Estea Beverage Club
Finding a good, well balanced menu between food and beverages in a place that specializes more on their liquids is often a problem that I encounter (most izakaya in Japan being the exception). Here in North America, I experience this phenomena primarily in bars, public houses, as well as in bubble tea shops. Located virtually across the street from Posh, Burnaby’s Estea Beverage Club has taken on this challenge of jacking up their food options despite being more of a drink-oriented place. Places like Pearl Fever Tea House come to mind when I think of BBT places that don’t serve any hot food at all.
Alas on this weekday evening when we were seated at one of the four-top tables along the east side of the space, nestled in tightly among many young Asian teenagers making me keenly feel the generation gap, I quickly decided to order one of their fruity slushies sans pearls. I’m not quite sure if its a trend but lately I’ve discovered that these ice cold drinks taste so much better when I have them inside, rather than when they are scooped up into a plastic to-go cup. This passionfruit slushie was no exception – sweet and silky smooth but a thicker consistency unlike those terrible liquidy 7-11 Slurpees. I am quite sure they make this from fresh juices as it had none of that awful powdery consistency hidden inside. Aside from a pair of horrific head rushes the deep cold of the drink gave me, I really enjoyed it!
Clearly unoriginal, but the chicken nuggets was just pleading with me to order them and so I did. Evenly spiced and with a good crispy exterior coating, these bite-sized morsels of chicken were okay. It did take a while for it to come out from the kitchen and by the time they were plopped down on my table by the disinterested waitress, they did seem a touch cold. Had they been sitting there for a while, or where they a pre-made batch that they were just hanging onto back there in the hidden cooking area? I guess I’ll never know.
Placed across from me was my dining partner’s plate of a sweet sauce glazed deep fried pork cutlet. As with my meal, it came with a side of some uninteresting and bland tasting steamed vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, carrot) and rice. Sampling a piece or two, I felt that the well-crisped cutlet has been nullified by the sauce that caused it to get soggy by the time it came to our table. Its little thing like this, giving the diner the option of how much and when, to put on any sauces that could be detrimental to the temperature or texture of the main part of the plate if applied too much/too early, that I really think are important.
As noted, Estea seemed to have a very specific clientele, and one in which I don’t quite fit. It seemed to more of a place to hang out, either groups of high school aged girls all sharing their stories (on the case of one group, distributing gifts from what seemed to be a return from a trip to Hong Kong) or young couples out on dates. I suppose the attempt at creating a chic environment might have something to do with it, but I would hope that they would do something abou the training of their service staff (hailing down one to get the bill was also a challenge!). I won’t be back to dine-in, but might come back for a take away slushie (just hoping I can break my jinx).
It seems my quest to get a good meal to accompany my drinks (alcoholic or otherwise) in a drink-heavy establishment is still a work in progress…