Cafe in between Cornwall and Second on Yew. A popular spot for breakfast / lunch with a large selection of mix 'n match bennies.
Mmmm...you can have brunch here every day! The buckwheat pancakes are fluffy and yummy! They have about 15 different bennies to choose from and you may mix and match them as well. The potatos are a miss but the fruit cups are fabulous! Service can be sloppy during peak hours, coffee is good, seating is cramped. Under $10 for a huge, delicious benny! I'll definitely be back!
I had breakfast here last weekend and ordered bacon, sausages and eggs. They were average at best. I was reading about this cafe on different sites and it got some fairly decent props; I can only guess at why. Perhaps the lack of decent restaurants in the Yew/Cornwall area makes it a more popular destination? Regardless, I will not be back.
My wife and I have dined here about a dozen times so I feel qualified to submit a review. We usually go for brunch and order one the Bennies. Our favourite is either the Benjamine (bacon, and lots of it), or the Chirozo.
Hugely popular, more often than not, there is a 10-20 minute line to get a table. Seating is elbow to elbow.
Parking is street side with a few metered and unmetered spots. A few times we've had to park at the top of Yew or along 4th and walk down.
Food is great (but not "outstanding") with considerable selection at competitive prices. There is a really good early bird special, ~$5.00, if you arrive before 10am.
My only complaint is service. Even at slower times it seems that our initial glass of water is the ONLY glass of water we receive during the entire meal. Unless we flagged someone down, we never received a refill nor were ever asked if we wanted one. The same applies for coffee. At $2.45 for a small cup (3x the price of Starbucks for the same volume), one would expect a few refills but sadly this is never the case.
Our last experience here was quite poor. We arrived well after the rush, were promptly seated, received our ONLY water, placed or order.... then waited. We waited exactly 30 minutes before someone other than our waitress asked to see if we had ordered yet. Soon after, our actual waitress came over and apologized ... somehow or order was lost. Fair enough. The part that gets to me is our waitress glanced over at least a half dozen times, that I noticed, and never once came over to ask why we had not received our food yet. She was serving tables their food that showed up well after we did.
Quick advice for the owners: Train your staff to fill drinks more frequently, acknowledge patrons, and at least twice during the meal ask if we even enjoyed it, and would we like more water! I've worked in the restaurant industry so this advice doesn't come from a layperson who had a bad day.
had breakfast at cafe zen. they were full and had to wait to get in. Once seated we service was prompt, ordered a yogurt shake which was very good and wife had grapefruit juice.
we ordered a large buckwheat pancakes which was much more than we needed, next time id go for a small.
Wife had egg whites with mushrooms and onions. good but too oily.
WE asked waitress to make sure no butter is used to cook the food. she seemed unable to tell us and simply pointed to a sticker on menu that said something about no trans fats.
I think we didnt ask a difficult question and she could say she would make sure or ask.
also had toast and english muffins which were good. Table next to us complained they got a little mold in one of the breads. no biggie, happens.
I went to Cafe Zen for breakfast on Saturday looking for a bit of a hangover cure, and all I got was disappointment and yucky hollandaise. It was very evident that it came straight from a package and they made it way too thick. The coffee was also really bad.
I won't go running back, that's for sure.
This is the place for incredible bennies. They are a variety of benedict choices including mushrooms, crab meat, salmon, and spinach. I always get the standard with ham. The half pancake and half french toast is a good order to share if you are with lots of people. Trust me, the amount of content is tremendous. Seating arrangement is a bit tight, but ultimately it's worth it because of the bennies. Get here early or else there will be a line. You might be able to get the patio seats.
Cafe Zen is my favorite go-to place for a lazy Sunday of mix & match bennies & hanging out. It's casual and lively and absolutely nothign fancy which is perfect when you're feeling 'delicate' from the night before.
Try the Spanish benny with spicy tomato sauce and the benny blackstone with crispy bacon & tomato. Their pancakes are also enourmous and the huevos rancheros are very filling & spicy!
The owner June is always so friendly and the service is quick & efficient (those guys sure know how to move fast in such a tight space)
A cute beachy type spot that always feels like hanging out at a friends house. We've even got a photo of us up on the wall of fame wearing their t-shirt in Paris! So fun...
I had a fantastic breakfast one Friday morning at Cafe Zen. I had buckwheat pancakes with raspberry sauce and my friend had the eggs benny. The full order of pancakes was tons of food and although they forgot my sauce initially they ended up bringing it a few minutes later. The two girls working were visibly overwhelmed once the place started to fill up so I think it's best to get there as early as possible if you are heading to school or work afterward.
Popped into the Zen for a bennie fix of the egg variety. Even though we were third in line, we were seated quite quickly. The interior could use a serious retrofit and an identity in a hurry - there is no character whatsoever and people are just crammed together. The tables and chairs are a hodge podge and look just terrible. Are they trying to be a funky Kit's eatery or just a diner? The bathroom location puts you in harms way with the kitchen and wait staff, so keep your eyes open lest you be the recipient of a coffee or bennie bath. The music was unbelievably loud and we had to ask the waitress to turn it down. An oddly placed deck makes for some very cold drafts if you sit near it as the wait staff won't close the sliding door behind them we they go out that way. It shouldn't be that difficult to wipe down the tables, but apparenty here it is (as my elbow stuck somewhat firmly to the table will attest to). The potatoes on the floor didn't do much for me either.
The waitress came quickly and so did the bennies. She was attentive and friendly and got us what we asked for when we asked for it. The food and coffee were o.k, but they won't rock your world by any means. The hollandaise is obviously from a mix and the potatoes were just o.k., but one positive is that the portion size is very good
All in all, the food is just o.k. for a gut-filler, but that's the best I can say about this place. I won't be back unless i'm close to starvation and there is no other alternative.
Busy place and I'm not sure why. I ordered french toast which I could have just made at home, it was dry and bland. My coffee came with a piece of hair on top, the server didn't even appologize and it took 20 min for the bill. Make your breakfast at home!
I love breakfast. So...I was shocked to discover that this little gem was unbeknownst to me, considering I live in the area. I have many points about this establishment, so I believe that "point" form is appropriate for this review.
The Good: split dishes (you can order half Freedom Toast and half pancakes or two half-portions of eggs bennie...AWEsome), prompt coffee refills, hot waitresses, daily specials, cute patio, fast turnover, pleasantly kitschy decor, fast service, pure Maple syrup option, large portions
The Bad: full of pesky yuppies, a bit stuffy and cramped, small portions of syrup (I had to ask for two additional little dishes of syrup), often a wait to get a seat, decor needs updating a bit, seemed overstaffed (yes... I am complaining about this because the incessant chattering of the hot waitresses was mildly distracting)
I will definitely be back. This local, idiosyncratic cafe beats the crap out of any large restaurant like Denny's or Malone's or freakin' Milestones for brunch or breakfast.
Been here 20+ times.
Why I go:
- Excellent Latte's in BIG cup.
- Extremely fast no trans fat bennys for dirt cheap very well done
- Decent potatoes
- Wicked fruit cups of fresh fruit for $3 or something
Overall a healthy breaky for $10 very very fast and cheap. Everyone loves it.
They jam you into a chair so small you need gymnastic skills to get in and out, and your literally sitting WITH your neighbors as they are less then 1 foot away if that. Minefield of tables. The price of popularity, haha, and people suck it up for this food. Often a small line on weekends.
This place ONLY does brunch - so don't try to go for dinner.
Having eaten here a few times, it's got decent breakfast. Nothing special. But I keep coming back here because I live so close.
My only complaint about their food is that their Hollandaise sauce is from a package. So I get my benny at other restaurants, even though half their menu is just eggs benny combos. Everything else on the menu I've tried is good.
Service is quick and friendly.
Brunch hours on weekends tend to get busy. Which brings me to my biggest beef. The layout. When it's busy, it's cramped. Depending where you've been seated, it can be difficult to relax and enjoy your meal without feeling rushed. Essentially, they've got a few table locations they should really remove.
I just recently went to Cafe Zen again after having many mediocre food and service experiences there. I believed that there must be something I'm missing because it seems to be such a popular place. Every time I eat there I am presented with not so great food with poor service and yet it's packed! I've come to the conclusion that it's not something I'm missing, I believe the only reason it's busy is because it's trendy and people don't really question the quality of food and service. Next time I'll follow my taste buds and probably end up at a good quality restaurant that is not so trendy.
I'll admit I've only had the fruit crepe (stuffed with berries and topped with whipped cream... mmmmm) and everyone else at my table had eggs, so please refer to some other reviews for broader-based feedback.
Generally, nice to see the variety on the menu. The items our table enjoyed were all good. This place makes no claim to quality ingredients or anything like that, so perhaps it's unfair to fault them on it... but shouldn't everyone be using free range eggs and organic fruits? That would make the food here even more enjoyable - and I think the price increases would be worth it. My two cents...
Cafe Zen is what it is. A small little dinner packed with tables and usually a line up on a Saturday or Sunday morning. The food while not fine dining is palatable and includes a main course and a helping of hashbrowns and some fruit. The place has a hustle and bustle about it and the tables turn fairly quick. If you want to meet up with some friends, get fed quickly and have some people energy around you then it is a great place. Also, not to forget, for those that like variety, they have a wide selection of Eggs Bennies and let you mix and match different types too.
An ok place, with ok food, crowded little place. Went couple of times and service sucked sometimes but overall ok. If you want kick ass breakfast, make it yourself. Not expensive either. Will return on those rainy mornings where i'm just too lazy to cook.
I've been to Cafe Zen a couple times & both times got the same thing: prompt, good service; a tasty meal; reasonable prices; easy parking (!). The food is delicious - I've had their smoked salmon benny & some sort of mexican omelette & both were great. I left both times feeling satisfied. I'm planning to go back soon!
I popped by during the week for a benny. Fast service, delicious food, great benny. The place is cozy - makes delicious fruit bowls and is pretty well priced. I definately will be back. It is busy on the weekends but definately worth the wait if what you want is a benny.
Been going to Zen for about 10 years, lately I feel it's really showing it's age. The tables seem closer than ever, the table cloths are ready for the garbage, the whole place feels worn and seedy. The washroom / service corrider is a horror, crowded , worn and not clean.
The food is still hit and miss, fruit salads are freshly cut and great! Sausages ane deep fried as are the potatoes, eggs are tasteless.
The staff are still friendly but the whole experience feels assembly line and rushed. These places can't rest on their reputations for ever, your customers deserve improvements and up keep. Most small cafes are now serving much fresher brunch fare like free range eggs, salads instead of potatoes, turkey sasauge ... you get the picture.