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