Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Vancouver: The Italian Kitchen

it is only what it is 
The Italian Kitchen, yet another eatery brought to you by the Glowbal Group

The space is CRAMPED (seriously poor seating arrangement; ahem powers-that-be, please revisit this so you don't squeeze people in corners and then create an obstacle course for them when they try and exit).

It's also  loud and dark, especially since the place is more family friendly. I would cater to that crowd, but Glowbal wants a larger reach. 

Service is BASIC because while our server was pleasant enough, he wasn't present. He just went through the motions of his job and didn't bother to do anything outside his duties. The sister chirped her two cents that I should take into account that my bar may be set higher. Well, that's a given and I don't lower it because I've seen other restaurants meets it time and time again. If it can be done by one, it can be done by anyone. 

This waiter did the bare minimum of what his job entails which means five years from now, he'll still be where he is today. Moving along since there's no need to belabour the point - The food was good. It's exactly what you expect and it's easy on the wallet.

Pasta platter for 3 ($20 per person)
The truffle pasta was the clear favourite for the sister, but we know the scent of truffle unilaterally shifts the scale in a good direction.
Momma GG loved the lamb and sausage bolognese. Momma GG doesn't like lamb which is why I didn't tell her. Shhh, our secret.
The meatballs were my favourite - moist, meaty and delicious.
The beet and (sparse) arugula salad:

The brussel sprouts were heavy on the salt:

But overall, decent food. It's economical, efficient and filling. Probably one of the more commonly visited Glowbal eateries and I can kind of see why.

Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Vancouver: Alibi Room

modern family

Alibi reminds me of something I'd find on Ossington. It's a pub-and-a-half...the half being hipster chic. They call themselves a Modern Tavern. I actually think that's the perfect way to describe it. They are exactly what they purport to be. I like that - no surprises.

My international sister Cracker and I wanted some booze with a side of eats so I picked Alibi Room. I had tried to go a month ago with a friend but it was a 30 minute line-up and we were too thirsty to wait. 

The weekend Cracker and I went it was still early enough to get seated. Alibi has long communal tables and there's something easy about it. You just feel like you can pull up a chair, kick up your feet and hang out for an hour or so.

About 10 minutes into our visit we got hungry. We shared the burger which Cracker said was "the best burger" according to someone somewhere on the www. Well now, let's not just go throwing things around - it was good but it was far from "the best".

It takes a lot more than a wellmade burger for this belly to call best.
I like Alibi Room - it's the kind of place everyone will like. Easy, chill, unpretentious with a serious number of beers on tap and a solid selection of other drinks. 

This is the kind of place a girl like me calls a good night out.

Alibi Room on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Vancouver: Chewies Steam & Oyster Bar

oysters can save you
:Coal Harbour:

The location in Kits is an institution. People love it. To be clear, when I say Chewies, I'm referring to the new location in Coal Harbour.

I'm hoping it's just experiencing some growing pains. It's still new and still under construction (the patio). But the interior is complete and it looks great:

New Orleans chic
Again, in the interest of transparency - at this time I do not endorse the food. And on that note, I'll close off that discussion with a lil' show and tell:

Cajun Chili Prawns
This is what $15.50 gets you. But Happy Hour is 50 percent off. Even then...
what's the first thing that comes to mind when you look at the plate? 
Nothing. I feel nothing. It's lifeless.

So why am I here? Because oyster lovers help other oyster lovers. If you love slurping these delectable treats, there are a few places in the city for buck a shuck and some are better than others. I love Joe Fortes' happy hour, but it gets busy. Chewies takes reservations and their oysters are just as easy to slurp:

$1 for 1 oyster. Balanced budget, balanced diet.

Chewies Steam & Oyster Bar - Coal Harbour on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 12, 2014

Vancouver: Greenhorn Espresso Bar

neighbourhood delight
:West End:

I completely agree with my neighbours - this is exactly what the neighbourhood needed. The West End is my favourite hood in downtown Vancouver. The streets are beautiful and there's a sense of community but there's a lack of local joints for the community. Sure Davie Street cuts through, and then there's Denman on one end, but not much in the heart of the area.

Then opened Greenhorn. It reminds me of the sister's local cafe around the corner from her old place in the Plateau in Montreal. But it lacked sincerity. It's not Greenhorn's fault - I think it's the patrons. The majority of the people who popped in while I was there are Vanhips. A term I use to describe the undefinable group of locals who are on the extreme Vancity end - hipster-esque individuals who critique coffee to the nth degree, demand gluten free and think they live in the best place in Canada even though they've never lived anywhere else. Sorry Vancouver...I do love you, but sometimes it's hard when you throw your chia seeds and Birkenstocks in my face.

All that said, I have tunnel vision - so I appreciated only what I liked. Greenhorn is a stylish and carefree kind of cafe. I loved the interior and the warm neighbourhood service.

Large paper roll menus - LOVE!
And yes, they dish out a good cup of coffee. It's rich and softly bitter:

My macchiato
The flavour of the crema wasn't the best...but it was still good.
They also serve a small but inspired menu, but much like Medina - it's a specific craving rather than an open ended book. I generally prefer open book eating, but adding options to my ever growing repertoire of places to eat in my hood is never a bad thing.

Because nothing on the brunch menu appealed I opted for a single waffle with a side of homemade yogurt. A $5 morning treat.
I'm happy to have met Greenhorn, and I look forward to my second visit.

Greenhorn Espresso Cafe on Urbanspoon

Vancouver: Ask for Luigi

screw Paulie, tell them GG sent you

Because of my blog, I get a lot of "have you heard of __________", "have you eaten at __________". Now you can fill in the blank with whatever you want, but for the past month, it's been "Ask for Luigi". I read about it, I heard about it, and then the sister and her friends Raulie and Taro were talking about it. Hype can hurt you, but in the case of this restaurant - it didn't even factor. Sure it has limited seating, and yes it's on the cusp of DTES, but if you can't manage a challenge then you're not very resourceful are you.

So with my visitor in town last weekend, I thought it would be a great place for brunch. And you know what? It was. 

My buddy and I got a table as soon as we arrived. There seemed to be a wait when we left, but they turn tables over quickly so it's not a huge impediment. Service is responsive and good. The menu is casual but explorative enough for you to find something to appease your appetite. 

Our meal was solid on all fronts - well seasoned, well executed and well, damn good. I can't complain, neither could my company.

Tagliatelle alla carbonara & a poached egg
Beautiful isn't it...
Pork belly with a fried egg, salsa verde and creamy polenta
The polenta was indeed very creamy.
The pork belly was crisp on the outside and tender and meaty otherwise.
Bonus points for serving me a proper panna cotta (this is not as easy as you might think).

Beautiful to boot.
It's a lively venue with a simple premise - Italian-inspired food (specializing in fresh handmade pasta for dinner and artisanal dried pasta for lunch). If you're looking for an easy place to dine that's worth your dime...Ask for Luigi. The story behind the name is cute enough - read here and then enjoy. 

Hearty & heavenly.
Ask for Luigi on Urbanspoon