Delysees

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Originally, I stopped by just as they were opening, and as a result, I didn’t get a chance to admire the extent of their full baked goods selection. I was recommend to come back in the afternoon when they got a chance to get it all out, and so I did. I wanted the full experience of this well known bakery specializing in eclairs, on my last day in Toronto.

The modern looking bakery was a beige square block with its name and designation outlined in red. There was a patio out front shielded from the sidewalk by a wooden barrier. Behind it the gate protected several two tops of white tables and chairs, each set with some potted greenery.

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Inside, the sun poured trough their glass shop front. There was plenty of space between counter and the row of seating on the left. Chrome metal chairs and laminated table tops awaited those who choose to dine in. The walls were decorated with framed photos of green countryside, with some more greenery under cloched glass. In a similar fashion the light above the service counter too was encased in glass.

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But truth be told, you weren’t in looking at what decorated the walls, when you could be looking at what was behind their sneeze proof glass.

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There were showcases dedicated to what was freshly baked on the morning of. Loaves of savoury rounds, and lengths of crusty bread, flaky buttered pastries, and chocolate filled and almond topped croissants.

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And if you were looking for something more hearty they had sandwiches that could fit in the palm of your hand. Ham and cucumber with Brie, blt’s, feta with black olives, and salmon and cream cheese; to name a few.

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But really if you are at a bakery, like me, you are here for their delectable sweets. Like their refrigerating units with whole cakes at the ready, and chocolate ice cream bars and giant macaron ice cream sandwiches to go.

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Adjacent was their chocolate display of in house made chocolate hearts. One biters enrobed in red, and splashed with colour. Although as ornate as they looked, they were actually familiar dark, milk, and caramel chocolates. The shop did venture into more creative territory with the coconut and the strawberry vanilla filled chocolate gems.

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The themed showcases continued with one dedicated to miniature cream puffs and single serving cakes. Perfectly decorated desserts with glossy surfaces and fresh glazed fruit. The “lemon meringue” had each of its peaks slightly browned, you could see the light reflected off the varnish of the “chocolate raspberry pillow”, and the “tiramisu mousse eclipse” with its orange surface and pink polka dot heart catches the eye.

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But I was here for their most famous eclairs, I have never seen a place with a more extensive collection of them. An “éclair” is an oblong pastry made with choux dough, filled with cream, and topped with icing. But these were not your regular chocolate topped and white cream filled pastries. These were painted in bold colours, with the fillings to match. The roasted pistachio was a bright green topped with the crushed green nut, the salted caramel had broken pieces of caramel bark topping it, the raspberry was red with a single of its namesake fruit balancing on top, the “coconut cream” looked like a winter wonderland, the mint mojito was tye-dyed in shades of green and blue, and the London fog spelled out its intention on a white chocolate plate.

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These are so popular that they are available to take home in gift boxes designed to keep each lengthy pastry in place, as you travel from here to home. Looking at an example above the counter, it was hard not to want a box to go yourself. But my day was just beginning and I didn’t want to have to carry such a fragile dessert around with me in the sun. Instead I opted for two to enjoy in house.

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I went for a “pure matcha” eclair for the love of the flavour and the vibrancy of its colour. The name did not disappoint. The pastry was light and spongy, and filled to the brim with solid matcha paste. This is a great choice for those that don’t like their eclairs too sweet. They were served chilled to keep them from melting, but I think they would have been nice warmer, at least it would have made the dough softer and the filling creamier.

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And I had to get one of the gold eclairs, as it was the reason why I came in the first place. Never mind what flavour, where else do you find your dessert gilded in a metallic gold paint like this? The “gold gianduja” was chocolate and hazelnut. I found it most satisfying to cut into this one. It was soothing how the shell just cracked, like the sugar on creme burlee. The flavour was rich with nut and dark chocolate, very similar in intensity and texture as the matcha above. Now only if they had some gold macarons to match.

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I eyed the macaron showcases as well deciding on what flavours I should get. Creme burlee, simply lime, blueberry butter creme, double raspberry butter creme, espresso chocolate, hazelnut chocolate, and 60% chocolate; to name a few. They also had some fun ones with extra embellishments and dual colours. The strawberry cheesecake looked more like it would be cotton candy with its pink and blue shells. The strawberry cheesecake would have been more appropriately coloured dark and light pink, like the litchi raspberry. The chocolate and vanilla birthday cake came in red and blue, with sprinkles in its filling. And the chai latte creme looked delicious in its half yellow and brown shells.

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I grabbed a “Salted caramel” and two “Madagascar vanilla” to take back to Vancouver, for my partner. Those are his favourite flavours, and truthfully he is a bigger macaron enthusiasts as I am. He liked the flavour alright, but by the time I, and they arrived, they weren’t all that fresh. And it wasn’t because of the packaging, they travelled well across the country in their six pack box with plastic separator.

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Not being able to decide on which ones I, myself wanted; I ended up being able to take away some of their special macarons, after noticing a box of them on the counter. These were their doughnut macarons, and they are only available on weekends, but they had some leftover from last weekend and were willing to let me have them at regular cost. (I may have mentioned I was travelling from Vancouver, knowing I wouldn’t get the chance to return anytime soon). These were regular macarons, but the novelty is that the top shell is shaped and decorated like a doughnut, hole and all.

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Vanilla, red velvet, and strawberry. They were kept frozen in the back, so they looked good and tasted good, but sadly the texture wasn’t as fresh as I would have liked. I knew this would be the case when I ordered and paid for them. But at least I can now say that I have had doughnut macarons.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I wished this authentic French bakery was in my backyard, in Vancouver. There was so much I wanted to try and so much more i didn’t get a chance to blog about. You keep coming back for their rotating line up and seasonal flavours, and they keep you discovering something new on each visit. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DELYSEES
780 King Street W, Toronto ON, M5V 1C9
416-360-0095
delysees.com
Delysees Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sun Star Restaurant

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When my host of today and I go out, we don’t visit the most popular or most acclaimed restaurants in the lower mainland. Instead we visit the restaurants that serve the community, has a unique origin story, or brings something new to the restaurant game. And this one had all three. Say hello to “Sun Star” in Coquitlam, the only restaurant that brings together grilled cheese and gyozas, spaghetti with meatballs and lobster chow mien, and Salisbury steak with fried rice. This was traditional Chinese food with training wheels, served in the comfort of a greasy spoon.

But to clarify, this isn’t a fusion restaurant, it is literally two separate cuisines on one menu, served under one roof. My host knew the whole history, so spun the tale of how this concept came to be.

Originally this location was home to the local “Austin Diner”, whereas the original “Sun Star” was ten minutes away. The latter was later demolished when they started building the new evergreen skytrain line. So when looking to relocate, the owners of “Sun Star” found this piece of real estate appropriate. They had planned to buy the “Austin Diner” out, and remake it into their Chinese restaurant. However their was outcry from community to not take their diner away. Therefore, in order to continue seeing a healthy return of guests and the growing of business, they decided to merge the two restaurants and their concepts together under the heading of “Sun Star”. The result was a very forced and very awkward blending for two communities and two establishments, that eventually grew to working order under this one roof. If you think about it, this merger and adaptation it is actually quintessential Canadian, and very symbolic of the Vancouver landscape.

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So as it is today, the diner was left, but to it they added their own flare. Thus making it a little more “Sun Star”, and a little more Chinese. This transition included the staff, as well as the decor. Both were noticeably different, at either ends of one another, but that was half the charm of the place. And during our wait for food, we made trying to identify the origin of each item and its ideology in to a game.

The diner’s legacy left behind a cola branded metal clock, paintings of rustic landscapes in ornate frames, and decorative dish ware hanging from support columns as art. You could go either way with fake flowers around the booths, but the print of the pots they were held in suggested that they too were left behind. The music playing was predominately country during our stay, whereas Chinese restaurants typically have no music on. This is because it is just heard as extra background noise in a sea of loud talking and animated laughter.

From the original Chinese restaurant they brought over the typical waving cat for luck, an ancestor shrine for respect; and Chinese brush paintings of koi, peacocks, and peony blossoms for decoration. There were more Chinese good fortune markers by the door. Buddhas statues, white and blue urns, and expensive bottles of cognac on display.

There was also two fish tanks, which is common to most Chinese seafood restaurants. One was ornamental with well cared for goldfish, and the other, a live seafood tank of crustaceans waiting to be cooked. However the latter was now left empty with just the tank taking up space by the washrooms. I guess love crab wasn’t a popular enough menu item to keep in stock.

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On a fun note, similar to the combining of two cultures, was the bringing together of the condiments on each table. Here ketchup bottle lived next to the chilli paste.

All these features and all the combined knick knacks gave any otherwise yellow walled restaurant with brown furniture, some much need colour and style.

Over the bar there were blown up and printed out photos of their more popular menu items. A breakfast with eggs and sausage, a surf and turf of steak and prawns, pan fried rice noodle, a sizzling plate of chicken and prawns, and yellow coloured Singaporean style vermicelli. Under them were hand written specials on coloured poster paper. This was a very typical, low budget solution, to advertise new items at a Chinese restaurant.

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And it worked on us as we ordered the “Honey garlic pork” as advised. This whole fish of brown was served with a single carrot slice. It, and their Chinese food was food court Chinese, and exactly as I expected. My guest liked it just fine, but I found the meat dry and the breading tough with crunch. The dish was also super sweet with a boring one tone flavour. The use of rice and the addition of a salty green side would have helped, but each would have been extra.

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The signs above the bar also compelled me to add on an order of their “new” “Battered Mac and cheese wedges” with fries. They looked like chicken nuggets with their shape and even breading, but with soften cheesy macaroni elbows at the centre. The first taste, when you broke into the crispy coating was great. But like most deep fried foods, it needed something creamy to dip in to. A side of something to help change the taste. The ketchup did alright, but a spicy mayo would have done better.

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We were then overwhelmed with options, looking to add on two more dishes to our multicultural feast. The menu was a full flushed out listing of quick and easy diner dishes and Chinese comfort food. There was a lot to go through, but none of it was intimidating. Everything was “safe” for any one culture using this as a platform to try the other: something new and something unfamiliar. They even help bridge the gap with fun twists on classics, like Hawaiian and Mexican themed burgers.

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We eventually settled on their “Super burger” made with “the works”. This was a surprisingly delicious homemade patty topped with thick fatty bacon, sausages cut width wise, lettuce, tomato, American cheese, and sautéed mushrooms. This was a handful and worth every bite.

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But oddly it came with a side of soup, that was odd in itself. Refried bean soup? Refried beans aren’t all that good on their own, so as part of a soup where you sip and savory for texture, they are even less appealing. Sandy beans with a mix of frozen vegetables. The crackers served on the side, added nothing to this. But it made us wonder if, we got the hot and sour soup would it too come with crackers?

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And finally, to continue to push the boundaries of their cooking capacity we tried their “Curry chicken with vegetable”. This was tender chicken and large chunks of red and green peppers, with plenty of onions in a sweet yellow curry sauce. I thought there was too much onion in ratio to the namesake protein, and gnat the sauce was a little watery. Otherwise the dish was nice enough, and it offered us a dip for the Mac and cheese wedges, all the fries, and even burger.

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Our meal, and everyone else’s ended with a complimentary fortune cookie. However, despite it being wrapped in plastic, the biscuit was stale. And worst, the paper it was hiding inside wasn’t a fortune. Instead it was a factoid, and mine was about disease.

The staff were all of Chinese descent today, but my host has been here before,and has seen the former diner staff working along side the team that has migrated from the original “Sun Star”. The manager appeared to be the one serving us, she made small talk throughout or stay and even as we paid. She was seen laughing with patrons and telling jokes like they were all regulars. She even sold her business to us inviting us back for their lunch specials and pointing out that they deliver, but only off their Chinese menu, as it travels well. This was the most friendliest service I have ever received at a Chinese restaurant, or rather, semi-Chinese restaurant. I was impressed and would recommend it for that fact alone.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Not the best food, but they offered some solid comfort eating. Meals great on a rainy day like today, and better when coming in hungry. Although I may not recommend mixing the cuisine up as much as we did. Changing bites and tastes made the meal as a whole hard to eat. Your stomach struggles and your taste buds can’t settle on what they like. Though the upside is flavours stay rejuvenated, and we didn’t find ourselves bored, just stuffed. And the surprising part is that you wouldn’t think any of that just by judging in on its appearance. Though their community knew better, and many of them were in today supporting the restaurant that they have held to shape. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SUN STAR
2154 Austin Avenue, Coquitlam BC
604-937-5944
sunstarrestaurant.com
Sun Star Chinese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Boston Pizza

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“Boston Pizza” has been advertising their dessert burger, enough that it had us interested in visiting their New Westminster location, to give it a try for ourselves. This chain sports bar isn’t known for its great eats, but more its game time setting; so I approached with lowered expectations.

The dessert burger, or rather the dessert slider, given its size; was chocolate ganache and vanilla ice cream, drizzled in caramel sauce and sandwiched between a sweet bun. It’s limited time presence was in celebration of summer, and at $3 a pop, you can certainly afford to give it a try.

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We expected it to be served warm, like a normal burger would be, to the point that my guest actually blew on the dessert. Instead, the chocolate was a solid brick that was difficult to chew through, definitely not meant to be eaten like a burger. This would have been better a brownie to mimic a patty, it then certainly would have been more complimentary to the scoop of ice cream and caramel sauce. Similarly the bun would have been better warmer and softer, more like a sponge or angel food cake. I started to think that these might have been preassembled and left waiting in the refrigerator for someone to order them. If the bun was kept dry and crispy for crunch, they would have been better off with some nuts or chocolate crisps for texture instead.

This was a creative idea and a great way to bring customers in, but I felt it could have been better conceived. A better tasting and put together dessert to have customers coming back for. Yes it would mean the price would have to go up, but at least then you could have gotten a treat you actually liked. This was a glorified ice cream sandwich that they could have done so much more with. For example, charging $13.99 for a plate of three in three different flavours: vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate. Each with its own complimentary topping, and differing ice cream and sauce.

Being unsatisfied with the reason why we came in, in the first place; we followed it with a dessert my guest had tried and actually likes.

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The “Chocolate doughcano” is like a dessert pizza pocket. Chocolate mousse, cheesecake chunks, caramel, toffee, pecans, and almonds; wrapped and baked in their house pizza dough. Then topped with icing sugar and chocolate sauce, and served with whipped cream. A dessert so decadent that I strongly suggest sharing it between at least two.

This was the redeeming dessert that gave us the warmth we wanted. The pizza crust offered salt that balanced out all the sweetness it was hiding at its core. Though it was mostly chocolate that you tasted. I didn’t find any cheesecake chunks. And all that chocolate made things soggy, it left you also looking for the crunch that the nuts promised would have delivered. The first bite was the best, but you grew bored of it quick without a syrupy sauce or fresh fruit to give you a taste break, it was very one toned. Even some mint infused into the whipped cream would have sufficed.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
We came for the novelty of the desserts and it left us not wanting any more. With all the artisan and gourmet options in the Vancouver dessert landscape, most are willing to travel further and pay more for better. I am one of them and at $3, I recommend splitting one and heading somewhere else with the change you saved.

“Boston Pizza” would not be my first choice when looking for a meal. I would lean towards it for cheap eats and drinks, and a fun place to cheer my favourite sports team at. During game nights they have beer pitchers that light up when the home team scores. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BOSTON PIZZA
805 Boyd Street, New Westminster BC,
V3M 5X2
604-759-3133
bostonpizza.com
Boston Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saltwonder, Himalayan Salt Cave

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The “Saltwonder” Himalayan Salt Cave is a unique spa experience that involves prolonged exposure to large quantities of salt for natural therapeutic purposes.

I have heard about such a wonder from a friend who has visited Germany, and came back raving about such a spa. So I was surprised to only find out now that we had one in Vancouver, and that it wasn’t more popular. It wasn’t until I tried it for myself did I realize why. This is proof that service matters and not everyone is suited for the industry.

Salt therapy is the belief that there are many benefits to sitting in a room that is wall to ceiling salt. The practice is popular in many European countries with natural salt caves and salt mines. It is there that salt aerosol plays an important role in the relief of health problems, and is used for many patients with respiratory issues.

For those unfamiliar, their website does a detailed job of spelling it out for you. I have also summarized it below.

Salt therapy is said to help relieve many respiratory issues like chronic bronchitis, breathlessness, tightness in the chest, dry coughs, the plugging up of mucus, wheezing, and respiratory allergies, etc.

With groupon in hand we came to reap these benefits for ourselves. $38 for the admittance of two, with only tax to pay when we checked in. This came to about $1.90. The pass gave us a 45 minute stay in their shared salt space. Otherwise it’s $25 regularly for the same amount of time in the same public space.

The location is hard to find, in a little plaza in North Vancouver. So much so that we both passed it on our first drive around the block. Located right in the corner, it is hidden by the cars parking in front of it. But even walking up to the spa there was nothing to catch your attention. They had descriptive print outs on their windows. They explained to those passing by what it is that they offer. These were just screen caps from their detailed website. But it was the “scent-free zone” sticker in red that caught your eye and kept it the most.

Inside it wasn’t anymore impressive. The foyer certainly had all the Himalayan salt crystals in needed to emphasize its use in the spa. Salt in baggies and in jars for sale as bath crystals and whole salt bricks for aesthetics purchases and displaying in your own home. Just having it around is said to help.

When you think of spas, you think tranquil peace and pure relaxation. What we got today was a rushed job and the feeling that we were a hindrance to the sole man who owned and operated the business. He did not create the friendliest atmosphere. He continued to sit behind his desk when we entered. He didn’t get up to greet us or really celebrate the fact that we were here. We even had to ask him more details on what it is we were actually here to do. There was no explanation, just the handing of a waiver on a clipboard. Upon reflection, he wasn’t all that friendly over the phone either. He was naturally gruff when we had to make the original appointment, and then change it due to scheduling conflicts.

After collecting our signatures and the change for tax, he then rushed us along, reaching for my belongings before I knew what was going on. You aren’t allowed to bring anything into the room with you. No phones or purses, I didn’t ask why, but I suspect it was to not smuggle out any of the salt or distract others with the light and functions of your phone?

Though if you are going to go through and enforce this practice, you should gave your patrons the opportunity to lock up their own stuff for safety and privacy reasons. Like at a gym with coins and a key on a pin.

In my opinion, the purpose of a groupon is to introduce your business to potential repeat clients. Returning customers who would in turn recommend it to their friends, and so on and so on. Word of mouth would increase business, or in this case, rejuvenate it. Instead, what our groupon got us was a taste that put us off before we even saw salt.

The website didn’t specify and I didn’t know how to dress for such an occasion, so packed a swim suit incase we were given robes, and shorts and tank to be able to change out of my work clothes and slip into something more comfortable. All this thought was not needed though, you literally just sit in chairs and dress code doesn’t make a difference.

I was allowed to change in a separate room from the washroom, with much shirgrin. The owner didn’t articulate himself so instead of explaining to me that my disrobing wasn’t necessary, he just shook his head at my wanting to change. Only for me to later change back feeling underdressed in a tank and shorter shorts, within the cooler room.

You are suggested to remove your shoes. They had a place to store them, in one of several cubbies of the shelf in the changing room. Here is also where they store the towels for you to lay across the chairs you would be lounging on.

You are handed one and led to the room. The entry way is planked with wood to catch any debris of salt walking out. It also transitioned you onto an uneven surface of little jags and chipped edges. Painful for some, but like the Chinese pressure foot massages I use to get.

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The room was kept dim, and slightly pink to match the colouring for the salt. Rosy chunks of the stuff littered the ground and large boulders of it lined to the walls. A few similar looking panels were backed lit for ambience.

It was an open space with a few nooks for split parties, to give them the illusion of privacy. There was even a cranny that was stocked with toys. Sand utensils and construction trucks for children to pay with as they got the benefits of salt.

Today we were one of three groups sharing the space. A women came before us and was napping with a blanket over her body. We took the corner furthest back and the couple that followed us, the corner closest to the door. When your time ran up, the owner came in to notify you. You then gather your used towel and head out.

There were several reclining loungers for you to rest in. They were impossible to cover fully with the towel, and then lay flat at an incline, they also weren’t that comfortable. For extended stays I would want something soft with a cushion, instead of outdoor patio furniture.

We thought about napping, but got restless quick. After prodding the walls and digging our heels in the gravel of salt, we decided to lay our towels out on the ground beach style. We used our time to catch up. Maybe all our talking helped us breathe in more of the salt aerosol?

I intended to get the most out of the experience by absorbing as much salt as I could. I rubbed handfuls of the crystals over my bare limbs, exfoliating myself. Fun at the time, but in hind sight maybe not the most hygienic. I don’t think the salt gets sanitized or the chairs even wiped down. The red fleece blankets certainly don’t get washed, and the one the women before us used was just neatly folded and returned to the top of the stack within the salt room. And through digging my hands in salt I uncovered a Chinese coin and a strand of hair, after quickly hitting the layer of plastic tarp that covered the ground, separating salt from floor. Luckily I was able to head home and shower as what I thought was initially soft skin was actually a chalky film that covered me. It made my feet sweet in my sandals, and my hands dry on my steering wheel. It left my guest itchy.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Overall this was an interesting experience, but I don’t think you got the full affect of it from just one treatment, for just 40 minutes. This is a repeat service and one I cannot bare to back to. Groupon or not, I did not see the value of it. Maybe if the space was more private and the setting more tranquil. This was nothing like the caves in Germany my friend had once showed me and spoke of. This was a basement refurbished as a business and I wasn’t impressed in. But apparently you can get a private room for two, if only we’d known…

 

SALTWONDER
940 West 16th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7P 1R3
604-971-5220
saltcavebc.com
saltwonder.ca

Simit & Chai Co.

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It was my last day in Toronto and I was up early to take advantage of it. There isn’t much open at 7am, but luckily this Turkish cafe was; and it offered me my first taste of a simit. A “simit” is a Turkish street bagel dipped in molasses and covered with sesame seeds.

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The cafe’s all brick exterior, rounded arch way, and bold sign reminded me of a train stop. Inside the red brick continued and found companionship with wood flooring and faux marble table tops. There was plenty of seating within this open space with some unique pieces used for decoration. An old timey coffee grinder with wooden base and metal crank, a pointed pick with its end sharpened, miniature succulents in metal cans and concrete blocks, and a wood carving the length and shape of an enlarged baguette.

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Being early and the first customer in, they were still in the midst of setting up their selling counters for the day. Wooden trays and elevated platforms with labels awaiting their baked goods. Brownies, date squares, almond cookies, various muffins, and pre-assembled sandwiches in asiago olive tapenade and feta tomato.

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When ordering, the clerk assured me that I was pronouncing it correctly. Simits don’t look like your regular bagels. They are larger and thinner loops, making them heavier and denser instead of fluffy and chewy.

When looking for toppings I asked for the traditional filling of asiago cheese and pastirma, a dry cured beef. But they also them available with cream cheese and olive paste, fava bean purée, hummus, smoked ham, beef brisket, and goat cheese; amongst other things.

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The bagel was dry and hard from its molasses shell. It had a nice roasted sesame flavour, but the falling seeds made eating a messy affair. This was a good amount of food at $11.50, especially given the quality in ingredients used. Both the meat and cheese was fresh and fragrant, they gave some saltiness to the slight sweetness of the bagel. Over all it was one of the most interesting bagels I have ever had, it was so far from what I am used to, but definitely worth a try.

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I accompanied my traditional Turkish breakfast with a Turkish coffee latte. I am not a coffee expert so can’t tell the difference between Turkish coffee and regular coffee. But it was strong and warm. I couldn’t taste the milk and/or sugar if there was any.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I wish this was more accessible to me, with a location in Vancouver, so that I could have it more often. Truly a delicious treat or completed breakfast for the senses. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SIMIT & CHAI CO.
787 Kings Street West, Toronto ON, M5V 1N4
647-352-4161
simitandchai.co
Simit & Chai Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Indigo Age Cafe and Kombucha Bar

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It is nice is to have an expert when writing, someone knowledgable on the topic to bounce ideas off of, someone to fill in any of the blanks that you may face. I lucked out today with local vegan, and serious writer for the SFU student newspaper’s foodie column. (She is definitely a rarity.) I don’t normally list names, and do warn the friends that I dine with, that I will use all their comments as my resource material, and it will become my intellectual property in my post. But today, my disclaimer must include acknowledgement to a fellow writer, and a serious vegan and food lover, Gemma from SFU’s The Peak.

After all the msg filled and deep fried food I had the night before. Going vegan and doing some raw and clean eating sounded like a good idea today.

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“Indigo Age” restaurant caters with vegetarian, organic, raw, vegan, gluten free and diabetic friendly foods. They seem to do it all for this community and those looking for more health conscious options. Their cafe one of the only in Vancouver to boast a kombucha bar, they do fresh-made juices, raw vegan and gluten-free meals threes times a day, a high tea service on Sundays for brunch, and even classes where you can learn their style of healthy cuisine at home, for yourself. Their end goal is to help introduce you to foods and ingredients for optimum health and rejuvenation.

As a food blogger who has visited her fair share of vegan restaurants in Vancouver, I have a good base to compare them too, and I must admit, they offered so much more than I have seen any where else. They didn’t just offer soups and sandwiches, but also impressive sounding and looking entrees that could hold their own on any North American, casual chain restaurant menu. These plates included the flare of any finer dining establishment, and that was enough to win me over.

They are located in the basement suite within downtown Vancouver. Their rainbow coloured sign and entryway is flanked by two branches that catches you eye. The tone is set as you walk down the stairs. To your left is an urban garden of bloomed buds and the trickling of running water in a fountain.

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Just entering you feel the magic of the place. It is liked you you have stumbled on a clearing in a wooded area, where faeries live and pixies hide. It smelled fresh and you fed off the energy of the place. I loved it.

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It felt very earthly with walls of stone and brick, and floors of concrete. Tables made out of the cross sections of trees and their stumps. I claimed the largest and most impressive of the refurbished stump tables. It was waxed glossy, set with rocks and glass stones, and even included a few air plants for the full forest effect. It was a very specific looking table that would only flow with a very specific setting, and this was it.

During our Friday morning visit, it was empty for the most part, but they saw a good rotation of people coming in for their kumbucha on tap and smoothies to go. Enough that we had to inquire and try both.

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Asking about the kumbucha got us a sample of each of the flavours they had on tap. They were generous with the tasting and even went so far as to present it on a serving tray with a detailed description of both the rose and chai flavours available today. I have tried kumbucha before so knew what to expect. But if you have never had it, it does confuse the brain. I describe it best as being hoppy tea with beer like qualities, including its fizziness. Gemma preferred the description of cider with the easy drinkability of a fruit juice. The Rose was pretty in pink with its floral notes shining through. The Chai was spicier and true to its full bodied, milky tea version. Smelling it, you expected it to be warmer, but it is served chilled. I’d imagine this one being harder to pair with food, and would want it with a curry with similar spice.

Having tried the kumbucha we decided to buy from their juice bar instead. A couple of green juices for here in mason jars. Though most got it to go in plastic cups. They also had reusable mason jars available for sale to take out with you as well.

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The “Green monster smoothie” is made with seasonal greens, banana, pineapple, lime, and mint. It tasted as healthy as it sounded, but was less flavourful then expected. You wanted the pineapple to come through, but got the mint instead. And you expected something thicker and creamier with the use of the word “smoothie”, but it was more like juice. It needed some of the “mylk” like in the shake below, to thicken it up.

“Mylk” is the vegan term for their milk product. It has the consistency and often colour of cow’s milk, but made with almonds instead. Where soy bean milk has its own distinct and hard to mix taste, almond mylk provides a great base to flavour. And in this case it was use to turn avocados into milkshakes with their “Avocado mayhem”. This is made with avocado, mylk, banana, matcha, and dates. From its taste it was a banana matcha milkshake with the creaminess of avocado. Definitely one I would repeat again, if only it was more accessible within my everyday life.

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They had other in house blended beverages like the “muscle shake” made with hemp seed and organic peanut butter or “The Yam-My” with yam juice and cinnamon. The “super drink” smoothie had over ten ingredients and included many well known superfoods like wheat grass and pomegranate juice. And funny their juices tempted you with would be health attributes. The “Fountain of Youth” combined kale and apple, the “reset button” has seasonal greens with mint and sprouts, and “the shield” combined citrus with ginger and pineapple. It was impressive how extensive it was.

Similarly, I was also excited by the length of their food menu. So much so that I immediately began to spam text my only other vegan friend all the dishes we had today and insisted she visit herself soon.

As I have already mentioned, I am no stranger to the vegan food scene, so to see all this across two columns with options under breakfast, starters, soup, sandwiches, and entrees; I was happy. Typically a vegan menu only offers just soups or salads. What we had before us was the offerings of a normal restaurant, vegan or not.

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Their “Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls” was a house specialty and one of their better known dishes. They are homemade with cabbage, rice, carrots, onion, tomatoes, garlic, dill, and topped with cashew dressing. They smelled good, but I personally don’t like and can’t take the texture of soggy leafy vegetables, so in hindsight this wasn’t the best dish for me. But as a food blogger, I make an effort to try all the notables and taste everything. And in this case, trying their must have dish was worth me gagging on a mush of cabbage in my mouth.

Though from the bite I could keep down it was tasty. Aside from the wrapping it was a solid dish. The filling was fulling with plenty of seasonings to hold its own. It was hearty like a pot pie and I would have liked to see it as part of such, or in a savoury quiche, or even as a spread to be smeared over some vegan bread product. The solid pieces of vegetable on the side aided in changing the texture when bites became too soft. Potatoes and carrot for crunch, and pea shoots and dill leaves for freshness.

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I could see the “Zucchini Pasta with Marinated Portobello Steak” on any casual dining menu. Their noodle was made from strands carved from a whole zucchini. It had the textured chew of spaghetti without the heaviness of the carbs. And as such it definitely left you lighter on your feet, with plenty of room for dessert. (Which we ended up needing.) Their zucchini pasta came with your choice of marinara or pesto sauce, either is served with a marinated portobello steak and topped with a cashew cheese dressing.

We got it in the more popular pesto flavour. I expected it warm, but instead bit into cool vegetable. I guess it was necessary, seeing as warming the zucchini would cook it and therefore change its texture. You needed the cold to keep it firm and most like noodles, as possible. The “pasta” was such a good proximity that you are able to twirl it on your fork. Though overall, the serving felt more like a salad with the freshness and the dressing. According to Gemma zucchini is higher in fibre, so like flour pasta, it will keep you fuller for longer.

My only gripe about the dish is the amount of liquid that pooled at the bottom of the bowl, and the need to have something on the side or in addition to change the taste with. The sauce was good, but repetitive. So mid way I was long out of mushroom and craving some veggie balls or even some crisp steamed vegetables to mix things up with. Though simply more mushroom steak would have been just as good. Gemma couldn’t get over the fact that a large mushroom cap was referred to as a “steak”. I likened the mushroom to the portion, colour, and firmness of a 6oz steak. Especially as it was seasoned well to hide the tell-a-tale earthy mushroom flavour. In fact, like a steak could be, it was flavoured with a nice sweet soy glaze.

Part way through our extended meal the restaurant got busy. Our attentive server was gone and solely behind the counter, there was another two on the floor, but the eight new customers in house, and with those who continued to come in to take out; the staff were kept busy. So busy that we were forgotten and had to chase down their server to inquire about the dessert menu, again to ask questions about their desserts, and then finally to order the desserts. And then after we finished, I had to head to the desk to ask for a box to pack things up to go, twice; and again approach the front to pay. All this while a stack of comment cards and pens were passed out and stationed at each table. Though Gemma and I gave a very favourable review with our scoring, as we were impressed with the food and the service when it wasn’t peak, after work snacking time.

Although when we did grab the attention of one of their servers we got it all. She took the time to give us a verbal run down of the entire dessert menu. Never mind I didn’t ask for it or that we acknowledged it was busy all around us. To her, right now, we were the most important customers, and it showed. I was immensely impressed, to be seen a a patron and not just a number on a bill. Although we were two larger spending customers. Two $8 juices, two $14 entrees, and three $7 desserts.

According to our informed server, the dessert menu didn’t have a best seller or was there anything that was the “most popular”. She said that each item was different and therefore all good in their own way. (How diplomatic.) So we ended up going for the slices of pies and cakes that spoofed the traditional. With each we would have a good comparison between regular and vegan cheesecake, tiramisu, and key lime.

You needed to have at least two tastes of each thing to gather whether you liked it or not. And I found each time that it was only the texture that I couldn’t get past. But that isn’t surprising when you remove milk and eggs from baking, and instead use nuts to replace both. Each mix was blended as soft as possible, but not fluffy and smooth like it ought to be, or that it looked to be. I say “ought” to be, being a omnivore more familiar with the traditional versions of the desserts below. Each dessert item was well decorated with various wild and fresh fruit, although they could have done with different sauces and ones more complimentary in colour and flavour to the slice. Overall, it was sad that my knowledge of milk and egg based desserts ruined my experience of these, I couldn’t help but to compare what I knew with what I tasted.

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The “berry cheese cake” is made with almond cheese, coconut, dates, cashews, black current, coconut oil, and agave. They were proud to boast that they are one of the only places that actually make their own cheese from almonds, and then use it to make this cake. This process, instead of making the almond straight into cheesecake. And as a result, their final product was something more on the mark.

The flavour was tart and the texture was grainy with blended nuts, coconut shreds, and berry seeds you had to chew through. These were two attributes I didn’t like on its own, and together they made your mouth feel like it was in a vacuum: dry and chalky, that left a film on your tongue. The fresh fruit helped, and we wished for more than just garnish. Instead of a cheese cake, this would have been better left as a berry compote over their nutty base/crust. But with all things considering, this was a good cheesecake dupe, given you were unable to use a few of the traditional ingredients like cheese, butter, eggs, or milk.

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The “Key lime pie” was made with avocado, coconut, lemon, dates, almonds, spinach, and agave. I don’t know how they snuck spinach in there without you tasting it. The coconut flavour was pronounced, the avocado made it creamy, and the spinach lent its bold green colour. The key lime flavour was spot on, but overall a little too sweet with the agave. Like the first, the texture left us pausing. This one gave us a weird numbing feeling after the first bite, and bite after bite, we couldn’t figure out where it was from. The berry sauce here was the same as above and it overpowered thing. Instead of it, I could have used more of the white layer of foam that mimicked meringue or icing.

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The “Tiramisu” was made with almonds, dates, coconut, cashews, agave, cacao, power, and organic coffee. It was a dense cake with good flavour. It was so rich that it left you wondering, “how can there not be any milk in this?” But then you got that tell-a-tale grainy texture and you remembered it was made with nuts. If you just enjoyed the brown part by itself, you got the smooth and creamy texture you wanted, with a gentle coffee flavour. This one was better with the berry sauce, here it added a tart freshness, like the pairing of fruit with chocolate. Tiramisu is one with so much milk and cream that it is very hard to copy. This was a nice spin on it, as they can’t mimic the spongey and creamy texture of real tiramisu.

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With all the juice from all the vegetables, I found myself visiting their washroom a few times. Luckily it was a hospitable little nook. Concrete creeping over brick, with exposed piping and a new blue paint job. The mirror was a repurposed porthole and gave the room some depth.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Not only for vegans, “Indigo Age” is a good place for those interested in seeing if they can venture down this path of healthy eating.
This was vegan comfort food, where plates were dressed up and garnished, where you can’t believe it’s not cheese, and where you know there isn’t any meat on your plate and yet it isn’t missed. You come here cause you are vegan or want vegan plates, and they don’t hide that by giving you the option of eating vegetable pretending to be meat. I am happy that this is an option for all the vegan foodies out there wanting, but not being able to find designer plates like these. I will definitely be bringing and recommending this place to all vegans I know. And I myself want to return for their Sunday high tea service. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

INDIGO AGE
436 Richards Street, Vancouver BC
604-622-1797
indigoagecafe.com
Indigo Age Cafe and Kombucha Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tacofino Burrito Bar

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Having completed our five stop Gastown cocktail crawl, “Drunken Noms”, “Picky Diner” and I ended the night as how we started: with tacos.

I have only been to “Tacofino” where it originated, in Tofino. So this would be my first taste outside of the surf island life. There are now a few locations available around the lower mainland, but this would be the first of its name with a sit down service area, this nice. However for a quick bite to sober up on we didn’t indulge.

The exterior was all brick with its name painted in white against the red. Their iconic logo of a pair of hands clasped in prayer with a taco between them, was the “x” that marked the spot.

This Gastown location has their restaurant divided into two. One for tacos and one for burritos. The tacos are a sit down affair in Blood Alley; and the burritos, a bar stool and counter top arrangement on Cordova.

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A specific menu and a narrow corridor divided the two, with the furniture being the most noticeable difference. Across both spaces, the entire floor was tiled in uniform hexagons. Green with geometric lines haphazardly intermingled with tiles of white and black. From below our feet they lead and opened up to the formal dining area. I took a peak at tables and chairs with large enough isle ways for servers to navigate between them.

They also have a patio out back. Encased behind a stone fence, it is a walk up to an elevated seating area. Strung with lights and signed with a sandwich board, it was easy to spot walking past the alleyway.

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Back at the quick burrito counter we ordered off the menu printed on the wall. It was a ceiling to floor list of various tacos and burritos with the option to have the former a “walking version”, and the latter in bowl for easier mobility as well. Fish, crispy chicken, chorizo, vegetarians and vegan. Quick and easy.

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“Drunken Noms” swears by their crispy chicken burrito, deeming it a great sober-upper snack. This one was a two hander filled with their breaded and fried chicken, rice, vegetable slaw, and tomatillo salsa. She beast-mode her burrito, making it through mid way before having to stop. She packed the rest to go. I never knew a burrito to travel well as leftovers, but she seemed sure it would.

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Wanting to share, “Picky Diner” and I ordered the only tacos they had: the fish. An order of 3 came at a very reasonable price of $6. Breaded and deep fried fish over flour tortillas, topped with pico de gallo salsa and shredded lettuce. They were refreshing with all the greens, and lightness of the fish with a spritz of lime.

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I insist on ending every meal with something sweet and they had one of my favourite treats here. Their “Diablo cookie” is the bringing together of chocolate and chillies. Sweet and spicy battle. And what you get is a well balanced, not too sweet dessert, with a soothing back of the throat burn.

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We grabbed a seat by the counter, on one of their woven chairs. The seat was a serious of cords intertwining around a metal ring. They looked like dream catchers without the tassels or feathers. The little nook we were in included a mobile of potted plants strung up with rope and wood and a back lit photo of a beach at high tide.

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Their washrooms were labeled with either a taco or burrito decal, I had to ask which I was. Taco. After thinking about it, I can see why.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I would like visit again and maybe hit up all seating areas at once. A burrito at the bar, a taco in the dining area, and maybe some margaritas on the patio with either? Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TACOFINO BURRITO BAR
15 West Cordova Street
604-899-7907
tacofino.com/gastown-take-out-menu
Tacofino Burrito Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

L’Abattoir

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The last stop on this Gastown cocktail crawl with “Drunken Noms” and “Picky Diner” was at “L’Abattoir”. This was another one that made it on to the “Noms'” must try list. Here, we had great unique cocktail to end our successful crawl on.

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The restaurant is most memorable for its bold tiled flooring and its dance floor worth of space entryway. Here, the lighting was a series of bulbs in mason jars. We were directed under it and up the flight of stairs to the left. Without the need to wait, we were given a seat on their second level. Atop our perch we had a overlooking view of the bar, the additional height allowing us to enjoy the pattern of the flooring all the much more.

“Drunken Noms” was so excited by the house gimlet that she insisted that we each needed one. Sipping and sharing was not advised here. Apparently this is one of the most famous cocktails in Vancouver. Given the health consciousness of our city, our desire to be green, and the love of vegetables; it makes sense.

We didn’t even look at anything else on the menu. This alone spoke to how highly she thought of the cocktail. Because typically, bloggers have the desire to try as much as we can and share everything, in order to maximize spend for variety.

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So here it is, the “avocado gimlet” is prepared with rosemary and olive infused baker’s gin, fresh avocado, apfelkorn schnapps, and lime. This drink had the creaminess of avocado, but not its taste; the scent of Rosemary, but not its floral nature; and the herbaceous of gin, but not its alcohol kick. This was easy to take down as it looked good for you. The colour was the most striking, like a freshly squeezed green vegetable juice.

I have been to the restaurant before and have had a few appetizers, only to leave with stunning photos, a half full stomach, and an empty wallet. So thankfully we were only looking to just snack here. At this point, after five stops, budgets were wearing thin. We actually ended on street food, at our last and only non alcohol stop.

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But here, we went with the “Pan fried veal sweetbreads on toast with sauce gribiche and veal tongue”. Our server warned us about portion size, before allowing us to commit. It would be just one toast topped with the organ meat, we were fine to share. “Sweetbreads” is the culinary name for the thymus or the pancreas of traditionally either calf or lamb. The formal name makes it sound much more appealing, and may even trick a few into trying something new. My first encounter with the delicacy had me imagining glazed bread, woven in a circle. But today in knew I was looking at chewy organ meat. This version was cooked tender with some fattier morsels. The bread gave the dish it’s needed crunch, and the green of the onion gave it some needed colour appeal. All together with the sauce, I found it too salty. This would have been easily rectified with a serving of the sweetbread on the side; and a self serve, self spread station of baguette slices and a butter knife to help yourself with.

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Most impressively, even though we had just the one order to share, with three drinks; we were still treated to a complimentary basket of bread. An assortment of in house made pastries that included anchovy and Parmesan twists, sesame flat bread crisps, and bacon brioche. Our one dish was worth trying just to have this come before it. With all it salty notes, this was a great basket of bread to accompany some drinking. Each decorative knot or bun was serve fresh and still warm, and they were considerate enough to give three of each, for each of us.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I enjoyed the iconic cocktail and would love to bring others here just to try it. And now knowing it is one of Vancouver’s most popular, I will be sure to recommend it much more. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

L’ABATTOIR
217 Carrall Street, Vancouver BC
604-568-1701
labattoir.ca
L'Abattoir Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bauhaus Restaurant

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The fourth stop on this Gastown cocktail tour with “Drunken Noms”, and “Picky Diner” was “Bauhaus”. This was a wild card, our visit was less about the cocktails, and more about “Drunken Noms” loving the place. She insisted on stopping, after the shock she earned; hearing that “Picky Diner” and myself have yet to try it for ourselves. We made this our detour, but still found some cocktails to satisfy our crawling criteria within.

A little background, “Drunken Noms” is one of the most well informed food bloggers that I know. She takes the time to stay abreast of current dining trends. What are the up and coming restaurants, what restaurants have earned what achievements, what is worth ordering from where, and even which well known chef is working in the kitchen. She is so well versed because she hates visiting a place, only to have a bad experience. So she takes the time to do the research, and ensures she is well informed; in order to only have the best. I on the other hand, eat for novelty, and eat to say that I have. I am less concerned about trying the best, and more about trying what others won’t. So today, following her lead, has allowed me to enjoy more than I thought I would. In fact I felt like quite the trendy eater being by her side. So when she told us that this is one of the only restaurants in Vancouver, with a chef that has a Michelin Star, from his previous venture: I was impressed. I was impressed by him, this restaurant; and of her, for knowing. A “Michelin Star” is one of the highest honours bestowed on to a restaurant and/or its chef by the Michelin travel guide. It is to reward a higher quality of cooking. Multiple stars can be given and stars can also be taken away.

So after that bit of education, I went in with higher expectations, and “Bauhaus” did not disappoint. We got the service I had hoped for, paired with the little touches that surprised and delighted. Small talk was achieved well before we were asked to look at our menus. Napkins were unfolded and asked to be laid across our laps. We were even offered an amuse-bouche to start. This was despite only having cocktails and ordering one appetizer to share.

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An “amuse-bouche” is a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre. They are not offered on the menu, but are served and selected according to the chef’s prerogative. This sampling was smoked skate wing with a grilled mackerel consume. “Skates” are cartilaginous fish belonging to the ray family. This was this prettiest little bite I have ever been given. The gentle flaky fish sat gently in a clear broth. Together, is was light and fragrant, a subtle fishy taste beautifully constructed. This was a nice surprised and the perfect light start. It certainly spoke to the quality we would be enjoying ahead.

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The restaurant wasn’t an elaborate scene. An industrial meets modern setting: red brick walls reinforced by iron beams. The hardness both created, surrounded and protected the delicate nature of white marble table tops and white leather chairs. One each table, each place setting was set with the necessary accoutrement, and even a wooden trough for utensils to rest.

We were seated within spying distance of their semipermeable kitchen. All glass windows with metal storing shelves lining it. Two men worked in their grey smocks, their hands visible from the pass, with nothing to hide.

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What stood out the most was the piece of art labeled as such. There was no beating around the bush with this piece, you knew its intentions and what the artist hoped to achieve. A large slab signed in various inks and scripts, with bold letters “A-R-T” across it. It was simply propped up, in the centre of an otherwise empty concrete wall. It certainly attracted your attention.

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The same artist looked to played a role in the design of the washrooms. Given the dining area, the facilities weren’t as expected. It was an interesting juxtaposition. Formal dining meets the edginess of spray paint and graffiti. All white stalls dripping with lines of paint and a jumbled mass of scribbles inside and out. And on the adjacent wall, perhaps the artist’s signature stamped like a calling card with accompanying words of wisdom. “To create a work of art, is to create the world”. All this and the stalls were terribly narrow. The kind of narrow that forces you to go out of your way to enter and exit, if you hope to avoid touching the door and walls with your body.

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To drink I went with the “Buttermilch margarita” as I have yet to have much with buttermilk in it, outside of fried chicken and dough; so I was curious how it transitioned into an alcoholic beverage. It was prepared with reposado tequila, agave, buttermilk, lemon and quince jam. You certainly got the promise of buttermilk with its sour and tart taste. It’s an acquired flavour, like expired milk for those unfamiliar. The lemon and quince helped to balance the taste and sweeten the drink.

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The “Diner” went with another horseradish cocktail. The “Schmutz martini” is made using akvavit, horseradish, dry vermouth, and olive mist. You really got the olive essence from this. And with it and the intensity of the horseradish, it reminded you of an oyster, but in liquid form. This is definitely one of those drinks you have once just to try, and order a classic martini to wash it down afterwards.

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Less a creative drink, and more “Nom’s” favourite cocktail: was the “boulevardier”. This version altered the traditional recipe with the use of cinnamon on top of bourbon, sweet vermouth, and campari. She wasn’t sold on the added spice and the extra warmth it brought, but she isn’t one to waste a drop.

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When we asked his opinion on snacks, our friendly server recommend the “meatballs”. Prepared in a caper sauce, with mashed potatoes and green and white asparagus. It was as hearty as it read. When I hear “meatball” I think red sauce and Italian herbs. This was a dressed up meat and potatoes dish befitting of our locale. The balls had the texture of a crumbly and fluffy meat loaf. Though it was clear the sauce was the star of the dish. I would have liked more of it in a cup as is, or as a side with an open faced vegetable sandwich.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Having not tried enough, but enjoying the setting and full heartedly embracing the recommendation; I would like to return to get a better feel of the place. Maybe to enjoy more of their cuisine through the chef’s tasting menu? There also aren’t too many restaurants focused on German cuisine. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BAUHAUS
1 West Cordova Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2J2
604-974-1147
bauhaus-restaurant.com
Bauhaus Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wildebeest

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The third destination on this Gastown cocktail tour with “Drunken Noms”, and “Picky Diner” was “Wildebeest”. It had us back to novelty drinking with the “bone marrow luge”.

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This restaurant had a similar feel to the last. The same industrial use of wood and metal, but with more brick and wire. The narrow restaurant had seats running down its length. They were aligned with the red brick wall to your right. Each high top table and metal stool was kept well lit with the light of several bulbs. Each one of these bulbs were strung on cables, suspended by pulleys, and set at various heights. It definitely made the space memorable. The seating was split into two sections between a divider that enclosed their computer ordering system and cash register in a box. The first section, at the first half of the restaurant over looked the bar. A well stocked counter made up of tiers of wood planks and plumbing pipes. The second section, towards the back, gave you a more intimate look into their open kitchen affairs.

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Once again we perched up at a table by the windows, for light. Our setting featured a semi stained wood wall with several small shelves jutting out from it. Each shelf held a trinket or knick knack. Worn glasses with lit tea lights, porcelain pots housing dried plant matter, and a metal “W” in honour of the restaurant’s name. Our table came with a sprig of green to bright up the space, and hooks for bags and jackets under the table to keep it clear.

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The “bone marrow luge” was an add-on shot and appetizer rolled in to one. You begin with their bone marrow served criss crossed and stacked with buttered leeks and oyster mushrooms, in a crimini mushroom vinaigrette. Both are plated with a nub of grilled country bread. The bread traditionally acts as a base and gives the dish more substance. Although I found this end piece a challenge to break into and gnaw off.

Bone marrow is one of those delicacies that you eat because of the novelty. I mean I don’t particularly enjoy its taste or enjoy the need to painstakingly scrape grease from bone. All to eat with bread what is essentially spread with meat oil. Plus it is the sides that it is served with, that end up giving it most of its flavour anyways. And worst is, you don’t actually get full from eating it, even with the heavy on the bread serving.

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Instead, this is the dish you order for the experience. One where you enjoy the journey of eating, its theatrics, and it’s overall exclusively. And that is why, even considering my paragraph above, you will continue to see me enjoying bone marrow. I love eating for novelty.

So here for more novelty and theatrics, and for $3 more, your marrow serves another purpose. Meet the bone marrow luge, where bone becomes serving vessel. However our server didn’t actively mention the add-on when we placed our original order. So without an clear explanation from the menu, or a recommendation from any server, this could be a missed opportunity. Something new and fun for your to try, and $3 add on in sales, per shot, for the restaurant.

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An order comes with two bones and two shots, our server was intuitive enough to mention there only be two bones, but reassured us that we would get a shot each. The promised sherry was served in miniature decanters. They await you to take a grip and pour. You essentially use the bone as a slide down your throat. I found it too difficult to do for myself, on myself. So had insisted that it would be poured in me, my guests followed suit for a more fun and hands-free drinking experience.

When it came time to order more drinks off the menu, it was refreshing how honest our bartender was. He blankly stated how he hasn’t tried most of the drinks listed, and how he was still new and has barely worked. It certainly created some banter between us, and got him out of recommending anything else.

We stayed true to our already established drinking preferences. Me: anything creative, with a unique sounding ingredient line up. “D. Noms”: one that kicked you in the face bourbon; and “P. Diner”: something light and fruity with gin.

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I got the “Fresh Prince” for its loose proximity to 90’s Will Smith, and because it was described as a “slurpee”. It it was spearmint, Cuban rum, apple, and Fernet Brancha. If 7-eleven had these churning in their machines, you would see me there more often. However it reminded me more of a Bellini with the slush and fruity alcohol, but also like a mojito with the citrus and mint notes.

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The “Bombs away” spoke to “Drunken Noms” with its proper rye, Italian vermouth, cynar, and herbal liqueur. It’s solid glass and opaque colour certainly classify it as the “non girly drink”, she goes out of her way to avoid.

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When he couldn’t decided “Picky Diner” went for the “Horseradish sour” with London Dry gin, lemon, horseradish, honey, egg white, and pepper. The cocktail straddled both the savory and sweet side. Savory with pepper and the celery salt we insisted that we tasted mixed in. Sweet with the foamy egg white and honey. Once again he choose an easy to drink gin that I was partial to, too.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I like the setting and my guest were impressed by the chefs that manned its kitchen. So shame we didn’t grab more from it to try. I recommend trying the luge for fun, and for those who love bone marrow. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

WILDEBEEST
120 West Hastings St, Vancouver BC
604-687-6880
wildebeest.ca
Wildebeest Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato