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Category: Riley Park/Little Mountain Page 1 of 5

Le Marché St. George

My guest invited me to one of her favourite cafes. Off the beaten path, she deemed this a well kept secret, and a hidden gem. But with this post, I hope to bring it to the attention of many more. Not only do they boast a one of a kind setting, but they serve delicious crepes and unique hot beverages as well.

Located on a street corner in a residential area, parking is abundant and easy. But this two floor building has seen brighter days. With chipped paint, worn shingles, and rusted metal to add to its antique aesthetic, also farm-like rustic feel. Out back there was a rabbit hutch and live chicken roaming, behind wooden fencing. By the entrance, a trolly of pumpkins, garlic, and gourds for sale.

Inside, were many more curiosities to poke and peruse through. Knick knacks like “brains” in jars, dried florals, worn wooden toys, and small vintage kitchen appliances. There was also a collection of edible dried goods, canned preserves, and parchment wrapped sweets to shop. Maple syrup, artisan tea, all natural beauty products, and hand poured soap.

You order from the counter at the back, making your choice from the hand written food menu on parchment and the drink menu on chalkboard. You pay immediately and collect your beverage from the counter when it’s completed. For food, you get a table number and your plate is brought out to you when ready.

We grabbed a table outside and enjoyed the day and our meal under the cover of the awning and the shade of the sidewalk trees. The following is what we shared between three, appreciating the porcelain plates and the silver dish ware that cane with it.

The “Noisette” is a hazelnut flavoured espresso. It came with a foam top and a milk poured heart. And the “Espresso” was a stronger sipper that I found bitter and harsh.

I much preferred my “Creme brûlée fog”, which is like a London Fog with milk and black tea, but with the addition of caramel syrup for a sweeter drink. I didn’t get the cream or the burnt sugar indicative of creme brûlée, but I liked it just the same.

For food, our options were limited, as we visited after noon and they were all sold out of their croque-monsieur and chicken pot pie. So I went sweet with one of their “Roasted pear and brie crepe. I was reassured of my choice when the clerk behind the register said it was her favourite. Truth be told, I prefer my crepes plain, so found this one a little too sweet with the honey spread over the folded thin dough. On top was a slice of caramelized pear, covered in melted brie. A great combination, and all that I was missing was something crunchy, like crushed nuts coated in honey.

I should have gotten the turkey, fig jam, Brie, and basil savoury crepe instead. It had similar flavour opposites as the crepe above, but with the addition of salt from the turkey. I also preferred the flavour of the grainy fig spread with seeds, over the soften pear, as a pairing with the sharp brie. It was served with a lightly oil side salad, for a more fulsome meal.

The Tuscan lentil stew was the special of the day, it too came with a salad and some toast for dipping. This was a hearty serving of gritty lentils, bold in warming spices.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A really unique space to take in and enjoy alone, or to share a meal with a friend. Great aesthetics paired with a satisfying food. Don’t deny your cravings.

LE MARCHE
4393 St George St, Vancouver, BC V5V 4A3
(604) 565-5107
marchestgeorge.com

Locus Restaurant and Lounge

This long standing restaurant is a Main Street staple. For over 21 years it has been run by the same owner, serving their community dutifully.

“Locus” is better known for its eccentric decor. Artsy with oil painted portraits and a series of sculpted branches twisted above booths.

Even the washroom has a touch of their dark and rustic art aesthetic. Painted like a cave wall, this single stall depicts a drawn savannah setting with birds in flight and hoofed animals grazing on the plains.

Today we were invited down for a reintroduction and a taste of what the kitchen has been churning out most recently. A kitchen helmed by the same head chef for the last 5 years; who features plenty of seafood on his menu, drawing inspiration from protein and produce sourced from local organic farms. His offerings include a weekly revolving fresh sheet that at times can get adventurous with camel, crocodile and even giant octopus. Sadly, this was not one of those weeks.

The following is what we had, we ordered all that peaked our interest, or what we saw as something different and unique to the restaurant.

To start, we sipped on some chilled cocktails to beat the heat. With blinds up, our seats by the windows took in a lot of sun, and things got fairly warm. “The railbird” came highly recommended by our server and bartender. Bourbon, ginger beer, peach preserve, honey syrup, and fresh lemon. It was light on the ginger and strong on the alcohol. A great one to beat the heat with and still get the sting of alcohol that you are looking for in a double. (All their cocktails are made with 2oz).

The “War of the roses” is Pimm’s no. 1 gin, St. Germaine elderflower liqueur, fresh pineapple, and cranberry. It was like a spiked ice tea with a strong hint of mint. I got some tang from the pineapple, but missed the cranberry completely. Here, it would have been nice to have either of the two fruits as a garnish. The drinks are tasty enough, but given that this was a Lounge I wanted things elevated, with more thought on the presentation. But at $10 for a double, I can’t complain.

“The Flirtini” was fun and filled full in a large martini glass. Stoli raspberry vodka, Cointreau, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, fresh lime, and sparkling wine. This was a good time in a glass, a great drink to sip on all night long, and get into trouble from well after.

As for our meal, we had a complimentary basket of bread brought out to us to start. Their potato wheat bread is baked daily by their Main Street neighbour, “Cobs Bread”. But the potatoes that are needed and the recipe that is used is all “Locus”. Said potatoes are first boiled in house, then walked across the street and transformed into the fluffy and airy slices of bread that now sat before us. You got the starchiness of the potatoes, but not their dense nature. Great as is, but better with either their spicy or sweet butter. The latter is a cinnamon and brown sugar spread served in the morning with their cinnamon raisin bread.

We were here just in time for happy hour cut off so ordered their “Crispy Brussels sprouts” as a starter. I am a fan of fried Brussels sprouts, so can confidently say that this is one of the better renditions. There was plenty of flavour and taste without extra grease or oil. Simple and clean greens salted with hard cheese and seasoned with cracked pepper for $7. It is worth noting that their happy hour runs from 3-6pm and 10pm to close Sunday to Thursday.

The “Cyprus Halloumi skewer” is not actually served on skewer, but simply prepared on one. Grilled Cyprus sheep’s milk cheese, basil-arugula pesto, toasted pine nuts, sun dried tomato, charred artichokes, kalamata olives, arugula, citrus olive oil, and cilantro sprigs. Altogether the assembly tasted great. Though the halloumi didn’t stand out like you would expect it to, given the name of the dish. I enjoyed its firm texture, but didn’t get much taste from it or any of its blackened char. As a whole this dish would have been great over pasta, flatbread, or salad. Tasty as is, but I left like it was missing a base.

From this week’s dinner feature menu we tried their land and vegetarian offering. If you were expecting dressed up dishes with contrasting flavour profiles, this isn’t them. The following are rustic offering in large servings. Sensible flavours and familiar pairings for hearty and comforting plates.

The “Surf n turf steak and frites” was pan roasted AAA Alberta beef strip loin in a demi-glace with grilled garlic black tiger prawns, Parmesan black truffle pomme frites, smoked paprika aioli, wild and cultivated mushrooms, and a seasonal salad with French red radishes. This was a good amount of food, small servings of everything for a balanced meal. We ordered the steak in a medium rare, but it came more like well, with very little pink. At least it was cooked tender and sliced for easy sharing. But it was the large and juicy prawns that were the stand out, along with the crispy fries. There was only a little truffle essence on the latter, but the paprika aioli gave each stick more than enough kick.

The vegetarian “Mac and cheese” was not as expected. When you read mac and cheese you expected a gooey cheese sauce over tender pasta. This was noodle and vegetable topped with cheese. Serpentini pasta, carrot, grilled asparagus, curly red kale, blistered heirloom tomatoes, basil arugula pesto, arugula, pine nuts, and micro greens. All the vegetables above were prepared individually then mixed together with the cooked noodles, and after the whole lot is topped with soft ripened Quebec cheese. It was a light pasta serving, not creamy or cheesy, more like a pasta salad in a non-tangy vinaigrette. It had a similar flavour as the halloumi appetizer above, but less punchy. A dish I would make myself when wanting to eat better, but not one that I would order again from a restaurant.

Our second pasta dish was a lot more satisfying. Pan seared wild spruce tip, chèvre (cheese made with goat cheese) gnocchi” with crumbled chè·vre, arugula pesto, grilled summer squash, asparagus, fresh strawberries, and a balsamic reduction. We ordered this one out of curiosity and was pleasantly surprised by how much we all liked it. It had a similar pesto and vegetable flavour to the appetizer and other pasta dish above, but enhanced with the other ingredients. Ingredients that you wouldn’t think would work together, but just does. All brought together by the large, chewy balls of gnocchi deep fried for a crispy and doughy chew. Each irregularly shaped ball was great on its own, but best as a base for the crunchy and gritty pine nuts, the bitter squash chunks, the sweet strawberry slices, the grilled acrid asparagus spears, and the pops of salty goat cheese every now and then. And what originally seemed like a dish constructed as an afterthought was really a well conceived and very interesting entree. It is no surprise that this was the first dish we fully finished, leaving not even a single pine nut behind.

Our third pasta dish too felt flat by comparison, it too tasted like everything else; with similar seasonings, pesto, and like vegetables. Here, I wished we would have been given a warning of all the similar flavours, and that our server would have steered us toward dishes with their own unique flavours. “Seafood Spätzle”. “Spätzle” is a type of pasta that looks like lumps or threads, made from a batter poured through a coarse colander into boiling water. The texture of these noodle drippings were great, but with all the vegetable and seafood to sort through, it got lost. I would have liked a more simple dish, maybe just three vegetables or simply mushrooms and spätzle. Less to better highlight the feature ingredient and its texture, that you don’t find on too many menus. Fried sage and orange spätzle with Atlantic lobster, rock crab, Manila clams, jumbo tiger prawns, sockeye salmon, capers, caramelized fennel, snap peas, blistered tomatoes, curly endives, and mustards greens; all in a citrus herb oil.

I liked the simple beauty of the “Haida Gwaii BC halibut”. A pan roasted local halibut filet served with a torch Provençal lemon herb butter, grilled summer squash, roasted bell peppers, caramelized fennel, organic fingerling potatoes, spinach, and a Chardonnay halibut fumet. It tasted just like how you would expected it to with buttery smooth white fish and its crispy buttery skin.

To be honest, we were considering dessert, eyeing their blood orange cheesecake or Anjou pear featured strudel and bread pudding; however it was just so hot in the restaurant that I had to get out. I was boiling, and fanning myself with my cloth napkin wasn’t helping. Therefore our stay was cut short. So I guess that gives me a reason to return, and hopefully I can coincide my next visit with some adventures game meat. I have never had camel and didn’t know it was even an option in Vancouver. But trying this requires a keen eye on their website when their fresh sheet updated weekly, on my part.

 

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.
Their dinner menu was okay, but where they shine is their happy hour specials and offerings. Interesting small bites that I wish I got to take better advantage of. A handful of small plates partnered with their tasty cocktails, overlooking Main Streets sounds like summer time fun. $4.50 beers, $5.50 wines and cocktails, more Brussel sprouts, a miso poutine, halloumi fries; and nachos with charred corn, black beans and a pineapple salsa. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

LOCUS
121 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 3P6
604-708-4121
locusonmain.com

Pizza Carano, #pizzachallengeyvr

My pizza judging duties brought me to “Pizza Carano”. And today I walked in to their restaurant, eager to try their entry for this year’s Vancouver Foodster Pizza Challenge. I really enjoy such events, without them I wouldn’t get the opportunity to try such unique places. In them, getting suggestions for stops I wouldn’t otherwise think to make, like “Pizza Carano”

Located in Fraserhood with a simple interior and exterior you wouldn’t expect great Italian thin crust pizza lies within. Share style tables and bar stools front their open kitchen. Their menu is printed over mirrors and specials are written on ceramic cutting boards. You grab a seat anywhere and the server is quick to greet you.

Their menu had me indecisive, there were so many interesting possibilities. When ordering I tend to gravitate towards the more creative combinations, flavours or elements I have never tried or expected. And there was plenty to consider here. “Italian gomae” with currants and pinenuts, a Hawaiian Pizza with roasted macadamia nuts, a white sauce pizza with ham and pistachio. We eventually managed to narrow our choice down to the following, with no regrets.

The “Marinated smoked olives” are a must. Both my guest and I are a fan of olives and have never had it smoked before. These were done in house and served in a mason jar of olive oil with lemon peel, rosemary, and chilli. You couldn’t miss the smokey flavour with its flavour peppery notes. We both have never had an olive so tasty. If you don’t finish your serving, you can just cap the jar and take the rest home. Not to mention, the oil is worth saving as well.

I also suggest doubling down on your olives through one of their classic martinis. A stiff drink with gin, dry vermouth, and one of their hickory smoked olives; sans the pit. The smoked olive transforms this cocktail, it helped in adding body to the drink and to cut into it with its sharp tang. I also recommend ordering extra olives, if you aren’t already ordering a jar. Every sip is best following a whole green olive.

Reading the menu, their “Spicy coconut kale” pizza really stood out for me. I thought about trying their pasta dish, their house risotto or even a salad; but kept coming back to this unique assembly on thin crust. Coconut cream, kale, peanut satay marinated mushrooms, fior di latte, coconut flakes, and chilli oil. The satay flavour was pronounced and delicious, bold peanut with a dull heat. The mushroom gave you some chewy substance, meaty for a fungi. And the kale ate like chips, offering some crunch; along with the crispy, slightly sweet coconut shards. This pizza had me eating my greens and craving for more soon after I left. I would definitely come back for more of this and to try their other pizzas.

I enjoyed their Italian – Neapolitan pizza with its thin base and plentiful crust. There is a lot of the latter, but utilizing the smoked olive oil above, you had a great drizzle to dip the excess bread into. Each pie is personal sized, with four large slices. For its size one might consider the $19-22 price point a little steep, but the quality and well thought out combinations are well worth the tag.

And lastly we had their feature pizza, the one I was here to try for the challenge. Made with saffron leek, bacon, chilli pepper, and dill. Yet again you could taste the quality of all the ingredients assembled together. The heat from the pepper, the saltiness of the bacon, the freshness of the leeks, and the dill as the wild card that brought it all together. It varied from bite to bite, keeping your interest from start to finish. You could and wanted to eat the whole thing. I found the amount of toppings just right, allowing you to taste the breading, whereas my guest wanted a little more toppings.

 

To learn more about the Vancouver Foodster Pizza Challenge, visit the link. And then try all the competitors to vote for your favourite to win the people’s choice award.

Pizza Challenge

 

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.
Not available by the slice, their pizza makes a great option for dinner. Bring a friend down and enjoy a pie or two with drinks and olives. I myself, will be sure to bring my picky partner back to try their margherita pizza for only $11. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PIZZA CARANO
4241 Fraser Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 4G1
604-877-1270
pizzacarano.com

Rocky Mountain Flatbread, Dine Out 2019 menu

Dine Out Vancouver is in full swing and with two weeks left, you still have time to take advantage of the deals and the ability to try somewhere new. Like “Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co.”. Looking at them, you wouldn’t think they are more than a simple salad and pizza place. But behind their all wooden exterior is a restaurant that offers so much more. More on their menu, and more for their community.

Before we began our meal, our owner/host spoke to their origin story. How they built their own oven by hand, wanting to use it to make healthy pizzas for families, like their own. They vowed to then and continue to connect with local farmers, to source their produce and ingredients. Ingredients that are used to prepare their rustic pizzas, which includes an organic bread base, made with dough that utilizes maple syrup to activate the yeast.

But they have more than just these handcrafted flatbreads, baked crispy in their wood fired oven. They also offer organic pasta dishes, salads, soups and desserts. All with a focus on the quality of ingredients used and the diner’s health and well being in mind. A lesson I would learn first had with an invitation to lunch.

Their Dine Out menu is available for lunch or dinner. A $25 meal that pairs whatever appetizer you choose with a house crafted mocktail, and follows it with a selection of their pastas or pizzas for your entree, and any of their desserts to finish. The following are some of the options we enjoyed, to help you in your decision making process.

The “Paloma mocktail” is made with pink grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed lime, simple syrup, and soda. You are able to add a shot of vodka or tequila it to for $5. This early afternoon I ended up keeping it virgin, and and enjoying the tart sparkling beverage as is.

For appetizers you can go soup, salad, or mushroom cap. For the soups your options are either their Seasonal Soup or the vegan Spicy Organic Tomato Soup. The former is currently creamy bacon and leek offering. A tasty combination available in your mushroom cap, and again in your pasta as well. A hearty soup that was great for dipping your side of focaccia toast in to.

The “Spicy Organic Tomato Soup”, was tasty, but not what I imagined it to be. More like a marinara sauce then the classic pairing to grilled cheese. It tasted as healthy as it boasts it is.

Want something that requires more chewing? Then you want one of their traditional salads. Either a Fresh Herb Salad (which is the Vegan option), the Basil & Blackberry Salad, or a Fig & Goat Cheese Salad. It is nice to be given a choice within a choice. The “fresh herb salad” included assorted greens, tomatoes, oranges, cucumbers, and Vancouver grown sunflower sprouts; all drizzled in their house made fresh herb vinaigrette. I like fruit in my salads, as it gives things some sweetness.

Sadly I didn’t get enough basil flavour or a single black berry in the “Basil & Blackberry Salad”. But the freshness of the bowl and the zesty dressing was enough to have me going for another forkful.

Although, I much preferred the fig and goat cheese salad, although I didn’t find a single fig slice, through my rummaging around in the bowl. But there was plenty of goat cheese crumbs to make up for its absence, and I love goat cheese.

But for something a little different, and if you have never visited “Rocky Mountain” before, the “BC mushroom caps” are the ones to get. Local roasted mushroom caps stuffed with your choice of filling, with 4 options to consider. I avoided the “Spinach & Goat Cheese mushroom cap”, for my dislike of wilted greens; and missed out on trying the “Bacon, Leek & Cheddar mushroom caps”, as they seem to be the most popular amongst our group.

So the “Roasted Veggies mushroom caps” are my pick or the “Sundried Tomato and Hummus” stuffed ones. But basically you are choosing each based on what flavours you want stuffed within.

For entrees your choices are between their flatbread pizzas or their chef’s pasta feature. Both customizable. Choose one of their traditional flatbread pizza from: Classic, Tomato Basil, Parma, Sundried Tomato (can be made Vegan), Naturally Meaty, Beef Pepperoni, Sundried Tomato & Goat Cheese, Farmer’s Market (can also be made Vegan), Pesto Shrimp, Genoa Salami, All Canadian, or Pesto Chicken. For a Gluten Free Pizza Crust you can add $3.00. And to make it one of their “Artisan Pizzas” like we did, you can add $1.20 – 5.00 accordingly.

They have a healthy list of vegan and vegetarian options, with the ability to transform majority of their speciality pies in a similar fashion. One of the more memorable ones was the “Beyond avocado veg” vegan pizza, it lacked cheese and you couldn’t tell. It had an avocado sauce base which was topped with zucchini, bell peppers, vegan beyond sausage, caramelized onions, and hemp hearts, all coated in a balsamic reduction. It was like eating a roasted vegetable salad with guacamole. A dynamic gathering of vegetables that keeps bites interesting, thus allowing you the ability to eat the whole pizza solo. Although I advise coming with a friend or two, to be able to order a bit of everything from their Dine Out menu, and share it all.

Another vegetarian friendly option is their “Farmer’s market” flatbread pizza, this also doesn’t come at an additional cost. It starts with an organic tomato sauce base, and to it adds mozzarella, a three herbed pesto, capriny goat cheese, and a collection of fresh seasonal vegetable. Today our vegetables included juicy cherry tomatoes, crispy kale, and squash that offered substance and a great starchy texture to your bites.

One of their more original artisan pizzas is the “Chorizo and cod”, with a spicy tomato sauce base, local chorizo sausage, fresh bell peppers, red onions, sun-dried tomato, mozzafina di latte, green onions, and pan seared ocean wise cod. It was delicious with so much depth in the tastes and textures used. And I liked how the fish was presented as breaded and baked nuggets, to really highlight them.

If you have never been, the “Fig and Brie” is the one to try. Black Misson fig jam, crimini mushrooms, local prosciutto ham, caramelized red onions, triple cream Brie, and fresh arugula dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon. I just wished for more slices of fig, as its sweetness paired so well with the salty ham and the pepperiness of the arugula.

The “Bacon and Potato” took what worked with the soup and the mushroom caps above and made it a hand held in this filling pizza. Garlic oil base, local potatoes, leek, caramelized red onions, double smoked bacon, a three cheese mix, green onions, coarse ground pepper, and rosemary. Hearty and delicious.

The “Parma” is one of the pizza orders that is available off of their Dine Out menu, without the need to pay extra. Organic tomato sauce, mozzarella, Schinken Speck cured ham, crimini mushrooms, mango, arugula, and plenty of parmesan chips. Another flat bread that covered all flavour and texture boxes. Sweet fruit, salty ham, stringy cheese, meaty mushrooms, and fresh veg.

If you choose the pasta route for your entree you can choose the “Chef’s pasta feature” from off their blackboards, (it can be made vegan). It is made with organic pasta and local seasonal veggies. And for $5 more you can get it with free range local chicken. The best part is all their pasta is perfectly cooked with a great chew and comes with flatbread on the side to scoop sauce up with.

Or you can add $1 to your meal for the “Penne Bolangnese”. Organic penne, slow cooked organic BC beef tomatoes made into a sauce, shaved parmesan, and basil. A classic tomato sauce pasta with plenty of ground beef.

For $1.20 more you get the “Bacon & Three Cheese Penne”. Organic penne, double smoked bacon, whole cream, sautéed leeks, aged cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, and caramelized onion. This was my favourite of the three. I found it like an upscale Mac and cheese, but with bacon!

And then you round things off with dessert. Like their house-made “Mango raspberry sorbet”. It is sweet, not tart, (which is the reason why I don’t like sorbet), and deceptively creamy given the lack of milk products used. A beautiful end with the essence of rose.

For something more rich you can order their “Warm double chocolate brownies”. Created with Callebeut chocolate, and served with a scoop of their house made vanilla ice cream. A chewy brownie that sticks to your teeth and melts on your tongue. Rich, but not to the point you couldn’t finish the serving yourself.

But my vote and the one I would come back for is their Vegan and gluten free “apple cinnamon crumble” served with coconut ice cream. I cannot believe this is vegan friendly. I didn’t miss anything in this. The ice cream was creamy smooth. The oats toasted evenly and coated in cinnamon. And the dried cranberry a nice pop of flavour and some chew. I can imagine this as a great way to start your day, or a breakfast granola on a hot summer’s day.

They also have a gluten free cheesecake for you to consider, with a toasted coconut base. Although no one decided to order this today.

If you aren’t able to make it out to them during the Dine Out Vancouver run, worry not, they will be bringing this menu back for Valentine’s Day and to it adding a plate of “Koko Monk” chocolates for you and your honey to share. The “First kiss” heart with a sour cherry and raspberry filling, and the “Coconut curry” patterned with a cold leaf print. Both are vegan friendly, using 100% chocolate and no sugars, and each is sweetened with natural fruits.

If the above doesn’t turn you on to “Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co.”, the following will. As I mentioned earlier, not only do they feed their community they also help to educate it as well. They give back with their “Earthbites” initiative, connecting families with their food. Teaching kids and families how to grow their own food and eat more seasonally. Similarly, they also work with over 3000 students from various elementary and high schools. Where they help to plan and create their very own school garden. Then they help to build the curriculum around access to said garden, pulling it together with nutrition and the importance of consuming vegetables. Like picking all the kale they grow and using it to make a kale smoothie. Thus teaching students raw recipes that they can do at home, themselves. A great learning as most students are malnourished; they are eating, but not eating the right things.

So as you can see, after getting the above run down, I was even more excited to sit down and dine with them. And I hope after reading all of this, you will feel the same way too.

 

ROCKY MOUNTAIN FLATBREAD CO.
4186 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 3P7
604-566-9779
rockymountainflatbread.ca
Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurant Yugo

We came for dinner, my guest chose our destination having been impressed by the reviews she has read and the photos she has seen. They are located on Main Street, but the decor with its wood meet brick facade feels a lot more like a small bistro in Gastown. A very modern feel to parallel the sophisticated plates to come.

On this Wednesday night the restaurant was full and without reservations we ended up perching up at the sushi bar. Which turned out to be the best spot in the house. I always enjoy being able to see my food as it is being prepared, before I consume it. And at the bar I got to drool over my own serving, and at the same time side eye everyone else’s.

We ordered a handful of small plates to share, started with the “Uni from Peru”. $13 for 3 pieces. Us being at the bar, and the sushi chef being able to see us, he generously gifted us 4 pieces of uni so that we could easily split the serving between 2, with no argument on who would get the odd piece out. And I am so thankful because these were delicious, one was not enough. Creamy, like custard with the crisp cucumber for freshness and texture. Then there was the display component of the dish. Set on an acrylic platform with a light up bulb that you turned on and off or strobed with a remote.

Being bar side also gave us the opportunity to try a sampling of their house made truffled peach. Once again a perk bestowed upon us by the chef himself. It was pickled tangy and you get the truffle flavour immediately. It made for a great palette freshener.

The “Cherry wood smoked gravlax salmon Oshi sushi” comes cloched with smoke. With some theatrics it is removed and what you get is a smokey, torched square of fresh salmon over rice. It really takes the dish to the next level. But this time we had to share the third pieces between us.

The “Beef carpaccio” was thin slices of beef seasoned with chilli oil and tonkatsu sauce. Topped with anori, cured egg yolks, and greens. It was spicy with the peppery greens for freshness.

The “Hamachi aburi Oshi” was another lightly torched fish over rice pressed sushi box. It was spicy and refreshing with the jalapeño, the fried taro topping gave it some crispness, and the miso mayo some tang along with moisture.

The “Scallop risotto” helped to fill us with its heartiness. Hokkaido scallop, black truffle, mushrooms, ikura, honey ricotta, and bonito flakes. It was so thick and creamy that it reminded us of a savoury porridge, comforting with a good mix of salt and textures. So rich that I found myself at a two small bowl maximum. That and there wasn’t enough textures to keep eating it interesting, and this is with me rationing bites of scallop to enjoy with the moisten rice. We had plenty to take home as left overs.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I liked everything we had and wanted more, I just wish I could afford more in one sitting. You definitely get what you pay for here. Quality ingredients and professional techniques that have you tasting the difference. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

YUGO
4265 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 3R1
604-620-7878
restaurantyugo.com
Restaurant Yugo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nomad

Today I was visiting “Nomad”, as one of the judges for the Vancouver Foodster sangria challenge. My role, to visit each of the five participating restaurants, to try their sangria creation; then judge it based on taste, originality and presentation. I won’t be revealing my thoughts on the drink here, as the competition is still running, but be sure to return back to my blog for the results and to see how I voted after October 7th.

I have only been to “Nomad” once before. And having tried a handful of their happy hour plates had me excited to explore more of their menu with a full dinner, today. To check out the original visit post, visit the link, then come back to read my revisit.

Nomad, Happy Hour

 

Their name refers to their inspiration, their ability to travel and try new flavour combinations and techniques, then apply it to their menu. A menu that is updated regularly and takes on a lot from its surroundings and what is available locally, just as a nomadic tribe would.

With minimal decorations, vaulted ceilings, and a few scenic photos where blue skies meets brown soil; the decor too subtly speaks to the nomadic theme. We were seated at the bar. This was the perfect vantage point to take in some of the little details they put into each cocktail poured. Like smoking glasses with wood and flame, and then storing them in the fridge. This seals in the smokiness that latches on to the moisture from the heating and cooling of the glass.

Here, on the high tops we were looked after by their very charisma bar manager, Benny. I would later learn that he has quite the following, which includes a crowd that comes in specifically on Thursdays, when he works, (and lucky for us, we were here on a Thursday). He has competed in various mixing competitions, including a big win at the “Hennessy Cognac” competition, locally. This win earned him the ability to complete, and represent Vancouver on a national level. And his creative three course cocktail was so popular that it earned him a seat at the judge’s table this year. This was one of the many inspiring stories he regaled us with. I was most impressed by his ability to continuing mixing as he took us through this history of achievements.

We would get a taste of his ability with a glass of “Nomad’s” most popular drink, with over 18,000 glasses sold to date: The “Femme finale”. It included lavender, ginger syrup, fresh lemon, rose water, and sparkling wine. It was a pretty drink, light with citrus notes and bubbles. The house brandied cherry was literally the cherry on top of this cocktail.

The food portion of our night began with some house made sourdough bread. Baked daily every morning, this half loaf of warm crusty bread was served with cultured butter and smoked salt. It was good as is, better with the butter, and next level with the salt highlight the natural tang of the dough. I just wished that the crust wasn’t as tough as it was. I found it scraping the roof of my mouth, to the point that I decided to peel it away and leave only soft spongy bread to spread with butter.

As they did with their bread, they had a different approach with their squid. Whereas most restaurants fry or grill their’s, here their “Humboldt squid” is seared for a different texture and appreciation of its natural flavours, (this is also something that they are known for). It is served in a panang sauce with tomatillo, cilantro, roasted chickpea, house pickled red onion, and king oyster mushroom. The creamy coconut sauce had a curry feel to it. It did well to highlight the firm and chewy squid. As I eluded to earlier, I have never had a texture like it before. Something like what I would expect from squid, but with the qualities of eating fish. There really isn’t anything like it. Sadly, the side ingredients really didn’t do anything to further the plate. I wanted more variety in the textures, less softness, like with the grainy chickpeas (but this is also a preference thing). More pickled vegetables with a crunch (green beans and cauliflower) and maybe the mushrooms in larger chunks would have help. But honestly the squid by itself is worth ordering for a try. I would have preferred it as a steak to cut into too.

The “Hannah brook organic green salad” would have served better as a side to the squid above, instead of a main on its own. I did enjoy the flavouring of the toasted sunflower and preserved orange dressing, the bits of pickled roasted peppers, and especially the dehydrated plum, with the crispy quinoa. But overall even as fully dressed as it was, it still felt like it was lacking. There were too many greens where u wanted more fruit, more plum, and more crunch.

Our version of the “Shaw family farms pork tenderloin” included only 2 cuts of the tender pork as a tasting, thought normally it does come with 3. It is prepared with organic soy beans, broccoli, whipped yams, and miso jus. The jus was a tad on the salty side, but delicious when paired with the beautiful sweet yam purée, and the slightly cooked, crunchy broccoli. The beans offered substance, but once again I am not a fan of such beans and their grainy texture.

 

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.
There aren’t many cocktail spots in the Main Street area, so I can definitely suggest this one if you are looking for a unique glass. Here, it will be offered with attentive service, and a welcoming aura. They preach and saw to it that our time with them would be all about the experience, offering us and those dining a lasting memory in some small way. Overall, a beautiful way to enjoy a different take on your favourite proteins and sides. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

NOMAD
3950 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 3P2
604-708-8525
nomad-vancouver.ca

Bows & Arrows Coffee Roasters

Located within her neighbourhood, my guest had been meaning to try this quaint cafe for a while now. Ironically not for the coffee they are know for. Its all grey stucco exterior with caramel colour wood trim stuck out. The name neatly spelled out in black letters above, its significance unrelated to what they actually offer.

This is a coffee bar with beer and wine for those who want a break for coffee and tea. Set up like a coffee shoppe it was well lit with natural light, and well accommodating with plenty of seating across the front bar and share tables that could come together and separate as needed. I especially enjoyed the over hanging plants, the vines and leaves dangling over you as you ate. It was the only visually interesting piece against a white wall cafe with wooden tables and floors to match.

This was a causal setting with the causal service to match. There was only just the one employee behind the counter. You ordered and immediately paid therein. When your drinks are ready you pick them up from the counter. Our plates of food were brought out to us when ready, although that maybe just because we weren’t paying attention, and instead chatting amongst ourselves.

We were told of happy hour when we came in, however the prices for food didn’t change despite the time of day. It was just $1 off beer, which we got two of. Along with our beers we decided to snack on a one salty and one sweet dish.

“Savoury crepe” with lardon, braised greens and puffed rice. We added the egg for $2, which I felt really completed the dish. The soften crepe was salty from the ham and crunchy from the kale, the yolk egg brought it together for a great start to your day. The only other thing I would add is some avocado.

This was not what we expected from the “rhubarb tartine”, despite the word “tartine” means a piece of bread. This was a whole grain slice topped with a rhubarb compote, goat cheese, toasted almonds, and strawberry. It at like strawberry cream cheese smeared over a rough piece of toast. We ordered this thinking it would be a sweet dish to balance out our savoury one above. But despite the sweetness of the strawberries peeking trough, I would classify this as is a savoury dish with the tart rhubarb. Given the flavour of the assembly, I would love to have had a firm and chewy piece of yellow pound cake as the base instead; instead of the hard and grainy toast. As for the bread, I wanted it as part of a hearty cured meat, fine cheese, and crispy lettuce sandwich.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
They serve the community well. When you want to sit down to eat and drink like at a restaurant, but want the easy and light hearted nature that a cafe supplies. A cafe that serves alcohol and beer to accompany their food that is more than just Saran wrapped loaf slices or muffins. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BOWS & ARROWS
4194 Fraser Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 4E8
604-620-7657
owsandarrowscoffee.com
Bows & Arrows Coffee Roasters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Long’s Noodle House

I have read somewhere that the way to define a good Chinese restaurant is a worn down exterior with matching interior, lots of Chinese people dining within, and a grumpy cashier. Well, this well known stop for noodles on Main Street has all three.

It is one of those cash only, hole in the wall Chinese restaurants. It is community fuelled, where regulars make them a part of their routines. And for good reason: the food comes fast, it is tasty, and affordable for day to day eating.

I found everything tasty and as I expected it to be. I grew up eating so much Chinese food, and with some many variations on my favourite dishes; I really can’t separate good from great. This was delicious, we ate it all down greedily, though at the same time, I wouldn’t need to drive all the way down for more, as there are other equally good Chinese restaurants, closer to my home. I did like how it was smaller and had a more casual feel though. You wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable walking into one of those large dim sum in the morning, seafood restaurants at night, large enough to host a wedding reception at restaurants.

“Rice cake with preserve vegetable”. I love the chew of these slices and really eat it more for that then the flavour. In fact, I even avoid the slivers of green from the vegetable.

The “Tan tan with meat sauce” is one of my favourite noodle dishes. With a thick sauce and plenty of ground meat, the noodles walked away with plenty of flavour.

We rounded out our meal with even more carbs: the classic “Xiao long bao”. These were made in house, by a woman behind the front counter. They were plenty tasty, with a tangy dip in the vinegar. The meat was tender and the dough chewy, I just wish there was more soup within each bundle, enough to have the liquid gush and hit you in the back of your throat when you bit down.

 

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.
It was good, we ate our fill and had no leftovers. I will crave such flavours again, but don’t necessarily need to satisfy them back here. Overall, I am neutral on this one. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

LONG’S NOODLE HOUSE
4853 Main Street, Vancouver BC
604-879-7879
Long's Noodle House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Trilussa Pizza & Pane

My guest and were taking a stroll along Main Street, until we found ourselves hungry. Here, she introduced me to “Trilussa”, a long standing institution in her neighbourhood, which only recently have they come under new management. And with the new owner came some improvements. The pizza is modelled after the type you’d get in Italy, but now with improvements to the recipe. For example, the crust now stays crispier for longer.

The great part about ordering pizza from “Trilussa” is you can do it by the foot. They are baked up in lengthy stretches, and set in front of their show table with window. There are several options already made, waiting for you to take a chunk out of it. And if there is something you don’t see, that their menu offers, they are more than happy to whip it up and bake it fresh for you. And even then you only need to commit to the inches you actually want. During our visit we tried six different pizzas, two of which were baked just for us.

After you place your order and pay, you seat yourself. The restaurant is a series of booths with a couple of chairs outside. The half brown and half grey walls split the restaurant in two, with framed photos of their pizza and accomplishments hanging. We grabbed a booth for ourselves and helped ourselves to water from their dispenser. When your pizza by the rectangle is ready you are called to claim them, on the wooden boards that they are served on.

We started with a pizza topped with salmon, capers, and onions; covered in mozzarella cheese. It was just the right amount of salmon, so that it didn’t overpower the subtle flavour of the buttery crust.

The “Trasteverde” was a simple meat and cheese pizza with pancetta, mozzarella, and pecorino. This was another pizza where the ingredients were well balanced. The meat wasn’t too salty, nor did it over power the base, and truly the crust is my favourite part of any pizza.

The “Attilio” has mushrooms and mozzarella. It is earthy mushrooms meeting gooey cheese, and it tasted exactly as you’d expect it to be.

The “Caprese” pizza was like the salad, but over pizza crust. Organic greens, thick cut tomato slices, and a crumble of bocconcini. This pizza was served cold with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to finish it off. It ate like a salad, but with a crisp base. Good separate, not my favourite together.

The “Prosciutto crudo with Parmesan” was a sample that we got. This one is a special that they don’t always make available, so the generous new owner, insisted that we got a taste. Salty meat and cheese with peppery greens. another pizza that ate more like a salad and charcuterie plate.

My favourite was their “Capri” with potatoes, pesto, and pecorino. This was made to order for us, it came fresh out of the oven, with the thin slices of potato still crispy. This was the most original pizza in their offerings. I liked the richness of the flavourful potatoes and chalky cheese, over the chewy crust

 

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.
They are a staple in the community, offering up pizza by the foot, before it was trendy. A solid stop if you are looking to snack in the neighbourhood, but not necessarily a destination to travel to. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TRILUSSA
4363 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5V3R1
604-558-3338
trilussa.ca
Trilussa Pizza & Pane Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Innocent Ice Cream Sandwiches

With the weather getting better, ice cream season is right around the corner. And today I was invited to try “Innocent ice cream” on Main Street. But this isn’t just any ice cream shoppe, they specialize in sandwiching their in house made ice creams with their in house made cookies.

Before we get into it, the disclaimer: 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.

Three years ago this brainchild started out as a ice cream sandwich cart, pedalling around English Bay. With much encouragement from a happy and growing customer base, they turned a portable store on wheels to a brick and mortar shop. Opening June of last year, their bicycle with a frozen refrigerator box strapped to it is now parked outside, as a landmark. Although every summer it rides again with plenty of event bookings to keep them busy.

Their logo is their pet Boston Terrier dressed in a black and white spotted cow suit, with horns. It comes stamped on their paper cups used to house scoops of ice cream, on stickers used to seal packages up ice cream sandwiches, and on their merchandise sold at cost: a tank, tee, and tote. He even comes out to their events, when allowed to.

Their name refers to their great vegan friendly ice cream options, and all their cookies being gluten-free. It is run by a mother-daughter team. The mom grew up making hand cranked ice cream and cookies with her mom, and now it is passing this legacy on to her daughter, as well as plenty of hungry customers.

Their showcase of 16 different ice creams is a collection curated from the feedback of said customers. It is ever being updated with new seasonal offerings and fan favourites. Six of which are always on rotation, and 5-6 are always vegan; the rest are best sellers and always available. But one thing that hasn’t changed is their prices. They have been the same since they began this journey three years ago. For the ladies of “Innocent” it is about the experience and having an approachable product, which includes a reasonable price.

It is worth noting, that the ability to converse with the owner in person, is one of the many ways that makes their ice cream extra special. You know your purchase is helping someone in your community. And the appreciation for your visit is felt as soon as you enter their threshold.

You order off the menu board, hung above the counter. It is easy to compare the listed flavour and match it with its colourful tray, behind the glass. You can see to the bottom of the metal container when it comes to the more popular ones.

As I mentioned earlier, flavours rotate with different bases all year round. This early spring it was “spiced chai” and “coconut rose” that hit the block. During this visit we got to sample and enjoy them and other coconut based vegan ice cream flavours like lemon meringue, salted bourbon chocolate, and cappuccino. The coconut rose was the most popular, and the one that sells out every day; and I can see why with just a taster. It is a beautiful flavour: the lightness of sorbet, but with the creaminess of milk. You get just enough rose flavour to highlight the luscious coconut milk base.

All of their 5-6 vegan flavours use beet sugar which is fully vegan. Whereas some cane sugars are filtered through bone char to get the colour out. Their goal is to source as natural of a product as possible, leaving you with the feeling of enjoying a healthy and clean treat.

The current list of ice cream made from cream and milk were maple walnut, mint chip, matcha, wild cherry, banana, salted caramel, coffee, vanilla, chocolate, raspberry white chocolate, and spiced cheesecake. The “Spiced cheese cake” tasted like pumpkin pie thanks to the spices, but with a cream cheese base. And the “Banana” was flavoured more like a smoothie, instead of the antibiotics of my childhood.

As I mentioned earlier, the cookies are also made in house. Each one of their five flavours gluten free. Oatmeal, peanut butter, white chocolate chip, double chocolate, chocolate chip. They were so good that we asked if they were available for purchase alone. Unfortunately not, but if you call ahead, they can make an exception for you, with enough notice.

Their menu lists all their offerings, and also suggests their favourite cookie and ice cream pairing. Or you can choose your cookie and make your own ice cream sandwich by, but here I will strongly suggest that you leave it to the experts. They have tried and tested many variations, and have come out with some fun and complimentary ice cream sandwich combinations. Like the “Canadian” which is a oatmeal cookies with maple walnut ice cream. The “Electric” had chocolate chip cookie sandwiching coffee ice cream. And the “Kong” was a double chocolate cookie with banana ice cream together.

In the end we narrowed down our choices to three, served as miniatures in their ice cream sandwich flight. You can also get any cookie and ice cream combo you want as a whole, but I prefer tasting and trying instead of committing to one larger flavour.

Although if I could only choose one ice cream sandwich, hands down it would be the “Fairytale” with raspberry white chocolate ice cream sandwiched between a white chocolate cookie. This was everyone’s favourite of the evening, and there is a reason why this is their best seller. It was traditionally sweet with a candy feel and taste.

The “Cherry bomb” was double chocolate cookies sandwiching their wild cherry ice cream. The cherry ice cream had so much tang and brightness to it. It and its tartness was balanced by the rich chocolatey and chewy cookie base.

Matcha is one of my favourite ice cream flavours, so even though it didn’t have a preset sandwich combination, I decided to give it a try paired with their white chocolate chip cookie, and it was successful. Here, the pairing of bitter and sweet balanced each other out, allowing you to enjoy the delicious flavour of matcha with a chewy milky cookie.

And if you don’t want the carbs, you can just get a a scoop of their ice cream as is. It can be served in three different cup sizes. But honestly if you come all the way for “Innocent Ice cream” you want to try it in its intended state: with cookies, as it is their specialty. And for those who are always on the go, you can get one of their pints travel ready. It is any flavour and cookie of your choosing layered within the cardboard pint.

 

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.
A solid dessert spot, located in an area where none other like it exists. A great place for vegans and those who are gluten intolerant, to be able to fully enjoy themselves with a full array of options. And best of all, run by owners who are part of the community that you live in and want to support. With rotating ice cream flavours and plans to make ice creams for dogs, there is plenty of reason to revisit. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for “Innocent” and how creative can their passion project get. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

INNOCENT ICE CREAM
4895 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 1V3
604-879-8584
innocenticecream.com
Innocent Ice Cream Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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