chutney. Chef Mike boasted that all condiments, jams, sauces, and relishes, are in-house made, and like everything else on the menu, all ingredients are sourced locally when possible.
Our second course was a sampler of two frittatas, one named Hawk, and the other named Hen. Hawk is for carnivores. It contains Capicolla ham, pickled jalapeños and creamy havarti to mellow the heat a little. Hen is for vegetarians, consisting of spinach, tomato relish and goat cheese. Both are three egg frittatas whipped with a little thirty-five percent whipping cream, and both are served with hashbrowns and baguette that Chef Mike graciously excluded from our sampler. We were already filling up and still two courses remained.
Our third course was another Hawk and Hen pairing. This time skillets. The Hawk’s Skillet had smoked brisket, sauerkraut, peppers and onions with two poached eggs and mustard gravy and hollandaise over Yukon potatoes. The Hen’s Skillet had sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions and two poached eggs with tomato relish and hollandaise served over Yukon potatoes. They looked wonderful and smelled divine.
Our brunch ended with a final desert course of a small flourless chocolate brownie with house made strawberry rhubarb ice-cream. I asked Mr. Page, who just won Celebrity Chopped Canada, in late 2016, to describe the meal.
“Well, if I ever have a chance to have breakfast with any meal, I will go for it. I didn’t know what to expect coming here, so to have three different eggs Benedicts served to me right away was a dream. The trio that I played in, that did the Café Carlyle (New York) together, myself, Craig Northey (The Odds) and Kevin Foxx (Toronto based comedian and radio personality), we had a tradition after the show where we ate. Their’s was always skinny tacos, I always got a bowl of soup and a mushroom omelette, so the idea of having eggs just about every meal, that’s what I want. So this (the Hawk & Hen’s presentation) was elevated, next level. As far as it came to presentation and ingredients, it is high, yet with a comfort attitude. Love that.