Some meals I enjoy more than others for a certain novelty factor. I think that’s the reason I love going out for breakfast or brunch, simply because I rarely have the time for it. Going out for lunch on a weekday is kind of unusual for me as well, considering I have school five days a week, work, and some extracurricular activities. Faced with weekends over-scheduled with studying and work, SB and I decided to have lunch on a Friday, at a spot near campus. I was craving Thai and so decided on Thai Terrace, a small restaurant near the intersection of Broadway and MacDonald, easily accessible through the 99 B-Line.
What drew me to Thai Terrace (in addition to my obvious love of Thai food) is the reasonably priced lunch specials. The lunch specials are all $8, and include an entree, side of rice, a salad, and a soup or a spring roll. That’s quite a reasonable price, especially considering the neighbourhood, so I was willing to give it a try.
So here’s the Salad that we both received as the start to our meals. It simply consisted of pieces of lettuce, julienned carrots, and corn. I’m not exactly sure what the dressing was, but it tasted strongly of apples, which I enjoyed. I generally enjoy salads as long as the ingredients seem fresh, and this was decent. The corn was a nice touch, and made it a bit more special than any old regular salad served at any old regular restaurant. Also, I thought that the little dish they served it in was adorable. Do the plates and cutlery really enhance your dining experience? Maybe not for some people…but I’ve probably inherited my mom’s love of plate ware.
As the second accompaniment to my meal, I chose the Soup. They didn’t specify exactly what kind of soup this was, but it tasted strongly of coconut milk and lemongrass. It was very thin and watery, and I would perhaps describe it as more of a broth than a soup. It tasted homey and was a comforting way to start the meal, although I would have appreciated more ingredients than the diced green onions and chunks of tofu that were included. The portion size is not bad–I ended up finishing maybe three quarters of the bowl.
For his entree, SB chose the Pad Num Man Hoi, with a choice of either chicken, beef, or tofu sauteed with oyster sauce over a bed of boiled broccoli and carrots. He thought that the chicken was sliced too thinly, perhaps to compensate for the ingredients not being perfectly fresh. Still, he was satisfied with the veggies, as the broccoli was crunchy, while the carrots were chewy. The oyster sauce was quite oily. The meal was also served with some rice and a spring roll, the alternative choice to the soup.
The spring roll was quite crispy, while the sauce was extremely sweet and syrupy. The rice was standard. I thought the portion size was a bit small, especially in comparison to my meal. After this, SB still downed two slices of pizza before he was satisfied (although he does have a big appetite). I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this option if you’re starving.
Meanwhile, I decided on the Pad Thai, as I usually do. Their version had the requisite fried rice noodles with egg, pressed tofu, bean sprouts, peanuts, with a choice of chicken, beef, tofu, or prawns for the protein. I opted for the prawns, of which there were maybe two…but what can you really expect for the price? The portion size was decent, but the noodles could have been chewier. I liked how it didn’t taste overwhelmingly of ketchup, as is often the case with inauthentic Thai food. The ingredients were all fine, with nothing being especially amiss, although the carrots had a strange texture and didn’t seem at all fresh. Overall, it was a decent pad thai, nothing outstanding, but fine for the price I paid. If Bob Likes Thai Food were closer to school, I would choose to go there in a heartbeat…but beggars can’t be choosers.
Overall, we weren’t incredibly impressed with our experience at Thai Terrace, but I wasn’t expecting much anyway. It’s more of a small, family-run place for those in the neighbourhood to get their Thai fix with polite, unobtrusive service, and fine for a quick lunch.
2872 West Broadway
Following our somewhat unsuccessful experience of Dine Out Vancouver at Catch 122, SB and I joined a larger group of friends for another Dine Out dinner, this time at Gramercy Grill in Kitsilano. We’d never been before, but the menu seemed decent, especially for $28, with a variety of different options. Plus, dinner with a large group is always exciting, and by virtue of our large group, we got to try most of the options on their Dine Out menu.
Their Dine Out menu also includes some smaller items that you can add on, including a Basket of Bread ($3). This includes French baguette and house made cornbread, with whipped butter. Sadly, on our visit, they were out of cornbread (and a lot of other things). The baguette was ordinary and I would personally have liked it to be served a bit warmer. It was good, as far as bread goes, and inexpensive for the amount we received, but nothing extraordinary.
Moving on to their actual Dine Out menu, SB tried the Trio of Oysters, which came with a classic cocktail sauce. I was a bit surprised when he ordered these, as SB isn’t normally a huge fan of oysters. Still, he felt that these oysters were up to par. They tasted authentic and fresh, but didn’t have an overpowering smell, which is the reason I avoid eating raw oysters if I can help it. The cocktail sauce was especially delicious, for some reason, being somewhat tart and spicy. I somehow ended up eating the leftover bread with the cocktail sauce as opposed to the butter.
I, meanwhile, opted for the Triple A Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio, which came with truffle aioli, crispy capers, and grana pardano cheese. The carpaccio itself was smooth, very thin, and melted in my mouth. It was rich and flavourful, and although I don’t normally enjoy capers, I didn’t mind them too much here. Also, there was a bit too much cheese for me, but overall, the dish simply worked. The beef was nicely complemented by the pieces of toasted baguette.
We also tried two salads: the Boccocini and Tomato Salad, and the Golden Beet Salad. The boccocini and tomato salad came with shaved onions, pepper pecorino, a balsamic reduction and extra virgin olive oil. There wasn’t too much reduction, and the onions were a nice addition to the salad. Overall, this was a successful salad. The golden beet salad, meanwhile, included candied walnuts, goat cheese, and apple cider vinaigrette. There was a predominantly sweet taste to the salad due to the walnuts and the vinaigrette. We liked the goat cheese, though, as it was nice and creamy. Overall, I liked how they chose to serve a variety of different appetizers, with nothing boring like a simple Caesar salad. Their appetizer options were creative and employed a variety of different ingredients.
And moving on to the entrees, David opted to add $4 for the Seared Duck Breast, which accompanied by a balsamic vinegar and orange reduction, parsnip puree, red wine jus, and seasonal vegetables (carrots and bok choy). He felt that the duck had a good amount of fat, and that the meat itself was quite tender. The parsnip puree, meanwhile, was creamy, while the reduction was a tad too sweet. However, he still thoroughly enjoyed his meal, and felt that the dish worked overall.
SB and Darek both decided to add $4 to have the New York Striploin, which was accompanied by green peppercorn cream, sour cream and chives mashed potatoes, and seasonal vegetables. Overall, it was quite enjoyable. They both ordered it medium rare. Although they both enjoyed their steaks overall, SB and Darek both commented that it could have been more flavourful. I personally thought that the steak was served a bit too cold, and it would have been beneficial to have included some gravy in order to enhance the flavours. The mashed potatoes were quite standard.
Meanwhile, Samson opted for the Veal Milanese, with red pepper, tomato and caper compote, pan fried nugget potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and red wine jus. The veal was very tender and moist. Samson personally felt that it could have been crispier, but that may have been because we took a while to eat. He found the sauce a bit too sour, but Samson was sufficiently impressed by the tenderness of the veal itself to care too much about the sauce.
Moving onto my own dinner…the dish that is officially part of their Dine Out menu is seared arctic char, but they gave us Seared Sablefish instead, as they ran out of arctic char. The fish was accompanied by horseradish and thyme vinaigrette, leeks, crushed nugget potatoes, and the veggies. I felt that the vinaigrette worked with the fish, but overpowered the veggies, especially the choy. The carrots were cooked just right, and were sweet but not overdone. The potatoes had a nice crust and were savoury and delicious. The fish itself, meanwhile, was what I expected from sablefish: buttery smooth and soft. Overall, I was satisfied with my dinner, although the portion size could have been larger.
Because of our large group, we also got to try a lot of their desserts, including the Lemon Tart, with berry coulis and whipped cream. It was nice and tart, with a flaky crust, and the burnt sugar was a nice touch. Personally, I felt that the presentation of the desserts were a bit haphazard, especially the whipped cream, but I suppose we should take into account that they were probably busier than usual due to Dine Out.
Meanwhile, I had my heart set on the Pecan Pie. My next-door neighbour always makes pecan pie and brings it over, so I wanted to see how her version would compare. This pecan pie was accompanied by cardamom caramel sauce and whipped cream. Although this version was tasty, being both savoury and sweet with a nice flaky crust, I couldn’t taste that much difference from my neighbour’s homemade version. I would have liked it if the pie was served a bit warmer. On the plus side, the pecans weren’t overwhelmingly sweet, and the caramel was not too thick.
Next up, we have the Warm Flourless Chocolate Torte, with caramel sauce and whipped cream. It was full of chocolate flavour, but would have been better with more caramel sauce. We liked how it was served warm, with just the right amount of sweetness. In addition to this, we also tried the last dessert option, which was Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee (for an extra $2). It was quite standard creme brulee, enjoyable, but unmemorable.
Overall, I liked our experience at Gramercy Grill. The service wasn’t spectacular, but our waiter was sufficiently informative and polite. The dishes, as a whole, were all well-executed, although the presentation could have been better. However, I did feel that my experience here was remarkably superior to Catch 122. Maybe someday I’ll return for the regular menu…
2685 Arbutus Street
Before you read this, a word of caution: this was the best meal I’ve had in the history of the blog. If this post ends up being very rambly, glowing, and overall uncharacteristically positive, I apologize. It’s simply because I had a really great dining experience here.
So the story goes that it was my birthday. I always get really excited for my birthday, which usually results in some kind of disappointment. This year I had a perfect birthday. It started with a lovely dinner with all my friends at Cardero’s Restaurant a week before the actual day. On the day itself, I went to the flea market with my mom in the morning, had lunch with her at Belgian Fries (review upcoming), and then dinner with SB at Fable.
I pass by Fable on the bus everyday on my way to and from school. Once called Fuel, then Refuel, the newest incarnation is called Fable. The restaurant has a classy yet cozy interior, and the tables are quite close together. I actually liked it that way because we were sandwiched between a hipster couple and a group of older couples, and the atmosphere was quite friendly and appreciative of the food. Also, the server was very accommodating and genuinely friendly.
For our appie, we shared the misleadingly named Spaghetti with Meatballs. It’s actually tagliatelle with a single duck meatball and parmesan foam. In one word, this was great. The meatball had bits of mushrooms and onions, with the mushrooms retaining their natural chewiness and adding texture. The meatball itself had a crispy exterior, with a prominent duck flavour that we both enjoyed. The noodles were very chewy, and tasted organic, handmade, and overall, fresh, while the parmesan foam meshed the ingredients together.
For his main, SB chose the Flat Iron Steak, which was served with black pepper jam, broccolini, and potato fondant. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare and tender, and the portion size was perfect. The steak itself was flavourful, and eating it together with the black pepper jam made it heaven. Yup, heaven. The black pepper jam tasted slightly oriental, with SB commenting that it reminded him of hoisin sauce. The potato fondant had a crispy exterior and perfectly uniform consistency. The broccolini tasted fresh, but was nothing special. At first, it didn’t appear to be a lot of food, but it actually turned out to be quite filling, even for SB, who I believe is capable of eating more than anybody else I know. As far as steak goes, this did not disappoint in the slightest.
As for me, there was duck on the menu, so of course I had to order it. In this case, it was the Duck Breast, served with scallion perogies, fiddleheads, and sauteed cauliflower. The duck was cooked perfectly, being juicy, chewy, and not too fatty. It was complimented very well by the perogies and cauliflower. Overall, I felt that the dish was unique, and the flavours were delicate but balanced each other out. The perogies were quite soft, while the cauliflower still retained some natural snap.
Lastly, we shared the Lemon Pot de Creme for dessert, since it was recommended to us by the server. This was served topped with lemon granita, gin foam, and tangerine slices. The granita was almost shockingly refreshing, but in a good way, with the smooth, silkiness of the dessert offsetting the strong, tangy citrus flavour nicely. The gin foam was mild and the tangerine slices tasted as you would expect, but the granita was the star of the dessert. We both enjoyed how this wasn’t overwhelmingly lemony or sweet, since we’re both not fans of really sweet desserts.
The two of us were really impressed by our dinner at Fable, with every aspect of it being nothing short of excellent: the food, the service, the ambiance, etc. Every dish we sampled was delicious, creative, and unique. Generally after meals, I have to pester SB to get the details on his food; this time, as soon as we stepped out of the restaurant, he forced me to whip out my notepad so he could rave about the food. And the great part is, the whole meal cost under $100 even after tip and tax, despite us having had both an appie, a dessert, and a drink in addition to our entrees. I definitely hope Fable sticks around for a long time and doesn’t end up becoming ReFable, or something. Yum.
1944 West 4th Avenue
One of my favourite things about being a student at UBC is…the simulating classes? Meeting a variety of different people from all over the world? The scenic campus? Well, all of these things, but most of all: the U-Pass. I love the carefreeness of not having to worry about FareSavers or DayPasses or whatever and simply boarding the SkyTrain or bus whenever I want to, wherever I want to, and just flashing that little blue piece of paper. Early in June I had to take a trip all the way to UBC (about an hour for me) to get my U-Pass, having been away in May. Since I was out in Kits, I decided to take advantage of the situation to visit one of the many restaurants on West 4th. Sam, Dolph and I weren’t in the mood for a whole meal, so we decided to jump off near Scoop!
I’ve personally never been into the froyo craze–Qoola is pretty much all I’ve had. Well, Scoop is a somewhat more rustic venue, with a variety of clearly labelled toppings you add yourself, and four possible flavours for your froyo itself: chocolate hazelnut, mango, green tea, and raspberry (in addition to plain frozen yogurt). The four flavours are created through blending plain froyo with flavoured syrup, which means that except the plain froyo, the aesthetic appeal is pretty lacking. Ah well. As you can see, there are a variety of different toppings, ranging from fruit to chocolate chips, and also a number of syrups for you to douse your froyo in. While I liked the variety of the toppings and the fact that you can add them yourself, I didn’t like how the containers appeared to have no lids. The area didn’t appear cooled, either. While my toppings tasted fine, I can imagine some will get stale since they’re left to the open air.
I decided on the Chocolate Hazelnut, with my toppings being strawberries, kiwis, honey graham granola bits, and dulce de leche syrup. Personally, I could taste very little of the chocolate or hazelnut flavour in the froyo itself–all I could taste was the addition of strawberries. Perhaps that’s my fault, but I do believe that the chocolate should have had a more pronounced flavour. I was satisfied with the fruit, though, since it seemed decently fresh, especially considering it’d been left in a lidless container for a while. I liked the textural contrast that the granola bits provided, and I could actually taste the dulce de leche syrup, which was a plus. I enjoyed my froyo, but for the lack of chocolate flavour I tasted, I might as well have had the plain version instead. For five dollars, I thought this was an alright deal considering the portion size and the location in Kitsilano. We all agreed that you could definitely get a fuller cup of froyo at Qoola for the same price. Personally, however, I think all froyo is quite overpriced–the prime example of that being Pinkberry, which SB persuaded me to try for the first time last week. (Six bucks for a small?? Are you kidding me?) Anyways, I digress. Moving on…
Sam’s cup consisted of the Raspberry, with mango, chocolate chips, kiwi, lychee jelly, mochi, dark chocolate syrup, and raspberry syrup. Drawing on our experiences at Qoola, she commented that the raspberry flavour could have been stronger, due to their method of simply blending raspberry syrup with plain froyo. Her toppings tasted fresh, although the mango was a tad sour (although that isn’t really the restaurant’s fault). She found that the mochi was less than adequate, being neither firm nor chewy enough (echoing Dolph’s sentiments from a previous visit). For Sam, like me, Scoop! didn’t prove a solid competitor to Qoola, especially considering the price difference.
And lastly, Dolph’s cup of Green Tea, with mochi, yogurt chips, mango, graham crackers, almond slices, and white chocolate syrup. Please excuse us for the photo of something partially eaten–Dolph sat down before Sam and I did and apparently couldn’t resist digging in? Unlike Sam and I, Dolph had previously been to Scoop! and commented that the mochi, like those on her previous visit, was limp and uninspiring. She found her toppings to be a little stale, and the price a little steep for what she got. Sam and I both sampled a little of her cup, and we found a stronger taste of green tea than the chocolate hazelnut and raspberry in our cups.
I do like the overall atmosphere of Scoop! The guy behind the counter seemed friendly enough, and it’s clear the owners gave some thought to the overall decor. It had an after school neighbourhood vibe, and there’s also a foosball table and board games available for your amusement. We didn’t touch the board games, however, as they seemed a little old and…well, we’re picky people. I personally am kind of a, um, germaphobe, and don’t relish the thought of touching games dribbled on with froyo. Although this definitely wasn’t a bad visit, I think in the end, the three of us definitely preferred the corporate cleanliness and value of Qoola. Guess this is why small businesses don’t last? …Although Scoop! (with its adorable name, sign, and that enthusiastic exclamation point) could definitely prove us wrong with a couple of improvements.
2050 West 4th Avenue
Let’s just say my summer English class has been a little…tedious. The readings are surprisingly interesting, but the prof? Not so much. So after our second-last class, Erin and I decided that we needed to celebrate the almost-end with a good meal during our break.
Although we had a few places in mind, we weren’t entirely sure where to go–so we hopped on the 99, got off at MacDonald Street and meandered around. Our friend Franki had mentioned liking Nuba (which happened to be on my list of places to go as well), so we ended up going there. Turns out we arrived just in time to catch the latter end of the lunch, which meant that we were only one of a few tables in the restaurant (but not a cheaper menu, just a less extensive one).
We were greeted warmly by our waitress, who promptly brought over two glasses of refreshing cucumber water to our patio table. Neither Erin nor I have eaten Lebanese food before, so we asked her if she could give us a recommendation. She deftly explained everything, and in the end, we ordered the La Feast, which was a two-course vegetarian sampler of their mezzes and salads.
Our first course arrived after a little wait, and we were presented with a platter of (clockwise from bottom) Baba Ghanooj, Pickled Cabbage and Hummus and Taboulleh, served with a side of pita bread. We thought that the Baba Ghanooj was a little on the bland side– honestly, I wouldn’t have been able tell that it was eggplant puree without the waitress’ explanation. It was unpleasant per say (I usually find my tongue feeling funny after eating eggplant), but it definitely could have used more flavour, as even the lemon juice didn’t help very much. The Pickled Cabbage was an interesting addition to the plate. Tasting more like beets than cabbage (it was pickled with beets, which explains the vibrant fuchsia), they were crunchy and only slightly sour. The remaining two samples were our favourites: even though we aren’t big on hummus in general, this Hummus was rather mild, and didn’t taste too much like garlic. It was just right, with a good balance of garlic, spice and lemon flavour. The Taboulleh, consisting of chopped parsley, quinoa, tomatoes and spices (including mint) was really refreshing and… green tasting. It certainly offered a different texture that complemented the goopier Baba Ghanooj and Hummus.
The remaining second course arrived while we were still working on the first, which meant our small table was a little on the cramped side. Served on a peculiar square donut plate (there’s a hole in the middle), there was a surprising amount of food for the money we paid. More on the plate, we found that it was pretty difficult to scoop some of the food without dropping food onto the table. It was definitely a very beautiful display, but it wasn’t very practical.
From left to right, there were several pieces of Garden Falafel, Eggplant Stew, and Mjadra. I forgot to take a picture of this, but the inside of the Falafel was a very vibrant green– probably due to the ingredients of fresh veggies, in addition to the usual ones of chickpeas and fava beans. These were deep fried to a lovely brown and crispy exterior, and went very well with the tahini sauce and tzatziki. Since this was my first time trying falafel, I can’t really say how it compares with others around town. I did like the greenness and the light spiciness of it, though. The Eggplant Stew was their current special, and was served over organic brown rice. Again, I couldn’t tell that the stew had eggplant in it, and had to ask the waitress what was in it a second time (to make sure I didn’t hear wrong). This was also lightly spiced, and was made with chickpeas, onions and tomatoes. The Mjadra was also a chickpea-and-lentil-based stew, made with a little bit of rice, jalapenos and onions, and topped off with a large chunk of avocado and a plethora of caramelized onions. The trend seems to be that everything here is very slightly spicy, and the Mjadra was no different. Erin commented that the onions and avocado completed the dish, and I definitely agree– each spoonful (rather, forkful) needed to have a good balance of the stew, avocado and onions, or else it would have been one-note, in terms of flavour and texture.
Now, for our favourite part of the meal (right to left): Najib’s Special and Fattoush Salad! Najib’s Special is described in the menu as crispy cauliflower tossed with lemon and sea salt, which to me didn’t sound as tasty as it actually was. The flash-fried cauliflower was browned nicely and maintained its texture and shape; coupled with the salty and tart seasoning, this made for a very delicious dish. We’d probably come back and order a plateful of this just to munch on, it was THAT good. The Fattoush Salad was made with the usual veggies like tomatoes, cucumber, carrots and other greens; there was also a good amount of chickpeas as well. We really liked the vinaigrette (also a lemony and salty sauce, like what the cauliflower was drizzled in) and the toasted garlic pita, which is their version of the crouton. The rest of the plate consisted of olives (which we didn’t eat, because we aren’t olive people), more pickled cabbage, and chunks of fresh feta cheese, which were very mildly flavoured (and not too salty).
In general, we had a very good time at Nuba– the waitresses were all very friendly and helpful, and we really appreciated their recommendations. Of course, there were only two other tables at the time, but I’d like to think that they would be that helpful when the restaurant was full, too. In terms of the space, the restaurant itself was very large, with an extensive bottom floor as well as a smaller second floor. The restaurant had a modern-Mediterranean vibe to it, made so by the dark wood columns, white walls, and teal and green decor. Prices here are quite reasonable for the portion size we got (we actually couldn’t finish everything)– the La Feast cost $30, and most of the entrees are under $15. Since this place is so close to school (around a 10 minute bus ride), I would definitely consider going again for a snack or even dinner, especially if I needed a change of pace from the usual fare of Subway or burgers!
3116 West Broadway
I think that as a university student, April is one of the most dreaded months of the year, just because of…finals. This term, my exam schedule was quite packed (April 13, 17, 18, 20), with all the stress concentrated in one week. Usually I’m more relaxed than my friends during exam period, but this time, I found myself quite nervous and panicky the whole time. Happily I found myself with somewhat of a break after my third exam on the morning of the 18th, so Sam, Jason, and I went for an early lunch at Aphrodite’s. (Appropriate since we’d just finished our Classical Studies exam!)
I pass Aphrodite’s most days of the year on my way to school, but this was my first visit. It was decorated in a rather kitschy and homey way, with handmade pinatas (creations of a local artist, according to a plaque on the wall) hanging from the ceiling (including the Lorax!) and mismatched furniture. We arrived a little before noon, and decided to order mainly off the brunch menu, as it seemed unlikely we’d visit at brunch time again, due to school and other obligations. Of course, we ordered a piece of pie to share as well (how could we not?).
Sam also ordered a Chai to start. She’d never had a chai before (what?!!), so at least we popped her chai cherry! I took a sip of it and it tasted like it should, spicy with a nice helping of cinnamon and a good level of foam. The overall impression I got from it was that it had been made with care (this was reflected in the other items we had as well).
I don’t remember the exact price, but I remember thinking it was a little on the high side. That being said, the prices here are generally on the higher side. This is due to their practice of using local, organic ingredients (especially in the pies), as well as their location in Kitsilano, generally known to be a more expensive neighbourhood.
Jason chose the Turkey Pot Pie, accompanied by greens. He found the portion size a little too small, as he was still a little hungry afterwards. The pie crust was nice and flaky, with sufficient chunks of moist turkey, potatoes, peas, carrots, and celery. We liked how the pieces of turkey were a good size (sometimes the turkey is barely noticeable in a turkey pot pie, but not here!). The filling had good flavour, and overall he enjoyed his dish, although he would have preferred a larger portion.
Sam, a known mushroom lover, predictably decided on the Wild Mushroom Quiche, which was served with the same accompaniment of greens as Jason’s pie. She enjoyed how light it tasted, as quiche can often be quite heavy. Like Jason, she found the portion size a bit small for the price she paid. The greens were nothing special, but the dressing was nice and nutty. Sam also commented that it would have been better if they served the salad on a separate dish, as the salad touched the hot plate and wilted a bit. She found the quiche, which consisted of shiitake mushrooms and spinach, to be a bit bland.
Since my fellow diners both chose savoury dishes, I went for something sweet in the Stuffed French Toast, which was served with maple syrup and fresh whipped cream. As expected, this was quite sweet, yet I managed to finish a respectably large percentage of it (well, for my standards…I’m notorious for leaving food on my plate). The toast itself was a little spongey, soft, and pleasingly warm. The cream cheese (which changes depending on the season–for us it was blueberry) was a little too overwhelmingly sour for my tastes. I know cream cheese is meant to be sour, but it was a little sour beyond expectations. Still, I think the ingredients worked well together. The whipped cream in particular was light and complimented the other ingredients nicely.
Lastly, we couldn’t leave Aphrodite’s without trying a piece of pie. Sam recommended the Blackberry Apple, which she’d tried on a previous, undocumented visit with Pickles. We chose to have it with vanilla ice cream. Turns out it was a good choice as the warm pie and the cool ice cream tasted great together. There was just the right amount of sugar, making it sweet but not too sweet. Jason remarked that the ice cream tasted very natural–the vanilla was not overdone but still present. Still, we would have preferred bigger pieces of blackberry, as we could only really make out the seeds. The pie crust was flaky and buttery, but not overly so. We also appreciated the cinnamon hearts–a cute, personal touch!
So my verdict on Aphrodite’s? The bill came to about $22 a person, which is generally a bit more than I care to spend on lunch (well, I usually don’t have dessert with lunch, I suppose). Despite the high prices, I felt that I enjoyed my meal, both the atmosphere and the food, and the service was efficient yet friendly. One of my concerns is that one of the waitresses had these incredibly long, painted nails. While I’m quite obsessed with nail polish myself, I prefer waitresses to keep their hands free of nail lacquer, as it seems a little less than sanitary. I suppose that’s just personal preference, though. I probably wouldn’t frequent Aphrodite’s as I do my other favourites (even if I lived in Kitsilano), but the pie definitely did not disappoint.
Aphrodite’s Organic Cafe and Pie Shop
3598 West 4th Avenue
Pickles has this joke that Sherman is my god. Who is Sherman, you ask? He’s the leading food blogger in Vancouver. I find that Sherman has a clear and enjoyable writing style, and also that he really does go on many “adventures”. His list of visited restaurants ranges in location from downtown Vancouver to Ladner to North Vancouver, from high-end fine dining establishments like Le Crocodile to cheap eats like Meat & Bread. He also seems quite comfortable with walking into a restaurant he’s never heard of before and enjoying a meal alone. Sadly I don’t share the same sense of adventure or spontaneity.
The only spontaneous meal I remember in the past couple months was to Romer’s Burger Bar on West 4th with Samantha. We happened to be walking down the street and complaining about how hungry we were (as I always am…)–and we just decided to grab a bite. I’d never been to Romer’s before, but I’d heard and read about it on various food blogs (including, of course, Sherman’s Food Adventures). Sam and I settled into our seats and ordered our burgers.
I decided on the So Cal Turkey Burger. I’m not a huge fan of turkey…in fact, I’m not really sure why I ordered this. Maybe it was my Californian roots–although I’m a Nor Cal girl through and through. The burger was comprised of a soft, spongy brioche bun enveloping a ground turkey patty, fresh avocado, tomatoes, onions, watercress, and a spicy mayo. I probably should have stuck with beef. The ground turkey patty was…mealy? Pickles, who’d visited Romer’s previously, had warned me against ordering a non-beef burger, and I should have listened to her advice. I would have preferred a turkey breast rather than the patty, which simply did not work texturally. That being said, I liked the other ingredients in the burger. The veggies and avocado all tasted fresh, and the brioche bun’s sponginess comfortingly reminded me of the buns at In-N-Out Burger from my beloved California.
Samantha wisely chose a beef burger in the Magic Mushroom Burger, featuring an Angus beef patty with portobello mushrooms, goat cheese, arugula, and caramelized onions. She commented that the patty was juicy, but oddly crumbly. Also, she enjoyed the addition of goat cheese, which added flavour, but that the arugula was too bitter and overwhelmed the other ingredients. Unlike me, she did not enjoy the brioche bun, being that it was too thick and a little too dry.
We shared a sider order of Sea Salt Fries, as the burgers here don’t come with any fries at all. We thought this was a decently sized portion for four dollars. Despite the name though, the fries were not very salty and even a little bland. Many of the fries were very short and, therefore, difficult to eat, being that they were too short to hold in one’s hand. Another problem I had with the fries is that the server provided no separate dish for the ketchup. It’s not a big deal that I had to squirt the ketchup on my plate, but it seemed odd that the waitress didn’t even acknowledge it. The fries, however, did come out hot and crispy.
So, Romer’s. As a final verdict, I didn’t enjoy my burger, although I guess I shouldn’t have strayed off the menu and ordered a non-beef one. Still, for $10 for just a burger, I would expect something a little more. Or at least include a side of fries with each burger! Our bill totalled to around thirty dollars after tax and tip. Although I suppose they were “good” burgers, I didn’t find them worth the price we paid. That being said, obviously Kitsilano is an expensive neighbourhood, and based on my reading of other food blogs, Romer’s has earned favourable reviews from many. Perhaps this was just one bad experience? If there’s a next time, I would definitely try a beef burger.
Service-wise, I was pretty impressed. The waitresses were friendly and efficient, and refilled our water many times. I liked the general ambiance of the restaurant, not at all snobby but still a clean and modern space. Maybe on our next visit we’ll try some of the other burgers and be more impressed!
Romer’s Burger Bar
1873 West 4th Avenue