Friday, October 26, 2012

Vancouver: La Brasserie

merci danka
:West End:

It was my sister's birthday on Tuesday.  Her friends, Leroy and Taro, took her out for dinner and I tagged along.  La Brasserie is a quaint French-German restaurant owned by two brothers.  The menu has duck confit and wiener schnitzel, steak frites and schupfnudel.

Quaint really is the right word to describe this 35-seat venue of cozy wooden seating and dim lighting.

Service was okay.  I'm tempted to say it was sub-standard but no one else seemed to mind.  If I'm in the minority, I can accept that perhaps I am more demanding than the company I keep.

The starters were great - we had fresh oysters, truffle poutine and warm olives and nuts.  I like warm nuts.  But I didn't even notice them, Leroy did.  He must like his nuts warm too...which is a good thing otherwise we wouldn't have ordered them.

House bread - oysters - truffle poutine
No nuts.  We ate them before I could snap them.
Taro had the best dish of the night.  I'm inclined to say it's La Brasserie's star.  Every restaurant has one - their winningest dish if you will:

The most amazing rotisserie chicken.
The chicken was spectacular.  It comes with an amazing confit garlic jus on a bed of braised red cabbage.  A must order.

Leroy had the steak onglet which he said was "good".  Now if he hadn't prefaced that by telling us about some of his recent meals, I might take that as is.  But after the enthusiasm he used to describe his other meals, I feel like "good" is less.  You see if you were to ask him to tell you about Zen's benny, things go from "good" to a very animated description fit with gesticulating hands and a drooling audience.  See why "good" is likely "alright".

My sister had the burger, which was indeed alright.

I had the mussels and fries.  They didn't make any top ten lists but there was nothing wrong with them. Then again they must have been forgettable because it seems I failed to take a photo of them.

This meal was just another example of the fact that in restaurants, it only takes one winning player to fill the seats.  I just didn't think it would be chicken.  It's one of my least favourite meats because I find it picket fence - basic and bland.  I don't mind being wrong, and in the case of La Brasserie's chicken, I really, really was.

La Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Vancouver: Six Acres

i see plaid

I've only been in Vancouver a short while now and it seems like there are different fashion circles here than there (i.e. Toronto).  I don't see as many hipsters.  I do see a lot of guys with beards and/or staches sporting the whole disheveled hair thing, but instead of pairing all that with skinny and/or rolled/cropped jeans/pants, they're wearing loose Ts and plaid.  What is that called?  I suppose labels aren't necessary, it's more me sharing a random observation.

I saw a whole gang of these guys at Six Acres.  The crowd was mixed in that there were several random cute couples, a group of business co-workers, and a handful of annoyingly loud Hunter-boot wearing Asians. (I being Asian can call them annoying.  It's kettle black).  

From the outside looking in, it seems like a random pub that serves baseline eats.  Never judge when you're on the outs.  It's worth knowing what they're serving because it is beyond pub eats.  It's really good.  

The menu is bound in old children's books.  The menu items themselves are sharing plates. This all makes for a cozy place to hang in good company:

House fries $5.75
Drizzled with homemade ketchup and aioli
Classic sliders $10.75 plus cheese (always plus cheese)
Juicy organic beef, tomato, butter lettuce, onion jam, aioli and homemade ketchup
Easy on the wallet, amazing on the palate, gone from the plate.

Six Acres on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Vancouver: Goldies

pizza fix

I'm job hunting.  Actually that's inaccurate.  Hunting implies I'm pursuing a living entity.  Maybe I should coin the phrase, I'm job gathering and boss hunting.  Perhaps I should start a fire in my cave later, it's surprisingly cold here in Vancouver.

I took a break in search of food, and to stretch my legs. Looking for work can be demoralizing and exhausting, but pizza fixes all.  So I found myself walking to Gastown to visit Goldies.  My sister has not stopped talking about this place, and she's the quiet one?!?  I figured there must be something there.

It doesn't stick out.  In fact, I completely missed the takeout window.  But it was cold so I opted to sit inside.

I had a slice of Hawaiian.  Then a slice of Mushroom Lovers.  Then Pepperoni.

That is correct.  I ate three slices.

The pizza is pretty phenomenal.  The thin crust is perfect and the toppings are all in harmony.  It really is "'carefully crafted pizzas'".

I'm a big fan.  I was also a fan of the price and the service.

I think that means I'll be back.  Likely tomorrow before the afternoon harvest.

Sidebar: The pizza is discounted between 2:30 and 4:30 Monday to Thursdays.

Goldies Pizza on Urbanspoon

Vancouver: Fritz European Fry House

french fries are like hugs

It's no secret I love fries.  Well, potatoes more generally, but especially this deep-fried variety.

I miss Montreal poo-tin like crazy.  
 miss Toronto's dirrtttyyy fry trucks.  
It might be safe to say I miss food as much as I miss my people.

I can't very well replace my Toronto friends, but I can replace food.  Then I could use that food to replace my feelings...I think that's funny.  I know my friends back home are rolling their eyes.

I was successful in finding the perfect french fry.  My sister took me to Fritz last week.  Then I went again this weekend. I tried to go today, but they don't open until 4:30 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

It's obvious I just can't get enough of these:

That's mango-chutney dip.  Now it was described to me as "AMAZING".
I thought it was okay.  It's like mayo with curry.
Fritz's fries are fryer-fresh, piping hot, crispy, well-salted, and delicious.  It tastes amazing whether you're tall, short, female, male, drunk, sober, rich, poor...THAT is the the joy of the french fry.  Universal.

Fritz's poutine - although they use mozzarella as opposed to proper curds - is still deliciously passable.  They have a long list of dips - very reminescent of Pomme in NYC.  

Prices are reasonable and service is great.  They give it to you the way you want it - to eat as you walk, to eat at home, to eat there.  If there's a line-up, as there likely is in the weehours, it's quick.  Don't get discouraged.

I love this place.

Fritz European Fry House on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 22, 2012

Vancouver: Shanghai River

someone give me a lifeboat


Yelpers and Urbanspooners love it.  The blogs I follow love it.  My sister likes it.  Her friends do too.  I figured it was a sure bet for dinner with my ma.

It's polite and clean.  The anticipation was killing me, especially since you can see them prep the soup dumplings - xio long bow

They arrived and after my first bite I was confused.  I did not love it.  While the flavour of the dumplings was good, the soup was swimming with huge chunks of pork crud and grease.  Now, I've had a lot of XLB in my life and I've never seen it look quite so cloudy and grimy.  The skin itself was super thick and chewy.  I remain confused.

This was my mother's first XLB and I regret taking her because she did not enjoy it.  Now it will take persuasion and bribery to get her to go eat it again.  My mother does not agree with my philosophy about trying everything at least twice.  If she doesn't like it, she avoids it.


We did, however, love our other two dishes:

Mapu tofu - creamy tofu, tons of flavour, and nice kick

Shanghai soup noodles - nice broth and full of greens
I know I am in the minority about this one.  All the people I trust and all the bloggers I follow love the XLB I really don't know what to say.   Perhaps it was a bad batch.  I warrant it happens.  I will give it another go.  I just hope that doesn't send me down the river...without a paddle.

Shanghai River 滬江海派料理 on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Vancouver: Samurai Japanese

the way of the sushi
:West End:

Hi.  I'm still here.  Well, technically that 'here' meant Toronto.  That's no longer the case.  It's been about two weeks since I returned to Beautiful British Columbia, and it really is beautiful, between the rain.  I am doing my utmost to post, but am facing a five-tonne load of responsibilities.  Consequently, there will be some adjustment pains until I fully get my barrings.  I'm excited to be here and can't wait to eat, eat, eat.

This was my first meal out because I took a necessary lunch break between unpacking and moving furniture to meet my sister.

Now, we west coasters know that at a minimum, sushi in Vancouver is sushi.  It's alright and affordable.  Samurai is no different.  I would say it's like they say - best bang for your buck.

It's an easy drop-in restaurant that serves bountiful portions.  The menu is simple and straightforward - just like the food.

Sashimi appetizer $4
I forgot how fat and plump BC sashimi can

My all-time favourite: negi toro

Their bento lunch special is $8.
Economically tasty and filling.
The service is friendly and quick.  It's not a place I would bring my parents, but I would definitely drop in for a solo lunch or even a quick dinner with a friend.

Samurai Japanese on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Toronto: Harbour Sixty Steak House

girl meets steak
:Harbour Street:

I have an intense and passionate relationship with steak. I love it.

What's a girl to do then when her time is up and she hasn't tried all the steakhouses.  Simple, she turns to her friends to help her narrow down the field.

Sidebar: Of the ones I have tried, I loved House of Chan.  I like Ruth's Chris  and I enjoy  mainstream joints like the Keg and Canyon Creek.  I'm not a fan of Morton's or Le Biftheque.

My shortlist was Jacobs, Ruby Watch Co, Barberians and Harbour Sixty.  I surveyed 100 Facebook friends and Harbour Sixty won the majority by 1 vote, Barberians was second and Jacobs was third.  I nixed the latter since most people raved about the table caesar.  Greens are secondary to me.

Minnie and I headed to Harbour Sixty on my Final Friday (in Toronto), and it couldn't have been a more perfect finale.  I'd go back for an encore if I could.

It was one of the best meals I've had - starting with the impeccable service.  Comfortable, not stiff; polite, not awkward; attentive, not over-bearing; and professional, not pretentious.

It was classic steakhouse sides and perfectly made-to-order steak in a classy but relaxed venue.

I feel the tears brewing as I reminisce.  I'll take a moment while you reflect on this:

Golden Beet Salad $15
Seared Ahi Tuna $20
Rib-eye bone-out

A little something sweet to cap off the gluttony:

And finally, coffee.  The beauty of this layout captures everything I loved about the meal.  It's always about the details.  It's not just a cappuccino, it's presentation.

 A beautiful goodbye to the big, big city.

Harbour Sixty Steak House on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Toronto: Boehmer

one saving grace

It was supposed to be a fantastic threesome night out, but The Scotsman got stuck at work. So Cracker and I headed to Ossington without him for our final Toronto hoorah. It was a cold night but that didn't stop us from freezing our derriers since we couldn't decide between Union, Delux, and Boehmer.  The latter won simply because it was the only one both Cracker and I hadn't tried.

Long story short: Boehmer's service failed at every instance.  But the delicious entrees saved it enough to make it blogworthy.

Want the short story long?  Read on.

Service was clearly a reflection of inexperienced staff.  That's good for the restaurant because it's fix-able with some direction and constructive criticism.  Our  particular server failed to take away the wine glass from our very cramped table when I said I wasn't drinking. We selected our three choices for the Harvest Menu only to be told that our item was no longer available.  We finished ordering only to have her return five minutes later to tell us one of the mains was no longer available.  Advising the customer that a menu item is no longer available post-decision is bad service. It should not happen -- much less twice.  Adding insult to injury, the food took longer than necessary.

I was hangry by the time the Harvest Plate arrived, but that didn't influence how I felt about it.  It was elementary - nothing spectacular about it.  Had they had our original choices, I might be singing a different tune.

The white crostinis were good - crisp and chewy. 

But again, in the end, the mains were good enough to raise Boehmer above the above:

BC Black Cod $29 - creamy and delicate.
Grilled Hangar Steak $26 - well seasoned, perfectly cooked and surprisingly easy to chew.

A side of delectable lobster mash (though a touch too salty.)
and some of the best kale I've had.

I would go back, but Boehmer's off the Ossington short list.
Boehmer on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 15, 2012

Toronto: 7 Numbers

door number 7
:The Danforth:
Kickass Italian on The Danforth?  I would never have known if it wasn't for my Chef-y buddy.  I trust his recommendations because he's never done me wrong.  So I took to 7 Numbers for a quick weekday dinner.  It was busy, a little loud, a little dark, but a whole lot of wonderful.  A fantastic family owned neighbourhood restaurant.  The food was simple, rustic, homecooked Italian.  They give you an iPad to peruse the daily menu, as well as their extensive wine list.  The menu gets uploaded around 5 pm each day.

Generous portions
My dinner company and I loved our dishes.  In fact, their meatballs rivaled my longtime favourite at Gio's.

Keep in mind they don't take reservations for parties less than 6. 

This was a bittersweet meal.  I only discovered it days before I moved, but at least I did.

7 Numbers on Urbanspoon

Toronto: Guu Izakaya


This is the first of the last of my Toronto posts.  But not to worry, when one chapter closes, a new one must be written. 

For now, gew on this.  I thought it fitting to visit the first Toronto Guu before I head back to origins of Guu.  I liked the Sakabar, and the Izakaya was comparable.  Of course you should know I go to Guu for the cocktails, not the food.

The same thing that annoys  me about all Guus annoyed me - the incessant yelling - but that's no one's fault, I just happen to be more grandma than I look.

My three buddies and I knew better so we went at 6:00 pm.  Great timing, a minute wait and then our insane meal began.  I think we ordered one of everything, including the deluxe size almond tofu.  Here's a random sample of our meal, enjoy, don't forget to wipe the drool:
Ebi mayo
Scallop wrapped in bacon
Unagi rice

THE BEST - baked oyster

Fried brie
All in all it was good.  Not everything was amazing, but nothing is horrible.  We might have overdosed on the fried items and the risk in doing so is that everything starts to taste the same.  Again, VanGuu > TOGuu...I suppose it's a good thing I'm going TO > Van

We shared the giant size amond tofu - surprisingly yummy.  I don't usually like tofu desserts, but the almond flavour was subtle and the texture of the tofu was heavenly.

Guu Izakaya on Urbanspoon