Uptown Espresso & Bakery
525 Queen Anne Ave N
Mon-Thu 5am – 10pm, Fri 5am – 11pm, Sat 6am – 11pm, Sun 6am – 10pm
I’ve come to discover that one of the best things of having a base in Vancouver is its close proximity to the United States and a decent sized city that is very much like the one in B.C. In less than three hours, you can be in Seattle, and have a chance to explore new sights and places to eat and drink, and still be able to get home and sleep in your own bed. Can’t say I could do the same living in two major centers in Alberta like I did over the years.
First stop after arriving in town was at a breakfast place, where we got on the waiting list – to be written about later. We then walked down the street for some morning caffeine. It was close and convenient, no pre-planning in effect. A shame I know, given that Seattle is reputed to be a great coffee town.
1888 W Broadway
I think it was Vancouver Slop that first wrote about and caught my attention about this little business on West Broadway, along with various bits of positive chatter on other food forums. Again, much like Clubhouse, it sure doesn’t have a lot going for it as far as curb appeal goes. There are days when I’m looking for just some simple, budget priced sushi, which has led me to duck into numerous nondescript spots just to try and uncover a gem. For the most part, I’ve taken way to many hits for the team and have come away disappointed in many a sushi place in Vancouver. So while my interest was up along with my expectations, I tried to keep them tempered in case I was in for another let down…
Now I think I’ve heard rumors of a new management although they have kept everything the same. I think I’d heard a Japanese couple used to own this place, but no longer judging by the other Asian language I heard being spoke by the sole female server and the man behind the sushi bar. After perusing the menu booklet laden with photos, my dining partner and I elected to go with various nigiri sushi and a roll. The latter was something dubbed a Crunch Roll, covered on the outside by tempura bits. Texturally it was surely different. I had one piece, and since I’m not a regular maki eater, I’ll leave my comments just at that.
2310 4 St SW
This is going back a short little while but I was in southern Alberta just as the Royals were visiting and the city was gearing up for the Stampede. Hectic times to be sure and the weather was cooperating (although I’ve heard its become cooler since I was in town). It made for a few social outings, including this visit to a seemingly popular wine spot/lounge/restaurant on busy 4th street called the Vin Room. As it was already around 7pm by the time we arrived, and the 2nd floor patio was full of people aside from a row at the narrow counter directly facing the street until a booth opened up, that’s where our night began. Here’s my view.
In hand was a glass of the 2009 Schug Sauvignon Blanc (Sonoma, United States). Whenever I drink wine or beer, I like to start things off light and this variety hit the spot with its bright and lively flavours. I’m no oenophile but I’m sure others would enjoy this refreshing wine as well. The wines-by-the-glass service they had here must have included at least over sixty types, broken up in their listings by various taste profiles, perfect for easy selection. The food menu was noted as being complementary of the wines as well, although by the time we had a few rounds, our minds began wandering elsewhere on this street to get our eat on, and we ended up not ordering a single food dish.
Clubhouse Japanese Restaurant
255 W 2nd Avenue
Taking a clean cut approach here, going picture-less of the actual food as photos were not taken, and solely relying on a cropped image from Google Earth of the restaurant’s exterior.
Following an alcohol-centered gathering (to be written about at a later time after I collect all my thoughts), a post-event meal was had at this surprisingly satisfying little Japanese restaurant with an odd sounding name – Clubhouse. Mixed in among a row of commercial buildings along the busy 2nd Avenue corridor, its easy to pass by without so much as giving this place a second look, so it was fortunate we were on foot. Frankly, I’d seen it before but hadn’t really thought about trying it out, but a member of our posse suggested I’d be amused at how good it was, and with that we popped inside.
Immediately coming in from the slowly fading daylight into a darker room with a wooden motif which was clearly dated, it felt more like some kind of random pub. In fact, I’d guess it probably was used as that kind of space in the past and not much had been done with the interior since. But low and behold, a few of the tables were occupied despite it being later in the evening, a good sign. With just a little bit of room left in our bellies, our food choices were simple. Mine turned out to be a small plate of their deep fried and fresh baby octopus. Little tender morsel, body and legs intact together. Nicely done and lightly seasoned. And not a greasy mess either. Just the way I prefer it.
Dairy Lane Cafe
319 19 St NW
Nestled on a quiet street situated close to a residential neighborhood (from what I could see behind the parking lot of the building where the car I arrived in was parked), the Dairy Lane Cafe was our choice for an impromptu lunch just ahead of the madness which is the start of Stampede. As such, I was quite surprised to find a packed inside seating area, as well as all the available spots being taken up on the uncovered tables situated on the sidewalk in front of the building.
It didn’t seem like it was anywhere near any walk up traffic from the office worker crowd, but yet still busy at the noon hour. Scanning the relaxed attire of those eating already, it was clear to me that this was a casual, homey spot for clean honest grub for those who might more often than not, just live around the corner – some younger ladies who seemed to be out for a bite to eat with their girlfriends, to some guys who obviously fell into the hipster genre given their tight fitting attire and attitude, as well as strangely enough, some rougher dressed fellows who if I were to assume from the paint on their overalls, were some tradesmen on break for something to eat while on the day job.
The spot came recommended by locals and was described to me as a throwback to simpler times and with operators very keen on the whole “produced local” attitude, and knowing where their ingredients came from. The space was not very large inside and staffed seemingly by just two busy servers. Some large framed pictures hung on the wall reminded me of a by-gone era in rural Alberta, catching my eye enough to snap a photo myself. If I were to compare the looks and feel of this place to anywhere in Vancouver, I would say something like Aphrodite’s Organic Cafe & Pie Shop in Kits comes to mind.
740 Denman Street
Total visits over the years to this west end ramen-ya is about five for me personally. I hadn’t taken the time to properly put up a post yet since foodosophy started, but recently I had the opportunity to meet with a visiting out-of-town friend and he suggested that we go there for some ramen, so I was happy to oblige one more time. With the sister flagship business of Kintaro closed for the day (though peaking into the windows there, the staff was busy prepping soup stock and I could see bundles of noodles laid out on plates on the main counter), there was no need to juggle our choice. I am well aware both have their fans and detractors, and to each his/her own. For yours truly, after double dipping in both outlets of Daiji Mastubara’s ramen empire over the years, I’ve come to prefer the newer sister for its lighter broths and flavor combinations.
Much has been said already about the more refined and visually appealing setup in this location compared to the one just down the street. In an image conscious city like Vancouver, I find it somewhat fitting that the usually dour and bare bones design of a noodle shop has been upgraded at Motomachi Shokudo. On a first time visit, the differences are really noticeable, despite it being a relatively small dining area, with a few tables (including a communal one) and a bar counter to eat at. Clientele wise, I see more females and people apparently on dates here than one would normally associate with a ramen-ya. Stretching this impression to Japan, where its almost unfathomable to see a single woman eating by herself in such a place due to societal and cultural taboos, its even all the more “odd” to see here.
Calgary Court Restaurant
119 2 Ave SE
[Note: I had a "brain fart" and posted this incorrectly and prematurely earlier today, sorry folks! Reminder to self not to blog after a night of too much wine.]
With the typical “over a hundred choices” kind of menu booklet you can find in places like this (a Hong Kong cafe), which covers off various subsections such as rice, noodles, beef, chicken, vegetables, etc., its always a chore to decide what to eat. I suggest sharing (if you’re in a group) that way you can sample everything and not be limited to what can end up becoming a single monotonous dish in terms of flavors and textures. Having said that, sadly, I usually end up ordering pretty much the same types of dishes. To change things up this time, I allowed my trusted dining companion to order for us.
Looking to have just a very light meal given the time of night, other than some simple steamed Gai Lan, a dish that I’ve frankly never heard of before, let alone tried, was our main. How do I describe this? Well, I was told it was a baked rice dish with a breaded and deep fried chicken cutlet, and topped with lemons and a thick layer of cheese. A monster of a dish! Almost casserole or baked lasagna in appearance. Frankly, I was shocked. Never had a I really associated Chinese food with such bright color cheese. As I scooped out my first spoonful, I had no idea what to expect…