Brunch at Tempo Food+Drink, Halifax: The history of Eggs Benedict
As if it hasn’t already been deliciously obvious to readers of The Food Girl in Town, I really love brunch. In fact, I have written numerous articles about my love for the midday delight, and discussed at length the rise in popularity of the filling phenomenon. Because of this love for brunch, I decided to actually use my Masters degree for something useful and do some research about the history of the creation of brunch and, more specifically, my favourite brunch entree, Eggs Benedict. I will not bore the non foodie nerds with a long essay about the historicity of brunch, however, a brief tasting of its fascinating beginnings seems more than appropriate.
Firstly, the obvious consensus among food historians and foodies on the web seems to be that the word “brunch” is a portmanteau of “breakfast and “lunch.” Though there are several myths surrounding the actual coining of the name brunch, the most popular states that the term was created by an Englishman under the name Guy Beringer who discussed brunch and its ideas in an essay entitled ‘Brunch, A Plea’, published in Punch magazine in the late 1890s. The article basically describes how it would be better for people to eat their breakfast later on Sundays so that they could stay up later on Saturday night drinking, which opposed the norm at the time of rising early for church and eating a very hearty meal post worship. Genius, right? The ultimate hangover cure at its earliest stages!
Brunch rose in popularity in America during the 20th century as people became less concerned with formal heavy meals and church going, and more preoccupied with Bloody Marys’, Mimosas and, of course, Eggs Benedict.
The beginnings of Eggs Benedict seem to be much more hazy, with several controversial myths surrounding the delicacy, however, one seems to stand out. The tale begins at what is considered to be the first legitimate restaurant in America: Delmonico’s in New York City (it stills exists, check out there website here!). It was said that in 1893, a woman by the name of Mrs. Legrand Benedict entered Delmonico’s for lunch and when she saw nothing on the menu to her liking, asked for something new to be created for her meal. Thus, Chef Charles Ranhofer came up with Eggs Benedict to satisfy a needy customer, and a legend was born. (Sidenote: Baked Alaska is also said to have been invented at Delmonico’s)
After studying all these wonderful creation myths I decided that I absolutely needed some Eggs Benedict, so Adam and I decided to try the new restaurant at the Delta Barrington, Tempo Food+Drink. Excited about the prospect of a brand new restaurant and intrigued by a chance walk by of the restaurant on its opening night, Adam and I jostled through the hotel lobby that Sunday morning with anticipation and hunger.
As we entered the restaurant through the lobby, the decor is immediately striking with its modern and funky furniture, colourful accents and awesome open kitchen; I was immediately impressed. It is very reminiscent of Bannock, a Toronto restaurant, with its sleek and earthy wooden furniture, which is cosmopolitan but at the same time comfortable. The girl at the counter of the grab-and-go station greeted us warmly, and a server approached us promptly to guide us to our table.
I knew exactly what I wanted, it was the first thing on the menu and number one in my heart: Eggs Benedict. Adam ordered the Skillet and we sipped on our Starbucks brand drip coffee while we waited for our food. Though we did not notice the time pass, our server approached Adam while I was in the restroom and apologized for the delay, saying that there was mix up with the food, and asked us if we would like Mimosas or Bloody Marys’ while we waited. We graciously accepted two Mimosas for our wait, and before we knew it the food had arrived.
It was worth the wait. My classic favourite had been reworked and jazzed up to Waffle Benedict: Poached eggs with crispy prosciutto, white cheddar on savoury waffles with a lemon hollandaise sauce. It was amazing. The lemon in the hollandaise was the perfect hint of sweetness to compliment the waffles and the prosciutto added the salt and the crunch to make this entree fantastic! The meal was presented excellently, with the crispy hashbrowns in a cute little paper bag, and a side of pineapple.
Adam was at first baffled at the sheer size of his meal (the server even commented on how it could probably have been shared), and was then pleasantly surprised at how delicious the Skillet was. The combination of three meats (Adam’s favourite food group) with egg, cheese, and hashbrowns was all the heartiness and goodness Adam wanted on that Sunday afternoon.
Overall, brunch at Tempo Food+Drink was a very pleasant experience; we were waited on by a plethora of wait staff, the manager even came over to apologize about the delay of the food, and it was a very comfortable atmosphere. One of the best features of the restaurant was that it did not really feel like a hotel restaurant but more of a place that is a destination, not a stopover. I would recommend this place to any out-of-towner looking for a good meal, or those weekly brunch going Haligonians who love to Explore.Eat.Repeat brunch right in their own backyards. Enjoy!
Things Worth Mentioning…
Cost: 45$ for two entrees, coffee, tax and tip! Probably would have been more had we had to pay for our Mimosas!
Things I liked: The wait staff and brunch served until 5pm…Amazing!
Things I didn’t: The long and complicated walk to the bathrooms.
The best place to sit: Near the windows to people watch through the giant floor to ceiling windows, or in the bar area with its funky lounge seating.
What to order next time: Dinner!