Lift Breakfast Bakery – 101 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver, BC
A refurbished, fern green heritage building on the corner of 1st and Lonsdale is home to one of the North Shore’s most popular and busiest brunch spots. I can never seem to get a table without a wait longer than this solo diner cares to endure.
After many failed attempts to indulge my breakfast cravings here, an early visit on a rainy Friday morning seemed to be the perfect strategy. Finally! The earthy, natural wooden space welcomed me like a cozy blanket on this damp day and I was directed to choose any table I wanted. The vibe is farmhouse hipster with black, exposed plumbing on the ceiling, chalkboards and vintage cooking utensils adorning the walls and shelves, mini mason jars used as water glasses and copper draft beer taps. A black and white photograph of the early days of Lonsdale Avenue is mounted on the wall as a wonderful homage to the history this space occupies. It somehow fits perfectly with the modern decor, bringing the two worlds together. A combination of table and bar-style seating make the most of this small, homey space and a quaint covered terrace, adorned with string patio lighting, spills out onto the sidewalk outside, perfect for warmer days or braver souls. It’s a comfortable, intimate space to easily while away a few hours.
There is a convivial energy here, even at 9 AM on a dreary West Coast day. Fleetwood Mac is playing softly in the background and the milk steamer is whistling away at full force as people catch up on gossip and business. Eyeing the endless stream of breakfasts emerging from the kitchen, served up by friendly and attentive wait staff, I realize that a difficult decision lay before me.
“Lift: Where honest food is where community lives” adorns the chalkboard hanging on the wall above a display of freshly-baked rustic bread and the brick-lined takeout counter which serves up hot coffees and high-calorie breakfast treats to an endless stream of customers everyone knows by name. This statement of pride is certainly reflected in everything they do, from the thoughtful design and decor, the friendly yet down-to-earth service, and most importantly, in what everyone goes there for – the food.
Most breakfast wishes can be realized here, although, from word on the street, it is their Eggs Benedict for which they are most famous. But their interesting menu also has a variety of breakfast sandwiches and wraps, hashes, french toast and classic bacon and eggs. While not-so-glamourously sipping my large, whip-topped hot chocolate, I agonized over the menu and finally went with the maple bacon and caramelized onion Eggs Benedict, full order, of course (they also do half orders with one egg)! After a fairly short wait, my gorgeous meal arrived, lovingly presented on a white rectangular plate. Crisp maple bacon and sweet caramelized onion were hidden like a surprise under two medium poached eggs and generous spoonfuls of homemade hollandaise. A lightly-seasoned, shredded potato röesti was fried and crafted to resemble an English muffin, a clever way to incorporate a brunch favourite – hash browns. Just to maintain caloric balance, a fresh, organic green salad with tangy lemon vinaigrette was included on the side. Eggs Benedict is a fairly standard and popular option on most breakfast menus around town, but the potato röesti and unique toppings make these ones stand out just a little bit more than others I have had. The only thing it was missing for me was a bread feature, however, that can be ordered separately, so they’ve got it covered.
Lift’s is not an inexpensive breakfast, but I would certainly say their prices are comparable to most brunch menus in Vancouver, hovering around $10-20 for food and $4 for non-alcoholic drinks. However, the care and quality that they put into their food and the creative ways they use fresh ingredients made it a better value than some other brunches I’ve tried, and I left feeling comfortably full and very happy.
Covid times have obviously presented restaurants with many unforeseen challenges. Despite the small size of this restaurant, they have done a tremendous job adapting their business to safely accommodate patrons. Masks are required by all staff and customers, except when seated at a table, and a big bottle of hand sanitizer boldly reminds everyone they must sanitize their hands prior to entering. All tables are separated by large plexiglass dividers, the menu is available online or with QR code, and there is a separate entrance and exit. I think they have made every effort and I felt completely safe eating indoors.
After dining here, I now understand why Lift has won multiple Readers’ Choice awards and why securing a table can be an exhausting endeavour. I love this little restaurant, and it being tucked inside a historic building makes it quite special. It is a wonderful place to start the day with friends or relax from a morning out at the Lonsdale Quay Market and Polygon Gallery. I am already planning my next visit!