Friday, April 18, 2014

A Globally-Inspired Sunday Brunch at Marben

After taking over the helm at Marben a year ago and replacing Carl Heinrich as executive chef, Rob Bragagnolo (@RobBragagnolo) has successfully reinvented the previously meat-centric restaurant on 488 Wellington St. W. into one that offers diners a more sophisticated Mediterranean fare. Bragagnolo, a Torontonian with an Italian background, has spent the last 10+ years working in Spain and travelling across the world. With an impressive stint in Mallorca and a passport full of stamps under his belt, Bragagnolo is determined to share his love for international cuisine at Marben.

I visited Marben (Twitter: @MarbenResto, Facebook: Marbentwo Sundays ago. It was a last minute decision (as well as a very late one) so the Sunday brunch rush was already over when we arrived.

 The Marben's brunch menu begins with the following statement: "A collection of my favourite brunch dishes from my travels around the world". I was excited just from reading that.

My brunch consisted of the following four dishes (it's a bit excessive I know):

2 poached eggs on spiced cauliflower, quinoa salad, beetroot humus, baby kale & parsley

Jalapeno spiked scrambled eggs, guacamole, espazote, queso fresco, crispy corn tortilla, cilantro & roasted tomato salsa


2 red wine poached organic duck eggs on duck confit hash w/ baby spinach

Nutella stuffed French toast, red fruit flambee & balsam fir crema inglesa

In short, chef Bragagnolo took us on a journey around the world in an hour and a half. To start off I loved the wonderful colours on the Tangiers plate; it was beautiful to look at with all the vibrant shades of red and pink (in case you are not aware, Tangier is a city in northern Morocco). I absolutely enjoyed the prominent Mediterranean flavours and spices in this dish as well, particularly in the cauliflower. What was missing for me personally was variation in texture as most of the components on the plate was soft so I was longing for some crunch. The Mexican Hangover made up for that. Sitting on top of a bed of super crispy corn tortilla was a tempting combination of fluffy Jalapeno spiked scrambled eggs, creamy guacamole and crumbled queso fresco. This plate of "breakfast nachos" is then brought together with a lovely roasted tomato salsa. Although The Mexican Hangover was delicious and fun to eat, my favourite of the day is still the Burrough Market Duck Hash. Firstly, the two red wine poached duck eggs (hence their red exterior) with their bright and runny (yet not too runny) yolks were perfectly cooked. Secondly, the warm medley of savoury duck confit hash, baby spinach and mushrooms was just really damn tasty. This Burrough Market Duck Hash is one very refined rendition of English breakfast. Speaking of refined, we ended brunch with the Euro Trash. With a very generous injection of creamy Nutella, this fluffy piece of French toast is surrounded by beautiful red strawberries which sits on top of a pool of creamy sweet custard. Sounds delicious, right? Trust me it tastes even better.

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