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Month: June 2013 Page 1 of 3

9th Avenue Grill


Not having time in the morning, and wanting a home cooked meal I came to “9th Avenue Grill”. Where, as the slogan on their menu suggests, “the community comes together”. 
This was bistro that looked as homey as they get. Worn in, well used, as thoroughly loved. Overall it left like the kitchen of a suburban soccer mom. There were several very kitschy pieces that appeared to have made it on to the walls, solely because it held a deep sentimental value. Keeps sakes from trips. And photos of animals with construction paper frames. The lights were yellow and green balls that hung from suspended claw-like fixtures. An old school television the width of refrigerator, rested at a slant on top of the drinks cooler. Several oils canvas paintings hung on the eggshell coloured walls. I assumed they were the work of local artists. And a black board highlighting today’s specials was strung up with Christmas tree lights and cut outs of flowers. Here, surround by all this mish mash, I oddly felt as comfortable as I would in my own mother’s kitchen. 


Their all day breakfasts are a major lure in; but they also do a decent lunch, with an equally substantial selection. Majority of menu items are on the $10-15 range. With options for add ons to any, at a cost. Breakfast was all the staples; hash, omelets, pancakes, eggs, and oatmeal. Everything came in the original versions, and choices for a different feel. Like the Mediterranean omelet with sun dried tomatoes and feta. And the “Salmon Neptune” a Benny with wild smoke salmon lox and Hollandaise sauce. Lunch was the always common sight of soups and salads, sandwiches, and burgers and fries. 

2-2-2. Two eggs in any style with either two pancakes or two slices of cinnamon French toast. Your choice of bacon, country sausage or honey smoked ham. A pretty standard platter with salty meats, runny eggs, crispy toast, and sweet jams. 

Grilled veggie panini. This was said to be the most popular one, by my server. In it was grilled egg plant and zucchini, artichoke hearts, sautéed spinach, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, mayo, and harvarti cheese. For an all veggie offering I was surprised that this was as flavorful as it was. Definitely worth the wait to get this, this flat and this crunchy. The vegetables were grilled to perfection with that familiar smokey char. And the bread that sandwiched them was savory with a harmonious blend of herbs. The home fries were crispy at the corners, and chewy and warm in the middle. An absolutely fulfilling dish all the way around. 

The cooking was done out of a small kitchen. You could hear the constant noise that came from it. Running water, clanging pans, and frying grease sizzling. The breakfasts came out faster than the sandwiches. I saw a man receive his platter after moments of entering, as I waited a handful more for mine to arrive. 

The lone server was constantly up and about. She saw to the 12 guests spread over 5 tables. Making chit chat and checking on everyone’s needs. As soon as you looked up she was ready to speed to you, to serve And as soon as a table cleared she was on it immediately. Clearing cups and plates, wiping down table tops, and re-setting places for the next guests. She was as friendly and as inviting as the restaurant. Here you were made to fell comfortable enough to be content to sit and eat in lone silence. 

Would I come back? – No. Not often will you find me dining at a restaurant that serves such home spun dishes. Not that there is anything wrong with the cooking. I just feel my consumer dollars can be better spent on that which I cannot make myself or that which is too complicated to make myself. Mind you I don’t own a panini press, so I would consider revising just for that, as it was delicious. 
Would I recommend it? – Afraid not. There are so many other breakfast all day places. “9th Avenue Grill” brought nothing new to the table. However if they invested more in the “your mother’s kitchen” angle, in turns of decor; I could see a greater pull for a return visit and a recommendation. But then again you don’t come for the decor. You come to enjoy and support the hard work of your neighboring stores. Don’t deny your cravings. 


9th Avenue Grill
1822 West Broadway, Vancouver BC, V6J 1Y9
604-714-0744
9thavenuegrill.ca



9th Avenue Grill on Urbanspoon Instagram

Tarts Bakery

Wanting to cheer a coworker up, I decided to pop into “Tarts Bakery” to get her some treats to indulge in. Sweets always cheer me up, especially if they are freshly baked on the day and made bite sized. Which is exactly what “Tarts” provides. 


I have enjoyed their goodies on several occasions, since their opening. By first tarted up experience was when they passed out promotional samples to their new neighbors, as a welcome us to the neighborhood deal. I was able to share a care package of miscellaneous sweet tarts. All carefully packaged and neatly labeled with flags, to indicate what they were and potential ingredient allergies. I thought they were the perfect addition to the South Granville strip, a new dessert stop to replace the now empty “Death by Chocolate”. 



I have also made “Tarts” my go to for those who like their birthday cakes a little grown up and a little more on the healthier side. Their fruit tarts offer the beauty of a finely decorated cake with the not too sweetness of fresh fruits. The one I ordered was customized to an extra large size. This was perfect. It was crust to crust stacked with delicious, ripe, and glazed fruit. And the crumbly crust itself was a mild sweetness with over tones of buttery goodness. The baker exceeded my expectations when I asked her “to make it look pretty”. 


You can’t miss their shop, sandwiched between a sandwich shop (excuse the pun) and a tea store, they are the perfect neighbor to complete your meal with. Posters of 60’s buxom pin up girls on the windows, lure you in to “tart up” your meal. I entered on a Thursday afternoon, the place was quiet and a lone tart clerk was seated behind the counter. She was happy to have the company and immediately perked up at the prospect of a sale. I decided to grab one of each of the flavours. The top shelf were the popular tarts, they came in both a larger and the mini version. On the second shelf lived the rest of the sweet tarts that were so good that a one bite mini was not enough. These only came in large. The fruit one was long sold out. The clerk explained it was their most popular. And at the end was 4 savory varieties, making “Tarts” a place you could grab lunch and a dessert in one stop. As extras there were soft drinks and juices. The chalkboard behind the cash hinted that they did a soup of the day, but no option was listed. And I was not interested in any to ask. 
For those indecisive bodies who cannot decide from the 11 choices, there is always a tart under glass, cut up and ready to be sampled. 
They sit on the counter with tooth picks in tiny pieces and a tray from used ones in front. I didn’t find it inviting enough to want to try. Maybe its the size of the sample? Th quietness of the store? Maybe I felt too shy to impose? Or maybe it was the thought of plate of salvia coated used wooden sticks sitting inches from the lovely cake plate. None the less I had order one of each and didn’t need to try a piece of another. 

I didn’t think to sit and eat, not that the place wasn’t clean or aesthetically pleasing. More that I think tarts are a good get it and go item. I think the owners fell it too, they had a showcase dedicated to just pretty prepped boxes. But the decor was lovely enough. Wooden table tops for two that resembled mini picnic tables. And on each of the three, a clear vase with fragrant long stemmed red roses. 



The tarts are separated by sweet and savory. Sweet: classic butter tartlet, raspberry macaroon tartlet, chocolate mouse tartlet, Meyer lemon tartlet, pecan butter tartlet, and raspberry cheesecake tart. Savory: jalapeño popper tartlet; portobello mushroom tartlet; feta, caramelized onion, and sun dried tomato tartlet. My friend preferred the savory ones, as she found their flavours unique to the tart world. Where as the sweet ones were all too familiar. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have the whipped cream or shredded chocolate, like their picture on the poster in the window had lead me to believe. 

My suggestion to the “tartlets” running the show at “Tarts” is to come up with exciting flavours and tarts that are decorated as unique as their store’s concept. Tarts are available at numerous grocery stores, and you can make your own from pre made frozen shells. What will bring guests back is something they cannot do, never thought of, and want to take a picture of. A rainbow tart for pride. A tart topped with edible wild flowers. Tarts crafted to look like something other that how it should taste. Not saying there is anything wrong with their current selection, but thinking outside the box will earn additional clients who have seen the pictures on social media and have heard all the rave reviews, and now want to experience the phenom themselves. 

Would I come back? – Yes. But only with the need for a quick treat for a specific event or occasion. I would not immediately think of satisfying my sweet tooth with a tart; when ice creams, cheesecakes, and chocolate shops surround the area. 
Would I recommend it? – Yes. This is the first shop I have come across that specialize in this dessert. I just wish they had a larger, more fun, and more colourful array of tarts to choose from. That all the showcase are for tarts, and the to go boxes can find a place behind the counter. The best bakeries are the ones you walk into and immediately want to take a picture of their showcase, because it looks so good. You don’t quite get that here. Don’t deny your cravings. 


TARTS BAKERY 
1509 West Broadway, Vancouver BC, V6J 1W6
604-737-8278
tartsbakery.ca

Tarts Bakery on Urbanspoon Instagram

La Pentola Della Quercia



We had our heart set on a 3pm lunch in Yaletown, only to realize that after paying for 2 hours of parking; that lunch ended at 2-3pm and dinner wouldn’t start until 5pm. With our next appointment at 6pm and our first option off the table, we were in search of a suitable substitution. I refused to dine at any of the big chains that were available during this gap, as well as the lonely bar that smelled of dried urine So we walked up and down the streets of Hamilton, only to turn off and spot “La Pentola”, a restaurant connected to the “Opus Hotel”. With its windows and doors opened we decided to inquire about lunch, despite reading that we had missed their cut off at 3pm. Standing at the threshold, the only server at the time did not shoo us away, instead he offered salads and sandwiches. But upon hearing that we were hankering for meat and pasta, he enlisted the suggestion of the manager, Ricardo. Intently hearing our dilemma: the need for a meal before our next appointment; Ricardo invited us in and assured us that the kitchen would be happy to prepare us anything that we wanted from the lunch menu. We were floored at this outstanding level of customer service. Who does this? Where else accommodates this? I was almost too speechless to show an appropriate amount of thanks. 


Peering over my left shoulder, I was instantly stunned by their beautiful lounge and pulled into it. A room with deep cushions and lush colours, that separated the dining room from the hotel foyer. This is how I imagined my future boudoir. Chocolate coloured couches, plum loungers, and a gold lined and felt throne. Throw pillows in majestic purples, flirty pinks, and captivating fuchsias. Low tables for drinks in a variety of widths, heights, and colours; Pedestals, some with one leg, others with two. A few marble tiled columns done in an irregular checker pattern. And beaded curtains that hung from the ceiling. Surely this setting would shame the most slovenly of guests, to dress up with a sophisticated martini in hand. In our case, not expecting to be here, we were a little under dressed for the entire place. But none the less, we were treated with the utmost respect. No sneers or judgement that we couldn’t afford a full meal. We were made to feel welcome every single step of the way. Even when I decided to move into the dining room. Only after realizing that the tables in the lounge were at a height that would not accommodate eating upright. 

Walking into the dining room, it was a series of areas divided by elevated floors and cut out walls. Within each was the same set of dark chairs and wooden tables. It felt like we were dining in someone’s kitchen. The table with a bowl of lemons on it; and the cast iron pots, pans, and buckets on shelves added to this affect. Everything was contemporary and homey. 


The menu was a one pager of Italian classics with contemporary flares. The names and description left much to the imagination and explanation was a necessary step to ordering. But without a mention, Ricardo took the time to go over the the pasta and meats, knowing that that was what we were looking for. Both him and our server were able to perfectly describe the dishes, transferring their excitement for the food, over to us, the diners. Throughout our meal they both checked on us regularly. Stopping to inquire about our needs for ground pepper, and offering to top up slow to empty drinks. We felt true authenticity from their service. 
Our meal started with a unique way to plate slices of baguettes, and a dish of olive oil to dip them in. 

“Polenta gnocchi ai funghi”. Here their gnocchi was a lighter chew, not the regular potato ones that taste a lot more starchy. It was good, and I felt healthy eating it. But even with the warning about them being made with polenta; I still expected the rubbery, gummy ones I am more familiar with. And therefore that was the only reason I found them unsatisfactory. The cheese sauce on the other hand was amazing. Creamy and savory, I scooped spoons of it into my mouth; and soaked up the rest with bread, like sponges. The mushroom gave the dish a much needed harder texture. A thick rubberiness that we found enjoyable to chew. And the taste, a great sharp addition to the strong cheese. 



“Braised lamb shank with beans and tomato”. The presentation satisfied the hunger in my eyes. A thick cut of meat resting in a pool of its own sauces and gravy. The lamb was tender, with no effort needed to pry meat from bone. I found the flavours original, but I did little to satisfying our greasy meaty craving. The gravy was as delicate as the veggies were light. The fava beans were mushy and a little grainy, a texture I am not familiar with. And by contrast the rhubarb a chewy fiber that took effort to consume. 

“Prosecco, strawberry, lemon”. Prosecco infused pectin noodles with fresh strawberries, thinly sliced lemons, and what I think were fruit flavoured meringue chunks. Who knew sprinkling a hand full of ingredients like these on a plate could bring together such a fun dessert? I enjoyed slurping up the glass like noodles. Crunching on the foamy meringue. And savoring the melding of strawberry and lemon. A great after meal pallet cleanser, but not really something I would come to the conclusion of when I think dessert. 

“Dark chocolate ganache, praline, and saffron ice cream”. For those unfamiliar with the East Indian herb, saffron is an expensive ingredient, praised for its uncanny taste. I am unable to describe it, as I cannot liken it to anything. But the plate was a cornucopia of exotic, earthy, and rich flavours. Together not only did the the tastes pair well, but the colour an eye catching contrast as well. This is definitely like nothing you have ever tried, not that you should expect any less from a spice from the gods. 

Not that any of the food was bad, it is just that when you come into a restaurant as your second choice, it can never hold a candle to what you were originally anticipating. We came to Yaletown wanting steak, Alfredo pasta, and chocolate cake. And expect the American kind, all of it made with the worse of ingredients, packed with tones of fat, simple identifiable ingredients, and made like it came out of a box. 
The food that “La Pentola” however serves your pallet’s need for adventure and change. They offer up fresh ingredient combinations that your tongue dares not imagine. An eye opening and mouth widening meal. It was one of those meals you felt full from finishing, but not guilty for having. Everything was light and airy. Perfect for our after lunch dance class. 

Would I come back? – Yes. I would love to try some of their signature cocktails in their signature lounge. And come in expecting unique dishes to tantalize my taste buds. For my next visit this will be my first choice, not an after thought. Rightfully so, as “La Pentola” is Vancouver Magazine’s silver winner for best new restaurant of 2013. Also Ricardo tickled our fancy when he promoted their “Famiglia Supper Series”. The last Sunday of every month you dine at communal tables with your family and maybe new friends. Here you all enjoy 10-14 locally sourced courses for $55. An amazing deal and a great way to get a little more friendly with the other residents of Vancouver. This Sunday’s dinner is all booked up, but the next last Sunday of the month is definitely worth waiting for. 
Would I recommend it? – Yes, for outstanding service alone, not even mentioning the good food. In my numerous years of dining out and my countless years of customer service experience, I have never received the level of service that I did here today any where else. Diners have so many options to choose from. Who is to say that we would have come back in two hours when they were ready for dinner. If it hadn’t been for the over and beyond accommodation, to allow us to come in for lunch, despite being closed for dinner prep; we would have never eaten here, nor would have never thought to eat here, and we most definitely wouldn’t have come back. And what a relief that we didn’t miss out on this gem. This gesture of adding joy not only made our day, but made us future customers of “La Pentola” as well. I felt our situation was handled with the utmost professionalism and sole focus on service. Don’t deny your cravings on this one. 


LA PENTOLA DELLA QUERCIA
350 Davie St, Vancouver BC
604-642-0557
lapentola.ca

Instagram La Pentola della Quercia on Urbanspoon

Establishment Lounge

A goodbye lunch brought me to “Establishment Lounge” on a early weekday afternoon. Our host selected a place she felt was easy enough to get to, with decent parking, beautifully plated dishes, and a list of distinctive cocktails for her last meal in Vancouver. 

I have never heard of this lounge in Kitsilano, and I guess neither did most Vancouverites; as throughout our entire meal it remained relatively sparse. But I guess you can’t expect much business from a lounge on a Wednesday afternoon. Not that I am complaining. It is nice to enjoy your meal without the feeling of being sandwiched by other guests, or have the need to whisper in order to not have something sensitive eavesdropped on. 

This was a beautifully decorated space with comfy booth seating, black leather chairs, and hardwood tables; that matched the wall behind us. Each of the other walls were crafted from other natural materials. I enjoyed facing the lighter one that had dark wooden branches as accents, standing tall in front. There were heavy cast iron lamps for tea lights on each table. And a dark leather couch in the back, for those here to do some real lounging. There was plenty of room for our party of 9, we sat in a row, that was 4 tables pushed together. 
The menu was a one pager of wonderful sounding dishes. The kind that are not common, and made unique with ethnic food twists and choice sauces. From dish to dish you can travel from Africa to Morocco, Thailand to Japan, or Sicily to the Caribbean. The prices were ones I considered decent, but pricy for student, at $14-18 for appetizers and $21-27 for entrees. 

They are well known for their peanut soup, so that was a must try. “Chef Bongo’s Famous African Chicken Peanut Soup”. Ingredients unlisted. It was a creamy and thick broth. The texture reminded me of a squash soup. The peanut taste was dulled by the other ingredients, that I could not identify. This made for a great hardy start to our exotic meal. 


“Shrimp and lobster cakes”. Three almond crusted shrimp and lobster cakes, accompanied with chipotle, miso, and jerk aioli. These gentle bites were light and fluffy. You slice into them and steam seeps out. The real flavour comes from the sauces that they are coated in and accompanied with. Some of the most enjoyable seafood cakes I have had. 

Smoked duck rice rolls with a healthy serving of satay peanut sauce. Within each roll is vermicelli, alfalfa and bean sprouts, coloured peppers, corn, celery, and duck. There was little to no seasoning done on either the vegetables, noodles, or duck chunks. So I was impressed with the amount of sauce they provided. Clearly they understood that was that was star of the dish, and a large scoop of it was needed to satisfy each mouthful. 

Shrimp on noodles. Didn’t really read that there would only be 3 pieces of shrimp per dish. This was a hard one to split between 4 girls, especially since they were decreasing in size on the plate. The noodles where heavily seasoned and did its best to soak up all the flavour, from the clear broth it sat in. A little on the cool side when served, but it did not make much of a difference on how much of it we ate. 

“Al Funghi Flatbread”. White garlic sauce topped with mozzarella and goat cheese, roasted wild mushrooms, fresh thyme, caramelized onions, and finished with a maple truffle vinaigrette. Make sure you like all these flavours before ordering this flatbread like pizza. There is no way you can escape the taste of each of these strong ingredients. This is definitely the most unique tasting pizza I have ever had. It had hints of honey. And gave a sweetness that paralleled well with the saltiness of the feta, and the sharpness of the mushrooms. 

“Caribbean flatbread”. I preferred these familiar flavours over the more wild pizza above. In this was fresh jerked chicken, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, Jamaican spinach, pineapple, feta and mozzarella cheese, and finished with more of their signature jerk sauce. 

Would I come back? – Yes, we were able to our enjoy our meal, whilst laughing and talking in a friendly environment. The space provided was beautiful and the staff quiet and courteous. Nothing really stood out either good or bad. And we deemed the night a successful one. 
Would I recommend it? – As a lounge, I am unsure. I was the driver of our carpool and went with a group that preferred not to drink; and therefore would not be able to describe any of their drinks or how it felt to be drinking here. But as a restaurant, I did enjoy their tapas style dishes and the array of flavours and places you could pull from. Each plate was beautiful from a photography prospective. And emptied with nothing to doggy bag from a foodie perspective. Don’t deny your cravings. 


ESTABLISHMENT LOUNGE
3162 West Broadway, Vancouver BC, 
604-736-75-76
estlounge.com

Establishment Lounge on Urbanspoon Instagram

Kaneda, authentic Japanese restaurant


The best way to judge a sushi place is not by what you can order from their all you can eat or what is on their take out menu. Every respectable sushi place will have a California or cucumber roll, and chances are it will taste the same at each of those places. You can only combine rice, seaweed, and cucumber so many ways and expect so many outcomes. What you really want to explore is their specialty rolls. Specialty rolls are unique creations specific to each sushi restaurant. They may be named after the establishment in which they are served in, take on a title that gives it some pizazz, or christened with a name that beckons for it to be ordered. These are the dishes created to set a restaurant apart from all the others. 

I was excited to see what “Kaneda” had to offer, as I surfed their website for the perfect lunch. The perk, 10% off any take out order. Along with their regular and take out menu listings, they had a “happy choice” menu. In reading it, it did make me happy. It was your choice of two or three items from a list of over 40. The varieties included “maki” (any type of sushi made in to a roll with rice, toasted nori, and a filling), “temaki” (a cone shaped sushi), “robata” (a charcoal grilled dish), nigiri (a single piece of sushi), udon (Japanese noodles), “donburi” (rice bowls), and several deep fried items. 2 choices went for $8.75 and 3 came to $10.50. I was utterly disappointed to find out that, after I took the time to carefully select my three dishes, this combo was available only for dine. Why reward me 10% off for take out, to break my heart over not having the full menu to make my selection from?


I have passed by this second floor Japanese restaurant countless of times and never once have I thought to enter. And now as I walked up a well decorated entrance, staircase and banister, I really asked myself why. I was impressed by their authenticity. Artful banners with geishas, decorative bamboo rods against white sheets, sake crates bound shut with rope, black and red lanterns adorned in kanji, and colourful fish flags all in a row. And that was just the stairwell. What greeted me in the actual restaurant was a lot nicer. Windows circuling the building gave you a view of grey skies above and a sea of umbrellas below. Seating is your choice of bar or room. How traditional and whimsical, to be able to remove your shoes and sit in a traditional bamboo and paper room. Eating cross legged and hunched over a low lying table, you receive an authentic Japanese experience. The usual knick knacks line counter tops and the shelving above the sushi bar. A lucky cat, a bunch of bamboo, a wooden fan, and some blue and white vases. 

Through the over the phone ordering process there was a miscommunication on whether or not I wanted a Philadelphia roll. I was prepared for a debate, but was pleasantly surprised when it was as easy as me explaining it and them removing it from the order. I wasn’t made to feel guilty for their mistake, or remorse over the would be waste. 

I briefly debated ordering the “shark fin roll” as it would have been an interesting dish to blog about, not that I cared to eat it. But if I was to do so, I would be supporting how they kill sharks. (For those who don’t know, the way they harvest shark fin is to capture a shark, chop off all its limbs, then throw its deformed body back into the water, for it to die slowly in one spot. Can you imagine having all your limbs removed and trying to live as a stump? All because your parts were considered a prestigious delicacy?)
But to quote my friend “the guru”, “Lobsters however are ok. They have it coming, they are bottom feeders and taste so good. So we ordered the “lobster roll”. At $12.50 this was the most I have ever had to pay for a sushi roll. Inside was prawn tempura and avocado, and outside each cut up piece was topped with a well balanced mound of lobster meat and tobiko. As fantastic as this roll looked it fell short on taste. I did not get enough lobster flavor. Truthfully it too closely resembled a California roll. One that you can get anywhere for $8 less. 



“Mexican roll”. Prawn tempura with cucumber inside. Avocado, jalapeño, and a healthy coating of hot sauce outside. The first few chews were amazing. The hint of Jalapeño added a great layer of flavour. But after swallowing was when the spicy hotness engulfed my mouth. As much as I wanted to, my taste buds would not forgive me if I had another piece. 

“Fried unagi roll”. Rolled with cream cheese, unagi (eel), avocado, massago (fish roe). Deep fried in tempura batter, and drizzled with a unagi mayo. Something about a warm roll that makes it that much better. You get a hit of hot and crispy with you soft and cold. This was voted the best roll in our group of three. This was a delicious kind of tastiness, to beat away the searing hot spices from the roll before. The sauce was my favourite part, a tangier and thinner BBQ sauce, perfect for rice and fish. 

“CK roll”. Filled with crab meat, massago, and prawn tempura. And also deep fried and sauced with unagi mayo. I regret heeding my server’s recommendation to take this one, as it tasted almost identical to our other fried roll. At least it had the same great warm temperature, crispy texture, and salty flavour that we found so appealing in the last roll. 

Would I come back? – Yes. I was delighted by the menu and ambience of the restaurant, that I previously misjudged. They have all the classic sushi I appreciated and all the extras that will keep me coming back to try more. 
Would I recommend it? – Yes. They are located in a great area with enough residential parking. And open from 11:30-3pm for lunch and 5-11:30pm for dinner. They do all things we know and love about Japanese cuisine: fresh sashimi, hearty noodle and rice bowls, sizzling BBQ meats and seafood, sushi plates, party trays, lunch boxes, and of course all you can eat. 


KANEDA
1418 West Broadway, Vancouver BC
604-732-0112
kanedasushi.com 

Kaneda Japanese Restaurant 金田 on Urbanspoon Instagram

Paul’s Place Omelettery


It was a Monday, the rain was pouring and “Tim Horton’s” wasn’t going to cut it. Waking early for work I wanted to start my day with something a little healthier and a little more satisfying. I walked along the South Granville strip, and set my destination on the only non chain restaurant open at 7am in the morning. 

Walking into “Paul’s Omelettery” was like walking into a house. But here the only furniture was patterned booths and black coloured tables and chairs. Each table hosted the usual condiments for a breakfast and an early lunch: ketchup, salt, sugar, pepper, and hot sauce. An island bar centered the room, it was in your path to the swinging doors, that led to the kitchen. I questioned the need for a bar here. With a closing time of 3pm, that speaks to their earlier breakfast, brunch, and lunch crowd; how many people actually take a cocktail with their French toast or a shot with their over easy eggs? Yet there hung wine glasses and Champagne flutes. And tucked to the side the usual boozey suspects: Beefeater gin, Smirnoff vodka, and bailey’s coffee liquor. I guess it is there for those who need a little pick me up in their coffee? I was curious what was upstairs, but I did not get a chance to explore. I was mostly surprised that the diner looked as modern as it did, especially judging from the condition of the well weathered exterior. With handsome, dark hardwood floors; crisp painted walls; and large framed photos. Photos of landmarks and scenery from all around our beautiful province. 
Walking in at a quarter to 8am, I was surprised that there were a handful of tables already occupied with chatty diners. I guess I was shocked, because given the option these customers woke up earlier to have a full meal before embarking on their day. Whereas I would always take the extra time to sleep in. You are asked to “wait to be seated” by a sign at the entrance, but I found it hard to attract the only server’s attention. He was a large man, quiet and polite. He went and talked at a speed you could appreciate first thing in the morning. I wondered if he was “Paul”. He gave me a table by the bar, despite my order being for take out. He offered me coffee as I waited. And even with my refusal he brought me a glass of water without asking. I liked the level of service he was providing. 

On the menu is breakfast all day: Omelets on plates, Benedict eggs on English muffins, and bacon with toast on platters. And if you don’t see anything you like you can create your own omelette from a list of add ons to the standard: free run eggs, cheddar, Edam and cream cheese. 

When the place you are visiting has the word “omelet” in the title and has made up the word “Omelettery” to best best describe what they serve; I feel you kind of have to order an omelette. I choose what I felt was their best, as it was highlighted a part from the others, on an insert in pink. The “Breakfast special omelette” was filled with Canadian back bacon, tomato, spinach, cheddar cheese, edamame, and cream cheese. It was served with multigrain toast and a portion of raspberry jam. The cream cheese was the twist in this, it made each bite a creamy and savory delight. After a while the texture just flopped and felt too soft. Then I was grateful for the slivers of crunch I found in the chopped up edamame. I really didn’t enjoy the stringy spinach in the mix of things, and found it necessary to remove each, strand by strand. “Paul” boasts that his are the best Omelets in Vancouver. They taste good, but truthfully how many other places specialize in this breakfast classic? So we will let them have that title. 

The “Florentine” is made with spinach and wild mushrooms sautéed in garlic and onion. Each eggs Benedict is made with free run, poached eggs covered in their famous cheese sauce, over an English muffin, with a side of pan fries. It comes in a small or large, I had a small today. The cheese sauce was as good as promised. Rich and delicious, you could taste the sharpness in each of the different cheeses, that had been used to make this blend. 


Under speciality dishes was the “Zimmer”. A dish that in compasses avocado, sautéed mushrooms, cream cheese, and two free run poached eggs. All on toasted rye bread, and topped with alfalfa sprouts and their signature cheese sauce. The eggs were so perfectly poached I was in awe of how consistent they were from one to the other. Each element had really distinct flavours, that seamlessly melded together to become a satisfying brunch, one bite at a time. 

Would I go back? – Yes. I usually don’t like places that serve dishes that I can technically make myself. But I have made an exception for “Paul”. Yes these are simple homestyle dishes, but with the addition of speciality ingredients and tasteful garnishes, each plate become exclusive to “Paul’s Place”; and something worth paying for. Plus I can never fold my omelets like this, or poach an egg, let alone the perfectly in pairs. 
Would I recommend it? – Yes, this is great, less expensive option for breakfast on South Granville. “Paul’s Omelettery” may not be the trendiest spot, or have the best food. But what they do offer is a place for a quick bite, at the same price you would pay for a Mc Meal. Here your money is better spent on something a tad more wholesome, a tad more filling, a tad less guilt giving, and a lot better tasting. They do breakfast all day, though be warned that their day starts at 7am and ends at 3pm. And though their name may suggest otherwise, they do do more than Omelets. In fact, if it involves eggs, “Paul” is all over it. From scrambles to boiled, to being a coating over bread and the feature star in a Benedict. Don’t deny your craving. 


PAUL’S PLACE OMELETTERY
2211 Granville St, Vancouver BC
604-737-2857

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Hawker’s Delight, Malaysian cuisine

Originating from Brunei, some where in Malaysia, around South East Asia, (for those unfamiliar with the country); I am always trying to find a restaurant with food that best represents what I remembered and crave for from my home land. From a visual perspective “Hawker’s Delight” meets all the criteria. For those of us who have been to south East Asia and have dine at an out door noodle shop, “Hawker’s” is a blast from the past. This is exactly how an out door noodle house looks like. A run down building, with open walls or large windows; to allow a descent amount of air flow through. Heavily used ceramic utensils, in wooden jars on rickety tables; giving you that help yourself ease. And all the large house flies you need, you swat at them every 5 minutes as they set about buzzing around your food. And I swear, sitting in this non air conditioned room on a hot day, feels like you are in an as humid and as sticky of a country as Brunei. “Hawker’s” is an apt name for this place as it is a term that refers to one who aggressively sells their goods by calling out to passer byers. This is a common sight during slower eating times; as vendors call out to customers and pressure them to dine at their establishment . All in all a definite reflection of home I once knew. 


Their service model is as casual as their set up. You approach the counter, fronting their open kitchen. You place your order from a menu of over 30 options. The three pages of it is taped to the wall, and you can see that nothing on it is more than $6. And if you are like me and need visuals, you can look up to a listing of their 18 most popular dishes with coloured pictures, above. You pick your seat from a choice of 8 and wait for your order to be up. Once called you grab your plates and begin to enjoy. Water is also self serve, from a pitcher and glasses to the side. And if you need more napkins or dropped your eating implements, getting additional is as easy as looking to your table top, as it is all there for easy access. No fuss no muss. 
Today I came with a girlfriend who is as passionate as me over Malaysian style cuisine. We ordered three items at $5.75 per plate, and shared each. It was more than enough to feed 2 hungry women. 



“Laksa”. This is my absolute favourite dish in the world. I love all its varieties anywhere, but here at “Hawker’s” I find it the most authentic. “Laksa” is thick rice noodles served in mild curry, made from rich coconut milk and dried shrimp. The noodles are topped with tofu puffs, fish cakes, shredded chicken, prawns, bean sprouts, and a hard boiled egg. The taste is indescribable, a great melding of hot, spicy, fishy, and curry. A must try for those who have never. 

“Mee gorang”. This is the non spicy version. It is fried noodles with egg, bean sprouts, onions, tomatoes, tofu, diced potatoes, and yu choy. “Mee” means noodles in Malay. 

“Mee Rebus”. Yellow noodle served in a spicy sweet potato sauce. Topped with egg, tofu, bean sprouts, fried shallots, celery, and jalapeño. 

It is hard to describe the flavours of each above dish, as it is something I am very familiar with; having grown up eating this type cuisine. This was what breakfast, lunch, and dinner looked liked; minus rice. And it came as normal every day food, until I was enrolled in school in Canada. Where hotdogs and hamburgers became more of a commonality. But I can successfully summarize that I liked the taste of everything we ordered, it satisfied my cravings, and I will be back for more. 

Would I come back? – Yes, as concluded in my paragraph above. Great food at a truly better price. You can’t even get a fast food combo for under $6. The area on Main Street is nice, with easy to find meter and side road parking. The food comes fast and you are left feeling full. 
Would I recommend it? – For those not familiar with the cuisine this may be an adventure for you. With heavy spices and exotic flavours, your tongue and stomach may get over whelmed. But for those who are already fans of it, this is a must try as I have already mentioned, this is the real deal in authenticity. The cooking staff even speak “Hokkien”, a specific dialect in Malaysia. As an expert in Malaysian cuisine this gets my “don’t deny your cravings” seal of approval.


HAWKER’S DELIGHT
4127 Main St, Vancouver BC, V5V 3P6
604-709-8188

Chaise Lounge

I found myself at “Chaise” celebrating a friend’s birthday. As I now sit and attempt to recall my experience, I am struggling to write this post; despite having just come home less than an hour ago. Perhaps I was too engaged with my guests, or perhaps it was that I found nothing memorable about this restaurant. What I can mention is, “Chaise” is of many possible dining options along Main Street, specializing in American cuisine. You sit at any of their run of the mill tables or booths; with staff that take your order and bring you what you asked, without the extra chit chat. I did appreciate their ability to craft a coziness in each of their nook and crannies, created from irregular walls. These sections were made to feel like individual rooms. This was perfect for hosting larger parties, like ours. The decor is light and fun with colourful walls and vibrant canvases of art. 


The menu has everything that I recognized. Familiar favourites that are no strangers to most Canadian diners: steaks, buffalo wings, potato skins, and prime rib. A line up found on any bar or in any big restaurant chain. I almost feel that a more formal restaurant like this, serving American cuisine is a waste. How many other menus focusing on other ethnicities can you find dry ribs, burgers, fish and chips, or NY strip loin on? Except those other restaurants do theirs with an iconic twist, making it all their own. Here it almost felt plain, normal, regular… not special. I found that there was nothing that set “Chaise” apart, as you can see from my dishes below. It all tasted just so. Though I did appreciate the larger “American appetite” servings. Huge slabs of meat, with a heaping mound of vegetables on the side. The protein was all cooked well, but having tried so many dishes like these in my life I could only compare, and each time they all fell short. 


Bake breaded fish. 


NY Steak. 


Fish and chips. 


Lamb shank. 



Would I go back? – No. 

Would I recommend it? – No. 

If it wasn’t for a birthday party, I would have not even gone here in the first place. I find the food too mundane for the higher price point they charge. These are all dishes common to any of the big chains; the likes of “Earls”, “Moxie’s”, or “Cactus Club”. And these American classics were made no differently and no better than all of their big box competitors. If you are planning to go up against the big boys, you need to bring something to the table that sets you a part. Here they fell short and I was disappointed at the $40 plus I had spent on my meal and drinks. 



CHAISE LOUNGE

4444 Main St, Vancouver BC, V5V 3R2

604-874-7113

chaiseonmain.com



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Denman Taphouse


Nothing beats hitting a pub with coworker, after a long day’s work. During this happy hour I found myself at the “Denman Taphouse” preparing to down a pitcher of Moosehead meant two. We walked in on a Thursday evening with no wait for a table. We choose a high top close enough to the open patio to get a view of the beach and water; but inside and under cover enough that we weren’t cold from the gentle breeze blowing in the night’s air. 
This is your typical sports bar with noise, booze, and men. A row of television surrounds the main dining, or should I say drinking area. In every direction you can catch a glimpse of a game or two. Today it was an alternating view of basketball and sport net recaps. Split up and spread out in different areas were sections that made this the perfect venue for larger gatherings and parties. To the back there was a closed off room with recliners and pedestal tables for drinks. To the left, the balcony patio that over looked Denman’s foot traffic; and saw the orange water as the sun set into it. Looking around at 6pm we were the only young girls in a sea of older men. Construction workers in hats and dusty dark tees. Business men with shirts untucked and ties in suit coat pockets. Interestingly this all changed after 8pm. In came kids with tank top, caps, and long boards. Exchange students with backpacks and enough ethnicities to represent each continent. Youthful hipsters in age enhancing glasses and sweaters. And a crowd much more diverse and rowdy than the ones being entertained two hours ago. We were the only constant of the two. 


The place was not packed but we found ourself having a hard time locating our server on serval occasions. Each time she was busy carrying pitchers and plates of today’s specials. Stella was being poured at $13 per jug. And a pound of wings was at each table for $4.95. Not wanting to bend the curve, we ordered the “pineapple teriyaki + hot mix”. Their wings are organized my their spiciness. Starting from mild, pausing at “dry rubs” and “gourmet sauces”, and concluding at “unbelievably hot”. Their hottest wings are made with some of the hottest peppers in the world, and are so hot that they have included a disclaimer by their names on the menu. They warn to eat at your own risk, and to not rub your eyes before washing your hands. It has been a while since I was satisfied with a pub wing, today my drought had a deluge. The wings were a healthy size, plenty of meat on the bone, and all of it juicy. They was not over fried, and the meat wasn’t over dried. You got the sweet sticky sauce on your lips as you bite down on meat. The sauce was a sweet teriyaki with no mention of pineapple. And the hot in the sauce was as “medium” as the menu promised. 


Still hungry we had an order the pesto pizza flatbread. Made with sun dried tomatoes, spinach, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, and feta and asiago cheese. The ingredients complimented one another. The crust was light and crispy, without tastjng burnt. The ingredients rich in Mediterranean flavours. And the cheese was so gooey that it pulled a string from our mouths to the slice. Only after the fact did we discover that we had a choice on which flatbread our pesto pizza would be built upon. Our server failed to mention it and I guess the kitchen staff took it upon themselves to decide for us. Not that they made the wrong choice. We still enjoyed our food, but it have been nice to be consulted and actually given our choice. 

Would I come back? – Yes. Overall I was surprised at how good this pub food was, and remembered why I find fondness in dining and drinking in them. Aside from the lack of attention from our server, the night was deemed a success. 
Would I recommend it? – No. There is a pub or bar at every other corner downtown. This one really had nothing over the others good or bad. It isn’t memorable enough. 


DENMAN TAPHOUSE 
203-1184 Denman St, Vancouver BC
604-568-3437
thedenmantaphouse.com

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The Park, at English Bay


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It sets your morning up right, if you take advantage of it. Today I was doing just that, enjoying a wholesome meal at “The Park”. Not literally, “The Park” is a restaurant connected to the “Best Western Sands” hotel, it is a great place for those in need of an earlier meal by the beach. 

Through the doors you either walk a slight right into the hotel’s lobby or continue straight into “The Park’s” dining area. By day this was a bistro, by night a pub with a pretty handsome bar. This would be the first time I ate breakfast at a bar. Looking around, not many people were up and eating with us at 7am in the morning. Those who were, were seniors, who most likely slept early enough the night before, to be chipper and hungry now. We choose a table away from the others. Good thing too, as our conversations got loud enough that the other guests may have thought they were at a bar at 10pm. 


Their menu is a one pager of benedicts; eggs and things on platters; and lighter choices, for those watching their waistline. It had items as exciting as the “Park” signature egg Benedict made with grilled asparagus, roasted red peppers, and back bacon; to dishes as simple as milk and raisin bran in a bowl. 


We came in for their $5.99 breakfast special, as advertised on their sandwich board. It is the traditional breakfast of eggs, toast, hash browns, and bacon. But today we were hungry and allowed our stomachs to order. We started with the breakfast special but added and subtracted as we pleased to get this plate. We choose over easy eggs, bacon, added two sausages, exchanged the toast for an English muffin, and said no to the hash browns. It did not come up to much more over $7. This is a pretty standard breakfast, truthfully one that you can get anywhere; and quite frankly can make yourself. Though first thing in the morning, do you really want to wake up early to cook? Or would you rather have it brought to you as you take a sip of coffee and rifle through the day’s paper?

Also wanting something sweet we ordered the “candied walnut French toast”, a “Park” special. It is 3 slices of whole wheat bread, made into French toast, topped with maple butter, sprinkled with candied walnuts, and served with a jug of maple syrup. This was amazing and it hit all the right spots. You couldn’t tell that the toast was whole wheat. Each bite was light and fluffy, from middle to all four crusts. The maple butter had the luxurious texture of melted butter, with a wonderful whisper of maple. It gave the French toast a maple flavour, without any of its sweetness; so you can really taste the cooked egg over the bread. The candied walnuts were my favourite part, I could eat a whole bag of these for lunch. The nuts didn’t have that old, nutty, rancid taste that some do. These were pan fried and caramelized with simple syrup and honey. We didn’t finish the toast, but I made sure that the walnuts didn’t go to waste. 

There were three waitresses to share between the 5 occupied tables. Our server was attentive, she scurried to us any time my hand went up past my shoulder. We left full and ready to start our day. 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes. Delicious, unpretentious, and uncomplicated food at a great price. Dishes that you have had and have liked. A guaranteed good eat with each choice.


THE PARK
At the Best Western Sands Hotel
1755 Davie St, Vancouver BC, V6G 1W5
604-682-3546
bestwesternsandshotelvancouver.com/dining/the-park-at-english-bay



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