From the exposed halogen lamps to the unfussy but plentiful food, Le Vieux Velo is a delicious ode to the hipster lifestyle.
Vintage pyrex cups speak to an appreciation for simpler days. Mismatched wooden chairs bring to mind hours spent sitting in a school classroom. Artfully-scattered images and sculptures of bicycles resonate with a collective environmental consciousness. Mason jars line the back wall, an unspoken commitment to frugality and conservation. Every detail counts.
With a menu ranging from typical breakfast combos of meat-eggs-and-potatoes, to sandwiches, smoothies and the signature Bénédictines – poached egg combinations served atop English Muffins with a variety of garnishes – Le Vieux Velo offers something to all mid-day diners. Notably, not a dish is over $10, a rare sight given the city’s bottomless appetite for lavish brunches. With simple abstract line drawings by local artist Emma Senft adorning the walls, tasteful décor and enticing food, Le Vieux Velo is easy on the eyes as well as the stomach.
And the siren call of this tiny Rosemont eatery is heard far and wide. On the cloudy Sunday morning in which we sat down to eat, the diverse crowd at Le Vieux Velo ranged from cute toddlers, to stylish couples and silver-haired tourists. Yet the largest demographic present was undoubtedly the twenty-something, bike-riding, semi-professionals, creatives and students who populate this fair city. The restaurant manages to accommodate them all in its small but surprisingly uncrowded space, a true metropolitan microcosm.
But once our plates arrive, it is clear that the real focus in the back of house is on the food. The coffee is bottomless, with a typical sour note that marks it as a modern artisanal brew (I, for one, appreciate a deeper, darker flavour, but that’s apparently gone out of style along with plaid skirts). The plates are large and white, a blank canvas on which breakfast dishes are lovingly arranged. The portions are generous, but not so heavy as to induce a food coma. The bacon is juicy, the eggs are poached medium-well, and the potatoes are delectable. The only straggler on the plates is the colourless tomato, an enigma given the fact it’s still the tail-end of its season.
Le Vieux Velo’s real talent is its attention to detail. From the thought-out touches of décor to the coffee beans in the brown sugar container, nothing here seems accidental. The restaurant’s star dishes are the Bénédictines, poached eggs that come drenched in a rich, deeply flavoured hollandaise sauce. Yet the sauce is no cover for shoddy or skimpy filling: notably, the ham in La Florentine is perfectly cooked; the cheese in the Vegé-Pesto is a sharp, delicious aged cheddar.
“They’re not cheaping out,” concludes one of the diners in our party.
And as we square our pleasantly low bills, noting the strange hieroglyphics printed on the bottom of our paper copies, and go outside to mount our bikes, that is the impression that remains: Le Vieux Velo is not a place where they cut corners.
59 Rue Beaubien Est