Downtown diner breakfast

The Templeton
1087 Granville
604.685.4612

A delicious assortment of breakfast and lunch fare. They have yummy house made chicken sausage, serve real maple syrup (for a small fee), and decent coffee and pancakes. The burgers are great and the milk shakes are traditional and good. It is always tough to get a table in this small retro diner, but worth taking a seat at the long bar if you’re in more of hurry or if you’ve got the time waiting for a booth.

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La Quercia Italian surprises served family style

La Quercia
3689 West 4 Avenue, V6R 1P2
604.676.1007

Blink and you might miss this small nook on the corner of Alma and West 4th.  The modern appointed restaurant has you sitting elbow to elbow with strangers and yet you won’t even realize they are there.  The a la carte menu looks delicious but we ordered Alla Famiglia which was five generous and splendid courses.  To my delight they were flexible to food requirements and brought us dishes with pork.  A lovely rabbit pate, a salad with hazel nuts, and a selection of three delicious pastas were fabulous.  Beef carpacio was delicate to bite, and strong on flavour.  The gnocchi was tender and very fresh in a rabbit sauce, which lets be honest tasted like chicken.  By the time the main course came I couldn’t believe there was still more to eat.  After a lovely veal scallopi the meal finished with a selection of three lovely desserts.  The house wine, although I don’t remember the name (do I ever) was delicious.  I was treated for my birthday – what a wonderful treat thanks to my Kili tent mate (and Italian food expert)!  I’m giving it a very good, and I’m looking forward to going again.  The price point on the family style meal is great value for what you get at 45$ per person.  Make a reservation though, I’ve been trying for months to get here.  It has a dedicated following and only a few seatings a night so it books up.  If my first visit was any indication you won’t be disappointed.

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This is ‘granola’ as it gets at Gorilla Foods

Gorilla Foods
101 – 436 Richards Street, Vancouver
604.684.3663

This little nook downstairs on Richards boasts “raw, organic, vegan, live foods”.  It has a cult following in the city and it was one of its apostles that suggested it to me.  Having just watched Avatar I’d say it reminds me of hanging out in Hometree.  Not a lot of space for sitting, but given the amount of space they have they’ve done well with it.  I had a slice of the “pizza”, and you’ve got to have an open mind about this interpretation. The version I had was an earthy mix of kale and greens with a sun-dried tomato herb sauce on a “sprouted sunflower and buckwheat, flax and carrot crust” and topped with walnut “cheez”.  I really liked it, but I imagine if you’re trying vegan food for the first time you’d probably want to start with something else…maybe the green taco or the veggie burger.  I grabbed a cookie to go…I think it was called the almond crunch. It was an explosion of flavors and textures.  The crunchy, nutty bottom contrasted with the bright fruity flavored soft top.  So yummy I’d go back just for the cookies.  I’m giving Gorilla a Very Good. Up side is that it is open every day…downside, only from 11am-5pm.

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Crouching Dragon…Flying Tiger…a high price for street food…a good price for great food

The Flying Tiger
2958 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver   V6K 1R4
604.737.7529

Asian street food, gourmet style.  You might miss this little place if you’re not looking, but it has a great quaint, warm atmosphere inside.  For street food the price point is a little high, but worth it.  Be prepared to share your food, as they are principled in their family style culture and will only bring one dish at a time.  I’m glad they are though, because I tried a few things I wouldn’t have tried were not forced.  The Har Gow (steamed dumplings) and the Vietnamese Sablefish were both delicious, but the highlight of the meal was the Pulled Duck Confit Crepes….these morsels of yumminess danced across my tastebuds, and the bundles of fragrant herbs that you can put on top cut the richness of the duck.  But this dish is rich, so make sure to save room to enjoy it.  I would have loved to try dessert…but there was no room!  What a great meal, I’m giving it a Very Good, and an I’ll be back.  The love hate with West 4th continues :)

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Delicious Polenta Fries and a Great Atmosphere on Vancouver’s Main Street

The Cascade Room
2616 Main Street, Vancouver V5T 3E6
604.709.8650

We’ve got Lisa to thank for this pick, and it is a great one!  Good spot for a date, great for hanging out with your friends.  The polenta fries are so delicious, but I wasn’t a big fan of the mayo dip.  The dip had a curry flavour, which was good, but something in me was craving a dip with a bit more acid to cut the richness of the creamy and crunchy fry.  Now maybe basic ketchup would have been a bit too normal for  this joint, but some kind of dip along that line would have worked better for me.  Now I’m not a calamari connoisseur that’s for sure…but I didn’t really like it all, it was really rubbery, which I’m told means it wasn’t fresh.  I’m giving Cascade a Very Good, and I’ll be going back again for sure.

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Kid friendly restaurant…well actually just all round friendly just off ‘the drive’

Little Nest
1716 Charles Street, Vancouver   V5L 2T5
604.251.9994

 

Little Nest just off commercial is a quaint, bright, kid friendly place to grab a lovely sandwich.  I enjoyed a humous sandwich with walnut and veggies.  They have a new fresh sheet every day written on the blackboard.  It reminds me a bit of Finches Tea House gone family style.  They are supposed to have great cakes, but I haven’t tried them yet.  Kid friendly is something I’m not usually that attuned to…sorry folks a reality of my lifestyle (not by desire, but by design).  Not only is there a fun play area for kids, but lots of room for strollers to navigate and staff that seems happy to clean up the play area.  Big tables, lots of seating, and definitely a good place to meet a friend for breakfast, lunch, or a snack and a chat.  I’m giving it a Very Good.  Open Tue-Fri 9am-4pm; Weekends 9am-5pm.

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Bistro Marcel for lunch in Calgary

Bistro Marcel
Suite 110, 520 – 5th Avenue SW, Calgary, T2P 3R7
403.237.7993

 

If you are near the corner of 5th and 5th in Calgary SW you’ve got to try this place.  The pizza dough is really good, thick and yeasty, just the way I like it.  The Calzones are yummy, and the Souvlaki wraps are great as well.  The chicken satay sub is spicy and deliocious, on the best fresh roll!  I’m not a big fan of their salads, but the price is right on lunch for sure.  The downsides are sometimes you might wait a little longer than you want, the joint is in desperate need of a restaurant makeover so there is almost no seating and pizza oven just sitting in the middle of a restaurant like an old car parked out in someone’s lawn.  The folks that work there are like a sitcom in personalities, which makes the waiting a bit amusing.  The food is great and so are the prices.  Also they cater lunches and the pizza is great. Open for lunch Monday – Friday.   Thanks to John Lee for this suggestion…looking forward to going back soon!

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7 days a week for breakfast and lunch – no reservations accepted

Avenue Diner
105 – 8th Avenue S.W., Calgary
403.263.2673

 

During Stampede I took someone special here and it is a great place for that. I had the Nona’s Benny which was only so so (I found the balsamic too sweet). We also shared a side of pancake it was yummy with real maple syrup…mmmm. Just be careful those are cranberries floating in the water glasses, not grapes! I’ve seen a few people bite with surprise. My favourite dishes here are Dad’s Famous Mac and Cheese, the Ultimate Egg Sandwich, and the Zillion Dollar Benny (which should not be called a Benny because it is made with scrambled eggs, but it is still good). The hash browns are good and so is the sour dough bread. And if you are feeling really festive try out the mimosas. I’ve got a lot of great Calgary moments here. The only thing I might change here is allowing reservations, but I understand why they don’t, and they manage to pack the place so it makes sense. If you can’t wait take a seat a the bar, in the winter you’ll freeze, but they have blankets to keep you warm. But it is the fastest way to get a nibble of Avenue’s yummies. I’m giving Avenue Diner a Very Good.

 

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Can good Poutine be found in YVR?

Fritz European Fry House
718 Davie St., Vancouver BC, V6Z 1B6
604.684.0811

 

Looking for the best poutine in Vancouver and I was directed here. I love potatoes, gravy, and cheese…so in my opinion poutine is yumminess. I do think this is a solid poutine, although the gravy wasn’t quite hot enough to melt the cheese perfectly, and was a bit too plentiful on my version. The fries themselves though are solid, and this makes for perfect post drinking food especially since it is open to or past 2:30am most days – Friday and Saturday as late as 4:30am!! (Closed Mondays)  I’ve only tried the poutine, but they have a selection of other fries to try. And since I liked ‘em I’ll try some more.

 

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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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