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Month: November 2013 Page 1 of 2

Lucy’s Eastside Diner

IMG_451524 hour goodness.

Working late nights may mean grabbing dinner at 1:30am, though at this time of dawn your options are severely limited. Majority of establishments still open involve fried foods under heat lamps at connivence stores , and greasy Chinese meals in small and dingy hole in the walls. After googling 24 hour places in my proximity, I was sold on “Lucy’s”, as it was the only one that did not involve noodles in soup.

This is what you imagine when you think retro diner, it was like we walked back into the 70’s. Walls painted in a faded teal or pink. Black and white checkered floors tiles. Table tops and bar surfaces in vinyl with ribbed metal edges. Each seat was equipped with a napkin dispenser and a glass bottle of Heinz ketchup, which with its peeling label had clearly seen multiple refills. There was no music, the background was the buzzing of well lit bulbs and the humming of machinery kept behind the swinging kitchen doors. The most memorable decor piece was their collection of vintage fans behind the bar. It paired well with all their large black and white photos from other diner’s of the past.

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We took a seat in the back to avoid the argument at the front bar between the lone server and, by the sounds of things, a regular customer. Apparently he failed to pay her on his last visit and now was pestering her to sell alcohol past the 12am cut off. He, like 80% of the patrons were drunk, and made this their stumbling ground to sober up in. This, after being ejected from all the near by bars and restaurants. It must be hard to work a job that has you dealing with drunken guests on a regular bases. We figured that this is where all the drunk hipsters of Main Street gather. I was impressed and terrified over the way the server held her ground. She snapped back with a furious authoritative tone. In any other situation you would find her behaviour unacceptable, as this is the service industry. In this case it was necessary, how can you have a reasonable conversation with a belligerent drunk man? I felt bad hearing her repeat herself, but like everyone else, I awkwardly minded my own business. When it came time to take our order, serve, and check in she wasn’t exactly friendly, though it was a lot more pleasant that what I had heard from her earlier. Not that I was going to complain or voice opinion.

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The menu was an eye catching, cutesy teal and pink, a similar colour to the walls. This laminated page was filled with simple comfort foods, a listing sure to please any pinky eater. Hot dogs, poutine, sandwiches, burgers, soups and salads, and every platter imaginable from breakfast to dinner. I salivated reading meatloaf, fried chicken, and grilled cheese. This is the type of food I turn to after long day. The type of food that is simple to make and usually tastes good in any variation. The type of food that warrants them designating themselves, “Vancouver’s best hangover eats”. I concur.

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“Everyday all day burger combo”. A single burger or any foot long hot dog, with fries and either a milkshake or a can of Vancouver island’s original lucky lager. Seeing as it was after 12pm we selected the milkshake. And sadly were unable to have it spiked for the same reason.
The orange creamsicle was thick, the kind of shake you really have to pucker up and suck hard through a straw. You could definitely make out the vanilla ice cream in the mix.
There was some slight confusion over the burger. For condiments my guest asked for just ketchup and mayo. The server took it to mean no anything else, no lettuce, no tomato; and as a result no flavour. She walked away fast and didn’t clarify what we wanted; and we were too intimated to say anything after the fact. It tasted like a frozen patty and looked like it with its perfect circular shape. Every bite into the bun resulted in the dripping grease.

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“Mac N’ Cheese & Pulled Pork Hoagie”. A toasted hoagie filled with hot pulled pork, and top generously with mac n’ cheese. Your sides are a choice between fries or soup. I chose the roasted tomato over the cauliflower purée. There is nothing more homey then a bowl of tomato soup with some cheese on bread. In this case cheese flavoured macaroni over a hot dog bun. Combining two things I like into one, all in a hand held bun is a winning combination. I was genuinely surprised how good this was. The pulled pork was tender and coated lusciously in a rich sweet barbecue sauce. This paired nicely with the saltiness of the cheesy sauce. It was packed full of flavour and enjoyable to eat.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
This is the perfect spot after a late night of drinking and dancing. They covered everything from cocktails to hot dogs. From daily drink specials to hearty breakfast platters, with breakfast available all day and all night. These were great meals, so simple that you can technically prepare yourself, but here don’t have to and can just sit and enjoy, with no clean up afterward. I enjoyed my time eating these comfort foods and being surrounded in its theme. Though the service and the crowd I could have done without though. Don’t deny your cravings.

LUCY’S
2708 Main Street, Vancouver BC
604-568-1550
lucyseastsidediner.com
Lucy's Eastside Diner on Urbanspoon

Doolin’s Irish Pub

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After an earlier hockey game where does one go? Why, to a pub to continue the drinking of course! With beers from bottles and more from taps, all at half the cost at GM place.

Sunday evening proved to be a slower night at “Doolin’s”. We were able to walk in with out a wait, and immediately spot ample seating across high tops and on bar stools. As per bar custom, you seat yourself and hope to be noticed enough to gain a menu. We chose two seats by the bar to ensure quicker delivery of beverages. This had all the typical bar trappings: Dim lighting from flickering bulbs. Large television screens mounted at every direction, each broadcasting a variety of sporting competitions. Behind the actual bar, stood handsome shelves lined with hard liquors in the back and taps of craft brews out front. And patrons varying from those dressed to get notice in sparkles to those looking to hide in the dark with their caps pulled forward.

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My guest and I were two girls looking for bottomless drinking and craving deep fried and greasy bar food. Cheap and easy, (the food, not us) the kind you get into with your hands and wash down with frosty chilled beers.

IMG_4389The menu was two pages of your classic bar favourites and everything else you would expect: crispy fries, sloppy burgers, heavy sandwiches, and the occasional steak. This was on top of their variety of fusions like chicken souvlaki wraps, tandoori chicken flat breads, and ahi tuna won ton tacos. Worth noting is this list included this month’s specials of Vietnamese salad rolls and jerk chicken. I appreciate bars for taking the most popular for all types of cuisine and gathering them on one menu. A great way to satisfy any one’s drunken cravings. And of course an Irish bar needs Irish stew, Guinness beef pie, and Irish nachos made with potato chips instead of tortilla. Recalling all this I am longing for a return meal. We were sad to hear there were no options for pitchers, so settled on two pints of Canadian to start.

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We chose the appy platter with all our bar time favourites. The menu listed a full order of dry ribs, wings, and cheese sticks, served with edamame beans and vegetables sticks. Not looking for anything green or healthy we asked to replace our vegetables with another appetizer, chorizo sausages. We were declined our request, but offered and given breaded chicken strips as a suitable substitute.
“Salt & Pepper Dry Ribs”, crispy dry pork ribs, tossed with fresh sea salt, and cracked black pepper. “Wings” in honey garlic. “Cheese sticks” made in house with harvarti cheese. Deep fried until crispy and golden brown, then covered with padano Parmesan cheese, and servers with marinara sauce. “Chickens strips”, house made savoury buttermilk marinated chicken breast strips served with a honey mustard dip.
This truly was that real salty, greasy, cheesy, and saucy pub food that parallels perfectly with beer. The kind that and goes down easy and stays down to keep you full and far from queazy. Though given as this was still a bar, I wasn’t expecting a stellar meal. So was mindful, but unconcern over the ribs being too dry, the chicken wings being tasteless, and the fact that the chicken strips were oily to the touch. I dipped pieces into a dipping sauces provide on the side, added salt where needed, and finished eating my dinner with a fork. And of course the second and third beers that came after helped.

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Being even more intoxicated and still peckish, a wanted to end with a sweet taste in my mouth. We shared an order of “Sticky toffee pudding”. This was a moist chocolate cake, baked with chopped dates, topped with a buttery caramel sauce, and severed along side a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. The ice cream melted and became a creamy sauce, a light accent perfect for complimenting the density of this rich cake. This wasn’t the best dessert, but I couldn’t ask for more. Think this is the first time I have actually had dessert at a bar.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
The location was easy to get to, just off the Granville entertainment strip. If you love pub food as much as me this place is for you. I suggest coming in for drinks and decently priced food, before heading downstairs to “The Cellar”, their basement night club, with an accurate name. I liked the atmosphere, the food was decent, the staff did no more and no less than what I needed them to, and the crowd was a good mix of rowdy to quiet. Don’t deny your cravings.

DOOLIN’S
654 Nelson Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2E5
604-605-4343
doolins.ca
Doolin's Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

Lhy Thai Restaurant

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There was a fairly large crowd in this Tuesday night, surprising to me considering the area looked abandoned. Clearly this is the locals’ go to for authentic Thai cuisine. Though after 7pm in Edmunds means everything is closed and chained up for the night. The only thing bumping on this block was the “Value Village”.

It felt like I stepped back in time, back into the 70’s. And it was not purpose. This was because of the restaurant’s retro decor and the age of everything else in it. You could tell things here have had two or more lives, the place was old and had that tell tale smell. Pink and white stucco walls. Wooden floors worn down with scuffs in heavily trafficked areas. White parlour chairs chipping paint from age, to revel their mental underneath. Tables made from tiles including grout, each one was checkered differently with tiles of flowers, colours, and strips. Even the plates used were worn down with faded colours and scratches from all the utensils used before. Luckily my inner clean freak was able to get past all of this to be able to enjoy the quality of food that was presented on these plates. Admittedly the calming serene music playing over head helped, the kind you hear at a tropical hotel foyer.

IMG_4413The touches of Thai included frames of places in Thailand and art work dedicate to their traditions. Gold coloured carvings of Phoenix statues hung over head, and a Buddha shrine lit up with led bulbs was set up in the back.
The restaurant appeared to be run by an older Thai husband and wife team. He served the front in silence, cleaning everything and setting things straight with an apron around his waist. He hardly spoke, but was around every time you needed him.
Plates were dropped off with gestures and picked up without a word. On occasion I saw him at a distance, from the corner of my eye. He was trying to see if we were in need of more water, ready to refill with a jug in hand. This happened several times throughout the course of our meal. Each time I would acknowledge him with a nod and signal his assistance by raising my empty glass. I found it enduring and a great example of focused customer service. His wife cooked in the back, she peered out in between courses. Waiting until a plate was cleared before starting on the next. He wasn’t present, but I think got a look of their son too. This I gathered from all the pictures present of a young man in a graduation gown. They were clearly proud of him and this place they owned together. In this establishment you got the warmth of home and family from the simplicity of the dishes, and the complexity of their photographs. Majority of said photos were positioned closer to the kitchen. This included a portrait of a man and one of a woman, ones traditionally done on their wedding day. I wonder if this was set up to inspire them? Was this what motivated them? Or just great memories that made them smile? It may not look contemporary or be professional, but it help to make the place feel like home, and it put me at ease.

IMG_4432One thing I really liked about this restaurant was its lighting. They used photography lights. Bulbs with special coverings, that made taking photos an easy and delightful experience. There appeared to be one directed at the centre of every table. With their light I was able to make dishes look fantastic without the use of filters or flash. If this was intentional, what a great idea; having a restaurant that accommodates the increasing thread of taking pictures of your food. Plus any pictures uploaded onto social media is guaranteed to attract attention and set a great reputation for the restaurant.

My guest was here once before. She is a self proclaimed stickler for Thai food, so the fact she liked it enough to return with me was saying something. The menu was 8 pages of dishes organized by their main ingredients, temperature, proteins, or carbs. Spicy dishes were singled out by the red chilli pepper icon by their names, but you are able to dictate the level of spiciness of each of your dishes. From mild to very hot and spicy. We made mild our calibre.

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11 “papaya salad”. This Thai style salad was served cold, and easily made ahead of time. Although flavoured mildly this was still the spiciest salad I have had. The generous portion of julienned green papaya was served on leaves of lettuce, they helped to pick up extra moisture from the bleeding fruit. Though throughout the course, having to relocate plates, a lot of this extra liquid ended up on our table as puddles. The salad had a crunchy texture with notes of sweet and sour. The tomatoes gave enjoyable pops of freshness. Where as the raw beans gave unique taste to the mix I neither liked or disliked. It was nice to try, but nothing I would crave for. A great option for a vegetarian.

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14 “Tom Yum Gai”. Sour and spicy chicken soup with straw mushrooms, lemon grass, lime leaves, roasted curry paste, cilantro, green onion and lime juice. This soup might not look all that appealing with its milky surface and sour smell, but it is definitely worth trying. We could definitely taste the dominating flavour of the lemon grass, making it all kinds of sweet and sharp. Like the salad before it, it boasts a hard to describe original taste. I liked the added texture of the larger chunks of chicken and mushroom. Though the chicken was too dry, despite being submerged in liquid, and therefore too tasteless. This is one of those soups that has to be taken in alone, I can’t imagine it being complimented by anything.

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28 “Panang Gai/Moo/Neua” chicken, pork, or beef simmered in red curry paste, green and red peppers, lime leaves, sweet basil, and a dash of coconut milk. In this case we chose chicken as our protein. This curry was on the sweeter side; and as is the case with most curries, best enjoyed with a bowl of rice at an additional cost. It was good, but nothing new. We were missing that promised dash of coconut milk; despite being able to see it in white on top. It was with this dish that we realized this was home cooking. A self taught chef, a mother perfecting their craft through the feeding of her family day in and out.

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57 “Talay Jhan Ron”. Prawns, squids, clams, and fish, fried with baby corns, straw mushrooms, red and green peppers, green onions, sweet basil, lemon grass, lime leaves and roasted curry paste. This too was like the entree before, good as it delivered on what was listed. Another good ol’ home cooked meal. There was a good mix of seafood, although the calms needed a more thorough cleaning to avoid all the sand that I ate. A standard stir fry in Asian flavours.

Would I come back? – No. It is a little out of my way; and it is hard for me to get over a decor that is aging and in need of replacing and repairs. I value the space in which I eat, and the experience in which I dine, as much as the food in which I consume.
Would I recommend it? – Yes. The food is authentic, as it is prepared single handedly by a Thai woman who probably cooks the exact same dishes for her children in which her husband serves to you. Take the food to go and enjoy some unique flavours in the comfort of your home or eat in enjoy it in their second home. Don’t deny your cravings.

LHY
7357 Edmonds Street, Burnaby BC
604-526-8085
Lhy Thai on Urbanspoon

Jang Mo Jib

IMG_4234IMG_4237This is the second and newest location of “JangMoJib”, known for their authentic Korean fare; nestled in the Korean strip of downtown.

Having once been to their original location, I can say with confidence that this was an improvement. Not only is the location larger and now more visible, forward facing the busy street of Robson; things look a lot newer and brighter at the old home of “Blockbuster”. The interior is spacious with two levels. It feels like you are in a cabin with its hard wood floors, over head rafters, and open concept design. It gave off the feeling of dining in a hall, community eating style. Though options for private parties were available in the back. This was done as sectioned off rooms with cubicle-like walls. Tables were evenly spaced, dark spots speckled around the hall. Each with white table settings and traditional Korean metal chopsticks. The black tarp-like table cloths draped over top made clean up a breeze, but didn’t do much to elevate the look. I appreciated the hooks for coats provided at each booth, as things often gets tight when seating multiples. All that was missing was the feeling of ambience. It was too bright, with too much light. But the Korean pop music over head and the flat screen showcasing CBC did their best to bridge this gap. Their attempt at keeping things authentic with a modern touch was noted.

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My guest had never tried Korean food so when ordering I made a point to direct her into selecting plates that featured popular ingredients or dishes commonly ordered. We were excited to order and my guest announced she was a newbie to the Korean food scene, to our server and anyone else within ear shot. She made an effort to read all the dishes in Korean, with our server helping her pronunciation. Through when it came time to ask question and inquire about the menu. Our server, (the only serve on) had a hard time explaining what everything was and what it was we needed answering. At this point it was obvious that their main clientele are those who can speak Korean and those who are already comfortable with such a menu.

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“Goon Mahn Doo”. Meaty dumplings filled with beef, pork, firm tofu, bean sprouts and green onions mixed with house seasoning. Each is then pan fried until golden brown, and served with their house soy sauce. This tasted in house made, not your quickie frozen job. The filling was more than just minced meat, it was nicely seasoned and accented with green onion. Eaten alone it needed salt, but that’s what the dipping sauce was for. I liked the texture of chewy outer shell with its singed corners. Scissors were provided to easily split each dumpling in half. This seemed very crude to my non Chinese guest.

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The above appetizer was accompanied by little serving of Korean sides. This common practice delighted my guest, like having complimentary bread and butter at a fine dining restaurant.
Kimchi pickled roots. We found this real spicy as a non Korean. I don’t like the soggy texture of kimchi, so after a lick I stayed away. My guest said it felt like it would leave her stomach burning, just after one bite.
Bean sprouts gently cooked and coated in sauce. This chilled mouthful of noodle-like vegetable, made for a good break between all the strong flavours and spicy seasonings.
Potatoes cooked in a caramelized savoury sauce. This too came cold. They some how managed to make this potato dawn the taste and consistency of a sweet potato. I usually don’t like my food cold, but I would say this would be the best exception.

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“Jab Che”. Clear sweet potato noodles pan tossed with marinated beef, house soy sauce, and julienned vegetables: carrot, zucchini, onion, green onion, red pepper, shiitake, and black Chinese mushroom. After plating it is garnished with fried egg cut into ribbons and sprinkled with sesame seeds. The noodles had a distinct taste we liked, I could eat them as is. They were spongy and meaty all at the same time. Although in between bites I did find then a little too oily at times, and there was an uneven meat to vegetable to noodle ratio. Though what little vegetables I picked out was cooked fully with a nice crunch. And the handful of meat strips I spotted were well seasoned and not as dry as they looked. The plate came with tongs for easy distribution amongst individual eating plates.

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“Soon Dae Jub See”. Sweet potato noodle, sweet rice, beef, green onion and house spices mixed and stuffed into real pork sausage casings. Then boiled to cook and steamed to order. To this dish there was an add-on for adventurous dinners by request. An option to add sliced specialty cuts of pork on the side. We felt the menu cryptic as it didn’t explain what these cuts of meat actual were. When asked, our server suggested that we won’t normally like them. She then went further to suggest that we wouldn’t like the sausage either. Explaining that, “Korean people like it”. To a stubborn person like me that sounded like a challenge, and I insisted on still trying it. What came to the table was like nothing I imagined. We were immediately turned off my its all black colour and its pungent small. I couldn’t tell what was what inside. I originally imagined that this was an easy way to eat rice, meat and veggies all in one bite. Though what we got was over salted noodles in a tough to break through intestine casing. I could not make out any hints of meat, just taste it’s essence from the intestine skin. We each took a bite that we couldn’t finish. Our server was absolutely right: we didn’t like it. Though I am glad to have tried it. And even more glad that it came in small, medium, and large sizes; and we had chosen the small for $9.99. Looking back if our server was so sure that this would be the outcome, why not take the the time to explain to us why we wouldn’t like it? Or better still offer us a sample to show us what she meant? If I am server I would hate to allow my guest to waste their money and food by ordering something they didn’t like. Especially after my guest declared this would be her first Korean cuisine experience. Though the language barrier was probably a big deterrent of this. In the end I didn’t expect its amount to be stricken from the bill, but at least some compensation would have been nice. Especially considering we couldn’t even get past one piece together, and when bussing the table the dish left pretty much how it arrived.

Would I come back? – No. I found the food just ok and the prices too steep to warrant them. A pound of chicken wings were $24.95. Yes they were battered in house panko, then double fried and tossed in a house sweet and spicy marinade. But $25 is a price of an entree, not an appetizer portion of wings. And this price feels worse when you compare it to the AAA cut of bone in beef ribs for only $19.95. Though on the same token, looking at some of the other plates and amount of food on them, it was obvious that these were meant to be shared between a group of 3-4. And doing so means sharing the costs so the prices don’t seem that daunting. Still I have been to other Korean places, a few across the street, where I found the food just as good if not better, the ambience a lot more comfortable and welcoming, and the prices more reasonable. Plus they didn’t carry soju cocktails… And for all those reasons I will also not be recommending this place. But either way, don’t deny your cravings.

JANG MO JIB
1575 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 1C3
604-642-0712
Jang Mo Jib on Urbanspoon

Ebisu

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It’s been a long while since my last visit to “Ebisu”, nearly a decade ago in my early 20’s. And tonight I found out just why that was. The place felt like a night club, and I have long declared myself too old for that scene. I need elbow room in which to eat, a chair to be able to sit, and quite to hear my guest speak. And most importantly I do not want to feel the sweat of my neighbour or anything else of their’s pressed up against me. But within these walls, those nights of youthful clubbing came back to me. The lights were low and techno coloured, the music was aggressive and loud with base, and the boys and girls were dressed to impressed in tight tees and short skirts. I could swear I was the oldest in the place and my guest was the only non Asian. Trays of “shots, shots, shots, shots, shots…. (for) every body!” was the culprit for this rowdy atmosphere. Everyone was celebrating something with cheap cocktails in different colours. Each paired with creative names to attract the cool seekers. “Golden balls”, “liquid cocaine”, “bear hugger”, “katana”, “Hello Kitty”, and “Dragon Ball cocktail”; just to name a few I have not seen else where. Their drink menu was eleven pages, and like the one for food, majority came with a list of ingredients and coloured photos to help you make your decision. When hungry or slightly intoxicated it is always easier to crave what you can see and point to want you want.

Walking in with no reservations on a Friday after 9pm, we were still surprised to be only able to grab two seats at the bar. Who eats dinner this late? I would soon learn, you don’t come here for the food, you are here for the drinks, that eventually get you hungry enough for their mediocre food. Given the loud and rambunctious crowd in tonight, we felt a table may be more intimate, and a place in which we could actually have a conversation at. So we waited. Though later we would learn this would still prove to be difficult over the, “whoos” of the tipsy and the “clink” of their shot glasses.

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We waited in the foyer with another gentleman. He was smart enough to get his meal to go, to be able to enjoy his sushi and Japanese tapas without the distracting ambience. The more I was emerge in it, the more I found it an obnoxious setting. There was a lot going on in terms of decor. Bamboo plants, traditional lanterns hanging off Japanese style wooden gates, shelves displaying coloured bottles of vodkas and fruity mixes, and knick knacks in every corner. It all felt as crowded as the seating. Guests squeezed into booths, bar seats, and tables stretching the length of the back wall. Shame as backs were facing windows and the view was lost. Groups were packed in tight to accommodate all. Birthday song after birthday cake, people we here to celebrate. And we were the ones foolish enough to not be drinking.

IMG_4309Our little two seater booth required a step up and one in. It was to the side, and as private as it was going to get; but was still sandwiched by 4 large groups taking up tables filled to capacity at 20. Within each table setting there was a self serve container of disposable chopsticks. This I found a smart move as they dropped often and would end up taking forever to replace by the always busy servers.

The food all sounded good, classic Japanese tapas and sushi, with East meets West fusions of your favourite dishes from around the world. Mexican donburi (rice bowls) and hamburger sliders filled with traditional pickled vegetables. Yakiniku sauces and miso based marinates on your classic cuts of meat. Cajun Tuna tacos glazed with a ginger sauce. Nachos with the possibility of ebi (shrimp) on top. And Asian Caesars with lemon grass infused vodka and an edamame garnish.

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“Chicken Karaage”. Deep fried boneless chicken served with your choice of three sauces. If ordering the largest size you got a choice of two out of the three sauces. This was the smaller personal size for $3 less. We partnered it up with the spicy ketchup sauce. We would regret this as we thought the tender chicken would do better with a sweeter sauce, like the honey mustard we missed out on.

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“Honey garlic wings”. The Asian twist to this was to plate them on a bed of lettuce. Unfortunately for me this maneuver passed the flavour of the lettuce on to the chicken. One that I did not like and one that was ironic as the chicken lacked taste overall. Something we were able to fix with the use of soy sauce. But I am a strong believer that when dining out I should not have to alter or “improve” on anything I order. Though the portion was plentiful and pieces were delivered hot and fresh out of the oven. We just didn’t like their darken bloody colour closer to the bone.

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“Robson Roll”. Deep fried salmon strips, avocado, and cream cheese with tempura flakes. Creamy and crunchy, this roll had a great texture with all the flavours I like in my sushi. The green onion gave it freshness, the avocado a gentle creaminess, and the tempura flakes a great crisp bite.

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“Potato Butter”. Baked garlic butter potatoes with bacon and rich cheddar cheese, simmering in a shoyu base. There was lots of onion and no bacon despite it’s description on the menu. It was bland and essentially just potatoes with butter and cheese on a Japanese hot plate. After a bite and a honest attempt to enjoy it we left the rest of the plate as is. Later when the manager came to bus our table, he took our feedback on the dish and said he would let the chef know. When he returned with the bill he reassured us we were not charged for it; and insisted we come back to try it again when there would be improvements on the recipe. That I deemed as nice customer resolution service.

IMG_4280There was barely any interaction with our server as the restaurant was extremely busy. It was a challenge to grab anyone’s attention and you were always left waiting for your request. I appreciated the manager lending a hand and finishing off our night when we lost track of our original server. Though we still had to wait for our bill to come and more time after four our leftovers to be packed. After 8 minutes had elapsed, we realized we were forgotten. We had to flag the manager down for our bill again and asked where our leftovers were.

Would I come back? – I am an old soul, and this is no longer my scene. Give me a quiet space, a glass full of wine, and a mug full of craft beer any day. I want to enjoy my beverage as much as the intoxication it gives me. I don’t want to have to yell or hear anyone yelling across the room. I hate dining to techno music, as it gets my heart pumping and I feel the need to rush. I don’t want to “guess who Amy made out with” and I don’t want to vicariously remember any indiscretions of my youth. To summarize: loud atmosphere, average food, cheap drinks. Though my guest assures me the food is better during slower periods as he has had some good teriyaki chicken here for lunch. So no I would not like to return for dinner, but lunch may be an option. This is definitely not the destination for date night.
Would I recommend it? – Yes. For those who want to party, while being seated, this is the venue for you. Here you can be loud and go nuts, over drinks that won’t cost you your allowance. The food isn’t the greatest, but everything tastes better after a round of “orgasams” and “slippery nipples”. Don’t deny your cravings.

EBISU
827 Bute Street, Vancouver BC V6E 3Y4
604-689-8266
ebisu.ca/robson
Ebisu on Urbanspoon

CinCin Ristorante + Bar

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“Cin Cin”, a play on the sound of clinking glasses, laughter, and the expression “Chin Chin” when toasting to good food and old friends. All of the above was present tonight. Looking around I could tell this was fine Italian dining, as evident by the smaller portions present at each table. We were here celebrating the birth of a great friend. She choose a place that would best accommodate her love of wine and our love of ordering it by the bottle.

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The restaurant is located on Robson Street. Having to look up to see it may cause those passing by in a rush to miss it. Though the four wafting banners in white, against the red building are quite eye catching. You turn right into a narrow corridor and head straight up a steep brick staircase. The restaurant is on the top floor just above “Lululemon”.

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Our reserved table was a booth that sat eight comfortably. It centred the room and gave us a view of all that surrounded us. From the open kitchen at the end of the dining room we could see the flame from their wood fire pizza oven. Around this feature were five chefs in white, set about preparing food for a restaurant filled with guests. The open space of the restaurant was divided into two, by one coral sponged painted wall. On it was built-in shelving that housed wine by the bottles. I guessed half a dozen in each of the 4 by 7 boxes. The bar was on the other side, and it spanned the width of the entire restaurant. Behind it was a tower of premium liquors, six levels deep. Along the bar’s counter stood tall glasses holding up long and thin breadsticks by the bundle. The restaurant was opulent in fixturing and eye catching in decor pieces. Rust tiled floors, arch topped glass windows, stone statues, giant urns, portraits of an Italian landscapes, a tapestry of unicorns, sketches of women in robes, and dark tables covered in pressed white cloths.

The menu was a list of bottles and small plates to be shared amongst the table; and decadent first and mids. The listing included various truffles, and the unique assortment of vegetables, seasoning and spices. This wasn’t your every day spaghetti and meatballs place, this was hand made pasta, organic produce, and fresh cuts of meat.


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Our meal began with a complimentary bowl of bread. The bite size balls of ciabatta and the cubed pieces of focaccia arrived warm to the touch. They were accompanied by a house made green olive and olive oil tapenade, which I found can be too salty if you get too greedy. When we requested for more bread we were asked to be patient for a fresh batch to come out of the oven.


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We ordered two bottles of the “Kettle Valley Old Main Red: Cab, sac, cab franc, merlot 2009”. The bottle was presented before a taster was poured. After an approval, three glasses were filled, the cork was left on a metal tray at the table, and the remainder was taken off to be decanted. Eventually, not being able to finish the second bottle, we were given the option to take the rest to go. It was my first time at a restaurant where they offered up different glasses for those who order white or red. White wine glasses were taller and narrower. And the ones for red wine were wider set goblets. Our server suggested we enjoy our wine as a combination with cola soft drink. She explained that this was “Spanish style”, and something you do when you are 16 and you want to get drunk. The sweetness of the coke hides the tartness of the wine. We felt it was a classy night so kept things as they were.

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“Giant pacific neon flying squid grilled over Adler chili, arugula, borlotti beans, and lemon” And served in a red pepper vinegrette. This wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what I expected after reading the description above. Light and fresh, it had the makings of a great starter. Which was made better with a squirt of lemon, to balance everything out with its acidity. It looked like and was moist like fish, without the flaky texture. The meat was slightly chewy and easy to cut into with teeth. I found it oily and appreciated the fresh greens in their ability to relieve some of the grease of the squid.

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“Hand made tagliatelle with bolognese sauce”. Our server vouched for this dish, she claimed it to be her favourite of all the pasta offerings. And as the heaviest, guaranteed to be filling. You get a choice between a smaller and a larger portion. I figured with an appetizer before, the small would suffice. I hardly found it enough food to constitute as an appetizer. It was flavourful and I cleaned my plate, but it felt me wanting more.

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“Linguine with dungeness crab, tomato, chili, and parsley”. Not enough crab, but a great sauce to noodle ratio.

 

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“Local chicken, poached and grilled with truffle. Organic carnaroli risotto, with porcini and field mushrooms”. Based on its looks, this brown plate didn’t seem all that delicious. Though my guest assured me it was packed full of flavour, and that more than made up for its lack lustre presentation. The chicken was surprisingly moist and seasoned well despite its dry and white looking interior. The risotto could have been richer if not sitting in sauce. Though it was layered with a distinct flavour thanks to the savoury truffle.

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“16oz certified angus beef t-bone Florentine”. This large steak had to be the most filling thing on the menu. Yes you had to pay $20 more for this, compared to everything else. But at least it was pink to that medium rare perfection, and you finished the plate utterly full. The meat wasn’t the least bit tough, it was cooked enough to get that great charred texture and taste on its sides. And so well seasoned and paired with complimentary vegetables that nothing masked or hid the natural flavour of the steak. Two guests ordered this.

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“Haida Gwaii halibut, wood oven roasted mushroom crust, castelluccio lentils, and mushroom essence.” Everything on the plate tasted fresh, but the overwhelming consensus was that this was a bland dish in needed of a thicker sauce.

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“Roast loin of venison, gnocchi Romani with fontina portabella mushroom, sunchoke, kale, and game sauce. As stunning as this plate turned out, you could not help but be disappointed in its smaller portion size. The three small cuts of meat were tender and the gnocchi was covered in abundant cheesy goodness. But other than that, this was a fancy portion that did not feel like it was worth is $34.50 price tag.

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For dessert, it pays to dine with a professional pastry chef. As a treat she was given a complimentary dessert sampler, that she was gracious enough to share with the rest of us. On it was a pear spiced jelly and a coco nibs short bread. Both reminded me of fall, and the desire for richness that the colder weather brings. The jelly had a gentle flavour that paralleled its light texture. And the short bread was crispy with the first bite and practically melted in your mouth after. I find things always taste better when free.

Our server was polite and offered conversation whenever possible. She kept things light hearted and made an attempt to connect to our group. She was attentive enough to not need waving down, but gave us enough breathing room to enjoy each other’s company without much disruption.

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 I come back? – No. I like my Italian food in big portion and coated in at least a centimetre of melted cheese. As good as everything was I cannot validate a return trip for what I had to pay. I could get twice the amount of food else where. Then again, I have always been more of a bang-for-your-buck kind of girl. It all left you wanting more. Just as soon as you start liking a flavour, there is no more of it to savour.
Would I recommend it? – Yes. This is definitely that place you want to take someone to impress. The decor is lovely, the ambience is sophisticated, and the serve is top notch. Plates came as quickly, the food was delicious, and the selection of wine was impressive. You know a place is fancy when they offer rolled up towels in the restroom to dry your hands on. Don’t deny your cravings.

CIN CIN
1154 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 1B2
604-688-7338
cincin.net
CinCin Ristorante + Bar on Urbanspoon

Mama’s Fish and Chips Food Truck

IMG_4329  IMG_4331   Just by reading the name of this Vancouver based food truck you know exactly what you would be getting: seafood and fries on wheels.

It took me a while to notice it, parked across the street from my place of work. It was pretty unspectacular in paint and colour compared to majority of the food trucks I have been seeing rolling around town. The noise of the motor running gathered more attention than it’s all matte. black paint job. Their mascot and logo was painted on the driver’s side. A silver scaled fish with the widest grin as he held a knife and fork, while posing in front of a plate. He seemed too happy, to be on a side of a truck that specializes in frying up fish and chips. This image was replicated again on a sign placed in the stationary vehicle’s windshield.

IMG_4330The menu was five fast food items listed in neon marker, on a black dry erase board. It really stood out well against the solid black everything else. I walked up to the window pass to order from the young lady working the front. She related my choices to her chef, hidden behind stainless steal appliances. He was a young man dressed in a traditional chef’s white coat and hat. This was not “Mama”. This is the first food truck that I have seen where you don’t really get a good view of their operations from the street. The window was even too small and too low for the young woman serving to speak without bending down and over. She had to crouch down in order to be heard and I had to stand on tippy toe to speak. They only accept cash though their register. But I appreciated their prices having already included tax; And the bottle of hand sanitizer along side their condiments in squeeze bottles, and tooth picks in jars to the side.

The air was cold and this was the longest wait I have had to endure from a food truck. The 20 minutes I loitered could have been partly contributed to the fact they decided to complete the simple French fry orders of two diners that came after me. Making this priority instead of completing my 3 entrees. Even after I inquired over the status of my food and explained I was on the clock, all the lady manning the counter could do was laugh awkwardly. As I waited, I peaked in to see fries being dumped out of baskets and the drizzling of sauces. At least these were fresh and made to order.

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“1 piece fish and chips.” For the more hungry, this also comes as two pieces of fish for $4 more. Fish and chips are one of those entrees that needs to be eaten right away. This is to ensure the batter is still crispy and the fish is still warm. My British guest deemed them to not be as nice and greasy as the ones he was spoiled with in Britain. But was able to confidently deem them as being better than most he has tried in North America. The fries were just your run if the mill fries, neither here of there. The white sauce on the side was not a tartar sauce as one would expect with a portion of fish and chips; but just mayonnaise with a squeeze of lemon.

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“Salmon burger with yam fries”. There was a required $2 more for the substitution of regular fries for yam. The fries were not too salty and still piping hot after the trek back to work. Though like the fries above this were just your run of the mill yam fries. The salmon patty was a nice change from the every day commonality of beef. It was a messy burger that looked appetizing. The crunch of the sweeter coleslaw partnered well with the crisp batter of the tender fish. Surprisingly the condiments and sauces did not take away from the distinct taste of salmon. After a bite you noticed the great colour in the fish patty. Though it is a shame that you are able to tell this was a frozen fish patty. When you live in a coastal city you are spoiled with with so much fresh seafood, that it is a shame to even bother with frozen.

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“Crispy shrimp and fries.” By its singed looks you could tell these popcorn-like shrimp morsels were over cooked and a tad on the burnt side. Sad, as they sure looked good with the creamy sauce drizzled over them. The batter overpowered any taste from the frozen shrimp. Each nub was breadcrumbed to death. Bite one in half and you could see the ample shrimp in each centre, you just couldn’t taste it pass all the breading.

Would I come back? – The food was average and nothing really stood out for me. I wouldn’t turn a portion down, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get some either.
Would I recommend it? – Yes and no. There really wasn’t anything amazing about this cart. They are just smart to feature two types of fries on their limited menu. French fries are one of those popular sides that you can take anywhere, and that majority of people would like and would enjoy as a snack. The are a quick nibble that you can take to go and eat anywhere along the way. Don’t deny your cravings.

MAMA’S FISH AND CHIPS
604-897-4240
Mama's Fish and Chips on Urbanspoon

Bitter Tasting Room

 IMG_4008A name descriptive of what they specialize in: beers by the bottles, brewed from Delta to the Czech Republic, Yukon to Scotland. I have passed by this place on occasion, so when my friend invited me here as a guest to her birthday, I was wiling and excited.

The first thing I noticed walking in was how well lit the place was. This was the brightest bar I have ever been in, no shock necessary when the lights came on. The space was simple. A curved bar seated with white stools. An open ceiling with exposed pipes and vents. And refrigerated units built in to the right hand wall. These units were used to house multiple bottles of beers, made all the more visible thanks to its built in lights.

IMG_4011Despite its smaller size “Bitter” was able to accommodate our large group of moving people, over 20 bodies coming and going throughout the night. It is no easy task finding a place that is able to accommodate such a gathering, and allows for a reservation on a Friday after 6pm. We were given the hide-a-way, secluded section at the back of the bar. With three individual washroom stalls located just before our party, this proved to be a convenient spot for our group. Our alcove of three picnic-like benches allowed us to jump around from table to table, for maximum mingling. It’s seclusion allowed us to speak loudly and take loads of pictures without disturbing others. We even had our own television screen, a projection against a blank white wall. It played any channel that we so chose. I selected retro “He Man” by pointing the remote control in the direction of an exposed slot that was the television receiver.

And now for the beer..

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The menu is 75% drinks, majority of which are imported beers and local BC brews served by the bottle. They are organized by “Lagers, Wheats, Non Alcholics, and Gluten free”; “Amber, Bitters, Pales, and IPA”; “Belgians, Belgian-Style”; “Malt Driven, Dark and Seasonal”; and “Draught”. I didn’t know it was possible to have this many beers being served at one bar, let alone all the categories they belonged to. Definitely too wide of a selection to try in one night. And we aren’t talking about your 5% alcohol content here. Beers deemed as “Specials” went as costly as $38. This bottle was brewed in a monastery by monks. At 10% it may be worth its price tag, but it was too rich for my wallet.

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Instead I choose a bottle of “Phillips Train Wreck” for the birthday girl. This barley wine came as a suggestion from our server and with its apt name, it was a clear winner.
For myself I got the “Salty Scot”. A beer described as having a salty caramel taste made in Revelstoke BC. It was either this or the milk beer when I asked for her most unique brew.

Though if you are not feeling the beer scene tonight, choose from their list of “Sippin” wines and “Cocktails” made from beer. “Vancouver Vice”, “Irish & Mexican Baby”, and “Wow.Thats.Good”. With names like that they had my curiosity peaked.

The food menu comprised of small snacks and only slightly larger sandwiches. They all fell under the title of “Snack, Nibble, & Share”. These were a collection of assorted and salted finger foods. Not only did they compliment the alcoholic beverages, but they were prepared with the intention to have you drinking more. It did not occur to me to consider trying the two listed desserts. I couldn’t imagine eating the “goats cheese cake” or “chocolate mousse” with my bottle of bitter beer. Though maybe as a pairing with one of their specially selected flights with hints of chocolate?

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“Saloon Nuts”, a mix of sugar and spice almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, and cashews. The half eaten portion above had no peanuts despite its appearance. I appreciated the rarity found between the variety of nuts. The nuts came out heated, which gave them a toasty warm seasonal feel. Their coating gave them a good mix between sweet and salty; and were easy enough to throw into your mouth as a handful. Although towards the bottom of the bowl, where all the seasonings landed, it just became too salty to finish, even with a beverage in hand.

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“Handmade pretzel from our bakery”. A beautifully darken pretzel, sprinkled with coarse salt, served with a helping of honey and Dijon mustard. The pretzel was as dry as it looked. It required a lot of chewing. Each bite was bland, despite it being overall too salty. It didn’t have a strong not enough taste on its own to go without the sauces. Though I found the mustards for dipping too spicy. Overall it was only alright, absolutely not what you expect from something advertised as being homemade.

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I have never seen so many egg based options on a menu before, and never though to serve them alongside beers. Each of the three types of bar eggs originated from “Rabbit River Farm Eggs”; all cage free and organic.
“Deviled Egg”. A boiled egg freed of its yolk, which is then seasoned and whipped before being balled back into its boiled whites. This small serving was finished off with chives and paprika. We found it just average, with a tad too much mustard, which did help to disguise its blandness.

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“Pickled Eggs”, pickled in their own in house pickle juice, and finished off with chives, salt, and pepper. Nothing spectacular other than the egg coming out red. It tasted mild with hints of garlic and coriander.

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“Scotch Egg”. A hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage, then a layered in breadcrumbs. As interesting and as unique as this sounded to me, I was reassured of its commonality by my British guest. Its taste was as its ingredients sounded. Nothing worth trying again.

IMG_4030The server did a stand up job. She was able to keep track of patrons and was able to bring us our correct beers, despite the game of musical chairs we were playing. When it came time to settle up she knew exactly which was who’s tab. And when accepting payment, she reminded everyone that the automatic gratuity for large parties was already added on. Which was appreciated because at our state of inebriation I don’t think any one would have caught on without being told.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
With a substantial drink menu and a smaller average food menu I would only come back and suggest “Bitter” for your drinking needs. It is advised to have a full dinner elsewhere and make this your after meal destination. When at a bar you want to go for the simplest dishes, which they provide here. I never try a pasta or an entree hoping for quality. It’s a bar: the patrons are plentiful, the pace is fast, and everyone is drinking. Don’t deny your cravings.

BITTER
16 W Hastings Street, Vancouver BC V6B 1G8
604-558-4658
bittertastingroom.com
Bitter on Urbanspoon

Steamworks Brewing Company

 IMG_3974Looking for a decent place to drink, with a six person party, on a Friday night, without reservations: options are limited. We thought “Steamworks” would be a safe bet with its multiple levels and various rooms. The logic is that a big space would accommodate a lot of people. The problem was, the rest of Vancouver also thought this way. Things weren’t looking good with a 40 minute wait inside. One that would have to be spent standing in a heavily trafficked foyer. So much was going on, on so many floors. And not a place to sit for six? The bar only had a few stools to spare and every where else either had people in seats or groups lingering in corners, blocking the way. We didn’t believe there was nothing available as we pushed through the bistro, basement, and bar. Giving up on indoor warmth, we eventually found a spot on the patio. It was as louder outside than in, thanks to the additional noise from humming heat lamps, pedestrians clomping on sidewalks, and the sounds of cars driving and honking this way and that. The patio area was covered with a tent for rainy days and strung up with lights for that wintery feel. Every inch was utilized and tables were bunched in to maximize sitting allotment.

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On this colder night our waitress came in a puffy bomber jacket, a knitted toque, and Canuck branded gloves. She passed out menus and mentioned a greeting with steamed breath. The heat lamps overhead hardly covered our entire table, and the towered lamp behind us did nothing to keep us warm. Instead its artificial fire caused a flickering nuisance and its bottom panel kept falling, hitting against our chair each time a server pasted by.

The food menu is a giant page of bar cuisine. The classics of simple soups, salads, and pastas; meets the most popular of burgers, chips, fries, and wings. And for a limited time there is a page insert mentioning their winter feature menu. This listing focused on three seafood inspired entrees, a Mediterranean pizza, and their guest tap: beer from “Granville Island brewery”.

The noise level was so loud that conversations were shouted and mistakes were made. Orders couldn’t be heard past all the chatter and laughter. Drinks requested neat came with ice. Beers we wanted upsized to über came just as a normal pint. And any chance of witty server-table banter or server-guest recommending was impossible.

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Two of my guests were self proclaimed beer snobs and beer brewers; and they both spoke highly of “Steamwork’s Blitzen Christmas ale”. A drink so strong with an over 20% liquor content that each guest was limited to two a night. However I was disappointed to learn that it was still too early in the season, and they were still running fall’s pumpkin ale. So instead I took on the “Steamworks taster pack”, as I couldn’t decide from the over 50 options offered. I asked my server to choose what she thought were five of the best beers currently on tap. When she returned with five mini pints loose, I was sad to not have the usual flight paddle or any written detail on what was what. It was loud and she was busy so I didn’t bother getting her to clarify anything. Though I think I heard the words light, chestnut, and syrup as she ran through her mental list.

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This is how any beer upgraded to a 24 oz “über size” stein looks like.

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All the food was pretty standard. It tasted like how one would expect. “Caesar salad”. Crisp romaine, house baked garlic croutons, in a creamy Caesar dressing; topped with fresh Parmesan.

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“Yam fries” with a balsamic glaze and pesto mayo.

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“Honey garlic chicken wings” with a side of celery and blue cheese dressing. The wings were over cooked and dry as a result. Its generous coating of sticky sweet sauce was not enough to over look that fact. Luckily our extra add on of the blue cheese dressing, helped to give things a creamier texture.

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“Nachos” with corn tortilla chips, jalapeños, scallions, tomatoes, olives, and plenty of cheese. The amount of cheese is what really makes or breaks a nacho plate. For the best results the chips and cheese should be layered in alternating levels, as was the case here. The dish came with a modest portion of salsa and sour cream on the side. And we paid extra for the guacamole and passed on the addition of chicken or bacon to the mix. Nachos loaded like this come so flavourful that the addition of meat is uneventful and therefore a waste. I just wish they doubled the potion of dips. Everyone likes to over load a cheesy chip. I appreciated the mountain of tortillas, and liked the wicker tray and news printed wax paper on the bottom of its presentation. This was quite the sight to see walked up to our table.

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The “seafood fettuccine” was overly creamy in its lobster sauce. But still left my guest with a longing for more. More of the promised baby calms, salmon, prawns, and fresh muscles. The cherry tomatoes gave the heavier pasta a light pop of freshness. A scoop more of everything would have made for a more filing portion.

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“Signature angus burger”. Beef patty, double smoked bacon, aged cheddar, relish mayo, lettuce, tomato, and pickle in a sesame seed brioche bun. This was accompanied by your traditional salted cut fries. Nothing like a classic beef burger, especially if the patty is this juicy and the bites you get are this meaty.

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The “lamb burger” was made from freshly ground lamb sirloin seasoned in Indian spices. Raita (an Indian yogurt sauce), mayo, tomato, and shredded cabbage on their grilled Parmesan and black sesame brioche bun. The meat was a little dry, but the sauciness of all the condiments combined more than made up for it. A unique twist to the classic hearty bar burger, it definitely had a more grown up taste.

IMG_3980Going to the washroom was a journey. A walk down winding stairs, travelling past pool tables, bronze vats of brewing beer, and casks of fermenting wine. Don’t miss the signs telling you to take the sharp turn just before the open stainless steel kitchen.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
I like their close to transit location, it makes a great spot to drink at without the need to drive to. It is on my list of solid bar choices, as the food is better than at most places, and they cover all your favourites. I like the fact they brew their own beer and are able to pour and sell it in restaurant, and at their shop next door. The seating space varies, which allow for a different types of interactions. Casual banter at the bar or rowdy laughter over a game of pool. Don’t expect much from the wait staff as the place gets busy and they spend majority of their time running back and forth. But a great night was had with a great group in a place known for their fun atmosphere. Don’t deny your cravings.

STEAMWORKS
375 Water Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 5C6
604-689-2739
steamworks.com
Steamworks Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Caffe Artigiano

IMG_3969“Artigiano” is Italian for artisan. A suitable word to represent their goal of crafting the perfect cup coffee. This, an art form they take seriously, as demonstrated by all their framed barista awards. Each award has been won by one of their skilled staff members. These winners are forever immortalized through a photograph of a cup of their artistic coffee, and their name and year of winning engraved on a plaque underneath. It makes for quite the impression. The perfect decor piece that is not only meaningful, but beautiful as well.

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This being my first visit, and having heard so many promising things about “Cafe Artigiano” before hand, I was not disappointed. Instead I was in awe of the space. Vaulted ceilings, carved detailing, and archway accents that gave the place great depth. The yellow painted ceiling brought light, the red walls gave warmth, and the checkered floors and tiled wall trim finished it off with a kitchen-like feel. The ceramic tile table tops looked patio furniture sturdy and brought a bit of the outdoors in. Everything together made it almost feel like you were standing outside on a balcony. The feeling of having fresh air, but indoors in a room with a roof.

IMG_3958After a scan of the refrigerated unit keeping the food chilled, you walk up to the counter to place your order. As per common cafe practice, all meal items were pre made, pre packaged, easy to eat hand helds. Croissant-wiches with cheese and ham poking from around their flaky bends. Paninis made with legs of lamb, smoked salmon, and roasted vegetables. Plastic wrapped white flour wraps and egg filled breakfast sandwiches. Loose seeded bagels and various muffins to be eaten as is. Filled cups of fruits and yogurt cut up for easy eating. And containers of themed salad ingredients, ready for a dressing and a good shake. For those wanting a snack with their toasty beverage or a little sweetness to help get them through the day: dessert squares, favourite cookies from your childhood, and hearty bars were available. Chocolate brownies with iced frosting, chunky peanut butter cookies, and bars of chocolate and oats.

IMG_3960After ordering: Desserts you take with you from the counter, drinks come to the pass on the side, and pressed and heated food are brought to you in exchange for the numbered table standee you are given after paying.

Seating is necessarily plentiful. Double tops for couples, and family style tables that involve two sets of people sharing one table. We grabbed the only seats left available, taking the other two corners unseated on a table meant for six. The noise level was left at a murmur, even between all the tables talking.

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They are known for their coffee, so despite not liking the caffeinated stuff or being able to navigate my way through all the coffee names. I had to try a cup. What does award winning coffee taste like? Looking up to the sign above the counter, my goal was the find that which was the most original. The choice of Spanish coffee peaked my interest, and after the host mentioned there being condense milk in the mix, I was sold. Condense milk would mean more of a sweeten flavour to hide the taste of bitter coffee that I avoid. I was impressed with the foam art that sat atop my beverage, a white and brown leaf. The pictures on the wall adjacent to our table didn’t lie, they poured beautiful cups. There is just something about drinking coffee or tea from a weighted mug, as a pose to a paper cup. The brew just tastes better when you get to see and smell it before it hits your lips.

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Espresso for my guest. She enjoyed it with a bottle of sparking water. She insisted it was one of the better she has had.

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This was dinner for me so I went with the tomato and bocconcini panini with spinach. I had it grilled flat and made toasty. It came served with a small side if pasta salad. It was lightly seasoned and offered chewy tricoloured spirals with crispy pieces of chopped up celery. The three bites of pasta salad was a great way to break up the heavily herbed sandwich. This was a good vegetarian option to fill you up. I was not expecting more than what I experienced from a pre prepared dinner on the go.

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For dessert I had to order ahead and therefore ordered more than I could eat. And also more than I needed because I was at the peak of my hunger and everything looked so good.A slice of banana bread they deem as the best. Banana bread reminds me of mothers and childhood. It was soft with gooey bits of banana embedded. I wished it was more moist and a tad more sweet. And I could done without the nuts, as I was looking for a spongier cake.

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The coconut lemon bars were refreshing. The coconut lent a chunky texture as it cut some of the tartness from the lemon zest. The bottom crust had a harden bite compared to the lightness of the lemon top. Lace doilies are always a nice delicate touch.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
The atmosphere was pleasant and the coffee was good, even from a non coffee lover like myself. The lunch menu offered more and was more, compared to the limited selection at other cafés. I appreciated having the option of full sandwiches and savoury side salads. Food items that looked fresh and could have been prepared in store; instead of being transported great distances just to get to me.
In the last few years we have seen more “Caffe Artigiano” locations pop up around popular neighbourhoods. The best example is the location that has taken the place of one of the two diagonally facing “Starbucks”, that once lived on Robson Street. So be known their popularity isn’t slowing down and you shouldn’t deny your cravings on the next location you come across.

CAFFE ARTIGIANO
763 Hornby Street, Vancouver BC, V6Z 1S2
604-694-7737
caffeartigiano.com
Caffè Artigiano on Urbanspoon

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