I am helping Local Tasting Tours with the launch of their newsletter, which will feature restaurants, recipes, farmer’s market stalls, bloggers, and Halifax food news, while keeping you up to date on Local Tasting Tours promotions. Everyone who signs up for the newsletter will be entered into a draw for a $150 gift certificate to 2 Doors Down! Just go to localtastingtours.com and sign up!
The June newsletter will feature the newly renovated Alteregos Cafe, so my task last week was to investigate the fare at this casual little spot within the Backpackers Hostel. Let me guess, you haven’t heard of it? Haligonians, despite being the friendly creatures we are, have a strange aversion to hotel/hostel restaurants. It is as if we think these venues are for travellers only, or that the food is an afterthought for unengaged tourists. These perceptions are slowly being whittled away by restaurants like Elements, Harbour City Bar & Grill, Gio, Stories, and Seasons. But what of a no frills cafe in a hostel on Gottingen Street?
Alteregos is a friendly neighbourhood cafe that welcomes the eclectic mix of travellers and Gottingen regulars, who stop in for fresh coffee or a quick lunch. It has aspirations of becoming a community venue for musicians, poetry readings, and post-frisbee nachos & beer. They even have Propeller on tap. I chatted with the new chef, Josh Koile, who has worked in such restaurants as Brooklyn Warehouse, Se7en, and Fleur de Sel. Yes, that’s right. Alteregos has an actual chef. All the soups are vegan, gluten-free, and without MSG-laden stock. I noticed an attractive sandwich board, and tasty looking samosas from Staff of Life. However, when I asked Chef Koile what I should definitely try, he told me about the Big Breakfast which is served between 10am-4pm for Sunday brunch.
The Big Breakfast includes 2 poached eggs, bacon, roasted potatoes, grilled tomatoes, home-made beans, toast, and chorizo sausage from Ratinaud French Cuisine. There was a bit of confusion in the kitchen, and our plates arrived with just one lonely egg (as photographed). However, our missing eggs were delivered to our table shortly afterwards with apologies from the kitchen. It was the Bluenose Marathon that weekend and the hostel was unusually busy. I often find that small neighbourhood cafes have their inconsistencies, but Alteregos has friendly staff and delicious food to make up for it. Perfectly cooked eggs, stellar local sausage and the savoury beans were the highlights of this meal, which didn’t leave me feeling heavy and greasy like brunch so often does.
My photographer had recently adopted a gluten-free diet, and as luck would have it, the special of the day was chickpea pancakes with poached eggs, avocado, beans & salsa. I was actually a bit jealous of this pleasing-looking platter, which reportedly tastes as good as it looks. I wish I could have sampled the Hollandaise sauce on the eggs benny ($10-$12), but my pal MGyver wanted some Big Breakfast action himself, so we doubled down on the BB. His girlfriend ordered the smoked salmon bagel, and was a little annoyed that it didn’t come on a bagel. But otherwise it was a tasty and aesthetically pleasing meal. So next time you’re walking by, don’t be shy! Come in and enjoy some wholesome food and a laid back atmosphere.
***Photography by Allison Taylor***