Seventeen89 Restaurant + Lounge

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This was the latest destination for our seasonal, girls night steak night. We have already hit the major steakhouses and were now exploring the lesser known ones to see how they stack up. It wasn’t until I read to the taxi driver the address of my destination did I realize the restaurant was named after the building’s number. Originally I thought it referred to the period in time which they took their influences from.

Located kitty corner to the intersection of Comox and Denman you may miss it your first time around the block. Finding parking is a hard task, with no designated lots or many street side meters, a hike to your destination is often required in this area. Hence my decision to taxi, which also supported my wanting to drink.

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They are a recent addition to the neighbourhood. I couldn’t make out much detail in the darken room. A space purposefully kept dim for a more romantic ambience. An iconic space was brought back to it’s original grandeur with plush red mohair booths, large leather chairs, curtained off private rooms, and a well stocked bar. Most impressive was the art above us. A fresco painted ceiling of cherubs intertwined with ribbons and vines.

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Decorations consisted of oversized vases fitted with elaborate floral arrangements, a mirror etched in pattern, and black and white photography. The bar only sat five on red velvet cushioned stools. And not only did it serve premium top shelf liquor it also hosted an oyster bar and their “ship to shore” feature. An advertisement drawn in chalk on a black board. A doodle of cartoon fish and a palm trees. Cute, but it didn’t really match the more formal theme of the place.

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Every little detail that surrounded us added to the preconceived air of opulence. Miniature lamps in yellow or red topped each table clothed in black. They stood along side the slender salt and pepper shakers and the carefully positioned cutlery and side plates. Like the layout everything was landed to best exemplify the stage and your relative position to it. Tables were stacked tip to tip. With two chairs a piece everyone got a view of the stage, towards the back of the room. Sitting in one of the deep back chairs with its upholstered cushions and wooden armrests, you are given the feeling of regality. Though due to the bulkiness of the chair and the precision angling it was in, there wasn’t really any possibility of shifting when I wanted. The music was loud and the ability to hold a conversation practically non existent; more so when we were unable to remove the gap between us to talk in loud whispers.

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Live jazz and blues performances happen regularly, every Tuesday and Friday to Sunday; a rotation of performers. This Friday was such a night, an event we did not expect. Despite the menu we were not charged the mentioned $10 cover fee, nor forced the $20 minimum spend. Though with a menu this rich there wasn’t much under $10. Just as well, we had come to eat and had come to chat, and truthfully found the loud music a hinderance to both. But a couple glasses of wine in I started appreciating the artists and their excitement for their own music. I didn’t dance as the lead singer requested but did sing along when I could, much to my guest’s chagrin. It was a nice treat, something not common. And it was clear that majority of the mature crowd that held seats tonight were here for the live music.

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As a whole the setting felt classic and aged. The restaurant had a homey feel, quaint despite the attempt at being fancy with furniture. A good place to name as your regular hang out, if you can afford it. With friendly staff and professional service they would certainly make an effort to get to know you and to welcome you like a friend. Our server was observant enough to notice a gift/card that my guest had with her and inquired about the occasion that brought us here. And when I sat down she made the effort to wish me a belated birthday. Later the chef and owner came out to introduce himself and his restaurant to us towards the end of their service. It was a nice touch, putting a face behind the place. He spoke about the music, the food, and was genuinely proud of what he had achieved here. He then ended the conversation with his business card.

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The menu was two pages of seafood and red meat, with prices comparable to those at other steakhouses. Seeing them I expected the quality to be on par as well. But unfortunately left disappointed. There was no bread to start, and our appetizers and entrees came all at once. Therefore there was a need for us to rush through it all to ensure our steak was still warm when we got to it.

Each of our appetizers came in threes. Knowing that we would be sharing, it would have been nice to have been given the option of adding another portion so that we each had two a piece. Instead we were forced to half a crab cake that fell apart and split a shrimp down the middle to be fair.

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“Baked Dungeness crab cakes” with sweet pea shoots and pineapple salsa. This was my favourite of the night. You could tell each cake was moulded with real flaky crab meat. Given with the amount of crab and the lack of fillers, a whole crab and then some probably went in to making these. The other ingredients mentioned either came on top or were laid on the bottom. The pea shoots gave the creamy crab some freshness and the pineapple a nice tangy zing. Though I felt it was still a little bland, but didn’t want to risk adding anything to take away from the lightness in the crab.

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“Grilled jumbo shrimp cocktail”. I don’t know how many I expected for $17 but I feel a little under $6 per shrimp is steep. Having said that these were delicious sweet shrimp. As some of the largest I have ever had, they earned their “jumbo” moniker. The iceberg lettuce was more for show and went unbeaten. The cocktail sauce I found no different from that which you can find prepackaged in jars. It had a nice sweet tomato flavour, like a toned down and more organic tasting ketchup.

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Their three options for steaks were all from the same place and were prepared the same way, you just got to choose your cuts. This was Spring Creek Ranch’s 40 day aged beef charbroiled. Raised with no antibiotics, no hormones, and no steroids. Each cow is only fed a wholesome diet of forages and rolled barley. And each prepared steak is served with market select potatoes and vegetables. We got the biggest and fattest of cuts, the “12oz. Ribeye steak”. Our options for sauces were between the traditional peppercorn, my preference the garlic butter, or a béarnaise. Our waitress strongly recommended the latter and that was what we got. We did so only to find it just tangy and buttery, believing we would have preferred the garlic butter instead. The plating felt random and the steak was not as tasty as I had hoped or would expect at $45 a plate. It was two cuts joined together by tendon. Though what made for a lack lustre presentation made for easy sharing. We had requested medium rare and instead got a medium if not well done slab. My guest didn’t want to trouble the staff, so refused to send it back. We were left chewing through dry ends and paying too much for it. The vegetables were flavoured in the same peppery sauce as the steak. Baby bok choy, baby bell peppers, zucchini, garlic cloves, turnips, and a potato cake.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I am torn with this one. The service was inspiring, the theme well thought out, but for what was charged I did not feel the food lived up to the expectations and the evaluations. Though I was curious about their $3.50 a piece miniature desserts. It was a good way to have a taste of the seven small bites offered. For those who like live music especially jazz and blues this would be a good dinner-ing spot for you. To enjoy good music with a glass of wine in hand. Just be warned there may be those like me who only come in to eat and to drink, that may serve as a distraction. And for those here for classic cuisine in a quiet setting, they have recently added a porch out front. It offers the same experience as indoor, only steps from English Bay. Don’t deny your cravings.

SEVENTEEN89
1789 Comox Street, Vancouver BC, V6G2M5
604-428-0705
1789.ca
Seventeen89 Restaurant + Lounge on Urbanspoon

Brasserie Bistro

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This one was tough to get to, between finding parking on a Friday night, to actually locating the restaurant. In fact, in my confusion we entered a completely different establishment trying to claim my gifted groupon. We left as the groupon was the only reason why we trying to get to the “Brasserie” in the first place. By looks alone this wasn’t a restaurant I would come to on my own accord, and pay to dine at my own money. But once again I was given a groupon totaling $40 and I was not going to let it go to waste. Free is free to me.

It was located in the aged, three star “Coast Plaza Hotel and Suites”. A hotel I had once visited for a business meeting and decided I would never like to stay at. It just isn’t to my taste, I prefer my hotels modern and a lot more contemporary. This was outdated in decor and feeling.

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Despite the use of a groupon deal to advertise their restaurant and potentially drum up more business, they clearly didn’t want diners from the outside visiting in. There were no signs advertising their location and no sandwich boards calling any attention. Heck we had a hard enough time getting here, and we intended to dine here. They were missing the large possibility of walk ins. Only the hotel’s sports bar is mentioned with both a back lit sign and sandwich board facing traffic. So there was no surprise it was the much busier of the two.

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You enter through the lobby and are directed by the concierge. This Friday and every Friday they have an all you can eat prime rib buffet for $30. Looking at the set up of olives and a few salads, two covered entrees under metal, and a slab of prime rib under dual heat lamps this would be something we rather pass. And we weren’t the only ones, the other guests at three other tables also ordered off the regular menu as well. In my opinion the servers could have done a better job promoting the special and really selling us diners on the deal.

The dining room was seated with mature patrons, folks that were dressed casually, and seemed to have all the time in the world. My guess is that they were on vacation and staying at the hotel. This was not what I expected or was looking forward to on this date night. Knowing my partner’s pension for the finer things, and the effort he put into grooming himself tonight, he would echo my impression. Being French Canadian he was also immediately hung up on the name of the place. For him “Brasserie” referred to a “brewery” and, by extension, “the brewing business”. Though it was the other definition that was in use here. “A type of French restaurant with a relaxed setting, serving single dishes and other meals. It can be expected to have professional service, printed menus, and, traditionally, white linens.” This was taken off Wikipedia after a debate on the definition ensued.

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The restaurant was very out dated it was typical of an older hotel. The same floral print that patterned the booths lined each chair cushion. No white linens, instead a faux marble table top, with beige reusable napkins. Off white walls, dim orange bulbs, and grey photos in black frames did little to perk up the generic nature of the room.

The staff on shift were very friendly. Uniformed in black with gold name tags, they were welcoming in the most casual of ways. They were inviting, making every effort to engage us in banter. And like their clientele they too were more mature. My only grievance was not being able to reach them by phone after five attempted redials. I left foolish now looking around the empty room thinking we needed reservations.

The kitchen remained relatively quite. I watched their slow pace and the team of three remain calm. With a lack of traffic and an abundance of time they could have put more effort into their cuisine, and I wished it showed more. The head chef made an appearance in the dining room. Standing by the buffet set up he stared down at the barely touch prime rib. I felt bad, they obviously put effort into their preparation and now it would go unenjoyed. This succulent and impressive piece of meat. Unfortunately everything had to be taken down 15 minutes later when the buffet ended at 9:30pm. Luckily his feelings were salvaged when the guest next to our table was heard raving about her full order of ribs; it would be a similar case for us. Though when it came time for us to eat, the chef’s presence in the dining room was intimidating. I felt like I had to eat with a smile or at least verbalized one “yum”. Though it was nice to see that he cared enough to check in on all his diners from a far.

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The finger bowl with lemon and the side of ketchup for our ribs and fries came first. Half order of “braised baby back ribs” with maple BBQ sauce, Asian slaw, and fries. The ribs were good, meaty bites that easily pulled off the bone with a forked tug. The sauce was caramelized sweet from the maple syrup and spicy from the BBQ rub. Though the latter out shone the former and I would have liked more maple syrup flavouring. The fries were nothing special and the coleslaw tasteless. Both could have used salt to taste and some vinegar to kick. As a whole this was a decent plate at a decent price.

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“Pancetta and chèvre stuffed and baked chicken breast” served with seasonal vegetables, a buttered sweet pea rice, and shallot jus. The plate looked homemade. An effort was made in presentation, separating each element, but the sloppy gravy and the spilled rice made things look clumsy. The chicken breast was oddly sliced, unevenly into three prices. Neither of which were stuffed, instead the pancetta and goat cheese filling was slathered on top. Both were what gave the chicken it’s taste. The generous amount of gravy was needed as it gave the dry white meat some moisture. I was rudely surprised on several occasions with shards of bone in my chicken breast. Alarming as it could have chipped a tooth or caused me to choked. The balsamti rice was my favourite element. A light rice that tempered all that was going on with the chicken, and I really just like peas. The boiled veggies needed some salt and some peppering, I guess that’s why salt and pepper shakers are at each table.

The washrooms were an inconvenient trek out of the restaurant and into the hotel’s lobby. Pleasantly chocolates came with the bill. Our tab was $36 which our $40 covered, we were only charged tax and we gave our tip.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This hotel needed some love. An update, some remodelling, some work to breath new life into the building. And the same could be said about the “Brasserie”. I liked the care from the chef and the casual service from the staff, but was let down by how unspectacular the food was. If it weren’t for my groupon I would have never thought to visit the restaurant, and if it wasn’t for it being free I would have left upset. Instead I have now tried and know I won’t be back for seconds. Don’t deny your cravings.

BRASSERIE
Coast Plaza Hotel
1763 Comox Street, Vancouver BC, V6G1P4
604-622-4462
coasthotels.com/hotels/bc/vancouver/coast-plaza-hotel-and-suites
Brasserie Bistro on Urbanspoon

Sawasdee Thai Restaurant

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This one has been on my list of place to try based on the beautiful photos and the glowing reviews online. So given the chance we made this our latest group gathering. Parking was surprisingly easy with plenty of road side meters to stop at, so I was already in a good mood heading in.

The exterior was bold in lime green trim and mocha brown panels. With the windows frosted and the blinds drawn you couldn’t get a look inside. So stepping through the threshold I was surprised that it was as busy as it was. A smaller space cramped tight with tables and bottoms in chairs. The steady sounds of chatter filled our night. Looking around and past the sea of heads there isn’t much to describe in terms of decor. Traditional Thai artwork all from the same collection. Scenery and every day life depicted through oil on canvas. Definitely one of those places where the food speaks and stands alone.

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When enjoying the cuisine of Thailand I have to have my “Thai iced tea”. Traditionally made from strongly brewed Ceylon tea, sweetened with sugar and condensed milk, then served chilled. A great accompaniment to the often spicy Thai entrees. Though we were kept waiting for these as they were forgotten amongst the bustle of the night.

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“Som Tum”. Fresh green papaya salad, tossed with chili, lime juice, peanuts and fish sauce. Given a choice of spiciness we choose medium, but what came was a heated sort of tongue singing spicy. And it sure didn’t look spicy. This was a burning that hid the overall flavour of the salad, a spice that couldn’t be tempered by the freshness of the tart papaya shreds. Thought texture wise it had a nice crunch.

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“Cho Muang”. This one was the main reason why I wanted to come. Seeing shots of this on other’s plates I too wanted to try their beautiful flower shaped dumplings. Filled with chicken and spices the purple colour did not reflect in the flavour, and was only for show. Stuffed full with minced chicken and strong pepper, the overall tone was garlicky. I would have preferred thicker cuts of meat to better partner with the starchy and chewy dumpling skin. This was definitely nothing I have seen or tasted else where.

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The “Tom Yum” soup was spicy and sour as expected. A lighter soup made with straw mushrooms, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves. The mushrooms acted like little balls of soup, each bite was a literal burst of flavour. We choose shrimp over chicken as our protein, and were delighted that there were more than just two or three whole shrimps in the broth. The strong lemon grass flavour was easily noted, but it still tasted sweeter despite it. Not quite the usual tom yum, but it did posses the right tang.

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“Thai Spring Roll”, deep fried vegetarian spring rolls stuffed with bean thread noodles and mushrooms, and served with a house made sauce. The rolls came whole with a bundle of butter knives next to them on the plate. My guess was that these were to be used to cut the rolls down to shareable portions? Though did we really need a knife per roll? After operation cut and share, the first bite was a nice crunch thanks to the non-oily, crispy skin. The sauce was similar to fish sauce with its sweet and sour notes, but with some extra texture from the floating chopped peanuts.

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“Roasted Duck Curry”. Red coconut milk curry with roasted duck, pineapples, bell peppers, tomatoes, basil leaves and bamboo shoots. Curry needs rice, its thicker sauce needs a starchy base. Here a bowl comes separately at an additional cost. The curry was good, mild in spice compared to everything that came before it. And a dish made sweeter with the use whole grapes, that was something new. I don’t know how I feel about grapes in my curry, but I am familiar with raisins in my fried rice. As decent as this was I felt it was missing some depth. Like maybe having more of the smokey duck flavour come through?

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“Pad Kee Mao Noodle”. This was advertised as a chef’s special, so I was most disappointed with its lack of flavour. Having vegetarians and vegans in our group we ordered this stir fried rice noodle dish without the usual choices of chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp. Instead it just had the intended baby corn, onions, bell peppers, straw mushrooms, and basil leaves, with tofu. Though no consideration was made and no alternations were done to transform what should have been a noodle flavoured with meat to one seasoned well with less flavourful vegetables and tofu. A sprinkle of salt went a long way, but not enough to salvage the title of “chef’s special”.

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“Pad Green Bean”, sautéed green bean with garlic sauce. These were crispy beans with a waxy finish, coated in a mild garlic. Great as is.

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“Tofu Cashew Nuts”, deep fried tofu cubes sautéed with cashew nuts, onions, bell peppers and carrots. Each tofu block was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. This was a puddling-like tofu, sweet and smooth. All the non-meat eaters felt this was a really well prepared dish.

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“Pad Thai”, stir fried thin rice noodles with tofu, prawns, egg, green onion, and bean sprouts. Served in your choice of either a tomato or tamarind sauce. As a staple in Thai cuisine we found this good, but nothing special, and certainly not the best. Though the generous amounts of bean sprouts is worth noting. Some were cooked and already intermingled with the sautéed noodles. Most were left raw as a side. Along with the chopped peanuts they offered a nice crunch to the otherwise overly chewy mix.

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“Nuea Pad Ma Khua”. Sautéed cuts of beef, eggplant, bell peppers and basil leaves in black bean sauce. The beef was overcooked and chewy. The eggplant was the real star of the dish, it was done well. I appreciated them being left firm, I dislike a soggy and mushy piece of eggplant.

All members of staff were always on the go. Rushing from one table to the next, refilling water without a word. They were laser focused on the task at hand. There was not one server assigned to one table or responsible for one section. Everyone helped out as needed. Everyone delivered plates that came up to the pass, bussed away empty dishes from tables, and took requests as needed. This lack of order and focus may be why our iced teas were originally forgotten. As a nice touch, between finishing our appetizers and starting our entrees one of the servers distributed new plates for each of us.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
The food was good, but this wasn’t the best Thai I have ever had. I wouldn’t mind another visit, but this wouldn’t be my first choice. The food was average and we left full, but there was nothing really unique about the decor, service, or cuisine. I found the restaurant a little loud for my liking, and I rather not shout to have a conversation. In short there is nothing special to have me clamouring to return. Though I would definitely recommend trying their purple flower dumplings for the novelty. Don’t deny your cravings.

SAWASDEE THAI
4250 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5V3R1
604-876-4030
sawasdeethairestaurant.com
Sawasdee Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Belgium Place

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Vancouver is amidst a waffle frenzy. Waffles are the new “it” food; the dessert and snack in town that has everyone taking pictures. “The Belgium Place” is the latest of such cafes opened to capitalize on this momentum. Newly located at the former home of “death by chocolate”, the last of this franchise in Vancouver. On a block familiar with small cafés and one of bakeries near south Granville. It is here that waffles are made in the authentic Belgium tradition.

The exterior is bannered by flags of black, yellow, and red; a string of which hangs above the windows. Below them stands a series of tables and chairs made available for sidewalk seating.

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The doubled entrance doors were spread open and made inviting. Inside the space was large, almost vacant. It was a dance floor speckled with seating on opposites ends. Such an excess in square footage could have been better utilized with additional tables or even a larger counter space for the chefs to craft waffles on. Thus giving the people a show and foodies a good photo op.

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You order on your right, a straight and unobstructed walk from the door. By the register is a showcase of pre made pastries and sandwiches, yogurt cups, and bottled and canned drinks. A quick spin in the oven or microwave and most are good to go. There is also samples of dessert waffles dressed in slivered almonds, chocolate spread, and dusted in icing sugar. They give you a visual idea of what you would soon enjoy.

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Above are four televised menus. A screen to advertise their in house made Belgium baguette sandwiches; one for sides like soups, salads, quiches, and croque-monsieur; another for coffees and other specialty beverages; and of course a whole screen for their Belgium waffles. A little hard to read without squinting. Thankfully the gentleman behind the counter was friendly, allowing us to take our time with the selection process. Seeing as they were still fairly new I would have appreciated an introduction to their business. “Is this your first time visiting us?” “Do you know about our liege waffles?” “How did you hear about us?” A conversation like that would have helped with some word of mouth advertising. As I would have then turned around and recommend them based on my inviting experience and the owners taking the time to introduce themselves.

They only serve liege style waffles, the most common type of waffles available in Belgium. Those are the more circular waffles, the ones with jagged edges as apposed to the rectangular ones. Liege waffles are known for being more richer, denser, sweeter, and chewier. It is an adaptation on brioche bread dough, featuring chunks of pearl sugar which caramelize on the outside of the waffle when baked. In ours the beads of sugar were embedded and sandwiched in between the layers dough.

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The types of waffles are categorized by either sweet and savoury. With the former you can customize between what compotes, gelatos, sauces, and nuts you wanted as toppings. Or leave the guess work and select one of the pre-thoughtout “Liege waffles du chef”. If we didn’t come from lunch I would have liked to try a savoury waffle before my sweet one. A list of pretty unique ingredients peaked my interest: curry chicken, North Sea crab, tomato shrimp, and surprisingly some with maple syrup and Chimay cheese. They all sounded interesting, combinations worth trying.

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You order your meal at one end and pick it up at another. After paying you proceed to the left as signed. Here you are able to watch your waffle being prepared in an area that held baskets of baguettes on the wall and the word “waffle” spelled out in red block letters. A pile of pre made waffles laid stacked on wooden racks for cooling. They would soon be plated and decorated, before being served to you right at your table.

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You seat yourself choosing between any of the empty wooden tables or cast iron high tops. A collection of the two were situated on either ends of the room, left or right of the counter. On one wall “Belgium Place” was spelled out in black over red, on the other a list of names in fine print. A list of those they wanted to dedicate their cafe to? Or perhaps investors, who without them they would not be here today? There was even a play area to keep young children occupied. A kitchen play set: sink, fridge, and stove. With metal pots and plastic vegetables. Despite this casual setting our hosts were very attentive. Both men checked in on us, wanting to see how our food fared.

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When dining in, metal reusable cutlery is available. A note that was made mention of when our hosts observed us sawing waffles with wood. We had grabbed disposable utensils by the door, their take away wooden knife and wooden fork. We originally declined regular knives and forks as these were the nicest and the fanciest disposable cutlery I have ever seen. They looked cute and they are biodegradable too. I did not get the smoothest of cuts, but things were decent considering its workmanship. We eventually did go to metal after MissVancouverPiggy thought the bitter flavour of the wood might have rubbed off in her food.

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I had the “Waffle Vanilla Ice”, one of the “Liege waffles du chef”. It included apple compote, vanilla gelato, fresh whipped cream, and caramelized walnuts. The waffle was dense yet fluffy, crispy yet chewy, just as its descriptive characteristics suggested. With the multiple sugar crystals centred in each waffle they were good as is. I found there was no need for additional flavour by adding additional ingredients at an additional cost. So appreciated how the sides were kept separate for me to dress myself.

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The apple compote was similar to what you would find warm and bubbling in a pie, but served chilled. The walnuts didn’t taste caramelized, instead were waxy and only slightly sweetened. I would have preferred them toasted or roasted to coax out more of their earthy flavour and to give the waffle some crunch. The vanilla gelato was delicious, I was in heaven with two scoops! You never see more than one with your dessert. Gelato is Italian soft ice cream made with little amounts of air, milk, cream, various sugars, and flavourings. It is generally lower in calories, fat and sugar than our regular North American style ice cream.

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MissVancouverPiggy choose to craft her own waffle combo with walnuts, almonds, and vanilla gelato. Even though her walnuts were forgotten, she decided not to make any mention of it. And like my serving, the presentation of her was just impressive.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No
I have had liege waffles before, but these were the first where I was able to see and enjoy the sugar crystals. I would have liked them warmer, fresh off the press, but these were one of the best I have had so far. During my next visit I will be having my waffles undressed. Although the various options available did make things interesting and picture perfect, I don’t believe any are needed to accentuate the already delicious waffle. I deem this a decent spot to stop at for a quick treat, and a quite cafe to catch up at with a friend. Don’t deny your cravings.

BELGIUM PLACE
1598 W Broadway, Vancouver BC, V6J5K9
604-336-6858
Belgium Place on Urbanspoon

Dougie Dog Diner Truck

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I was invited to the Vancouver Police’s family day and open house with my mother. An event that was catered by two “Dougie Dog” food trucks. I had first heard about “Dougie Dog” on “Dragon’s Den”, the show that has “aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business concepts and products to a panel of Canadian business moguls who have the cash and the know-how to make it happen” (as taken from the CBC website). DougieLuv was the owner of “Dougie Dog” diner, once located on the Granville entertainment strip in downtown Vancouver.

Since the episode’s original airing and Doug’s inability to earn any of the dragon’s investment he has returned once more to try again. A return over a year later that saw him with the one food truck he originally sought the Dragon’s help with financing, but now needing their help in getting a whole fleet of food trucks. This too ended without a deal. But fast forward, Dougie has since closed down his diner and now dedicates his time to managing is two food trucks. Two steps in the direction of owning an army, driving them to where gourmet hotdogs are needed. A better business model considering the portability of his chosen cuisine.

They pride themselves on not just being your everyday, run of the mill wieners and buns; but giving this common staple some pizazz. Today they were commission to serve at this event, and seeing as food was free for guests you were limited in your choices. Either their special or a hotdog dressed in the usual accompaniments.

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The twin trucks were painted the same with the front half keeping its steel finish and the back half in a red and white gingham pattern. It reminded me of a picnic blanket or the wax paper you get at the bottom of fast food baskets. Their logo was as prominent as the mention that they were on “Dragon’s Den”, they must be riding that for as long as they can. The line extended and guests were filing in front of the open window. Inside there were three employees preparing the hot dogs with DougieLuv servicing the front. He was making jokes and trying to keep the long wait patient in the hot sun. I found his attempts at being light hearted off putting with his very dry sense of humour. He came across as abrasive if you were unsuspecting. Limiting me to one napkin isn’t so funny when it’s said straight faced with the feeling of indifference.

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On any other day the specials board would list a few of their “modern dog” variations from Korean BBQ pork with kimchi, to vegetarian spinach and feta; from processed cheese and crushed potato, to their most extravagant hot dog dressed in Kobe beef, lobster, cognac, and truffle oil. But today there was just the “Charlie Mac Dog” spelled out in chalk. The filling was friendly sounding with crisp bacon, homemade macaroni and cheese, and melted cheddar cheese over their regular all natural hot dog wiener.

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There was nothing special about the actual hot dog. Its plastic-like skin made tearing into the wiener a rubbery and waxy affair. Its light pink shade could have used some time on a grill to give it more colour as well as some more flavour. Their steaming had the hot dogs one dimensional. I also caught a glimpse of one taking a trip into the microwave. The macaroni topping made things too starchy, too much of a carb to meat ratio. The cheese sauce was oddly grainy, it made eating feel like your tongue was wading through sand. The bacon was the best part, but could have used a deeper fry to give this dog a much needed crunchy component. The side of fries were done nicely, well seasoned with a crisp, but considering the main it only made things more doughier. A coleslaw instead would have a been better, giving the meal some acid and a much needed crunch. I craved for some pickling, a sweetness. This whole thing would have been best enjoyed after a loaded night of drinking.

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The “Dougie Dog” root beer was their own bottled butterscotch flavoured soft drink. As soon as you popped the lid you could smell the strong fragrance of butterscotch. Though you couldn’t taste it as much, just as well seeing as this was the sweetest root beer I have ever tried. Not the best accompaniment to our hot dogs above.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No
Seeing as this was my second taste of “Dougie Dog”, over a year apart from the first, I can safely conclude my initial assessment was correct. This is nothing I need to have again. It costs more than your regular street corner hot dog, and it doesn’t taste any better. When I think hot dog I think grilled with a slight char, smokey and juicy, salty and spicy. This hot dog was bland and lifeless, the ingredients that topped it were meant to give it some flavour. But loading more ingredients doesn’t make a hot dog better, it just makes for a worst version of, in this case, macaroni and cheese. I would not pay for it, so am glad I got it for free today. My mom too found this poorly conceived and not satisfying. She felt that she was wasting calories on something that didn’t even taste good. I conclude that the best hot dogs are of the “street meat” variety. Grilled on the spot with your choice of self serve toppings, at a fraction of the cost. Don’t deny your cravings.

DOUGIE DOG
604-454-8068
dougiedogdinertruck.com
Dougie Dog Diner Truck on Urbanspoon

Sunshine Diner

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This wasn’t our first choice. Our attended destination was to be closed for a week. So walking around the block MissVancouverPiggy and I eventually ended our journey here.

Basing our choice on the exterior, this seemed like a good bet, or at least a restaurant that would be fun to write about. The windows were trimmed with that classic black and white diner checker. The decals lured you in to listen to the music of the 50’s and 60’s on their real working juke box, a place where rock and roll was forever. I was however most interested in their advertised 50’s style fruit bowls and milkshakes.

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At the door we were greeted by full sized coloured statues. They were loosely based off celebrities that defined pop culture in the 50’s. Marilyn in her trademark white dress, risen with the steam from a vent, perfectly posed. Elvis with his quaffed sideburns and curled lip behind a standing microphone, no blue suede shoes though. And James Dean, which required some research on my part to identify.

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It was a nice day and the patio out front had plenty of shaded seating under umbrellas, but we could not miss out on sitting indoors. Dining surrounded by so much retro nostalgia. It was such a fun space, and there aren’t many well conceived themed restaurants in Vancouver.

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Inside the restaurant was made to feel like you were stepping back in time. Bold in primary colours: bright blue walls with red trim and flashy red vinyl booths. Not an inch of wall space was left uncovered. Car models and car moulds traveled haphazardly along the walls, high above the restaurant. Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley were heavily represented here as well. Their faces seen in a series of black and white photos, painted portraits and collector cards framed. It was an assault of imagery, too much for me to recall in print.

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The front end of a mint green Chevrolet Cadillac served as the host’s stand. From there we were led to a booth of our choosing, past the bar tucked away in a separate room, adjacent to the neon lit juke box. The seat was waxy, it squeaked as I slid in. In front of us a black and white “I Love Lucy” was playing on the mounted television with no volume. Instead, as promised, 50’s and 60’s classic rock and pop with some swing could be heard playing overhead. And it didn’t come from the juke box behind us.

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The diner served breakfast all day, on a page turner of a menu. A collection of eggs, waffles, sandwiches, egg Benedict, omelettes, salads, and charbroiled burgers. So many options and combinations that you could customize your meal to have it your way. It was an easy to navigate listing, with pictures and notes to guide your choice.

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We kept it safe and shared a “Vanilla milkshake”, despite the ability to mix and match all their flavours. In hindsight I wouldn’t mind a banana strawberry or a chocolate and peanut butter. It usually comes in the traditional milkshake glass with a refill in the metal milkshake cup. But because we were sharing we each got our own glass, filled to the brim.

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All burgers come with lettuce, tomato, and pickles on a toasted bun. You get your choice of aioli, mayo, or relish. Each order comes with a side salad and your choice of French fries or home fries.

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We got the “FAT Elvis Burger” with bacon, cheddar, and avocado. You could taste the all beef of the patty. Though I found it dry and bland, it could have used more seasonings. It’s accompanying ingredients were fresh, they even generously used a whole half of an avocado. The mayo and relish aioli offered no flavour, and the use of ketchup was needed. It just wasn’t that tasty, disappointing.

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Our salad came with a choice between ranch, French, or raspberry dressing. Out of curiosity I choose the raspberry. This candy-like spread was as colourful as it was sweet. An off putting texture and a souring taste, like the candy “nerds” made into a syrup. Ironically it had a boring taste. The salad itself was an impressive mix, a combination of leafy greens, orange cherry tomatoes, and coloured peppers. Effort was made.

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The potatoes were shred thin, and fried crisp. Not bad, but nothing special. An expected side to an average burger.

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Each order of eggs Benedict came with large poached “born 3 grade A” eggs, drizzled with their homemade hollandaise sauce. Something unique and a great idea, you get the option to mix and match the two halves of your bennies. Choosing two different toppings under your egg instead of having the same on each half. And you can even have half orders for $9.95, $4-5 less than a full serving.

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We paid a little more for the mix to try more. We had a theme going, “Elvis Benny” with cheddar cheese, back bacon, bacon, and turkey bacon. Three kinds of bacon is always a must try for me; but it was with this breakfast bite that I learned, too much bacon can be a bad thing. All together it got too salty, though I enjoyed the crispiness of the regular bacon in the bunch. Both sides of the toasted English muffin was tough, there was a need to rigorously saw through each, though they didn’t taste burnt.

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The “Hawaiian Benny” with grilled pineapple and ham. The pineapple was from the can, the ring grilled with the appropriate markings. Its sweetness was different from the other bennies I have ever had. A different mix I can’t imagine wanting again.

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With any breakfast order you choose between either home fries or French fries with your bowl fresh fruit. Since we had the fried variety in our last order we went for the home style. The potatoes were chewy and lightly salted, like the French version they were good, but not memorable.

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When asked about their fruit bowl our server mentioned they were known for them. That there is often 16 different types of fruit, and sometimes even 20. This statement required that I counted: kiwi, watermelon, banana, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, organge, honey dew, peach, red and green grapes, pineapple, nectarine, peach. 15 close enough. This was sadly my favourite part of our meal. So fresh.

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Even the washroom doors matched the theme.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I found the theme and decor charming, but the food unremarkable. The menu would be best served as an greasy morning meal, one eaten in a slurry after a late night of drinking. Though nothing you couldn’t find at a “Denny’s” for cheaper. The food was decent, but nothing I need to revisit considering the distance we drove. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

To read MissVancouverPiggy’s review on Shineshine Diner click here.

SUNSHINE DINER
2649 W Broadway, Vancouver BC, V6K2G3
604-733-7717
thesunshinediner.com
Sunshine Diner on Urbanspoon

What8ver Cafe

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Looking for a late night snack we ventured here, five minutes before their 11:30pm last call and half an hour before their closing. Located in a plaza with other like cafés and larger restaurants now closed, parking was easy and convenient.

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The restaurant was as simple, as its name was catchy. Wood panelled walls, off white booths, cushions torn from regular use and age, and red lamps in small shades above the tables and with ornate ruffles above the bar. The bar opposed a row of four person tables, both were made narrow to fit in this small space. The three staff members on shift spent majority of their time standing and waiting for there to be a need for their assistance.

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The menu was heavily worn and extremely wrinkled sheets stapled together. Like the cracked faux leather booths they indirectly spoke of the venue’s popularity and its sped up aging from continual use. The rotation of butts on seats and hands holding sheets. It read like magazine: headlines, coloured images, and articles formatted in columns.

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The sweet smell of fresh bread and melted butter had you craving for carbs. Your choices were between “thick toast”, “waffles”, paninis, and French style honey bagels. We ordered the toast box that we came in for. Tonight they were out of ingredients to make their most popular strawberry macaron flavoured toast box so instead we got the “Matcha red bean”. This was a more adventurous choice compared to the chocolate banana or the original. The presentation was impressive, half a loaf of bread dressed in sweet red bean, spiralled butter cream, and a scoop of green tea ice cream; with a mini parfait of red bean, frosted flakes, and whipped cream on the side.

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The box was hollowed out, its soft centred cut into blocks, buttered, toasted, they restacked in the centre of this bread walled cubicle. A dessert with a time clock, if you spend too much time talking the ice cream melts, bread gets soggy, and the structure breaks. The most easy way to get into this was to break down a wall and gorge out the middle. I enjoyed the butter bites best when coated in green ice cream, discarding the rest untoasted box. I enjoy the flavouring of red bean, but not so much its gritty, grainy texture. So skipped out on eating any. The butter cream piped on top was overkill, each brick of bread was already well coated in butter with just the right crispiness from a gentle toasting. Who knew butter and ice cream were so good together? This was a more literal definition of an ice cream sandwich. There was so much food that the parfait went untouched, though the corn flakes would have provided a nice crunchy component.

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“What8ver cream float”, when asked our server declared this their signature drink. A drink served cold, but could be made hot, with a foamy layer of milk and cream on top. Available in tea and fruit flavours I went with green tea. The glass landed and I thought I was getting beer with all that foam. This was a thick almost solid layer of cream. It tasted like vanilla ice cream, and was just as thick. Essentially this is a variation on a London fog. When mixed, the drink was sweetened with a prominent green tea flavour. Though continuous stirring was necessary as the liquids separate.

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The “Lychee slush” was just as we expected. A light and fresh tropical flavour. Based on the chunks of lychee we figured this originated from a can and was blended to a slush with ice.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No
This was a quick and easy stop at a pretty decent snack place. If you want something savoury before your sweet they offer interesting options like, a “baseball omelette”, “cheesy corn”, or a “caramel egg flan”. Though “What8ver” is better served as an after dinner destination or a between meals option. We shut the place down and not once did they verbally usher us out. We were asked to pay at 12am, the music stopped, and the front door was propped open; but other than that we were allowed to take our time finishing up what we had ordered. And best of all, unlike majority of the Chinese cafés in Richmond this one accepted debit with a portable talking machine to boot. Don’t deny your cravings.

WHAT8VER CAFE
1108 – 8328 Capstan Way, Richmond BC, V6X2H6
778-297-5992
What8ver Cafe on Urbanspoon

Reflections at Hotel Georgia

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We all know Hotel Georgia, but did you know they have a patio? With fall around the bend and patio season winding down I was determine to squeeze this one on before they closed.

Admittedly I have never thought of exploring this well known landmark. In the hub of downtown, across from Pacific Centre mall, Hotel Georgia has long been declared a historical landmark in our fair city. It is also home to the well known award winning “Hawksworth” restaurant and “Bel Cafe”. The veneer is a simple brick and mortar, but the details in the mouldings are not lost. A extra treat on this trip was being able to admire the handy work of my partner, who worked to repair some of this historical brick work years ago. It was holding up nicely now.

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The adventure starts at the threshold. In my opinion a turn style door is always a treat. A one person pod that you push your way through, though regular stationary doors are also available. Beyond it the space opens up wide, the hotel lobby dressed in opulence. Grandesque features in vaulted ceilings, waxed glossy floors, designer art, and crystal-ed light fixtures that drip shine and reflected glitter. It had a way of making you feel small in its exaggerated space.

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The white couches and the gold on black fireplace lured you in with its precision setting. I am sure the books that sat on the coffee table were purposefully stacked for the best visual appearance. But I was on a mission to find the “Reflections” restaurant, and had no time to enjoy it or the jug of complimentary fruit flavoured water.

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Unsigned with no directory (though when was the last time a hotel had a directory?) and located on another floor, consultation was needed to find my destination. Luckily staff members uniformed in grey were on hand to point. An elevator to the right of the entrance takes you up to the fourth floor. The elevator is labeled and inside, it reminds you where “Reflections” is. Right through the elevator door a hostess stands. Behind her podium she directs those wanting the spa to her right, and like myself looking to dine, to the left.

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The roof top was stunning. We did not have reservations though none were needed this weekday afternoon. Between what should have been school starting up and us coming in for a late lunch and early dinner at 3:30 there were plenty of seats available. I had the pick of the place. From wide chairs and low tables meant for drinking and chatting in, to the ideal height for meaningful eating.

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I felt like I was at a resort, an oasis in the city dressed in brown, white and a pale aqua. It was all as well kept and as beautifully designed as the rest of the hotel that I had already wandered through. This was the outdoors brought alive with uplifting music and dressed-up patio furniture.

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The wordless melodies that played were indicative of a tropical theme, tunes I am most familiar with and immediately associate with all exclusive hotels down south. It brought back memories of Mexico and had me longing for more to come. The steady sounds of running water from a waterfall feature provided a nice tempo as well. The liquid travelled beneath the stone floor and pooled around the uncovered portion of the terrance. I could imagine the beauty of it all when it rained.

 

A fire pit had orange flames dancing over hot coal. Surrounding it spacious couches, soft cushions on chairs, and draped cabanas shielding all the above from the unpredictable nature of Vancouver weather. We were lucky to get a break in rain and some sunshine today. With a cool breeze and outdoor heaters I was at an optimal temperature. No need for a jacket and no reason to sweat.

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The view was non existent. Boxed off by brick walls, the only bit of sky visible was taken in by looking straight up.

As an open space, there was no art to be hung. All elements of the decor were as functional as they were beautiful. Heat lamps dressed like over sized desk lamps shade and all, each came with a mid height shelf that allowed a drink or two to rest around its stem. Pillar candles in lamps and leafy green plants in pots kept things light and natural.

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To start you are each given a glass of water and a dish of corn nuts and macadamias to munch on. The dry finger foods were the perfect accompaniment for a cocktail or two.

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My guest got the lunch time cocktail, “NO-JITO” made with fresh-pressed apple, mint, simple syrup, and lime. I jokingly asked her what’s the point of having a cocktail without alcohol. With this and the other zero and low proofs they made the perfect lunch time “I need to get away, but have to return to work later” beverage.

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When asked our server recommend the cocktail “Hotel Georgia”, I was eager to comply as there is something so novel about enjoying a cocktail in the space with the same name. Made with gin, orgeat, lime, egg white, orange blossom, water, and nutmeg dust.

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“Frozen chi chi” craft slush. Made with ketel one, coconut milk, pineapple, and coconut simple syrup. It had a strong boozy finish that clashed with the lightly whipped cream-like texture. More foam than liquid I started lapping it up.

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Had the “North Arms farms fingerling patatas bravas” to share as the menu suggested. Soften fingerling potatoes seasoned in a heated spiced as served with a spicy calabrian chile aioli. Hot from the chilli and cooling from the creamy dip. I preferred the crispier, smaller nuggets.

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“Heirloom tomato and burrata” with watermelon, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. On a hot and sunny day this was so refreshing. The simple and natural flavours of the fresh fruits and vegetables complimented one other well. The sweetness of the watermelon was exemplified by the coarse salt. And the zesty olive oil made it savoury. The burrata was silky smooth. It crumbled like feta, yet was supple like mozzarella. I could have enjoyed a full portion of this salad on my own.

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“Macaron ice cream sandwich” with
seasonal BC orchard fruit: peach, strawberry, and raspberry. Not what I expected, I imagined a large macaron and substantial ice cream. These were regular macarons filled with ice cream instead of their usual butter cream. The melting ice cream made each round soggy. They lost that first bite into a macaron crunch. I honestly expected more flavour and more visual appeal for $10.

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“Raspberry pistachio cake” with raspberry gelée. Now this had quite the presentation. The dessert was more rich than sweet, gentle flavours that commingled wonderfully. The decadent dark chocolate, the fresh red berries, and the nutty green pistachios. The whipped cream offered smoothness to balance the crunch of the chopped pistachios and the pop of the freeze dried berry chunks.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Yes to all the above, for the location alone. I wouldn’t consider this your everyday destination, but on occasion yes. To gather respite from the hectic world, the regular world, the world outside of this incased patio. The prestige of such a hotel, surrounded by opulence and history, while enjoying a meal well prepared, is an afternoon spent well. And with enough imagination you can be sipping tropical cocktails at a resort bar. The staff sure help to emulate that feeling. Don’t deny your cravings.

REFLECTIONS
Rosewood Hotel Georgia
801 W Georgia Street, Vancouver BC, V6C3G1
604-682-5566
rosewoodhotels.com/en/hotel-georgia-vancouver/dining/reflections
Reflections on Urbanspoon

The Roof at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

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With a name like that you would expect to be seated outdoors, high above the city with a view of the buildings and the traffic down below. We were sorely mistaken, but were at least on the highest floor of the Hotel Fairmont Vancouver, the 23rd. It was a lengthy ride up the elevator, its doors gilded in gold and etched with mythical creatures. A tight space and a rickety ride that spoke of its age and the times it had lived through.

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“The Roof” is now open in response to the on going renovations of the hotel lobby down below. The space would only be available for seating temporarily and we wanted to capitalize. At over 125 years old its age shows, the furniture is dated and the space feels stagnant. This compared to the other neighbouring hotel restaurants I have been visiting as of late. I respected the history, but expected more luxury given the prestigious boutiques that also called this hotel home.

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The makeshift restaurant was surprisingly well set in beige on tan. A room large enough to seat a banquet, with carpet speckled in circles, chairs upholstered in florals, and tables cloaked in white. A gloss wood cabinet held vintage tea kettles and gilded gold frames sported abstract art. A waist high wall split the dining room from the elevated bar/lounge area. It separated the grand piano from the flat screen television. This wasn’t the most formal of settings, but well kept given its age.

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Each table was set with the restaurant’s own fine bone China. Each piece stamped at the bottom with their hotel’s name, “Fairmont Hotel Empress”. White plates, tea cups, and saucers patterned with red and blue trim centring a gold crown. And you know a place is fancy when they have their own china and fold their reusable napkins. Napkins shaped like towers of decoration, then laid upon your lap when it was time to eat.

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When visiting for lunch it was a set menu for their “traditional afternoon tea”. You were required to make a reservation, a chance for them to prepare your food ahead of time. Though our server did inquire about our dietary restrictions after we were seated. The list of one bites and small snacks offered little description and we were not told about any of the variations from it. It was $49 per person and included an individual tea pot, finger sandwiches, savouries, scones, pastries, and sweets. All this was more food than offered at other tea services, and what was given certainly matched its assigned price point. For those dining with the family, children under 12 years of age are eligible for their bubblegum tea for $19. It includes bubble gum flavoured non caffeinated tea, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ham and cheese, chocolate chip cookies, and jello.

You are able to choose what type of tea you had. A selection made between black, white, green, and herbal teas. And for those wanting a little sparkle enjoy some champagne or sparking wine at an additional cost.

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My guest had the “Rose buds and petals” from Italy. It had light floral notes and a lingering finish. Described as the perfect tea to sip on in the afternoon. She found it very light with just the soaking of plucked petals in water. You tasted it more through its smell.

I was recommend the “1906 centennial blend” from India. It is one of their more popular teas. As a limited edition commemorative brew I was drawn in. This was described as a blend of delightful kenmare, rich imperial keemun, a touch of malty Assam from borengajuli estate, fulled bodied Assam from keyhung, a South Indian tea from nonesuch estate, plus a dash of earl grey. It certainly was as the menu described, “a taste of history” with so much going in to it. A darker and heavier tea, it steeped strong and got bitter quick. Best enjoyed when taken with milk and the coarse sugar provided. Both of our hot silver tea pots were refilled often and without us asking for it. The handles were covered in cloth for easier pouring and offered a shield from the heated metal, the top knob on the lid could have used the same.

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Our meal started off with a “Yogurt panna cotta with macerated fruits”. The panna cotta was dense from the used of yogurt. Its cheesy taste and pasty texture reminded me of cheese cake. Not what I imagine when I think of a usually light and airy panna cotta, but delicious none the less. The berries were soaked in fruit juice, making them too sweet, and overpowering of the more milder panna cotta.

Our savouries were served next, two bites each delivered with tongs directly onto our plate. Its unexpected serving had us asking if we would be getting the rest presented on the traditional high tea tower like those around us did. Yes. There is just something so nice about seeing three plates of so many different types foods before you, just there one on top of another.

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The “Cream asparagus tartlet” was best taken in one bite. The cream in the centre was runny, a tilt too far had it dripping over my fingers and onto the table cloth. The cream had a strong asparagus taste, but was out shadowed by the surrounding pastry. Not necessarily a bad thing as it was flaky and full of buttery goodness.

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The “Chicken and apple sausage roll” was a grown up and elevated sausage roll. The type you buy frozen at your local grocery store, but this was fresher and you could taste the quality in the ingredients used. The apple balanced the salty with a little sweet. And the pastry was just as flaky and buttery as the tart above. Though it could have been served warmer.

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We had our tower delivered with a layer of scones, one of finger sandwiches, and the last of desserts and pastries.

 

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We followed the flow of the tower, starting with the scones first as they were still warm, and scones are the best warm. Served with house made fruit preservers and Devonshire clotted cream. They were oddly shaped, like they spilled out from the pan and no one bothered to make another more attractive batch. The menu stated that one would be a raisin, but it came plain. Not that it mattered, the dough was well made and when partnered with the cream or preserve, there was more than enough flavour to go around.

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Both scones were fluffy and soft. The orange and apricot smelled like its namesake citrus with its colour to match. The middle was scattered with large chunks of chewy candied apricot. And the top dusted with powered orange sugar. Each round was so soft that it crumbled within your grasp. The cream however could have been more flavourful, we found it bland, but its generosity slightly made up for that.

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The finger sandwiches were beautifully crafted, but not as tasty. We found them unique, but they were always a little off in flavour.

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Having had many high teas we both knew to start with the lightest sandwich, the “English cucumber with upland pepper cress on buttermilk loaf”. It was light and refreshing with the raw vegetables. The tomato provided some sweetness to the bright cucumber. And the creamed cheese hadjust enough salt to tie in all together as the binder. My guest could have sworn she tasted truffle in the cream.

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“Maple glazed ham and Gouda, dijonnaise on cracked wheat bread”. This was made very salty from the four layers of folded ham between green bread. The gherkin garnish was overkill, too much sour and too much salty. The bread was given its colour more for visual novelty then flavour.

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I found the “Cold smoked wild salmon, organic egg salad, rushing rye, and caviar” a weird flavour combination. The mix of the salmon and the mustard that coated the egg salad clashed. Together they were soggy from the moist eggs and soft from the juicy salmon. They would of been better off separating the egg salad and salmon, like having the creamy egg mixture on the dry bun below instead.

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I enjoyed the cutesy presentation of the “Curried free range chicken, branston pickle, and caraway”. We saved this for last because of the strength in the spiced curry. The green of the pea shoots were a nice touch, it gave freshness and offered some crunch. There was more chewy bun then peppery filling. But what little chicken present was well seasoned. Overall dry, the bite needed a sauce for dipping. And the fragrant chicken was better suited in the middle of a tart or surrounded by pastry dough.

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The sweets and pastries were prettier than they were delicious. Like the sandwiches we worked our way from the most mild to the most flavourful desserts.

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“Fruit tartlet”, fresh raspberries in a crusted box. The gold flake sprinkles were the perfect decadent touch, it elevated a common grocery store tart to a treat worthy of a luxurious high tea. Under the red berries was a layer of luscious whipped vanilla bean cream. The sweetness from this and the tartness from the berries gave it the perfect tang.

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The “Lemon curd and charred meringue” was my favourite one biter. A mix of sour and sweet over a soft buttery pastry. It was like a miniature lemon meringue pie.

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From the appearance of the “Chocolate vienetta”, I expected it harder like a nanaimo bar. Instead it easily folded under the weight of my fork. Light and fluffy like chocolate mousse, crafted to a perfect block, set over a crumbled cookie crust. It was nice that it wasn’t too sweet, but overall this wasn’t anything special. One of the things I did not finish.

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Two different macarons, which our server called “macaroons”, something my guest was quick to point out. The brown was chocolate and the faded maroon, black current. The flavours weren’t strong, it was the distinctive butter cream that overwhelmed and made things overly sweet.

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We were given two “Signature tea truffles”, one came with a waxy liner, the other without. The earl grey flavouring was bitter like over steeped tea. And the actual tea leaves were an unwanted surprise in an otherwise soft chocolate. Though things improved at the end, the after taste was more floral and the mouthful ended sweeter.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This was a lovely afternoon tea. The setting was tranquil, lofty above the heart of downtown, surrounded by so much heritage and so much more history. The teas were fragrant, hand picked and delicately crafted bouquets for the finest of brews. Our small bites, a visual feast of fresh ingredients and unique pairings. And the staff friendly, an attentive service run by passionate older women. Kind women who spoke gently, fine women who you could see enjoying this mid day treat themselves. However fine as things were, this did not make it into my top three favourite high tea sessions. When we made our reservations we expected tea in a setting that was classier, a setting more vintage, a setting more regal; something luxurious and deserving of the Fairmont Vancouver. Yes we got history, but we wanted more than a warp back to the 80’s on decor. Don’t deny your cravings.

THE ROOF
900 West Georgia Street, Vancouver BC, V6C2W6
604-684-3131
fairmont.com/hotel-vancouver/dining/the-roof
The Roof on Urbanspoon
Roof Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

Bestie

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The name is catchy, though I am not sure how it ties in with the restaurant. Located between Chinatown and Gastown this little sausage shop is certainly a hidden gem. My guest had heard good things about it, so now given the chance we made this our after drinking stop.

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The blue glow of their sausage shaped light drew me in like a mosquito to a flame. And the row of seats under their restaurant’s logo made me stay with its photo op. With a line at 10pm these chairs available outside gave those waiting a chance to rest. Though as a snack stop the turn around was fairly quick. 15 minutes top was our estimated wait and we were seated within 5.

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Inside it was a simple setting. White furniture in a white walled room. Framed art here, a wooden cuckoo clocked there. A row of booths set against the wall and a row of stools by the counter. The kitchen was completely open, with front row seats and clear visibility from the bar. The kitchen was tiled in white and fitted with stainless steel equipment. Off the walls hung steins for beers, pots for boiling, colanders for straining, and all the utensils needed to prepare the perfect sausage.

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We were given the best seats in the house. An elevated and secluded booth by the window. It required a step up and some wiggling to get centred on these colourful foam-like blocks. They made for a comfortable and spongy seat cushion.

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The menu was abbreviated. A smaller offering reflective of their small space and smaller kitchen. A one page of sausages and sides. You choose your style, how you want your sausage prepared. Either currywurst, a sausage sliced and serve with curried ketchup over crispy fries; that was listed as being Berlin’s most popular street food. Or sausage with sauerkraut, both served warm with house made mustard and fries. Then you choose which sausage you want. All four options are all natural, free range, and local. Classic pork thuringer, Southern BBQ turkey, smokey bison, and veggie wurst. If that’s not enough add on extras like potato salad, more fries but now with cheese, gherkin pickles, extra sauerkraut, and warm pretzels with a cheese sauce they describe as being “stinky. This was definitely good late night eats.

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We partnered the all natural classic pork thuringer bratwurst with sauerkraut and house made mustard to allow what they considered “bratwurst at its finest” to shine. Then paid extra to have our side of fries made into cheese fries. The sausage was flavourful as is, and the best of the two we had. The mustard and sauerkraut were hardly touched. The latter was delicious, fresh, and hearty, but there was too much of it for the one sausage link. The cheese in the fries were gritty, a chunky cream paste that offered salt and an off putting texture. Most of the flavour came from the chopped chives sprinkled on top.

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With the Currywurst we choose the smoky bison sausage, more for the rarity of the protein on any menu as appose to its potential taste and value in the dish. It was sliced and pre-coated generously with the curried ketchup, which did allow the meat to be highlighted. The ketchup was a dominating taste like the cheese above this too was grainy in taste and lumpy in texture. More sweet than salty, it isn’t what I expected or am use to. Is it bad that I prefer the processed non heathy kind of ketchup instead? Especially with the fries that it came with? The fries were average, they could have been crispier for a better contrast to the also chewy sausage.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I liked it for its name alone. The sides could use some work, but the bratwursts are definitely worth trying. I wouldn’t recommend this as a meal, but late at night and you need some greasy eats, this is one I would refer to. Don’t deny your cravings.

BESTIE
105 E Pender Street, Vancouver BC, V6A1T5
604-620-1175
bestie.ca
Bestie on Urbanspoon