VieAMaggi.com

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

Category: pubs Page 2 of 4

Ceilis Modern Pub

IMG_5256IMG_5304

We were here tonight for a group get together over 30 members strong. A group with guests coming and going at all times, all to celebrate a friend leaving and wish her a farewell. I was one of the last to arrive, able to find free parking just half a block away. With two entrances you are able to walk right in and discover your party yourself.

IMG_5265IMG_5264

I was impressed at their ability to accommodate this gathering between three awkwardly spaced tables. We were given a corner all our own. Shaped in a “U” pattern, this gave the most surface area available for seating. Though even with armed chairs pushed up close and up against one another side by side it was still a tight fit. With the on going World Cup, the television reflected its action and the walls were draped with flags in its honour. The rest of the empty wall space was decorated with sports pictures, local team memorabilia, and the occasional Irish note. “Kilts optional, Craic required”. “Come back for the craic”. Makes sense, “Craic” is Irish speak for a good time. And what other group loves a good time in a pub more?

IMG_5303IMG_5266

For even more seclusion a specialty room could be reserved for a smaller group of ten or so, across two adjacent tables. This space more fancy, almost chic compared to the rest of this homey bar. The room was wallpapered in a patterned red with an equally ornate carpeting. Portraits in black and white photographed singers and musicians. I was only able to identify Bono from U2 with his trademark straw-like cowboy hat and wide lens sunglasses. The others I guessed performed as they held their tool of trade in hand, in picture. Today this room was reserved and signed for the “cougars”. Shame I left early and missed seeing this group.

IMG_5267IMG_5280

Most of the staff working were female servers dressed in uniforms. A black pub branded tee sponsored by Alexander Keith’s and a short green plaid mini skirt. As far as uniforms go this was pretty flattering and cute. Our server in particular was pretty great. Skilled enough to serve a group this size, and patient enough to not get frustrated by our constant seat hopping. She even went over and beyond, climbing on a bar stool to help us snap four perfect group photos. And when it came to the menu she was extremely knowledgeable. A self proclaimed picky eater she was not shy to admit it. She gave strong recommendations of her favourites. So genuine and so compelling I took her suggestion of a salad. A salad from the seasonal “summer BBQ features” portion of the menu. This she was currently addicted to and has been inhaling in for days on end. I was going out on a limb here. As a practice I don’t order salad, finding most just the bringing together of ingredients that I too could do myself. Whereas when I dine out I rather get what I cannot make myself. And not only did she get me to order a salad, but she got me to order a salad at a pub. Two of my usual no no’s. There are some things I don’t like ordering, some specifically dependent on where I am eating, this is such an item. I need to mention here that she did not disappoint, nor did her suggestion, and neither did the salad.

IMG_5283IMG_5284

“Seared Thai tuna salad”. Rare tuna seared with greens, cucumber, crispy noodles, cashews, and roasted red peppers dressed with a spicy soy lime dressing. Sweet, salty, tangy, crunchy, and zesty this salad had everything. So much flavour from its variety of dry and fresh ingredients, that depending on what mix you got with each stab of your fork, it changed with each bite. The tuna was perfectly cooked with enough slices to have an even fish to salad ratio, giving me fish in each mouthful. The crispy noodles gave things a good crunch, because I hate a soggy salad. The dressing with the red peppers created a nice light sweetness. I would definitely eat this again, but wouldn’t necessarily want to pay for it again.

IMG_5277IMG_5279

Thinking a caesar is always a safe bet I ended up ordering the worst I have ever had. Despite its barely there spiced rim it still lacked flavour. It was watery, tasting like the bottom of the glass when all the ice has melted and you are left with water and a sip’s worth of tomato juice.

IMG_5260IMG_5261

“Mac and Cheese sticks”. Made in house these pasta filled sticks are fried to a crisp. Evenly coated it meant each bite had batter that kept the noodles tender and the cheese they were held together with gooey. It’s true taste came from the spicy sriracha ketchup it was served with.

IMG_5287IMG_5286

“Honey Garlic wings”. Pretty standard pub fare. These were over cooked and their lack of meat on bone made them dry and hard. Luckily the order was honey garlic and the sticky sauce did wonders in coating each wing with some sort of moisture. The other choices for wings included hot, ghost pepper, honey hot, Jamaican jerk, fresh ground salt and pepper, barbecue, garlic Parmesan, hot Thai, and spicy peanut. A list larger than other pubs.

IMG_5259IMG_5307

“Crispy fish sandwich” made with two fillets of beer battered haddock, a Creole tartar sauce, a spicy pickle relish, raw red onions, and a mustard slaw; all in between a Portuguese bun. Accompanied by your choice of house salad, tomato basil soup or what my guest selected, hand cut Kennebec fries with ketchup. Just good, nothing more.

IMG_5291IMG_5290

“California Flatbread” made with both fresh and sundried tomatoes, amber ale cheddar cheese, fresh avocado slices and a very aromatic basil. Simply put this was like a Margarita pizza but with avocado. Light and fresh it made for a great snack, but pretty boring.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
The food was some of the better I have had at a bar. Not the best Irish bar, but certainly not the worst. Slightly above average, with the waitresses in school girl-like uniforms being the most memorable thing about them. And seeing as their downtown location is closing (or has closed, depending on when you read this), this is their next nearest location, in Kits. With a patio out front and ample parking nearby it already has its downtown sister location beat. Here they are able to accommodate a large party with enough seating and distance for smaller gatherings to be shielded from the noise and rowdy nature of a mob. And here we weren’t automatically charged a set gratuity penalty for having a party consisting of more than six. This was the first I have seen of its kind. As a solid place to grab a meal and a drink after work, or to socialize with friends in a sports friendly environment, don’t deny your cravings.

CEILIS
1774 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6J4T3
604-732-0010
ceilis.com
Ceili's Modern Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

The Famous Warehouse

IMG_4373IMG_4372

Looking for cheap eats we came to the well known “Warehouse”, where everything to drink and anything to eat is $4.99, all the time and all day. Sister restaurant to “The Factory” and “The Dime”, they all set their prices low and even across the board. A fact making then as famous as their name suggests.

IMG_4374IMG_4375

Located on the busy Granville entertainment district. A patio on the sidewalk cloistered off by a brown picket fence, and a black awning shielding today’s sun. It is most noticeable to those passing with its mock of the familiar welcome to Vegas sign in red, white, and lights.

IMG_4376IMG_4378

Walking in at 12pm the restaurant was relatively empty. After we ordered the crowds began to pour in; the booths, bar stools, and high tops quickly filled with all walks of people. Upon entry R2D2 asked that we wait to be seated. Given a choice we choose a booth right up front. Getting the shade of being indoors, with the ability to enjoy the breeze and sunlight of the open front.

IMG_4380IMG_4388

The walls were made of brick on one side and planks of wood on the other. Decorated skateboard decks and neon bar signs lived off these walls. Skateboards painted in bold colours featuring vans and trucks: trailers, RVs, and vintage vehicles. Even spaced and precisely hung they made for a very colourful arrangement. Across the way lived signs advertising drinks: Steamwhistle, Red Bull, Sailor Jerry’s, and Budweiser. Probably free and obviously promotional. The rest of the space was littered with band and branded stickers, strung up Christmas lights, posters on cork boards; and oddities like skulls, vinyl records, album covers, and a sign offering the giveaway of free air guitars. What I was most impressed with was the continuation of their Star Wars theme in the presence of an original painting: storm trooper finds love, or at least storm trooper gets action.

IMG_4379IMG_4387

Starters, entrees, salads, burgers, or sweets it was all $4.99. Where things get pricy is when you want add ons. Like guacamole for $1.95 on your nachos, shredded cheddar on your fish tacos for $1.75, or braised beef in your Mac and cheese for $2.25. The menu was your classic bar fare: simple foods, better tasting when taken in conjunction with heavy drinking. Chicken wings, onion rings, and fries. Quesadillas, spaghetti, and green salads fully dressed. I am still wondering how they are able to keep costs low. With drinks at the same low price I guess it is supply and demand. They seat numerous covers a night thanks to their door crashing prices and in turn are able to buy bulk and save on costs.

IMG_4406IMG_4407

“Maple bacon potato skins”, Russet potato skins filled with cheddar and mozzarella cheese, crispy maple bacon, green onions, and sour cream. Tasteless, the sour cream did nothing, and the bacon went unnoticed. There was the need for heavy shaking of the salt shaker.

IMG_4389IMG_4390

“Warehouse poutine”, peppered fries, maple bacon, cheese curds, and gravy. Average at best. Soft fries, thick gravy, light on the cheese.

IMG_4391IMG_4392

“Baja Fish Tacos”, Cajun seared white fish, roasted red pepper, chipotle mayo, sweet roasted corn salsa, crisp shredded cabbage, and cilantro; all in soft flour tortillas. You could taste the freshness in the vegetables, but like the other dishes this too was on the bland side. A taste rejuvenated with the use of hot sauce. In hind sight the add ons of cheese and guacamole at a separate cost would have been worth it. Though I can’t remember the last time I paid $2 for a slice of cheese when the meal was just about double that.

IMG_4404IMG_4405

“The Work Burger”, Premium Alberta beef, maple bacon, cheddar, crispy onion strings, macho sauce, shredded lettuce, and tomato on a toasted brioche bun. The menu descriptions sounded delicious, the flavours in between the buns didn’t hold up. The patty was probably frozen, it was definitely overcooked to a blacken dryness. I couldn’t spot or taste any of the macho sauce, had I been able to maybe this burger would have tasted better. Nothing a lingering dip in ketchup couldn’t fix.

IMG_4398IMG_4396

“Smokey BBQ burger”, Premium Alberta beef, smokey BBQ sauce, jalapeño, cheddar, macho sauce, lettuce, and tomato on a toasted brioche bun. This burger was a little better. dripping in barbecue sauce. There was flavour here.

IMG_4399IMG_4400

“Pulled BBQ chicken sandwich”, chicken, BBQ sauce, cheddar, crispy onion strings, macho sauce and shredded lettuce on a toasted brioche bun. The chicken was more chunked instead of pulled and more oily than expected. Once again where was this macho sauce?

Although nome of us really enjoyed our food, at these prices we couldn’t be bothered to complain. I was able to grab two dishes and a beer at the same price of a McDonald’s combo. Though a McDonald’s burger and fries would have tasted better, but this was more food and it did come with beer!

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Verdict: this is just a place to get full at. The decor was more interesting than the food. Everything was tasteless, but if your only requirement for dinner is a good deal, then you can’t beat their prices. Though personally, cheap
or not I left like I wasted calories on greasy bar food that neither satisfied or tasted like it should. This is not how I dine. It was like they watered down each component to cut costs. Costs that they are able to pass onto us, the consumer. None-the-less don’t deny your cravings on cheap eats. Drink enough so it tastes great. Beer goggles on those taste buds.

THE WAREHOUSE
989 Granville Street, Vancouver BC, V6B2C9
604-677-8080
thefamouswarehouse.com
The Famous Warehouse on Urbanspoon

Pourhouse Restaurant

IMG_3896IMG_3899

Tonight my guest and I came in for a late night dessert and an after work drink. A place I have been once before for the very same reason. Located in historic Gastown, the
exterior was muted stone with its name plastered as a gold decal across its doubled glass doors. Other than it and the sandwich board blocking way on the sidewalk, you couldn’t tell much of what this was. The drop down sign hanging slightly above read “restaurant P” and their display window invited you to join them for lunch or dinner seven days a week. But really what couldn’t you infer from their catchy name? “Pour-house”.

IMG_3912IMG_3910

The space is set intimate and kept dark, romantic of another time and another place. It was almost transformative, like walking into a different era. The ceiling, floors, and every odd corner of wall held a different theme, made from different material. Wooden panelled rafters with spot lights balanced on iron rods. Solid stained stone laid underfoot. Aged steel light shades hung in bundles of threes. On real brick walls were mounted fringed shades, they shadowed the deep set booths below. Booths of smooth leather facing tables of dark wood. In a corner, a wall red laid plastered with printed wallpaper behind a regal looking gold foiled antique mirror. And to its right, a red velvety curtain with yellow glowing spotlights. They hung at different heights with the illusion of floating in mid air. Altogether, it gave the section an artful interest, and this was just a step up in the elevated dining area. The rest of the restaurant was just as detailed.

IMG_3968IMG_0971

The bar was a step past the foyer, a lengthy seating equipped with bottles on rows and beers on tap. They certainly didn’t disappoint the “pour” in their name. A walk past its counter spanning half the length of the narrower restaurant, and a continued trot past the semi open kitchen was required to get where we were. The kitchen was blocked off by free standing walls, their built in windows gave you a peak at the chefs working hard in all black. For those lucky, a chef’s table in its own corner gave you front row seats in to the fray. Though lighting here was far brighter than the remainder of the restaurant, and you didn’t get quite the same ambience as I described above. A smooth ambience best exemplified by the chilling jazz and soothing blues playing over head.

IMG_3917IMG_3945

This wouldn’t be the setting to accommodate a larger more rowdier party. Instead all the above made more of a more ideal setting for a first date. You have enough quiet for conversations and intimate banter, but are given enough background noise to not fear the awkward silence in between. Most of our time was spent enjoying the music and people watching the room. Each table was set with a miniature oil lantern for limited illumination, and our server dropped off a glass jug so that we could self refill our cups of water. Both matched the surrounding old timey feel.

IMG_3953IMG_3951

Our server spoke with energy, he was the perfect example for the new hirer he was training tonight. This man knew his stuff. Going through the menu I questioned him on items I didn’t necessarily want, but was curious enough of to ask. He spoke with his hands, detailing the cooking process as well the dish’s presentation. Descriptions so vivid that it had me considering a change in my mind. Great for a person with high need for detail like myself. He checked in often with his “shadow” and when applicable sat in booths and leaned over chairs to be more personal, this move made him seem more social. A comforting touch some many find invasive, but I felt warming and welcoming. Relaxed.

IMG_3901IMG_3913

The menu was one page they titled their, “bill of fare”. A modest offering of eight or less items under snacks, starters, mains, and “And…”

IMG_3919IMG_3921

Latte.

IMG_3929IMG_3933

“Roasted bone marrow with sea salt, pickled radish, parsley, and grilled bread.” Seeing this on any menu is a must order for me, and at $12 this by far was the best price I have ever had bone marrow at. More as a novelty with its increased level of indulgence; and less so for its defining earthy quality or it’s oily like texture. When the plate hit the table I had my eyes widen and my jaw drop. A bone, the largest I have ever seen or had, one meriting a picture of myself holding such a piece. My guest and I were so joyfully overjoyed with food lust. When things are larger than expected, I can’t help but brim over the value and gush in excitement over having more. The marrow was as expected, rich and saturated with oil. When paired with the equally oily and evenly toasted bread it became too much. The oil on my lips was an inconvenience, yet without the bread and the surrounding add ons the marrow was not the same. The salt and herbs dulled the taste and set a proper level with richness. My only complaint was that four slices of baguette was definitely not enough for such a large bone, we ordered more for $2. A fee we were okay with, but wished was mentioned before hand as a courtesy.

IMG_3940IMG_3944

“Spaghetti with tomatoes, meatballs, and basil”. A light noodle with as light of a red sauce. Light as in you weren’t felt heavy with regret upon finishing. The sauce was rich in flavour, a savoury tang with punches of sweetness coming though. You could taste and see the real chunks of tomato. It had all the markings of a freshly made sauce done from scratch. The vegetables and cheese were a nice touch, they added texture and colourful interest, and gave a certain freshness. I was impressed by the generosity in the quantity of meatballs. Where other establishments only offered two for more in their pastas, here we had six. Enough meat for a ratio heavier on the ball side. Each beef round was heavily spiced, you could taste the zesty sausage alongside the lean ground beef.

IMG_3925IMG_3922

The dessert menu showcased sweets paired with premium hard liquor. Though we just wanted the “Vanilla creme brûlée”. Simple, classic, this traditional dessert was done right. Done without the necessity of any add ons, no nutty flavouring or fruity chew. Just a thick and fluffy, light and creamy custard. And the swallow dish allowed for optimal sugar surface area. A 2:1 ration for custard to burnt sugar. The later being my and most people’s favour part. Like the bone marrow and meatball portions before it, this was the most and largest creme burlee I have ever feasted on. A portion so generous it easily ate for two with enough to spare.

IMG_3955IMG_3964

The washroom was of note. Beautifully wallpapered with an off white cream and robin’s egg blue pattern. So regal and so striking that I am not ashamed to admit I took a selfie in front of it. The stalls were individual booths that allowed for maximum sealed privacy, no cracks between the doors, and walls that when right to the stone floor. The sink required acceleration from a foot petal. A step to usher water from the taps. A very sanitary and savvy method to wash your hands and keep them clean. Though moot as the door was so heavy it required both my hands to push open.

As I mentioned earlier, on a previous night I came in for drinks. Then they were presented over flowing, so much so that my guest got wet for the turbulence of serving.b”French 75″. Gin, lemon juice and simple syrup shaken topped with sparkling wine, and topped with a cherry.

IMG_0967

“Cadiz Collins”, named after a region in Spain. Like a Tom Collins, but served with sherry wine.

IMG_0978

On this night we took the strong recommendation for the banana bread advertised by two seperate servers. In hind sight I felt ridiculous for ordering banana bread at a restaurant. Though the dessert was made grown up with chopped walnuts, flambé bananas and Bailey’s ice cream on the side. It tasted gourmet, like your mother’s homemade recipe made more fancy. On this night, despite it being her birthday cake, my guest felt she could make better at home. This was comfort food you wouldn’t expect by a bar. It felt us disappointed, and meant it would be another 6-9 months before I returned for the great experience above.

After my latest visit the answer to these is yes.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This was an new age club made to feel successfully old fashioned with traditional cocktails and classic fare, 20’s jazz and blues, with antique elements. The ideal place for a night cap by their handsome wood bar or on one of their cushy velvet recliners adjacent. A fun atmosphere and a lively crowd, yet not so loud that it didn’t allow for intimate conversation between two friends. Not too loud, not too quiet, a relaxing environment with class. And when it came to the food the portions were impressive and the flavours bold. My guest joked that we were in a giant’s home with portions this big. So enamoured with the food she came in full yet continued to snack on my dinner as her second meal. She decided then that she rather work out more in order to eat more here. We both declared our meal to be worth it. I could see this as a more permanent hangout or a successful local bar for those living nearby. I am thinking like comedic sitcom bars. Don’t deny your cravings.

POURHOUSE
162 Water Stret, Vancouver BC, V6B1B2
604-568-7022
pourhousevancouver.com
Pourhouse Restaurant on Urbanspoon

CRAFT Beer Market, revisited

IMG_2002IMG_2008

As I stated in a previous post, I would return, and here I was again, this time with a large group to try more and to share more. Despite the later dinner on a slower Sunday, a wait for a party of eight was still required. We were given a buzzer and am estimated 15 minute wait time. Instead of grabbing a seat on the large backless couch in the front foyer, we decided to take a stroll around Olympic Village. Luckily the reach of the buzzer extended the scope in which we travelled.

IMG_1999IMG_1998

When time, we were escorted to a full length high top that seated our party with plenty of elbow room for eight. We walked past the floor to ceiling high beer vats held behind glass windows. And followed their pipes that snaked to the bar and flowed down through to all their taps. It was all an impressive feat of construction and architecture under vaulted ceilings. I marvel each time that I am in. Originally I wondered why the entrance faced the other direction, away from the Village centre. Only to take a seat and be able to soak in the view from their wall of widows, looking out towards the square and further back at the water and sun. When the patio opens in May, it should be a highly coveted seat.

IMG_1993IMG_1991

The menu was the same as the last time I was here. Now early spring, then late fall. Surprisingly no seasonal dishes to indulge in, but some new craft brews to make up for it. The menu was a full sheet the length of my torso, it was rubber banded to a plank of wood. On it, all the bar classics and pub usuals, with unique twists sprinkled in.

IMG_1929IMG_1928

Three tastings of their “around the world” themed beer flights. Six glasses presented on a specifically crafted paddle, at other places it’s three or five at most. They already stand out. Their offerings are switched up monthly, but always fall under the category of either local brews or those from around the world. Arranged as the menu lists so you can follow along with what you are drinking.

IMG_1955IMG_1957

“Thai lettuce wraps”. Crispy noodles and veggies sautéed with sweet ginger and lemongrass, served with fresh julienne veggies, steamed rice, and a trio of houses made sauces. My pescatarian guest was happy with her lighter appetizer. It had a very gentle taste. The sauces were fresh, each with it’s own flavour that stood alone, yet complimented one other in harmony. The perfectly seared tuna was the clear star of the plate, though as you can see from the picture above, it’s serving was small. Disproportionally small compared to the fillers that you were excepted to eat it with. With all this it really depends what you are in the mood for. Though I personally don’t find such fare complimentary to the bitter hops of beer.

IMG_1950IMG_1951

“Poutine” Serving it in the skillet ensures it stays hot and the cheese stays melted. I didn’t use the ketchup given on the side, and kept with just the main three ingredients. When it comes to poutine, after trying so many versions, I have learned to not mess with a good thing. The gravy was just the right amount, often it drowns the fries and eating it becomes a count down. You want to eat it when the fries are still crispy, the gravy is still bubbly, and the cheese is still stringy.

IMG_1952IMG_1953

“Wings”, a pound of crispy rossdown farms chicken wings tossed in your choice of house made sauce. I ordered the “Canadian”, bacon and maple syrup; over the hot or beer salt and peppered versions. I didn’t use the tangy dipping sauce on the side. The wings tasted good, I just wish I could taste more of their goodness. Given its description, it needed a thicker, more syrupy sauce. More generous leeway with sticky maple syrup. And more bacon flavour infused into the marinade, and not just as candied bits sprinkled on top. But overall the idea was in the right place and it had me finishing my plate.

IMG_1940IMG_1941

“Craft Mac and cheese”. A blend of cheddar, Gouda, mozerella, and fontina cheese tossed with bacon and poblano peppers, topped with parsley and garlic breadcrumbs. There were two orders of this and each guest came to a different conclusion. One declared it the best version of Mac and Cheese she’s ever had while the other was left with a skillet half full and no desire to pack any to go. I will be describing the more detailed account of the later. It was all visually appealing in a heavy cast iron skillet, a vessel that should have been able to hold the heat, keeping the dish warm and the cheese melty. Yet auctions were hotter and others could have used a round in the microwave. There was copious amounts of cheese, yet somehow it lacked flavour. There was a need to taste more of its spicy component, and have some acid to perk things up. Some tomato, more bacon, or a stronger chilli.

IMG_1942IMG_1943

“Nacho barrel”, cheddar, tomato, jalapeño, poblano peppers, green onion, sour cream, and fresh salsa. All served on an actual beer barrel lid. An impressive amount for one, that really should be shared amongst three. My guest deemed this to poorly constructed. He found everything under the top layer disappointing, with the presence of cheese being a component less and less seen. Luckily the fresh salsa and house made guacamole were flavourful enough to do without the need of cheese. Though their portions along with the sour cream were stingy considering the heap of chips that were piled to their side. If you are going to get more chips, shouldn’t you also get more dip?

IMG_1944IMG_1945

“Bacon and blue cheese burger”. An 8oz burger stuffed with blue cheese, topped with bacon, caramelized onions, mayo, house made mustard, lettuce, tomato, and pickles. You could actually see substantial amounts of blue cheese baked right into the well charred beef patty. And for lovers of blue cheese, you could actually taste the sharpness of it in each bite. Just as impressive was the generous amount of bacon topping the burger. It was such a juicy patty with the onions, tomato, and sauces that the addition of lettuce had it wilted and tasting soggy.

IMG_1949IMG_1947

I got this during my first visit, so knew better than to have it today. Though this guest wanted a challenge. The “20 napkin burger”, two 8oz burger patties, 4oz of brisket, crispy bacon, and beer infused cheese; garnished with a mini burger. The name came from the thought that a napkin was designated for every ounce of meat given. Though we were not presented with 20 napkins upon its delivery, and my guest devouring this required the asking of additional sheets. The mini burger was merely for show, it was not sauced and was left unseasoned. I guess the thought was that you would never get that far to be hungry enough to finish it. His attic was to devour it by quarters. The first two were easily sailing, but the one note taste eventually grows ragged. He left feeling bad about himself and wished he had shared instead. There was still so much meat left in the quarter he couldn’t finish, that he jokingly announced his intention of repurposing the leftovers into a stir fry.

IMG_1958IMG_1960

“Brooklyn Steak sandwich”. 6oz certified angus beef sirloin steak cooked to your liking on a grilled baguette with chipotle aioli and Ginsberg with crispy onion petals. My guest ordered his in a medium rare and had the house soup as his side. Compared to the other plates around him, this was disappointing in look. It wasn’t piled high or over flowing. Though after its consumption, was declared just the right amount of food, with really great flavours. Though this could hardly be deemed a sandwich, an average steak and a slice of garlic toast. Maybe a sandwich deconstructed. Their take on onion rings weren’t crispy enough, it’s breading not the familiar kind associated with the ring version. The use of “petals” had more onion than batter, and more onion that I wanted.

IMG_1961

“Craft house soup”, cheddar, jalapeño and their village house ale. The soup was rich and creamy, heated to a comforting temperature. Hot so you felt it going down, but not so much that you would burn yourself as it did. Delicious, but a better accompaniment for a entree less flavourful.

IMG_1972IMG_1974

“Dieu du ciel”. Described as an aphrodisiaque stout. A dessert-like black ale with flavours of vanilla, dark chocolate and roasted malt. It was mildy hoppy, and buttery with cocoa.

IMG_1981IMG_1983

“S’more bomb”, house made marshmallow and graham crackers with dark chocolate. From reading its description we were expecting something a wee more decadent and overflowing in presentation. What we got were these delicate bite size morsels piled in a martini glass. To its side, toasted marshmallow slices on skewers. They reminded me of traditional campfire marshmallows, the ones made melted and gooey over an open flame. Overall things tasted as expected with solid milk chocolate rounds, marshmallow oozing with every bite, and not enough graham cracker to hold it all in.

IMG_1985IMG_1987

“Dark chocolate brownie”, served with two scoops of Earnest vanilla ice cream, and almond praline. The brownie tasted like your regular run-of-the-mill grocery variety, if not one made from prepackage boxed ingredients. Dry and hard, they were left half eaten. The ice cream was amazing, nothing short of the name and popularity of “Earnest”. The peanut brittle was very chewy, a texture that stuck to your teeth and stood in contrasted to the creamy iced cream and dense cake.

IMG_1979IMG_1980

“House made ice cream sandwich”, Earnest salted caramel ice cream sandwiched between house made chocolate chip cookies. The cookies were hard, they required much strength to bite through, yet holding them down to do so caused all the cream ooze out. It was not easy to get an even ice cream to cookie ratio. I also wished for a chewier cookie, one that would better match the softer ice cream.

IMG_1939IMG_1938

Our night only ended because they were closing early for a staff meeting.

IMG_1936IMG_1971

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I like the location, I like the atmosphere, I like the food, and I like the company that I came here with tonight. A good time was had by all. Plenty of taps to satisfy the pickiest of drinkers and a diverse menu to satisfy the pickiest of diners. Don’t deny your cravings.

CRAFT BEER MARKET
85 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver BC, V5Y3K8
604-709-2337
craftbeermarket.ca

Orrange kitchen + bar

IMG_1203IMG_1240

I took quite the drive to get to Port Coquitlam, so I came in expecting great things from “Orrange”. My guest lives and works in the neighbourhood so vouched for her choice in lunching venue. It is located in a shopping complex of one of boutiques and services. The exterior was fairly muted, wood accents behind a clearly defined name and logo. The title was certainly catchy. I wonder what the extra “r” in “orrange” stood for?

Inside, the layout was familiar to that of a generic casual chain. Sharp angles to create separate and more intimate seating corners. A spacious dining room fronted by a distinctive bar. Numerous flat screens broadcasting the game of the day. And a scattered gathering of all sorts of people.

IMG_1236IMG_1237

Of note was the unique display of refrigerator doors. They were painted in retro pale greens and washed out yellows, with metal handles included. On them lived a splash of Polaroids, a collection of people in photos stuck on haphazardly. I thought this a clever feature, one worthy of immortalizing with photography.

IMG_1205IMG_1239

The hostess greeted me at the front, holding back the heavy double wood doors. With a smile she lead me to a seat, a sea of options given the date and time of my visit. Being a weekday and coming in post lunch rush, the room held party to only four couples and some solos by the bar. Enroute we passed by the bar, a stage set intimately darker. It was designed as a large circle, which allowed for more hightop at bar seating. The 360 degree surface area meant more to cover, and the challenge one bartender needed to meet with an easily rotatable neck. No shelves and no walls behind the bar saw that everything needed for cocktails, all the beers, and the wines on tap were tucked under the counter. A difficult to work in setting for staff, but a lovely to lounge in setting for clients. Above the scene hung three chandeliers, feathered in ovals. They added visual interest and a boutique feel. The chairs here and all high tops in the dining room were done as 50’s styled stools, with reclined backs and cupped bottoms. Upholstered in an avocado green they matched the colour scheme present in the refrigerator doors.

IMG_1230IMG_1207

The dining room opened up with ample space. The kitchen to the left and staged seating to the right. The right saw a step up on to a platform and a walk into a sectioned off space. This was the perfect area for accommodating larger parties. In the dining room the lowered ceilings painted in white and the restaurant’s wide windows allowed for a better lit section. The windows gave a look out at the yet to open patio. Chained up chairs and cemented tables unused, not ready in a still cold and still rainy season. We chose a table by it with an obscured view of the kitchen. A beaded curtain stencilled with their logo separated public space from an employees only area. The restaurant’s logo is of two crowned lions standing on hind legs. Both stood profiled with a fork, knife, and corkscrew in paw. I thought very regal for a bar, though befitting of any sports team; and therefore the perfect symbol for this fancy sports bar. To the side, hidden behind a row of closely spaced banisters worked two chefs in white. I could make out their figures and not their faces head down. For those wanting to appreciate these men in today there was an option on the menu for a $3 “beer for the chef”. I am sure the chefs didn’t actually accept beers when on the clock. And this was just a way to ensure all money tipped went straight to the ones who prepared the food that you enjoyed.

IMG_1235IMG_1231

Another unique option on the menu, and another that I didn’t entertain was the “Bubbles and dog”. 4 Chicago dogs and a bottle of champagne. At $135 you could be sure this was a real deal bottle of champagne. I don’t see this being commonly ordered, but maybe enjoyed rarely as a fun way to celebrate. Imagine coming here after a big game and announcing your victory with a soul satisfying meat and bun combo and a well deserved celebratory bottle of bubbly. What a delightful oxymoron of food.

The menu was a one pager pinned to a giant wooden clipboard. It came with a bonus short list of lunch specials. As their slogan promised there were “killer cocktails, kick ass eats, and nothing but love”. I easily spotted classic bar favourites and unique variations of dishes all their own. Poutine, nachos, fries, and burgers. “Roadside tacos”, mini dogs, and “Chinese take out”. I believe you need a balance of both for a successful menu. Safety in familiarity for those wanting the norm, and excitement in difference for those feeling more adventurous. I dine as the latter.

IMG_1211IMG_1212

Ceasar with pickled bean and spiced rim. Pretty run of the mill: spicy and overpowering in tomato taste to hide the sting of vodka. I failed to finish my beverage before the ice melted, which resulted in a heavily watered down cocktail.

IMG_1213IMG_1215

“Pineapple wok squid”. Our server pointed to this as being the most unique thing on the menu and therefore it beckoned my trying. There was a thick coating of batter over every segment of evenly chopped squid. With it I hardly got any of the expected seafood taste. And the smaller chunks almost had me missing the usual rubber like chew of squid. Any taste came from the sweet and savoury charred pineapple segments and the spicy yogurt dipping sauce. The flavours paired with spicy chilli, roasted garlic, and fresh cilantro was very reminiscent of Thai cuisine. Sweet and spicy over all, the cooling sauce brought together and balanced all the flavours.

IMG_1219

“The Leigh Brandt vegetable burger”. I am sure there is a story behind this one and its name, shame I failed to ask for it. A red patty made from red quinoa, kidney beans, and ancient grains. A burger filled with roasted veggies, pea shoots, pesto sauce, tomato slices, and mozzarella cheese.

IMG_1218IMG_1228

My guest is a vegetarian and has been one for over 18 years. She has lived with the struggle of finding a good vegetarian burger, and today declared this the best she has ever had. “A-game”. The extra effort and ingredients showed through when trying to create a deeper flavour profile. More layers is needed from vegetables to replicate the heartiness of an all beef patty. And the line up above between a herbed filled ciabatta bun certainly added the extra zing needed. I was most impressed with the patty. So light and crumbly it tasted and looked in house made. The liquid retained from each grain kernel meant it was never frozen and no piece had that hard chunk you had to avoid. This was a vibrant burger that didn’t rely on its sole sauce, but instead leveraged all its ingredients to create dimension and distinction. She paired this with a side of yam fries, chosen over soup, salad, or regular fries.

IMG_1222IMG_1229

I also took our server recommendation of the “Fried chicken sandwich”. She said this was the best and the vegetarian burger her second favourite. Though she was biased having never tried any of the two beef options. Immediately it looked disappointing compared to my guests’ entree. The burger itself was plain and it’s filling was sagging. Though a bite in had me changing my tune. The plain bun was to not overshadow the more flavourful elements that it was sandwiching. Bacon marmalade, jack cheese, and spicy mayo. This was an adult BLT, well balanced with an even filling to bun ratio. The use of a larger chicken fillet, shredded lettuce, and multiple thinly sliced tomato insured each bite until the edge saw meat, veggies, and sauce. I was most happy to get the taste of bacon coming through, it had its usual salty chew, but in addition to a zesty orange sweetness from its marmalade base. Although I did find things too creamy with excessive mayo. It made the lettuce soggy and overpowered the cheese completely.

IMG_1224IMG_1223

I chose the soup of the day as my side, “Asparagus”. It was lumpy with actual segments of asparagus stalk and unblended chunks. It was a bite of fresh asparagus layered with butter and cream. A pure, crisp, one note taste that was “absolutely asparagus”, to quote my guest. Simple and clean. If I could make one adjustment it would be to purée the soup smooth and used freshly toasted bread as croutons for a textural component. To me the soup felt grainy and I didn’t like the chew.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
The setting won me over with its causal luxury. Ample screens to watch any play by play from any angle, and cozy seats for extended stays. With free parking in the shared lot out front this is a great place to check out a game in or grab a drink with friends at. The staff were attentive and approachable. They helped one another and us regardless of which section patrons were seated in. Our server checked in often, much more than the one per plate visit that other establishments institute. We were given the billfold before it was requested, but were never nudged out. We sat in our given space and were allowed to linger, taking our time the whole way through. Even to the point of not being ready to order after three check ins. And yet no complaints from our server and no sneers from other staff. The food satisfied my need for familiarity with my want for different. Bar fare made grown up. Exciting twists and fun names kept me entertained. If it wasn’t for the distance I could see myself frequenting this spot as a solid go to for larger groups and an easy choice for picky eaters. Don’t deny your cravings.

ORRANGE
111-1125 Nicola Avenue, Port Coquitlam BC, V3B8B2
604-474-4424
orrange.com
Orrange Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

The Cannibal Cafe

IMG_0225IMG_0226

The name was questionable, and unfortunately not enough to keep us away. By it alone I wanted to visit, and after a peak at their menu online, I felt this was my kind of place. Burgers, deep fried sides, and drinks made with ice cream.

IMG_0252IMG_0229

The restaurant was easy to miss, with only their logo in white stencil-ed on their front glass. And their store front very similar to the one next to it. One of my guests even walked back and forth, past it four times. Their logo, a burger and crossbones sliced into with a oversized cleaver. I found it fun and worth immortalizing on film. I felt foolish making a reservation and when there were plenty of seats to be taken. The server never even checked my name off when she took me in. Though in my defence I have seen lines by this door, and yet now I wondered why.

IMG_0234

The bar was right up front, high tops stood in front of a row of beers on taps. The backdrop was two flat screens playing sports, sandwiching a well drawn on chalk board. On the board, coloured fire, a friendly skull, and an request to buy their tee shirts.

IMG_0233IMG_0235

We past the first kitchen on the way to our seats. I suspected this to be the deep frying kitchen. A line of paper cut outs of sharp and bloody implements hung over its bar. Hack saws, scissors, cleavers, machetes, and kitchen knives. They wafted just over the counter lined and well stocked with clean plates, bowls, and anything else you would need to eat in this diner. Some choice decorations for “Cannibal Cafe”, it might be Halloween themed, but it works here with their name.

IMG_0227IMG_0228

We were seated in the back just before the washrooms and main kitchen. All seats here were either one of the step up booths that lined both sides of the walls, or one from the long share table that went down the middle. The walls surrounding were purposefully and precisely decorated with posters. Paper posters of musicians, bands and performances used as wall paper. My guest felt it reminded her of a similar establishment in Toronto. So by comparison she felt that they were trying too hard to cultivate a certain look, instead of just letting it happen naturally. And worst still, none of the images that were printed on the multitude of coloured paper represented anyone local. All I wondered was how long did this set up take? The effort exerted into making sure no two colours were side by side and that each poster was different. Country rock twang played over head. It was always a smoky voice that matched the laid back vibe that the place gave off.

IMG_0230IMG_0232

Their paper take out menus lived at each table. It was an exciting quadruple fold out that kept me amused with fun pictures and neat writing.

IMG_0237IMG_0238

Their “Milkshakes” were made only in the neapolitan flavours. So I got vanilla only to be disappointed that it came in the metal cup they used to mix it. I was hoping for the soda shoppe style pretty glass decorated with whipped cream and sprinkles, and then having the metal cup as its refill. Though when I asked for a glass our server looked less than impressed. The drink itself was bland. I can’t believe a bland milkshake exists. I don’t believe it was made using ice cream. If otherwise I now question, “Who messes up an ice cream milk shake?” It wasn’t sweet or creamy enough. As evident by the top of the cup, a layer of foam and bubbles, a milky cloud.

IMG_0231

Our food took a long while to come, despite coming in at a slower time and being the only ones to order. We were hoping it would be worth the wait, but by the time we got our food, I was done my milkshake. The same milkshake I intended to enjoy with my meal.

IMG_0243

“Deep Fried Pickles” served with ranch dip. There wasn’t much to like about this, other than the pickles staying crisp and crunchy, and the fact they came to the table hot and remained that way for a while. The slices of pickle were too large. We didn’t like the mouthful and would have preferred thinner slices. One of my guests found the batter it was coated in, a little on the sweeter side. A sweet batter better suited to a deep fried banana. She too also found the type of pickle bland compared to the dills she is use to. All in all it was too much, and only made worse with a dip in the ranch. There was definitely an unbalanced pickle to batter ratio. One that had you saying enough after the second bite and the first taste.

IMG_0241IMG_0248

Luckily one of my guests and I opted to share plates. Less to eat and less to pay. The “Local Salmon Burger” is made with a house made wild salmon patty, fresh dill, citrus aioli, smoked salmon bacon, shaved red onions, and fresh greens. We opted for no sides, something that is usually seen when you order any burger, and should be expected with ones that cost $12.95-13.95. This fish on fish was too much. We expected a tender and moist solid filet, instead were given a dry and crumbly fish cake. Nothing jumped out in flavour. The burger needed a sauce, some mayo would have help. We ended up used the ranch dressing from the pickles to rejuvenate its boring taste.

IMG_0240

“vvFarmhouse Turkey OBurger”. House made turkey patty, caramelized onions, applewood smoked bacon, cranberry relish, goat cheese, and mayo. There was something off about the ground turkey patty. Turkey meat is already pretty dry and with this compressed unseasoned meat it made things harder to get down. Without a sauce, this became a turkey cake. I longed for the mayo and sweet cranberry to kick in, but was left scrounging. I was surprised it was this tasteless. The goat cheese more closely resembled cream cheese. The bacon was too fatty with no actual bacon flavour. And the onions were sopping, without that enjoyable slightly burnt char. My guest struggled to get the whole burger down; to not waste food and to get her money’s worth. For all the work she put into swallowing this could not be worth $13.95.

IMG_0251IMG_0250

I appreciate an encouraging washroom mirror. Shame it smelled like garage in there.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This is some of the most disappointing food I have ever had. The unique and attention catching name out shadowed the food within, it was their best feature. If their intent was the make all their meat taste like human, well done; because it all didn’t taste like any meat I know of. We were too nice to complain and even nicer to still tip. And worse still, I am sure the server working at the till behind us heard majority of our complaints and did nothing about it. The food was below average. Nothing tasted as expected and none of it was good. The price for value was outrageous and yet here more and more people were walking in, and looking around no one else seemed upset. May be it was our mistake in not getting a beef burger. Though realistically everything on a menu should be good. This isn’t Russian roulette, the food poisoning edition. My guest suggested that in the future we satisfy our burger cravings on commercial at any bar or Fast food stand, and not here. Don’t deny your cravings.

CANNIBAL CAFE
1818 Commercial Drive, Vancouver BC, V5N 4A5
604-558-4199
cannibalcafe.ca
The Cannibal Cafe on Urbanspoon

Paulie’s Kitchen

IMG_8858 IMG_8859

As the destination of a double birthday, for two landmark ages, the restaurant did not meet the expectations we had set forth. Our hosts selected the place based on the menus, a section that definitely fell short. Based on the prices and descriptions I expected a nice meal at a sit down fine dining restaurant. Instead it felt like we were eating in a night club. Eating while everyone around us were either dancing or standing with a drink in had. I felt out of place dressed down and completely sober.

IMG_8860IMG_8862

Located right beside “Yaletown Destillery” they share the same red and white stripped awning, the same general space, and the same kitchen and bar. We felt foolish being carded at the entrance of the Destillery; thinking we were at the wrong door, we walked all the way around to Paulie’s entrance. This only lead us to be seated at a table a few feet away from our original point of attempted entry. Guess we found a loop hole to not getting carded. We weren’t made to show ID at the second entrance nor asked for any while ordering our drinks at the Destillery side of things. Though we do look older than 18, but surely not over 35. Wait what is legal drinking age again? It’s been so long since I had to know this.

IMG_8865 IMG_8863

The entire bar/restaurant was kept fairly dark, so quickly walking past everything allowed nothing to jump out nor give much to see. Though the location of our reserved table did allow for a tour of the place as we trekked through passages, and past by the open kitchen that sandwiched between the two dining areas. I suspect, seeing as it was a Saturday and the place was packed, seating on Paulie’s side was filled; so therefore we were given one where available, at the Destillery.

IMG_8904IMG_8875

Our table was located at the end of a row of others. It gave a look forward at the bar, heavily trafficked by bodies who choose to stand and linger with drinks in hand and conversation in mouth. Past their shadows, moving continuously to the loud dance music, I could just make out their impressive bar. It was the width of the wall, kept well stocked and heavily decorated with full bottles rows on rows. Backed with mirrors and lit with LEDs, it was hard to miss even seated feet away with an obstructed view. And the grandiose chandelier hanging with crystals above, was just as eye catching. In conclusion hovering by the bar was definitely the place to be. To see and be seen. Overall the vibe and the room allowed for a lot of mingling. Tables were available for parties to stay engaged in one another, and bars and benches without chairs allowed for the constant moving needed to meet new people and make new friends. Had I been here just to drink and dance my opinion of the place would have been much more different. Instead I was hungry, I wanted to eat and catch up with my friends. Though unfortunately the less than satisfying food and the more than loud music forced my hand other wise. All dishes heard complaints that were yelled across the table. I understand the need for loud music, as it drowns out other chatter and forces people to get much closer to speak, very intimate. Though for the prices I was asked to pay I had hope the food would have been better and in setting in which I got to eat in it more enjoyable.

IMG_8878IMG_8881

Moscow Mule in its own custom brass drinking vessel. Vodka soda. The mint was a nice visual touch.

IMG_8882

The Caesar was a salty mess. I passed on their habenaro and jalapeño versions, feeling they might be too spicy. After a sip I was turned off, with only two tiny olives and no salted rim I couldn’t understand where the over salting came from. I asked for some additional tomato juice in order to water it down, and ideally make it passable. After that didn’t work I asked for it to be taken away. Our server made no apologizes and made no mention of having it taken off the bill, nor was there an offer to make me a new Caesar or a different cocktail all together. Instead she just picked up the glass and left without a word. Busy or not we are still paying customers and deserved to be treated as if our patronage was worth something. Little did we know gratuity is included for a party of six and regardless of how we were taken care of she would get her 15%. The only silver lining, I later discovered the failed drink was indeed removed from my charges.

IMG_8896IMG_8895

The food came fast, but only because we are the only ones ordering any. “Calamari fritti”. Being hungry and wanting a safe bet I choose the calamari. Everyone makes it, so how hard can it be. Here is where I am starting to think the kitchen doesn’t audit its food before it’s ushered to tables. The batter on the squid tasted as burnt as it looked, and it was as unappealingly salty, as everything else. I understand that majority of bar food is over salted to encourage more drinking, but at this level it was too much salt and too expensive. Ironically the salty sauce that came with it was helpfully in balancing everything out. And lucky it was after 9pm, and having had no dinner before, we were hungry enough to push through the finishing of our meal.

IMG_8889 IMG_8888

A small “Ceasar salad”. Another dish common to many menus that was too salty. The lettuce to sauce ratio was off. The leaves quickly became soggily drenched in dressing, and the cheese aside from adding some much needed dimension to the plate, only made things even more saltier. We craved a thick soup after this to wash our palettes clean, but feared it too would be saturated in salt.

IMG_8885 IMG_8884

My guest was interested in the “Kitchen leftover salad for two”. A catchy name, who would have thought it would be so literal. Reading it and its request to ask servers for clarification, you’d imagine this more like the salad of the day. What ingredients were left after service would be used to craft a speciality salad. Instead they literally tossed together scraps to make the most misaligned salad I have ever seen or tasted. Served in a large punch bowl the mix sat listless at the bottom. When we originally inquired, our server mentioned there would be chickpeas, sundried tomatoes, and peppers. This made it sound like it would be a descent salad. What we got was a salad trying too hard to be a pizza with pepperoni, olives, and diced onions. The leaves were over saturated with a herby dressing that was like everything else, too salty.

IMG_8887

“Vongole forno flatbread” made with calms, sausage, garlic, broccoli raab, and perino. This was the anomaly. The opposite of salty this was very bland. A colourless presentation paralleled with flavourless taste. The dough was misshapen with what appeared to be no attempt at rounding the corners. The ingredients were not evenly spread around and bites were left being overwhelming with calms or underwhelming with just vegetable stalks. The bread was the best part. It is sad when the only good thing about a dish is the base in which all the ingredients sit on.

IMG_8890 IMG_8891

“Veal Parmigiana”. The two guests that shared this sandwich with a side of fries declared their meal good. With not description other than this would be a hero served with fries it was nice to see other ingredients nestled between the crunchy bun. I am glad one of the birthday hosts had a good meal and that the kitchen was able to at make her a sandwich she liked.

IMG_8898 IMG_8899

“Orecchiette with broccoli raab, cherry tomatoes, garlic, chili, anchovy, toasted garlic breadcrumbs, and pecorino”. I regret not selecting the option to pass on the anchovies . Especially considering the saltiness of every thing else, the last thing I needed was the essence of a salty fish on my plate. But I wanted to take the opportunity to try anchovy for the first time. The name of the dish was just listing everything that would be in it. As one could guess this was salty, though pretty good when compared to the other dishes. Still hungry I ate this quick, trying not to focus on the taste, but instead on the two glasses of water I had to accompany this with. Of note I usually don’t drink liquids when I eat.

We hardly saw our server as dishes ordered from her were brought out by others. Though when we were wrapping up, here she was hovering around. Our dishes and drinks were taken without consent and our table was bussed prematurely. Even to the point of rushing the work and stepping on feet. We were made to feel like we had to go. Yet when we made an attempt at getting the bill she was no where to be found. We had to hunt someone else down through the sea of people, only to not know her name and have to point to our seats instead. She did however generously bring us forks and plates for the cupcakes we brought in place of a birthday cake. None were needed as we wanted no fuss and no muss, but the thought was appreciated.

IMG_8869

I did find their share style washroom unique. This was an open room with sealed stalls, surrounding a double sided sink and mirror combo. Although the doors were symboled with either man or woman in stick figures, no one made an effort to do as it suggested.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
On the bases of food and dining experience, I would deem my visit an unsatisfactory one. The food didn’t agree with us, we left to either have a second dinner or to use the washroom. Looking around earlier, we noted that we were the only ones eating. We should have known better than to order food at a busy bar like this. It was too dark to read menu, and too loud to speak to order from it. With the music this cranked it should be meant for dancing, not eating. And even then the food should be left to quick and salty bar fare, not full pastas dishes. So with the absence of a dance floor, patrons were left shuffling side to side and bobbing up and down between tables. Our host informed us that they were in the midst of rebranding. Something certainly needed after this experience. A confusing dinner with no cohesive theme or direction. They had some winning points, but many more souring ones that needed to be addressed. Overall for the meal that we had, I don’t feel they have the right to be charging three dollar signs for their food, or adding automatic gratuity for a table of six, especially as two girls shared one entree. Though lesson learned, you don’t come to a bar for fine dining. Though looking back we were eating off the Destillery menu and ordering from their kitchen and bar. Yet these are the same dishes mentioned on the Paulie’s website menu. I guess we should have looked into the actual restaurant some more and done more research when choosing this place. So I conclude with the fact that everything was far too salty to finish, it was a good thing I was hungry enough to be able to lower my standards. Don’t deny your cravings.

PAULIE’S KITCHEN
1131 Mainland Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2S2
604-669-2255
mjg.ca/paulies
Paulies Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Indochine Kitchen + Bar

IMG_8493

In in my original and first post, I mentioned coming back. So here I was today, back to take advantage of their wing Wednesday deal. My first visit was well over two years ago, when the restaurant first opened. Today it looked a lot different as they grew to accommodate their business. Therefore this needs a new post.

IMG_8495

The location is easily identified as the dark building on the corner of Ontario and Broadway. The one with its window ledges lined with fake bamboos rods in a variety of lengths and width. Quite eye catching really. A sign at the door instructs you to “wait to be seated”, though this may be a while as the front of house was ran by three young women who were responsible not only for bar-tending, serving, but also the hostess-ing. We made the mistake of not calling in a reservation, as tonight was busier with not only the hockey game playing, but the popularity of wings. Thankfully I was here early enough to avoid the crowd and a potential wait.

IMG_8496

The place was bumping at 7pm on a Wednesday. Loud music with lots of base played as guests shouted. The dim lights and loud chatter made things feel like a dance club. Considering the hockey game was on and all six flat screens mounted around the room was broadcasting the game I knew to expect the eventual audio of “score” and “goal”. This would soon replace the now popular lyrics of “dance” and “baby”.

The bar was fully seated by men and women of all ages. They sat in groupings directed towards the two televisions behind the bar. These seats offer one of the only unobstructed views of the game. The entire bar was intimately lit. An amber and orange glow came from the actual counter, and continued as back lighting for the rows of premium liquors on display above. Bottles of Grey Goose and Crown 15-30 bottles deep were highlighted. They were definitely emitting the party atmosphere from all angles. These same lights then changed to green and blue when the game came on, in support of our Canucks. Above each high top seat were hanging lamps a little above head level. They came in a variety of shapes, sizes, heights, and widths; offering just enough light to squint out the food before you. Round ones, pointed ones, those coned shaped, and ones bulb like tulips.

IMG_8501

The rest of the seating was black tables and matching chairs. Their light weight enable constant shifting to accommodate large gatherings. A couch sat in the corner, by the side door of currently the unused patio, it allowed for a more casual dining experience. It certainly matched the lounge appropriate dance music. This is not the place for a catch up and talk, especially with the loud volume of the game and the chatter of voices around. If only we knew, but we were here for the food.

We were thankful for our seat in the corner. Even though it was by the entrance, it gave us a more peaceful setting in which to watch the room. The dark made it hard to see, amplified by black painted walls and a black tiled room separator to our right. Coming when we did, we were give the last booth. Not being able to hear one another we were forced to sit side by side to talk. And as other groups trickled in and were forced to wait, I felt bad that two small girls were holding up a table meant for 6-8. Though honestly we ended up ordering enough food for six people and therefore were certainly deserving of the space.

The menu was a tri-fold of limited selection. Definitely more a bar menu, than one of a sit down dining establishment. “Indochine” has become well known for offering food that is similar to that of the popular restaurant, “Phnom Penh”. The owners are related and know what the people want: chicken wings and butter beef. The menu here is divided by: salads, tapas, sides, mains, and desserts. Sides where extra bread and rice, or eggs, pea, and shrimp crackers.

IMG_8497IMG_8530

$4.99 import beers were on special so I took advantage. To compliment the genre of cuisine they offered a large selection of Asian brews. I enjoyed the “Tiger” from Singapore and “Singha” from Thailand.

IMG_8517IMG_8516

We came specifically for the half off wings so took advantage by ordering one of each flavour. Delicious and impressively cheap at $5 a plate. “Indochine garlic butter chicken wings”. These are their house wing, the one that bring all the kids to their yard with garlic chips and a lemon pepper dipping sauce.” As good as these are, they are not quite the same as the ones from “Phnom Penh”. Though very similar in saltiness and citrus flavour. With its great crispy skin, I found it better without the use of sauce.

IMG_8522

“Honey Garlic”. Sticky wings glazed with a honey garlic sauce. Crispy and gooey, a never fail favourite.

IMG_8507IMG_8503

“Sriracha Buffalo”. Traditional buffalo wings marinated with sriracha hot sauce”. I don’t like spicy foods, but these had a nice lingering burn after the initial sweeter bite. The ranch sauce that came with the plate also helped to balance flavours.

IMG_8532IMG_8499

Ordering this many wings we expected to doggy bag what we couldn’t finish. Though when the time came were denied the possibility, given that they are on special. I guess the policy makes sense seeing as the prices are to encourage you to eat in. Though considering that we ordered six plates two share between two girls, they ought to know we wouldn’t finish it all. A warning from our server that wings were dine in only would have been appreciated. There was no star by on the menu and we missed the sharpied in mention of it on the table list of specials. Had we known we would have eaten them and packed the rest that we could. We weren’t able to finish the full portion we had left and were sad that the restaurant rather waste them then let us leave with them.

IMG_8512 IMG_8515

“Butter beef carpaccio”. Buttery smooth slices of raw beef in a citrus Vietnamese vinaigrette. Topped with garlic chips and cilantro. These tender cuts of beef were thoroughly coated in sauce. A sauce that highlighted the dish and masked the fact that you were eating raw beef. If you can get past the chewy texture it is certainly a taste worth trying.

IMG_8520

“Beef Luc Lac”. Vietnamese and French style stir fired steak cubes in a rich garlic butter soy sauce. Served with your choice of white rice, tomato rice, or French baguette. We went for the tomato rice, wanting to try something different, but wanting to eat our meaty stew with rice, the Asian way. The rice was red like a tomato with only just a hint of its flavour. The beef was melt in your mouth soft, a texture only seen from long hours of cooking over low heat. It had a rich meaty taste that paired will with the sweet rice. Together with the side salad of raw veggies this plate had the right about of crunch and chew and hearty and fresh.

IMG_8509IMG_8508

“Singaporean laksa”. Rice vermicelli noodles in a spicy seafood coconut curry broth with prawns, tofu puffs, fish balls, fish slices, a hardboiled egg, and beans sprouts. The noodles were a thicker strand than the thin vermicelli I am familiar with and was expecting. They were hard to grab, with a stingy portion compared to the amount of broth and side ingredients also in the bowl. The awkward ladle meant as a spoon certainly didn’t help. A scoop that large and that wide offered no ease in eating. I was forced to sip and slurp noisily as noodles continue to fall. This is the worst bowl of laksa I have ever had. If it weren’t for the overwhelming spiciness of the noodles, the dish would be boringly bland. It had more chilli than flavour. Enough that I broke out into panted coughs on several occasions. This was as I was making an honest attempt at not wasting food.

Despite the ethnicity of the appetizers and entrees, there was a disappointing collection of desserts. Either ice cream in three flavours or cheesecakes with one of three condiments. We passed on this very common selection. Though you shouldn’t expect to see lots of sweets at a bar. Beer doesn’t really marry well with dessert.

The service interaction was minimal. Like a bar you can’t expect much. There were too many bodies and the place was too loud and dark. This made it had to attract any server attention, after the initial ordering and drop off. I struggled to ask for another beer and if someone checked in on us more regularly or at all, I would have had at least two more. And as I mentioned early I was pretty upset that no one clued in to mention that today unfinished wings could not be packed to go. When was the last time two girls ate enough food for six people?

As is common with many Asian bars and tapas places, the single stalled washrooms were equipped with toiletries that allowed guests too freshen up after eating. Something important as majority of the food came heavily seasoned and garlic-full. A collection of cups for communal mouth wash and cotton swabs to touch up makeup.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
I would come back for and recommend the wings. But would be willing to pay full price to be able to take them to go. I didn’t like the atmosphere. It was too loud to talk or to enjoy my meal, and it was too dark to even see what I was eating. I had to be ever so cautious to avoid staining my white top with yellow laksa broth, which was difficult to do without proper table lighting. The space is set up as a sports bar with qualities of a club. This does not partner well with food meant to be eaten with a full array of tools. Bar fare is typically finger foods and one bite treats. When was the last time you have rice or soupy noodles at a bar? Though with a healthy list of Thai and south East Asian dishes and drinks, this is a bar for the Asian food lover. Someone who is craving the food while being able to enjoy a beer and watch the game alone. Don’t deny your cravings.

INDOCHINE
1 East Broadway, Vancouver BC, V5T 1V4
604-568-0828
indochinekitchen.ca
Indochine Kitchen + Bar on Urbanspoon

Rogue kitchen & wet bar

Planning to drink heavily for lunch, we wanted our destination easily accessible by transit. You don’t want to be drinking and driving now. What immediately popped to mind was, “Rogue”. There is no where more conveniently located, then right at Waterfront station.

IMG_6791IMG_6793

Were weren’t the only ones with this logical thought. Game night, 7pm the restaurant eventually filled up. It’s easy location, and its quick walking distance to any after party was too much of a lure. Even with a wait, half an hour for a table isn’t worth worrying over. There is plenty of room to pass time in, a whole station to linger in. Occupy yourself by grabbing a coffee and a seat at the adjacent “Starbucks”, or the maybe the nearby “Subway” or even the “A&W” across the way.

IMG_6792IMG_6794

Walking in at 3pm we avoided such a pause. Went right in and were immediately led to a seat of our choosing. I am always impressed by their layout. With vaulted ceilings the place opens up. The golden lighting reflecting off the crystal detailing of the chandeliers gives the restaurant a fancier feel. A more formal air for their casual lounge. Crafted from a combination of glass, candles, and strung up beads raining down; multiply this by three, and these chandeliers are quite the sight all lined up in a row. The gold swirls in the patterned carpets underfoot, and the golden details in the hanging curtains between booths; helped with air of elegance. Once again at 3pm we had our pick of the place, the second floor was left unused; and cloistered away rooms for large parties went unseated. We claimed one of the cushy faux leather booths as our own. It was a rich brown that matched the stripes on the tables. We came in knowing no reservations would be needed. But when seated were warned our table was reserved for a party joining at 6:30pm. We were settling in nicely for an early dinner and afternoon of wine by the bottles; and the space was perfect for this. Sparse tables, easy going staff, and a list of old school music playing over head. Things couldn’t be finer for our purpose. Closer to the onset the evening, day light faded and the room filled with bodies. We saw less of our server and saw more tables occupied around us.

IMG_6798

The menu was divided by seasonal specials, food, and drinks. A listing of bar classics and casual North American favourites. We were happy with the pricing for bottles of wine, so had two bottles of white from the fairly local, “Blasted Church”. It was served chilled and our glasses were refilled regularly.

IMG_6805

“Sushi bombs 2.0”, tempura prawn, albacore tuna, tobiko, sriracha, and sesame seeds; chased with wasabi soy. I ordered this more for its novelty, having had it once before. Broken down this was a tuna roll minus the seaweed. This was rice rolled into balls, topped with tuna sashimi, and accented with a squeeze yourself eyedropper of soy sauce. With their mild taste, the surrounding elements gave the plate some colour and added some textural crunch. All in all it was good, but I would consider this more of a visual feast than great sushi. Definitely not filling and not worth the $9 I was charged for it.

IMG_6803

“Nachoes”, a gluten free option made with red & green jalapeños, mangoes, grape tomatoes, scallions, and monterey & cheddar cheese. Served with a side of salsa & sour cream, we added guacamole for an extra $1. With the addition of the fruit and vegetables the plate was made light and more refreshing. Almost tropical with the mango and coarsely chopped up cilantro. I question the hard to eat out of narrow plate, that our pile of chips were balancing on. Would it not be easier to use a larger plate, to avoid the dropping of chips? It would also help in the dispersing of cheese. Well made nacho plates have cheese over every layer of chips. These nachos were greatly lacking in cheese. And as always there is ever enough dipping components with the rationing we had to so.

IMG_6817

“Hedgehog ice cream pie”. Layers of latte, almond, and hazelnut ice cream on an espresso chocolate biscotti crust, drizzled with a chocolate sauce. This was fabulous, I literally licked the plate. The ice cream was light and each flavour melded well for a cohesive tone. I could use one now.

We only saw friendly and accommodating staff members. Though it helped we were the one of only three tables seated in the dining room for a long time. With no rush the pace was easy going and everything came with ease. And our server went along with our requests without judgement. We switched tables a couple of time looking for the right view. We were redirected and moved without a fuss. Our table was checked in on often by our outgoing server, who was able to throw jokes and laugh with us.

IMG_6812IMG_6813

Of note, the washrooms are a little inconveniently placed in the basement. A trek down a spiralling staircase gets you there. Men’s and women’s are differentiated by “Rouges” and “Roguettes”. And inside, for women there is quite the advertising. A display of topless men, appearing on the corner of your mirror one by one, to promote the Fiat. Same for men, but women? I wonder.

IMG_6829IMG_6830

As previously mentioned, on past visits I have also had the sushi bombs.

rogue nachos with mang, cherry tomatoes, chives

And the rogue nachos. I guess you can say I like what I like.

rouge, poutine, bacon, goat cheese fries

“Fries x3”, hand cut kennebec fries; served with gorgonzola cream & bacon, made poutine style with gravy and cheese curds, and seasoned with truffle oil & parmesan. The variety kept things exciting and the palate interested. Great bar food.

IMG_6831

The very seasonal “Vietnamese tacos”. Instead of a corn tortilla, a Chinese style steam bun, “bao” dough is used. These were used to sandwich tender pieces of pulled pork and pickled vegetables; in carrot, cucumber, and radish. Very similar in its sweet and sour nature to Vietnamese sandwiches made with baguettes.

IMG_6833

Rogue’s take on udon is no longer on the menu, but when it was I remembered wondering why I ordered an Asian noodle dish at this lounge restaurant. But later admitted to it being pretty good.

rouge spicy shrimp pizza

“Spicy tiger prawn pesto pizza”, chilli prawns, red onions, pesto, mozzarella, feta, and grana padano parmesan. With lots going on, the pizza dough was overwhelmed with flavour. Great when paired with beer.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
The food is solid, the staff are friendly, and the location is very convenient. And what a location, built in a glamorous train station with brick walls and regal carpeting. You got that dress up formal feel with the comforts of a casual chain restaurant. They give a great effort in bringing the two worlds together. And as I mentioned earlier, an ideal location to be drinking at. At a few steps to the skytrain platform, you need not worry about the cold whether or a walk done too far in too uncomfortable of a shoe. The “Rogue” proves in real estate it’s all about location, location, location. And it doesn’t get anymore convenient than this. Good food, better drinks. Don’t deny your cravings.

ROGUE
601 West Cordova Street, Vancouver BC
604-678-8000
roguewetbar.com
Rogue Kitchen & WetBar on Urbanspoon

The Marquis

IMG_6208 IMG_6211

A hole in the wall, or rather a door in the block. It caught my attention with a sign post of cheap drinks specials, a knee level sandwich board, and a rotating strobe light in red LED. Inside, a narrow space with a row of tables and booths on right and swivelling hightop seats by the bar on the left. The mirror at the back of the restaurant gives the illusion that the place is larger than it really is. No decorations, no conversation starters. Just seats and shelves for bottles and drinks. Be warned everyone here knows the food isn’t good, you come for the cheap drinks and the $3.50 highballs.

IMG_6214IMG_6233

“White strawberry”. Fruli and 1664 blanc. Surprised that I could taste this much strawberry.

Stanley park beer on tap.

IMG_6222

“Potato and cheddar perogies”. Topped with spicy caramelized onions and green onions, and topped with sour cream. You can also add chorizo into the mix at cost. They were only slightly better than the frozen perogies you are too lazy to make yourself at home. Though it all honesty these are probably not in house made and started frozen as well. The skin was baked to a slight crisp, with an average amount of filling per pocket. I was unable to get to it to take a picture before my guest started eating.

IMG_6223IMG_6224

“Cranberry apple pork loin”. Rolled pork loin stuffed with their sweet and savory cranberry-apple stuffing. Served with a spicy potato croquet and root vegetables. And topped with a red wine balsamic demi. My guests found the meat unbearably dry. After asking for more gravy, it didn’t do enough to moisten “the cardboard that they call a pork loin”. (To quote my guest) The vegetables sides were better, but nothing more than under seasoned mush. This too was left unfinished.

IMG_6228IMG_6229

Apple pie with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and maraschino cherries. Not listed on menu. It was warm enough and tasted fresh, probably purchase from else where. The slices resembled the store bought variety, with the hearty look of something done homemade.

The following are dishes I have tried and disliked on a past visit.

IMG_6238

“Spicy house calamari”. Tubes, tentacles, and banana peppers, dusted in a rice flour batter. Served with spicy beans and a mint cucumber aioli. Barely crispy, with none of the spice promised in the title. Chewy and flavourless, not worth finishing.

IMG_6236

“The Marquis chicken burger”. Chicken breast, fresh tomato, shaved romaine, sweet red onion, and mayonnaise. Plain and unmemorable. Nothing I couldn’t improve on myself.

IMG_6235

Fettuccine Alfredo with prawn and a side of garlic toast. Bland and over cooked. Is it even possible to have too much Alfredo sauce? It felt like it in this dish.

IMG_6237

Lobster ravioli. In reality this was three squares of over cooked pasta, topped carelessly with lobster chunks. Disappointing in quantity and quality. I should have known better than to order lobster anything at a pub.

Would I come back? – Yes. Only for cheap drinks, after I have had dinner else where in the neighbourhood.
Would I recommend it? – No. The food is not good, the drinks are only average, and the space is nothing special to write about.

THE MARQUIS
2666 Granville Street, Vancouver BC
604-568-0670
themarquis.ca
The Marquis on Urbanspoon

Page 2 of 4

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén