Save on Meats – Vancouver, BC


Save on Meats
43 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 569-3568

Early adopters, supporters  and enthusiasts of many things in our grande old world are an interesting lot.  Its safe to say they love being in on the ground level, before things really take off and get established in the mainstream.  Often at the cost of being scorned or mocked for their fervent adoration for whatever it may be that strikes their fancy as others cannot yet understand why, and for which they are often stringently dedicated to defending.  Places to eat certainly fall among those categories where fanatics make themselves known, but then when their beloved spot gets popular, they are filled with mixed feelings.  Part glad that their views are vindicated, but also saddened that their special place will now be flooded with those catching the word-of-mouth and covered in public sources of media.

The previous incarnation of Save on Meats and today’s refurbished edition are an interesting pair to compare.  Suffice it to say, the new edition is a lot more “user friendly” to say those folks who are hesitant to venture to this part of downtown east, especially once you get in through the front door.  The decor has a definitively retro slant, complete with adornments such as the old school candy dispenser and juke box situated near the main entrance’s waiting area.  Even the signage has the decades-old look and feel to them, that might remind the older generation of days gone by, but are clearly with the styling of an era that is beyond my early days on this planet earth.

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Fraser Park Restaurant – Burnaby, BC


Fraser Park Restaurant
4663 Byrne Road
Burnaby, BC
(604) 433-7605

I’ve now had five separate meals at this surprisingly popular establishment (considering its location!) and felt it was time to weigh in with a post to join the multitude that exist about it when I look at the listing on Urbanspoon.  Meals during the morning breakfast hours as well as closer to the noon lunch time service have given me a good sense of what can be had here (with a sampling of some photos below).  And to sum it up simply, its a lot!  Portion sizes are truly on the generous size.  Perhaps fitting for the hard labour, blue collar working folks who I see frequenting the establishment often, mixed in with some people who obviously don’t work in the industrial businesses that populate this stretch of Byrne Road but are here simply for a hearty meal.

Through the regular menu items and the daily specials, a few have stood out for me in terms of the excitement upon ordering them, having them brought out in front of me so my eyes could understand what I was in for, and then of course the tasting of each dish.   I’ve sheepishly mentioned this place around to various people in my circles and have even brought some of them with me to eat.  The look on their faces when we pull into the parking lot says it all, its the last place they thought I’d bring them too.  Thankfully the food saves me each and every time.  As I’ve never had any complaints walking out about their disappointment with any of the meals.

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Steveston Cafe – Richmond, BC


Steveston Cafe
12111 3rd Avenue
Richmond, BC
(604) 277-9511

An early morning visit to Steveston village precipitated the need to indulge in that classic weekend jump start – bad coffee and breakie in a greasy spoon – as we were in dire need of some sustenance and were tired of driving and walking around.  Just another random stop resulting in a brief foodosophy posting, I swear if not for the sake of filling up space on this blog, I’d probably never step foot into them. 🙂

Situated across the street from the relic buildings of an old cannery and a museum featuring the same, as well as a pub next door, the Steveston Cafe is a definitive example of a small town breakfast joint.  Nothing extravagant on the outside, and indoors, full of young families, and older folks who are probably on some kind of fixed income support and appreciate the low prices of diners like this.

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Joe’s Atlantic Grill – Port Moody, BC


Joe’s Atlantic Grill
2410 St. John’s Street
Port Moody, BC
(604) 931-8765

Unfamiliar town.  No map.  One main street.

Sounds like a perfect recipe for either a wonderful random discovery or a tremendous let down.  “Wonder what it will be this time” I thought, after we parked the car and did a quick walk along St. John’s Street.  Passing by the Caribbean-flavoured Rehanah’s Roti, spotting the Filipino Rosario and seeing a ubiquitous Japanese restaurant during our stroll, we quickly nixed the ethnic options for something a little more closer to home.

As we came to Joe’s Atlantic Grill that resides in an older building in this part of Port Moody, on what seems to be the major thoroughfare that cuts through this community, we scanned inside as well as the posted menu by their door and figured it couldn’t hurt.  Some late-morning grub/early lunch was what we wanted and it seemed safe enough.

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Fremont Diner – Sonoma, CA


Fremont Diner (The Fremont)
2660 Fremont Drive
Sonoma, CA 95476
(707) 938-7370

For me, the term “diner” conjures up images of neon, white and black checkered tile, red leather stools, wise cracking waitresses, and greasy spoon food of questionable origin. In reality, these days, good food can be found anywhere. Lunch counters, strip malls, and of course, diners.

Fremont Diner is best described as a “slow food” diner. Ingredients all locally sourced. Time, attention, and care is paid to every aspect of every dish. This is not what you would consider your average “diner”.

Located on Highway 12/121 that cuts through Napa Valley and Sonoma, Fremont Diner is actually easy to miss. You could drive by it every day and barely notice the understated sign, the rusting truck out front, and the gas station diner appearance.

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Mon Mom’s Cafe – New Westminster, BC


Mon Mom’s Cafe
821 12th St
New Westminster, BC
(604) 524-2088

On the quick and easy breakfast trail in New Westminster, I chanced upon Mon Mom’s Cafe located along 12st Street. Situated in a wooden building reminiscent of structures popular from an earlier era, it certainly has its charms and nostalgic sidewalk appeal. The slow pace of things on the road outside took a turn as I stepped inside the place which was full of chatter and customers. The sounds and smells of a breakfast diner never fail to disappoint me.

With breakfast plate offerings (eggs, toast, ham/sausage, French toast/pancakes) in the $4 to $4.75 range, and omelets in the $5 to $6 range, great value can be had. Preferring French toast over pancakes, I ordered one of the choices from the top half of the menu and sat back to take in the scene. Families, groups of working class men, single diners taking up the smaller tables near the front window, it was all a regular mix of common folk out for a relaxing morning meal.

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Helen’s Grill & Restaurant – Vancouver, BC


Helen’s Grill & Restaurant
4102 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 874-4413

Despite being called “the most important meal of the day”, I often find myself skipping breakfast and making due with a cup or two of coffee in the morning.  I applaud those that make the effort to start their day with a hearty meal instead of doing without, or just wolfing down whatever last night’s dinner leftovers might be lying around.  On weekdays, I just can’t gather the energy to make breakfast, and even on weekends, despite the luxury of more time, its not one of my favorite things to do from a food perspective.

Also, is it just me or is it getting harder and harder to find a local joint that serves up a quality, satisfying breakfast service, AND at a reasonable price?  Just my opinion but I get the sense that too many places are trying to “get with the times” and make this part of the day more “fancy” than is ever needed.  Which in turn, results in one plate breakfasts breaking the ten dollar and over barrier, which is something I can’t fathom.  To me, some eggs, potato hash, bacon/sausage and some toast should (or at least I wish) hover around less than half that.

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