I don’t think anywhere else in the city you can find a tater waffle,” says Drew Voegeli about one of The Cheeky Neighbour Diner’s signature brunch dishes, laughing. The waffle made of tater tots and topped with smoked salmon is my favourite dish on the menu. “It’s a nice playful environment here; we’re making good quality food.” Says Voegeli, who opened the diner last year after re-branding the location that housed Relish Gourmet Burgers. At the bustling corner of Quinpool Road and Robie Street, Voegeli wanted to do something fun and casual that spoke to the neighbourhood. While developing the brand (whose logo is a cat sporting a top hat and monocle), Voegeli says he asked himself what’s cheeky about the Quinpool Road area. “There’s always cats slinking around here. That’s where the weirdness of cats got into it.” He laughs again. The interior of The Cheeky Neighbour Diner is a mix of funny, quirky decor pieces and retro-looking diner tables and chairs. They are having fun, and that comes through in the food as well.
Before digging into my waffle, Voegeli wants me to try out some new additions to the menu. First to arrive are the fishcakes, meant to combine the best elements of both fish cakes and seafood chowder. The cakes are a mix of fresh haddock, corn, onion, and dill. Topped with chunky bacon jam, and resting in a chowder-style sauce, they accompany two soft poached eggs and toast. The fishcakes are tasty, with their crunchy, sweet corn and creamy, rich, savoury sauce. They should be a hit. The other dish Voegeli is excited to share is the complete opposite: chocolate babka French toast. Babka is a sweet, braided bread, this one layered with chocolate. The presentation is hilarious, a tall stack of two thick pieces of the French toast, topped with whipped cream, and crowned with a single Ferrero Rocher. Plated with a tart raspberry coulis to balance the richness, it’s not my style, but I can see this dish making many happy.
Finally, I move on to the smoked salmon and potato waffle. Smashed tater tots mixed with capers are pressed into the waffle maker, creating a crispy potato waffle as the base of the dish. On top of each waffle (there’s two) is citrus-dill cream, smoked salmon, pickled red onion, more capers, and fresh dill. All my preferred brunch flavours and textures happen at once, so it’s a very pleasing dish. On the side is a perfect kale caesar—another of my favourite things.
“It’s quality diner food. Done well.” Says Voegeli on what sets The Cheeky Neighbour apart from other local brunch destinations. He credits the combination of classic breakfast plates with options that are creative and fun. But the core of the food program is made-from-scratch dishes that use quality ingredients. Combined with a whole lot of personality, this gives The Cheeky Neighbour a distinct brunch experience.
The Cheeky Neighbour Diner
6024 Quinpool Road, Halifax
BRUNCH DAILY UNTIL 3PM