Mexican · Restaurants

Con Mi Tacos

On Sunday, I noticed L wasn’t his usual self. I had a feeling it was related to Calgary’s cold snap and the fact we haven’t gone on our yearly jaunt to Mexico. I suggested we brighten his day by ordering tacos and drinking Pacifico. For this post, let’s listen to “El Herradero” by Lola Beltran.

My go-to restaurants for Mexican are Con Mi Taco and Moose and Poncho. Con Mi specializes in freshly made tacos and seafood. Moose and Poncho serves up authentic dishes that are richly flavoured and hearty. Both spots are equally awesome. We ordered from Con Mi because they serve L’s favourite taco – al pastor.

I was impressed with the Prawn and Scallop Ceviche ($16). The ceviche came with three pieces of homemade sesame tostada. The crunchiness of the chip reminded me of a Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisp, only nuttier and thinner. The shrimp was crunchy and plump. The scallops were succulent, silky morsels. The amount of lime was perfect, there was just enough acidity that it didn’t overwhelm the natural sweetness of the seafood.

The peanuts added a nice clean crunch and it reminded me of corn nibs. I thought the strong melon flavour of the cucumbers complemented the peanuts and seafood. L doesn’t like cucumbers and even he liked this combination.

We shared the Al Pastor Kit ($33), which comes with 2/3 pound of pineapple chili marinated pork, ten freshly ground hand-pressed corn tortillas, lime wedges, onions, pineapple, cilantro, salsa morita and vegan jalapeño aioli.

L’s face lit up when he bit into his taco. The texture of the pork was velvety with a smoky flavour. I loved the fragrance of the corn tortillas. L noticed I was eating everything even though there was cilantro in it. I actually like cilantro in Mexican food, it’s just in Asian food I find the herb obnoxiously strong. Con Mi finely minces the cilantro, so the flavour is more delicate.

I also liked that the onion and pineapple salsas were finely diced because it provided tiny pops of flavour and texture. There was so much sweet pineapple that each one of our tacos got a heaping amount. L noted that Con Mi is as generous with the seafood as with the sauces and garnishes. There’s no skimping in quality or quantity here.

My new favourite dessert is the Passion Fruit Cream Churro ($6). The churro itself was sweet and crunchy, and tasted a little like apple pie. The passion fruit cream was fragrant and perfumed with citrus. I would order this again.

When we feel comfortable dining in again, we want to try the deep fried shrimp, fish and soft shell crab tacos. In the meantime, we’ll probably stick to the options that are easier to reheat at home, like the birria, beef cheek and asada.

If you haven’t gone, I would recommend checking out both Con Mi and Moose and Poncho. Some Vitamin B (beer) and Vitamin T (taco) will surely cure you of the winter time blues.

Curry · Japanese · Restaurants · Tonkatsu

Katsuten – Tonkatsu

By Friday, I was getting extra squirrelly. I texted my brother Jacuzzi to ask him how he was dealing with B.C.’s pandemic restrictions. He said he loved staying in and he was happy playing video games with his wife.

L was already a step ahead of Jacuzzi. This ain’t his first rodeo. L suggested we order dinner from Katsuten, as it was conveniently located by our neighbourhood liquor store. For this post, let’s listen to “Ex’s and Oh’s” By Elle King.

Back in the day, Katsuten and Redheads Cafe were the only restaurants in Calgary that specialized in tonkatsu. Months after Katsuten opened, it was hard to get a table. With the pandemic and our cold snap, it was unusually quiet when L picked up our order.

I ordered the Tenderloin Katsuten ($16.50) and L picked the Loin Katsu with Curry ($15.99). Both entrees come with rice, salad and miso soup. I thought the portions were heartier than I remembered from past visits. Takeout from Katsuten travels well – everything was still hot and fresh.

Katsuten’s batter is different from Redheads, Koji Katsu and Shimizu Kitchen. Katsuten’s panko is made from white bread crumbs from Glamorgan Bakery, and the result is a fluffier, airier batter. Despite the fact our tonkatsu was deep-fried, it wasn’t greasy or heavy.

I tried a piece of L’s loin to compare to my tenderloin. My katsu is darker in colour and softer in texture. I was surprised that I actually preferred L’s loin, which is a thicker, leaner cut. The loin had this clean flavour profile that contrasted well with the richness of the batter. I noticed the curry wasn’t chunky like Redhead Cafe’s version, but runnier and more like a soup.

The shredded cabbage is refreshing. The yuzu dressing is tart and fragrant, with bright lemony notes. I also really liked the katsu sauce – much more subtle than the bottled stuff you can buy.

I’m pleased Calgarians have a variety of katsu restaurants, because each place has their unique take on tonkatsu. I would recommend all of them, each for something different. I love Koji’s supersized ebi katsu, Redheads Cafe’s chicken karrage curry, Shimizu’s ramen and tonkatsu combos, and Katsuten’s extra fluffy loin katsu. I’m sure right now, they could all use your business.

Beer · Burgers · Comfort food · Happy Hour · Restaurants

Jane Bond BBQ & Urban Shack Fried Chicken

I wouldn’t go as far as to call myself a political junkie, but I do follow municipal politics. The post below made me smile because it shows how good food can bring people together – no matter where they fall on the spectrum. Below is a picture of Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra and Craig Chandler sharing a meal at Jane Bond BBQ.

As the election heats up, may I can suggest all candidates running in the 2021 race spend some quality time eating at our local restaurants. For this post, let’s listen to “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles.

I ordered the Brisket BBQ Plate ($20), which includes half a pound of brisket, a side and coconut cornbread. I upgraded my side for the macaroni cheese (+$1). Jane Bond is having a special for their new shack style chicken. I ordered the 8 Piece Bird Attack (Regular $45, Featured $22.50), which includes boneless fried chicken (choice of five flavours), two dipping sauces, large creamy slaw, large fries, two Cajun corn cobbs and two pieces of coconut corn bread.

Pro tip – if you want both BBQ and fried chicken, you have to order each separately online. I went to Jane Bond’s website to order the BBQ and for the fried chicken, I clicked onto a subcategory on the website. Not a big deal, but a little confusing if you aren’t aware that Urban Shack Fried Chicken falls under the Jane Bond website.

The restaurant was busy when I went to pick up my order. There were about five customers inside waiting and two people outside in their cars. When I arrived, the staff were busy pumping out orders, so I was left standing there unsure as what to do. Here’s another pro tip. Walk to the front counter, catch an employee’s attention and tell them your name and what method you used to place your order.

After a 15-minute ride home, I thought it would be best to reheat the fries and chicken in the oven. I also microwaved the brisket, corn, and macaroni and cheese. Our fries crisped up nicely in the oven.

The beef brisket was soft, coated in a tangy, smoky sauce. There were some pieces that were well marbled with fat. I enjoyed the caramelized top part of the macaroni and cheese. Underneath the crust, the noodles were soft and saucy. The slaw was light and crisp. I found this salad necessary in between the heavy, rich bites of brisket and macaroni and cheese.

L really enjoyed the fries. The batter on it reminded me of the bulgogi fries at Wow Chicken. I love the corn bread. The texture was crumbly. The flavour was sweet and buttery, with a hint of smoke. The chicken was crunchy and the meat was tender. My favourite dipping sauce was the jerk sauce – it tasted like there was cinnamon in it. I enjoyed the heat and spice in the sauce. The corn was sweet and wet with butter and Cajun spices.

We ordered way too much food and we had ample leftovers for the next day. Below is a picture of all the food we didn’t end up eating. The cornbread was just as tasty in the morning. In fact, everything tasted good the next day.

My last pro tip of the post. I ordered ice tea, mistakenly thinking there was booze in it. I ended up ordering the regular ice tea (4 pack, $12). Get it! It taste like a mix between peach Snapple and SoCIAL LITE spiked lemon ice tea, but sweeter. Jane’s ice tea was a nice complement to our meal.

It’s my birthday week and I am looking forward to writing about our next food adventure. It’s a bit harder to celebrate with takeout because you have to make some allowances, such as the time and distance it takes to get your food and how certain foods are best eaten fresh. If you have any favourite spots ideal for takeout, let me know.

Japanese · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion

Sukiyaki House – Birthday Omakase

For L’s birthday, I took him to Sukiyaki House for “omakase”. In Japanese, omakase translates to “I’ll leave it up to you”, meaning you entrust the menu up to the creativity of the chef. I got to say, Chef Koji Kobayashi knocked this dinner out of the park. For this post, let’s play “I Feel Fine” by the Beatles.

L and I toasted to his birthday with a glass of Kamoshibito Kuheiji Human Junmai Daiginjo, 2011 (3 oz, $15). Judith informed us that Sukiyaki House was the first restaurant in Calgary to bring in this particular bottle.

Judith is a sake nerd. Known as the white Burgundy of sakes, she described this sake as “bougie”, with lots of umami and sweetness. As we took our first sip, she pointed out the notes of bruised apple and pear. I thought this sake was light and not overly sweet.

We started off our meal with a plate of Hamachi with Daikon and Ponzu. L liked the seasoning as he thought it complemented the light, sweet flavour of the fish. If you notice my pictures have improved, it’s because L took all the photos below.

Our second dish was the Duck Tempura with Shiso and Mozzarella. The ume jam was tart and plummy, which cut into the richness of the duck. I thought the garnish of nori and green onion was a nice pop of flavour against the warm, velvety cheese filling.

One of L’s favourite dishes of the night was the Rice Cracker with Deep Fried Salmon, Potato Salad and Yam Crisp. Shwing! The crunch of the batter against the soft creaminess of the potato salad was killer. The salmon itself was flavourful, made even richer with Koji’s special homemade teriyaki sauce. Koji’s sauce has this intensity that makes you stand up and notice.

At this point in our meal, I wanted to try another sake while L stuck to a pint of Asahi.  I ventured off and tried a glass of Yamagata Masamune Kimono Akaiwa Machi 1898 (30z, $11).

Judith informed us this sake is made from hamachi rice from the Akalwa region. The brewer uses a traditional method of sake brewing. Rather than having the lactic acid introduced in the fermentation process to cultivate yeast, the sake is allowed to naturally develop lactic acid on its own. This makes for a fuller, complex and richer sake. I enjoyed the melon flavour and the dry, light finish.

Our fourth course was the Matsutake Soup with Crab. The soup arrived boiling hot. The broth was clear and clean, which allowed the subtle flavours of the crab and mushrooms to shine. The wild BC pine mushrooms were thinly sliced, with a fragrance similar to sake. Drinking this soup felt so nourishing – simple but refine.

Next up, Judith showcased A4 Wagyu Nigiri. She torched it and then shaved a ton of black truffles. Real truffles taste so different from the truffle salt I buy. The flavour is gentle and earthy. The texture of the truffles was feathery and light. Seared, the wagyu gave off a mouthwatering smoky flavour. I loved the crunch of the salt. I thought this was an elegant bite.

Our sixth course was the Maple Smoked Anago. L doesn’t normally eat eel, but he loved Koji’s version. The seared aburi was soft, warm and deliciously smoky.

My favourite course was the Lemon Dengaku. Double shwing! Dengaku is similar to a cheesy seafood motoyaki but a billion times better. Half a lemon was filled with mussels, crab, scallops, asparagus, enoki, and matsutake mushrooms, then baked with a creamy, sweet miso sauce.

The flavour and freshness of the the seafood wowed me. The sauce had the perfect amount of saltiness in it. The lemon wasn’t overpowering – just enough to perfume each bite.

Koji created a beautiful platter of nigiri for us. This was an advanced sushi tasting. Each nigiri pairing was an adventure.

The bluefin chu toro was topped with sturgeon caviar. I liked how the salty pop of caviar mingled in with the fatty creaminess of the toro. The “Mother and Child” sockeye with ikura and chrysanthemum petals was another winning salty, creamy combination. The hamachi (yellowtail) was juicy. I found the lime zest with the kanpachi subtle. The cuttlefish had a pleasant crunchy texture. The bluefin tuna in the negitori with shredded kombu was soft and buttery.

Dessert was devastatingly charming. Not only was this the cutest creation, but the mochi had the nicest chew to it. As always, the fruit at Sukiyaki House was served at the optimal ripeness, just like in Japan.

Photo credit – Sukiyaki House

Koji, you truly are an artist. This was the best meal L and I have ever experienced. We are so lucky to have you in Calgary. L and I have an upcoming wedding anniversary to celebrate in December. We can only order takeout because we are staying with in-laws. We might just have to hit up Sukiyaki House for their new premium bento takeout box of spicy prawns, beef tataki, miso sablefish, a hosomaki, and a mini chirashi. Whatever takeout we end up picking up, we’ll make sure to support one of our favourite restaurants.

Dessert · Patio · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion

River Cafe – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Karplop and I were texting each other after work. She was craving pate and beef tartare and I wanted to go out and celebrate nothing in particular. The only restaurant open on a Tuesday night serving up pate and tartare was River Cafe. For this post, let’s listen to “Fancy Shoes” by The Walters.

As the weather was nice, we sat on the patio and enjoyed the view of the trees along the lagoon, set against the city skyline. Our server – Leah B – is at the top of her game. Everything she said or did seemed so effortlessly professional and personable. Exceptional service makes the difference between between a nice meal and a truly enjoyable dining experience.

Karplop and I toasted each other with a glass of Blue Mountain Brut ($14). I thought this sparkling wine was mellow and dry, with very soft bubbles.

We shared four Leslie Hardy oysters ($14). The oyster flesh was cool and smooth, with a little crunch at the end. I didn’t find the saltiness overwhelming like other east coast oysters. Karplop enjoyed the homemade hot sauce and I preferred the mignonette.

Leah recommended a glass of Sangiovese ($11) to pair with our appetizers. I approve of her suggestion – my wine was smooth and dry. I would order this wine again.

The Borderland Bison Tartare ($21) is swoon worthy. Karplop oohed and aahed over the vibrant colours of the flowers. What made this tartare stand out was the summery flavour of the compressed cucumber and bright, creamy mustard. The tartare came with three different types of crackers, each with its own unique texture. Standout dish!

Photo Credit: Karplop

I’ve tried the Chicken Liver Parfait ($19) a few months ago and I noticed this time, the brioche was drier in texture, which I prefer because it stands up to the thick, buttery pate. The pate looked like it was whipped, piled high on the brioche. Karplop enjoyed the combination of the fruit paired with the pate.

I was full but I didn’t want to deny Karplop her dessert. We shared the Peach Pavlova ($12). My favourite element of the dessert was the sorbet, which was sweet and creamy.

If there are anymore sunny days remaining, I recommend checking out River Cafe’s patio. There’s nothing better than sitting back and enjoying the last of the autumn colours in Prince’s Island Park. Hitting the Sauce gives River Cafe two fat thumbs up.

Beer · Burgers · Patio · Pubs · Restaurants

Bitter Sisters Brewery – COVID-19 dine-in edition

On Sunday, L and I were too tired to drive up to Hub Town Brewing as we had planned. Our ex-neighbours spoiled us the night before with homemade pizzas cooked on their new ceramic grill. Sirski’s secret recipe produced a crust that was crispy and light, with a unique flavour profile. We spent the night eating a total of five pizzas, each with a different combination of toppings and sauces.

For our Sunday day date, I wanted to try Bitter Sisters Brewery because of all the positive reviews I read. I can tell when online reviews are fake or genuine. You have to look for common themes and variation in writing style, as well as the reviewer’s history. For this post, let’s listen “We are Family” by Sister Sledge.

Finding parking isn’t an issue at Bitter Sisters – their private lot offers ample room. The patio and the interior of the restaurant is nicely decorated. You can tell the owners put money and thought into the build.

At the front door, there is a sign requesting customers sanitize before they enter the room. I also saw staff constantly cleaning and sanitizing tables after each party left.

L ordered a flight of beer ($10) and I requested a 16 oz of the Sassy Jack ($6.75). My saison was cool and bubbly. L liked how the peppery notes dissipated on his tongue in a matter of seconds.

On the menu, Sassy Jack is described as a beer that is designed to go down slowly. I’m glad L warned me the alcohol content in my beer was 7.2%. I took my time and sipped slowly, but the beer still wobbled me when I got up to leave.

L’s favourite beer was the Tropical Big Brother Butch Pale Ale. He liked the crisp and fruity notes. I tasted a slight bitterness that I found appealing.

The Fifi’s Dirty Blonde ale reminded L of a pilsner. When I tried the ale, it reminded me of the beers I drank in Prague.  His last sampler was a pineapple sour from Bitter Sister’s rotating line.

I wasn’t starving so L and I shared the Nashville Fried Chicken ($17). Wowzers. Now this is a damn fine chicken sandwich. What made this burger sing was the compilation of all the ingredients.

The chicken was well marinaded, covered in a spicy crunchy batter. L appreciated how the burger wasn’t overly sauced and the proportions of bun to chicken to broccoli slaw was balanced. I would have preferred a little more of that tangy creamy chipotle aioli, just so I could sop it up with the fries.

Our server was considerate enough to check if we liked cilantro. We asked for a side of the noxious herb, so I wouldn’t have to eat it. L loved the addition of cilantro in his burger. We both thought the bun was excellent – it was chewy and soft.

The fries were golden white, crispy on the outside with a fluffy interior. The portion was generous. These fries reminded me a cross between New York Fries and the Belgium frites from the Fritz European Fry House in Vancouver.

I can’t believe this place hasn’t been on our radar before. Bitter Sisters deserves much more hype. At these prices, the food is a steal. The beers are tasty and go up against any of Alberta’s well-known breweries. Service was excellent and because of the obvious sanitation rules in place, we felt safe eating here.

L and I are looking forward to our next trip. He wants to try the Viet style club ($17) and I want to sample the Steak and Fries ($20). Check them out before patio season ends. Hitting the Sauce gives Bitter Sisters two fat thumbs up.

Cheap Eats · Happy Hour · Japanese · Restaurants · Seafood · Sushi

Ke Charcoal Grill- COVID-19 dine-in edition

I’ve been hearing good things about Ke Charcoal Grill, a restaurant specializing in yakitori. I convinced L to go, though I warned him that he needs to lower his expectations. L’s eaten his fair share of yakitori in Tokyo, so I knew he had preconceived notions on what it should taste like. Ke Charcoal is popular for its cheap and tasty food. For this post, let’s listen to “Joyride” by Roxette.

When we arrived, the hostess took our temperature. As with most restaurants, there is sanitizer at the entrance. For our safety, all our cutlery and sauces were individually packed. I liked how the tables were spaciously set apart. I also noticed that the staff were attentive and friendly, despite appearing understaffed.

L ordered a glass of Asahi ($6) and I stuck with tap water. I took a sip of his beer and found it flat. I heard from a reliable person with industry knowledge – Jude – that Ke Charcoal’s sake is inexpensive. I’ll have to try some on my next visit.

The Chicken Karaage ($8) is a winner. The chicken leg meat was juicy and the batter was nice and brittle. I would order this again.

To go with our skewers, I ordered two heaping bowls of rice ($5). The rice was fluffy and the fragrance reminded me more of Chinese rice than Japanese.

We started off with two skewers of Hatsu with teriyaki sauce ($4.60). I normally love chicken heart but these skewers were served cold and the texture was rubbery instead of tender.

Next up were two skewers of Mo Mo with teriyaki sauce ($4.80). The chicken thighs were tasty and served hot. The teriyaki sauce tasted heavy and sweet.

The cheese on the Yuki ($5.20) was sticky and stuck to the roof of my mouth. I preferred the plain chicken thighs without the cheese but that’s just a personal preference.

One of our favourite skewers was Negima ($4.80). So simple but so good. The green onion was deeply caramelized and it paired beautifully with the chicken thighs.

The Dunagimo ($2.40) arrived hot. I’ve never tried chicken gizzard before. The gizzard was addictingly chewy yet crunchy, and the flavour was surprisingly subtle. I would order this again.

My favourite skewer was Kawa (w/ sea salt $2.30). The chicken skin was super crispy. When I took a bite, the skin would flake apart and then melt in my mouth. I love eating chicken skin with rice, as the plainness of the steamed rice accents the texture and richness of the skin.

I didn’t know what to expect when I ordered Okra ($2.10). The okra was cooked perfectly – there was still a resistance when I bit into it. I loved the crunchy, juicy texture and I could taste the smoky flavour of the grill.

The Asparagus Maki ($4.80) skewers were yummy. The bacon was crispy on the edges but still soft on the inside, coating the asparagus with the flavour of hot pork fat. The texture of the grilled asparagus reminded me of green beans.

We tried both the Tsukkune with teriyaki sauce ($5.20) and with cheese ($5.20). These chicken meatballs were filling, but I found the temperature cool. I think if it was served fresh off the grill, I would have enjoyed it.

I thought that more than half the skewers we tried were awesome, particularly for the price. We ordered way too much food and the bill was half of what we would pay at Shokunin. However, you can’t expect the quality of Shokunin at Ke Charcoal’s prices. Ke Charcoal is an affordable, easy introduction to yakitori. The food reminded me a bit of Torikizoku – a popular and dirt cheap yakitori izakaya chain in Japan. I think the food at Ke Charcoal is far better than Torikizoku.

I told Jude that L wasn’t as impressed as I was with yakitori. She said that the food at Ke Charcoal is great when it’s hot. Sometimes when the yakitori is colder than she would like, she’ll inform the servers and they bring over a new set. I never even thought about complaining. Jude suggested the next time I go, I should ask the servers to ensure the skewers are hot.

Jude recommends the oyster special on Wednesdays, unagi, chicken meatball with shisho, scallop, miso sablefish, beef tongue with daikon and ponzu. She told me to request salt on the yakitori and togarashi on the side for L, so he can get that essence of Japanese yakitori he craves.

I was so excited after talking to Jude that I wanted to go to Ke Charcoal the next day. I told L that I would even pick up the tab. He looked at me sourly and responded, “Look, I know why you want me to go again. You want me to have a different experience. But I won’t. It’s not Japan.”

Wow L! Talk about being inflexible. In the circle of compromise, you aren’t meeting me halfway. I’m not going to pressure him again because I think I am too controlling over where and what we eat. Plus, I know Karplop will go with me. I’ll post an update on my second visit to Ke Charcoal shortly, because this is one izakaya I’ll be frequenting. Hitting Sauce gives Ke Charcoal two fat thumbs up.

Fusion · Italian · Japanese · Restaurants

Carino – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Cheese Pull called and wanted to meet for dinner. She asked me to bring L but he declined as he dislikes being the only dude out with a group of chicks. For this post, let’s listen to “Just a Girl” by No Doubt.

Cheese Pull and I wanted to check out Carino, specifically for the gyozagna – a fusion blend of gyoza and lasagna. Carino has moved a couple of doors down the street into spacier, fancier digs. The room is filled with natural light and has a fresh, airy feel to it.

I asked our server for a glass of wine that would pair with the lasagna. He recommended the Barbera ($11). Cheese Pull doesn’t drink. I noticed that kids nowadays don’t consume alcohol, perhaps because they have better coping skills than my generation did.

For my appetizer, I choose Chicken Karaage ($8). Each piece of chicken was bite-sized and juicy, with a light, soft batter. The taste of basil in the mayonnaise was prominent. Cheese Pull commented the batter wasn’t as crunchy as Sukiyaki House‘s karaage.

The Gyozagna ($24) was so good that Cheese Pull let out a low growling sound as she ate. If that isn’t a compliment, I don’t know what is. Each dumpling was so plump, stuffed with a pork filling that burst with its hot juices. The wagyu meat sauce was so rich and heavy it just melded into the lava of melted mozzarella.

I enjoyed everything about this dish. From the delicate dumpling wrapper to the fresh flavour of the tomato sauce to the crunchy bits of caramelized cheese that crusted onto the top corners of the dish. The portion was also very filling.

Cheese Pull packed half her pasta away while I ate my entire serving. I was planning on bringing L half my pasta but it was so decadent I couldn’t stop eating. Cheese Pull said it was his fault for not coming. Our server was surprised I crushed my plate.

 

I was too full for dessert but Cheese Pull ordered the Hassun ($12) – a trio of sweets. Cheese Pull said the lemon flavouring in the shooter glass was subtle with a consistency like apple sauce. Her favourite of the trio was the creme brûlée. I could hear her tap on the sugar until it broke. She described her creme brûlée as a fancy pudding. The tiramisu was deconstructed – with the bottom layer tasting strongly of espresso.

I plan to return and get L to order the gyozagna so I can order the Alberta Beef Tenderloin with Seared Foie Gras Ravioli ($49.99). If you haven’t been, you have to check Carino out. The food is unique and delicious. Hitting the Sauce gives this Japanese Italian fusion gem two fat thumbs up.

Beer · Restaurants

Two House Brewing – COVID-19 dine-in edition

L and I are big fans of Two House Brewing. Two House has excellent beers, strong COVID-19 safety standards, and a comfortable city patio. It also helps that our friend Numbers is their accountant and it is the only public place his enchanting wife Caviar feels safe enough to visit.

Photo credit: Two House Brewing Co.

L and I arrived early and got the last table inside the brewery. We noticed that almost all the customers were drinking Raspberry Pi Sour, a Berliner-style weisse ($7, 18 oz). You could tell because of the rosy glint emanating from the glass. I enjoyed this sour – it wasn’t overly tart or sweet.

When Caviar arrived, she sauntered over, wrinkled her nose and asked us if we preferred sitting inside instead of outside on the patio. I said we would prefer the patio, but this was the only table available. She cocked her head to the side and confidently informed us that she was going to get a patio table for us. Damn girl, I like your style.

Once outside, Caviar complained the music wasn’t to her liking. I enjoyed the music because it made me feel like I was in my twenties again. Music is a powerful thing. For this post, let’s listen to “Girlfriend” by NSYNC.

L saw his university friend Porteous sitting in the patio. Porteous came over to say hello. It turns out he has a beer named after him at Two House – the Porty Dorty Dortmunder. Porteous recounted the moment he found out Two House named a beer after him. He said it was the happiest day of his life and he called his mother right away to tell her the good news. Some guys have all the luck.

L and I enjoy all the beers we’ve tried so far (18 oz, $7). My usual go-to beer is the Belgian-style Fave Hef Wit Wheat Beer. I dig the hazy fruity flavour and the soft notes of orange and coriander.

L’s favourite beer is the NE IPA. He loves the citrus notes and hint of grapefruit. I took a sip and I liked it too. I didn’t find the NE bitter like most IPAs.

I found a new drink that I’m a fan of – the Lemon-Squeezy. It’s a low calorie blend of Bridgeland Distillery Limoncello and soda ($10, 18 oz). It’s light, refreshing and not too sweet. Caviar wanted to know if there was higher alcohol content in the 18 oz versus the 12 oz. Caviar and I joked with our server about changing the proportion of limoncello to “sober water”. Our server firmly told us that the ratio could not be altered. I’m glad because after two limoncellos, I was feeling wobbly.

While we were sipping the night away, two groups with dogs were turned away because the patio was full. I noticed a woman who took up a table for four. She drank one beer over a 1.5 hour time span while reading her book. I asked Numbers if customers taking up a prime spot for hours poses a problem for businesses especially since the government has restricted the number of customers. He said with limited space and decreased number of customers, all businesses are struggling to get by. I may have spoken too loudly because the woman got up to leave and shot me a dirty look. Hey lady, don’t get angry at me because you lack self-awareness. Her table was promptly filled by a party of four, plus two adorable dogs.

Two House Brewing Co’s safety standards.

For beverages, service and safety standards, Two House Brewery can’t be beat. If you get to know the right people, a beer might be named after you. One can only dream. Hitting the Sauce gives Two House two fat thumbs up.

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Patio · Restaurants

Inner City Brewing Company – COVID-19 dine-in edition

On Saturday, I told L to pick a new brewery for us to check out. He picked a winner – Inner City Brewing. The beer was so good, I was surprised that I had never heard of this place before. For this post, let’s listen to The Streets, “Could Well be In”.

Inner City’s vibe is very Vancouver.  The brewery looks like a modern warehouse straight out of Yaletown. From the taproom seating area, you can see inner workings of the brewery. I stole some photos from Inner City’s Instagram account because my photos were awful.

Photo credit: Inner City Brewing Company

To create their concept beers, Inner City Brewery takes inspiration from the city. “Our brewing strategy is to produce a wide range of beer styles, true to their origins. In our names and our packaging, we honour the location where the recipe originates and the diversity of the inner core of that location.”

L counted 22 beers on tap. I opted for an Old Fashioned ($12) because he told me Inner City receives good reviews on their cocktails. L ordered a flight of beers ($9). We nibbled on popcorn ($6) while we sipped the night away. I was saving my appetite for a late night banh mi. I wish Thi Thi would partner up with some of these breweries like Clive Burger did with National. Banh mi goes with everything.

Photo credit: Inner City Brewing Company

Our server Jaime makes a wicked old fashioned cocktail. There’s an option to select the ingredients to your liking, but I asked Jaime for his recommendation. I’m a fan of his favourite version- it was sweet, bitter, and perfumed with the strong scent of a lemon peel.

L was impressed with each beer we tried. The Heart of the City – Helles Lager was light and fresh. This is a good option for an afternoon of crushing beers in the backyard.

The Bridgelandia Modern Blonde Ale was similar to Banded Peaks’ Plainsbreaker. I liked how light and smooth this ale was. The Sunnyside XPA – Extra Pale Ale was another easy drinking, smooth beer. I could taste the citrus in it. L thought the Collectively Smashed was similar to Dandy Brewery’s Oyster Stout. Rich, dark and creamy, this beer would be ideal to drink during the Christmas season.

L ordered another flight ($9) and I ordered a second cocktail. He thought the Bridgelandia – Hoppy Blonde Ale was awesome. I don’t normally like hoppy beers, but this one was easy to drink. There was no bitterness to it.

L thought the Rooftop – Modern Lager was reminiscent of American beer. I asked him what that meant. The whole point of describing something is to word it in such a way that someone who’s never tried it would understand. He said a typical American beer taste similar to Budweiser, but this version was superior in flavour.

My favourite beer of the night was the BLX: 2005-10A-2 Weiss Bier. The Weiss was almost saison’ish with a pleasant herbal taste. L enjoyed the Brickworks – Traditional English Dark Mild. He thought this was a mild dark beer that reminded him of a Newcastle brown ale. I thought it was a very drinkable for a non-beer drinker. For a double IPA, the Lights of the City was super smooth and not bitter.

L and I both noted that all eight beers were neither too strong or sweet. I think it’s telling we tried eight out of 22 beers and we liked each one. All the beers were unique and different from each other. For a fun night tasting stellar spirits, you can’t go wrong here. We’ll be back. Hitting the Sauce gives Inner City Brewing two fat thumbs up.