Remember when Red Robin was cool? Back in Junior High circa 1991, Red Robin was our place for crew dinners on Friday. Clucks, mud pies, and virgin margaritas were the staples of our diet. I remember the staff were hot, the restaurant was always busy and there were some cool patrons peppered throughout the restaurant. My friend and I had a hankering for some nachos and potato skins so we decided to take a trip down memory lane.
We weren't dissapointed, Red Robin is like a restaurant in a time capsule. I almost wanted to go home to put on my Pepe jeans and paisley printed shirt that stills smells of Eternity. The atmosphere is still the same as I remembered it from the 90s (80s prints, Star Trek posters and the same damn chairs), and the music couldn't be worse (Ini Kamoze - Here Comes the Hot Stepper - WTF). The only patrons in the restaurant this night were a group of ESL students celebrating their birthday. Surprisingly enough the Red Robin staff still sings awkward Happy Birthday songs to their guests. The menu has changed and the macho nachos and the potato skins have both been removed from, so now we are at Red Robin for no good reason. To avoid awkwardly leaving after already being seated, we decided to order the mushroom burger ($10.50) and mini crispy chicken burgers with poutine upgrade ($12.00).
The plates were the same from the early 90s (the famous red basket and some weird looking blue plate) and I think the bun from my burger was from the 90s as well. It was hard as a rock, like a kaiser bun that sat on the kitchen counter for a year. Because of my bun and my dry ass pieces of chicken in the burger I didn't even finish half of my mini burgers, however the server was nice and removed it from my bill. The mushroom burger was a little dry and could have used a little more cheese and sauce. The portion of fries now are a lot smaller even though it is still bottomless.
Red Robin was one of the first casual dining spots, but they obviously were unable to keep up with the Cactus Clubs and Earls of the world. There atmosphere is dated, the food is sub par, and the service was poor. Wouldn't it be cool if Cactus Club still had peanuts on the floor and Earls was still all about that albino rhino?
Various locations that you do not need to visit.
Minerva's comes as a recommendation from a Vancouver Slop reader. It is located in Kerrisdale and the price point was a little higher than I expected but the meal did live up to its price tag. I ordered the Beef Souvlaki ($18.00) and my friend ordered the Minerva's Chicken ($18.00) The rice pilaf and Greek potato were the best I have ever had. The rice was so tasty and soft. I think it was made with butter, the potato was crisp on the outside and nice and soft on the inside. The meat was moist and cooked well. My friends claims her chicken was fantastic, she loved it.
Service was quick and friendly. Overall, I thought the meal was excellent, a little bit pricier than the Greek places in the west end but the food was far superior so the extra dollars were worth it.
Minerva's Pizza and Steak House
2411 West 41 Ave
The easiest job in the world must be designing a logo for a Greek Restaurant, all you would have to do is write the name in that basic Greek font.
Womensday.com made a list of the 12 most expensive items on the earth. The list is a very interesting read, I was surprised that sliced unicorn horn and raw dodo eggs were not on the list. That was a joke for all you serious people out there.
Read more here.
As I mentioned before, this is one of the best events in the city. This time it sold out two days before the show. I had many friends who could not make it out.
It took me two beers before I loosened up. When I was standing on stage it was soo dark that the crowd just looked like a dark void, this made things a lot easier. I felt our presentation went pretty well, I was really happy that I didn't make up any new words during the presentation (I am known to do that). I had such a fun time and the other presenters were absolutely amazing. I felt very lucky to be sitting with such incredible local talent. Everyone was great but my favorites include Kelly Deck - Kelly Deck Design, Jeff Topham's story about his family from Liberia and Rex Weyler who talked about the early days of Greenpeace.
Bob from Vancouverisawesome.com put up the video of our Pecha Kucha presentation. Check it out, and if you missed this one, make sure you catch the next one.
Aphrodie Cafe and Pie Shop
Aphrodite Cafe is in a part of town that I rarely venture to and none of my friends have ever been here. I wanted to try it out because I assume they would offer a meat pie on their menu to add to my meat pie hunt. They take pride in being an organic cafe and I really like how they have seasonal plates on their menu.
The interior was decent, it had a dinner like feel to it. Our pretty Argentinian server provided us with solid service throughout the night. My friend and I decided to share a couple of plates, we had the chicken pot pie (I think $14) and the mushroom pizza (around 12 bucks), and rhubarb and raspberry pie for dessert with two scoops of ice cream.
The meat pie was pretty small but had a nice flaky crust, the accompany salad was very fresh. The pizza was really good but it did not stack up to the mushroom pizza at Cascade. That pizza at Cascade is fantastic. I love it.
Overall, based on the value and flavour, I would only return for the dessert. I know better places for meat pies and pizza.
Based on the way we ordered (two guys sharing everything) we came off as pretty homosexual, so my flirting with our server must have been misread. Obviously, I didn't get the number or even a fake name to look up on Facebook. Lol.
Aphrodite Cafe and Pie Shop
3598 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC
One of the cool things about having a food blog is that everyone wants to go eat with you. Makes for a busy week but breaking bread with people is always fun. I usually try to make them guest blog but not everyone is up for that.
This trip my friend wanted ramen so we went to Motomachi Shokudo located in the West End. I have talked about the ramen at Motomachi Shokudo before, and I still feel that it is the best ramen place in town (just a hair above Kintaro - same ownership) but some will argue that Kintaro is still better. To each their own, but I would say the battle is close but the interior of Motomachi and the fact there are less lines gives it the edge. This time I want to talk about this three dollar Petit BBQ Pork Rice Bowl. It is small but tastes incredible, mildly spicy BBQ pork with shredded lotus root and carrot and marinated in sweetened soy sauce and topped with mayo. It was really tasty, it has some similarities to the teriyaki bowl with mayo at Zakushi. For three bucks, you need to go to Motomachi and try this thing.
740 Denman Street
Near Robson and Denman
Pho is one of my favorite cheap eats in this city, however I don't post about it as often as I eat it. The main reason is that I have not developed a pallet that can really distinguish between good pho and great pho.
Song Huong has moved to a new bigger location down the street. The service is fast and the place was fairly busy but due to the size there was still lots of available seating. Prices are cheap and you can even order just one spring roll (2.50) to give your meal that deep fried taste that I always crave.
I decided to be adventurous and order the bun bo hue ($5.75 for the small, $6.25 for the large). This noodle dish is from the region of Hue in Vietnam and is a little different than your typical pho. The rice noodles are a little thicker, closer to size of spaghetti, the soup is topped with thinly sliced pieces of purple cabbage and the broth has a touch of spice to it. The major difference is the type of meats that they put in the bowl, there are the regular thin slices of beef but there are also things like pigs feet nuckle, and congealed pig blood. It is a little strange because the region of Hue is known for its large population of vegetarians. Overall, this dish is not my thing, the texture of the pig skin on the feet was a little too much for me, it reminded me of some dissections done in university biology class. Oh well, I tried, back to the usual pho (tripe, beef balls, etc).
1613 Nanaimo Street
Here is something for all my hip hop heads out there. Ghostface Killah speaks about the hustler's diet.
The only place I know where you can get coco bread and a patty is Kiss Yo Mama.
(Above picture taken from the Westender)
I did a short interview with Jackie from the Westender about my upcoming participation in Pecha Kucha. You can read it at the following URL.
Come out to Pecha Kucha on March 26, you will hear and see some funny and inspiring presentations. It is an amazing event.
Jackie writes her own blog as well. Check it out, it is something most of us can relate to. It is a good read.
2511 W Broadway
If you have been to Granville Island you probably have seen this spot. Deep in the corner of the Granville Island market sits this kiosk/cafe with the name A LA MODE. I have eaten here many times, I used to order the beef stew or the seafood chowder but I usually leave a little hungry, the one pie doesn't fill my skinny body.
I ordered the turkey mushroom pot pie ($7.95)with a small salad with vinegrette dressing. I broke open the pie and filling inside was basically soup. It was too thin and not hearty enough to label itself a pot pie. Here I was eating a sad meal with my granville Island Tea Company tea and looking at my normal eating spot, the Market Grill. Dam I wish I got a burger. However, I can attest to their sweet pies, the boston cream and the lemon meringue pie are both really good.
In Granville Island, I really only eat at two places. Go Fish down on the warf or the Market Grill for a burger. There are some other fish and chips joint but they are a little pricey and that Keg could use an update.
A LA MODE
Granville Island Public Market
There are three? I remember when I saw the first one on Main Street open up and I thought they have a wicked patio, and then I found a Burgoo on West 10th. I then wanted to know more. After asking around I found out that Burgoo is a comfort food restaurant which originated in North Vancouver (correction -West 10th is the original location) and now has a total of three locations. People have been raving about their soup.
The menu is filled with comfort food from all around the world, butter chicken, soups, sandwiches, stews, mac and cheese, the list goes on. My eating companion ordered the Irish Stew (16 dollars) and I had the beef bourguignon (16 dollars). My friend said he liked the stew but I have a feeling he likes everything. I thought his stew was just ok, but my beef bourguignon was great. The mash potatoes that it was served with had a strong garlic taste, a little too much for my liking. I hate walking out of restaurants with halitosis, it is almost as bad as when your clothing smells like Korean BBQ or what ever was being made in the kitchen. The accompaning mushrooms, carrots, and small dumplings really added to the taste of my stew.
People have been raving about this place and I was happy that I got to try it out. I plan to go back to try out some other items on the menu. Perhaps next time I am hung over. I would say it could be a few bucks cheaper but it seems the new norm for a meal is about 15 bucks.
3096 Main Street
I am happy to announce a new partnership. Vancouver Slop will be posting once a week about our favorite restaurants in the city on VancouverIsAwesome.com.
Vancouver Is Awesome is one of my favorite blogs, it basically celebrates all things that make Vancouver awesome. Put it on your bookmark list or on your reader.
Rodneys Oyster House
A friend decided to hold a birthday party at Rodney's Oyster House. When I arrived, the hostess asked if I was with the birthday party and she then escorted me through the kitchen to the backroom. I didn't know Rodney's had a backroom. It was a nice small space that even had a private bar with two bartenders back there.
The birthday girl went all out. Plates of food were being served throughout the night, deep fried oysters, grilled shrimp, mushrooms, salad, and crab cakes. I had a Caesar (10 dollars but they are really good), and just snacked on the seafood all night. A lemon merange pie from Granville Island ended the night. Everything was really tasty.
Rodneys Oyster House
1228 Hamilton Street
Yaletown, Vancouver BC
I’m ready to eat again! After working 24 and a half hours on my dessert entry for the Quady dessert competition. The Quady dessert competition requires the entrant to pair their dessert to a dessert wine. This year’s dessert wine was Essencia, an orange Muscat dessert wine from Quady wineries.
What a grueling feat. The weeks leading up to the competition I went on a strict diet. I didn’t speak to anyone outside of work. I didn’t watch Heroes on Monday nights. I didn’t watch any movies. I didn’t send any e-mails. I didn’t check out Vancouver Slop. I didn’t blog for Vancouver Slop. I didn’t go out to eat! I sustained on a diet of staff meals, rumors and mumblings of the outside world, coffee and energy drinks.
In preparation for the competition I tasted the dessert wine with my chefs at work and made some tasting notes. I was red faced and buzzed for the rest of my shift at work. The tasting notes haunted every sleepless night and day nightmares on my bus ride to work. What should I do? Should I do this combo with the wine or that combo? What to do? What to do?
I finally narrowed my desserts down to three from my original eight. I made three different desserts and tasted them with the wine and chose one. Did I make the right decision? Too late, I chose one and was going to stick with it. Plus the competition was less than two weeks away. I made the one dessert three different times, trying my best to perfect it. Here and there I adjusted and tweaked the dessert with some interesting results.
The countdown to Sunday March 8, 2009 had left a huge cloud of nerves over me. I wanted the judges at the competition to get the very best out of me so I made everything for the dessert as fresh as possible. So, 24 hours prior to the competition time I made every single component of my dish again. I was now a slave to the clock. Oh, and it was Day Light Savings time. I get one hour less of time. Perfect! If there was a competition for who could do the best impersonation of a chicken with it’s head cut off I would win hands down.
Panic! The shakes! I must have looked like an addict but with a fresh shower smell. One and a half hours before presentation time I packed the putt, putt car.
One hour fifteen minutes: I left for Major the Gourmet (the generous place where they accommodated all of us entries).
Forty five minutes: I unpack the car and set up a table with my dessert components. The panic really kicked in. I had a pep talk from my pastry chef with a few kind words. I wanted to cry and I almost did. I haven’t cried (pertaining to work) since my first week at pastry school.
Half an hour: I started plating with the very best assistant in the world, a very trusted friend. You are a rockstar! My hands were shaking. I remember to breathe. Focus!
Five minutes: I quenelle the sorbet and watch my plates disappear into the judges room.
Presentation time: Cleaned up my table for the next entrant. Packed the putt, putt car.
The competition is over. I thought I would be relieved but I was angry. Angry because I think I could have done better and my nerves had gotten the best of me. Stupid nerves! Ah! Now it was time to eat. Dim sum at Fisherman’s Terrace. Yum!
I went back to Major the Gourmet at 2pm for the judges feedback and the revealing of the top ten and top three entrants. Alas no pictures because someone forgot to charge the camera battery but…there will be pictures coming March 27 of the top three entrants who will be celebrated at the awards luncheon at the Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival.
Happy reading and happy eating!
I owed a friend a fancy dinner so I took her and her friend to La Buca. I paid but I made her guest blog. Below is her review.
We arrived at La Buca for our 7:30 reservation, but our table wasn't ready so we were made to stand in the tiny doorway behind a thick brown curtain that separated us from the main dining room. We stood there awkwardly feeling like we were in a change room at Aritzia and it reminded me of that time I tried on jeans that didn't fit and the sales piranha told me that maybe if did some "lunges" once in awhile, I would fit into them. But I digress.
I want to begin by saying that the interior of La Buca, which is both simple and elegant, is almost exactly the same as that of Pied-a-Terre, the French sister restaurant of Chef Andrey Durbach and partner Chris Stewart’s restaurant trilogy (the third, and oldest, being Parkside). The upscale Parkside will actually be closing at the end of March to open as another location of La Buca, which to many, seems like a very prudent business maneuver in the midst our declining economy but forces us to bid a sad farewell to one of the best reviewed restaurants in the city.
Shortly after we were sat at our table some crispy bread sticks were brought over that were satisfying but not delicious. We didn’t bother with any appetizers and went straight for the mains. I ordered the night’s special, which was a delicious Eggplant Ravioli ($18) covered in a sauce of thinly diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, eggplant, lemon juice and topped with ricotta. The sauce was a perfect texture with a freshness of flavour that complimented the Eggplant perfectly. The tang and zest of the lemon lightened the heaviness that normally accompanies most raviolis and the portion size was just right.
I can't however, say that for the dish my frenemy ordered, which was the Lobster Tortellini, which was tasty, but came with approximately 8 pieces of tortellini ($22.50). It is lobster, so he didn't expect to get 80 pieces of lobster-stuffed tortellini, but there was more plate visible than food. If you're going to serve someone 8 pieces of pasta, serve it to them in a smaller bowl and at least attempt to create the illusion of plenty.
Our other fellow diner ordered the Tagliatelle Bolognese ($17) that had all the finishes of a truly traditional bolognese, with a thick meat sauce fragrant with strong traces of red wine, dark in colour and firm in flavour. Their tagliatelle tasted like it was made fresh which I think should be expected from any establishment that claims to offer quality Italian cuisine.
Then Rob Feenie walked in and we felt pretty good about the fact that we were eating with the genius who brought mini-burgers to Cactus Club. So we did what most normal people would have done and tried to take covert (or not so covert) pictures of him eating, talking to the maitre'd and sitting there alone for 20 minutes.
For desert we ordered La Buca's home made donuts and Tiramisu (all deserts were $6.95) which were both very, very good. The Tiramisu was especially delicious because it wasn't too sweet and so it allowed you to concentrate on the other flavours like the espresso, the mascarpone and the crispy and delicious savoiardi (the lady finger biscuit they soak in the espresso).
The meal came up to a little under $100 for three entrees, two deserts and one glass of rose ($10). I consider that to be a reasonable price that someone else had to pay for me to have a fantastic meal. Thanks frenemy!!!
4025 Macdonald St
Matt - I didn't write it but I paid.
The Naam (top) vs The Foundation (bottom)
This maybe the start of something new, the (HEAHD TO HEAD) VERSUS FFEATURE. The other day I had two people telling me where their favorite nachos were. One on my left and one on my right, yelling in my ears. The two restaurants in question were the Naam and the Foundation. I wanted to settle the bet, I told them give me a week to try them both out. So here are the results of my two visits.
The Naam and Foundation are both vegetarian restaurants. That said, I was a little sad that the nachos at the Naam were not loaded with vegetables, there were some sundried tomatoes present but the onions, olives and jalapenos failed to make an appearance. Not sure if they glazed olive oil on the chips or oil leeched out of one of the ingredients but some of the bottom layer of chips had a thin puddle of oil on them. The nachos were $11.95 for the large and $3.50 for the gucamole.
The Foundation, which is known for having bad service was actually ok this time. The nachos are massive. The cheese was layered throughout the chips which is one of the big features the Naam missed. Also, there were plenty of vegetables (black beans, corn, onions) peppered throughout the plate. The nachos were only 8 dollars. and we passed on the gucamole which was extra.
Size - Foundation. Nachos were by far bigger.
Atmosphere - I prefer Foundation but hippies might like Naam.
Taste - Foundation
Music - Foundation - Some good hip hop
Hours of Operation - Naam - Open 24 hours.
Value - Foundation
Price - Foundation was cheaper. ($8.00 vs. $12.00)
Overall, The Foundation is a clear winner in the department of nachos.
2724 West 4th Ave
On to the food! Well, of course at any izakaya or yakitori spot you have to start with some ice cold beer. Yes the Sapporo beer were served in frozen glass jugs that made the beer so delicious. Then of course your get a number of assorted skewers of meat to go with your beer. These skewers make the beer taste extra delicious. Aside from the staple yakitori selection this location has a little more on the menu compared to the other 2 locations. There's a good assortment of sashimi (fresh fish) dishes and some interesting tapas dishes as well. We ordered an assorted sashimi dish that was great. Very fresh and presented very nicely. We also ordered a seared beef dish that was brought to the table and torched in front of you. This dish was a big hit at our table.
A few pitchers of ice cold beer and many reordered of skewer goodness we all decided that this was our favorite Zakkushi location. We saw a lot of familiar faces there and all seemed to be enjoying their meals as much as we were.
Zakkushi on Main
4075 Main st
Located on a pretty serious foodie corner at W Broadway and Larch, Benny's Bagels is nice little neighborhood brunch/lunch kinda spot. Next door is Modern Burger and next to them is Dan. Both are some serious destination spots of food connoisseurs, but Benny's holds its own when it comes to a decent brunch or lunch time meal.
Though it was a mid February day in Vancouver, the sun was out and the patio was the choice spot for our lunch. We watched people filing in and out of Modern Burger next door but Benny's had its share of patrons. Probably under staffed on that particular day the service was a bit slow but friendly none-the-less.
We ordered the Soup of the Day which was a Indian Lentil soup. Quite tasty and flavorful. For a dollar more ($5 or so) you can get the soup & salad set so we got the Caesar Salad. The salad was nothing special, but I've learned to accept to not expect too much of a caesar salad unless you go somewhere like Hy's steakhouse (bonkers!). When in Rome or at a bagel joint, order a bagel dish. Just closed my eyes and pointed to something on the menu, we ended up with the Tuna Melt which was $7. The open faced sandwich came with chopped up pickled under the melted cheese.
The food was alright, nothing to rave about but the atmosphere was nice. Felt like you were at a neighborhood establishment where the locals came for easy food and a relaxing hangout spot.
2505 W Broadway
Where have they all gone? I grew up with one a block from my house and now the only ones I know of are in Kits and in Burnaby. I am on a pot pie hunt right now, so I had to take it back to my childhood and go to Swiss Chalet.
We sat down in an empty restaurant. The atmosphere felt very familiar to my childhood days. However, the table however smelt like dirty cloths, like the tables at the 24 hour pho spot on Broadway.
I ordered the pot pie ($9.50) and my buddy ordered the 1/4 chicken dinner with a poutine upgrade (just over ten bucks). The pie had a nice hearty filling, celery, peas, brocolli, and chicken. I quickly broke open my pie and spooned it on my fries. I love that crunchy combination. Overall, the meal was OK, nothing special, it brought back some memories but not enough that I need to go back any time soon.
They used to have a quarter chicken deal for $5.99 on Mondays but it is no longer in existence.
3204 W Broadway
Maybe I should have ordered the Shirley Temple.
This is my favorite Mexican Restaurant. Things have changed from their tiny hole in the wall restaurant up the street that they used to occupy a few years back. This space is bigger and a lot nicer, the and the tacos went from $1.50 to $2.00 each.
This place is very authentic, from the Spanish speaking staff, the Mexican clientele although more and more gringos have found out about this spot and the old Mexican men eating there that were checking out my latin friend. There are about eight home made salsas that you can choose from to flavour up your tacos and chips.
The menu has became a lot bigger and now folds out to be four pages. This time we ordered some soft tacos ($2.00 each - different flavours al pastor/carnitas/carne enchilada/longaniza), tacos dorados ($6 - three small deep fried tacos, filled with chicken and then covered with feta, sour cream and lettuce ), and tacos del mercado ($ 10 - two tender cactus, enchilada meat, avocado slices, beans on corn tortillas with cilantro and onion). Every item was really tasty, I am partial to the deep fried things so I love my taco dorados.
Overall, if you got a car and want to take a mission, go to Dona Cata for some authentic Mexican food at a decent price.
5076 Victoria Drive
http://www.donacata.com/ - not much on the website.