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Category: bar Page 1 of 22

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.

BARTHOLOMEW
1026 Mainland St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2T4
(604) 423-4131
bartholomewbar.com

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.

CINEMA
901 Granville St, Vancouver BC, V6B 2C9
604-694-0202
donnellygroup.ca/locations/pubs/cinema/

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.

HOMER ST. CAFE + BAR
898 Homer Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2W5
604-428-4299
homerstreetcafebar.com

Honolulu Coffee, Happy Hour

Other restaurants have Happy Hour, “Honolulu Coffee” has “Pa’u Hana”. Starting on Friday October 4th, the “Honolulu Coffee” on Nelson will host live music with drink and food specials, every Friday from 3-7pm. It may be fall and it maybe cold, but here they are on island time; and the tropical vibes certainly does help to warm you up.

To celebrate the occasion they hosted a luau and I was the first one to arrive for all the festivities. To set the mood, there was live music. Pop songs done on the ukulele.

And “Leis de buds” was on location with handcrafted real rose and real orchid leis. Guests were invited to dawn one around their necks, learning that the proper way to do so is with equal parts of the lei and its florals dangling in front and at the back. This is so that others will be able to enjoy its aesthetics from either side.

And when the pre-made ones were all handed out, the floral specialist began making more on the spot, as a demonstration. Utilizing a specially imported lei needle to thread blossoms together by way of string. The result, wearable art, and a keepsake to take home and dry.

The event spilled out the entrance of the cafe. And right at the entry way was a baby pig roasting on a spit. It definitely attracted the desired attention. Slow cooking since first thing in the morning, it was now ready for carving up and serving.

Its pulled pork meat would be the feature of their kalua pork burgers, along side pineapple and a tomato salsa. The pork was terrific, you can taste the difference cooking it over hot coals made. As for the burger as a whole I would have liked the pineapple grilled, the salsa less watery, and a sweeter mayonnaise to pull it all together.

Inside, a table was set up with help yourself small bites. A collection of their bar menu snacks and cafe favourites for everyone to sample.

In the Teri burger, I got the tangy mayo that I was looking for above. It paired well with the crispy shredded slaw and all the onion and cilantro, piled over a thin beef burger patty.

For something to crunch on and pair with their Hawaiian brewed beers by the can, I recommend their smoked “mixed bar nuts” with a sticky glaze.

I fully enjoyed the “Edamame coconut hummus”. A whipped spread served with pita. It gives you the sensation and texture of hummus, but with a whole new flavour profile to explore. Garlicky and coconut-y, I have had nothing else like it.

The “Lilikoi pineapple meatball” was a nice small plate to share. Served with tooth picks, they are easy to pop into your mouth. A bite-sized round of meat with plenty of cilantro, and hints of passion fruit.

The bacon cheddar scones are from their cafe side, a perk of having a bar within a cafe, you get to pick and choose from either menu that shares the same seating area.

The matcha brownie cubes were decadent, moist bites of chocolate.

But my favourite of all their cafe snacks is their guava bread. I ate cube after cube, recommending others to do the same. A moist cake with the flavour of the pink tropical fruit.

At the build your own açai bowl bar, guests helped themselves to scoops of frozen açai; and topped with as much or as little fresh fruit and dried ingredients as you wanted. Slices of strawberry and banana, whole blueberries, coconut flakes, and house made granola. Tart and refreshing, this made for a healthy dessert alternative.

At their bar they were serving cans of “Maui Brewing Co.” beers in Pineapple mana wheat or Coconut hiwa porter.

And for something sweeter and frostier, you can enjoy their “Hauoli Colada”, similar to a pina colada with tropical fruit juices blended with ice and rum. It was an easy drinking cocktail, made more enjoyable when served in one of their brightly coloured, novelty tiki mugs or pineapple-shaped cup.

We finished our meal off with a cup of their “Hawaiian latte”, exclusive to them and one of a kind with their specialty beans. It uses coconut milk and macadamia nut syrup to further their theme. And although you smelled more of it, than you do taste it, this was still a great indulgence.

They also have two new hot beverages for their fall offerings. The first is a “horchata latte” with cold brew coffee, soy milk, and cinnamon. The second, a “baked maple pumpkin latte” with real pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon, espresso, and milk; topped with grated nutmeg. They didn’t quite taste like what I expected. Not concentrated in horchata or pumpkin flavour, but a different interpretation altogether. I would have liked the horchata sweeter, and the pumpkin latte spicier. The latter was interesting with the addition of maple syrup. Maple, being a strong flavour that battled with the pumpkin as lead in the drink.

For more coffee, guests were invited to sample “Honolulu Coffee’s” newest roast, the “Peaberry”. This is one of the world’s rarest coffees, a lighter bodied brew with subtle sweetness and hints of mixed berry. One that you can take home as beans in a bag. It was recommend that we drink it as is, without milk or sugar. It was a delightful brew, and I can see why it has earned its accolades.

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.
In short, “Honolulu Coffee” will continue to be a cafe I recommend. Not just a regular coffee house, but one that features tropical flavours and transports you to a place much warmer and much further away. And now with happy hour and their own beer garden, there is even more reason to visit them soon. Don’t deny your cravings.

HONOLULU COFFEE
888 Nelson St g1, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H1
(778) 379-6607
honolulucoffee.com

 

$4 happy hour specials at Match Eatery

It was a rainy day, and we spent it at home, sleeping the weather away. And now after 9pm we rolled out of bed in search for some dinner. We decided to take advantage of the timing and head down to “Match Eatery”. Located at “Starlight Casino” in New Westminster, they have a pretty decent happy hour menu. The same food and drink specials you get during 3-6pm, are also available from 9pm to close. A tidbit I learned from another recent visit. In fact, a few photos in this post are from that visit, with better light.

The bar was busier this Saturday night, with all its televisions and surround sound systems dedicated to a live broadcast of boxing. There was a television screen no matter where you looked, and the booming announcer’s voice was hard to avoid. You couldn’t miss the literal blow by blow. The tense energy from the heated match helped to set a more lively vibe.

We were taken on a trek, past the lengthy island bar that lit the way, and given one of the many spacious booths that lined the open room. A comfy round all the way towards the back, by the largest television screen. I liked it and all the other available booths, the more comfortable seating made you want to linger in the space for longer. Feeling more relaxed and therefore eating and drinking more.

Please excuse the quality of my photos. I took them in the dark of the room, as I didn’t want to distract from the match, or the overall late night ambiance, with a bright light.

We basically ordered one of everything off the happy hour menu, minus the pretzel with warm cheese dip and mustard. All food items are $4, available for you to order one at a time. This, instead of 3 to a set like they have on the regular menu. Even as a slider this was a lot for $4. The “Meet me at the hop” is a 100% fresh Canadian beef car hop burger, with American cheese, house mayo, and iceberg lettuce; all between a brioche bun. Each slider is served with a handful of house made old bay kettle chips. The chips were perfection, served in large slices, just the way I like them. You bite through each lightly salted crisp, enjoying the texture just as much as you do it’s flavour. As for the burger it reminded me of a whopper with its sauce, minus the tomato and replacing it with a strong and melty American cheese instead. A solid four biter, no complains.

But between the two slider options, I would recommend the chicken. But at this price, just get one of each. This is the “Crank up your honky tonk” Southern fried chicken sandwich topped with their secret sauce, ice berg lettuce, and sweet pickles; between the same sweet brioche bun as above. This too is served with house made, old bay kettle chips. I would recommend ordering either just for the chips. The chicken burger tasted as impressive as it looked. Plenty of crispy batter on a substantial amount of chicken to crunch though. It was good quality white meat, tangy slaw, and creamy heat. Delicious, exactly what I expected from a fried chicken sandwich.

The menu reminded us that “Life’s short, eat more tacos” so we obliged by trying one of each available on the happy hour menu. The “Mole chicken” is a food truck style taco prepared with fresh slaw, pico de Gallo, chipotle cream, and mexi-fries. This was a familiar flavour with zesty heat and runny dressing. A little too spicy for my partner, but with enough slaw it does balance things out with its freshness.

Between the two tacos I preferred the “Crispy fish” one. This too was a food truck style taco with fresh slaw, but chilli cream and fruit salsa, over the crispy fried white fish, and side of crispy mexi-fries. The mexi fries were pretty bland, a dip in ketchup is how I preferred them. The fish had a nice crunch, it had just as much flavourful seasoning as the chicken above, but less liquid running down your mouth with every bite. I liked the surprise sweetness and tropical feel from the mango chunks. They also have helped to dull the heat of the chilli cream. Glad I liked it, as we got two. Our server accidentally brought us the wrong order, and seeing as he can’t take it back once it hits the table, he let us have it for free.

The menu was cleverly crafted. Each item came with a side of potato, other than fries. Therefore if you are craving some, like my partner was, the only way to get it is to spend another $4 for their “Dirty fries”. These are hand cut fries tossed in Cajun butter, topped with chip dip, Parmesan cheese, hot sauce, and crispy bacon. These was so much going on with this that you didn’t need ketchup. Each shoestring fry different, with the above dusted over it in various combinations. Great with beer given how salty it was with the parm.

To drink my partner had a 16oz craft draft for $5. He had a choice between IPA, pale ale, and amber ale. He went pale with “Steamworks”. I went with the 1/2 price wine. Any size any selection of wine went for 50% off. Pictured is the Shiraz Cabernet by “Saint and Sinner” from Canada. A nice rich red that paired well with all our salted and fried, heavier tapas.

Fearing it wouldn’t be enough food, my partner also ordered the “Italian sausage rigatoni” from off of the regular menu. Rigatoni in a house made tomato sauce with roasted Italian sausage and whole cherry tomatoes. Topped with a dollop of Boursin cheese and shaved Parmesan, and served with a triangle of garlic loaf. The pasta was a comforting portion. Like everything else this too was not bland. Plenty of zesty sausage, juicy tomatoes, tangy sauce, and herbaceous salted cheese to keep you curating your bites. My only critique would be, smaller pieces of the above. Sausage shreds and tomato halves to better enjoy with the pasta. You want the ingredients smaller than the large noodle tubes. And there was pretty much a 1:1 ratio between sliced up meat balls and the chewy pasta noodle.

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.
Everything was a lot better than a thought it would be, for a late night menu. Great staples, all at amazing prices. You get so much value, that I would absolutely recommend their happy hour, and come back for more myself. This serves as really great sobering up food, ideal with heavy drinking and a late night vibe. Don’t deny your cravings.

MATCH
350 Gifford St., New Westminster, BC, V3M 7A3
(604) 777-8008
matchpub.com

Match Eatery, Starlight Casino

“Match Eatery” is party central in New Westminster, and we got a full look at all they have to offer. Not only do they boast a large island bar and plenty of booth seats, ideal for any game or match viewing; but they also have 5 different private rooms to cater to any occasion or clientele. We would visit them all, before hosting our own party in the “Bud room”.

The first room was more like a whole private restaurant. A full bar, several tables, and private washrooms; giving guests the ability to rent out a whole restaurant for themselves and 100 of their best friends. But more realistically, the ideal venue for a work function.

The “Lounge” got its name, given the ability for guests here to watch any game in comfort. Individual couches set up facing the ceiling to wall television screen, much like a theatre. For additional fun is a giant jenga and giant connect four that you can play with as well.

My favourite room was the “Smirnoff” room, named for its pronounced branding. This was a sealed off room, and with the door closed: sound proof. Here, you can have your own DJ and convert a part of the room into a dance floor. Reserving it is pretty much like renting out your own club with private bar and washroom. Given, the upscale appeal of the place, they have a specific menu to match. Not just bar snacks and finger foods like what we had below, but canapés like bocconcini and tomato skewers, instead.

Tonight we were in the “Bud room”, similar to the room above in that it was branded with everything “Budweiser”. A Budweiser bar with bottles on display and a dedicated bartender, their logo on the pool table, and Budweiser beers in Budweiser buckets at every table. This is the ideal room for a smaller party, and the most popular one to reserve. Great for a gathering with two television screens to catch any match on.

The following is what we had: a great sampling of their regular and happy hour menu, each with a whimsical name. “Ain’t no thing like a chicken wing”. Classic deep fried pub-style wings, dry rubbed in salt and pepper. But also available in hot, xo sauce, bbq, and honey garlic. Served with celery sticks & ranch dip.

The “Nacho average nachos” was a grandiose platter with a mound of chips topped with jack cheese, cheddar, their house-made cheese sauce, jalapeños, black olives, and green onions. Served with an edible bowl of salsa, sour cream, and house-made guacamole. This was the vegetarian version, but for $4 more you can add taco beef or mole chicken to your order. Even without it, this was a hearty serving, plenty of layers and lots of dip to keep you going back for chip after chip.

“No Bib Dry Ribs”, named for the promise that you will keep your shirt clean with their salt and pepper dusted pork ribs. It was a little on the dry side, as intended, but it left me wanting a tangy or creamy dip to give it some moisture and flavour.

“Squid pro quo” was heavy breaded calamari, fried jalapeños, red pepper, and diced red onion; all served with tzatziki for dipping. A solid order, but I could have personally used less breading and more chewy squid.

I liked the gummy sweet chilli sauce on the “Shanghai Express” crispy chicken bites. And the black and white sesame seeds and deep fried noodles offered some crunch. An easy to like and share appetizer.

“You had me at Pepperoni”, a double pepperoni pizza with roasted garlic, pepperoncini peppers, and cheese on a honey-sesame crust. The crust was the best part, it ate like bread sticks. It and the hot peppers adding a new dimension to the classic pepperoni pizza

“Mamma Mia- Did Someone day margherita?” “Match’s” version of the classic with roasted tomatoes, bocconcini, and pesto was a little saltier; and had a lot more flavour than a regular margherita pizza, thanks to the zesty pesto. This one is Vegetarian friendly.

The “Bbq chicken pizza” was mole chicken, bbq sauce, pickled red onion, cilantro, mozzarella, and cojita cheese. Classic sweet and spicy bbq sauce paired with tangy onion and plenty of cheese.

We also had a few happy hour food specials, that I didn’t get to try tonight. But having heard that they were all $4 each, I came back shortly after, to try the extent of that menu myself. For that review, come back for tomorrow’s post.

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 definitely recommend their happy hour specials to any one who loves a good deal, and the property in general if you are looking for a lively spot to watch a game at or have a great evening within. The party definitely starts here. Don’t deny your cravings.

MATCH
350 Gifford St., New Westminster, BC, V3M 7A3
(604) 777-8008
matchpub.com

Hydra Cafe & Bar

The reviews have been only so-so for this place, but the decor alone is worth visiting for. They are the newer dining option attached to the “Exchange Hotel”, in downtown Vancouver. This space was design specifically for their Mediterranean restaurant.

You are in awe walking in and climbing their spiralling staircase, up to the main dining area. They do have a secondary bar/lounge space downstairs, but the second floor with vaulted ceiling is the place to be.

I had arrived early and my girl friend was running late, so I was more than happy to spend the additional time waiting for her, by their bar. A handsome arch framed their tiered assortment, well stocked and well presented before a back splash of half circles, layered like scales. This spoke well to their aquatic theme. A chandelier of plastic fish floated over a table, large paintings of wild waves in varying degrees of blue drew your eyes to the wall, and a television screen broadcasting picturesque scenes of the Mediterranean furthered the mood. Turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and not a cloud in the sky. The music, upbeat and lively, like at a tropical resort night club. All this made them a great place for a drink, or to begin a bar crawl at.

On the way to the single stalled washrooms, be sure to take in their raw bar. Back lit mirrors hang over a trough of ice. In it whole fish peak through, speaking to the freshness of their seafood assortment. We were sure to sample from this with their “chill platter”, but more on that below.

By the hotel entrance to the restaurant is a living wall, greens crawling around the name of the restaurant in white LED. Under it a Möet branded tub and life persevere, that I had to take advantage of as a photo op.

Back at the bar, I order my first cocktail of the night. The name spoke well to the drink: “holiday”. Made with summer fruits and bright flavours, this play on the margarita featured fresh watermelon purée, cazadores reposado, martini bitters, ginger, and fresh lime. It was finished with a coconut sugar, and a maldon rim.

My next cocktail was at our reserved table, the “Fig” was a strong drink, that delivered on its name. A smokey sipper with fig at its core, and an extra bite as garnish. Dewar’s white label scotch, fig syrup, angostura bitters, citrus oil, and fig garnish.

The cocktail after that was “Tart”. And unlike the “Fig”, this was a name that did not perfectly describe what you were getting in a drink. Like its colour, it tasted like lavender and flowers. Bombay sapphire, cassis, kefir, fresh lemon and lime, honey, egg whites, and black toasted sesame.

We then decided to try a Greek wine, for drinks 4 and 5. We reasoned out that it would be more economical to get a bottle to share, as opposed to ordering it by the glass. This was “Monograph” from Peloponnese, Greece; it is an Assyrtiko. This was what was suggested when we asked for something similar to pinot gris.

And although it is ill advised, we ordered a “Chill Platter” to accompany all our drinks. Normally you’d want some carbs or something more solid to balance yourself with. But my girl friend and I have an on going thing where we aim to try all the seafood towers in the city. This one comes with prawns, oysters, ceviche sashimi, pickled octopus, tartare, and accoutrements for $105. For those who need even more, you can add on a pound of crab for $45.

The prawns were large and juicy, but plain. They needed a dip, and we found it in the sauces for the oysters, on the top tier.

These were Kushi and Royal miyagi oysters. And normally I can barley tell the difference between types of oysters. But the Royal miyagi oysters were deliciously sweet, the sweetest I have ever had. I chased it with a very clean and crisp tasting kushi oyster.

The ceviche sashimi was very dill forward, it over powered the herbed paprika, salmon and celery for crunch. This is the type of seasoning I would expect in a potato salad.

I liked the tanginess of the pickled octopus, I just wish it wasn’t served cold. Its already chewy texture would be butterier if warmer.

The tartare was bland by comparison, especially when eating it with the cucumber. The caper gave it some salt, but it felt lost amongst the others.

The crab was very water logged, shredded and soaking in olive oil with tomato and parsley. It was also too acidic and vinegary for me to enjoy the natural sweetness of the crab.

The broad beans were a nice little palette cleanser. Served chill with feta for a sandy texture. It was best enjoyed with the hard pita points, made harder with its time in the ice.

Overall, there was quite a bit of food on these two tiers. Plenty to keep you causally nibbling for an hour plus. And when anything got too dull, the sauces and minuet served with the oysters, as mentioned earlier, was enough to do the trick.

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.
Given how much we spent on a seafood tower, I felt it should have lived up to the cost. And for that I wouldn’t necessarily clamour to visit again, but can safely recommend them for an amazing hotel bar to see and be seen at. Don’t deny your cravings.

HYDRA
475 Howe St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2B3
(604) 416-0880
hydracafe.com

Honolulu Coffee, beer garden

I don’t naturally gravitate towards coffee so it is nice to have a different reason to visit “Honolulu Coffee”. They have just opened a beer garden within their cafe, and I was here to get the full Hawaiian experience from them. Although fun fact, Vancouver is the only “Honolulu Coffee” franchise to host their own beer garden. There isn’t even one in Hawaii.

I cannot believe it took me this long to step into their space. It is so much fun. Their Hawaiian theme is evident in every part of their business. You feel transported as you step through the threshold with the change in light and the faint scent of coconut and macadamia nuts in the background. Bleach wood, rattan furniture, patterned cushions, and walls papered with palm trees to further the setting.

To take a little piece of this and them home, they even have a gift shop of sorts. Shelves with their branded coffee mug and tumblers, bold coloured tees and canvas tote bags, bags of their own coffee beans, and tins of their tea.

Like with any cafe they offer speciality coffees and hosts a showcase of baked goods and pastries. From dessert cakes to brownies. We would get a taste of both before the night’s end.

Their cafe feels separate from their beer garden, despite the latter only covering a little corner of their elongated space. But in my opinion, this is the best corner. All centred around a colourful mural of sand and water framed by palm trees, advertising their “Brewed with Aloha” beers. With a custom painted surf board to anchor it all. With this, all the right props, and all their tropically inspired beers, you are somewhere warm and tropical.

Their limited menu is listed on the back of their bar. Local beers on tap and Hawaiian beers by the can, and the perfect inspired snacks to enjoy them with.

We started with two cans of the Island brewed “Maui Brewing Co.” beers. Their cans feature Maori traditional prints on the outside and tropical fruit flavours on the inside. Both gave you the promised fruit essence with a nice easy drinking beer. Pineapple mana wheat and Coconut hiwa porter.

With it we enjoyed a serving of their mixed bar nuts, its smokey flavour complimentary to the beers.

My guest and I were fully impressed by the “Edamame coconut hummus”, and the creativity in the idea. It gave you the sensation and texture of hummus, but with a whole new flavour. It was churned smooth, and ideal with the pillowy soft pita bread it was served with. Garlicky and coconuty both at the same time, here is nothing else like it. Worth trying.

The “Lilikoi pineapple meatball” was a nice one to easily pop into your mouth, as a bar snack. A solid ball of meat with plenty of cilantro, coupled with hints of passion fruit; but tasted more like pineapple.

It was later explained that it is typical for Hawaiian cuisine to feature plenty of onion and cilantro. Like there was in our “Teri burger sliders”, along with a creamy mayo and crispy shredded slaw. All on a thin burger patty and plain bun. You eat it more for its condiments than the sweet buttery bun, gaining very little taste from the patty. It is also more sweet than salty, and I expected some teriyaki flavour in this (because of its name), and didn’t get it.

We finished our meal off with a cup of their “Hawaiian latte”, exclusive to them and one of a kind with their specialty beans. It uses coconut milk and macadamia nut syrup. Although you smell more of it, than you do taste it, this was still a great indulgence.

And I couldn’t pass up a slice of their guava bread. It is like banana bread, but sweeter and pink from the colour of the fruit. It was cut thick and offered you a beautiful chew. I would go out of my way for more. Another must try.

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.
Seriously, glad I could check this one out. And now I am happy to be able to recommend it. Next time that I want a drink or a snack I will actively look for a “Honolulu cafe”. Great polite service, stand out food, and a one of a kind setting to enjoy both in. Don’t deny your cravings.

HONOLULU COFFEE
888 Nelson St g1, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H1
(778) 379-6607
honolulucoffee.com

Privé Kitchen + Bar

Once “Privé night club” in downtown Vancouver, now rebranded as an entertainment metropolis on West Broadway. This highly anticipate kaorake bar, restaurant, and entertainment centre is opening this Sunday, September 1st; and I was one of a handful that got to experience this megaplex, a few days before.

The space is massive, previously home to “Red Robins” it now hosts 10 karaoke rooms, a 2,000 square foot patio, a common area with a giant tv screen; and plenty of tables and chairs that can be removed to covert the space into a dance floor. For those who don’t dance they have giant Jenga for you to stack, a high tech beer pong table that includes its own app, a regular ping pong table, and an exercise bike.

But the latter wasn’t just any ordinary exercise bike, this bike blended as you pedalled. The result, a few calories burned and a new frozen slush in hand. It lives in the lounge, and is available to prospective riders. Though with the need for personel to help mix the drink before you bike, I suspect it is only available for riding on busier nights.

A similar case would probably be for the beer pong table. To play you need to download the app, struggle to get their password and connect to wifi, take a photo of a barcode, input your settings, then find balls and clean liquid cups to play with. But when they have reps in to show you what’s what, and how to play the game, it is a lot of fun. A more theatrical version of the popular drinking game, with flashing lights and the tallying of points.

Currently “Privé” is only licensed as a restaurant, and are working on acquiring their liqueur license. But once they do, they can bring in a DJ booth and arcade games to round out their late night offerings. Although their bar is already well stocked with premium liqueurs, sparkling wine, and Hennessy on display.

However, for this launch party, we were able to try a few would-be cocktails. Including a spiked ice tea and a lightly spiced caesar.

There was also a welcome citrus punch and a clear gin and cucumber cocktail, along with a couple of fruit infused mocktails.

With the drinks, there were plenty of foods to graze on; including fruit platters, meat and cheese boards, and a spread of veggies and dip. Basically their entire food menu was put out on display for trying. The following is what I got to, before it was picked over, potluck style. And unfortunately I didn’t try everything, so can’t review it for you here.

It was hard to share a burger over 20 ways, keeping everyone else invited in mind. I tried the fried chicken one with crunchy breaded chicken breast and creamy, crisp slaw. There was also a bacon cheese burger and two other beef options.

I didn’t like the idea of raw oysters at a night club or bar. But it was promised to be of quality, and it did fit into their luxury experience.

Similarly, there was raw beef carpaccio. This apparently I had no problem trying.

I didn’t mind their seafood cooked in soup or fried over fries. Fish and chips. The clam chowder was easy to sample with a scoop of soup on to your plate, and used as a sauce to dip your bread into.

They also had salads like one with golden beets and another with quinoa.

But the most popular, and the best dishes were all the familiar pub classics. The nachos with guacamole and salsa over chips and/or tater tots, were super tasty.

And I liked their fully loaded chilli cheese fries with hot cheetos.

If you get the chance to enjoy any of the above, I suggest doing so on their patio. A luxurious setting with wicker and cushion. Couches to sprawl on, and city views to look out at.

But of course the main event, and the reason to visit is their karaoke rooms. 9 rooms, each marked with its own song lyric.

Pop one liners like, “hit me baby one more time”, “I don’t wanna miss a thing”, “as long as you love me”, and “it was all a dream”.

Memorable rap versus like “She said she don’t believe in God, but her shoes Christian”, “money on my mind, all I $ee i$ dollar $ign$”, and “more money more problems”.

These are what made the rooms and “Privé karaoke bar” memorable. The fun of choosing your room based on its lyric and your mood, not to mention all the photographic possibilities.

The largest room is able to host a party of 20, under the neon lights: “feed me, feel me, fuck me, Vancouver special”. It and all the larger rooms have their own in suite washroom.

Like our “I love bad bitches, that’s my fucking problem” room. We found the quote empowering, making it our own, and paying homage to it by singing rap songs by powerful women.

Each room is equipped with 2 microphones. They are easy to turn on with a button on its handle, and a rubber grip to keep it from slipping. You make your song selection on the touch screen by the television. It functioned like a giant iPad. It was easy to use; easy to search songs by genre, title, or artist. There plenty of new releases with actual music videos to scroll through. And even more international singles from around the world to discover.

My girl friend and I aren’t big singers, let along karaoke enthusiast, so we were both surprised by how much fun we had. With the function that allows you to sing along with the actual singer, our cracking voices were masked. We found ourselves excited to finish our song choice and look for another.

We sang for 2 hours straight. With the toilet a few feet away and a phone to call the staff with, you needn’t leave the comfort of these spacious and stylish room. Eating and drinking are highly encouraged here. They have buckets for bottles and a specialty tray for shots. If you need anything, you pick up the phone and it’s yours.

Although, I do still suggest visiting the regular washrooms. The men’s and women’s had their own neon lights. More photographic and memorable quotes to capture.

And if you come before the sun sets, make sure you linger long enough to see the sky grow dark, and their space light up.

In short, I love the space and had a blast. I will be coming back with friends, and can safely recommend “Privé” as a great place to party at. You get the night club aesthetic and energy, retooled for a more causal evening. Although, they definitely kept the staff and their dress code, like that of a club.

PRIVE
1001 West Broadway Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 4E4
privevancouver.com

“Ready” at Tap & Barrel

 

Technology is all around us, making our lives easier, and our day to day mundane activities quicker. Case in point, there is a new way to pay coming to Vancouver’s restaurant scene. Today I was at “Tap & Barrel” to learn more about the new “Ready Split Check Function”, at this launch party with cocktails and canapés.

“Ready” is focusing on their expansion to Canada and the US with their phone friendly payment method. You view, split, and pay your check right on your phone. Available for the iPhone and Android. You simply open your camera app and focus on the “Ready” QR code and follow the prompts. With android you can also tap your NFC enabled phone to the table top sign to view your check, pay, and go.

Pictured in my photos is the demo version we got to try out, but they are now live!

A pop up appears on your screen inviting you to click and view your check. Your bill appears when you do, it itemizes your purchase. Here, you can tick off what you had, and/or pay only for what you want to. With this, there is a new way to fight for who is going to pay. You no longer have to search for your server or wait for them to deliver the bill, and then go back to get the machine you need to pay for it. This is especially helpful at the busier bar scenes that they are rolling this out at. Also great if small talk with your server as your pay, and decide what to tip them, gives you anxiety.

Not to mention the amount of time is saves both parties. Table turn time was reduced by 23 minutes with “Read”. You simply look for their signs and can complete the transaction using Apple Pay, Google Pay, and all major credit cards. They are rolling out this platform to various restaurants, hotels, and stadiums around town. And strategically placing themselves as a solution for the labour shortage in the hospitality industry.

While we learned and chit chat-ed we enjoyed beer, wines, and cocktails from behind the bar, and sampled small bites from the kitchen.

“The Hatch Left Bank Blanc” was a dry wine that quenched, with notes of citrus and stone fruits.

The “Raspberry crush” was a cocktail mix of disruption vodka, raspberries, soda, and lemonade. A refreshingly tasty, patio sipper.

Everyone helped themselves to the charcuterie board. A collection of hard cheeses, paired with salty cured meats, juicy tomatoes, and briny olives.

The “Green goddess hummus” was a vegetarian option. A perfectly pipped swirl of thick, green hummus made from garbanzo beans; served on toast topped with Micro greens. It was a little gritty and I wanted a more even hummus to toast-base ratio. Easy to eat like this, but probably better as a dip or spread to self regulate.

The shrimp and avocado on a crispy tortilla with pickled ginger was another easy snack. I would have liked the shrimp warm, instead of being served chill. And the guacamole less spicy and punchy, but overall more complimentary to the shrimp.

The beef slider was a classic with cheese, tomato, and lettuce on a sesame seed bun

And I would have liked a full serving of their crispy fried chicken, over a sweet and fluffy golden brown waffle. And when I come back for some, I can pay for it using “Ready”.

To learn more about the app visit their website here. https://readytopay.com/

TAP & BARREL
1 Athletes Way, Vancouver BC, V5Y 0B1
604-685-2223
tapandbarrel.com

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