This post is more of an amalgam of meals rather than a description of one meal. Cafe Des Arts is the restaurant that is directly across from my office so I have enjoyed many breakfasts/lunches/snacks there.
There is a good chance that you would not have noticed a restaurant here. It is located beside the old Dix building. People in the area do know about it as there is always a line up, especially at lunch time. I am going to coin a phrase here and call it a "hidden gem". I hope that catches on.
The inside of the restaurant can be referred to as eclectic. There is a mix of tables, a couple of four tops and some deuces. There is a communal type table in the middle that is made of deuces put together so you can separate them if you wish to eat your dinner apart from strangers. There is also some armchair/sofa like seating that I cannot attest to the comfort of as I have a public furniture phobia. Other people seem to sit there quite often. There is some art on the wall but the main feature is a chalk board wall with sayings/poems/squiggly lines drawn onto it.
The staff are fantastic. I am not sure that the owner knows who I am but every greeting I get is friendly and welcoming and makes me feel like he does. The menu board offers breakfast items and sandwiches. Two things I really enjoy about these offerings: 1. You can order a half sandwich. I love that. A half sandwich and salad is a perfect light lunch choice. 2. Their fruit salad is always full of assorted fruit and not a couple of berries and then all melon. Barely any melon, in fact.
They also offer a selection of Vietnamese dishes that you can order. They have the picture of the dishes by the till for those of us who need that help.
My two favorite dishes are the Pho and the Vietnamese Stew or Bo Kho.
First, and my most often ordered dish Pho, with spring rolls.
I think it is the broth that I like the best about this Pho. They changed the dish a few months ago. It used to be smaller, with rare beef. Now it is larger but the beef seems to be cooked when it comes to you. The broth is really flavorful, but salty. Could be why it is so good. Different from other traditional pho places as the broth is more flavored, like a beef broth. Plenty of meat and noodles every time I have had it. A go-to lunch for me.
The spring rolls are nice, if a bit on the small side. I have never seen a fryer there so I think they must cook them elsewhere and reheat in a microwave.
A new discovery for me is the Bo Kho. As I have the tendency to order the same thing every time I go to a restaurant, it took me a long time to branch out and order this dish.
You are given the choice of ordering this with a bun or with some noodles. I chose the noodles and that made it a spicy pho stew. Awesome. Again, the broth is very flavourful this time with extra spiciness. The meat was really tender and there was a lot of it. Good amount of vegetables in the stew as well. I think I might switch to this for a while.
Other random things I enjoy from here is:
-Cream of Mushroom soup. It has big chunks of mushrooms and tastes like rosemary.
-Breakfast burrito- fresh made and full of eggs and cheese. You can also get one with chorizo if you are looking for some meat.
-Papaya salad- I appreciate anyone who peels the papayas for me as I usually can't be bothered to do it myself.
A nice go to lunch place, not open in the evenings. I will miss the Cafe when our office moves further downtown near the end of the summer.