Tuesday, February 21, 2012

VANCOUVER, BC: Not our mecca for meals

Our Presidents Day weekend trip to Vancouver, B.C. was a delight, but culinarily, it was a disappointment.

Our first stop was Tony's Fish & Oyster Cafe on Granville Island. Just a snack to take the edge off until dinner, but it was fresh, fast, and not overly expensive.

That evening, we visited Ki Modern Japanese, a fusion restaurant on Alberni Street we’d first become acquainted with in Toronto. Ki (pronounced “Kee”) beautifully presents some very creative, and quite delicious, Japanese food.

Although we weren’t ravenous, we managed a half-dozen oysters from Canada’s Maritime provinces, and two types of yakitori (which can refer to "skewered food" in general): braised pork belly, and chicken with leek. All were well prepared though we found the pork belly too rich, perhaps owing to our late afternoon seafood snack.

On Sunday morning, we headed for La Braisserie on Davie Street for Pre Déjeuner (brunch), only to find it didn’t open until 11. Because we didn’t want to wait more than an hour (that would’ve been nearly lunch time) we popped into a little neighborhood place that was promising because it was full of what appeared to be locals, and because it had an appealing buzz. The coffee, an organic version supplied by food purveyor Sysco, was the star: rich and delicious. The food was fresh, delivered quickly, and served in fairly large portions, but was quite forgettable.

Later that day, we went in search of a food truck that appeared on “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.” The show, as well as the truck’s web site, said “Fresh, Local, Wild” was permanently situated at the corner of Hastings and Burrard, just a couple of blocks from our hotel.

Perhaps it was because it was the weekend, we reasoned, but we couldn’t find the spot. Another check of the truck’s web site revealed a facet I’d apparently missed the first few times I’d visited: The truck would “return in the spring.” Oh.

We also made a mental note to visit Peaceful restaurant – another featured on Triple D – on another trip.

That evening, we met a couple of long-time friends for dinner at one of their favorite Thai places in Yaletown: the Urban Thai Bistro. They recommended the set dinner for four: Thai spring rolls; chicken satay; jasmine rice; chicken in red coconut curry; Pad Thai, beef with green beans, lime leaves and spicy sauce; mixed vegetables with prawns; and sweet, sticky black rice for dessert. Very nicely done, and an excellent value.

The disappointment of the weekend had to be Monday morning’s breakfast. For our fare, we headed went to Café Crepe on Robson Street off Burrard.

Succinctly put, Café Crepe is crap.

Quite apart from the dismal decor and the mediocre music choice, the food was poorly prepared and expensive for what was served.

My Cointreau crepe, which I expected to be served with an abundant Cointreau-based sauce (with perhaps a bit left for swirling), was simply a too-thick crepe dusted with granulated sugar and apparently topped with the tiniest dash of Cointreau imaginable. By the time it arrived, whatever liquid had been poured on the ham-handed attempt at a crepe had been soaked up; there was nothing left.

Adding to that faux pas, the kitchen plopped the crepe onto a cold plate, which immediately sucked the heat out of this delicate dish. It was barely warm when it arrived. At least that matched the state of my wife’s scrambled eggs, which had also been served on a cold platter. Unforgivable!

The bright spot was the coffee – at least, the one cup we got. Our request for a refill was apparently forgotten – which does indicate the “quality” of the service. Perhaps they were understaffed, or perhaps it was the fact that our booth was in the back, “out of sight, out of mind.”

Whatever the reasons, we were not impressed and will not be back. There are simply too many other places to explore in Vancouver.

Editor's note: I have provided links for those restaurants I can confirm (or seem) worth visiting. If, after reading this review, you're inclined to try those I've tried to steer you away from, you'll have to find the web site on your own!

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



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