Real, raw, & relatable me. Enthusiastic food & lifestyle blogger living in Vancouver, BC!

Category: bar Page 1 of 23

Straight and Marrow eatery + bar

Seeing as outings are less commonplace now, the ones you do take, have to count. And this is case in point. Today we were at the well received Straight and Marrow, a restaurant known for using lesser known animal parts and unsung ingredients, and featuring it on a plate. Basically the way I like to eat: the weirdest and most different menu items available. Although be warned, you are paying a premium on the scarcity.

The space is narrow with there being even less room now due to covid restrictions. The bar is behind plexiglass, should you sit there. Similarly the chefs work at the back behind plexi, but within plain sight, plating and staging with precision.

When it came time to order, we looked to their specials board, ordering 3 out of the 5 options based on protein alone! Frog, skate (similar to a sting ray), and pork in a cocktail. The latter was called the Porkolada. A tropical cocktail made slightly savoury with bacon rum and finished with a prosciutto crisp. It basically tastes like a sweet piña colada with pineapple, orange juice, and coconut. I just wish there was more bacon flavour in the mix. I expected and wanted it more savoury like a haiwanian pizza.

My guest got the Bent, Not Broken cocktail; featuring Tanqueray No. 10 gin, vodka, lemon infused lillet blanc, and charred rosemary olive oil. It is stirred, not shaken, and twice burnt. This one is a show stopper with a torch and a fire show. The result: a strong basil finish with oiliness.

His next one was the restaurant’s name sake drink: The Straight & Marrow, that came with a story. The creative bartender combined wine and left over beef broth on a whim and thus this one of a kind cocktail was born. Marrow infused mongrel, B&B, orange, lemon, beef stock, red wine, Miss Betters black pepper, and black cardamom bitters. It was described as being complexed, and it delivered on that. This was a drink that kept changing in your mouth. It started savoury and rich with plenty of warmth form the bone marrow. Then ended, leaving you with a refreshing last note.

From there my guest took his drink to the Inverse Boilermaker. This was a more classic stiff drink, made with Bulliet bourbon, spiced porter reduction syrup, and fig.

As for food, the following is what we ordered, in the order that it came in. This is the fried skate wing with celeriac slaw, guanciale-tomato vinaigrette, and brown butter powder. Skate is like a mantra ray. Its flesh is similar to white fish, but more fibrous. You didn’t taste it, but instead the batter that coated it. The skate had a clean flavour, and a safe one for those fearful of trying something new. It reminded me of a dressed up fish and chips; just missing the tangy tartar sauce. Commercial, subtle, and easy. It just needed some salt.

If the skate wing was like fish and chips, the Frog N’ Grits was like fried chicken. It was prepared with a Creole sauce made with lardon, garlic scapes, and green onion on creamy polenta. With the small bones it ate like chicken feet, but what little meat you got was super tasty for a small plate. I found the garlic scapes noteworthy, they reminded me of green beans, in fact I thought they were until I had to write this review.

The Tongue in Cheek was a clever name for this plate centred around beef tongue. Crispy Beef Tongue, Braised Beef Cheeks, and a Root Vegetable “Risotto”. If you didn’t know this was tongue meat, you wouldn’t be able to tell that it was with the way it was sliced and presented, like art. As for how it ate, the initial flavour reminded me of spam, salty then gamey before it dulls and blends in with the diced vegetables. This was as memorable as the others, especially in comparison to the bone marrow below.

This was a large bone dressed with Chicken Cracklin, Pickled Shiitake, and Porcini Dust. You dig and gouge fatty oils from the halved bone and smear it over a hard crostini. It is so rich and sumptuous that you really can’t have too much, therefore it is best to share. I do suggest that you elongate your bone marrow experience by adding on the Cognac Luge option to your dish.

You order a shot of cognac to be able to take by way of a bone slide. To do this you need a friend. You hold the hollow bone to your lips and have a buddy pour the cognac into it. You then slurp and sip the liquor that mixes with the excess fattiness that is still left on the bone. The activity itself has you concentrating on precision and less on the flavour of the spirit. But it is still worth it as the feat is just as fun as the drink.

In short, this is a unique restaurant with a one of a kind concept. A great interactive dining experience that has you trying something new that you may otherwise not get to, or know that you even wanted to.

Straight & Marrow
1869 Powell St, Vancouver, BC V5L 1H8
(604) 251-4813

The Blind Rabbit

Looking for a spot before dinner, local food blogger @pickydiner and I found ourselves at a local bar on Hastings. Being a gin enthusiast, he has always wanted to visit this gin focused bar, so given that our restaurant reservations were a few blocks away, today was the day.

The decor was cozy with loungers and sofas accented with mirrors, for a modern Alice in Wonderland feel. We sat in one of these nooks, but the bar facing their collection of over 65 different gin bottles is where I would have preferred.

Seeing as they specialize in the stuff, we took the opportunity to build our own gin & tonic choosing our preferred gin, flavoured tonic, and garnishes. We both went for an ounce from a local BC distillery, over an international label.

@PickyDiner went with a hibiscus theme which came out with a more fruity berry flavour, than the florally one expected. The Tofino rose hibiscus gin with Barker and Quin’s tonic water in hibiscus, garnishing it with dried hibiscus flowers, mint, and lime. The gin is already over ice, within a handsome glass goblet. You then pour the tonic over it all yourself, choosing how much you want to add in. Here, I realize you are basically paying for reach individual item: the shot of gin and the bottle of tonic.

I went less sweet and more savoury with the Fermentorium Stump gin with cedar notes. Then pairing it with the Barker and Quin’s marula tonic water. Marula is a South African fruit similar to yuzu (that I learned on this day). And to finish, my garnishes were rosemary and lemon. I preferred my creating? liking how refreshing it came out.

And because I have never heard of pairing gin with charcuterie, let alone a bar dedicated to the pairing, we had to try one of their boards. But since this was the drink before dinner, we kept it light with their intro board, meant for 1, but enough for 2. 2 meats, 1 soft cheese, 1 hard cheese, and accoutrements: salty, nuts, fruit, crostini, focaccia. It was a nice mix to graze and nibble on as your chat and sip.

Overall, I really liked the idea and energy of the bar. Laidback, yet still a little dressy. A nice place to chill and one I would frequent if it was walking distance from my home.

The Blind Rabbit
2531 E Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V5K 1Z210
(604) 423-9463

Galentines at Glowbal

Every year my best friend and I celebrate Galentines, it is a take on Valentines that endures our relationship. We do all the clique things that boyfriends and girlfriends (or any couple arrangement) does, but with each other as the bestie. So all the fun and extravagance, but with none of the disappointment.

This year we choose “Glowbal” as our destination for a more luxurious feel. A busy weekend, we were seated on the second floor looking down on it all, and the open raw bar.

We started the night with a couple of glasses of sparkling wine to mark the occasion.

Followed by an amuse bouche of “Butternut squash and ginger soup”, served in an espresso cup. A vegan soup that was light without the cream, and carrot forward to my tastes.

It transitioned well to our “Glowbal Dungeness Crab Cake” appetizer. A large puck of crab meat with a crispy seared crust. Served over a lemon tarragon aioli that gave it an enjoyable creaminess. And with the thinly sliced, raw and refreshing side salad, this became a well balanced dish of textures and harmonious flavours. A delicious and light start.

For our main my girl friend was lured in by the appeal of a premium cut of steak, or in this case, two. This is the 28oz Prime Rib Eye ‘Double Entrecote’ for $110. Two steaks cut down to strips for your easy consumption. Served with enough sauces and sides to make it a full meal.

The truffle mashed potatoes were garlicky with lots of rich flavour, but none of the truffle.

I really liked the Brussels sprouts, fried crispy and seasoned salty with plenty of Parmesan.

The seasoned vegetables were a collection of zucchini, heirloom carrots, and broccoli sautéed in butter and herbs.

And if they or your steak needed a change of taste or any additional flavouring, look to 1 of the 4 sauce dishes also included with the set. A red wine jus, a horseradish cream, chimichurri sauce, and herbed butter. The red wine was a classic steak sauce. The horseradish, a sharp cream that helps to brighten up any dish. The chimichurri tangy with pesto and lime notes. And the herbed butter a little too decadent with the steak, overpowering it. The sauces were a nice way to elongate the longevity of the meal; but as flavouring agents unnecessary, given how well seasoned and dressed everything was.

As for the steak, it was a fattier cut. We asked for it medium rare, but I still found it harder and drier. Not bad, but not in my top 3, which is a little more detrimental given the cost. The salad on the side was undressed and added nothing to the plate, aside from colour. The sides above were what you wanted to concentrate on anyways.

As impressive as the assembly above was, the following stole the show. Every Friday and Saturday night ”Glowbal” has a bar cart service. A table side show where a roving bartender creates various sensory cocktails. Tonight they would use smoke and bubbles for an added flavour and scent, along with the literal smoke show.

The earl grey sage martini was shaken and topped with an egg foam, before a smokey rosemary bubble is blown on top of it. A specialized machine does the inflating. The bubble lasts for several seconds creating quite the image.

You can also get it on top of a whiskey sour, like my guest did. Then, as a party trick, our table side bartender pushed the two glasses together and the 2 singular bubbles merged into one with a well defined crack in between. Honestly the most fun I have had at a finer dining establishment.

None of the desserts really appealed to us, so I had mine as more of a liquid dessert. The Melon ball cocktail, topped with a tuft of cotton candy, that sat doubling the height of the glass. This is a fruity tropical cocktail made sweeter by melting the spun sugar within it. This too was a great visual drink.

It is worth noting that between our server, all the staff, and the managers, we were well taken care of. Plenty of check ins and the willing ness to help and accommodate at anytime. This included changing tables mid meal, in realization to the fact that we were ordering a feast we would not finish.

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 wonderfully memorable night because of the great service and outlandish food and drink. The attentive staff made all the difference and the unique moments they offered are the ones you will be talking about for months to come. Don’t deny your cravings.

590 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1A3
(604) 602-0835

Granville Room, Dine Out 2020

Dine Out Vancouver is back for its 17th year. Great deals on new and favourite restaurants, serving up specialty menus. Typically 3 courses set at either $15, $25, $35, or $45 price points. For most you get to select an appetizer, have your choice of entree, and a dessert from a couple of catered selections. Not only does it encourage you to get out and about when the weather makes you want to stay in, but it also helps the hospitality industry and those working in it.

With so many possibilities it is hard to choose which restaurant and when. My strategy is picking ones that I haven’t been to and going for the best deal. This allows you to try something new and even if you don’t like it, it isn’t a big loss to you or your wallet.

Tonight, I was one of the Donnelly Group properties to do just that. And if you visit the “Granville Room” or any of their other Public Houses, I highly suggest taking the savings and applying them to some drinks. At any of their establishments, each Dine Out course has a recommend BC wine or cocktail pairing that goes with it. And I can fully attest, that the food is made with pairing drinks in mind, and that both are made better with the other. And bonus, this bar is located on the Granville entertainment strip downtown, meaning it is easy to get to by transit.

The room is moody and dark, the later it gets the greater it fills. It has your typical bar vibe, playing music with a lot of base, offset by the roar of jovial conversation at neighbouring tables. You seat yourself at either the wooden bar or any of their booths or four top rounds. I recommend the former with its healthy back splash of bottles. Above the bar terrariums hang in decoration. Each equipped with its only spiky air plants laying on some rocks, they compliment the forest of vines and leaves that creep down from above the door way. The botanical elements gives the space a lushness and a literal breath of fresh air.


The Dine Out Dinner menu is three courses for $25, and if you go with a friend and share, you get to try 2 out of the 3 options for both the appetizers and entrees.

Starting with the appetizers we had “Jor’s Flautas”. You have a choice between the braised chicken or sweet potato filling, along with a topping of cilantro, sour cream, and salsa. Having had the chicken, I think I would have liked the sweet potato better. Its pasty texture would have offered a nice contrast to the crispy roll, as well as its natural sweetness. The chicken on the other hand was shredded and ashy, I wanted another texture that didn’t parallel the flour tortilla shell quite so well. It would have also been nice to have a cream based sauce to coat the chicken in, before wrapping it. I kept wanting something on the sweeter side from this, like a honey based sauce that would have been nice here. The appetizer as a whole reminded us of taquitos, and were just as zesty. Each roll had a nice spice to it that perfectly paired with the recommend BC VQA “Volcanic Hills” Pinot Gris. The slight burn was balanced out by the cool, crisp, and tart flavours of the Pinot, really elevating both.

Out of the three appetizers I highly recommend the “Prawn Lettuce Wraps”. The curry sauce it sat in was amazing. A fragrant coconut curry with ginger and sriracha. However, I wanted it with rice or some bread, to better soak up all that sauce. Especially given the generous ratio of prawn to lettuce. Instead, most of the curry dripped off the vein of lettuce it was served with, as the intended scoop/base. The cucumber and mint garnish added a nice touch of freshness, to each self-curated bite. The flavourful-ness of this was also well accented by the “Volcanic Hills” Pinot Gris, it toned and defined.

The third appetizer option that we skipped was the “Dirty Fries” with queso dip, sea salt, and parmesan. And I suggest you do too, if you plan on getting either the steak or the chicken below, as both come with a generous helping of fries as sides. Chewy, thick cut fries with a nice potatoey centre.

The “1/4 Rotisserie Chicken” featured quality white meat that was tender and moist. Although I was left wanting more of its natural juices to come through for added moisture. I could have dipped it into the side of gravy, but found it far too salty, with not enough meat flavour. Instead, I opted for ketchup, but would have been happier with a sweet honey maple barbecue. You also get a kale slaw on the side with the fries, but I was not a fan. The slaw was dry and bitter, with the texture of leafy greens, which I have never liked. Besides when there is fries why would you go for the vegetable option?

But the one to get is the “Steak Sandwich” with horseradish mayo, arugula, and tomato if you want something heartier. Or the always comforting “Mac & Cheese rigatoni” with truffled parmesan, bacon, and greens. We had the former and was not disappointed by the quality of the steak. Perfectly prepared to a medium rare, juicy and tender with a savoury spice. This was given a pop with the zesty horseradish spread. There was a little too much of it at some points, and overall it made the bread soggier. I would have enjoyed this better deconstructed. Steak as the main, buttered bread, and the salad on top as a side. Trying to eat this open face sandwich got messy, and trying to cut through the bread only made things worse. The fries were the same as above, the gravy was just as salty, but more like a jus you get with a beef dip. Nevertheless I didn’t use any of it, as the steak was already well seasoned.

The recommend BC VQA Wine/Beverage Pairing for all the entrees is a “Gehringer Cabernet merlot”. This is a mellow, easy drinking wine that acted as the perfect “meaty” palette cleanser between all the richer flavours. It also aided in balancing out the salt.

You didn’t get an option for dessert. Being primarily a bar, they weren’t as invested in flushing out a sweet menu. Instead, they completed this set menu with a “Drumstick”. The brand of frozen ice cream cone with a chocolate fudge centre and a coating of chocolate and peanuts, over vanilla ice cream, all on a sugar cone. I was a little disappointed in realizing it wasn’t made in house, but after one bite nostalgia kicked in and I was a-okay. Especially seeing in presented in a mason jar of jelly beans. Double the childhood feels.

And even this too had a beverage pairing. A Lot 40 Old Fashioned. And I must say I was both surprised and impressed at how well they went together. The chocolate in the ice cream almost caramelized the drink. It was weird, but it just made sense. I highly recommend trying it and/or dipping one into the other. Childhood indulgence and adulthood vice meeting and having mouth babies.

The food is definitely made to be paired with drinks, considering “Granville Room” is a night spot, with a bar front and centre. You come for the drinks, and if you are hungry there is an amazing set meal you can indulge in, for cheap. The way things are priced these days, the above for one is about the same price as a fast food combo with drink, fries, and frozen soft serve. Here, you get better quality food, and it feels like you are getting a deal. All in a setting that is much nicer that any place with florescent lights and a swivel chair. In conclusion, this was a great deal at $25 per person, plus drinks. The food was solid and we left with leftovers.

957 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1L3
(604) 633-0056

Banter Room

My girl friend and I heard about a Yaletown bar/lounge with a champagne vending machine and immediately made plans to visit it, (the next time we were in the area). The first of such vending machines in Vancouver is located at “Prohibition” within “Hotel Georgia”. Both it and the one at “Banter Room” function and cost exactly the same, but now we can say that we have had a bottle from both.

There is just something so novel about ordering what is considered a luxury item, from something that is so accessible and every day, like a vending machine. We joked that the small bottles of Möet offered were “juice boxes”. The machine is sponsored by Möet so only offers its bottles. And you don’t actually pay out of pocket. Instead, you order it like you would any drink from your sever. You get a token from them, which you then insert into the actual machine, and then make your selection. Although once again, it doesn’t matter which combination of letters and numbers you push, the exchange is exactly the same: a small 200ml bottle of Möet for $30.

But first getting there, the actual restaurant was hard to find. With surrounding businesses boarded up, we had to back track and ask for directions. Not to mention the exterior isn’t very prominent. The covered patio is darken for the season, and only their discrete logo in green marks the spot.

Inside, the lounge is just as dark. There is plenty of sprawling room with stools by the bar, single tables, and rounds for groups of four. Larger parties are accommodated by pushing together tables against the brick wall at the back, the one decorated with diamond shaped mirrors. Yellow glowing spot lights, back lit tile, flatscreen television screens, and tea lights offer a little brightness. But this is one of those places that you need to shine your phone light over your menu in order to read it.

Our server was bright and bubbly. She greeted us at the door with her light blue crop top and black bottoms. This must have been the dress code considering the only other front of house employee was dressed in a similar fashion, with the same colours and her midriff showing as well.

We were strategically seated by the vending machine. When it came time to order, we picked a few items off of their laminated, single sheet menu; and had our server either confirm our choices or direct us towards something better. She ixnay-ed the “Zucchini Noodle Pescatore”, announcing that she has most steer clear of it considering how easy it is to make at home. And instead suggested a salad, if we wanted something light. But I don’t order salads, given it too is something you can easily make at home. It is just assembly, and when I go out to eat I want to have something that I cannot and will not make on my own.

Instead, we would have the same shrimp in it, with the “crispy tiger prawns” appetizer instead. A thick sweet chilli glaze evenly coated the large, juicy shrimp. They were a little tough, but still delicious, especially when paired with the bed of cool and creamy coleslaw it sat on. This made for a great palette changer for our two more cheese focused dishes below.

The “Mac and cheese” served in a skillet caught our eye immediately, and we were reassured in a our choice, after we were given a generous nod of approval from our server. This isn’t your regular children’s version of Mac and cheese. Prepared with a three cheese blend of sharp and salty cheeses, this isn’t the mozzarella or cheddar that most are familiar with. It and the gummy gooey texture would be ideal with beers or heavy drinks, and then the leftovers would serve to help you sober up with later. Ideal drunk food.

In comparison, the “oven baked brie” was bland, even with its topping of caramelized apples, brown sugar, and walnuts. I wanted more cinnamon and toasted sugar flavour. And the walnuts to be also baked, but with a coating of honey for some sticky sweetness. This felt flat, and the hard and undressed whole wheat crostini did nothing to help. A sweet chilli sauce like with the prawn above would have been much better as a dressing for the melted miniature wheel of brie.

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.
The food was only average, so I don’t think I will be returning to try their whole roasted chicken for $85 or their tomahawk steak for $185. I can see myself sharing one of their “colossal cocktails” for $75. But I would need to bring 3 others along with me in order to be able to order the 12 oz bucket of booze with mix. This would be ideally done during spring or summer, when I can have on their patio. A bold patio which includes a great photo op in the form of a stationary circle swing, set to a tropical backdrop. Although we did get to enjoy it tonight in the cold darkness. Don’t deny your cravings.

1039 Mainland St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5P9
(604) 565-1039

Another Beer Co.

Located in a warehouse area of New Westminster, just off Sapperton skytrain; over the train tracks, and past the dump is the aptly named “Another Beer Co.”. They are a little hard to find if you don’t know what you are looking for. Although standing signs pointing the way like breadcrumbs, help. The elusiveness of it all adds to the small batch charm of this microbrewery. Which, as it stands, is the only one I can name in New Westminster.

One unit in a warehouse complex, their neon sign lights the way. You needn’t be afraid to open the closed door, as the hours of operation are listed for you to review before turning the handle.

Inside, their bar greets you on the right. Behind it the lone employee tending to their operations on thus Saturday night. Here, they have their beers on taps that spell out their name. And merchandise like caps, t-shirts, and hoodies; should you want to take a keepsake home with you.

On the left are stainless steel vats, sectioned off by a stanchion. They are close enough to touch and admire, as they tower above you. I liked how they add a certain authenticity to the space.

But most eye catching is their logo “abc.” lit in neon, mounted against a blacksplash of blue and black watercolour. They cast a nightclub-like glow over the more intimate concrete space.

You help yourself to a printed menu by the cash register. It makes ordering easy with descriptive names and detailed rundowns. We caught the tail end of its run from December 31st, 2019 to January 5th, 2020. You order and pay right away with the clerk behind the bar, and then help yourself to any of their available seating. Grab a stool by the bar, individual tables offer group seating; and for more sprawling room and a bird’s eye view, head upstairs.

I wanted to try a few of their beers, given said interesting names and descriptions. However, they don’t do a flights, which are ideal for sampling. You either need to commit to a half or a full glass. But at $3.50 to $4 for the former, you are able to try a few of their brews at a fair price.

Like the “Blueberry Cobbler” which is what they called a “pastry sour”. It is 5.9% and includes lactose in it. Their winter offering is “wool socks”, a winter dubble and a collaboration with “Moody Ales”. It is described as a carbonated drink full of cozy vibes, cocoa, and dark fruit. And “Flavour Country” also peaked my interest. An imperial Tobacco at 8.5%, with a well painted out and elaborate backstory, surrounding visiting “flavour country”. I walked away feeling I missed out on this one.

Instead, I ordered the “Nique’s Northern Champagne”, a Berliner Weisse at 3%. I choose it for the name, and the hope there would be champagne in it, glossing over the weak percentage and the fact that it would have no affect on me whatsoever. The menu informs that there is no champagne in this, and that it is merely considered as the champagne of the North, in Northern Germany. Described as “refreshing, light, as it carries a wonderful tart lemonade and bready backbone”. It was a hard swallow on the first sip: sharp and tangy like a slap in the face, it catches you off guard. However, your taste buds adapt quick to its overwhelming character, and all your subsequent sips are much more enjoyable. Easy enough to gulp down with a sour tang that flares up every so often.

My partner got the “Milos” Czech Pilsner, taking the bartender’s suggestion, after asking for something lighter like a lager. The menu described this as “The original Pilsner” and a “beautiful thing”: “crisp, refreshing, with faint notes of toffee and a strong saaz hop presence.” I also found the first sip harsh, but less so than with the “champagne” above; this too gets easier. I would describe this an easy drinking beer, and a good one to ease on into your night with.

Sadly, that was all the time we had to try, we made it in just in time for last call at a little after 9:30pm. Given the area, they do close earlier than most bars.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I like the location, and how it’s off the beaten path; a hidden gem with offerings full of character. Definitely a must visit for any craft beer enthusiasts, and anyone in the area wanting to grab a pint before taking the skytrain home. Don’t deny your cravings.

30 Capilano Way #11, New Westminster, BC V3L 5M3
(604) 515-9093

Ventura Room

My guest and I were attending a show at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, so decided to get in the mood with some food and drink at the neighbouring and new “Ventura Room”.

This was described as as a California-inspired bar, celebrating cocktails and live music. There was none of the latter this Sunday night at 5pm, when they first opened. But we would partake in the former, at least. To be honest I don’t know what “California-inspired” means, but the energy was laid-back, set to the tunes of hip hop and jazz.

There was plenty of space in the chic lounge. A wheel chair lift provided accessibility for the handicappable, a lengthy backlit bar spoke to the depth of their cocktail program, and there was plenty of seating to choose from: from high tops to booths. Set dark, you can just make out the golden geometric pattern that adhered to a mirrored backsplash, the tile trim that was set against a concrete wall, and a series of black and white photos that spoke to the history they wanted to put on display. The latter-most included suits and skirts toting cigarettes, attractive mug shots, and playboy bunnies in full costume. We would grab a seat under these, to set the tone.

The food menu was limited with the real focus being on wine and spirits. Small bites like pork jerky, nuts & olives, and wings. Along with a whole page dedicated to fusion sushi rolls. We would grab one of the latter, a trio of tacos, and a sushi-taco combo.

Our choice of their street tacos included baja fish, pulled pork, and a vegetarian cauliflower. We would get the “chipotle chicken” with lime crema, cilantro verde, feta, pickled red onion, and cilantro. They came in a trio, and our server was kind enough to offer us the option to pay for, and add on one more so we could have two each. We declined knowing we would order more tacos below. The “Chipotle chicken” was good, but nothing to write home about. It came to us cold, overflowing with filling for a messy meal. The squirt of lime helped to add zest when I was craving more seasoning and flavour.

I preferred the “ahi tuna tacos” a lot more. It had much more character and flavour thanks to the chili ginger seasoned tuna, yuzu aioli, avocado, daikon sprouts, and sushi rice. It was basically sushi deconstructed and re-housed into a batter and fried wonton-like shell. I liked the spicy kick and crispy crunch, but found each bite too creamy. So much so that you don’t get the taste of the tuna and the filling fell mushy.

We did try one of their sushi rolls. Given the bar setting and the rest of the menu, we played it safe with a fairly flavourful sounding fusion roll. The “crispy coconut shrimp roll” with panko shrimp, avocado, green onion, thai peanut sauce, and toasted sesame. I liked this the most out of all that we had. It was the definition of fusion sushi. Fresh with the scallions, hearty with the room temperature rice. I didn’t make out much of the shrimp or coconut, and found it very much so needed a dip in soy sauce for salt and flavour. Average at best.

As for drinks we had to get one of their share drinks, listed as “keys in the bowl” on the menu. There are only two options, both served in a gilded gold pineapple tumbler. We were immediately drawn to the “NSFW” (not suitable for work) for its name, but convinced to spend $3 more for the “Smokey the pear” given our server’s description of it. Hearing that it came with incense peaked our interest. But in reality, its scent doesn’t really add anything to the flavour of the drink, it simply gives it a certain mystique. As for the cocktail itself, it was smoky as the name promised, with a complex and juicy flavour thanks to absolut elyx, calvados, pear juice, lapsang, souchong tea, and lemon. But I wanted more smoke, and a stronger punch. Given that it was fairly easy to drink, I don’t know why it was recommended as a shared beverage. There was far too much ice, giving you the illusion of having more for less. And the pineapple is a fun novelty, but not one I haven’t experienced elsewhere.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I would come back out of ease, if looking for a destination before a show at Queen E. What we had today was not enough to have me declaring them a destination. I would describe what we had as “drunk food:” average in quality, but best when tipsy, and if you aren’t honing in on the nuances of it. Don’t deny your cravings.

695 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC V6B 0K9
(604) 620-5547

Bartholomew Bar

Hearing that a new charcuterie place has opened up in Yaletown, my girl friend and I flocked downtown to check it out. It is named after “Bartholomew the Apostle”, the patron saint of butchers. A fitting reference as they boast a collection of thinly sliced cured meats, as well as fine cheeses that you can use to curate a customized charcuterie board.

The narrow space creates a cozy setting. Modern with old school charms. Warming blue walls, leading to one of wine bottles on display. We came in time for happy hour between 4-6pm so took advantage of their menu. $5 beers, $7 6oz glass of house wine, and $9 feature cocktails.

We started off with two glasses of wine. My guest liked her white just fine, but I wasn’t a fan of the red blend I got.

So for my next drink, I switched to their feature cocktail of the day: the “Martinez”, featuring gin and vermouth; with more of the latter for a sweeter finish.

By this time happy hour was over, so I ordered my next drink off the regular menu. “Artemisia’s Garden”, described as an herbaceous daiquiri with Artemisia absinthium, rum, lime, cucumber, and cardamom. It was very refreshing, although it tasted more like pickle juice than the liquorice I was expecting.

As for food, between 4-6pm you can try a charcuterie set for $15, otherwise it is $7 for each item, regularly. And if you can’t choose, you can get all the meats and all cheeses for $200. This is properly named “the baller board”. My guest doesn’t eat meat, so being able to choose what is included in the meat portion of our charcuterie was helpful.

This was our board at $15, with all three of the non-pork meat options. The “Chicken liver pâté” was a fat capped chicken liver mousse with layers. Not rich, as I was expecting. “Bresaola”, air dried beef eye of round, thyme, juniper, and red wine. A very lean meat, dry and not oily. “Torchon of foie”, rolled foie gras in brandy and spice. For this luxury item, it will cost you $7 more, a point I missed when we were looking for pork-free. A miscommunication that led to the manager covering the costs of this luscious meaty paste. He admitted to assuming I knew it would be an extra charge.

For cheese our collection was predetermined from a list arranged by type of milk used. The options included sheep milk cheeses, cow, and goat. From the former, we had the “Lamb Chopper”, a nutty cheese with sweet caramel notes. The “Brilliant-Savarin” is a triple creamed brie that is light and buttery, made with cow’s milk. And the “Manchego” is another sheep’s milk cheese that is tangy, fruity, and nutty.

All delicious, but it would have been nice to be able to compare cheeses by the milk used, and get one of the goat’s milk variety as well. I would have also liked more crackers as well. We had plenty to spread and not enough surface to do it on. These crispy wafers were thin and nutty, filling but didn’t distract from the mildness and subtleties of the meat and cheeses. We ended up ordering more for an additional cost.

If you are looking for more options to snack on? They also have happy hour toasties for $6: meat, fish, or a vegetable mix. For something more fulsome, they have tartare, carpaccio, duck, and bone marrow menu. Salad, sausage, and the vegetables came highly recommended as well. And for dessert, they even have a chocolate charcuterie.

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.
They have plenty of food and drink options that I want to explore further. I will have to come back with a larger group to work my way through their more exotic menu items, like the sweetbreads. Don’t deny your cravings.

1026 Mainland St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2T4
(604) 423-4131

Cinema Public House, Happy Hour

Today I was invited down to check out “Cinema’s” facelift. And the Donnelly group has recently closed down a few of their outlying public houses, so I was also interested in getting a look into this decision, through this reintroduction meal.

Donnelly group has been looking at its spaces and the neighbourhoods that they have been occupying. And the decision has been made to better align themselves to their demographic, which includes a more friendlier space and dynamic menu. “Cinema’s” focus is on the after work, downtown crowd, due to its corner street location. Lunch for a quick, inexpensive, and delicious meal. And then when after the dinner rush is over, the space opens up and the DJ spins the wheels until 3pm, catering to a completely different crowd. They do this considering the event that is letting out in the area, and those who have chosen to visit on any given night. The kitchen is open until 1pm on week days and 2pm on weekends, which is fantastic. I can not tell you how many times I wanted a late night meal, but there aren’t many kitchen open past 10pm.

Once a dark corner that only looked to host a more lively, after dinner crowd. Now an open space hoping to bring in the happy hour and hungry dining crowd. “Cinema” has recently torn down the wall that separated the bar from the booths, and expanded the patio to face Granville Street. And I can honestly attest to the fact that it does make a difference. The setting is looking more inviting. And because of it, the bar was busy at 5pm, a full house of rotating tables here for happy hour, like we were.

The menu gives you a deal on drinks with $5 beers and $6 wines from 3-6pm daily, and again Sunday to Thursday 9-1am. They don’t have food specials, but with $6-8 snacks, $10 sandwiches, and $12 pizzas and mains on their regular menu; you are saving each time you visit anyways.

We started with a couple of their signature cocktails. Like the “Shogun” featuring suntory toki Japanese whiskey, st. Germain elderflower liqueur, strawberry syrup, lemon, mint, and candied ginger. A nice warming beverage because of the ginger, yet cooling with the sweet fruit and citrus notes.

The “Funny Pages” was a great afternoon pick me up. Lot 40, cold brew, Jägermeister, and a golden graham milk syrup, it drank like a spiked coffee, sweetened with milk, sugary from breakfast cereal.

They also serve cocktails that they have borrowed from off other menus. Like “Naked and famous” from “Death & Co.” in New York. Sombra mezcal, aperol, yellow chartreuse, and lime juice.

And the “Sherry colada” from “Waydown Ace Hotel” in Chicago. Havana Club 7yr rum, amontillado, sherry, coconut syrup, fresh pineapple, and orange zest.

To eat, we shared a handful of dishes from their $6 snack menu, and had plenty for everyone. The “mozzarella sticks” were herb crusted and served with a marinara sauce for dipping. What’s there not to love? String cheese under a crispy, well seasoned shell, enjoyed as is or with a palate cleansing tangy dip into tomato.

My favourite was the house made “queso dip” with crispy corn tortilla chips. I would drink it like soup, but it is best coating doughy bread, like with the pretzel below.

The “Pretzel” was actually served with its own queso dip, but I would have preferred it with a spicy mustard option instead, or maybe both for a nice contrast. The dough was a little oily and the heavy handed coating of sesame seeds was either a hit or miss amongst our table. I personally liked the additional texture for its mouth feel.

The mini “Perogies” were a unanimous favourite. They were filled with cheddar cheese and topped generously with sautéed onions, sour cream, and green onions. It tasted exactly as how you’d expect it to.

The “Blistered snap peas” was an interesting menu item, or appetizer to be offered at a bar. But they were tasty, and spoke to the kitchen’s new direction: offering healthy options and vegetable friendly solutions, for a snacking, after work crowd. They were so simple, yet so good. Fresh snap peas seasoned with a Spanish chilli, lemon, and ricotta salata.

Similarly, the “shishito peppers” were a healthy, all vegetable option, that you didn’t regret eating. Seasoned in a red wine vinegar and lime. They weren’t spicy, but had more of a grill smoke to them.

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.
Great food at good prices, in a newly renovated space. I liked everything I tasted, and it looks like they have something good on their hands, so expect such a menu will be rolled out to all their other properties in the near future. Don’t deny your cravings.

901 Granville St, Vancouver BC, V6B 2C9

Dante NYC x Homer St. Café takeover

From November 1st to the 5th, “Dante”, the internationally acclaimed and historic New York City watering hole is taking over “Homer St. Café and Bar”, in downtown Vancouver. “Dante” has most recently been voted the “Best Bar in the World” for 2019. So it’s a treat to have a piece of the East Coast here for Vancouverites to experience. The take over is presented by “Campari”, so expect cocktails featuring this spirit.

As taken from the press release, “Caffe Dante first opened in 1915 to honour the simplicity of great food and drink… Dante NYC has since become one of the most renowned bars worldwide; winning the #1 ranking in the 2019 World’s Best 50 Bars Awards last week in London, U.K., and honoured as 2019 “World’s Best Bar“ by Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards.”

To mark the occasion, “Homer St” restaurant has been decorated with decals on its exterior windows, and posters on the walls inside. However the two establishments already have several decorative similarities, including the subway tiles under foot, and the overall modern feel of their spaces.

Today, I was invited down to their weekend take over launch, where we were able to meet “Dante’s” Beverage Director and internationally acclaimed mixologist, Naren Young. All guests attending the 5 day celebration will also have the opportunity to mingle with him, as “one of the world’s leading authorities on all things cocktail”.

Tonight we were sipping on a selection from his award-winning aperitivo-style cocktail menu; whist savouring bites from “Dante’s” Italian-Australian menu, as presented by the skilled team at “Homer St.”

Diners can try 6 cocktails all featuring Campari, and each distinctively its own. Their “classic negroni” was made from Campari, London Dry Gin, and cinzano rosso.

The “Bergamot negroni” is Campari, London Dry Gin, cinzano dry, italicus, and Calabrian bergamot oil. I was fully impressed with their branded ice cubes. “Dante’s” name etched in to a giant single square.

The “Americano Americano” is Campari, cinzano rosso, roasted coffee beans, orange citrate, and san pellegrno chinotto. I don’t often drink coffee, but was a fan of this one. Espresso forward with almost a cola quality to it. Easy to drink and a great day time cocktail.

The “Golden Sbagliato” delivered on its name with actual gold glitter mixed into the cocktail, you can see it swirling around the glass with the Campari, cinzano rosso, and Prosecco.

The “Endless Summer” was delightfully refreshing. Campari, strawberry, rhubarb, watermelon, and sparkling rose. The watermelon flavour really comes through in this, and a bit of the radish too.

The tuna crudo was a refreshing and light spoonful.

The veal on crostini with tuna aioli and capers was a new flavour combination for me. Crunchy with the cracker and salty from fish, you don’t get much of the veal.

The mortadella slider had plenty of ham with homemade tomato jam, olives, and pistachios. Another interesting flavour combination. Crispy with the buttery burger bun, salty from the mild ham, sweet from the tomato, and briny from the olives.

And the beet and feta crostini was lovely and light.

This teaser was enough to entice a proper visit. This collaboration is running nightly from 6-10pm, until November 5th. So be sure to check things out soon. Reservations and walk-ins are welcomed.

898 Homer Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2W5

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