“Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it’s getting!”

Vin Room
2310 4 Street SW, Calgary, T2S 1X2
403.457.5522

 

When Calgary tries to go cosmopolitan I think there is often something lost in translation. And while the Alice in Wonderland meets modern art deco setting of Vin Room is a bit of lost in translation for me, it also serves as a welcome relief to enjoy an intimate wine bar and lounge in Calgary. Even better it appears to have a good appetizer menu as well, although I didn’t indulge the night I was there. The wine and beer selection is excellent and as far as comfortable place to go with a date or a few friends to lounge and chat without the noise and rowdiness of the typical Calgary bar scene, this is a great place. Prices moderate and it is has lots of seating both upstairs and down that is well partitioned to allow for private conversations. The only thing I’d warn against for sure is those crazy low chairs (not a fan) so pick a banquette if you can. Thanks to Valerie for the pick it was perfect for the occasion.

 

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joe fortes roof top oasis awaits

Joe Fortes
777 Thurlow Street, Vancouver
604.669.1940

 

From the street Joe Fortes looks like an old school Seafood and Chop House, venture in its dining room and it looks equally trapped in time. However, move up to its roof top patio and a whole different world awaits (Thank you Mr. Andrews for this suggestion). The roof top patio is a modern oasis in downtown equipped with oyster bar, back lit bar, comfy furniture, beautiful shrubbery, and fireplace. When we went on Canada day we didn’t even wait to be seated and got the couch area – woo hoo!! Now, not waiting on Canada day for any bar is a wonder to a girl from Ontario…but I’ll save that diatribe for another day, because being seated promptly and having great food and drinks on a patio was awesome. It was here I tried full on uncooked oysters. With the assistance of an oyster expert (aka the guy who saved Canada day…and awesome photographer) I tried the Kusshi from Cortes Island, and the Kumamota from Washington, both have a sweet finish although beyond that I’m not sure I’m knowledgeable enough to comment. Rumour has it these are the best…so if you’re looking to try oysters I’d give these a shot. They were gooood. Big debate remains for me on how much to bite/chew, but I didn’t mind the texture and I would say they are among my current top runners in seafood. Though the mussels at the Cannery are still taking the cake. The beer and wine selection here is good and reasonably priced, the mixed drinks seem a bit pricy, but hey it is a great bar so if you’re looking to impress you shouldn’t care the price. This is a casual lounging type place, not a rock your boots off to kick’in tunes kinda place, so you’ve got to be in the right mind set to enjoy.  I’ve always wanted to try a meal here, as I’ve heard it is good, so I’ll likely come back for dinner, and I think I’ll try and eat it on the patio if I can swing it. I’m giving Joe Fortes Roof top Bar a Very Good! And I’ll have to keep you posted on how it is for dinner.

 

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four acres, five acres, six!

Six Acres
203 Carrall Street, Vancouver, V6B 2J2
604.488.0110

 

At the corner of Carrall and Water Streets, the heart of Gas Town, is a quaint stop for drinks or a casual dinner (Tues – Saturday). They’ve got a small outdoor seating area but you’ve got be there on the dot when they open to secure a space. Sitting inside has a great ambiance as well as it is the “oldest brick building” in Vancouver. They boast one of the largest selections of beers in the city and have a fine selection of high balls and we enjoyed the Juniper Green Gin with tonic…a few times over. For tasty treats we enjoyed a plate with hummus uniquely adorned with mini tomatoes stuffed with hummus and the Gorgonzola Hot pot. The hot pot is sooo good you’ll need to ask for more warm bread to sop up ever last bite. They have a great selection of other food items, and although it looks like a little con’fusion with everything from Italian to Mexican, if what we had was indication the rest will be yummy for sure. What a great stop, another one we owe Alyssa for sharing! I’m giving Six Acres a Very Good and I’ll be back!

 

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Trifecta of sports: Frisbee Golf – Golf – Tennis (well kinda tennis)

Rugby Beach Club Grille
#201 – 950 West Broadway, Vancouver
604.736.2438

 

When you’ve just finished a trifecta of sports or a day at the beach Rugby’s is a logical stop! The atmosphere is trendier than a Red Lobster (with an ocean theme but for the younger crowd), but not as ‘hip’ as say Trattoria Kitchen. The restaurant was packed on a Saturday night (woo hoo Saturday!), and with such reasonably priced cocktails and moderately priced mains it is no wonder. I’m not sure why I didn’t order the fish (which I will do next time I’m back)…but we both ordered beef…yes risky I know (that’s how I roll), beef in Vancouver. We had the Top Filet with westcoast rub and the Top Filet with blue cheese and bacon. My steak was solid but since I don’t eat pork I will simply relay that the top filet with bacon was ‘c’est pas bon’ (read: not good). I’ve been informed that they formerly had a Filet Mignon which disappointingly has been replaced by steak placed on top of a strip of bacon – looks more like a breakfast dish. So if you have any connections at Rugby’s suggestion is: bring back the steak wrapped in bacon rather than placed atop bacon.  Our app’ies, crab cakes and some kind of chicken something, were ok to good preference to the chicken. They have a great selection of sides from which I choose Petite baked potatoes (with caviar – weird), and skillet seared baby mushrooms (yum). I’m giving Rugby’s a Very Ok, but suggest if you’re looking for something casual and fun for a bunch of friends in Vancouver that it gets a Very Good.

 

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Happy birthday to you…happy birthday to you!

Lift Bar and Grill
333 Menchions Mews, Vancouver
604.689.5438

 

You know what they say…”location, location, location”. In my restaurants with a view tour of Vancouver I was treated to an evening at Lift after some leisurely sea kayaking. The perfect stop to enjoy a glass of wine (or a pint depending on your fancy), have a bite of the sea, celebrate a milestone birthday, and take in the sights. I have long said (based on a lifetime of waterside experience) that often restaurants with a view compromise on food quality, and sometimes that compromise is worth it and other times it isn’t. When you think of some of Vancouver’s finest dining establishments you’ll realize they don’t have views – West, Fuel, Tojo’s, Bishops, Cioppinos (and more). However, I would put Lift in the worth the compromise category, and even say they managed to deliver on the food. I enjoyed my ” Slash n Burn Halibut’ with saffron rice, and the stilton cheesecake was a delight for the senses(if you like stilton, which I do!). I’m not convinced my host was as pleased with their meal, but was equally enamored with the view. The atmosphere is the hallmark of this restaurant with crisp linens, clean lines, and excellent cutlery and glassware. Modern, a bit edgy, strangely (must be a Vancouver phenomenon) has TV’s in the bar. But fortunately said TV posed no distraction for the evening’s conversation that barely went uninterrupted for hourswhich brings me to – the service, was attentive. The patio was closed when we were there, but I have it on good authority it is a great patio for drinks in the summer. All in all I’m giving Lift a Very Good, and I will definitely come back again.

 

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Is field hockey really a sport?? Lucky number four

Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant
555 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
604.669.2220

 

If you’re as lucky as me you’ll be treated to a landmark quiz of Vancouver from the Top of Vancouver Restaurant at 553 feet. A bird’s eye view into the life and times of a local and the meaningful landmarks a new resident should know. The restaurant is a bit dated with neon lights over the bar and dining room furniture circa 1985. The menu is slightly more up to date, but not significantly, with classic pasta and fish that are fairly over priced. However that being said I actually thought my spring salmon was good. Although I’m not trading my dinner here for anything in the world (more about the view and company) my suggestion is to go for drinks instead of dinner. In our two full rotations of the Vancouver skyline and landmark highlights included GM place (I knew that one!), Victory Square, Andy Livingston Park, Bentall 5 tower and more! So in short it is a great stop for new resident to gain their citizen button (or in my case celebrate my first vote in a BC election), good for visitors to the city (aka tourists) and despite the granny furniture the view does make it romantic.  And if you are looking for something  to do afterwards a great choice is to walk over the Railway Club to listen to some live bands and enjoy the people watching!

 

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Ceasars…good for a hangover or to keep the celebration going!

Rodney’s Oyster House
1228 Hamilton Street
604.609.0080

 

If you’re missing the east and wanting a bite of the sea with a Cape Cod flare this is your joint. Introduced to me by one of Vancouver’s foodies Rodney’s is now one of my favourites. Most recently I visited after a morning brunch and an afternoon on the boat. Rodney’s bridged the gap between the mornings post run celebration and dinner. I’ve got a bit of mixed experience here…I’ve ventured into the sea world here, but not fully dedicated to it. I’ve had a Ceasar (which is unbelievable with fresh grated horseradish) but can’t bring myself to eat the prawn that hangs off the edge of the glass. I haven’t tried the house specialty oysters, but I did manage to try the crab cakes. Still not sure how I feel about those. I love the white washed furniture and the bartenders are fun and friendly. I did have to wait awhile once for service, but they made up for it by comp’ing us drinks. So make sure you stop by Rodney’s and if you’ve tried the oysters let me know all about it!

 

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Happy Birthday Girl Friday…Mexican Martini Throwdown!

Because of the half marathon the full on celebration part of my birthday was a bit delayed (there were many different birthday celebrations this yearJ). The best part of my delayed birthday celebration was the birthday Mexican Martini throwdown (Bobby Flay style)! The Mexican martini, lesser know than the Margarita, is a delicious tribute to Tequila!! The rules of the throwdown are that each participant must submit a recipe for the perfect Mexican martini to an independent judge who will ensure there is no recipe duplication and coordinate ingredient acquisitions to ensure maximization of ingredients (for example only one bottle of cointreau, or tequila needed, unless participants require special liquors). The party’s host put together a Mexican feast smorgasbord that delighted the senses…Spicy Bison Taquitos, Refried Bean Chalupas, Flour tortilla appies, queso and chips…yum, yum! The results of the competition are as follows:

 

The first Martini is the Austin classic (casa Trudy’s) and is an easy drink with well balanced flavours with the secret ingredient being Sprite! The second Martini is the Gayle twist, and is a bit more sour, but I love it…so in short it is a dead heat depending on what you are looking for!! But be careful, these things are addictive!

 

Trudy’s Mexican Martini (The original, from Trudy’s in Austin)

 

2 fluid ounces tequila (Herradura Silver)

1 fluid ounce Cointreau liqueur

1-2 fluid ounce Sprite

1 fluid ounce orange juice

1/2 lime, juice of

 

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Gayle’s Mexican Martini

2 ounces premium tequila (silver, 100% agave)

1 ounce orange liqueur (cointreau)

1 ounce lime juice

1 ounce lemon juice (sweetened with sugar to taste)

 

DIRECTIONS

1. Moisten the edges of martini glasses with a little lime juice mixed with 2 generous dashes of chipotle sauce (chipotle powder in the salt would also work), and then dip moistened edges into coarse salt. Place a decorative pepper in each glass (be careful they aren’t too spicy so they don’t transfer flavour!).

2. Pour remaining lime juice into a cocktail shaker, and then add tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and sweetened lemon juice. Fill shaker with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into prepared glasses.  

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If you’ve made either of the recipes above share your comments or providing ratings!

We’re not singing the blues (we’re slamm’n them)…birthday part 2

Me & Julio
2095 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
604.696.9997

 

This ‘modern Mexican kitchen and cantina’ is the spin off of another one of my Vancouver treasures Lolita’s. So given my admiration of the classic margarita it was a perfect stop for me to kick-off the weekend birthday festivities! And there is so much to celebrate. Spring has sprung in Vancouver, the Canucks are rocking the playoffs, and it is of course my birthday. We feasted over fresh chips and an assortment of yummy salsas and guacamole. I love salsa verde but the mango salsa was my favorite in the salsa trio, and the margaritas were delicious!! Me & Julio is larger than Lolita’s which makes for a nice open restaurant with a great buzz and atmosphere, with bigger tables and space for a party than Lolita’s but with a smaller group or a date definitely try Lolita’s. Me & Julio gets a Very Good, and I’m looking forward to going back and trying a meal.

 

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When you realize it just doesn’t matter anymore and you cannot be bothered …drinks anyone?

The New Bohemian
3162 Broadway West Vancouver
604.736.7576


After a trip into Kerrisdale I headed down to a new spot called The New Bohemian for some arcane enlightenment…or pints of Guinness depending on how you look at it…lol. They claim to have a social ethic that is unpretentious, um I’m not sure about that, but what I can say they have is a great atmosphere for drinks with an old friend, a new friend, or a group of friends. It has lounge lighting, a fireplace, and candles at each table that all culminate into a warm and inviting atmosphere. The service and selection are good. I haven’t tried the food, but I’ll be back to try and keep you posted. What is remarkable to me is they say they are open weekdays to 2am, which I think has to be some kind of a record for Vancouver the city that sleeps early. Because I haven’t tried the food I’m going to give it a Very Ok to be revised upon more exploration.

 

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