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Mamie Taylor, brunch

Today I was back at one of my favourite establishments to recommend, the Southern restaurant with a taxidermy theme in Chinatown: “Mamie Taylor”. A fun spot for some great food, and even better drinks. And today I brought a group of my friends down to show them a new option for their brunch time cravings.

They were in awe of the restaurant’s decor with its throwback to Chinatown’s yester-years in the form of historic signs and antiques with a story. They loved posing with the animal bust dressed up in hats, glasses, and necklaces. But best of all they enjoyed the food.

We started our meal with their brunch time cocktails. Their “Bloody mamie” was a caesar and made with Clamato juice despite its name. (Bloody Mary’s are more common in the states, they use tomato juice without the clam juice.) The cocktail comes with your choice of gin or tequila mixed with their house spice mix. It was tasty with its salty rim, making it a great savoury start to the meal ahead.

For those who like a bit of a boost with their breakfast they also have a “Spiked coffee” made with your choice of rumchata or baileys. The creamy shot comes separately for you to pour into the coffee to your tastes. I am not a fan of coffee, but will always get behind a mug of something this delicious and warming. Even one of my guests, who doesn’t like to drink enjoyed this, drinking it down to its last drop.

For something more refreshing, I suggest the “Pegu royal”. Gin, Cointreau, fresh lime, bitters, and bubbles. It was citrusy like a punch, with acid that hits the back of your throat. Once again, sipping this was easy, like you weren’t drinking alcohol.

And for those who like the classics, there is their “Mamie mimosa” with fresh orange juice and bubbles.

For food we started with their “Chicken and waffle sandwich”. We had our choice of bourbon honey or spicy buffalo for the seasoning and went for the former. We wanted a little sweetness to play off the salty bacon we requested as an add on. Together they flowed well with the tangy and refreshing apple kale slaw. My only critique here was that the waffle was a little dry. They are made before the morning rush, so it would be nice to have them pressed to order instead; at least be accompanied with some more syrup or a pot of gravy on the side for moisture.

The “Homemade chorizo biscuit” wasn’t want we expected. When we read it on the menu we thought it was a buttermilk biscuit made with bits of chorizo sausage embedded within. Instead this was a buttermilk biscuit sandwich with a chorizo patty, topped with dill ranch slaw and spicy mayo. The patty was dry, and it tasted like a veggie patty with a similar texture. It needed a sauce: some gravy, barbecue, or better yet the hollandaise from the Benny below. I wasn’t impressed by this, and passed on the feedback to the owner. In the photo we asked for extra chorizo, not realizing we would get two patties stacked.

By comparison the “Fried green tomato Benny” was a winner. A crispy battered tomato slice, chunked avocado, soft boiled egg, and hollandaise; all over a buttery biscuit. This had all the flavours and textures I am looking for in a delicious Benny. Smooth gooey yolk, chewy biscuit, and creamy sauce. The only thing I could have used was some spice in the tomato’s batter, just for some kick.

The “Mamie’s pork belly” is the kind of sandwich you want for a greasy morning after. Thick pieces of caramelized pork topped with a sweet onion jam, gruyere and cheddar cheese, between two slices of toasted sourdough; then finished off with a perfect sunny side up egg. Sweet and salty goodness like a bacon and egg breakfast sandwich but with thicker and meatier pork pieces that make all the difference.

One of my guests is lactose intolerant, so was happy to find a brunch option that excluded butter, milk, and cream; that was tasty and she could enjoy. This was the “Smoked brisket hash” with pico de gaillo, salsa verde, poached egg, and jalapeño. She opted for no cheddar cheese and instead substituted it for some avocado slices. The generous amounts of tender and chewy brisket meat made all the difference here and the crispy breakfast potatoes.

More breakfast potatoes were included as a side for each of our plates above. And on each, they were toasted and crispy. One of my guests declared his distain for cubes of potatoes pan fried like this, only to find himself rummaging through all the plates looking for the crispy, slightly burnt pieces and loving it.

But not as much as the “White cheddar grits”. At $5, this side stole the show. It was super cheesy and simply delicious. We also passed on the feedback that this should be made the star of a breakfast platter. A meaty side to help feature it. Either way, I would suggest getting this as an add on to try.

This isn’t on the brunch menu, but could be, and should be something that you try is their deep fried apple dessert. This is one of my favourite desserts to recommend, so had to treat my friends to a bite. An apple cored and filled with vanilla ice cream, coated and deep fried in cornflakes, then topped with raisins and apple chunks sautéed in cinnamon and sugar. It is as good as I described it.

We also got to try one of the newest drink flights to hit their ever growing menu. They offer whiskey, bourbon, and even absinthe flights. And now an Old Fashion flight made with their own mix, left to sit in a cast for three months. One taster was mixed with rum, another tequila mezcal, and the last bourbon. It also included some water, should you need to dilute the beverage. Simply delicious, for those who like a stiff sip.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A great place to have drinks with friends, and now a great stop for brunch. Get out of downtown and discover a unique spot in Chinatown for something unexpected. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MAMIE TAYLOR’S
251 East Georgia Street, Vancouver BC
604-620-8818
mamietaylors.ca

The 2019 Food and Beverage Concepts at BC Place

Today I was invited to BC Place to check out a few of the new items being introduced to Centerplate’s stadium offerings for 2019; just in time for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s first season kick off. These were delicious dishes that definitely paid fan service. Fun plates that are locally-sourced, gluten-free, Oceanwise certified, with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. It was a great presentation and proof of Centerplate continuing to “re-imagine what is possible for in-stadium food and beverage experiences”. And the following is what we had.

 

For a more revealing look, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

I was most enamoured by the burgers from “Lionsgate Grill”. The “Outrageous Burger” has a name that fits. Three house-made beef burgers, a hot dog, three chicken strips, six strips of bacon, three cheddar cheese slices, fries, and their house recipe thousand island based sauce; all in one tasty handheld. And yes, you read that right, fries as a side and in between the burger buns. This was both satisfying and fun, a burger that turned heads and filled bellies. A must try if you are ever at BC Place.

They also have a more easier to hold meal in the “Buffalo Chicken Tender Burger”. The same chicken tenders that are in the burger above, but with crisp lettuce, onion, tomato, jalapeño harvarti, and Franks red hot sauce. It was a zesty burger, with the crispy white chicken breast taking centre stage.

From “The Poutinerie” we had the “Beast Fries”. Caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, and thousand island dressing over French fries; all topped with crushed up hot Cheetos. I have never tried fries like this before and I didn’t hate it. It was an interesting combination and one that had you going back for one heavily dressed fry after another.

From “Steveston’s fish and chips” we had an Oceanwise battered and fried shrimp taco with green cabbage slaw, salsa verde, and pickled red onion. It was a light snack that was fresh and crispy.

From “Bombay Kitchen” we tried three of their creations: a butter chicken, a lamb curry, and the chana masala. With rice and naan, each ate like a full meal.

“Buttered chicken” with boneless chicken thigh meat, fenugreek, garam masala, crushed tomatoes and cream.

“Lamb curry” with tender lamb shoulder, onion, tomato, garam masala, and coconut milk.

And the vegan “Chana Masala” with chickpeas, lentils, onion, tomato, house Marsala, and coconut milk.

From “Beast on Fire” we had their “Fiesta burrito bowl”, prepared gluten free and made vegan without the sour cream. Black beans, salsa fresca, and marinated slaw, served over a cilantro and lime seasoned white rice.

And from “Boom Kitchen” we had macaroni and cheese with a twist. Each serving of chewy noodle is topped with a crumb of crushed up hot Cheetos. I wished there was more of the Cheetos so that you could actually taste it. But with or without it was still a chewy bowl of comforting Mac and cheese.

But the crowd pleaser and the one sure to get your attention is the rainbow grilled cheese. This is made with mozzarella and crispy toasted white bread. This colourful creation is only available during the March 25th Pride match at BC Place. So don’t miss out when you come to celebrate.

We had the treat of having our served by White Caps FC Defender, Jake Nerwinski. He was put to work in an apron flipping these golden brown grilled, gooey cheese sandwiches.

And best of all, you can do get all of this delivered right to your seat! The stadium is launching a mobile app that allows you to order and have your food or drink delivered right to your seat, at any game. You never need to miss any of the action if thirst or hunger strikes. All you need to worry about is if nature calls. On your Apple phone, you take a photo of the code and a pop up appears with a drop down list of options available. To date it is just drinks, but it is still the innovation we have all been looking for. You make your request, punch in your credit card info, then voila drinks are on its way.

With so much good food, half the fun of attending any BC Place match up would be enjoying lunch or dinner there as a well. Don’t deny your cravings.

BC PLACE
777 Pacific Boulevard, Vancouver BC, V6B 4Y8
www.bcplace.com

Rumpus Room 2.0

This is the rebirth of Vancouver’s “Rumpus Room”. New locale, new decor, same menu and same vibe. Bright yellow on the outside with floral curtains hanging from every window that line the front. Each window served as a seat, and a way to enjoy the day, should the weather allow and the windows be opened.

Inside, the setting is best described as an attic or club house. Kitschy and fun, like a place you’d want to come home to and unwind in; all wrapped together in a 70’s theme. Each wall is painted boldly or papered in patterns. Vintage stain glass lamp shades hung over tan upholstered chairs, orange crush velvet seats were paired with a blossoming orange and red sofa, and an assortment of figurines and commemorative plates offered up conversational starters.

There was so much to look at that it had your head spinning around, but if you wanted more to entertain yourself with, they offered you a shelf of board games to pick up and play. A way to pass the time, something to play with as you waited or ate. Although given how small each table was, you probably couldn’t do both at the same time. And during my summer time visit, I couldn’t see myself staying longer than I needed to. This visit coincided with the heat wave, and found my stay a quick one. Without air conditioning, and only a breeze from the window that I sat with my back towards, I couldn’t fully enjoy my meal or my time spent within. No one likes to sweat as they eat.

I started with a “Blood orange white wine spritzer” to help me beat the heat. I love a good blood orange anything, so this was a tasty and refreshing treat.

We started with a serving of their “Deep fried pickles”, presented like a bouquet in this spotted pail. They were seasoned with fresh dill salt and offered up with their pickle dip for symmetry. These were large salty pickle spears with a light breading that easily flaked off. A little overwhelming with briny pickle for my tastes, so I found it best to share with some one who also likes pickles as much as I do. I didn’t have more than 2 and they don’t really pack up well.

I remembered trying the “Peanut butter burger” once before, so wanted to relive that flavour now. I love peanut butter and the idea of pairing it with svaoury beef and their raspberry aioli for a nice pb&j combo that is both salty and sweet. All natural hormone free beef burger, bacon, cheddar, raspberry aioli, pickle, lettuce, tomato, and peanut butter on their house burger buns. But here, I took the menu’s offer of subbing waffles in place of buns, for an even more unique entree. The waffles were perfect, fluffy and light they offered a sweetness that paired well with the raspberry jelly, which I liked the look of its pepto bismol pink colouring. Though I could have used more peanut butter, and maybe some on the side as a dip.

For my side, I went for the house spring green salad, instead of fries; wanting some freshness after all the pickles before. It tasted like a deconstructed Tex-Mex taco salad with the peppers, crispy tortilla, and onions. All it needed was some beef, cheese, and maybe cucumber.

My guest got what would have been my second choice: “Chicken and waffles”. Two more of their fluffy waffles as a base to two pieces of their buttermilk marinated free range chicken; topped with black sesame seeds. I appreciated how the gravy and maple syrup was offered up on the side for you to smothered to your preference. The seasoning and crispiness of the chicken reminded my guest of Taiwanese popcorn chicken, the kind you get in small bite sized chunks at any bubble tea house. But, sadly the gravy was bland, it didn’t taste like it was made with chicken or beef as it’s base.

One of the most memorable features of the original “Rumpus Room” was their washroom. One that was themed like a Hawaiian vacation, the other lit in black light. Therefore I was excited to use their washroom here, now. Although sadly, it doesn’t look like the pervious theme carried forward the same. Although both single stalls were decorated here, it was not done so to the extent that I remembered fondly. The water closet I used did have a loose  tropical feel to it, with painted palm fronds against a blue sky streaked with white cloud, and a few artistic pieces to tie in the island vibe. Not as memorable as it once was though.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A unique spot that I wouldn’t necessarily come back for a full meal at, but they do make for a fun spot for drinks and games, just like your local club house would. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

RUMPUS ROOM
2301, Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5T 3E7
604-708-0881
rumpusroom.ca
Rumpus Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Crab Park Chowdery

I have seen photos of their soups and sandwiches circulating on their branded wood boards and within their printed tin cups. Therefore, I was delighted to be invited down to “Crab Park Chowdery” to try a few items off of their menu myself. Because, truth be told, I could not see myself taking the trip down to Gaston just to visit them otherwise.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all that I had and would definitely visit them again, it is just that they are less of a destination and more a trip out of convenience. Their little shop is frequented by casual dinners grabbing a cup and a barstool. That little shop in the neighbourhood that serves as and ideal lunch spot, or that place to grab a snack at after work. And with reasonable prices that marries up to their delicious food. If already downtown I would walk from the west end to Gastown for a seat, and better yet I would frequent the spot if there was a location by my work place.

You scan through their menu, a scroll of parchment suspended high on their red brick wall. A collection of 4 different sandwiches and 5 different soups are spelled out before you. You pay then pick an empty place to sit. The restaurant has a few high tops and more stools in front of benches and at the bar. There isn’t much in terms decoration. A few nautical elements help set the tone for this seafood restaurant. A painting of a blue gradient wave, another of a lighthouse on a rock, and a miniature ship’s wheel as an ornament.

As I mentioned earlier, everything is served on their heat scorched and branded wooden boards. They include two circles where your meal and its side are placed over each, with the “Crab Park” logo centring both. Then there are two little prongs, perfect for keeping your spoon in place should you decide to order soup.

Today we had their most popular soup, the “New England clam chowder” with bacon in their bread bowl, which costs extra. But who doesn’t love being able to eat the vessel in which their food is served in? The soup was chunky with plenty of clam, bacon, celery, and green onion to chew through. I liked its creamy finish, but found it all a little too salty with the naturally briny nature of the seafood. It was best taken with bits of bread bobbed in like a dip. I didn’t really feel that the bacon added to anything, especially given how salty everything already was. Instead I could have used it as a garnish below, and taken the tomatoes from it, here for a better, lighter balanced soup.

If you want a little less bread with your soup you can order your serving in either a 10 or 18oz tin cup. Here they come with just half a loaf of bread, the same fresh and chewy sourdough loaf that served as our bowl above. This is the “loaded baked potato soup”, a tasty vegetarian option or something that doesn’t have seafood, if you don’t like seafood but decide to visit a restaurant with “crab” in its name anyways.

The soup is everything you want in a drinkable baked potato. Thick and creamy like a mashed potato with that sour cream tang, the leek base and fresh chive topping gave it some freshness. The only thing that felt out of place were the chopped up tomato chunks. Here, I would have preferred some bacon overtop to round out the baked potato imagery, although that removes one of the only vegetarian options from off their smaller menu.

Soups are best with sandwiches so we got a couple to share. Each sandwich is served on the same broad as the soups, but paired with a cup of super crunchy, lightly dusted bbq chips instead. The chips were a great change of texture and tastes in between bites.

The “Lobster salad sandwich” is made with lobster, shrimp, and celery in a creamy sauce, but it is the buttery hot dog bun that it is served on that makes it. Deliciously good, no complaints.

Their grilled cheese comes with the possibility of add ons to make it your own: tomato, crabmeat, and/or bacon. We got the crab and really couldn’t tell that any of it was in between our slices of crispy toasted bread and strands of ooey gooey cheese. The dill was the most noticeable flavour, it and the add-on of tomato are ideal for their help in breaking up the richer flavours. As a whole the grilled cheese was greasy, and got worse so the more it was allowed to rest. Although I was very impressed that its crispy texture held up, well after my intense photo shoot. The easy remedy for the above is a dip into one of their tomato based soups, because grilled cheese and tangy tomato is a classic flavour combo.

At each table setting there is a caddy of squeeze bottles for your to sauce up your meal with. 6 different flavours, with some bottles nearly empty. Although we found our meal above so rich that we didn’t even reach out for one.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Once again a great option for lunch, and even better as a warm and comforting snack in between meals on these cold days. Worth checking out during your next shopping excursion downtown. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CRAB PARK CHOWDERY
221 Abbott Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2K8
604-565-2722
chowdery.com
Crab Park Chowdery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mamie Taylor’s, 2018 fall menu

I have been a long time fan of “Mamie Taylor’s” with their absinthe flights and deep fried ice cream stuffed into apples of the past, to their nose to tail feasts and their seasonal offering of turtle and gator that I once enjoyed. Over the years they have given me much reason to visit them time and time again. Fun and fantastical treats and eats you won’t find anywhere other than on their southern menu.

It is this and their unique stylized space that has me recommending them as a fun spot. The resto-bar has a den-like feel to it. Crafted with red brick, brown wood, and black leather; all surrounded by a collection of taxidermy animals stuffed and mounted. Birds, beasts, feathers, and horns. There was a full bear skinned rug hanging on the wall, and talks of procuring a full length python in the future.

Tonight, we were gathered for a dinner meant to celebrate their new general manager and head chef, and the new direction they would be taking the bar. I was able to chat up the GM, discussing his impressive resume with stints spent at “Hawksworths”, “L’Abattoir”, “Keefer Bar”, and “The Diamond”. And not only did he bring this experience with him to “Mamie Taylor’s”, but his passion for spirits and mixology as well.

The newly minted head chef, also comes with his own impressive resume. No only is he a celebrated chef, but he is also a certified WSET Level 3 sommelier, having worked at Vancouver’s “Calabash Bistro” and “Memphis Blues BBQ House”. He also spent a summer touring the Southern United States BBQ circuit, where he perfected his grilling technique. Then opening the award-winning JAROblue restaurant in Calgary. Together they will be pooling their experience together to take “Mamie Taylor’s” to the next level of its evolutionary journey.

As a well established bar, they are already know for their huge cocktail selection and now they hope to bring more attention to their neighbourhood bar with a new bar menu and some winter specials. In fact our night started with a welcome cocktail and was followed up by a selection of their other alcoholic offerings.

Our welcome cocktail was described as being “Not your grandma’s lemonade”. A citrus spritz made with charred lemon, tequila, gin, lemon juice, and soda water. A great drink for warmer days and cooler nights spent on your back porch.

“Between two fernets” was gin, house vermouth, fernet branca, lemon, and honey. It was so easy to drink, it tasted like juice.

“Jessie’s girl” was a cucumber forward cocktail, it was what you’d imagine combining fresh pressed green juice and spirits would taste like together. Gin, lillet blanc, fino sherry, lemon and orange bitters, topped with a salted cucumber and egg white foam. It was a beautifully refreshing and elegant to drink. There are talks of creating a different foam flavour to help transition it into fall.

The “Negroni on tap” spoke to the popularity and confidence that they had in the drink, keeping enough of it to pour quickly and frequently. Gin, Campari, and vermouth, finished with a house soaked amaretto cherry. This was a  strong and punchy drink, ideal for those who like a bold start.

Every drink that came, and every plate that was placed didn’t match the one next to it in either size, style or design. Their mismatched collection gave the table personality and the diners a conversation topic. I appreciated the lack of uniformity, and how it helped to foster the casual air of our meal to come.

With drinks in hand, we were invited to be seated in the second half of the bar. This area served as a great party space, with the ability to draw a velvet curtain close, to help create some privacy. The meal below was served as a tasting, with smaller versions and sized down portions. So be warned, should you yourself visit at a later date, what you get might not get what is pictured below.

Our long table meal began with some appetizers to share, delicious bar favourites that I would come back for. “Roasted brussel” sprouts seasoned with chilli, blue cheese, and sherry vinaigrette. It was a great sprouts dish, crispy and firm, packed full of flavour. Though personally, I would have liked more of the blue cheese to shine through.

“Crispy cauliflower” with persevered lemon, fried capers, and herbs; in a apple reduction. It was crispy, slightly sweet, and simply delicious.

The “ham grenades” were humourously described as being “glorified tater tots”, by our chef. It utilized smoked ham hock with cheese and was served topped with their house-made garlic mayo. They were fun to pop whole in to your mouth. The crispy coating paired well with the smooth cream atop. It makes for a great bar snack to nibble on as you drank down a pint.

Given their southern background, “Shrimp and grits” found a prominent place on their menu. “Grits” are coarsely ground corn kernels boiled with water or milk. Here it was creamy and lumpy like oatmeal, but cheesy and comforting like macaroni and chese. The crispy shards of baked cheese and the juicy shrimp created textural contrast. The latter also offered a freshness to the dish; I just wanted more shrimp, and for each to have a deeper char.

The “Cobb salad” was one of the best salads I have ever had. If you have ever read my other works, you know I dislike leafy greens and therefore stay away from salads. However this bowl with its smaller leaf to topping and dressing ratio had me going back for more. Dare I say this might be my favourite salad in the city. It is not a traditional Cobb salad, instead of using the more commonly seen chicken breast and bacon bits; the kitchen opted for chicken crackling and pork belly with its soft boiled egg, and avocado dressing. Each highlighted ingredient was amazingly prepared and altogether, absolutely amazing.

We had the two bite slider version, where normally this is served as a two handed burger with just as much fries. All beef patty topped the a roasted red pepper relish, Swiss cheese. iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles; all between a house made bun. So simple, but so delicious. This interpretation of a classic spoke to the direction the kitchen was taking: comforting plates prepared with good, local ingredients, that are as fresh as they can get them. Everything they are offering you can technically make yourself, but here, they are doing it for you so you don’t have to. And instead can sit and enjoy it, exactly as you expect it.

The fried chicken was just as good. Where else can you find chicken and waffles that isn’t on an exclusive brunch menu? Here, you can have your crispy fried white meat chicken, with a spongy roast cauliflower waffle, and dressed with a sweet Szechuan honey dressing any time of day. You can taste the quality in the chicken, the breading held up, even after the dish cooled. It remained crunchy until the end, and was best paired with their creamy slaw with its cooling crunch. Using cauliflower in the dough of the waffle was an interesting angle, although flour is still the main ingredient, therefore it is still doughy and fluffy, and far from being gluten free. It had some curry notes in with its cinnamon-y flavour, both giving it a new spicy and exotic twist.

We ended with a teaser of their “Mississippi mud pie”. Perfect for those who love their chocolate rich and dense. The base was a crunchy cookie, the middle a luscious mousse spread, and the cream that topped it the binder that brought them together. The cherry on the top was both figurative and literal. It was soaked in amaretto and ended things with a bang.

However if you are looking for more fine liquors to end your meal on, they also offer a collection of spirit-full digestives. Lighter sips that help you to wind down and digest what you just had. This one did so with the aid of their ginger syrup. Ginger, being a proven digestive aid.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
During previous visits I recall the menu being hit or miss, myself debating whether or not to keep it safe and get what I know will satisfy, or ordering the dish that sounded the most interesting, but risking that I won’t like its combination. However everything I tried above was delicious. It gave me the comfort and satisfaction I sough out, but with new and rewarding interpretations. Thus giving me another reason to visit and recommend them, more than just for their limited release dishes, their fine selection of cocktails, and their setting surrounded by conversation starters. They have definitely done well to keep their intimate, social bar the buzz of the neighbourhood with homestyle dishes, a friendly atmosphere, and good conversation. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MAMIE TAYLOR’S
251 East Georgia Street, Vancouver BC
604-620-8818
mamietaylors.ca

Match Eatery + Public House, Cascades Langley

Today I was invited down to “Match Eatery” in Langley for the launch party of their newly renovated patio. A new space with extended seating and plenty of ways to soak in the sun, just in time for summer and all this hot weather that we have been getting lately.

The new patio is a convert-able space. Half of it is covered with glass ceilings and heat lamps for when it gets colder at night. The other half is out in the open with water proof cushions and large golf umbrellas for shade. We would grab a seat by the bar, to be near the drinks, and in order to be able to lay eyes on one of the handful of television screens.

The night was christen with a special cooking demo, followed by a three course meal presented by Celebrity Chef Spencer Watts. Spencer is the host of “Fish the Dish”, he is as energetic and engaging in person as he is on Gusto TV. He prepared a live demo of this favourite risotto recipe. Doing so while talking with his hands, and throwing in the odd onomatopoeias as needed. This was all done in front of a camera that was immediately broadcasted to all the television screens situated around the outdoor bar. His completed risotto would later be used in one of our three courses to come.

When it comes to a media tasting, plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and hello the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

Our night began with some alcoholic beverages. Given that it was National Caesar day, it seemed like a good place to start. Their “Classic caesar” is prepared with Smirnoff vodka, cilantro, Worcestershire Tabasco, blaze beans, pepperoncini pepper, green olive, and a pickled onion. The salty and spicy drink comes with a lot more garnishes here than at other bars.

Our group treated ourselves to a round of shots. A line up of colours for $6 a glass, all made sweet and easy to throw back.

I would later end my meal with a dessert-drink. I don’t normally like or drink coffee, but I make an exception if it is made with booze or excessive amounts of sugar. The “Black Gold” had both. Triple sec, amaretto, baileys, frangelico, and cinnamon. Though I will note that it felt a little odd to drink this coffee hot, out of a straw.

The following items are not available on the regular “Match” menu. They are some unique creations from our guest Chef of the evening. So, unfortunately you will not be able to go into your local “Match” and order any of the following.

The first course was a re-imagined salad with goat cheese, tomato vinaigrette, and beets. Immediately I thought this was dessert. The triangle of cheese looks and tastes like a slice of cheesecake with its creaminess. Taken in with the fresh greens, thin slices of yellow beets, and vinaigrette it was well balanced. As a whole it was an interesting concept, but despite the photogenic plate, I would have preferred this course as a salad with a whole lot more veg and the cheese as a featuring, instead of a main. The goat cheese as a crumble with its graham cracker base toasted and sprinkled over the serving as a dust for some crunch. Or at least served with some crostini or bread as a base, to spread the cheese over.

The mushroom risotto from the demo above made its appearance here. But re-imagined as the filling to a caked and deep fried croquette. It was rich with mushroom and therefore overwhelmed its plate mates. I would have enjoyed it just as is, the risotto at the end of Spenser’s demo. Or maybe as a smaller serving, fried into crispy balls for an easy to share starter. Similarly I would have preferred all the elements of the plate offered up separately, on its own plate. Alone, each element was prepared perfectly, but together they did eat all that cohesively. I translated the assembly as more of a taster, offering diners a sample some of the chef’s favourite dishes. Especially the fragrant squash that melted in your mouth, I could have had a bowl of this for our second course and I would been happy. Sadly the mild nature of the fish and its sweet pineapple salsa was lost on this plate. It couldn’t hope to stand out against the dominant risotto and squash, and therefore was bland by comparison.

Our third course was dessert and it came with a show. Chef Spenser travelled from table to table doling out scoops of his nitro caramel popcorn. Eating a kernel left you with “dragon’s breath”. The liquid nitrogen smoke would escape the caramel coated kernel and travel out your nostrils and/or your pursed lips like that of a dragon breathing smoke. I preferred this alone and not necessarily paired with the lemon curd with chocolate soil and macaron combo that it was served with. Once again everything was good enough on its own, but together they were combative, and unfortunately something/one always looses. Here it was the lemon curd. The sweetness of both the caramel corn and the macaron made the pudding-like dessert very tart by comparison. The dessert as a whole would have been better if the main was a lemon creme burlee with a torched sugar top, and the rest of the elements played a small part as edible garnishes.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
If it wasn’t so far out, you would find me here more often, especially on the patio above, with a drink a hand. But lucky for me there are a handful of “Match” restaurants in BC, and each is typically affiliated with a casino; making them the ideal destination for lunch between hands, or dinner after a successful day at the slots. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MATCH
Cascades Casino Resort
20393 Fraser Highway, Langley BC, V3A 7N2
604-530-2211
matchpub.com
Match Eatery and Public House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Honey Salt, at Parq

On a whim we found ourselves at “Honey Salt”, the newest restaurant to call “Parq” its home. We would later make it our first stop at a series of hopping we did in order to try cocktails at a handful, of the restaurants within “Parq’s” six commercial floors.

The restaurant sits at the lobby of Parq, located right by the washrooms and elevators on the first floor. Everyone entering the hotel/casino is bound to pass by its exterior and wander in closer for a better look. Although given its name you can surmise that what it is that they offer is a lighter meal of sandwiches and pastries, and the restaurant smells just as much.

The restaurant is divided into several areas, as defined by its seating. One, a more formal dining room with structured tables and chairs. Two, the bar with high chairs and share style high tops. Three, scattered seating corralling said bar. And a lounge with actual lounge chairs assembled in a salon-type setting. It was the latter that we chose to dine in, and the latter that coincidentally matched our tea to come in motif.

We claimed our own cushions between floral upholstered chairs, and a couch of burnt orange. We were surrounded by pot belly vases stuck with large bouquets in green and yellow. Our backdrop was a collection of framed mirrors to complete the ladies who lunch, tea salon vibe.

Our journey began with a tea tower for one split three ways. Not intended for sharing we did our best to divide and conquer. This was the “False Creek Tier” which included tea sandwiches, warm miniature popovers, scones, pastries and a crepe served on a separate plate. Having to split these three tiers three ways, means I didn’t get a good taste of everything, and therefore won’t be able to provide an as thorough of a review, as I normally do. Overall everything tasted fresh, the doughy parts flakey or cakey; and the savoury and sweet spreads and salsa complimenting it all. Good, but no standouts.

The “classic cucumber & dill” tea sandwich, “BC wild stripe shrimp roll”, and “Montreal smoke meat” on the bottom tier to start with some light savouries.

The middle tier had popovers cradled in a cloth napkin, folded into a box. Here you had the option of slicing each loaf open and filling it with either the “roasted vegetable ratatouille” or the “oolong smoked chicken salad. Both were on the sweeter side for vegetable and poultry.

Lastly, the top plate crowned the tier with a collection of two bite cookies and cakes. “Salted honey pie”, shortbread in lemon and one in lavender, and a chocolate bouchon. Out of all three tiers, the shortbread was my favourite. But sadly, the raisin scones were hard, a crumbly brick that couldn’t really be salvaged. Shame, as its flavour was great and the clotted cream and seasonal jam ideally spread across the warmth of each. Overall I don’t regret ordering it, just so I can now safely say that I would not order it again. A pretty average tea set for such a nice hotel.

I originally wanted this because of the pandan crepe option that came with it. Little did I know that you can actually get a crepe as is. One made to order by their crepe station attendant. She stood in a black chef smock and hat, behind a heated coil, with everything she needed to craft you your perfect crepe.

The green pandan crepe with red bean, mango, and coconut filling was good. I could have used more pandan flavouring, but otherwise it was what I expected from a crepe in buttery flavour and thin chewy texture.

With our set we forgo-ed the tea, and instead shared one of their fish bowl cocktails. This was the “Punch bowl for the party”, but ironically it was not enough for any sort of party. $36 gave us about five cups to share between three with plenty of watering down from the melting ice and fruit. More juice then the spiked punch I was hoping for. Mount gay rum, remy vs, earl grey tea, berry tea, orgeat syrup, coal roasted pineapple, fresh fruits, and fresh herbs. Another one to miss.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Overall I wouldn’t recommend them for a meal. They are a little over priced for what you get. Come for a snack or some tea, just something small to be able to enjoy the restaurant’s atmosphere with. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

HONEY SALT
39 Smithe Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 0R3
778-370-8200
parqvancouver.com/restaurants/honey-salt
Honey Salt Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

For the vlog version of this visit and the rest of our 24 hour stay at “The Douglas” and “Parq” visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei for all the fun.

The Victor, at Parq

Looking for a fancy night out within “Parq”, your destination has to be “The Victor”. To reach it, you cross the roof top deck of “The Douglas”. And are treated to the view of the city in the distance. All this as you stroll and watch the lights of BC place dancing, and the twinkling of the tiny bulbs illuminating the roof top garden of Douglas firs and rippling water.

The restaurant is as photogenic as all of this. There are many little features and unique decorative elements that give the space and all its subsections a romantic gothic vibe to it.

The entrance is wallpapered with some of the most unique print. I can best describe as chubby bubble bees against a bloody backdrop of pooling reds and fluid goldens dripping in splotches.

I liked the private room with its linear lined wall, curved horns, and dripping candles. It had a nice modern viking feast motive to it.

On a previous visit I enjoyed some cocktails and dessert at the bar with a couple of friends. We found ourselves lounging on a couple of recliners by the window. Enjoying the view with our sips.

The “Emperor Sour” is their showstopper and the one to order for that perfect instragram shot. The only purple cocktail that comes to mind with Empress 1908 gin, lavender syrup, lemon juice, and creme de violette. It is as easy to drink as it is to look at.

By comparison “Any last words” was extremely potent and incredibly spicy with Sombra mezcal, luxardo maraschino, green chartreuse, lime, and creme de violette.

The “Blood orange limonata” was another smooth drinking cocktail. This was more like juice with Absolute citron, blood orange, lemon bitters, and sparkling water.

We also shared their have-to-have dessert: the “Creme burlee doughnuts”. They came on their very own pedestal crowned with a tuff of candy floss and gold flakes, because as their slogan goes: “to the Victor goes the spoils”. These round balls were perfection. Luscious cream surrounded by chewy dough, coated in thickened syrup for that tell-a-tale creme burlee burnt sugar crack. Great to pop into your mouth and savour as it melts.

But tonight I was here to indulge deeper with a fuller meal. We were led deep into the dining room, walking past their stand alone refrigerated wine cooler, and past the vibrantly upholstered booths and chairs, stopping before the raw fish bar at the very back. This was a working bench with chefs in crispy whites. The foreground of which was a trough of seafood and citrus fruits on ice. Before it was a row of high top stools monogrammed with a metal “V” to christen the restaurant and its name.

We were given a table that utilized a cushy love-seat for chairs. It was situated in front of a dresser topped with cloth wrapped books and a collection of paper weights, dimly illuminated by a desk lamp.

Liking all that I tried previously, I decided to indulge in another one of their rich cocktails in both price and flavour. The “All is fair” is a deep and boozy drink made with Bulliet bourbon, amaro, Montenegro, sweet vermouth, cherry and aromatic bitters.

To start off with we had some “Guyere cheese and caramelized onion brioche”, served with a whipped butter spread. This was one of the most delicious and fragrant loaves I have ever had. It was dense bread topped with crispy onion and baked cheese. The topping was the perfect textural contrast to the fluffy, baked warm bread itself.

I typically am not a fan of uni, but reading its description on the menu, I became intrigued over the application of “Uni toast”. What I got was some of the best uni I have ever had, it reminded me of why I liked sea urchins in the first place. It also had be reflecting on the worst uni I have ever had, which is probably the reason that scared me away from them in the first place. This was fresh uni spread over toasted brioche, seasoned and flavoured with Bottarga, ponzu dressing, and kaffir lime leaves. The crunchy bread was a great textural contrast to the buttery uni, it wasn’t the least fishy. What you got was creamy bites, in the ideal portion to leave you wanting more.

The “Porterhouse” was listed on the menu as 28oz of Striploin and tenderloin. Although after you cut away the bone and took away the fat, it is more like 15 ounces of steak meat that you actually get. On it was a lot of fat, and when we had to doggy bag what was left, the t-bone was not included in the cardboard box and bag.

I did like how the whole steak was prepared and dressed, then placed it in a pan and brought out to the dining room for you to inspect. This is before they bring it back to the kitchen to be carved up for your easy eating. It was a good enough piece and seasoned well enough, but given the $81 tag and the prestige of the restaurant, I guess I was expecting and wanted a little more from my premium cut of beef. Especially as it didn’t come with a side. We had to tack on the mashed potatoes, which were at least a wonderful addition to our set. Whipped creamy with a light and buttery flavour to balance out the spice and gristle of the beef.

The “Mac and cheese waffles” was another side and the winner of the dinner. They were the perfect cheesy and salty side to anything. Each triangle had you like about the pasta dish, but given new life with crunchy edges from a press in the waffle machine. Its square pockets were ideal in helping to hold pools of the creamy dipping sauce that came on the side. I would go back just for this. This application was a great way to add new life to a classic dish with extra cheese and salt.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Certainly not for an every day meal, but with the setting and the cultivated atmosphere, a great place for celebrating at, or when you are wanting that indulgent evening. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

THE VICTOR
39 Smithe Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 0P4
778-370-8600
parqvancouver.com/restaurants/the-victor
The Victor Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

For the vlog version of this the rest of our 24 hour stay at “The Douglas” and “Parq” visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei for all the fun:

Duffin’s Donuts

We just finished a two hour movie that took us right to 12:15pm. And unfortunately due to the lateness of its conclusion, we were limited in our late night dinner options. Not wanting another fast food burger we took the drive to “Duffin’s Donuts”. Still fast food, but more than just doughnuts.

It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And with free wifi and decent prices, they have the makings of a great hot spot. A prime destination for those wanting some greasy eats after a night out at the clubs or drinking. Or for those like us, individuals who are hungry this late, and are looking for something different. Older couples dining and young adults on a late night, cheap date. They are especially popular with semi-drivers, noticeable with their visibility vests and large semis parked out front. “Duffins” caters to those that travel between dusk at dawn. Tonight it was a mix from regulars to those like us, passing through.

Although it does feel like a fast food restaurant when you walk in. Plastic booths seats attached to tables, in red and yellow. And tiled walls and floors, reflecting the florescent, humming lights above. You order at the counter, at one of the two registers going simultaneously.

My partner was lured in by the glass case of fried chicken and spring rolls, despite what little pieces were left baking under the heat lamp. A piece of fried white meat chicken went for $2.85, and the vegetable spring roll, $1.50.

The chicken was from chicken distributor, “Fritou”. They delivered their factory fried poultry to such restaurants and convenient stores. It was surprisingly good. The juiciness of the meat didn’t really seem to be affected by the elongated wait under the lamp. The skin was crispy and the portion was fairly light. The spring roll on the other hand was disappointing, it had a drab flavour even with a dip in packets of plum sauce.

I played it safe with a Vietnamese mixed ham sub. It was pre-made and served cold on tough bread, that scraped the roof of my mouth. A through toast would have helped it exponentially. But considering where we were and the $5 we paid for it, it wasn’t all that bad. Ideally the pickles in this would have been tangier and the meat more flavourful. They were missing the rich paste and sour vegetable that makes the traditional sandwich iconic.

Given the show case of doughnuts and the excited faces of the grown men that stood in front of it, deciding what to get; we took a box of six to go.

The “rainbow” had pink icing and colourful sprinkles on a cakey doughnut ring.
The “buttermilk” was filled with custard. And unfortunately the combination of the two together was a little dense for my liking. I should have gotten it in either the strawberry or lemon jelly for some freshness.
The “angel” was a powdered sugar dusted doughnut filled with chocolate flavoured whipped cream.
The “honey dip” was your classic spongy ring coated in a thin layer of hardened sugar. I liked this the best for its texture.
The “Boston cream” was topped with marbled icing sugar and filled with custard cream. Another tried and true classic.
And the “French cruller” had a topping of caramel to give it some additional sweetness. It is also available in a chocolate or vanilla icing as well.

Overall, I found the doughnuts too dense. Bogged down by the heavy sugar coating and the cakey batter. Where I prefer an airy doughnut like the cruller or the honey dip was close to giving me.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
“Duffin’s” is an institution. Not necessarily the destination for a planned meal or really outstanding food. But instead, a great last minute stop for a cheap bite on the go. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DUFFIN’S
1391 East 41st Avenue, Vancouver BC, V5W 3R9
604-325-5544
Duffin's Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cineplex Cinemas Coquitlam and VIP

The full VIP experience at Silvercity Coquitlam

My partner and I don’t often go to the theatre to watch movies. We much rather the comfort of our own home, to be able to discuss the movie as it plays and to pause it when we need to use the washroom. Not to mention the price when comparing the cost of tickets to a download or subscription to Netflix. Then you layer on the cost of food, should you get peckish mid way through. All of which comes at a greater deal when in the comfort of your own home.

None-the-less we do make the journey when it’s a big blockbuster movie with an large budget, think any Marvel movie or a Tarantino pic. It just seems a shame to watch it any less than the screen it was created for. Plus its good to invest in a date night here and there when in a committed relationship.

So seeing as it is far and few in between that we visit a theatre, whenever we do we treat ourselves to the VIP experience. So far never for the food or the ability to drink in the theatre. But for the convenience of reserved seats and the ability to stroll in last minute without the need to search for your optimal perch. That and the seats are larger and designed for two. With a thicker arm rest on either sides, it creates the illusion of space between couples, allowing them the ability to push up the arm rest that once separates them, to come to together and watch together. Side by side, like you would on your couch at home.

We came 15 minutes to the start of “Blade Runner 2049”, a cult classic, that has been given new life in our modern times, with an increased movie production. And after printing our tickets at the kiosk by the entrance, we proceeded to the VIP lounge. It had a separate entrance, with its own attendant behind a podium. Here they check your ID, as they serve alcohol in this sectioned off area.

Past the doors is a lounge area with bar, high top tables, and couches for those watching a VIP movie, to be able to sit and enjoy the space before or after it. We have yet to do so, as we often opt for the late showing which is coming just in time to catch the trailers and leaving as soon as it is done. Although I have and do like their adjacent washrooms. Here they have a hall of single stalls for VIP ticket holders to use. They were only slightly cleaner, but a lot more private and spacious.

Through the perk you get for paying for a more expensive seat, you can enjoy in-seat service. You can hunker down and servers will take your order and bring you your desired meal, right to your assigned seat. We came early to enjoy it, but failed to factor in cook time, or the fact that others may be utilizing this service as well, causing the kitchen to be backed up. We didn’t get our food until 5 minutes into the movie, when the theatre was darkened and you held your breath as your server traversed stairs in the dark, holding a full tray of food and heavy drinks.

Each seat comes with an arm rest that swings out to be used as a stomach height dining platform. The menus are stored behind your chair, slotted into holders. It is page turner with “shareable” tacos and boards, handhelds like burgers and sandwiches, and entrees with a deal to enjoy 2 for $16. It looked promising enough. Most of which is available in some variation on many bar menus. So already we lowered our expectations, but little did we know there was a level under “below expectations”. It was worse than we thought and my partner even had stomach pains because of the food. But more on that later.

To begin, you have at wave at any one of the servers standing to either sides of the screen. They stand at attention at the very bottom of the staircase, looking up. Keep in mind their ability to take your order ends as soon as the show starts, for safety and possible disruptive reasons. Any one of them come to you, to answer any questions you may have, followed by taking your actual order. Once again our lowered expectations, had us believing that asking for recommendations would be pointless. So we kept our ordering safe.

My partner was expecting an indigestion, hoping he would be disappointed. But that is exactly what he got: an immediate and lingering stomach ache. It didn’t help that when he specified no onions in his “Hickory smoked pulled pork sandwich”, he got plenty of them fried crispy. We ended up sending it back for them to remake. Our food was already one of the last to arrive, after the movie started; and now we had to send it back? All this work, only for him to take a bite and pass on the rest due to disinterested its bland taste.

As a side, he upgraded his fries into a poutine with cheese and gravy, thinking that it would be fairly hard to mess up. We were wrong in this too. This wasn’t the safe bet he had hoped, you could tell this was made without care. Just a lumping of ingredients, one over another. The fries were from frozen, easily identified with each straw’s ashy finish. The gravy was quick to congeal, it thickened and globbed up, leaving the remainder of the fries at the very bottom without any sauce; even if this was just a packet roast beef gravy, it was at least flavourful. The cheese was all melted in a lumpy ball, but at least there was enough of it in proportion to the overall serving.

I on the other hand, wanted to see how they faired with more of their restaurant-ish options. So dared to try their “Popcorn cauliflower”, which they interpreted literally; with actual popcorn kernels, giving things a different texture. The menu listing both being seasoned with real movie theatre butter, but I didn’t get any of that. It was decent as a whole, but after a few bites, it got boring with one flat taste. Crispy bread hiding fully cooked, and still firm cauliflower florets.

With a bar and the need to check ID, I figured they would at least employ a trained bartender, however I was disappointed by my Caesar cocktail as well. This was the saltiest Caesar I have ever had, it made my lips pucker and had my eyes squinting. It was like they knew it would be poorly done so tried over compensating with extra seasonings and spices. It was an assault and one that even the melted ice couldn’t help.

And the worse part of it, the food cost just as much as our tickets did. And we knew that even if we brought up to any of the staff or the manager, nothing would come of it. It is just one of those things you accept, as you should have known better than to order a meal that came to almost $50 with tip, at a theatre and expect it to be good.

If you are hungry I would just stick to the large popcorn and soda combo. The VIP drinks and popcorn cones in their own branded black containers, with discrete detailing. With it, they were clearly trying to dress the experience and live up to the VIP prestige.

As for the movie, let’s just say it is a good thing that I don’t review films.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I would still go to the theatre as a “VIP”, however will never again order anything from their regular hot food menu. Expectations were lowered and it still left me dissatisfied. They are better left as an after dinner activity. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

VIP SILVERCITY
170 Schoolhouse Street, Coquitlam BC, V3K 4X9
604-523-1584

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