Vancouver Foodster

As part of VanFoodster’s collaboration with Tourism Vancouver, Richard presents his neighbourhood Brunch Crawl series for Dine Out Vancouver. This past weekend, we were invited to experience some of the finest restaurants on Commercial Drive.

Our check-in location was Federico’s Supper Club, a long time restaurant on the Drive, offering up authentic Italian cuisine complete with live dancing and entertainment almost nightly.

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Federico’s offered a selection of small bites for their Brunch Crawl menu, along with an optional wine pairing. Admittedly, drinking 4 glasses of wine at 10:00am in the morning is a bit early for me.. but what the heck, it’s the weekend!

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From left to right:

  • Crostino con Uova di Quaglia e Proscuitto (quail egg & prosciutto crostino)
    Wine pairing: Prosecco Mionetto
  • Arancini con Percorino saffron risotto ball, Pecorino Romano
    Wine pairing: Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Gris VQA
  • Crostino al Pesto di Noci, Gorgonzola e Pera (walnut pesto crostino with gorgonzola and pear)
    Wine pairing: Tormaresca Aglianico Trentangeli
  • Crostino di Polenta, Speck e Gruyere (grilled polenta with speck and gruyere)
    Wine pairing: Mission Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon VQA

Just across the street was Fratelli’s Bakery – if this place isn’t pastry heaven, I don’t know what is.

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Fratelli has actually been on Commercial Drive for 20 years, baking Vancouver’s best Italian pastries. Say hello to glass display cases packed with scrumptious bars and squares and pies and tarts of every flavour imaginable.

They also have a second location in Sapperton, New Westminster.

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We were treated a cute package of four items:

  • Espresso almond biscotti dipped in chocolate
  • Mini chocolate salted caramel cupcake
  • Silician cannoli
  • Nutella macaron

The Nutella macaron was my favourite, though the Silician cannoli is a popular favourite as well.

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Next, we visited The Drive Coffee Bar, a European style coffee bar with beautiful wood finishing, artwork lining its walls, and a delicious selection of pastries.

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Here, we opted for a Lavender London Fog (on the left) and a Salted Caramel Cappuccino (on the right). This was a welcome treat in the midst of the cold rainy/snowy weather we’ve been experiencing in Vancouver.

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Vegan cafe Eternal Abundance is a bit of a hidden gem on Commercial Drive, and is both a full-service store and a community gathering space. It operates almost as a one-stop shop, where you could grab a healthy, organic lunch, pick up all your groceries, and perhaps a few delicious vegan treats along the way.

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From Eternal Abundance, we sampled some flax crackers with sunflower cheeze, a kale caesar salad, and a vegan pad thai.

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Our last stop was a tucked away, nondescript nook called Cabrito Tapas, serving Spanish tapas on Commercial Drive. I love the unique painting and artwork on the walls, with intimate seating. For those of you looking to make special Valentine’s Day plans, this would be a lovely option!

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Here, we opted for a Mushroom Benny, with a poached egg, marinated mushrooms, roasted potatoes, and hollandaise sauce, served with bread and salad.

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And with Dine Out Vancouver all wrapped up with their festival, the Commercial Drive Brunch Crawl is a lovely finale to Vancouver Foodster’s Brunch Crawl series.

For his next event, stay tuned for Pizza Palooza, to taste all the best pizzas in Vancouver. Get your tickets here: Vancouver Foodster!

Tasting Plates – Kitsilano West

Following Vancouver Foodster’s adventure in Downtown South, September’s Tasting Plates explores Kitsilano West. The restaurants featured are Essentia Cafe, Bon Macaron, The Juicery Co, Tera V Burger, and Darby’s Public House and Liquor Store.

My first stop after picking up my Tasting Plates card, was Darby’s Public House, a local and independent establishment that has been part of the Kitsilano community for over 30 years. I had the pleasure of tasting a Mini Broadway Burger, Smoked Chicken Drumette and Quinoa Salad. The mini size of the burger was perfect for Tasting Plates, but I could see myself ordering the full size one when I return.

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Next was The Juicery Co, a family-run organic cold pressed juice and nut mylk shop. Owner and co-founder Christina was super friendly and more than happy to share her story and knowledge of juicing with us. Thanks Christina!

I sampled the Local Rose Juice, The Original, and Dads Juice, all with a combination of 4-7 different fruits and vegetables. Christina warned us that it may be overwhelming for those who don’t eat fruits and veggies regularly, but I thought the three juices were absolutely delicious. The Mini Acai Bowl would be great in the morning as breakfast – frozen Acai blended with raw cococa, maca, homemade nut mylk, frozen banana, topped with gluten free granola and fresh banana. Terrible photo below (sorry), but so tasty!

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Essentia Cafe is a bright, quaint spot offering European-style cafe. Their tasting cups included a Freddo Cappuccino, which is an iced version of cappuccino with a thick layer of cold whipped milk, and a Con pana, a popular Italian single-shot espresso served hot with whipped cream.

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As for tasting plates, I was treated to a wonderful pumpkin cheesecake, and a mango shortcake. I am always a sucker for anything mango, but this pumpkin cheesecake came a close second! I would definitely recommend trying it out if you have the chance to visit Essentia Cafe.

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Tera V Burger prides itself on being more than just a restaurant, but a movement to be beneficial to the planet, and mankind. Their menu is all vegetarian, but satisfies your cravings with burgers like the No Bull Burger, and the BBQ Tempeh Burger. Their potato fries are baked, but fried, for a healthy yet delicious indulgence. Not pictured (because I finished it too quickly… oops) is the Super Food Smoothie, with kale, spinach, carrots, banana, strawberry, blueberry, and touch of honey.

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A visit to Bon Macaron is a sweet visit indeed, especially as the last place of Tasting Plates. Co-owner David Boetti handpicked three flavours of macarons for me – (from left to right) Lemon Poppyseed, Oreo, and White Chocolate & Wasabi. The last one, White Chocolate & Wasabi, actually tastes like wasabi. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself!

Their macarons are beautifully crafted, with an inventive and constantly changing and expanding array of flavours. Some of the most creative ones I saw were White Truffle Sea Salt, Bacon, and Bubble Gum.

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And that wraps up Tasting Plates in Kitsilano! As always, thank you to Richard of Vancouver Foodster for inviting us on this tantalizing adventure for our tastebuds.

The next Vancouver Foodster event is Food Talks, Volume 13 on October 27, at Sage Restaurant at UBC. Get your tickets here: Eventbrite Food Talks Volume 13.

Tasting Plates: Cambie Village

Tasting Plates is a self-guided roving tour that allows you to explore select restaurants and establishments of a certain area. This allows you to try small, but tasty offerings from multiple places, so you can discover which ones you like and want to come back to visit! On Wednesday, the feature area for June’s Tasting Plates was Cambie Village. Thanks to Richard of Vancouver Foodster, I had the opportunity to check it out!

The first time I did was pick up my Map Card and menu from registration at U & I Thai. Since it was super packed inside U & I Thai, and I could visit the restaurants in any order I chose, I figured I’d walk across the street to try Pronto’s tasting plates first!

Pronto is an authentic Italian place offering traditional dishes, such as handmade pastas, pizza, and slow-roasted porchetta. If you haven’t been before,the porchetta is always a fantastic choice.

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To start off my night, I had this watermelon and strawberry margarita – so lovely! It was hot out too, so this was the perfect drink to cool off. Next time I’m at Pronto, I’ll be trying out their housemade sangria!

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From left to right:

Gorgonzola crostini with walnut pesto: I quite enjoyed this. The gorgonzola wasn’t too strong or overpowering, and the aromatic walnut flavour was really nice.

Old-world Roman meatball with pomodoro & parmesan: Oh yes, now this is what I call a meatball. Fresh marinara sauce and a tender, juicy inside… plus the parmesan was just the cheese on the meatball. If you know what I mean.

Baked polenta with wild mushroom ragu: The polenta was a great carrier for the mushroom ragu, because it was a mushroom party in my mouth. I didn’t even know Pronto had this on their menu.. meaning another potential meal choice next time I’m here!

Our next stop was Las Tortas, a hole-in-the-wall-esque place with limited seating inside. Their paper bag ordering style allows you to choose whatever you want, with add-ons such as house made potato chips, Mexican salad, daily soup, drinks, or desserts.

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Once we were inside, we were greeted very warmly and handed two cups of Horchata, a sweet cinnamon vanilla, milk, and rice drink. I appreciated the balance of cinnamon in vanilla in this one, but found this one is a little sweeter than some other Horchata’s that I’ve had before. I’m not complaining though 🙂 DSC07316 edit

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What happens when you cross a tamal with a taco? You get a Tamataco! With slow roasted pulled pork Tamal, chipotle slaw, topped with pico de gallo and served on a corn tortilla. It doesn’t look that attractive, I’ll admit, but it’s a tasty one!

At this point, it looked like the line at U & I Thai had died down a bit, so I figured I’d hop back over to try their tasting plates. Seriously, all the restaurants within walkable distance? So awesome.

DSC07338 editFrom left to right:

Green curry with chicken and rice noodles (ka nom jeen gang keaw wan): This was hot! As someone who can’t really handle heat, I still couldn’t resist dipping the rice noodles in for that punch of flavour. Thank goodness for the rice noodles to help cool it down.

U & I Thai Fish Taco with Thai sauce: The crisply battered White Basa fish was fat and juicy, especially with the peanuts, carrots and cabbage. The taco shell, however, seemed a bit tough – I would have preferred a softer taco shell to contrast the crispiness of the fish.

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And it was time for a touch of dessert! We popped over to Rain or Shine, their new location on Cambie. I have been to their location on West 4th a few times before, but not this one yet, as they just opened in April of this year. Their homemade ice cream uses local, natural, and fresh ingredients – I love that because of this, their seasonal flavours are always changing!

Blueberry Balsamic (top): I really really enjoyed this one, with the berry compote, and the waffle cone pieces on top added the right amount of crunch. It felt like a summer celebration on your tastebuds.

Coconut chocolate chunk with vegan chocolate sauce: Now, normally I don’t opt for non-dairy or vegan options, so this was new for me. Nonetheless, it was surprisingly delicious with vegan chocolate sauce as well. I could see this being a go-to flavour for people who are vegan or who enjoy vegan food.

Our next Tasting Plates was a little further down Cambie, closer to Cambie and Broadway behind the Home Depot, at EdgeCeptional Catering & The Edge Cafe.

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There was a bit of a wait at this one despite the cafe being relatively quiet. When our tasting plates arrived, I found out why: they ran out of their seafood chowder! I’m a big fan of chowders so this was sad to hear.. but I guess it means I’ll have to find an excuse to come back.

Signature #FabulousButterChicken: First of all, I love that all their dishes have their own hashtag. This #FabulousButterChicken was fabulous indeed, with a slow cooked, creamy butter sauce, steamed basmati rice, fresh cilantro, and naan bread.

Artisan #PestoChickenSandwich: I had a cute little bite for mine, which was perfect for my already-full stomach. This sandwich has juicy vine-ripened tomato, swiss cheese, rich basil pesto on French baguette. I would love to try a full one for lunch one day.

House Made #KillerChocolateChipCookie: I took this one home at the end of the night, and tried it afterwards. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, so the Edge was right… you really can’t eat just one. It was perfectly chewy with right amount of chocolate.

Last but not least, our final stop was at Solly’s Bagels!

DSC07402 editSolly’s Bagelry is a Jewish bakery and deli with a variety of fresh baked Jewish goods, with 3 stores in Vancouver: Main & 24th, Broadway & Macdonald, and this one at Yukon & 7th. When you walk in, it has such a homey feeling, like you are sitting at your kitchen table at home with your family.

DSC07409 editMy my, just take a look at this platter! I didn’t know where to begin, there were so many!

There were 4 Sweet bites: Cheese Danish, Apple Honey Roguleh, Solly’s Cinnamon bun, and Solly’s Chocolate Babka, as well as 5 Savoury bites: Mini Potato Knish, Feta Cheese Boureka, Lavash, Mini Sesame Bagel, and West Coast Wild Sockeye Lox ‘Shmear’. 

One of my personal favourites was the Mini Potato Knish – this one was freshly baked and was still piping hot. The potato was warm and soft – a little bit like eating chocolate chip cookies that have just come out of the oven. The Mini Sesame Bagel had more than enough Sesame seeds, which I definitely appreciated. The Chocolate Babka was another favourite – soft, chewy, with just the right amount of chocolate flavour.

Fantastic night with Tasting Plates

Fantastic night with Tasting Plates

By this point at the end of the night, I was stuffed. I definitely appreciated having smaller or mini sized portions, because I was able to taste and sample so many different flavours. For anyone who’s looking to try out Tasting Plates, I would definitely recommend bringing along a Ziploc bag or Tupperware to take home any leftovers. Unless you have a bottomless stomach, you probably will have some to take home!

The next Tasting Plates will feature Olympic Village on July 8. Early bird tickets are available now until June 23 for just $29 on their Eventbrite – get ’em here!