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Category: Southern Page 1 of 2

Mamie Taylor, brunch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Mamie Taylor’s, 2018 fall menu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Downlow Chicken Shack

There isn’t much that my partner and I agree on food wise. Whereas I am an adventurous diner, he is more cautious when it comes to what goes into his mouth. Although when it comes to fried chicken, it is something we can both enjoy. Therefore we have been meaning to check out this new deep fried chicken place for a while now.

When “Down Low” originally opened they kept irregular hours, testing the waters of the Vancouver food scene. They stayed open until they sold out of their chicken, meaning we would park and walk to the front only to be turned away. Almost half a year later, here we were entertaining a late lunch. It took a Friday afternoon between lunch and dinner to get a bite with them. And they were still as popular and as busy as ever, and based on the chicken we enjoyed, I can see why. By 3:30pm there were plenty of bodies dining in and even more taking out. With two working the floors, three behind the counter and two more fronting the deep fryer. Each employee dawned a black tee with their logo bold on the back.

This was a chicken giving you the side eye, a cheeky stare, knowing full well what he was offering you how he would have you hooked. The same chicken graced the restaurant’s front window with a yellow beak and red crown. If you are enamoured by his grin you can take him and it home on some of the restaurant’s merchandise in the form of tee shirts and ball caps.

They are available at the back, the same place where you ordered and pay. You engage with the clerk seated at the very end of the restaurant. Today, she was nursing a sprained foot and resting it high on milk crates. She did a great job, giving you all the options and ensuring you got exactly what you wanted. Then shouting it out to those working behind the open kitchen. Like her, everyone else I spoke to was friendly, cordial, and as chill as the setting. All set to a nice mix of hip hop: loud and full of base thumping beats.

You pay and then pick your seat, where your food is quickly brought out to you. Benches outside on their patio, or high tops inside, against all the open windows.

We ordered the half chicken as I like dark meat and my partner likes white. This cost us $17 instead of $19 together. I didn’t take note of the heat level on the menu up front, so ordered the chicken “mild” only to realize this gave things “just a dusting of heat”, whereas I wanted the classic: dredged and fried without chilli. And sadly it was this, the seasoning, on the thick breading that had me liking it less. I am positive that if I had the “classic” I would have liked it much more. At least the meat at the centre was juicy and the breading crunchy, despite my mini photo shoot and allowing it to cool before we took our first bites. My partner however, really enjoyed the chicken here, and more so in his burger below. He declared that when it comes to flavour and size nothing else comes close to this in the city.

My partner loves a good chicken sandwich, so wanted to try their chicken “on a bun”, as well This is their “Hot chicken sandwich” made with white meat chicken breast, their DL sauce, sweet n sour slaw, and house pickles. Given the use of a whole slab of chicken breast, it was  a little hard to get a full bite around, but I preferred it and its ratio of breading to meat than the serving above. It was also nice to see and have more meat than bread, whereas many such burgers has it the other way around. The slaw offered a nice balancing and creamy crunch, and the pickles a refreshing tang to lighten up the meal. I appreciated the clump above and more of them on the side here.

My partner ordered some fries as a side. He didn’t find them all that great, likening the crinkle cut potato sticks to the frozen McCain version. Although at “Down Low” they managed to give them new vitality with a dusting of the “mild” spices and a generous squeeze from their bottle of house mayo. As tasty as the sweet and tangy mayo was, it was just as heavy as everything else, so much so that I was craving some ketchup for freshness.

I like a good corn bread so was excited to try their version listed as being made with “honey and butter”. However it was a dry brick of cheese and jalapeño. Another spicy element to this meal, whereas I could have really used some sweetness from this, as a break from all the bold flavours. And sadly the texture was crumbly, the dough dry from elongated exposure under a heat lamp. There, each square proceeded to cook, wrapped in wax paper oozing with grease that saturated the sheet. Needless to say, we each took a bite and didn’t bother to finish it.

In hind sight, instead of the fries or the cornbread, we should have gotten the creamy and cooling macaroni salad or the crunchy and juicy coleslaw. Either would have acted as a nice cleanser in between bites, helping to balance everything and increase my longevity for the meal before me. Without either, I found myself drinking cups and cups of water from their self serve water station. Overall I did find things on the saltier side.

After we ate our fill, I wanted to get a new box and amalgamate all that we couldn’t finish into it. However an extra box would have been $1 more. So instead, we got a brown paper bag to take our current greasy boxes home in. Despite my disappointment, I did appreciated how one of the managers took the time to explain the reasoning for the cost, with his apologies. He explained that these compostable boxes are the restaurant’s most expensive cost. And they are currently looking for a more reasonable distributor and cost, so that he doesn’t have to seem like he is “cheap”, when customers (like my self) ask for another box; one that he can give to them freely.

 

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.
Fried chicken is one of those dishes that almost everyone likes, and great fried chicken is on everyone’s list. Therefore this, with its original flavour, one that I have never tasted before, is worth sharing with others. I would skip the sides, but definitely declare that the chicken as is and in between a bun is definitely worth trying. And best late at night after some drinking, whereas it was hard having it for our breakfast this morning. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DL CHICKEN SHACK
905 Commercial Drive, Vancouver BC, V5L 3W8
604-283-1385
dlchickenshack.ca

Mardi Gras menu at Mamie Taylor’s

“Mamie Taylor’s” is one of those places I like recommend when suggesting a unique spot. A place for great food and drink, with original offerings and a stand out theme; that is also a little under the radar. Most memorable for me is their taxidermy pieces and their absinthe flights. However having wild life stuffed and mounted on the walls and above your head isn’t for everyone, as is drinking liquorice flavoured spirits. But for those who relish the different, like myself, their is a strong appreciation for the place.

So as one of my preferred drink and dessert places I have come back a few times after my initial visit. But to read my first post on the place click here.

I was back tonight for their limited time only Mardi Gras themed menu. Some authentic New Orleans flavours only available from February 17 to Friday, March 3, 2017. There are no reservations needed, just come in after 5pm daily, to try their fresh sheet.

“Mardi Gras” is the “Carnival of celebrations, beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday.” It is enjoyed through food, party, and dance. Most commonly remembered in media for the use of beads as currency. And today a couple of their wild game busts had a few beads around their necks, and the bear even had a green and gold masquerade mask on in commemoration.

I learned about this event from a Daily Hive post, unfortunately what they advertised there isn’t what was actually offered here tonight. This was a case of false advertise, and in hindsight I should have brought it to the attention of the management to be corrected, less more patrons like me get disappointed. The article read with “down-home Cajun and Creole delicacies”, but in reality there were only four dishes, and one was a dessert. There was a Jambalaya, but no traditional Gumbo.

And I looked like a fool asking about the “New Orleans cocktails such as the Vieux Carré, the Sazerac and the Hurricane”, the three that the post recommended. Then was further disappointed that the room I planned to save for dessert would be going to waste. I was looking forward to trying kings cake of the first time, a traditional Mardi Gras bunt cake iced in yellow, green, and purple colours. And supposedly (according to Daily Hive) if you find a jade rooster figurine hidden in your piece, it and the cake yours for free. But once again the post mislead and all they had were beignets.

Our server checked with the kitchen and the owner, and they confirmed that what they had was only what their fresh sheet listed, at the bottom of the regularly printed lmenu.

I was originally lured in by the opportunity to try turtle soup and decided to go through with at least that. I was curious to have turtle meat for the first time. I didn’t expect to finish it or want to, I was just interested in the ability to and the experience of; as is often is the case when I try more exotic meats not common or typical to Canada. However it was surprisingly a really good soup, made with sherry and spinach, and topped with soft boiled egg. Although you can’t really tell that it is turtle that you are having. The meat is shredded like chicken, with a beefy taste, although it is the flavour of the tomato sauce base that you are focusing on. It drank like a melding of gazpacho and an herbed vegetable soup. We even asked where the restaurant gets their turtle meat from, and it’s apparently at “Gar-Lock seafood ltd”, the fish market across the street.

We also hopped at the chance to try frog legs off this New Orleans style Southern menu. I have had some before, but these were definitely the best I have had them. The order came with three legs, so I guess they don’t have the whole frog, but just purchase a batch of legs. Each drumstick was hefty, meaty looking from under all that golden brown breading. If you have never had frog legs before, after taking your first bite, you can definitely see why people compare it to chicken. The meat tastes and looks like it, and the legs have two parallel bones covered in meat like chicken wings. But past the breading and without the side of andouille sausage mayo for dipping, it tasted fishy, with the saltiness of sardines. Having it breaded helped in this, and to foster the disillusion of eating a slimy reptile, especially as you can’t see any of their webbed toes.

And since we were here so early, we also decided to take advantage of a few happy hour specials. Monday to Friday Happy Hour is between 5-6pm, and from Saturday to Sunday it run from 3-5pm. Draft beers were on for $5 and their house cocktail was $6 instead of the usual $11.

And for food there were wings, meatballs, and meat bundles for $1 a piece. We had the fried green tomato sliders at $2 each. It was seasoned in a Buffalo sauce that was balanced out with some ranch dressing. Fried green tomato is another first for me, and something I have been wanting to try, after hearing it mentioned in many pop culture references. This was a very saucy burger, with the tomato patty offering a fibrous bite. Tangy and spicy from the buffalo and tart and creamy from the cooling ranch. It was spicy, but not enough to kill the taste of everything else. Overall, a very impactful flavour, best in small servings like this. Although I wouldn’t mind a plate of just their green fried tomatoes with a side of ranch for dipping.

 

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 would love to visit New Orleans one day, but now and for a while, this might be the closest I get to that. I enjoy visiting restaurants during events like this. It is a new reason to visit a place you already like, or one to bring you in, in the first place; as well as it serves as an interesting experience that you might not be available to get anywhere else. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MAMIE TAYLOR’S
251 East Georgia Street, Vancouver BC
604-620-8818
mamietaylors.ca
Mamie Taylor's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House

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Some seriously good Happy Hour deals: $1 a slider!

 

I have heard great things about this place, so when looking for a happy hour spot, I jumped at trying their $6, $6, $6 offers. Wine, beer, and appetizers at $6 each.

Walking up to the building, the window read “beer, bacon, bourbon”, I thought, “this is promising”. The building was black in cast iron with their logo in red, a muscular forearm lifting a trident in the air. Though I guess it must be a pitch fork, because that is the devil’s weapon of choice.

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When you walk inside, the scents made good on the promise the window declared. It smelled like malty liquor, cured meat, and salt. It made you thirsty and hungry at the same time. The interior was rugged like you would expect for a smoke house. The words “Devil’s Elbow” was stencilled on one of the bleached wood, alcove seating areas. Adjacent to it was a wooden canoe suspended from the ceiling. It held a place in the corridor separating the more rowdy bar area (especially with the hockey game on) from the more quite dining area, just before the kitchen pass. The canoe was certainly an eye catching conversation starter. The rustic theme continued on with their heavy bar in both look and stock, their open ceiling exposing wires and ducts, and the unfinished brick meets wood look on select walls. I liked the energy of the place, especially with the rotation of 90’s top charters. Like Alanis Morisette’s “ironic”, No Doubt walking on “spiderwebs”, and TLC taking about “scrubs”. It all certainly had our server dancing in the isles.

We went through the happy hour food menu with gusto, and thankfully our server was kind enough to warn us that we had asked for was a lot of food. She advised us to keep with the four dishes below, even though we wanted more. Like the fried catfish entree that they were sold out of, so early in the afternoon.

When one of the kitchen staff delivered our dishes one of the pork purses rolled off the plate. She simply said that we lost one. We didn’t move wondering what she would do. She insisted that the table was clean and suggested we just pick it off the table and place it back on to the plate. We complied and ate it, as I am not to fussy, but is that really the correct course of action when such a thing happens? I don’t know about you? But there have been many occasion where I have seen tables wiped down with a communal cloth, a rag that doesn’t get rinsed off or rung out between uses. Who is to say that this table is really clean after a wipe from one of those. Though I am highly sensitive to this sort of thing. That’s why I got out of the restaurant industry when I did.

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“Pulled pork purses” with smoked pork butt, smoked bacon, cabbage, and zesty honey BBQ sauce. $6 between 3-6pm, regularly there are $11. These were my favourite of the night. They were surprisingly deep fried parcels stuffed full, I expected white steamed buns. They were crispy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. The sauce and green onion gave each bite a sweet and salty Asian feel.

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The “Brisket sliders” were filled with house smoked beef brisket, tangy coleslaw, and sesame seeds in a toasted brioche bun. We didn’t expect there to be six of them. Given the $6 price and it being happy hour , I expected the plate to only come with three. Especially since they are normally $10 for three. Or else we were given a bonus by mistake? These little bundles were a mouthful, full of tender barbecue meat and tangy coleslaw. It definitely highlighted the smokiness of the brisket.

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The “Kettle chips with maque choux” was house made potato slices paired with southern style corn salsa. Salty chips and sweet corn. Some chips were too salty, but their great texture made up for it. They were the perfect base for the soft corn to be scooped up with.

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The “Mac and cheese corn bread” side was not a part of the happy hour specials, but it was a side that we couldn’t pass up at $4. Especially with our server promoting it. And besides when you are going for southern fare you usually stop for corn bread. Though this was not what we were expecting. It was far too dense. Dense from all the carbs, dense from the combination of pasta and corn meal. The melty cheese sauce and fresh tomato chunk topping helped a little to add moisture, but I didn’t find both very complimentary to its base. I rather-ed a helping of regular corn bread and a small bowl of mac and cheese, separate.

Our several actually did the same with “orange crush”, she over sold it like the Mac and cheese corn bread. She made it seem like it was their own homemade batch of orange crush. Though in reality it was nothing special, just regular orange soda. Or else we wouldn’t have gotten a glass to try. At least she is good at her job and a great sales man. And/or we don’t have the same tastes.

We of course weren’t able to finish all the food, so had most of it packed to go, but sadly they didn’t have any bags to put the cardboard containers into, and the sauce and oil ended up leaking on to my car seats. It is also nice to note that although we were done eating, our food was packed to go, and we had paid in full; our server continued to tend to us, she stilled poured us water and check in on our welfare. In general she seemed really into her job. We watched her continuously dancing and singing along to the music as she checked on all the tables, one after the other like a circuit. She was in a great mood and had set the tone for ours.

 

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.
Happy hour was so impressive that I want to come back to try the rest of their menu. My partner is a big fan of barbecue meats, and has asked that I bring him back after he had my leftovers and really enjoyed the beef in the sliders and the pork in the purses. I agreed having had my eye on their “smoked BBQ meat platter”. It comes with pulled pork, beef brisket, pork back ribs, and your choice of two sides. We would choose the IPA Mac and cheese and garlic mashed potatoes over the chilled potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, or creamed corn. And if this isn’t enough food, for $20 more you can get their larger meat platter that comes with A half smoked chicken, pulled pork, beef brisket, pork back ribs, and your choice of four sides. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DEVIL’S ELBOW
562 Beatty Street, Vancouver BC
604-559-0611
devilselbowalehouse.com
Devil's Elbow Ale And Smoke House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ouisi Bistro

Walked into “Ouisi” for a late lunch. Mentioned to the first server I saw that I was in to place an order for take out. I hopped on to a hightop at the bar and waited to be helped. However she went to take a seat to eat herself. This was done without mentioning my visit to either of her colleagues. So there I sat unacknowledged and waiting to be served. My wait ended with me having to interrupt a conversation between the only two girls working the floor, at the cash terminal. I did it only to be able to insert my order. One of the girls speedily took it, but entered it before I had finished giving it. I got the impression she could not wait to be rid of me. 

The first thing you notice is the copper of the walls sponged on. Its colour, a large contrast to the paintings done in cool blues tones and the photographs in a sharp black and white. They were of famous jazz performers, soulful singer, and skilled musicians. The restaurant was pretty empty at 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon. All the dark wooden tables sat empty and waiting. Two sections were taped off, tables that did not allow minors beyond a certain point. One was by the window and the other, an elevated “VIP” designated area. I only noticed the patio in the back because of the row of patrons bee lining in that direction. It was a fenced off space, with open sky and lots of sunlight. The high wooden fences and the green vines that crept across them helped to seclude this venue from the bustle of the foot traffic surrounding it. I made note of all the cliche southern paraphernalia, that was mixed in with the bottles and glasses at the bar. A couple of masquerade masks in white and gold winked in sequins. Mardi Gras beads of purple and green hung off bar taps. And a stuffed lobster straddling a crocodile looked down at the whole scene. They watched from an awning right above the open kitchen of “Ouisi”. The kitchen was at the front, right by the entrance. Behind its open wall feature worked two chefs dressed in professional chef’s uniforms. 

I beat the late lunch rush and was able to score my food in under 10 minutes. It was packed up hot in cardboard take out containers to go. 
The menu they were serving was either brunch with breakfast items or lunch with burgers and sandwiches. This is the type of food I have only seen on food network television shows, but never got a chance to try for myself. I took this opportunity to order dishes with names I had heard of, but knew not what they were. I was disappointed to not be able to use my complicated entertainment book coupon today. It was for a free dinner entree when another is purchased, along with two drinks. Just as well, I don’t think I will be ever back for dinner and I can’t have drinks during a lunch break. 

“Ouisi Po’ Boy”. Blacken chicken breast served burger style on a kaiser. The chicken was well seasoned and you could taste the freshness in its white meat. The sauce was the best component, and it really helped to pull the burger together with its filling of lettuce and tomatoes. 

“The Blackened Burger”. An Ouisi-made burger with fixings served on a kaiser. I couldn’t enjoy a beef burger without cheese, so was forced to pay the steep price of $2.50, for a slice of the yellow stuff. Some things just taste better with cheese and are worth the cost. The burger patty did not taste the least bit artificial. The ingredients included gave each burger bit a kick. A taste so unique that a burger made by GFS or Sysco could never hope to compete. Though on that token, for $15 including cheese, you are better off spending your money at “White Spot”. (as quoted from the “guru” gurucooking.caThere you get a better burger at a slightly cheaper price, or use the change to upgrade and get a milkshake instead of a fountain drink. Either way you are better there than burger-ing here. Cheese is included. 


All sandwiches were served with “Baton Rogue” greens and fries. I couldn’t define the taste of the salad, and was forced to have several bites to decide how I felt about it. The added spice was later revealed to be cumin, pretty original for a salad. The fries were run of the mill, crispy edges and soggy potato inside. And I was unfortunate enough to eat a few coated in too much pepper. 

 

I have heard of “Beignets” and wanted to try the dessert’s whose name is fun to say, for myself. These were made hot to order and covered in generous shakes of powdered sugar. I was expecting so much more from these would be doughnuts. It was just ordinary dough fried and baked. The powered sugar was not enough to give this dessert enough sugar or individual taste. At least they were in house made, I could tell by the mismatching shape of each one. If these were massed produced they would be done so in unison, and therefore result in the perfect Beignets each and every time. 

The over all vibe of “Ouisi” is very casual. With staff clothed in no official dress code, prioritizing tasks over guests, and armed with no sense of urgency. From what I have heard and seen on TV this is very southern thing, easy going and breezy. So if the servers are playing a persona, they are doing a fantastic job at it. Very authentic.


Would I come back? – No. There was nothing unique about what I had. Nothing that I couldn’t get else where, but only bigger, better, and cheaper. So many options and nothing made “Ouisi” the choice to choose. Though my answer may be different had I tried their jambalaya, something not often seen on a burger menu and a dish very specific to the South. But other than that gem, the rest of the menu was very chicken and toast, very plain and boring. Luckily the area it is in is nice enough, and the restaurant a wonder with open windows that allows the light in 
Would I recommend it? – No. Not because the food didn’t taste good. But because at those prices you expect more and are let down when you realize you have only less. Plus I did not enjoy my service experience much. 


OUISI BISTRO
3014 Granville St, Vancouver BC
604-732-7550
ouisibistro.com

Ouisi Bistro on Urbanspoon

Chewies, Steam & Oyster Bar

In the heart of Kitsilano, a few blocks away from beach, there sits one of the more buzzed about restaurants in Vancouver, “Chewies”. It is local west coast seafood done in respects to the bold flavours of New Orleans, and the zesty sauces and rubs of Cajun cuisine. Their cooking utilizes steam to bring out natural flavoring and the tenderness of their fresh seafood. 


You walk to the corner of West 1st and behold the rustic looking entrance to “Chewies”. I say walk because parking in front is limited to 4, always occupied meter spots; and anything else will be up to 3 block a way. Not too bad considering majority of Vancouverites enjoy a good bike ride or a warm stroll. 
The entrance is crafted from large stone blocks. They frame faded and chipped white doors. To each side of the threshold are cast iron lamps; they give character, and shine the spotlight on the glass etched restaurant sign. Judging this book by its cover, or restaurant by its entrance; you get exactly as what you expect. Homey decor, relaxed staff, and comfort foods. 


Walking inside, “Chewies” is brimming with people, and chances are you are expected to wait to be seated. The wise, like ourselves make reservations to circumvent the above. The restaurant is linear. We were are given a table in the back, having to step up onto the risen floor to get to it. The space was tight and our conversation was kept to a minimum. We ended in shouting matches, trying to get heard over all the voices enjoying themselves. 
The bar was the hub of the place. Not only did it host local craft brews, but behind it was spacing set aside for fresh seafood offerings. Crustaceans and mollusks were put on display, as they chilled on ice. 

Unfortunately we were unable to enjoy a more immersed conversation with our server. It was a busy night and there was the need to track a separate body down to hail him over. Considering the rowdy crowd tonight and the large party seated in the same section, this was excusable. 



I love ceasars, and the prospect of getting one a little different than all others is an opportunity I cannot miss. At “Chewies” they do theirs as a parallel to their seafood, with lemon and horseradish. The grilled prawn was a lovely touch and a fantastic nod to their food and theme. Spicy, tomatoey, heavy on the spiced rim, and with the bite of vodkas hidden. Just the way I like my ceasars. 

A variety of 4 oysters in a half shell, as seasonally available. Our server explained the difference in tastes and notes in each of the ones that we had selected. I cannot remember the specifics but the two smaller ones were supposedly on the sweeter side. Truth be told I was unable to tell the difference when I added the lemon, horseradish, and home made sauces that accompanied them. I appreciated the effort put into the presentation, if only for 4 half shells. I feel oysters are one of those things you eat for the added prestige and texture, not necessary for the taste. 

“Pan seared calamari”. Local Humboldt squid, with a cucumber jalapeño mint salad. Was not expecting a plate of calamari that wasn’t breaded or deep fried. Yes I should have read the title better. The taste was on par with all the strong spices that littered the plate. But being use to the crispy and the chewy texture commonly found in many calamari dishes, I was almost at a lost with this one. I found each tentacle too rubbery, and a minimum of 20 hard chomps and teeth grinds were needed to get through it. The cucumber slices was the star for me. They were a delicious way to cool down my spiced up pallet. 

“Mussels in a coconut and jalapeño sauce”. Cooked in a spicy pepper broth with oyster mushrooms, and basil. The sauce was a good blend of watery meets creamy. It was flavorful and tasty enough to spoon into my mouth, straight as. I would have loved some softer bread on the side for dipping. The loofa sponge that came on the side didn’t do enough to sop up mussel broth. A common issue I find with pots of cooked mussels is the amount of meat provided per shell. This was the case here. Several shells were found empty and immediately discarded. And there was no luck in relocating them in the broth. 

For the vegetarian of the group we have “Vegetable Gratin”. Made with baked black eyed peas, vegetables, and a goat cheese crust. By comparison, without any meat or seafood I found this dish blasé and just so. There was not enough spices added to complete with the flavours of everything else that we had. I did enjoy its crispy texture. This was achieved from it being baked in the same cast iron pan in was presented on. 

“Jambalaya” with house smoked chicken, andouille sausage, prawns, tasso ham, and spicy Cajun rice. After trying everything, our group of four concluded that this was the best dish of the lot. Well flavoured with enough heat that you can still identify the back up ingredients in the mix. A good way to end the meal and ensure everyone was full. 



Would I come back? – No. The travel to and hassle in carrying out the elusive parking hunt is enough to discourage the lazy girl in me. The food was good, but nothing I couldn’t get else were. I found nothing wow-ed me and nothing left on the menu encouraged a return visit based on curiosity. 
Would I recommend it? – Yes. It is in a lovely area. And a meal at “Chewies” would be great after an afternoon at Kits beach. I like their designation as a steam and oyster bar, this gives them a distinction that sets them a part. And they have a great selection of cocktails and speciality brews available to accompany all yours dishes. Don’t deny your cravings. 


CHEWIES
2201 West 1st Ave, Vancouver BC
604-558-4448
chewies.ca



Chewies Steam & Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon Instagram

Peckinpah, Carolina style BBQ

Don’t Deny Your Cravings~

Frenchy and I love BBQ food so were excited to take a trip to “Peckinpah”, a Carolina style BBQ house in the heart of Gastown. This is a key location on the corner of Water Street and a beautiful heritage building. It was such a tiny place that we waited quite some time for a bar seat, to there wait for ones at a table. Their seating room is two chairs surrounded by barrels that married well to their rustic country theme. There are less than 10 tables available and a row of stools from the bar to the kitchen’s end. 


I know nothing about Carolina, but based on “Peckinpah’s” decor, I now imagine cowboys drinking whiskey. A handsome brick wall is the back drop to an open kitchen and a full bar. They specialize in whiskey: neat, rocky and sour; and all cocktails made with whiskey. I had to try their Caesar, made of course with whiskey. The cured sausage was a nice touch along side the usual pickled vegetables. And the whiskey double was hardly noticeable mixed with the clamato juice. 

We wanted to a little of everything so decided on one of their combo platters. Couldn’t eat all of “The Everything” so went for “The Divorce”, half of everything. In it you get a sample of all their smoked meats, four sides of your choosing, and two pieces of cornbread. You get pulled pork, beef brisket, pork side ribs, beef short rib, jalapeño pork sausage. For our sides we choose “hush puppies”, deep fried cornbread fritters served with honey bourbon dipping sauce for an extra 50 cents; cream corn, whole kernels cooked in sweet corn purée; potato salad, yellow nugget potatoes with a fresh herb dressing; and fries, adding jalapeño dressing for 50 cents. You can also choose more corn bread, baked beans, southern greens, and coleslaw as your sides. 

All this was ok but honestly not worth $59 price tag. The ribs were dry and I watched as the chef cut a piece off a slab, and gathered the rest back into the wrinkled tin foil, that had been wrapped and unwrapped numerous times. I appreciated the variety, but the rest of the meats were not smoked enough and therefore on the dry side. It was all pretty un-memorable. The pork side ribs and beef short ribs were more bone then meat. The pulled pork was not seasoned enough. And the beef brisket was chewy and needed the aid of our extra sauces. The best was the sausage, but you can’t really do wrong there if it is pre made and you are just hearing it up. The sides dishes really out shone the meat in this case. They were a good interruption to a potential meat coma. The corn bread was stale and the fries and potato salad were your standard picnic fare. What I did enjoy was the “hush puppies”, that sweet corn bread taste made even sweeter with honey; and made crispier with a good deep fry, a really unique treat. 

Would I go back? Yes, only if asked and only to get a burger. I find the prices a little steep for what they offer. And $16-23 for an only so-so entree is not worth it. 
Would I recommend it? Yes and No. If you like the Gastown area there is nothing better then enjoying a beer and a side of ribs while looking out at “Gassy Jack”. But I would question if it was worth breaking the bank for. If you are looking for a platter of meat and wanting to go all out, I strongly recommend “Memphis Blues” over “Peckinpah”. It is my number one choice for slow cooked, fall off the bone BBQ meats. For comparable meat and fixin’s platters you are looking at $59 from “Peckinpah” and $45.95 for “Memphis”. 
Click here for my review on “Memphis Blues”. http://vieamaggi.blogspot.ca/2013/04/southern-blues.htmlBut “Pekinpah” does conveniently offer delivery to the residents of downtown 
Vancouver, so this won’t be a shabby last resort for dinner without going out. 


PECKINPAH 
2 Water St, Vancouver BC
Tel: 604-681-5411
pekinpahbbq.com





Peckinpah on Urbanspoon Instagram

Memphis Blues, Southern BBQ


No Crying the Blues Here~


“Memphis Blues” is Frenchy’s all time favorite restaurant. It took me 2 years to get him in because he didn’t believe in the higher price for a casual night out. But after his first meat feast he was hooked. This is one of those few times you are truly paying for what you get. Ask anyone who has ever been, they have only good things to say about the food and portions at “Memphis Blues”. On top of being excited to go.

There are 3 locations in Vancouver and I have frequented all. They are pretty consistent from one to another. Similar decor style, preparation of food, and friendly staff. The layout is simple. Tables lined in columns. Art indicative of the south. Pictures depicting jazz and soul music, and saxophones being held at 45 degrees. And the occasional delicious pig referenced in novelty.

Everything is self serve from picking out your drink from the fridge, to packing up your own left overs. You choose your table then head to the cash to order. I always dislike these types of arrangements. You end up tipping before you have tried the food or have seen the extent of the staff’s service.

At each table there is a selection of additional sauces and spices , I have never used them but they are there if you need the extra kick. Most importantly, each table comes with its own, much needed roll of paper towels. With all the sauces and hand held meats, I can see them going through rolls and rolls in a day. 

Our favorite meats are the pulled pork and beef brisket. We usually share the $22.95 combo plate, with enough left for lunch the next day. Each plate comes with a slice of corn bread, a small portion of baked beans, a scoop of coleslaw, and their house special BBQ sauce. But we have also gotten them as meals for $16.95-17.95. More of the meats we love with the same sides and your choice of either fries or potato salad. Their herbs and spices make them Frenchy’s favorite seasoned fries; so good hot and fresh that ketchup is not needed. Their BBQ sauce isn’t too strong and has a little sweetness to it; it goes well with everything they serve, even the cornbread. 

If you want to try a little bit of everything they have a variety of combo platters to fulfill that craving. Two of their platters are named after the Presley’s, how southern of them, and how fitting with the Louisiana decor. We like their “Memphis Feast”, their signature platter with a bit of every meat available and all the fixings. This is the best way to try BBQ. Their pulled pork is shredded perfection, with a melt in your mouth kind of tenderness. The beef brisket is my favorite. It is fattier and therefore a more rich cut of beef. Always well seasoned and layered with marbleized fat. The ribs are flavourful, but far too dry to have any fall off the bone. The sausage is your easy win, always consistently delicious and juicy with fat morsels.
This is no place for a salad, but for those wanting more breathing room smoked chicken, catfish over greens, oyster po’boy, and BBQ poutines are available on the menu. They also serve desserts, but I wouldn’t know, as I have never been not stuffed full enough to ask.
My only real complaint is their drinks. Yes they have a fine selection of beers, but if you want red wine with your red meat it comes in a stout glass, meant for fruit juice; and half the fun of having wine is swirling it in a large breathable goblet.

Would I go back? – Yes, we have been at least 7 times last year and will probably go 7 more this year. Good food everytime, eat in and take out. You get exactly what you expect and it does wonders to satisfy your meat cravings.
Would I recommend it? – Yes, it is one of the only BBQ places in Vancouver; and after much research I can conclude it is probably the best. It is optimal when you go with a group of friends and get one of the full platters meant for 10! One of my fondest memories is trying “Memphis Blues” for the first time with a group of friends during the “Super Bowl”, we enjoyed the “Picnic pack” with a side of “tall boys”. Meat, pops, and plates for four that fed 7.
Don’t deny your cravings on this one. So much meaty goodness.


MEMPHIS BLUES

1465 West Broadway, Vancouver BC, V6H 1H6
Tel: 604-738-6806

Memphis Blues Barbeque House on Urbanspoon

430 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 0H3
Tel: 604-682-6225
Memphis Blues Barbeque House on Urbanspoon

1342 Commercial Drive, Vancouver BC, V5L 3X6
Tel: 604-215-2599
Memphis Blues Barbeque House on Urbanspoon

memphisbluesbbq.com

Instagram

Cray, Louisiana seafood

Cray Cray~

If you like getting down and dirty and eating with your both your hands, “Cray, Kitchen & Bar” is the next stop on your must eat list. “Cray” is a Louisiana style seafood restaurant with a twist, and the first of its kind that Vancouver has seen.

Upon entry their nautical theme is very obvious. Wooden high tops look like they could be fashioned out of pirate ship planks. A large clean tank with exotic fish was settled in the back, and created soothing sounds of bubbling water. I counted a few buoys and life preserves tangled in nets around the restaurant. This was along side every cliche thing a sea captain would want on his boat. They really nailed the seafood/water theme.

On the menu they have classic sides and seafood inspired favourites like deep fried oysters and cod nuggets. But if you are here for the first time you want to get the “Cajun Seafood Boil”, customized to your liking and made to order. First you start with your seafood: crayfish, shrimp, dungeoness crab, king and snow crab legs, Alantic lobster, clams, or all of the above. Each at market price. This was our first time and we wanted to play it safe, so stuck with their namesake seafood: crayfish. Second you choose your seasonings: original juicy Cajun, garlic butter, lemon pepper, or in our case all of the above, which they called the “Cray Mix”. And lastly you choose your level of heat from mild to a “XXX”, which you are warned to order at your own risk. Once again to play it safe and be able to still taste with our tongues after, we went with mild. 

We were prepped before our meal. A large sheet of parchment paper, cut from a giant roll was laid across our table. We were given plastic gloves and bibs to wear. These were all signs that point to a messy night. Our “Cajun Seafood Boil”, with crayfish in a mild mix of every seasoning came to us in a large silver pot and we were encouraged to dig right in.
There were at least 15 crayfish in the pot, along with some spicy sausages, calms, shrimp in shell, muscles, potato chunks and corn on the cob segments. Even with the gloves being as thin and as transparent as they were, it was still a challenge to eat with them. The crayfish are tiny, and a lot of man handling is required to open their shells and slurp up what little meat they had to offer. This was made more difficult, having to be done amongst all the bones that got in your way. The corn on the cob was slippery and a pain to pick out when kernels got caught in between your teeth. The sausage was by far the best, seeing as it already came into the pot with a taste; and did not have to rely on the sauce, like the other components did. As a whole it was all really tasteless, even when you scooped a spoon full of sauce straight into your mouth; and ours was a pot with all the seasonings available in it. There was an option to add much needed flavour to your pot; it required placing everything into a plastic bag with extra seasonings and shaking it up at your table. . After this step I still found our meal tasteless as the flavour only coated the ingredients, and did not permeate them. A good overnight marinade is what the boil needed.
It was a messy affair and we required at least 8-10 napkins between our party of two.

Would I go back? – Probably not, I am too lazy to have to work so hard for so little food. I don’t like cracking and peeling seafood, which is the whole point of this restaurant. Plus the price for the taste and value was not there. You left with a bland after taste on your pallet and the feeling of wanting more in your belly.
Would I recommend it? – Yes, this would be a fun dining experience with a large group of friends, all hands in. You will not finding anything like this else where in Vancouver. I suggest giving it a try to say that you have.
Don’t deny your cravings to eat with your hands and get a little messy. Photo op anyone?

CRAY KITCHEN & BAR
2470 Main St, Vancouver BC, V5T 3E3
Tel: 604-568-8588
www.getcray.com

Cray Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon Instagram

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