Nick Benninger is satisfied with the way the new Harmony…
Brunch for two: $30
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It doesn’t seem like you’re even on the right road, so you drive just a bit further. You start to recognize the geography in and around the RIM Technology Park in Waterloo. Then suddenly you’re at the sign for Timeless Cafe & Bakery. The turn onto what is essentially a pot-holed gravel farm lane comes up quickly, so pay attention or you’ll drive past and end up in the Conestogo River (well, no, not really; you’ll end up travelling over it though).
The restaurant is an old henhouse that has been renovated and refurbished in what is clearly a loving way and one which draws fixtures, architectural pieces, and inspiration from the Timeless Material Company, a building reclamation outfit that operates next door.
The Henhouse is decorated in a timeless way and not a kitschy antique-warehouse way, and as a restaurant the menus cover all dayparts. The breakfasts and Sunday brunch (no lunch menu Sunday) are basic and simple but well executed: from a peameal bacon-and-eggs to a scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and chèvre. There’s also French toast, granola and quiche. Nothing is over $10, while brunch features just under a dozen selections including an eggs Benedict and a pork tenderloin with garlic-roasted potato as a scramble for $14 (the most expensive item).
I get the impression that the menus change fairly frequently, and that there are gluten-free options as well as the attempt to source local ingredients, to prepare as many of the in-house elements of a dish as possible and to cook with the seasons.
Lunch covers the same ground in terms of nothing too experimental or exotic: it’s straight-up soups and salads as apps with quiche and a salad, a pulled pork grilled cheese, a chicken wrap and a flatbread with a roasted garlic béchamel for mains. The marinated eggplant Caprese sandwich intrigues. Again, the lunch menu tops out at nothing more than $13.
Brunch was not in my plan, but that was the unintended consequence of looking for a simple, quick lunch on a Sunday.
The brunch breakfast sandwich is just what it says and just what anyone might imagine a “BLT” could be: a fried egg (but not fried to within a dry inch of its life), peameal (the menu glosses it “bacon” for anyone who doesn’t know that?), Cheddar, tomato, an assortment of greens (including the always welcome and slightly bitter red-and-white “green” known as radicchio), and a light slathering of mayo (house-made apparently) on a very good bit of toasted multi-grain bread.
And you know what? It was very good.
The fact that anyone sells a sandwich — something that most people can do pretty well with three or four ingredients dug out of the back of the ol’ ice box at home — just doesn’t seem to make sense. And yet — and yet — when it is executed properly and comes with a good bowl of soup or a salad, it can be a thing of beauty indeed, if not a basic one. It’s food with the wholesome “girl-next-door” appeal. It’s what, in fact, an entire industry has relied on. It’s what makes soup-‘anda’-sandwich or a-sandwich-with-a-salad a timeless diner comestible.
This sammie is a good mix of the ingredients, and it was toasted to the proper degree (because it is possible to both under- and over-toast, don’t you know?) so as to not rasp apart your hard palate, and was built to stay together while you consumed it. That execution is important.
The accompanying bowl of soup — artichoke and red pepper — sounds more like the primary ingredients of a dip, but the soup worked quite well and had a correct and distinguishable balance of both of the vegetables. A drizzle of honey added a nice layer of sweetness.
Timeless’s Veggie Wrap is another dish that doesn’t really jump off the menu at you; however, as a concept, when prepared properly, it can be delicious — and this one was. Do I even need to describe the ingredients to you? It’s a couple of scrambled eggs and assorted red pepper (nicely roasted), zucchini, sun-dried tomato and that general savior of just about any sandwich, or any meal really, chèvre. To this, Timeless adds some of their own mayonnaise and swaddles it in a simple tortilla which is then pressed and heated.
Now as for the seating. There are a series of high-top tables with accompanying high-top stools at Timeless. Said stools are certainly not timeless and somewhat uncomfortable to sit on for any length of time. And I think the staff know that, too. I arrived during a busy (br)(l)unch-hour, and staff asked me if the high-top table was okay. I said sure. Ten minutes later — and without us having said anything about the stools in any manner at all — our waitress asked if we would like to move to a regular table that had just been cleared.
I inquired, “But how did you know?”
She just smiled one of those timeless smiles — as if she’d done this before.
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