Technology is all around us, making our lives easier, and our day to day mundane activities quicker. Case in point, there is a new way to pay coming to Vancouver’s restaurant scene. Today I was at “Tap & Barrel” to learn more about the new “Ready Split Check Function”, at this launch party with cocktails and canapés.
“Ready” is focusing on their expansion to Canada and the US with their phone friendly payment method. You view, split, and pay your check right on your phone. Available for the iPhone and Android. You simply open your camera app and focus on the “Ready” QR code and follow the prompts. With android you can also tap your NFC enabled phone to the table top sign to view your check, pay, and go.
Pictured in my photos is the demo version we got to try out, but they are now live!
A pop up appears on your screen inviting you to click and view your check. Your bill appears when you do, it itemizes your purchase. Here, you can tick off what you had, and/or pay only for what you want to. With this, there is a new way to fight for who is going to pay. You no longer have to search for your server or wait for them to deliver the bill, and then go back to get the machine you need to pay for it. This is especially helpful at the busier bar scenes that they are rolling this out at. Also great if small talk with your server as your pay, and decide what to tip them, gives you anxiety.
Not to mention the amount of time is saves both parties. Table turn time was reduced by 23 minutes with “Read”. You simply look for their signs and can complete the transaction using Apple Pay, Google Pay, and all major credit cards. They are rolling out this platform to various restaurants, hotels, and stadiums around town. And strategically placing themselves as a solution for the labour shortage in the hospitality industry.
While we learned and chit chat-ed we enjoyed beer, wines, and cocktails from behind the bar, and sampled small bites from the kitchen.
“The Hatch Left Bank Blanc” was a dry wine that quenched, with notes of citrus and stone fruits.
The “Raspberry crush” was a cocktail mix of disruption vodka, raspberries, soda, and lemonade. A refreshingly tasty, patio sipper.
Everyone helped themselves to the charcuterie board. A collection of hard cheeses, paired with salty cured meats, juicy tomatoes, and briny olives.
The “Green goddess hummus” was a vegetarian option. A perfectly pipped swirl of thick, green hummus made from garbanzo beans; served on toast topped with Micro greens. It was a little gritty and I wanted a more even hummus to toast-base ratio. Easy to eat like this, but probably better as a dip or spread to self regulate.
The shrimp and avocado on a crispy tortilla with pickled ginger was another easy snack. I would have liked the shrimp warm, instead of being served chill. And the guacamole less spicy and punchy, but overall more complimentary to the shrimp.
The beef slider was a classic with cheese, tomato, and lettuce on a sesame seed bun
And I would have liked a full serving of their crispy fried chicken, over a sweet and fluffy golden brown waffle. And when I come back for some, I can pay for it using “Ready”.
I have visited “Yandoux bakery” once before, originally when they first open. Then, I came by for a sampling of their patisseries, served in decorative slices and miniatures. Since then they have established themselves as a to go-to for fine cakes, and the only tea salon in the Olympic village neighbourhood.
For the original visit post and more details on their decor and setting, click the link below.
On this Halloween day we reserved a table for two, for their high tea service. An option that must be agreed upon by both parties dining. It came to $56 per person. Here, their set of miniature sweets and two bite savouries are served on a tea tower that is reimagined as a hot air balloon. A sculpture with a rounded bulb that swivels on its platform. This allows for the presentation for savoury bites to be lined up at the bottom, and the two top shelves for dessert.
You get to make two choices when it comes to this set. The flavour of your tea and the filing of your scones. For the former, I got the “Lady Hannah’s whole fruit” tea, after our server pointed it out as being one of their more unique brews. It is described as being bold in both its bright berry colouring that translates to its flavour as well. It was a little sour, but better after a few water refills to the metal encased tea pot.
My guest got the “Caramel” tea, a buttery brew with a hint of vanilla, best enjoyed with some milk. The menu likened it to “fresh caramel cooking on a stove top”.
When our server delivered our metal display, she suggested starting with the “Japanese miso glazed sablefish”, as it is the only item to be served warm. The tender and saucy fish is seasoned in maple syrup and served in a lettuce leaf with the dough of a spring roll that has been chopped up and deep fried. The result, a tasty fish taco with some crunch.
We were not a fan of the “Darjeeling infused chicken basket”. The flavour of the tea was overwhelming the chicken. It made the whimsical item heavy and bitter. Some additional green onions and more mayonnaise for freshness and creaminess would have helped. The waffle cone was a nice idea, but it really didn’t add anything to the portion. I would have much preferred to see this as a chicken sandwich prepared with some celery for crunch and gherkin pickles for sweet tang.
The “Ham bun bun” was an overly cute name for a ham sandwich. A slice of ham, caramelized onions, lettuce, and pickles between two well toasted slices of bread. Although, I didn’t taste the pickles, and would have liked them more pronounced either way. The sandwich was on the drier side, along with the ham. So some jus to dip into or some mayo would have helped moisten things.
Although well presented, the bowl of “mashed potato” was pretty uninspiring. Sweet corn kernels topped with piped potatoes, cream, and pepper. It ate like a side waiting for its meaty main to follow. It wasn’t a fun small bite to eat as is, and it really didn’t help to elevate the rest of the set. At $56 you expect more lustre for each element. I would have preferred a potato salad made with the same ingredients instead.
Where the mashed potatoes sans gravy brought the set down a notch, the “Salmon oshi” brought some of its grove back. BC wild salmon, jalapeño, and their house made sauce. It wasn’t the best or the freshest pressed sushi I have ever had, but considering that I was enjoying its flavour at a bakery, I deem it successful. It is just a shame that the rice was hard and dry.
The “Concorde salad” is basically a fruit salad made with the fruits that were in season, then topping it with cream. I appreciated the effort they put into peeling the skin of each grape and then slicing it into segments. Mixed with orange, strawberry, and raspberry; this made for a great palette cleansing transition as we went from savoury to sweet.
Once again, we were given a choice of scones. My guest got their dark chocolate version that came with large splotches of chocolate chip. I got the white chocolate scones with cranberries and found neither of them visible, nor did I make them out by taste. Although I was very generous with the fresh made berry jam and clotted cream they served with it.
On the same dish that the spreads were served on, were one of their house made macarons for each of us. Each was topped with a tuft of cotton candy that was quick to evaporate in the open air. Here, I would suggest removing the macarons from the tray and setting them aside for dessert. Otherwise the cream makes them soggy well before you get to them. I am not sure of their flavour, but I found it chocolatey and far too sweet.
Their “Matcha” cake did not disappoint. You got a strong matcha flavour with each bite, strong enough to make an impact, but not taste too bitter for a dessert. The sponge is flavoured Matcha, there is a match ganache, and the dessert is finished off with a dusting of matcha powder. Its filling includes a chocolate sugar and some marshmallow, this transition into some texture with a nice crispness to chew through.
Seeing that it was actually October 31, Halloween day today, our bakery/chef reimagined the other desserts with spooky detais. The box “Tiramisu” is prepared with mascarpone cream, jaconde, and nuts. The flavour was good, but I didn’t like its bulbous and grainy textures, it was like eating puffed rice and dry saw dust. Although, I still love it for its little biscuit tombstone.
Out of all the desserts the “Strawberry tart” was by far my favourite for taste. I found the house made strawberry compote very fresh. Its tanginess matched well the luscious cream, decorative and edible chocolate spiderweb, and buttery pastry crust.
The “choux” is a chocolate cream puff filled with a berry fruit compote and topped with diploma cream. With a set of edible eyes they quickly became spooky for the occasion.
As an extra Halloween bonus we were given a serving of banana cake on stick, which was off the menu. This was essentially moist banana bread, naturally sweetened by its feature fruit; and decorated to look like the elongated head of Frankenstein.
The following are some photos of the individual cakes that were available behind the glass showcase today. Which includes their Halloween line up that was only made available until end of day today.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I like the bakery for stunning small desserts, but wouldn’t return for the tea service. It was just okay, but considering that it was $56, it felt a little steep. Don’t deny your cravings.
1731 Manitoba Street, Vancouver BC, V5Y 0H8
This morning I was invited down to the Olympic Village area, to have a brunch of cakes at “Yandoux Patisserie”. They specialize in beautifully crafted cake with layers of mousse, cream, and sponge. Single slices for individual indulgence, or whole cakes for sharing.
The bakery also serves high tea in their pristine dining area. A simple grey exterior with a 180 degree look past the windows, into the white walled shoppe. It was chic with their white and grey swirled marble counters and tables, scoop back white chairs, and a gathering of polished metal bulbs bringing in additional orange light. A collection of greens in gold vases and growing through glass added splashes of colour to an otherwise monochromatic pallet.
Today we would sampling each of their available cakes, however they are constantly experimenting and adding new items to their menu. So what we had today may no longer be available, but rest assured, if today’s tasting is any indication, it will be something just as photogenic and delicious.
When it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.
“Matcha opera cake”. Matcha sponge, chocolate sugar, and marshmallow. This is a great dessert for someone who likes their desserts less sweet. It was slightly bitter, almost tart, great paired with tea. As for texture it covered all your bases, crispy bites, chewy layers, and a spongy base.
“Rogue”. Mascarpone, cheesecake, raspberry, and lychee coulis. This was the airiest cheesecake I have had to date, like a merger between cheese and angel food. It had a creaminess that melted in the warmth of your mouth. I liked the tang of the raspberry, but would have liked more of the lychee flavour to come through.
“Orange blossom cake”. Pistachio sponge, jaconde, pistachio ganache, vanilla cream, and mango cream. This is a pairing of flavours I have never had before. The base of the pistachio with the acid of the mango neutralized one another for a new mild taste. Considering the name, you don’t get much orange flavouring if any.
The “Le petit prince” was a fun one. The vivid purple frosting on this geometric round looked like it was constantly melting with its glossy sheen, and the edible stars were a sweet touch. It definitely threw me back to the book cover that it was inspired by. As for taste, it was tahiti vanilla mousse, rum, passion fruit curd. It was a good balance of tangy and sweet on top of a buttery cracker base. Given its hue and its similarity in flavour with the cake below I would have liked a richer filling for this one.
The “Egg” was just impressive looking as the cake above, it also had the same buttery cracker crust. It resembled an egg perfectly, I was amazed by how smooth the shell was. Greek yogurt mousse, mixed fruit curd, almond sponge, whipped ganache and cracker base. It was creamy with a tangy centre. My only edit for this would be for it to have a liquid centre instead. To have the fruit curd ooze out when you cut into it like a raw egg would, instead of a round cooked yolk.
“Noire foret”. A semi sweet Chocolate eclair with chocolate cremeux, cherry gelee, and whipped ganache. A cross between an elevated black forrest cake and brownie. Not overwhelming in cream, chocolate, or cherry; just a pleasant treat.
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.
These were very sophisticated cakes. Each a visual masterpiece incorporating all textures and flavours for a well balanced dessert. Great served with one of their coffee or tea beverages, and better gifted on an occasion. I would like to return to try their high tea service and maybe their newest season of treats. Don’t deny your cravings.
1731 Manitoba Street, Vancouver BC, V5Y 0H8
This is one of those places I continue the recommend when dining with particular palettes, or when trying to cater to a larger group. Their expansive menu ensures there is plenty to choose from and even more to consider when deciding on what to have on tap.
I have been here before and blogged about it a handful of times, so to read a more compressive account, visit the link below.
But this blog post is to highlight their uniquely messy “20 Napkin Burger”, a burger that I had enjoyed once or twice before, and what brought me back today. I wanted to challenge myself with finishing this extra large meal.
So to watch my vlog account of this journey, please visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei or click on the link below.
The “20 napkin burger” is aptly named given the number of napkins you find yourself reaching for in the process of trying to finish it. The way they figure it, it is a napkin for every ounce of meat. Not only is it a mouthful, but having to squish it down to get your lips around it, means something is bound to give. The result is the meat and cheese squeezing out between its toasted buns, and spilling over on to your hands. More than half of the filling ends this way, on its way down towards the table setting beneath.
This monster was centred by two beef patties, topped with 4oz. of pulled brisket, crispy bacon strips, a thick cheese sauce, and fresh lettuce, tomato, and onion. The finale is its mini slider crown. At $26.50 you get your money’s worth. This is one of the better large burgers I have challenged myself to finish. Mostly because it is tastier for longer, where as typically the reason why I give up on a challenge is because of how bored and nauseous of the flavour I get. I am made sick by the thought, sight, and smell of a repetitive taste. So for me to only have two more bites until fully eaten, is a great tell on the burger. As I mentioned, sadly, I did not finish it, but came close and I would continue to comeback and try again.
My guests had dishes more proportionate to their hunger.
The “Phillips Beer Can Chicken” was an interesting one. This is a half serving with the can on the side. I suspect a whole chicken would still have the can of grease within it, as it was baked. This is naturally raised chicken rubbed with their cajun spice blend, then slow roasted with a can of Phillips beer. Served with fries and seasonal vegetables. The can, filled with jus allows you to pour on some additional sauce/gravy over your piece of chicken, so should you need it. It is a deliciously tender and well herb-seasoned peace of meat.
And all their pastas are made in house. These raviolis are filled with roasted butternut squash, tossed in a Piri Piri emulsion, and then finished with toasted pumpkin seeds and squash chips. A delicious offering, we just wished there were a few more to a serving.
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.
No matter how many times I visit, I still deem them a stand out spot. And I see myself visiting again soon. Don’t deny your cravings.
CRAFT BEER MARKET
85 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver BC, V5Y3K8
This year the “YVR Food Fest” has returned for a second run. Originally known as the “Food Cart Fest”, this summer food fuelled event has rebranded and stretched out its presence. This year it ran from June 27th to July 3rd 2017. This week long event included a handful of dinner series, a series of food related talks, and the assembly of trucks and vendors in a dusty lot. The latter we found the most enjoyable.
To skip the reading and watch my five minute recap of the weekend’s worth of events visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei
All events were ticketed, including an admission fee to enter the gathering of food trucks and restaurants as offsite vendors. I only attended the outdoor food festival part. Three days worth of waking up early and walking to the Olympic Village. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday; all three days had similar concepts, but their own theme. And with their theme came the promise of shows and exhibitions that matched. Although I seemed to have missed them all by coming early, eating my fill, and leaving shortly after. For example I didn’t see any grills out smoking for the “cook out” on Canada Day. And confused the use of the word “showdown” for Sunday’s “street food showdown” to mean a competition to see who was the best vendor onsite. Whereas it actually referred to your ability to try that which was voted the top and favourite in their category. But there was a bit of competition during Monday’s “big brunch” event, where you were asked to vote for your favourite breakfast inspired dish. But two hours into the latter and there was no sign and sight of the advertised Caesar competition, breakfast sandwich cook off, or cold-brew kegger. Just as well, with the heat and limited shade it was better to eat your fill and seek shelter.
For the “Canada Day Cook Off” we arrived early and were caught up in the confusion of poor organization. It was the first day and they still had to work out the kinks (they were notably better the second and third day to come). Staff in yellow event branded tees were quickly orientated and thrown into their roles, but you could see that they and the for-hire security team were still confused over things to come. Seeing as the event serves alcohol, they enlisted security personnel to check IDs and stamp hands as proof of legal drinking age before you entered.
We arrived at 11:45pm and had to wait until 12:15pm to be let in. Even though the event was advertised as starting at 12pm, so without addressing the gathering crowd that began blocking bike lanes and pedestrian walk ways, there was an assembly of people checking their watches every 30 seconds (myself included). And when one of the gates finally opened and people were allowed into queue for ticket check-ins, there was chaos. One group of people from one gate were allowed in, while the rest of us who got here earlier and formed our own line were forced to wait and watch them flood by. When both gates were finally opened there was no organization. People pushed their way through to the check-in, only to be told that they would have to get their IDs checked by security to be allowed to drink. This was the case for us. So as I returned back to check in, after getting my ID okayed, I was again sent back to get the stamp that the security personnel failed to grant me the first time around. By then a line had grown in front of him, and I found myself interrupting and budging. (But I wasn’t lining up twice). We eventually got int alright.
For those who bought “taster tickets” their entry came with a miniature takeout box of two drink tickets and 8 yellow chips. Each yellow token was equivalent to $2.50 and every blue chip: $5. The exchange rate was on par. You redeem them in for food and drink from any vendor. One token at $2.50 didn’t give you much, as vendors only prepared taster portions for $2.50. Therefore, if you were planning on sharing, it was easier to simply get a full item to share, than to split a bite sized sample. Although some were better than others in this regards, and I found that $2.50 on Day 2 went further than anything available on Day 1 or 3. Notes on that to come.
Given the extended wait in uncovered sun, we immediately exchanged our drink tickets for chilled cans. Beer and a cocktail mix to help cool us down. We then walked through the market looking for what peaked our interest the most, stopping to partake in cheese, jerky, and soda water samples along the way. There weren’t as many vendors as I thought there would be. Six tables or so lined up to the right and the same amount of food trucks to the left. The list of who showed up changed from day to day.
Given our desire to keep it cheap and share $20 worth of tokens between three grown adults and one infant we decided against the sample sizes today, and instead got full servings for easier sharing: 3 and a half ways. The most alluring vendor was the “Come Arepa” truck, offering Venezuelan street food, of which I am unfamiliar with. Arepas are white corn bread pockets, that I easily likened to pitas but pillowy-er with more chew. It was crunchy on the outside and soft and steamy on the inside, flavoured depending on its filling. They are split open and stuffed with a bevy of different meat and vegetables. Each combination of ingredients with its own unrelated name. We shared the “fancy” with chunk chicken, white cheese; and what they called an “avocado salad”, which was more like mashed up avocado/guacamole with little to no seasoning. It was one overflowing creamy bite after another. Tasty, but it was the help yourself squeeze bottle of sauces that made them memorable. The “hairy” was shredded beef with cheddar cheese. This one had a more familiar taste and a lot more punch to its seasonings. But once again, it was the green salsa on the side that elevated the flavour with some freshness and tang.
Some dishes are petite enough to eat and walk with, but with plenty of picnic tables available you need not stand and eat. But instead pick up a few items, bring it to a table, eat, leave, and repeat. A few wooden picnic tables and benches had umbrellas shielding you from the sun. But for those who preferred dining in the shade, event runners had set up a tented area for you to do just that. Though here it meant eating over barrels for tables and sitting on bales of hay for seats. Not the most comfortable or aesthetically relevant.
Having finished our $20 meal we then retreated back out into the park. Only for me to return tomorrow for what I felt was the best day out of the three.
On Sunday for the “Streetfood showdown” there were double the number of food trucks participating, meaning there were more options and shorter waits in lines. And each truck came prepared with decent sample sizes menu items, each well worth $2.50 for a more rounded out taste. On this day we were able to dedicate one token to each stop we made, even repeating the ones we liked enough, coming back for seconds.
Yet again we started off quenching our thirst with some cold beverages. This time they also had large jugs of mixed fruit drinks. We would use both our drink tickets on two cups of their strawberry lemonade.
As for food, I allowed my partner, with his specific tastes, to choose what he liked and what we would share each. He kept in his comfort zone with items found on a bar menu and plenty of Mexican. Everything below, cost us just the one yellow token.
We had a pulled pork tacos from the “Victoria’s” table. They served their tacos opened face with meat over flour tortilla. You help yourself to toppings like tomatillo salsa and cilantro. They were tasty enough to have us returning for a chicken one with onions.
We had more pulled pork in our slider from the “Flying Pig” booth. They attracted additional attention by way of the full pig that they brought out to the event. The slider buns were fresh, sandwiching tender and well seasoned meat.
I got the most value from the “Brazilian Roots” truck. This is a new food truck that made their debut during this event. They offer dough products made out of cassava. “Cassava” is a starchy tuberous root of a tropical tree. Here they specialize in using it to make wraps, which they fill with various ingredients. They are simply folded in half, looking like a quesadilla, and eaten like a taco, with mouth cocked sideways. This is the “Macuxi” with sesame crust, Black Forest ham, cheese, and butter. You get a lot for $2.50. Three slices of ham and two slices of cheese that fully cover the entire surface of the crispy, crunchy cassava wrap. I liked it better without the ham to distract with its saltiness. The cheese was plenty with its gooey texture.
The “Jalapeño maple bacon” was my partner’s favourite of the market. It was available from the “Papi’s Mexican Grill”. $2.50 is a little steep for a strip of bacon, but is sure was delicious. Thicker cuts with candied edges for a crispy chew and a sweet finish.
From the same stall we had a half a cob of steamed corn dressed in Mexican cheese and spices. What looked like salty feta was a creamy cheese with a crumbly texture and a lumpy surface. It was super tasty and I would have had more, if not for the fear of having corn kernels stuck in between my teeth for the rest of the day, with no dental floss in sight.
My partner liked the chicken souvlaki, “meat on a stick” from the “Carte Diem” truck. He liked the gentle seasonings and how moist the chicken was. A really strong selling point for him, as he finds most chicken souvlaki from other Greek restaurants over cooked and their chicken dry. I actually found this dry and the pepper in the rub the only standout flavour.
The “Serendipity” ice cream truck had hand dipped vanilla cones. But not just the commonly seen milk chocolate, but your choice of dips in maple, orange, mint, banana, or even white chocolate. And on top of that you get your choice of toppings to be sprinkled over. Oreo, peanuts, kit Kat, pretzels, Reese’s pieces, vanilla wafer, potato chips, m&m’s, and pistachio. If it were me I would have gone with the two oddest sounding pairings like banana and chips, and would have probably found it amazing. My more traditional partner was more than content with the classic milk chocolate and rainbow sprinkles pairs, so that is what we had. It melted quick, and not just from the sun, but for ice cream in general. The chocolate shell held everything in place until you pierce it. And from there rivers of melted vanilla dripped down its side and in between your grasped fingers. It sure was tasty, I just wish we could have finished it before we were forced to give up on trying to.
I had a mini sampler sized ice cream taco from the “Say Hello” vegan ice cream truck. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s a fair bit of ice cream and crisp wafer. Really creamy with a nice richness to it, something I don’t often get from ice cream without milk. But I was most surprised at was their ability to find such a tiny ice cream scooper to round out these perfect mini scoops of ice cream.
Day three was all about brunch. “The Big Brunch” had relevant restaurants and trucks coming up with some creative interpretations on breakfast favourites.
The “Bread & Cheese” truck had a long line from the start. We figured it must be good so ordered one of everything that they were offering. The “Bacon breakfast English muffin” also had white cheddar, arugula, garlic mayo, and a tangy red sauce. I don’t know that I tasted the latter, but it was great nonetheless. Everything I wished an egg mcmuffin was, was here, in this.
Similarly was how great the hash browns were. Crispy on the outside with the perfect golden brown hue. And their spicy ketchup gave you a great punchy end note.
The “French toasties” was a slice of bread cut in half and prepared cinnamon French toast style. Topped with macerated strawberries, maple syrup, whipped cream, and bacon bits. It was tasty, but the bread was fairly soggy, where I was looking for crispy ends to go with my salty and sweet.
From “Victoria’s” one of the Mexican restaurants, we had their “Chorizo Benny” and “Pancake. The benny was a perfectly poached egg over a sausage and potato mix, with caramelized onion and their own house made hollandaise sauce. It had one of the most golden orange coloured yolk’s I have ever seen. It was rich and creamy, adding a different element to the chunks of chewy potatoes and mildly spicy sausage. This was a well balanced start to the day.
Their pancake was one that successfully combined the salty and briney nature of olives with the sweetness of chocolate chips and a luscious dulce de leche. And for some freshness they included a few slices of banana on top. This was a great serving size to keep you coming back for more.
And lastly we completed our walking meal with a healthy pile of their “breakfast nachos”. Take everything that would go into a breakfast burrito, and instead scramble it then top it over Mexican style tortilla chips. I just needed more salsa and sauce on the side, to dip the undressed chips at the bottom with.
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 idea, I just wanted more advertisement, organization and follow through from them. But that is what their third year is for in 2018: to get better and bring on more food trucks and restaurant vendor. So mark it on your calendar and look forward to it next year! Don’t deny your cravings.
We were already in the area so after finding free street side parking right out back, we made this our stop. How often do you find parking this easy in Olympic Village? I should have taken a photo, the parking was that good.
In a previous post I wrote I would return and here I was. “Craft” is definitely one of my favourite big bars, the area surrounding it is just so scenic. It’s not often that I am up and out on a weekend to take advantage of a Saturday or Sunday brunch. But at 1:30pm we were seated in time to take try their “Over Easy” brunch from 10am to 2pm. It is during this time that they invite families in, by offering kids specific menus and “half pints” specials for those 12 and younger. A clever idea to take advantage of the residentials living in the area.
Since my original visit over a year a ago they have really settled well into their space. The room was bustling, but with all their ample seating, across multiple rooms and floors, they need not turn hungry patrons away. Their slogan, “Where everything is on top”, is stamped across their glass entrance. It’s meaning is reflected in the space and their service promise. Looking up at the valued ceiling you see pipes. These lead lines lead from their multiple craft beer filled kegs right to the taps of their double sided island bar. It’s impressive in its architecture. I also believe the slogan refers to how they treat their guests. I have only ever gotten friendly and attentive service across all my visits. With frequent check ins and even the managers striking up conversation by your table, you are certainly made to feel like one of those things that they put on top.
Because of brunch the vibe of the room was different, not your usual rowdy bar crowd. But more so we felt like we’ve been seated in the family section. Sandwiched by large families with multiple high chairs and crying babies. We had to keep our conversation PG, less someone overheard and took offense. And since the bar invited the neighbourhood we could not hide behind “you don’t bring kids to a bar if you don’t want the to hear things they shouldn’t”. However enroute to the washroom, further towards the back and closer to the water side view sat the regulars. Large and loud parties and mature patrons on their day off, each with beer stein in hand and mouths open wide in mid speak. We came too late to be seated here. And the restaurant was not busy enough to open their mezzanine for service. It was not the rambunctious bar vibe we had hoped, but we survived whispering our secrets back and forth across the narrow table.
Sticking to the limited time brunch menu I had their “Beersar”, when beer meets Caesar. Mixing Salt Co’s house lager, Motts Clamato juice, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce together. Then finishing the glass with a salted rim and a garnish of speared pepper. I wanted to try what a beer would taste like in a drink I already enjoy. Sadly not for me. Its appeal wore off quick and I preferred not to finish my portion. Thick, heavy, and hearty, with salted spice. It certainly had a fiery kick from the tabasco and pickled pepper. Though I found the drink overly bubbly from the fizz of the beer, with its flavour being the most pronounced. Whereas when I order a Caesar I expect a savoury beverage with tomato notes that drinks like a meal. A flavour that olives better compliment. Salty olives don’t mix well with bitter beer. Overall I found it didn’t blend well for my liking.
When you see it on the menu you have to do it! “Chicken and Waffles”, this would be my guest’s first try of this iconic dish. Rossdown Farms chicken, fried American style and served with house made waffles, maple syrup, and their CRAFT signature hot sauce. The skewer fruit was a nice touch, its colour picked up an otherwise dull brown plate and its fragrance would add some freshness to a greaser meal. It looked better than it tasted. If done right the crispiness of the breaded chicken skin would run parallel with the crispiness on the edges of the waffle. Both on the saltier side until flavoured with real, light and sweet maple syrup. Unfortunately this was not the case, as my guest could not get past eating a savoury meat item with a piece of sweet breakfast dough. I thought she wasted the experience, but to each their own. I expected a crispy skin that sealed in the juices in the chicken. The reality was that the chicken was overcooked, the breading was chewy and the breast was dry. As a whole the dish lacked flavour and we didn’t find the hot sauce and maple syrup very complimentary to enjoy together. I personally would have preferred a sweet barbecue sauce over both, to use on both. The waffles tasted a little burnt, but despite their charred exterior they got soggy quick. Once again disappointing but decent.
The “Red Racer IPA Taquito Skillet” made with Rossdown Farms chicken stuffed taquitos, topped with pico de gallo and cheese. The addition of bacon and two poached BC farm fresh eggs made this plate officially “breakfast”. The presentation was sure something. The skillet was hot to the touch, with no warning from our server I shocked my hand on the cast iron. It was a filling dish, and the perfect representation of brunch. Breakfast familiars with a larger savoury portion to transition seamlessly into lunch. I found the hot sauce too spicy, it overpowered an already flavourful dish, so has pushed it aside. With red peppers, black beans, yellow corn, and scratch match guacamole this was a tex-mex lover’s dream. They went well as added flavour for each of the four taquitos below. The taquitos were made to order, stuffed full with tender chicken and melted cheese. The wrapping around each was served crisp from a good even deep fry. Though this would not last as the toppings made things soggy quick. So I ate fast.
As I mentioned earlier the manager made his rounds. Personally stopping at each table. He inquired about our dishes and pointed to my empty plates with tissues piled on top. It was great he cared to know my opinion, but it would have been nice if he bussed the table while he was conveniently here.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
As my guest’s first visit she found the place run of the mill, serving just regular pub food. However she did acknowledge that brunch may not be the best time to gauge a pub. The setting is different, the vibe of the room is different, the food and beverages taken are different. She agreed to come back to try more and get a better sense of the place during an evening service. I stand by my original assessment. I deem “Craft” a great place for a large gathering of people you want to impress. With a full menu of burgers, entrees, and appetizers and full lists of beers and wines, they have everyone covered. Don’t deny your cravings.
85 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver BC, V5Y3K8
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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?
“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.
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
Our night only ended because they were closing early for a staff meeting.
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
As an advocate of trying new things and a lover of sampling, there was no doubt I would have to make a trip down to “Craft Beer Market” for their 6 glass beer flights. Like me, my guest today, also enjoys unique brews and isn’t appose to having a pint or two at 11:00am in the morning. Having heard good things, and seeing all the pictures I was excited to go.
I do not visit the Olympic Village often, as I find parking there frustrating. With patience you can probably find a free spot in one of the many corners, around one of the many blocks. Though out of sheer connivence we parked at the pay for parking under the “Urban Fare”, and had a quick stroll across the way.
I have never seen the “Craft Beer Market” since it opened and its hoarding came down, so was in awe of the sheer size of the place. With only the word “craft” posted on its awning, you may not immediately conclude its existence as a restaurant. It looked like a large cabin with its dark red panels and its metal steps leading up to the door. You don’t enter through the main entrance, but use the secondary set of doors to the left.
The space opens up with vaulted ceilings and spacious seating. Their lead in is a collection of metal beer barrels, stacked three columns high and many rows deep, each labelled. They were a mix of fan favourites like “Sapporo” and “Heineken”; and local beers from breweries like “Russell” and “Granville Island”. Backing the hostess podium is a windowed look at the journey of your beer; from barrel to pipe to tap.
The dining area is roomy with ample seats between booths, high top tables and stools surrounding their 360 degree bar. Several flat screens were mounted, every seat allowed a view of the game. My guest pointed out the waste he saw in the empty walls. Empty walls that could have been better utilized with a drop down projection screen. A great way to entice extra bottoms in seats for major sporting events. Though it should be noted that they classify themselves as a restaurant first and foremost, and a bar by nature. Looking around everything was done big. Take your standard sized dining room, your standard kitchen space, your standard bar length, and your standard staff roster; and quadruple the size of each. They were well equipped to host large gatherings, and every guest coming their way with or without a reservations.
The washrooms were a trek down a spiralling staircase and past a windows that gave you look at the restaurant’s foundation. An lot, empty, outside a few beer barrels gathered in several groupings. I was surprised to discover that the restaurant stood on wooden stumps grounded into cement.
As lunch became happy hour the sounds of the mellow music overhead was layered with more laugher and louder mummers of conversation. The staff were a friendly bunch. With ample able hands all guest got the attention they wanted and each server was able to drop by for multiple check ins. Everyone on shift was happy and seemed keen on being here. All the servers and bartenders were dress coded in collared short sleeved button ups with aprons around their waists. The management stood out in more colourful and formal attire.
We both ordered beer flights, choosing the features off the menu insert. One, as a taste around the world and the other, a more local assortment. I was thrilled to have my flight presented on wooden a paddle shaped like a bootle. With room for 6 glasses as apposed to your usual 4. They were even arranged according to their listing on the menu.
I had the “6 pack around the world sampler”, which is only available from January 6th to the 12th. I was sold when our server claimed that this collection was full of fruity flavours. Though with the six I didn’t really travel too far around the world, with three stops at Belgium and two in Canada. I would have also liked to see a more precise and even pouring, with the careful avoidance of foam on top. “Mill Street lemon tea beer” from Toronto. A refreshing beer infused with a blend of orange pekoe and earl grey teas and real lemon juice. At 4.9% it tasted like ginger ale with its flavour and fizziness. Naturally this was the easiest to drink and my favourite. “Stiegal Goldbrau” from Austria. Brewed with 100% barley malt, whole flower hops and pure spring water from the Alps. As it’s description promised you could really make our its full natural lager taste. One of the heavier beers claiming to be fruity. “Fruli” from Belgium. A lightly hopped Belgian white beer with pure strawberries. It was very refreshing with the taste of strawberry clearly coming through. This has always been one of my favourite beers. “Liefmans Fruitesse” from Belgium. A beer blend maturing for 18 months on fresh cherries, before it’s blended with the natural juices of strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, and juniper berry. This resembled punch with its reddish purple colour and the ice cubes floating on top; and it definitely tasted like it. “Mort Subite Lambic” from Belgium. Brewed according to the centuries old recipe of spontaneously fermenting lambic yeast, malt, wheat, and hops. It is ripened in oak barrels. “Cannery Blackberry Porter” from Penticton BC. Rich in malted barleys, hops, and all natural pure blackberries. Dark and thick this was the heaviest of the six.
My guest choose the “6 pack what the locals drink sampler”. Also presented on paddles for a limited time. “Main Street Pilsner” from Vancouver BC. Made from Noble hops. “Mt. Begbie Cream Ale” from Revelstoke BC. With a subtle honey flavour that finishes with a crisp hop edge. “Vancouver Island Herman’s Dark” from Victoria BC. Apparently this one is consistently recognized as one of the world’s best dark lagers, with its malt body. “Whistler Black Tusk” from Whistler BC. A smokey flavour balanced with nutty chocolate and just a hint of fruit. “Four Winds Pale Ale” from Delta BC. Comes with an aroma of citrus, fruit, pine, and floral hops. “Coal Harbour Powell IPA” from Vancouver BC. Big hops and big malt combined with an aroma of ruby red grapefruit and pine.
My next glass was a toss up. I inquired about the most original and unique beer they had, and our server sought out the advise of her bartenders. I was presented with two tasters and was given the option to try others if I didn’t quite find what I liked. Her no pressure reassurance allowed me to find a glass I enjoyed. I appreciate their variety of glassware; to be able to present your choice beer with its own branded glass. Sitting in front of the bar allowed me to admire the taller glasses for lighter drinks, rounded ones for cocktails, and wider and heftier ones for portions larger than a pint.
My guest was debating between the fish tacos or having a burger. I reassured his latter choice as you don’t have beer with seafood. Though today all Oceanwise menu items were $2 off. He ended up having the “Inferno burger”. It came with an 8oz burger party, a jalapeño and poblano pepper purée, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and a chipotle aioli. The layering of spicy elements, meant this was for those who liked a kick in their food. On top of this my guest requested some hot sauce with his side of fries. Hot sauce that was house made and came at an extra cost. In comparison to mine burger below, his didn’t look like much.
There was so much I wanted try and so much more that sounded delicious, but I was sold on a name like the “20 napkin burger”. And got excited reading there would be a mini burger atop of a larger burger just for garnish! This pile was two 8oz burger patties, 4oz of pulled pork, crispy bacon, lettuce, tomato, raw red onion, pickles, a mustard sauce, and a beer infused cheese. I had my choice of sides from soups, salads and fries; to sweet potato fries, poutine, and Mac and cheese at an extra cost. I chose their “Craft House Soup”, made with jalapeño, cheddar, and their village house ale; this over their root vegetable soup special. Only to finish drinking after two sips. I found the heavy and zesty nature of the soup clashed with the beers. Just looking at the burger I knew there would be no way I could hold it together, even with two hands. Half it’s ingredients were already falling out from between the buns, and it’s sauces were ever dripping. This would be one glorious and delicious mess, one I had every intention of finishing; but fell short as the beer emptied from my glasses. I ended up packing up more than half to go, which served as my dinner hours later. Though now I proceeded with caution, a fork and butter knife in each hand. After much sawing, our server offered me the use of a steak knife. With it I was able to make my way through half this beast of a burger. It was hearty, meaty, and oh so satisfying; with the presence of crispy thick cut bacon and tender stands of pulled pork. Though I found the two beef patties were well over cooked and hard to bite into and chew down on. Though the generous helping of sauce did help to soften the meat.
I was most impressed when one of the mangers approached our table to start a conversation. She wanted to check in on our experience and thank us for choosing them for lunch. She spoke proudly of her position and the restaurant she worked in. She went into detail on the expanding area and their unique concept and growing brand. I was able to give her a highlight of the same enjoyable experience I just wrote about above. It is refreshing to hear when leadership understands it is about the people, and care about what their customers want. With all the choices out there it doesn’t hurt to show appreciation for patronage.
Would I come back? – Yes. As I mentioned earlier there was so much more to the menu that I wanted to try. Not to mention all the beer, over 100 on tap. I was drawn in with all the items that were cooked in and infused with boozy elements. Dark beer braised beef, braised for 10 hours. Slow roasted chicken with “Phillips Blue Buck” beer from BC. And I especially want to come back for their “Fastfood sushi”, cheese burger and fries wrapped in bacon and presented sushi style. How fun. Also worth noting, once a month they host a Brewmaster dinners. This is when they partner up with local breweries for dinner and beer pairings. A carefully crafted four course meal that compliments beer and food for $60. The goal, to compare and contrast beer while maintaining a balance of flavours between it and food. Would I recommend it? – Yes. If you can get past the inconvenient parking and out of the way location, the restaurant will have you coming back for more. Ample room to take on large parties. And ample seating to allow those dining to enjoy their time at their own pace. The food was hearty and highly satisfying pub classics, done with curious twists. It was brought to you by a most dedicated and jovial team. My favourite cuisine is pub fare, so to date this is now my favourite bar. Don’t deny your cravings.
CRAFT BEER MARKET Salt building. 85 West 1st Avenue, Olympic Village, Vancouver BC, V5Y 0C3 604-709-BEER (2337) craftbeermarket.ca
Celebrating the best of BC. As hard as I may try, sometimes I have no choice but to visit the same restaurant twice. Something I try to avoid, in order to bring a variety of flavours to this blog. However when the person who is treating me chooses the destination, I shut my mouth and enjoy the generosity.
This is a revisit. However a second visit differing enough from the last, that it warrants a completely new review.
My first visit was during the peak of summer, at a busier time. I recall being seated indoor and upstairs with the sun’s glare blinding me to the point of continuous squinting. Today was a sunnier crisp fall day. With no rain or clouds we opted for the patio, for our 3pm late lunch. A move meant to take advantage of the spectacular view we would get out there. I was hoping for the patio upstairs, but settled for the one on the ground level, as it was the only one open for seating at this time. Though we were disappointed to learn that it was covered with a see through plastic tarp. The covering not only kept the seating area dry and wind free, but it took away from what would be a spectacular water level view of Science World and False Creek. The patio was kept toasty with multiple over head heaters. They were so effective, to the point that the continuous stream of heat stared to burn. And after asking our server to turnoff the heat we smelled enough propane gas to ask if it was an usual occurrence.
The lunch menu is a one pager of pub classics. Fast food turned upscale with unique ingredients and a list of what seems like crazy ingredient combinations. It all works and it gets you wanting to try. Peanut butter & jelly or poutine in burgers, beer in macaroni and cheese, pretzels in cookies and cream desserts, and chips made from bacon.
At a place with a long bar, almost the length of the room. With a row of over 50 taps lining one side of it, it almost felt like a requirement to have to order a beer or too. And the best way to do this is through their beer flights. Flights are taster sized portions, meant to give you variety. This way, you get to try three different beers, ones that you wouldn’t otherwise commit to as a pint. They were sold out of the fruitier, sweeter ones that I was eyeing: a banana & clove wheat beer, a grapefruit blonde, and a blueberry wit. So I settled on the three new additions that took their place. Think less summer and more fall. Chestnut ale, pumpkin ale, and tree brewing raspberry I.P.A. The chestnut was sweet with a thicker syrup like consistency. The pumpkin tasted like the pie, not the gourd. And the raspberry was light and refreshing.
We had their pizza, which is hand stretched dough, topped with locally inspired artisanal ingredients, all baked up in a wood stone hearth oven.
“Sweet fennel sausage”, provolone, and roasted peppers in a homemade tomato sauce. Wished it was as flavourful as it was colourful. Each bite was tasteless, unless intentionally taken with a piece of salty, peppery sausage. Though the cheese was fresh and the dough was baked to a perfect chewy consistency.
“Roasted pork belly”, soft cooked eggs, caramelized onions, and smoked mozzarella. The eggs in the description peaked my interest. I always try to go for the unique. And this would be my first pizza with egg as a topping. It was good, but you always left like you were missing something. My guest and I concluded that the addition of apple or pear slices would be ideal. They would accent the pie with its sweetness and bring a crunch to an otherwise soggy bite. The pork was tender and juicy, I was just disappointed that there was not more of it. There was a larger onion to pork ratio. And therefore should be called the caramelized onion pizza.
It was a slow service, which allowed our server to be free enough to be attentive. Though we found it weird that she had a break, and then was off, all in the two hours that we stayed. Having been in the hospitality industry and knowing people who are still in the business, we found it surprising that she even had breaks, when she still had diners. It didn’t hurt the experience, as her colleagues and replacement filled in the gap nicely.
My gripe is the washroom situation. A one stall common use washroom, with toilet and urinal. At a bar with plenty of drinking you cannot expect your customers to be able to wait comfortably for their turn with the only stall. There were other available upstairs, but by the time you got there, chances are this one would be freed up. Or maybe you would have to wait for the ones upstairs. Either way. 50 taps, 5 stalls? Good balance, no?
I preferred this my second visit. Away from the sun’s blinding rays, in a chair overlooking one of the best dining views that Vancouver has to offer, and all while enjoying great beers and delicious food. And the best part is, at this time of day parking at the Olympic Village is easy and free. As this is my second post, I will definitely come back and absolutely recommend. Don’t deny your cravings.
This is my long awaited visited to Olympic Village. Here I got a beautiful view of Science World, still waters, the city that I grew up in; and there right in the fore ground is “Tap and Barrel”. As their name eludes, they have beers on tap and wine by the barrel
Today was a particular sunny day, as a result a line to leave my name, was where I found myself waiting. You had to pick one or the other and commit, patio or inside. I agreed to sit inside and by pass the others waiting. We were seated at a table by the window, upstairs. It was not outside but we got plenty of eye squinting sun. Wish we had sunglasses, the easy remedy to our hard to see situation. We changed our seats once to avoid the sun, only to get it back in our faces later, as it began to set. The second time, the sun came straight into my eyes. I had to shade my face alternating between my hand and menu. Our server was aware and made mention of my actions, but did nothing to improve my discomfort.
The restaurant has two floors, each with a patio, accompanying an outstanding view. Inside you are able to get the same scenery at a distance, with floor to ceiling windows and no shades. You walk in and admire their bars. The one on the first floor hosts rows of local beers and their taps. And the top floor has wooden barrels of wine to pour. With all this beer and wine to choose from they cleverly offer taster options for both; which they have named “flights”. The presentation of both was a little lack lustre. I have had tasters on blocks and paddles and it really elevates the drinking experience. Here it is 3 short glasses placed on a piece of paper with numbered drink rings printed on to it. Below each ring is where your bartender neatly prints which is what. My disappointment in presentation was furthered when the “wine flights” came in the exact same way as the beers before it did. I would have appreciated each of the white, rose, and red in a miniature wine glass. Proper wine glasses are designed to allow for better breathing of your wine. This increase in air adds to the bouquet of the wine and gives you that regal sophistication when sipping. I got neither here, and it really took away from the beauty of the wine. For both “flights”, I got our server to suggest his favorites from different categories. A lot of effort is put into choosing their house beers and wines. They offer a good selection that not only satisfies every pallet, but are ones that are home grown and support our province. We were impressed that the “Stone boat” rose was only available here and at a winery in Oliver.
The dress code is street casual. Both sexes in tee shirts, women in skirts and shorts and men in cargos. The front of some shirts boast “Tap and Barrel” as “one of BC’s best companies to work for 2012”. Something that they are so proud of, that it is immortalized on to fabric.
There is a great vibe to the place. Everyone is happy, laughing, and filling the space with lively energy. My only beef is the tables are too close for intimacy and the lack of shade to block out the at time bothersome sun.
When it came time to order there were so many unique choice to try that I enlisted the help of our server. He recommended “the best deep fried pickles”. Mentioning that they are labelled the best because they were voted as such by the city. I love a pickle and even more so when it is fried. Their version uses pickle slices and you don’t get that great snapping crunch when you bite into them. Instead, with one bite the whole pickle slides out from its battered casing. Though the tzatziki sauce it was paired with was amazing, and a clever accompaniment I had never though to do; despite the obvious connection between cucumbers and pickles. They referred to it as “dill sour cream”.
The “bacon chips” were a disappointment. They were described to me as baked bacon, that is seasoned and deep fried, then served with house made scratch catsup. I found this no more than crispy bacon pieces with salsa for dipping. I could have had both at home, but at $5 I was not too bent out of shape.
“Jumbo wood stone oven baked giant pretzel with rock salt”. Had it served with their spicy mustard and a beer and cheddar dipping sauce. The pretzel was amazing, leagues better than the ones you get from a stall in the mall. Inside the dough was chewy, outside had a great smokey flavour from the oven. The sauces gave each bite its flavour. The $2 extra was worth it for the cheddar bacon sauce. Melty cheese and bread are always a winning combo. “PB&J burger” named so because of the chipotle peanut butter and bacon jam. The patty was 7oz of certified angus beef seasoned to perfection; then sandwiched between their potato barrel bun with a generous slathering of house mayo. The finishing touch is their “best deep fried pickle”. You are given the option for either a side salad or sea salt fries, or as in my case you can get a little of both. The burger had hints of curry power. And the peanut butter reminded me of Southeast Asian satay peanut sauce. A great burger, that is not a taste for everyone.
“False creek chef salad” made with jumbo prawns, scallops, mussels, salmon, and a white wine vinaigrette. We were not caught of guard, thanks to the warning that the seafood, sans the salmon, was intended to be cold. This dish reminded me why you don’t order salads at a pub. The salmon was cooked well, but was tasteless. Each seafood component was ok on its own, but the vinaigrette did nothing to bring them all together. There was not even enough seasoning for the greens.
As the sun set and the lights dim, this is quite the romantic place to be. But be warned due to the residents of Olympic village the patio closes early and no alcoholic drinks are allowed on tables past 12:15am; the doors close 15 minutes after. So come early to start a long night. Or come late and be prepared to eat quick.
Would I come back? – Yes, the thought of the patio on a hot day, the city skyline as scenery, and the giant bird statues across the way are enough to entice me back. The amazing fun food at decent prices seal the deal. With plenty of snacking options this is an ideal place for a drink after work, to unwind. Would I recommend it? – Yes, the concept of beer and wine tasters is fun. A perfect place for beer and wine connoisseurs to come together and discuss their craft. Just remember, “beer before wine and you are fine” or was is “wine before beer and you are clear”? Don’t deny your cravings.
TAP & BARREL 1 Athletes Way, Vancouver BC, V5Y 0B1 Tel: 604-685-2223 tapandbarrel.com
What goes in to, on to, and around me. This is me and what I see, all my stories in Vancouver BC! A big mouthed food and lifestyle blogger discovering what the world has to offer through dining, travel, and new experiences. Follow along to see the life of Maggi.