Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Vancouver: Portland Craft

poorly crafted
:Main Street:

It was one-half of the High5ing Duo's birthday. So I joined my sister and her friends to celebrate.  Portland Craft held a lot of promise - cute menu of under $5, over $5 and over $10.  Those are great price points for American tapas-like dishes.  The resto says it's inspired by the Portland food scene...sorry, I'm not familiar.  I've never been there and in fairness, I don't know much about it. Of course I do know Portland has a great shopping scene...but we're eating here, not buying.

I didn't really dig it. And there were actually two things I didn't like at all.

The "chartucerie" and the "doughnuts".  I'm air quoting here because this is not a charcuterie plate.

Bad salami, bad cheese, terribly sour green beans and grapes, and some sort of pickled fruit.  
Separately bad. Together even worse.
The doughnuts were filled with rose-flavoured whipped cream. Foamy, milky cream does not go with beignet-style batter.  Especially rose cream. Rose?  I don't like strongly scented foliage in my house, why would I want it in my face.

Again separately bad. Together even worse.
Other than those two things, the other dishes were okay. It works for a casual night out, but not a dinner. The food are more snacks, and really run secondary to their extensive beer selection. That, they got right.

Of course, Chloe's pa would disagree with me.  He was loving 'put a bird on it' aka the chicken and waffles. So much so, he ordered seconds.  That is serious love. Me? I thought the waffle was too flat, and the fried chicken was okay.  But then again, I'm coming from THIS to that. I judge chicken and waffles on three things. First, you must have amazing stand alone fried chicken. Like finger lickin' lip smackin' good fried chicken. Two, you must have fluffy waffles with a nice crisp shell to stand up to the grease, syrup and gravy, and lastly, you must have quality maple syrup with a kick. Portland's missed the mark on all three, but then again, I respect Chloe's pa's food-buds - he's one bad ass cook.  So you go be the tie breaker.

Now that you know all that, you can go. Get some beers, some fries, and the pig and pots - pork belly - can't go wrong with pork belly. It's naturally delicious.

Portland Craft on Urbanspoon

Vancouver: Meat & Bread

happy & full

My sister has been on a mission to get me here. Why? Because she thought I'd like it.

I did.  I loved it in fact. Communal tables in a NYC West Village feel spot. Relaxed, unpretentious, and loft-like. Just like Revolver.

The bread tastes better than it looks. It looked like a regular ciabatta bun, but it's not. Perfectly light and crisp on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside. Stuffed with porchetta and pesto amazingness:

Seriously, a fantastic sandwich and house-made mustard. Together, that's love on a wooden slab.  I could get in on this every week. Porchetta is fatty so every day would just be crazy...wouldn't it?

This is on my list or regulars and recommendations. Hard list to get on, but Meat & Bread did.  My ex-roomie, Chef Psy would be all over this.

Meat & Bread on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Vancouver: Juno Sushi

ho hum

We ate:
Age-dashi tofu $5
Chicken Kara-age $7.50
Kabocha Croquette $7.50
Which of the above were over-priced and not very good? Answer? 

All of the above. 

A valuable lesson. Modesty in food parallels modesty in humans. If you're truly awesome, you never say you are; if you do, you're overcompensating because you're not. "BEST SELLER!" "BEST IN TOWN"...I think not.

I did like the dynamite roll. It was better than average.

As a sidebar I have to say something about the ebi mayo, even though I have (for the most part) left my many negative comments to myself.  This was a huge let down because I would really prefer it if people would leave classics alone.  Only a certain amount of liberty should be allowed with things that are innately good. Only be creative if you're positive you are making it better. Juno's version did not. Please. You're ruining it.

Ebi no no

Juno Vancouver Sushi Bistro on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 25, 2013

Vancouver: Cartems Donuterie

i think i'm in love

Sunshine! That's what I woke up to yesterday. Beautiful days in Vancouver make me forget Toronto for a minute.

To make up for the doughnut fail that was my birthday, my sister took me to Cartems yesterday. (Note: Their website reminds me of Doughnut Plant's old site.) 

Cartems is on a terrible corner.  I mean really. The location alone limits when you might make the trek there. For me, it would be between 10 am and 3 pm. That is my universal safety zone for sketchy hoods.

We got there at 1 pm, and the two doughnuts I wanted to try were sold out: the earl gray and the maple bacon.

So we settled on vanilla bean:

sweet vanilla glaze, fluffy and airy texture and DELICIOUS
and citrus glaze:

light cake-like texture, citrus glaze and DELICIOUS
My sister got a bite of each and then I ate them both. I f*cking love doughnuts.  There is no classy way to say that. 

Cartems is by far the best I ever ate in Vancity.

Cartems Donuterie on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Vancouver: Revolver

the c spot

Revolver has the look and feel of NYC. The designers who did Revolver, also did Meat & Bread. And I love the vibe of both - no colours - just white and natural materials - exposed brick, steel, wood, etc. It's very, very urban chill.

Service is with a smile and a love of coffee. I mean really, you can't get better than that. They serve high quality beans, which carries over to the price. It's steep, but for those days you want to treat yourself - their's will hit the spot.

Proof that coffee is a science.
The cappuccino I had was delicious. It was balanced, rich but not sharp and came with a cute heart. I'm a sucker for barista art:

49 times better than 49th.

Revolver on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 15, 2013

Vancouver: Skoah


I'm on a mission - refresh your memory here.

My dear, dear friend Aerie got me a gift certificate to Skoah. She knows me too well. I miss her. I kept thinking how nice it would be if we had both gotten facials today and then headed to Flying Pig for dinner. Didn't happen. Sadface.

Skoah reminds me a lot of Pure + Simple. They're on the same mission: quality facials at a good price point without skimping on attention and skill. They also both have their own products.

You may think I'm biased because I LOVE PURE + SIMPLE.  I proudly do. It's an eight year relationship that I'm not willing to let go of. They are THAT awesome. Amy is THAT awesome. But until they open here - WHICH THEY REALLY SHOULD - I have very few choices. And I'm thinking....Skoah is likely the best.

Service was fantastic from the moment I emailed about an appointment, to the moment I walked in.  My facial was also quite relaxing and effective. My skin is ah-glow.

Personally, I didn't like my particular skin specialist. And I knew it before we even started. The fact I've had more than 70 facials in my lifetime, makes it easy for me to read them. I knew she was going to be lacking, and she did.  She was mediocre at best. Her massage was just short of being good, which made it more annoying. She could have also been more diligent about analyzing my face and state something beyond the OBVIOUS, but the WORST part - she sells hard. If you remember, I don't like being sold. Skin products generally sell themselves. Not to mention you should really READ your customer and decide if she's the type you should pushing product onto.  I read pretty easy. Don't sell to me. 

That said, I've booked in for another one because it's the closest thing to Pure + Simple I've found so far. But I've requested someone else. Listen, no one's going to fill Amy's shoes - they're GINORMOUS shoes to fill - but someone is going to make me smile from face to toe :)

Report on Skoah

Location: Yaletown
Interior: Minimalist, bright, simple
Ideally For: A place to take yourself
Service: Facials only
Price: $70 to $150
Duration: 45 minutes to an hour plus
Details: Fitskin and Facialicious are their signatures (facial plus a side of massage)
Bonus: Beautiful smelling products and lotions
Comments: Not all skin specialists are the same - some are too much try.

Final Grade: B

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Vancouver: Kingyo Izakaya

since 2006

Hearts entwined and love letters
Unnecessary money spent on obscenely priced flowers
Or a nice bottle of wine
A book and some quiet time
Because I am my best valentine

When's the last time I wrote up a dumb ass poem? I think it was when I first started blogging. Poetry is much like art - it is if you call it so, doesn't matter what anybody else thinks.I must have had waaaayyyy too much sugar for breakfast.

I wish I had a warm and fuzzy valentine post, but I don't.  I'm not a big valentine's day girl - single or attached. I am single right now. I choose to be. And I'm blessed that my married friends are the most amazing - not once have they ever given me a sympathetic look, or a 'there there, it will happen for you' talk.  I swear if they did, I wouldn't be friends with them. Because all of that, is not me - and they know it too well.  I say what will be, will be.  You'll see ;)

You know what they should have, izakaya day. February 14 should be the day you take your favourite company to your favourite izakaya and celebrate the cocktails and food in all its itty bitty bite size glory.  Yes, let's call today, izakaya day. I revel in drawing relationships between completely unrelated and irrelevant things :)

Our family has wanted to try Kingyo for sometime. Not for dinner, but for lunch. They serve these limited edition bento boxes. Limited because they only sell X number and then they sell out. We never managed to get there.

Then I forgot all about it, because that's usually what happens. At any given time I have 25 places on my mind. That's a lot for someone of my stature.

But Kingyo is now in Toronto. So a few friends kept singing its praises. Granted, some of these friends are show-foodies - the kind that graze on gossip versus real foodies who live in the underbelly of all food - upstream, downstream and inbetween.  

East coast Kingyo is doing really well, but I do prefer to go to the beginning - where things started and lucky for me, that's right on Denman.

My sister and I arrived on Sunday ready to eat.  And after just five dishes and a cocktail, we were actually full. Rare for an izakaya.

Service is good, and it's not as loud and obnoxious as Guu or Hapa.  I loved the main table at the front - there's this huge long grassy knoll that separates those eating on one side, to the strangers eating on the other.  It's functional decor.

The drinks are true to izakaya style - serious and delicious:

Pom Mojito
The dishes were well-presented - beautifully plated, saucy design, and deliciously inviting.

Negitoro sushi - so good my sister and I fought over the last one. We ended up tearing it into two.

The pressed salmon and avocado sushi was beautiful and ridiculously good. So complex with so much going on, but tasted simply AMAZING.

How can you not order the "Our famous invincible and undefeated tan-tan noodles". You can't, so we did. Better than "those ramen places" if you ask me. The pork bone and shrimp broth was nice and rich, lightly creamy with a nice kick.

Every dish was good - except the ebi mayo. It was just okay. Not crisp and I could have done without the limp iceberg lettuce. 

If you're wondering what my favourite izakaya is? You just need to look right ---->

In case you're lazy - it's Gyoza King.

Kingyo Izakaya 金魚居酒屋 on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Vancouver: 49th Parallel + Lucky's Doughnuts

context can mean everything
:Main Street:

49th Parallel is pretty awesome.  The coffee shop that is.  I loved the vibe and the ambiance.  It's perfect for a catch up cappuccino with your girls, a quick coffee run with your sister, an afternoon tea with your mom, a solo chill out with a doughnut and a book, and even an awkward date latte with some guy your friends want you to meet.  It's  the perfect urban oasis for anything - good or bad.

The coffee is just okay.  It's how you get it that sells here.

Coffee + Doughnut = $4

49th also has doughnuts:

So I had my second Lucky's doughnut. If you're wondering why you're just hearing about 

it now it's because I took a bite and threw it out.

It was my birthday. My sister knows I am a doughnut monster.  

It was a terrible birthday present.

This time I ate it all, but as a doughnut connoisseur (which I TOTALLY am), I found it umimpressive.  Fancy flavours, unique looking, smells amazing, but tastes alright. It's disappointing in the grand scheme of things. Doughnuts are my everything so I keep hearing I should go to Cartems.  My people are convinced it won't let me down.  Let's hope so. I don't want to face another bad doughnut.

49th Parallel Roasters Café on Urbanspoon

Lucky's Doughnuts on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Vancouver: Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck

bitchin kitchen
:Streets of Vancouver - Sunday afternoon at Robson + Howe:

I got there just as they were taking the last of their orders. They make a mean grilled cheese - nice flaptop grill, buttery, cheesey.  But don't go on a weekend.

Monday to Friday they have daily specials of handcrafted grilled cheeses for about $9. Weekends they have mom's classic which comes to about $8 (I realize the Urbanspoon menu says $5.50, which begs the statement - holy jacked up prices). Mom's classic is just cheese, anything else is more $. So it makes sense to stick to the specials - they're interesting and you get value.

Mom's classic is good. Pick your bread (white, sourdough, multigrain, marbled rye), your cheese (cheddar, havarti, pepperjack, provolone, swiss):

They don't skimp on the cheese - ooey, gooey, bountiful goodness. But it's still more than I would pay for a truck grilled cheese.

Although surprise, as I picked up my sandwich, there it was, potato chips. 

Chips, grilled cheese and a really good pickle.  I'm semi-sold.  It's the price.  Truck food should be cheaper.

Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 11, 2013

Vancouver: The Parlour

culture club

The more I try to avoid Yaletown, the more I find myself there. In fairness, it's not me - it's the food.

Friday night of the first Family Day weekend calls for drinks, food, and fun. That's exactly what we got at The Parlour

It was a wait for a table but the entertaining bartender made it fly by. He got an A for effort. Some cocktails tasted better than others. The Perfect Lady was the best, but oh-so -dangerous. You could easily knock back ten.  But don't, Parlour is a classy joint. Well, half class, half not. It's hard to describe the other half, but it's your basic watering hole. You're going to get a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and you won't like it all. But the great music does a good job of bridging it all together.

It's stylish, but relaxed. The food is pretty simple - modern crafted comfort. The menu is cheeky - Deez Nuts, pizzas called Zeus, The Dirty, and the two we tried - Wake and Bake and Goldmember.

An open kitchen with a large pizza oven and a free flowing layout so you can get from one end to the other without saying "excuse me" about a half a dozen times.

Meatballs $11
Good without the bun. The bun did nothing for the balls.
Salmon tartare $14
Steelhead with bonito, ponzu aioli, nuts, and micro cilantro
Great combination, especially on the croustinis which were really, really good
Wake and Bake $17
tomato, proscuitto, easy egg, basil and mozza
Goldmember $17
I will go back for this pizza, again and again
yukon gold potatoes, mushrooms, caramelized onions and truffle oil
Vino, yummy pizza, and a handful of girls - recipe for a great night. I would go back, but just for the Goldmember. $17 a pizza is a lot, so it better be damn good. And of everything we ate, only the Goldmember was.

Good night, goodnight.
The Parlour on Urbanspoon