Bars/Lounges · Restaurants · Special Occasion · Vancouver/Richmond · Vegetarian

Nightingale – Vancouver

I was back home for the weekend. I asked Naomi to pick the restaurant for Friday night’s festivities. She recommended Nightingale for the ambience and large selection of vegetarian dishes. When we arrived at the restaurant I informed the bubbly hostess that our party of four shrunk to three. She gleefully informed me that as a result, she could move me to a much better table.

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We sat on the second floor by the balcony, overlooking the bar and lounge. I love balcony seats! The music throughout the night was upbeat techno that reminded me of a modern version of “Rhythm is a Dancer” but without the lyrics.

Naomi, Beep Beep and I each started off with Nightingale martini ($15). Made with botanist gin, house green tea, white tea vermouth, elderflower, our drinks were smooth and pleasantly boozy. Naomi also ordered a glass of Orofino Syrah ($16).

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Our server Nataja was helpful with drink and food recommendations. Based on our appetite and Naomi’s food restrictions, Nataja guided us through the menu. Between the three of us, we shared five plates which ended up being the right amount of food.

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The first dish was the Apple Salad ($15). The apples won me over. Each piece of fruit was crunchy, sweet and juicy.  The walnuts, celery and cheddar added more of a savoury dimension. The Szechuan peppercorn dressing was subtle, I couldn’t really detect any notes of peppercorn.
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The Roasted Cauliflower ($12) was toasty, crunchy from the darkened florets and roasted sunflower seeds. The cilantro in the turmeric dressing was subtle. Quite tasty, I liked it.

The Grilled Broccolini ($12) was my least favourite dish – only because the flavour of cilantro in the seasame dressing was dominant.  The slender strands broccolini was cooked just way I like it – still with a noticeable crunch.

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The Roasted Mushroom Pizza ($17) was a winner. That crust was charred, the dough was light, flaky and buttery. The layer of gooey fontina cheese covered the entire pie. The arugula pesto melded into the decadent goodness and helped to balanced out the flavour of roasted garlic. The next time I visit Nightingale, I would order another pizza.
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The Butternut Squash Tortelloni ($17) was tasty. The pasta was stuffed with a smooth, hot and savoury filling. The sharpness of the goat gouda helped to balance the sweetness of the butternut squash. The addition of the pumpkin seeds and sage brown butter reminded me of Thanksgiving.

I was quite impressed with the level of service we received throughout the night. The whole restaurant hummed like a well-oiled machine. The venue looks like a special occasion place but the reasonable prices would make it a regular spot for me if I still lived here. Hitting the Sauce gives Nightingale two fat thumbs up.

Nightingale Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chinese · Dim Sum · Restaurants · Vancouver/Richmond

Shi-Art Chinese Cuisine

Before L and I returned home, I wanted to go out for dim sum with my parents Ludwig and Boss Lady. I planned to pick somewhere high-end because I wanted to treat my family. However, my mother always has the last word and she wanted Shi-Art because there’s a lot of parking. For this post, let’s play Leonard Bernstein’s I Feel Pretty because every time I listen to the Westside Story I think of how Boss Lady would sing along whenever my father would play this recording.

Shi-Art offers 20% off the bill if you eat before 11:00 a.m. The food is excellent by Calgary standards but it’s considered average by Richmond residents. I like the food quite a bit, particularly the seafood. One of the best dishes is the e-fu noodle with scallops and shrimp. The noodles were a bit oily, but the shrimp are large and have a good bite to it. The scallops are huge and nicely seared by the hot bowl.

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I didn’t bother to try the haw gow. I know what it tastes like and since Boss Lady always orders way too much food, I passed. L liked it so much he had two dumplings.

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Narc tried to put the chicken feet close to L and myself. Boss Lady told him to move it closer to him, as L and I don’t eat it. I can’t stand putting chicken feet in my mouth – the bones are too pokey and make me want to gag. Narc mentioned that his kids love chicken feet because it’s fall off the bone tender. He said the chicken feet tasted good – soft and not greasy. I’ll take your word for it.

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The congee was good. This one was filled with large scallops, Chinese mushrooms and large shrimp.

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The texture could have been thicker, but that’s just my preference. I prefer thicker, puffier congee over the silky smooth type.

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The fried doughnut was nice – light and not doughy. It is greasy though, which is why you dunk it in the congee. Cut that grease with rice gruel.

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Sui Mai was average despite the size. The texture was good – meaty and juicy but it lacked a little flavour. Maybe MSG?

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I really enjoyed the beef tendon with rice roll. Office Dad would love this dish. Such a big portion, with tons of gravy sauce. The tendon was very soft and there was plenty of tasty pieces of tender beef. The rice rolls were seared against the hot bowl. A little greasy though. Boss Lady was surprised I like this dish. She said she always orders it when she visits Shi-Art.

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The shrimp roll was tasty. The wrapper wasn’t too glutinous and the shrimp had a nice bite to it. Narc took the picture of the shrimp roll because I was getting too lazy at this point. He’s better than I am at taking photos.

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The deep fried squid was below average. The squid was doughy and the oil tasted old. If Narc or Boss Lady visits me in Calgary, I’ll take them to Ho Won for their famous deep fried squid. Too bad none of Ho Won’s other dishes are stellar.

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One of the best dishes was the fried taro ball with ground pork. The exterior was light and airy. The meat filling was saucy. The taro was soft and hot.

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The bill came and I fought hard with Boss Lady for a good minute. I told her if she didn’t let me pay I would hug her. She froze for a second but called my bluff. L tried to pay but my mother easily brushed him off. Narc just smirked while Ludwig stared off into space, probably thinking of the latest episode of Star Trek Voyager.

Why do the Chinese fight over the bill? I read this article but in my experience it’s more about showing respect and in this case, showing gratitude for all their support. Boss Lady said she did all the ordering, so she should foot the bill. However, it was my idea in the first place to go for dim sum, so I should have paid. In the end, Boss Lady agreed I would treat the next time.

Shi-Art Chinese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beer · Pubs · Restaurants · Vancouver/Richmond

Vancouver – St. Augustine’s

Our last night in Vancouver. Beep Beep, L and I returned to her house at 5:00 p.m. to get ready for our dinner reservations at Raisu. Beep Beep has been after me for a while to try Raisu’s deluxe chirashi, premium tonkatsu, sea urchin and snow crab udon soup. However, it was not in the cards. Her partner Mars was exhausted. He looked after their daughter Me Ah since 2:00 p.m. and he didn’t have his usual nap. He was so tired that he said he didn’t want to go to Raisu. I cancelled our reservations, had a drink with Beep Beep and made plans to visit L’s friend Moody and my cousin, Cuz. For this post, let’s listen to Ray Charles Hit the Road Jack.

We met Mood at his favourite watering hole – St. Augustine’s. This is the sort of place I would have frequented in my undergrad. It’s fun, lively and there are lot of local beers. Service was attentive and friendly – kudos to the two Asian female staff that looked after us throughout the night.

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We ordered a Sweet Fennel Pizza ($15). There was nothing wrong with this pie. Thin crust, with ample roasted garlic, basil and enough pork sausage to get a piece every few bites. I liked the tang of the tomato sauce and the taste of Asiago cheese was prominent.

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After we finished our pizza, L told me that Cuz was at the door. Even with my contacts, my eyesight is not the best. I waved enthusiastically to Cuz. L and Moody howled. The guy wasn’t Asian and when I looked up close, he didn’t look a thing like my cousin. His dark hair turned out to be a toque.

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When my cousin did come, we ordered wings. As it was wing night, a plate cost only $6.50. Cuz ordered teriyaki and I ordered hot wings. I received more wings than him but his were meatier.

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L ordered yam fries ($8.50). The fries were crunchy and sweet, and looked like it was double battered. The smoked garlic aioli was pungent, in a good way. I thought the amount of fries was skimpy for the price.

For a casual night out, I like St. Augustine’s. Just an FYI – while there are over 50 rotating beers, there was only one wheat beer offered.

St. Augustine's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurants · Seafood · Vancouver/Richmond

Vancouver – Fanny Bay Oyster Bar

Our last full day in Vancouver. Beep Beep, L and I checked out Granville Island. I showed L around my old stomping grounds. The art school that rejected my application. The playhouse my elementary school would take us to watch the Christmas Carol. The Lobster Man, where I experimented with shucking oysters. Then we walked around the food market where I use to buy my ravioli, pates and organic hot chocolate. L suggested at the end of the tour we sit down for a pint at the Granville Island Brewery.

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The brewery is a small room with a view of the machinery and retail store. Personally, I don’t like Granville Island beer. I find most of the flavours weak, watery and artificial tasting. Afterwards, L said he felt like raw oysters at Rodney’s in Yaletown. I wanted to try a new oyster place that opened up – Fanny Bay Oyster Bar on Cambie Street. L reiterated that he wanted to go to Rodney’s. I said a little white lie to get my way. I told him Fanny Bay Oyster was cheaper than Rodney’s. Ha! Worked like a charm. For this post, let’s listen to Blue Oyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper.

Fanny Bay also sells their seafood in their market section. I noticed trays of oysters for sale, as well as lobsters, containers of shucked oysters and frozen crab legs.
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The restaurant is roomier than Rodney’s. Service was very good. We were checked on often and the bartenders have a heavy hand when it comes to their wine pours. Happy hour is between 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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We ordered two dozen oysters ($1.50 each/hh), a plate of fried oysters ($13/hh), white wine ($6.50) and a 14-ounce of Parallel 49 Gypsy Tears Rube Ale ($5).
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The fried oysters came first. Most of the oysters were overcooked, resulting in a rubbery, dry texture. There was one oyster that was properly cooked and that was good. The center was still soft and creamy, tasting of the ocean. I liked the house made coleslaw – the shredded cabbage was crunchy and lightly dressed.

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The raw oysters were delicious. Each oyster was nice and cold. So delicious, I chewed as slowly as I could to enjoy the slightly salty, plump sweet morsels. Fanny Bay oysters have a pleasant aftertaste – a bit like cucumbers.

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We received a shallot mignonette, but I preferred just a squeeze of lemon, hot sauce and touch of horseradish.

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You can get $1.50 oysters in a few places in Calgary, but none taste like this since Full Circle closed. Earlier that day I walked into the Lobster Man on Granville Island. Their oysters cost $1.50 and up and you have to shuck them yourselves. Do you know how much work goes into shucking? Too much for me.  I give Oyster Bay Bar’s raw oysters two fat thumbs up.

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Fanny Bay Oyster Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chain Restaurants · Cheap Eats · Japanese · Restaurants · Vancouver/Richmond

Vancouver – Jinya Ramen

Beep Beep and I made plans for dinner. I picked Guu on Thurlow. After a couple of drinks, her partner Mars said Guu was too far away and it would be difficult to find parking. He said he would prefer to go somewhere closer. He added that he and Beep Beep eat there so often, he would rather go somewhere else. I’m easy going! I don’t care what we eat and I give so little thought into where we eat, I cancelled our reservations. Easy peasy. Instead, I suggested Jinya. Jinya doesn’t take reservations but it’s about five minutes from Beep Beep’s house.

For this post let’s listen to Sheryl Crow, If It Makes You Happy.

We arrived around 5:30 p.m. but the restaurant was full. We ordered beers at Bean Brothers and waited until about 6:00 p.m. When we got our table, the first thing Mars did was order their baby Me Ah a Kid’s Meal ($11.99).

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L ordered the Sprouting Up Ramen ($13) and I ordered the Spicy Tonkatsu with an egg ($14). I don’t remember what Beep Beep or Mars ordered. L’s ramen was better than mine. I preferred the flavor of his chicken and pork broth over my spicy pork broth.

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The ramen at this location is far superior to the Calgary location and I don’t understand why, as the food should taste the same. The broth here is served steaming hot. The ingredients seem more generous and flavorful. I liked the thick noodles so much I ordered another serving. I chose the thin noodles to see what it was like compared to the thick version. I prefer the chew and the flavor of the broth that the thicker noodles take on.

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The kitchen was bustling away getting all the orders out. Me Ah’s ramen came out at the very end of the meal after Mars had to ask for it (twice). They also forgot her vanilla ice cream. Not a big deal at all.

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The food is affordable and though the wait for some of it was longer than anticipated, what came out was well done. Hitting the Sauce gives Jinya two fat thumbs up.

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Jinya Ramen Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Japanese · Restaurants · Seafood · Sushi · Vancouver/Richmond

Vancouver – Sushi Hachi

So I’m going to preface this by reminding you that I now live in Calgary, a landlocked city. I’ve lived there for so long now that I naively assume that any sushi place in Vancouver is superior to what I can get back home. I need to start giving Calgary more street cred.

L and I picked Beep Beep up. We decided to go somewhere close for lunch. The wait at Jinya was too long so we opted for Sushi Hachi. For this post, let’s listen to So So by Bob Marley.

Sushi Hachi’s strength appeared to be the cooked food. The agadashi tofu everyone else was ordering looked good – generous amounts of fluffy fried tofu piled high on a plate. Most people ordered chicken teriyaki or bowls of udon. We unfortunately ordered sushi.

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The lunch specials are cheap. I ordered a spicy tuna and spicy salmon roll with the sauce on the side. For $8.99, this should be a steal. However, the rolls were mostly overcooked rice with too much vinegar. The rice tasted sour to me. The miso soup was strong and salty.

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L ordered a sushi combo with sashimi and nigiri. I ate the scallop and roe sushi. Both were a bit fishy, but the proportion was right. He said the sashimi was okay.

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Beep Beep ordered a California roll and negitoro roll. Both were so so. I could tell all the sushi was freshly prepared.

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Service was good despite being understaffed. The one server did a good job helping all the customers though understandably it took a bit longer to get tea refills and such. There was a snarky female customer who seemed unhappy with how long it took for the food to come out and life in general. After she asked if her food was coming out she sniped, “It would help to have chopsticks to eat my food.” The male server graciously responded that yes it would be helpful and her chopsticks were already there, to her left. She flushed and finally looked like she was done talking. She wasn’t. Ah, one of my first jobs was working at the nearby Starbucks. Let’s just say I do not miss those days.

Sushi Hachi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brunch · Burgers · Chain Restaurants · Restaurants · Vancouver/Richmond

Richmond – White Spot – Part Deux

I asked my father Ludwig where he wanted to go for breakfast. White Spot he responded, without a moment’s hesitation. However, he stressed that we were not to eat at the location inside Richmond Centre. Though I didn’t ask him why, he proceeded to inform me the reason. First, let’s put on some music. As my father stands firm when he makes a decision, let’s listen to Johnny Cash I Won’t Back Down.

Here’s the story. My father went to the White Spot located inside Richmond Centre. He noticed that there was all new staff. He emphasized that he did not recognize any of the employees. He ordered his usual – fish and chips with extra lemon. When his food arrived, the fish was so poorly cooked he didn’t eat it. It was not just the fish that tasted poorly. The fries were little shards of dried up potato and the coleslaw was not fresh. When the server came to clear his dish, she asked him if he wanted to pack up the leftovers. Ludwig responded, “I’ve been coming to the White Spot since I was a young boy. When I attended UBC,  I would drop by at the Broadway location after my classes. This was in the 60s. Since then, I have eaten at numerous White Spots all over the province so I am well aware of what the food should taste like. I am now 76 years old. I have to say this was the worst meal I have ever eaten at a White Spot.” The server said she could take $8.00 off the bill. Ludwig said that was a nice gesture but he would never return.

To sum up Ludwig’s story succinctly, he will now only eat at 5880 Number 3 Road, not the one at 6551 Number 3 RD. I wanted to cut some calories so I didn’t order my own plate. My vegetarian father ordered Nat’s Hearty Breakfast ($13.49). He picked scrambled eggs, three sausages, smash brown potatoes, and two pancakes with diabetic maple syrup.

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My father weighs 124 pounds and he’s 5 foot seven. Yet he ate everything on his plate and ordered another refill for the potatoes. I don’t know where he packs it away. And why didn’t I get his metabolism? I did eat half a pancake and half a sausage. It was pretty tasty. The pancake was light and fluffy. The sausage was juicy and tasty, not like the tiny tasteless ones you get at Safeway. Ludwig disagreed with my observation and he said it wasn’t that much food as he had given me a pancake and a sausage.

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L ordered the Breakfast Quesadilla ($14.99) and shared it with me. This is a breakfast I can get behind. Two crisp tortillas were filled with mushrooms, fresh spinach, three cheeses, green onions, scrambled eggs, and chorizo sausage. The filling wasn’t uniformly hot, the cheese and spinach were warm but the eggs were colder. The cilantro in the sour cream was quite subtle so I enjoyed it.

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I’m all White Spotted out. Next!

White Spot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurants · Seafood · Vancouver/Richmond

Victoria – Tacofino

For New Year’s Eve L and I visited my friend Tan and her husband Yah at their acreage in Sooke. We feasted and sipped the night away but we couldn’t quite stay up past 11:30 p.m. I fell asleep hearing the fireworks go off. So close. Maybe next year.

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The next day L and I headed over to Victoria to spend the day. We checked out the Empress Hotel, strolled around Fisherman’s Wharf, and explored the waterfront by the harbour.

We were feeling hungry and discovered Tacofino has a location in Victoria! For this post, let’s play Bandages by Hot Hot Heat, a band from Victoria. It was either that or Hanson and I’m pretty sure no one wants that. Or do you? Let’s think about this… hmmm MMMBop!

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Tacofino does plenty of take-out. Throughout our stay there was a steady flow of customers and calls to pick up food. I ordered a Tuna Taco ($7.25) and L ordered his usual Crispy Ling Cod Taco ($5.50). We shared a large bowl of Tortilla Soup ($10.50). A single taco makes for a good snack. You would need two to make it a meal.

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Maybe I should have played Hanson because this taco made my taste buds say,

Say Mmmbop, ba duba dop!

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du, yeah

Mmmbop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba du dop

Ba du bop, ba du dop

Ba du, yeah

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The tuna was lightly seared, still soft and cool. I really enjoyed the combination of flavours from the soy, seaweed salad, white ginger and wasabi mayo. All together, it was like the most delicious bite of sushi in my mouth.

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The tortilla soup was good and not overly seasoned so you could really enjoy the ancho chicken broth. Inside the bowl were chunks of roast chicken thighs, sour cream, chunks of melted molten cheese, soft slices of avocado and still crunchy tortilla crisps.

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There wasn’t much to do after we ate so we left early to visit my brother Narc, my sister-in-law Enforcer and their two kids. There wasn’t any restaurant open on New Year’s Day except for the good old White Spot. L offered me some of his legendary  burger but I was in control and didn’t bite.

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I know the burger looks like a puffier McDonald’s cheeseburger, but it’s the secret sauce of relish, mayonnaise and ketchup that makes this burger so addicting. I enjoyed a filling and fresh salad of chicken, romaine, pecans, apples and grapes. We washed everything done with beer from Fuggles and Warlock.

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Little did I know that the next morning I would be returning to White Spot. Stay tuned for White Spot Part Deux.

Tacofino Victoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beer · Restaurants · Vancouver/Richmond

Richmond – Fuggles and Warlock

L and I landed back in my hometown. Before we met up with my parents, I thought it would be a good idea to visit Fuggles and Warlock. I was first introduced to Fuggles and Warlock’s delicious strawberry Wit  at our friend’s craft beer store in Calgary –  Domestic Bottle Shop.

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For this post, let’s listen to what you would likely hear at Fuggles and Warlock – Rise Against by Satellite.

We ordered two flights so we could try every beer on tap. We should have ordered one flight at a time because by the time we made our way to the second flight, the bubbles had fizzed.

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My all time favourite beer of the bunch is the Strawberry Wit. The strawberry taste doesn’t taste fake. It’s a light, fresh beer.

Cassis Sour

The Cassis Sour is aptly named. This beer reminded me of a hard candy I would eat as a kid – like a Jolly Rancher.

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The Mango beer reminded me of bananas. If you were born before 1990, you might remember having or knowing someone with a sticker collection. Ah, those were the days. We were so simple. This beer tasted a bit like how a banana sticker smells.

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I liked the Pixel Pils. I found this beer floral, mellow and easy to drink.

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We took a little break to eat something. I heard Fuggles and Warlock sold bento boxes but apparently that was a long time ago. Instead, charcuterie, pepperoni sticks, sandwiches,  cheeses, hot pies and samosas are offered. I wasn’t expecting much, as most breweries in Alberta don’t give food a second thought.

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I pleasantly surprised to learn the food here is very tasty. Our Steak and Onion Pie ($7) with Espresso Milk Stout arrived hot out of the oven. The pie was filled with chunks of tender steak. The gravy was rich and heavy. The crust, bottom, top and sides were thin and crunchy. I would order this again.

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We also ordered three samosas. If we were to go by the menu’s description as fact, “From Golden Samosa Bakery in Surrey, the samosas everyone’s talking about”, these samosas are the talk of town. Both the chicken and the beef used ground meat and spices. The potato version was hearty and lightly spiced. My favourite samosas in Calgary are from Nooren – these pockets of heaven should be featured in Avenue Magazine. The vegetarian samosas in particular deserve a special shout out, packed with fresh spices, vegetables and vibrant flavours. Oh well – no one ever listens to me so it probably won’t be featured anytime soon.

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On to the next set of beers. The Personas was the most hoppy and bitter beers we tried.

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I found the Destiny IPA more gentle with a mild hoppy’ness.

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The Valis was very good, I liked the creamy texture.

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The last one – Bean Me Up- was rich and smooth. This coffee porter would be a great one to sip at the end of a meal on a cold winter’s night.

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Fuggles and Warlock was busy throughout our visit with regulars. I saw lots of locals come by to fill up their growler with the Bean Me Up stout. I thought this brewery was a fun spot to try something different.

Fuggles and Warlock Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bakery · Vancouver/Richmond

Vancouver – Beaucoup Bakery

I don’t know how my friends in Vancouver stay so slim. Whenever I go back, there are so many great places to eat. Sushi, Indian, Chinese and a whole whack of sweet places like Bon Ton, Chocolate Arts, Ganache, and my new favourite, Beaucoup Bakery.

This tiny bakery is busy. Despite the steady line-up, staff were friendly and welcoming. There are a handful of tables and chairs for you to sit and enjoy an espresso drink and of course, eat one of their famous croissants.

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My buddy Jaime insisted I try a croissant. I opted for a petite pain au chocolat. The chocolate was dark and intense. The actual pastry was incredibly flaky. I’ve never had a croissant in which there seem to be endless layers.

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Jaime ordered a regular croissant, which looked massive. However, when you bite into the pastry, you see that it’s mostly air. When I’m back in Vancouver in October and I plan to bring my husband to this gem.

Beaucoup Bakery & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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