Normally North Vancouver is a little far for me to travel to, seeing as I live in Burnaby. So it would have to be more than just one dinner to bring me out that way, or in this case Vancouver Foodster’s tasting plates!
“Tasting Plates”, is the most well known food tour in Vancouver. It gives diners an opportunity to try something new within a neighbourhood that they might not otherwise be familiar with. Each stop on the self guided tour is curated by the man running “Vancouver Foodster”. He vets each restaurant and works with them on preparing a tasting plate that best highlights their establishment. These are all restaurants he frequents and fully endorses, so he takes the guess work out of trying somewhere and something new, for you.
The locations are relatively close to one another, maybe a few blocks from one to the next, but seeing as I drove, I made commuting from one destination to the next easier on myself. And best of all I didn’t have to pay once for parking, there was enough spaces to pull into without having to loop around the area, this is enough of an incentive to visit North Vancouver.
Check in was at Londsdale Quay, where we were introduced to a new addition to the market place. “Butter Lane Bake Shop” was certainly the cutest store in the plaza. With its sleek white and baby pink motif with garland of matching balloons, it was easy to spot simply walking past.
Here we were treated to three miniatures from behind their glass showcase. An earl grey donut made with leaves steep with their very own “Louise & Louise” fine teas. Their famous scones with clotted cream and jam made with European churned butter, already spread on was my favourite. And the gluten free carrot cake topped with a cream cheese buttercream was a great one bite for those with or without a gluten intolerance. All three were a great representation of the baked goods they offer. It would be worth returning to try their macaroons, stuffed cookies, or maybe a whole cake for an occasion.
Butter Lane Bake Shop & Tea House
3022 Mountain Hwy, North Vancouver BC, V7J 2P1
From here, we crossed the street to “Cafe by Tao” where I had some of the most exciting vegan food, I have ever had. Their little shop was in a great location, with a lovely patio. Inside, they offered more than just a hearty vegetable based meal. They also have grains, spices, cookies, and bars available for purchase, like a connivence store.
I had to buy some of their the vegan chocolate, only because they were shaped like little dinosaurs: a baby T-Rex, a little triceratops, and a head heavy brontosaurus. They had a close resemblance to regular chocolate in taste, but melted just with one touch.
As for the tasting plate it was a collection of little vegan bites: mango salsa quinoa bowl with falafel and sauerkraut, “Rawin’ Pizza”, “Rawsagna”, and lucuma parfait.
I would have liked more mango in the bowl as there were more grains than the vegetables and fruits giving them flavour. I liked the texture of the falafel enough, but felt the sauerkraut lacked tang. Overall it was bland, nothing a little creamy cashew sauce couldn’t fix, or some soy.
The “Rawin’ Pizza” was like eating a loose leaf salad over limp flat bread crust. It was missing the spices of a herby sauce to tie all the raw ingredients together.
I liked the “Rawsagna” for its texture. Served cold in layers of raw squash and minced nuts. It ate like lasagna texturally. A fresh rendition with the tomato flavour you’d expect and the crumbliness of a thick and coarse cheese sprinkled overtop. On a hot day like today, eating this cooled us down.
But what I enjoyed the most were the crispy kale chips used as garnish. I could have eaten a bowl of these and found them better than regular chips. In hindsight I should have asked for a bag to go.
The dessert was thoughtfully included. Creamy like clotted cream, chewy with a hint of honey, and some fruit for freshness. I just wished the granola had more crunch to it, or the coconut was toasted more for a finer crisp.
Truly, if “Tao” was closer to my work, I could see myself frequenting them more often for a healthy lunch.
Tao Organics Inc
260 12th Ave, Vancouver BC, V7M 1A3
Next we stopped at “Coconama”, the Japanese chocolate company, operating here in North Vancouver. I have tried their chocolates before, but have never been to the kitchen space that makes them. Here, our visit began with some background on their company and what sets them apart.
We learned where their cocoa comes from, and got to try concentrations of it in their award winning chocolate bars that are prepared with in 80%, 90%, and 100% cocoa. The owner is one of the individuals that helped to develop the recipe for popular Japanese chocolate brands “Meji” and “Melty Kiss”. They specialize in Japanese style chocolate truffles, little cubes known for their creative flavours and melt in your mouth texture. The have flavours like milk tea, earl grey, black sesame, sake, various fruits and even some vegetables. We were able to try a few such flavours today.
But it was the salmon and sour cream one, specially crafted and first made available to this food crawl, that held my attention. It was sweet like chocolate but with the finish of their promised ingredients. It was magical and definitely worth trying. I liked it so much that I bought a container of it to take home.
Coconama Chocolate Co
264 E 1st St North Vancouver BC, V7L 1B3
To continue with our alternating between savoury and sweet foods, our fourth stop was “Alberello Pizzeria”, a pizzeria who prides themselves on using all natural ingredients. Here we were seated on their patio laid with imitation turf and hung with flower planters.
Here, each person was given two smaller slices of pizza and a meatball bobbing in thick marinara. The “Verde Noce” is pesto sauce, walnut, roasted pepper, oyster mushroom sautéed in garlic oil, caramelized onion, mozzarella, fresh goat cheese, and basil. I really liked the combination of salty and sweet on this pizza, and all the textures brought together. Chewy mushrooms, starchy goat cheese, and gooey cheese and plenty of it.
But I much more preferred the “Salsiccia” their homemade classic tomato sauce pizza topped with fennel sausage, mozzarella, caramelized onion, and roasted red pepper. It was saltier, heartier, and best with a dunk in the tomato sauce below.
As is, the meat ball was soggy and one dimensional, but together with bites of pizza it elevated both. Every one of our bowls were wiped clean with pizza crust.
They were so busy on this Wednesday with dinners dining in and patrons taking out, that I was compelled to grab a pie to go in the classic marinara flavour.
115 15th Street West, North Vancouver BC, V7M 1R7
We then rounded off our night at “Welcome Parlour”, the cutest little ice cream shoppe nestled in a lovely community. They certainly did well to welcome guests with doors opened wide and patio furniture waiting to be reclined on.
Inside, the parlour was a mix of old and new with a cash vintage register, black and white photography used as decor, reclaimed wood and metals crafted counters, and even shelves of classic candies for purchasing.
Here, “Welcome Parlour’s” “taste” was a cinnamon bun ice cream sandwich, done in collaboration with “Bad Dog Bread”. I am surprised that this is the first time that I have had such a combination. But sadly once cut in half, the buns didn’t hold their shape, it would have been nice to get two miniature buns and sandwich a dollop of ice cream between those two, instead. The dough was a little dry and the cinnamon flavour a little strong. B luckily the sweet cream was a nice milky ice cream to attempt to mute some of the cinnamon spice. I also wished that this was served with a glass of milk on the side, although the water fountain was helpful in this regard.
But instead, I got one of their new floats to quench my thirst with. I took the clerk’s recommendation and combined a cherry cola with a scoop of mango ice cream. They went well together, I only wished that I asked for two scoops instead of getting the standard one.
I would definitely come back for more of their ice creams on rotation, if only they were cities closer to me.
Welcome Parlour Ice Cream
277 E 8th Street, North Vancouver BC, V7L 1Y9
And thus ended a great Vancouver Tasting Plate, where I was able to explore North Vancouver, learning more about an area I hardly get a chance to visit. Tonight I discovered some new restaurants to recommend, and some to visit the next time I am in the neighbourhood.
For those whose interest I have peaked, you can learn more about Vancouver Foodster’s Tasting plates and all the other fun food focused activities he runs by visiting his website: http://vancouverfoodster.com/
The next tasting plate will be on Commercial Drive on August 22. To purchase your tickets, visit the link: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/tasting-plates-commercial-drive-tickets-46988352427