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Category: Happy Hour Page 1 of 2

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

Nightingale revisted

It has been a while since I visited “Nightingale”, I was reminded of it thanks to the success of “Netflix’s” romantic comedy, “Always be my Maybe”. It centres around the restaurant industry and therefore uses several Vancouver restaurants as its backdrop. “Nightingale” makes an appearance as “Saintly Fare”, a new restaurant opened in San Francisco by our main character, Chef Sasha Tran. In the movie it is clear that the two storey restaurant with its bird cages and origami bird accents is actually “Nightingale” on Hastings at Burrard.

My original visit was right when it opened in 2016, and back then I didn’t have a very memorable meal, so was looking forward to reassessing it now, with all its new found success and film notoriety.

We arrived in time for happy hour cut off, Sunday to Wednesday from 3-5:30pm. So ordered their popular “buttermilk fried chicken” for $3 less. It was dressed in a spiced maple syrup with sumac and pickles. Not your classic fried chicken flavour, but just as crunchy and tasty in its sweet sauce and tangy pickles. Although I would have preferred this over waffles given its sweetness and natural alignment for brunch.

I was excited to see “Chicharron” on the menu, but was disappointed by its execution. I have had pork rinds before and given the nature of the restaurant, I figured it would be an elevated rendition. Instead, these were fairly dense crisps, heavier than I thought they would be, with a harder crunch. Not only was it tough to eat, but it lacked flavour with its simple charred lemon salt seasoning.

For our entrees we shared a pizza and a pasta dish. The “Summer squash” pizza was thin crust dough topped with Fresno chilli, mozzarella, san marzano, and fior di latte. It reminded me of a sweet Margherita pizza at its core. But with the unique starch and woodsy-ness of the sweet squash, balanced by the salty cheese and fragrant crispy basil leaves.

The “Chitarra pasta” was similar in its lightness. Rich in flavour and not in sauce, it was a little dry with the duck ragu, crispy sage, and pecorino romano. Overall it was tasty enough, but I prefer a saucy pasta and something less salty. With this, we finished a litre of water between us.

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.
It certainly is a nice spot, but the food just doesn’t satisfy as other pastas and pizzas at other restaurants have/do. Don’t deny your cravings.

NIGHTINGALE
1017 W. Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 0C4
604-695-9500
hawknightingale.com

Peroni patio party at D6

Today I was invited to celebrate “Peroni” at one of their annual cross-Canada summer Terrazza parties. And what better a place to host such an event than at the now opened, newly furnished patio of “D6”.

The sunny day allowed guests to mingle across the entirety of the patio, and the covered portion with its heat lamps offered shade and warmth against the roof top wind. There was plenty of seating across couches by coffee tables, you could grab a high top over by the bar, or a regular four top against the greenery and it pink plastic flamingos, or maybe just huddle around the fire pit with a drink in hand.

But first to get the drink. The roof top bar with its chic white marble tiles was themed in Peroni with bottles of the beer in an ice bath, and more beers poured non stop from the tap. Although the most appropriate for the patio was their “L’Oriente” cocktail, a special pour for the day. Fresh mandarin juice, yuzu syrup, and Peroni Nastro Azzuro; topped with candied ginger. Delicious even for non beer drinkers. So good that my guest and I both finished two pints with ease.

But there were also other ways to enjoy your Peroni today. “Passionate Gelato Artigianale” was on site passing out scoops of their gelato kept cool on ice.

They had a Peroni Nastro Azzurro gelato flavoured with lime. This was a refreshing and creamy slush that served as a great way to turn my cocktail into a float. But for those who enjoy more traditional flavours there was a salted caramel and organic BC strawberry gelato to choose from.

All the while small bites circulated throughout the enclosed patio. I wish I bothered to ask which kitchen they were from and if they are available off of the regular “D6” menu.

The “Brie cigars” were a fun way to call melty and stringy Brie cheese wrapped in phyllo and fried. Best enjoyed with a deep dunk into a sweet and sour dip.

The goat cheese crostini offered up the lightest bite with fresh cherry tomato and a sweet drizzle of balsamic.

The vegetarian spring rolls included mashed potatoes with the shredded carrots and beans, it gave things a different texture and take.

The beef short rib croquettes were meaty bundles of shredded beef served with either a sweet chilli sauce or a blue cheese dip.

The mini sliders were a filling burger with a juicy beef patty.

But I preferred the mini chicken burgers for their generous crispy chicken feature and tangy sweet pickles.

And the coconut shrimp was a favourite. A sweet and crispy shell hiding juicy shrimp.

In short, this was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon and enjoy one of the nicest patios in the city.

D6
39 Smithe Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 0P4
parqvancouver.com/bars-lounges

Happy Hour at Atlas

Today I was invited down to “Atlas”, the steak and seafood restaurant located in Grand Villa casino, Burnaby’s best hot spot. I was here to try out their happy hour offerings.

Traffic had us arriving later than anticipated, but luckily we were still able to take advantage of their price reduced menu for 20 minutes upon seating. We would immediately order everything we wanted, before cut off.

We started with their cocktail special for $8, and today it was a Amaretto sour. None of the sour, and plenty of sweet from the foamy egg white topper.

We then followed it up with a 6oz glass of wine for $6. Either red or white, Merlot or Chardonnay. They also have 12oz Stella Artois drafts for $6.

For food, the following dishes were $4 a bite. It doesn’t look like much on the plate, but stacking on extra orders grew it to a fulsome appetizer.

The “seared scallop and tiger prawn” was a juicy large shrimp and a softened scallop, sitting atop of a thin slice of pineapple, smoked in their jasper oven. All wading in a pool of sweet coconut curry cream. Together this offered up a refreshing bite that made me crave a side of coconut rice with it.

The “warm prime rib bun” was seasoned in a red wine jus, and served with a truffle mayonnaise in a toasted brioche bun. The folds of beef were perfectly cooked with a pinky hue. It was saucy with the flavour of the truffle shining through. I highly recommend eating this as soon as you get it, as the bun does get soggy quick.

The “hand rolled meatballs marinara” came with two full sized balls and a piece of garlic toast twice as big. I suggest sharing as each ball was plenty. The classic flavour of tangy tomato in a sweet herbed base.

Ironically, my favourite dish off of their happy hour menu was the complimentary, house made kettle chips. Extra crispy, thick cut potato slices that kept you coming back for more crunch after crunch. It came with a garlic aioli sauce for dipping, not that it needed any help in the flavour department. I definitely finished the skillet-full myself.

They also offered $1 an oyster special, with their variety depended on the batch. Although a great deal, we passed for the time being. We had planned to stay around for dinner, and would splurge on their seafood tower before, therefore knew we would get our oyster fix then and there.

This is their “Atlas chilled seafood tower” for two, at $88. Two tiers that arrived at our table with a show of liquid nitrogen smoke. The top included jumbo shrimp with the classic tangy red cocktail sauce; and raw kushi oysters, the catch of the day.

The bottom layer had clams and mussels cracked open, long snow crab legs, and a full lobster tail cut in half for easy sharing. The latter two was also pre-cracked for an easier peel back. Although if you needed more help in this endeavour there were nut crackers available, and we each received a hot towel to wipe our hands with.

This was a fresh feast we enjoyed with a bottle of white wine. It was brought table side and kept chilled in a copper bucket.

During our stay we also got a sneak peak of one of their new services. A cocktail made table side, crafted from premium ingredients. There is something about watching your food or drink being prepared before your eyes that elevates it and your experience. The result, a smokey Old Fashion, topped with a cherry.

 

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.
“Atlas” is the dressiest place in Burnaby. An upscale restaurant offering the downtown feel and experience without the haste of the travel, the cost of the cab, and the trouble of finding parking. And now with happy hour specials, they give you another reason to visit. I suggest starting your dinner early with some happy hour bites as your appetizer. Then enjoying your visit with well crafted drinks that easily take you from after work to dinner. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ATLAS
4331 Dominion Street, Burnaby BC, V5G 1C7
604-453-0776
atlassteakandfish.com

The Keg, winter happy hour

Tonight I was at “The Keg” in Granville Island, out of convenience. We were killing some time before our evening show, and the rain wasn’t letting up. Dining here meant that our walk was merely across the street to our eventual destination.

Our visit coincided with their new happy hour menu and seasonal cocktail launch; two things we took advantage of. New to this list was their teriyaki bites and pork dumplings, replacing calamari, nachos, and sliders. This was information I found out from our server, after she noticed me taking notes. We discussed the above a bit, and how I found the previous three food items to be more happy hour friendly, as nice snacks to pair with beer.

We started with one of each of their happy hour plates, and to it added two regular appetizers, as we were eating to replace a meal. As a whole, the happy hour meal felt the same. Similar seasonings and flavours found its way from dish to dish, from steak to cauliflower.

I was originally excited for the $8 teriyaki steak bites. Steak for $8 is a steal, and pre-cut for easy eating is just helpful. Unfortunately, each cube was dry and ashy. A sandy chew from over cooked meat, a fact you can tell just by pricking it with a fork. The excessive seasonings did well to hide some of the above. But overall, it was disappointing. Disappointing that they couldn’t do steak right, especially considering it is and what they should be known for.

The pork and kimchi dumplings were nice enough, not authentic but plenty tasty. A savoury meat filling encasing a nice chewy dough wrapper. The pickled vegetable on the side offered some tangy crunch and interest. But as I mentioned earlier, the saucy flavour was similar here as it was above, and therefore wore thin.

The “crispy fried cauliflower” was a generous serving, but it too felt the same. It came with two sauces, but both were sweet and salty when in reality you wanted a creamy dip like a ranch, tartare, and/or sour cream. The florets cooled fast, and you were left with a mound of vegetable that could do with a more crispy and consistent batter and fry.

As I mentioned earlier, to top off our happy hour plates above, we ordered two seafood based appetizers to follow.

The calamari was disappointing. More crunchy breading than chewy pieces of squid, it was over salted and didn’t taste fresh. In fact I liked the just-as-chunky breaded vegetables that came with it, more. This ate like something you would order at a bar, not what I expect from a higher end, casual chain restaurant, like “The Keg”. The food did not live up to its reputation.

The crab cake was much better, it ended up being the best thing we had that night. The cake was well seasoned and perfectly fried for a crisp even crust. It went well with the creamy burrata and the crisp steamed vegetables on the side. By comparison, this was a clean classic plate with no complaints.

We also drank throughout our meal, then lingered after the food was packed up, with a few more rounds.

The $5 happy hour Caesar and the $6 happy hour white. The Caesar was pretty standard, overly salty and overwhelmingly spicy. The white wine my guest didn’t like. It didn’t matter that it was on special, she preferred to pay full price to switch to mini bottles of prosecco afterwards.

Next, we both ordered the Thursday $5 drink special: their margaritas. I couldn’t even finish this, it was easily the saltiest anything I have ever had. And worst is, this assessment doesn’t even include the drink’s usual salted rim. I made mention of its undrinkable nature to our server, who took note of a 2/3 full glass returned to her and the half glass my guest too gave back. She accepted it blindly, not asking more details on how this was too salty. Here, there was no consideration and no offer to replace it or at least remove the cost of it from our bill. Disappointing from “The Keg”.

Next my guest had her first of two glasses of sparkling wine and I began tasting their new winter cocktails. The “Heart of gold” was recommended to us by our server. It was easy to drink with the sweetness of honey, a good cocktail for when you have a sore throat. Wiser’s Deluxe Rye, honey, lemon, and sage. I also really liked the sent of the fresh picked leaf before you came close to sip.

I didn’t have the room for their popular “billy miner pie” for dessert, so ordered the spiked coffee version of it instead. A shot of bailey’s and one of khalua in hot coffee, topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. I didn’t enjoy it the same, although this was still tasty; even for a person, like myself, who isn’t too fond of coffee or chocolate.

The “Red moon Manhattan” smelled like cinnamon and orange peel, and drank like a winter sangria with boozy cherries. Mondavi bourbon barrel Cabernet, Lot No. 40 Rye, spices, and bitters.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Sadly I am not a fan of “The Keg “as a whole, there is one location that I like, the only one location where I once enjoyed my food, and would go back to. As for the others, I find the quality doesn’t deliver on their brand, nor the steaks worthy of your money. I would rather order seafood or a burger at this steak house, if I was urged to return. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

THE KEG
1499 Anderson St Granville Island, Vancouver BC, V6H 3R5
604-685-4735
kegsteakhouse.com
The Keg Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Homer St. Cafe, happy hour

Today I was looking for a unique happy hour destination downtown. My choice was dependent on a fulsome menu, a good selection of drinks, and a restaurant that many have yet to visit. (I enjoy excising my earned blogging knowledge by turning others on to places that I myself have been to and like.) After reviewing many options I finically decided on “Homer St. Cafe”. I have been before, so knew the quality of food would hold up, but the cincture was that their happy hour snack menu featured pork belly and chicken wings!

There is plenty of parking right up front when not dining during peak times, so the location is convenient. With several adjoining rooms to the place, visits may feel different depending on where you sit and what you eat. Today we were gathered in their main dining area, adjacent to their lengthy kitchen space, set behind a white marble bar. The same white marble topped the individual table we were seated at. All together it felt like you were dining in a modern, cozy kitchen. Swinging your feet, waiting for a relative to prepare a plate lovingly before you.

Our group of seven started with a round of their $5-6 wines, bubbles, beer, and/or cocktails. A cheers captured in photo is necessary.

Between us we ordered all but 2 out of their 8 small plate appetizers, doubling up on the fried chicken so that everyone could have a piece. We passed on the chicken liver pate and the smoked fish croquettes, I guess the others weren’t as adventurous as I am, I would have ordered the pate for sure.

I didn’t plan for there to be a vegetarian in our group, but luckily there were meat free options for her to nibble on. Like the bowl of marinated olives with cubes of manchego cheese for $5. It was your standard bar offering, best paired with a red wine, taken in with small sips and stimulating conversation.

The chickpea dip was a favourite amongst the table and another veggie friendly offering. Made with chickpeas, scallions, and paprika, served with a forest of dried taro and plantain chips. I liked the presentation of the chips upright in the dip for easy gripping and scooping. Although there was far less chips then dip, and we definitely needed and ordered a second bowl of chips to finish off the chickpea dip with. This dish was both healthy and delicious, and at $5 you can have two here and take what ever is leftover home.

“Homer St. Cafe” is known for their in house churned rotisserie chicken, so even though we couldn’t get a taste of that at a special price during happy hour, we were at least able to get their fried chicken on the discounted menu. You got 4 pieces of chicken to a plate, along with their buttermilk garlic dip. The quickest hand to either of the two plates we ordered, earn the full drum, the others enjoyed a full wing with drumlet that was less juicy and a lot more crispy. But the flavour persisted between pieces, and this still serves as some great fried chicken. If you are downtown during happy hour and are craving fried chicken, I suggest getting some refined dark meat here for $10.

But the meat dish that was the crowd winner tonight was the “maple butter pork belly”. This is reason enough to visit them during happy hour. Take a succulent piece of tasty and slightly fatty pork belly, and caramelized it in maple syrup for a crispy coating and some sweetness. Delicious, enough said.

As a base and to add some starch to it all, we also had a serving of fries. Who can say no to a well crisped and perfectly salted serving of potato? These came with an aioli for a more sophisticated dip, but I still prefer ketchup.

 

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.
I often forget that happy hour eating is not in place of a meal, but act as a warm up before it. Therefore I look for more food and full plates, as apposed to what is great for snacking on. But if you are like me, and looking for an happy hour menu to act as your early bird dinner, “Homer St. Cafe” serves as a great option. Especially as this menu also includes a charcuterie board and chicken sandwich on special for $12. And the listing advertises 2 desserts at $6 each: a plate of cookies or some chocolate pudding. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

HOMER ST CAFE
898 Homer Street, Vancouver BC, V6B5S3
604-428-4299
homerstreetcafebar.com
Homer St. Cafe & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Opus Lounge, happy hour

My friend and I stumbled upon this one, we were looking for dinner, but were lured in my how great their happy hour pricing was.

This is the “Opus Hotel’s” lobby bar, adjacent to the fine Italian restaurant, “La Pentola”. Visitors lounged about in a chic adjoining room with tiled columns framing a bar with golden shelves, marble counter tops, and a tribute to biggie and pac. The choice of art spoke to our musical preferences, and eluded to what the in house performer was bringing to us tonight. Live music is a happy hour treat here every Wednesday, as well as a good reason to stop by and drink on hump day.

And tonight it was because of this performer that we ended staying longer and having additional drinks then we had originally intended to. He stood awkwardly at the corner of the marble and glass fireplace, this was barely standing room, let alone a stage. He was plunged in and belting out jazzy upbeat versions of your favourite rap and pop Ballards. This was a new way to enjoy the top 40’s.

Seven days a week, from 3-7pm “Opus Bar” treats early birds with a $5 everything menu. A healthy selection of wine, beer, and small plates all for $5. At $5 each you don’t have to choose, but did as we did and ordered one of everything (sans the beer, as it was a wine kind of night). Truth be told, it wasn’t the tastiest small plates, but at $5 you aren’t going mention it.

I had a cocktail to start, only because I spotted and wanted my drink served in one of the their tiki cups. The lone bartender and server hosting the space, did a good job creating something on the fly, even going through the trouble of finding strawberry slices to finish it off with panache.

“Meatballs in a tomato sauce”. They were a little over cooked, and flat in flavour. But nothing a little salt and some herbs couldn’t rejuvenate. I would have liked some garlic bread on the side to use to scoop sauce and ground beef up with.

“Grilled prawn skewers” seasoned in lemon and a parsley aioli. They were juicy and large enough, but they just lacked flavour, even with a generous dip in the sauce. With these I just wanted them grilled more. They lacked a Smokey flavour, and could have done well with a coating in butter, and a seasoning in pepper.

You really get your money’s worth with the “warm olive” plate. This was the most olives I have ever had in one sitting. A collection of four different types that was almost too much to share.

“Ricotta, honey, and walnut” on toast. Out of the two toast options I preferred this one. It was a creamy spread with bites of crunch from the nuts. I liked the tease of honey, and found myself trying to find more drops of it on the toasted rectangle.

“Baccala, salted cod, and whipped potato”. I didn’t like the similar mouth feel of the mashed potatoes over the chewy bread, and found the salted fish far too distracting to take note of anything else. More pickled onions and/or some cornishons would help in this regard.

 

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 wouldn’t make my way down for any of their food, or any of the above again. But their happy hour drink selection is quite expansive, compared to others only offering what’s on tap and/or what the house owns. And with live music on Wednesday, this makes for a very fun spot. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

OPUS BAR
322 Davie Street, Vancouve BC, V6B 2G2
604-694-2107
vancouver.opushotel.com/en-us/eat-drink/opus-bar
Opus Bar - Opus Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tocador, Happy Hour

Seeing some pretty impressive drinks and dishes come out of their social media presence I was excited to give “Tocador” a shot. Its pale pink exterior with white, pink, and blue striped patio was eye catching in its simplicity and new coat of paint.

Walking in was like an explosion of colour. The pastel walls and bold accents helped to craft this wonderland. Featured walls were papered in pink hibiscuses and blue. There was a mural of a joyous woman bathed in streams of yellow sunlight; smiling in full, surrounded by palm leaves. Pink patterned tiles creeped from wall to bar, its hue matching the striped vases that sat on the chestnut coloured counter top. I especially liked the up-cycling of the two vanities with mirrors, that sat on the actual bar as shelving.

This afternoon I visited their colourful restaurant with a friend to try their “Punch of the week”. I ordered it using a photo, but sadly didn’t get what was pictured. I was envisioning a tall glass goblet with a long stem, the length of my forearm. A lavish vessel to be enjoying a grand drink in. Instead, we still got just as big of a drink, except it was in a short and stout glass. This drink has a two person minimum. Its making varies from week to week, but it always has plenty of rum and fresh juices, and as the menu describes, “some stuff that will taste good in your mouth”. This week included a mix of both white and dark rum. It was good enough, but not memorable in terms of flavour profile, but let’s be real, I definitely got it for the novelty.

And seeing we were at the right place, at the right time: between 4-6pm; we also partook in their happy hour offerings saving on average $3 per dish. Although there were only 2 options available, and neither were printed on its own menu. So perhaps they were testing this out in their market? None-the-less, here they are.

“Croquetas con carne” potatoes croquettes made with a rotating selection of meats. Today it was lamb, you don’t get much of the meat, but plenty of its flavour. Little nuggets of dark meat embedded into the fluffy whipped potato ball, all wrapped and coated in crispy fried breading. The creamy white sauce it sat in gave things some moisture and another dimension of flavour, however I would have preferred a gravy or a tomato based sauce to give it a more familiar feel.

“Dip & Dab”. The name was fun. It was like chips and dip, but with crispy dried plantain slices and house made guacamole. A nice bar snack to nibble on as you drink, and on the healthier side too. Loved the crunch of the fruit chip and the lumpy guacamole that paired with it.

 

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.
Sadly I didn’t get enough food or drink to give a full assessment of the place, but I did like what I saw and tried.
I will definitely be back for a more fulsome meal. In fact, a few days after this, I attempted to invite a Cuban friend to try their dinner service with me, to get her perspective on their cuisine. But after glancing at the menu she declared that it wasn’t authentic cuban cuisine, so passed. Until next time I guess. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TOCADOR
2610 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5T 3E6
604-620-2433
tocador.ca

Sneeki Tiki

Today was the perfect day to visit Vancouver’s newest and downtown’s first tiki bar. It was the first of many rainy days to come, so this vibrant and brightly coloured lounge was the perfect oasis, in which to imagine the sunnier days of summer once forgotten.

“Sneeki Tiki” is the new hotel bar, located at the lobby of Granville Street’s “Best Western”, And today they invited myself and a handful of others to help celebrate their grand opening in style. The bar is easy to spot with its straw thatched patio and citrus coloured bar stools. Colourful planters lined the fenced off area with a bounty of fake greenery that includes tropical blooms, tall grass, and pineapple fruit. But sadly the rain pouring down on the uncovered space meant that the party was moved to the inside.

And to be honest, I preferred it much more. It was thoroughly decorated to bring to life the tiki theme and to help whisk you away to some where warm. Somewhere, where you order the frozen drinks they serve and sway to island beats they play. Ceiling to floor the theme was consistent. Straw panels lined the room, the ceiling was plastered with maps of the tropics and pineapple decals. Their tiki mascot found its way around the room: in the carved wooden masks and columns, the decorative paintings and figures, and in the glassware that they poured into. Woven rattan chairs and wooden tables faced the stage in the corner. It’s back drop was a hand painted surf scape. Blue skies, colourful pointed boards, and green leaves.

Tonight this would be the background and stage that local and award winning Polynesian dancers would perform on. This night was the perfect test to see how the crowd responded, and if there was a market in Vancouver for regular Polynesian dancing to be held at “Sneeki Tiki”. Based on how much fun I had and how enthusiastic the crowd got tonight, I would say that is a yes!

They performed several sets where they wowed us with their traditional story telling told through colourful garments, acoustic instruments, and the impressive speed in which hips were swaying. They danced with hand gestures, handheld instruments, and hoot and hollered aloud to get the crowd going. There were costume changes, feats of strength, and a portion that would have been simply magnificent if they were able to incorporate fire into the act.

As for the drinks, the menu mimicked a treasure map with 19 different cocktails organized by “islands”. “Signature islands”, “classic islands”, “sneeki islands”, and “tiki bowls”. We would try a handful during this visit. Half the fun was seeing what glasses each came in and how decorative the cocktail would get in the name of their theme.

The “Mai Tai Redux” was the “Sneeki Tiki’s” take on the classic Mai Tai. Amber and pineapple rum, apricot brandy, orgeat and faleum syrup mixed with pineapple and guava juice. It was as tropical and tasty as it reads.

The “Blue Hawaiian” is a popular sweet and frozen cocktail given its colour. Light rum, blue curaçao, coconut cream and pineapple juice. This is a staple at any sunny, all inclusive resort; so it gave me flash back of fond memories with every sip.

The “Tinder surprise” was a created in house a blend of Vodka, Kahlua, and orange bitters topped with more bitters. Compared to how easy and tasty all the other drinks were, this one made you grimace with every sip. It wasn’t a smooth and creamy drink like what you’d expect from one mixed with Kahlua. Nor was it a simple and clean, it just felt like it wasn’t gibing.

The “Stormy D.” was a play on the dark and stormy but lighter. It is made with dark rum, lemon grass syrup, and pineapple juice; topped with ginger beer. It was much lighter with the beer and drank just as such.

The “Pineapple Express” was a fun one with light rum, falemum, pineapple fruit and pineapple juice. A refreshing juice-like cocktail that I would order again.

But truly the one to get and the bar’s showstopper is the “Scorpion bowl”. This is a larger serving of drinks to share between 2-3 people. It is 4.5 ounces of light rum, brandy, triple sec, orgeat, talemum, cane sugar, guava, and papaya juice. It comes in a special bowl and set a flame. A little cinnamon sprinkled atop of the lit sugar cube gives the table some theatrics.

But sadly none of these are part of their happy hour menu, also known as “Tiki Hour”. Instead, you can take advantage of their discounted food menu between 4-6pm. Their speciality wings go for $4 less, you pay a couple of bucks for a skewer of chicken satay and/or chicken corn dogs, and vegetable gyozas run at $2 less. We would get to try a few of these and some of their other menu items as a sampling.

“Polynesian wings”, chicken wings tossed in a blend of pineapple juice and spices, available in mild or spicy. They were sweet and salty, juicy wings, easy to slide into your mouth and pick clean with your teeth. A great bar staple that they are doing their way.

By comparison the “Chicken satay on skewers” were dry and bland. The menu described it being served with a peanut or yogurt dipping sauce; and had we had a saucer of it, things would have tasted much better.

The “Veggie gyoza” was your standard gyoza: chewy dough surrounding a nugget of mixed vegetables seasoned with plenty of garlic. This too was missing the sauce that it was advertised with: a ponzu and chilli oil sauce

But the “Thai Brussels sprouts” were the best of the appetizers served in this particular platter. A great texture and garlicky taste to balance out the bevy of sweet drinks.

The “Coconut shrimp” was panko shrimp in their secret tiki recipe. It was crispy and plenty tasty.

The “Poke crunch” were deep fried cubes of ahi tuna and onion topped with furikake and Japanese mayo. It was an interesting take, incorporating the popularity of deep frying onto another popular food trend. However I didn’t like how the frying inevitably cooked the salmon and changed the ideals of poke altogether. I would have advertised it as fried fish or just left it as regular poke.

I found the “Maui sliders” a little dry as was. The pineapple buns filled with braised short rib and a kale slaw were best taken with a scoop of the shredded pickled cucumber that it came with. And a nice sweet mayo or tomato would have been great additions to inject some moisture into the mini burger.

By contrast, I much more preferred the “Bao dan”, especially with the use of the chewy, white dough buns. They were stuffed with braised pork belly, and pickled daikon and carrots. It was tender meat with briny vegetables, in a fluffy hamburger bun. No complaints.

My table mates weren’t as thrilled with the food overall. Whereas I invited them to look at it through the windows of a bar. This isn’t a restaurant, it is a tiki bar, which are typically known of their drinks. And like many bars, the food comes second. The idea is that you take down a couple of drinks, and follow it with plenty of salty and carbo-loaded hand held snacks. And the above were ideal for accompanying beers, and plenty of sugary cocktails. And if you look at it in this light, everything was as expected and terrific.

 

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.
I liked the how wholistic the entire experience was. From start to finish you walked in and were immersed in the well cultivated tropical setting. The drinks take you in and the live entertainment keeps you. I will definitely be coming back with a bunch of friends in the near future. This was so much fun, and will definitely make a great escape this cold and wet winter season. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SNEEKI TIKI
1100 Granville Street, Vancouver BC, V6Z 2B6
604-690-8454
sneekitiki.com

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