Restaurant review of MobeysEatery originally published in TheCoast, April 22, 2004. Reproduced without permission.

Out To Brunch

ClubVortex entered the Halifax gay club scene in December December, 2003, taking over the old Derby digs on Gottingen Street.

The back half of ClubVortex has a raised dance floor, DJ booth and long bar; the front half is Mobey's, a piano bar/lounge area with a small menu. The tables and bar tops are very industrial-looking (I find out that they're concrete with an epoxy coating). At night, I imagine this to be a very cool dance bar; the sunshine pouring in through the windows on this Sunday morning make the rooms look a little sparse.

But dancing is for another time, today we're here to check out the brunch, and an extensive brunch it is. It's laid out on the dance side, and there are no holds barred here when it comes to selection.

There's a toast-your-own-bread station along with an assortment of cold cereal, and at the end of the bar is a coffee, tea and juice station with apple, orange and tomato juices on ice. A small salad bar sports a huge bowl of fruit salad, marinated vegetables and Caesar salad, among other things. The main table is divided in two: one half lined with chafing dishes, the other side piled with pastries.

The pastries include Danishes, croissants, individual coffee cake loaves and cookies. Most of the sweets appear homemade, right down to the slightly burned bottoms of the cookies. The hot food buffet holds the usual breakfast offerings of bacon, sausages, hash browns, French toast, pancakes and scrambled eggs. There is a pasta dish as well.

Before I get to food quality, a word about the atmosphere: It's obvious that many of the people here today are regulars, and well known by the staff. It looks like a close, tight-knit group, almost like we've crashed a private party. But instead of feeling like intruders, we're welcomed by the friendly staff and made to feel like guests in someone's home, not uncomfortable or out of place at all. That knack of making diners feel comfortable goes a long way towards enjoyment of a meal, whether it's fine dining or a casual, serve-yourself brunch such as this.

And now, the food. There's nothing especially spectacular here, but it's plentiful and hot. I notice several cooks hovering around the buffet, quick to replace empty platters and chafing dishes -- a buffet is one situation where too many cooks don't spoil the broth.

I like that all the details are taken care of: A little jug of table syrup is right in front of the French toast and pancakes. The scrambled eggs are fluffy, with red and green peppers; the sausages are a little on the overcooked side, but the upside of this is that they're not greasy. The bacon is a little undercooked, but again not overly greasy, and the breakfast ham is grilled just right.

Overall, most of the food tastes not unlike what you'd get at home, if you were inclined to get up early Sunday morning and cook yourself such a spread. But most of us aren't, and a good Sunday brunch is always welcome in this town.

For 12 bucks and all you can eat, you can't go wrong at Mobey's.