Beer · Burgers · Happy Hour · Patio · Pizza · Restaurants · Seafood

Roof Top Bar @ Simmons – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Lovegastrogirl and I met up for girls’ night. Finding a restaurant for her is tricky. Based on her Instagram photos, the emerging themes are: a) spectacular view b) photogenic cocktails c) pretty plates of food. I picked the Roof Top Bar at Simmons for the view and because I wanted to try Connie and John’s pizza. For this post, let’s listen to “7 rings” by Ariana Grande.

Getting to the Roof Top Bar was a trial. I walked from my house, which is 7 km away. I’ve walked much further before without any issue, but this time I wore shoes without stockings. By the time I reached Chinatown, my ankles and the arch of my foot were raw and bloody. I limped into Chuen May and cried out, “Theresa, I’m not here for dim sum. I’m bleeding. Could I buy some band-aids from you?”

Theresa told me I was silly for offering to pay her. She and her sisters brought out a first aid kit and offered me five different types of band-aids, a disinfectant wipe and Polysporin. She even offered me extra ones to take with me. I thanked her profusely and told her I’d be back for my dim sum refill. Patched up, I was ready to go and made it just in time for my reservation.

Lovegastrogirl started off with a cocktail and I ordered a glass of white wine. She likes to snack and try a lot of dishes. I am not listing all the prices because Lovegastrogirl treated me out and some of the dishes she ordered were not on the website menu.

I am a fan of the nachos. The chips arrived blistering hot. Lovegastrogirl noted that the cheese was layered throughout the nachos and just not on the top. I liked the unique dipping sauce of dill and the hot heat from the hot peppers.

For my second beverage, I tried Connie and John’s pilsner ($10). I thought this was a sweet and easy to drinking beer. I knew I would like this beer since it’s from my favourite brewery – The Dandy Brewing Company.

Lovegastrogirl was craving oysters. The fresh oysters we received were thin and salty. If I had to guess, I would say these were an east coast variety. The oysters were accompanied with lime slices and hot sauce.

Lovegastrogirl likes her spuds and wanted to try the Greek Spiced Roasted Potato Wedges ($9). She enjoyed how the fries were poofy on the inside and crisp on the outside. Again, we got more of that lovely creamy dill sauce.

My favourite snack of the night was the featured Meaty Pizza By the Slice ($6.95). I loved the thick, melty layer of cheese. The crust was thin, crunchy and flavourful. Lovegastrogirl thought extra cheese was added to our slice because of the lacy cheese bubbles over the edges.

The view up here is something else and not something you can find easily in Calgary. Lovegastrogirl thought the vibe was very Vancouver. I would return for the view and the pizza in a heartbeat.

Thanks Lovegastrogirl for treating me out. I have a couple of ideas of where I can take you on our next date. There will be a clear view of me, and I promise the food, cocktails and ambience will deliver.

 

Italian · Pizza · Restaurants

Azzurri Pizzeria – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Karplop and I met up for pizza night at her place. As she lives near all the Italian stores, we stopped by the Italian Super Market so I could stock up on some staples. For this post, let’s listen to “And She Was” by Talking Heads.

As we were shopping, Karplop pointed out Rio Mare tuna is the only canned tuna Miss Foodie will eat. Dammit Karplop, why did you have to go and say that? Now I had to buy it. Seriously, Miss Foodie should create her own stamp and start labeling restaurants and food products so customers know it was Miss Food approved.

When we went to order our pizzas to go, Karplop informed me that Miss Foodie only orders the Cotto e Funghi ($24) at Azzurri Pizzeria. Again Karplop? You know how impressionable I am. Of course I changed my order from my beloved Ten Pizza ($25) to the mushroom pizza. Karplop ordered the Italia ($26) and said we could share both pizzas.

While we waited outside on the patio, Karplop mentioned several times that it would be best to eat the pizzas straightaway because the crust is crispier. However, we decided to take our pizzas to go because we had wine at her place. When we got back, Karplop rushed to lift the lids up and fanned the pizzas to help with the condensation.

I thought the mixed mushroom pizza was a subtle combination of delicate flavours and textures. The prosciutto was so light and clean it reminded me of the deli sliced ham my parents would buy for our sandwiches. The goat cheese was smooth and soft with a little tartness to it. The mushrooms were earthy and with a prominent aroma.

Karplop’s sausage pizza was the opposite of the mushroom pizza.  The homemade Innis and Gunn Italian sausage was juicy and spicy. The zesty tang of the San Marzano tomato sauce was dominant. I enjoyed the crunch of the red caramelized onions and the strong flavours of the Genoa sausage, which rounded out this hearty pie. Between the two pies, I have to say I preferred the robustness of the sausage pizza over the refined flavours of the mushroom pie.

I can see why Karplop was so focused on preserving the integrity of the crust. I appreciate the thinness of the dough and the big air pockets within the crust. I particularly liked the charred bits and the chewy texture of the bread. Azzurri only used “00” flour and the dough is hand stretched, tossed, then baked in a 900 degree Marra Forni brick oven.

I told Karplop that I read a Google review by a customer who complained the crust was burnt and she had to pick off the black pieces. Karplop laughed and said that is the way its supposed to be and the charred bits doesn’t taste burnt. She wondered why the customer wasn’t aware that this was a specific style of pizza making. I was tempted to quote Biggie Smalls in the Google review and add, ” … and if you don’t know, now you know.”

If you are a pizza lover and enjoy quality over quantity, check out Azzurri Pizzeria. This place is something special. And if you got a beef with the style of pizza they make, think twice before posting a negative review because you are going to get burned. Hitting the Sauce gives Azzurri two fat thumbs up.

 

Italian · Patio · Pizza · Restaurants

Annabelle’s Kitchen

On Friday, L received good news. To celebrate, we went out for dinner. I couldn’t get reservations to my top picks: Shokunin, Bar Von Der Fels or Carino. L suggested three restaurants. None of his options offered a wine list that appealed to me. I countered with Tavernetta, but L didn’t want to drive that far. I scrolled through Instagram and saw a photo from Annabelle’s Kitchen, a modern Italian restaurant in Marda Loop.

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L was indifferent but I was insistent. I stressed that Annabelle’s Kitchen is only five minutes away, and we could go to Village Ice Cream for dessert. For this post, let’s listen to “Compromise” by Molly Kate Kestner.

Annabelle’s Kitchen doesn’t take reservations. Another group that was initially behind me ran up ahead and got the last table. It wasn’t cold, so we opted to sit outside on the patio.

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Our server Taylor provided solid wine pairing recommendations for our meal. She recommended a white wine – ($10, Brigaldar, il Soave, Veneto Italy) to go with the Ravioli ($16). The wine was light and lively on the tongue. I preferred the wine with the pasta, rather than just own its own.

You could taste the individual ingredients in the pasta – the lemon, the smooth mildness of the ricotta and the subtle pop from the garden peas and basil pesto. I thought this dish tasted almost healthy – there wasn’t an over abundance of salt, olive oil, butter or cream.

For our Sausage Pizza ($20), Taylor recommended a red wine (Mati Barbera, Piedmont, Italy $11). L ordered a Sour Cherry from Banded Peak ($8.50).

The Italian sausage had a nice chew to it. L liked the creaminess of the goat cheese. I enjoyed the heat from the pepper flakes and chili oil. The crust was perfectly baked and it reminded me of Azzurri Pizzeria.  Crunchy on the bottom but not burnt.

For dessert, L wanted a salted caramel waffle cone from Village Ice Cream. I didn’t want any but L insisted I try some of his ice cream. He kept offering me tastes and I nibbled away until he complained that I ate half his cone. Here’s a pro tip for you. If you don’t want me to eat your ice cream, don’t ask me to.

We will be back – to Annabelle’s Kitchen for pizza and Village for ice cream. If you haven’t been to either businesses, I recommend checking them out.

Annabelle's Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Pizza · Pubs · Restaurants

Blackbird Public Urban Bar

We met L’s colleague Tent and his wife Canoe for drinks in Auburn Bay. As we are traveling to Croatia together for a conference, Tent thought it would be a good idea to meet up before our trip. For this post, let’s listen to Blackbird by The Beatles.

I chose Blackbird Public Urban Bar because on Thursdays, wine is half-price. L and I were early, so I ordered a bottle of Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon ($48.50/HH $24.50). L ordered a pint of Goose Island IPA ($7.5). I learned after Canoe arrived that she drinks red but prefers white wine. I told Canoe that I heard Croatia has some nice white wines.  She suggested that we go to a winery while we are there. What an excellent idea!

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I could tell that I was going to enjoy traveling with Canoe because she makes good food choices. She ordered the Pig Fat Popcorn ($4). The seasoning was a blend of what tasted like hot chili powder and grana padano. The popcorn was warm and fresh, so addicting I couldn’t stop eating it.

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L and I shared a large Fried Chicken Pizza ($24). The crust was thick and doughy. The pizza had ample cheese, large slices of pineapple, small chunks of fried chicken and jalapenos. I didn’t care for the pineapple. L disagreed and said the combination was a good mix of savoury, sweet and spicy.

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Canoe ordered the Ahi Tuna Sushi Bowl ($18), similar to chirashi but with chunks of vegetables and a sauce that looked like honey mustard. Canoe enjoyed her bowl and said it was like eating a sushi roll. She thought the sushi rice was okay but not as good as Kinjo. She offered me a bite but since I just met her, I declined and instead ogled her food.

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Tent ordered a small Fried Chicken Pizza ($15). He ate about half of the pie and left the crust. Canoe mentioned she wanted to bring back lace from Croatia. Tent was very interested until he realized they were talking about different usages of lace. Canoe wanted the type you put on furniture, like a doily.

I’m getting excited for our upcoming trip. A few places I wanted to dine at include Konoba Bonaca, Barba, Buza Bar, Fish Bar El Pulpo and Pink Shrimp. Some of the excursions I’m interested include a day trip to Bosnia, island hopping, Lokrum Island, wineries and a Game of Throne tour. As Tent and Canoe are athletic, I’m going to suggest they check out chasing waterfalls, biking and kayaking.

Blackbird Public Urban Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Kyoto · Pizza · Restaurants

Kyoto – Colors and Kaya

Our first night in Kyoto! I wanted to visit L’s old stomping grounds. We hopped on a train and headed to Otsu, a sleepy little town just a few stops away from Kyoto Station. For this post, let’s listen to Journey – Don’t stop believin’ (Small Town Girl).

As we walked around, L pointed out everything that was either brand new or a place he use to frequent. He wanted to check out Colors – a hole in the wall bar on the main street. When L lived here, he use to hang out at Colors with his other foreigner buddy.

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He warned me not to use the washrooms, as it was a traditional one, a squat. There are a lot traditional washrooms in Japan. I have yet to use one. I’m just not there yet. Inside, a customer was smoking, but L was willing to tolerate this occasion because it was his idea.

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We were charged 400 Yen for some candies and wasabi potato chips. L said it’s common for a bar to drop off bar snacks for a small surcharge. L’s sleeve of beer was 600 Yen and my orange vodka was 800 Yen. My drink barely had any booze in it.

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L said customers often stay for hours and the ongoing conversation with the owner is part of the experience. Early in the morning, as in 6 or 7 a.m., L would see customers stagger out.

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L chatted with the owner and found out he just bought the bar. Another customer practiced his English with L and asked us if we were married.

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We only stayed for one drink. You could tell the owner and customer were surprised that we left so quickly. I informed L that I was taking him out for pizza and wine at Kaya Bar in Kyoto Station.

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I remember Kaya Bar being a lot better last year. I’m not sure if the quality went down or if my standards went up. I suspect it’s the latter. You can tell the employees are tired of tourists. This place attracts them in droves. Foreigners were excited to come in and order something familiar like pizza and pasta at inexpensive prices.

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The drinks are dirt cheap. 300 Yen for house red or white wine. 500 Yen for a small sleeve of beer. Pizzas start at 600 Yen. The pizza is fine for the price. The house wine was so bad, at one point I almost gagged. I just stopped drinking because I found it so unpleasant. I found it difficult to get a good quality glass of wine at a price I was use to paying for in Canada, which is about $16 a glass. The selection of wine is also not impressive at the department stores in Japan.

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The anchovy cabbage was vile. The texture of the cabbage was limp and soggy. The sauce just didn’t jive with my taste buds. The pizzas are thin and have a good ratio of cheese to dough. This place was a hit with our group. There’s nothing wrong with Kaya. Just avoid the house wine and you’ll do fine.

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

Beer · Happy Hour · Pizza · Restaurants

Merchants Restaurant

For my belated birthday, K-Dog insisted on taking me out for drinks. She picked Merchants in Marda Loop. The restaurant was busy, filled with customers in our age group and older. The music was loud, energetic and reminded me of the 2018 equivalent of 90’s techno. For this post, let’s listen to Haddaway’s What is love?

K-Dog enjoys the Red Rooster Merlot, so I followed suit and ordered a 9-ounce glass ($14). Ah, BC wine! So glad Alberta has stopped the wine ban. This wine was a mouthful of dark berry notes.

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I wasn’t hungry but K-Dog insisted on ordering some appetizers. We shared the Truffle Mushroom Pizza ($22). The crust was thin and crunchy. I couldn’t detect the pesto so much because the truffle oil overpowered the other ingredients. I enjoyed the meaty mushrooms and soft layer of the mozzarella. The prosciutto added a nice saltiness to it.

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Service was pleasant. Our sever made sure we were topped off with wine and after K-Dog paid the bill, she let us gab on without giving us the get out of here vibe. K-Dog told me that on Saturdays, Merchant offers a prime rib dinner ($23) that is delicious. I plan to organize a little get together here with K-Dog and some of our friends to celebrate her new job.

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An interesting tidbit. I saw on Zomato an observation from a customer about the crowd and lack thereof hot ladies. My husband loves watching Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturdays. I prefer watching foodies go at it. For some weird reason, it gives me immense enjoyment. I’m kinda sick that way.

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

17th Ave · Beer · Happy Hour · Patio · Pizza · Restaurants

Sunday Funday at Cibo

Cibo has an awesome happy hour and daily specials. On Sundays, Cibo features half off pizzas all day long, as well as four dollar draft beers. The patio is also one of the nicest on 17th Ave.

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We ordered Philips Citricity Grapefruit IPA ($4), a mushroom pizza (hh $10, regular $20) and the prosciutto pizza (hh $11, regular $22). I found the chili oil for our pizza too mild – it tasted like regular olive oil.

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I could detect button and oyster mushrooms on our vegetarian pizza. The roasted garlic and truffle oil was delicate. The cream sauce was mild tasting as well. The fried rosemary added a nice crunchy texture and pleasant aromatic flavour.

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I enjoyed the pronounced flavours from our meat pizza. The prosciutto was salty, but the arugula added some freshness to the pizza. I liked the sweetness that the fig jam added. The crust on both pizzas were chewy with airy.

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I have to give our server Alekdandra kudos. She was excellent – competent, attentive and sincere. I really appreciated her suggestions and ability to make her customers feel comfortable. Great service makes such a difference, and at happy hour to boot!

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

Pizza · Restaurants

Oakridge Pizza

My husband’s colleague invited us over for pizza and to watch videos of Japan’s high-speed public and private railways (which was actually quite fascinating). Terry ordered from Oakridge Pizza. She ordered two large pizzas – the Oakridge Family ($26) and the All Meat ($26). If you order two or more pizzas, you get 10% off (except for pick-up) and delivery is free on orders $18.00 or more within a 5km radius.

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The pizzas took about an hour to arrive. The Oakridge Family Pizza came with ham, pepperoni, ground beef, salami, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, green peppers and we omitted the banana peppers. Though it was loaded with so many ingredients, it didn’t taste too busy. I didn’t find the amount of meats overpowering because of the generous amount of mushrooms and the fresh, crunchy flavours of the tomatoes, green peppers and onions.The flavour of crust is stellar, neither sweet or bland. The sauce is tangy with a little kick to it.

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I enjoyed the Oakridge Family Pizza so much, I ate two pieces and was too full to try the All Meat Pizza. My husband liked the Meat Pizza so much he didn’t have any room to try the Oakridge Family Pizza. The Meat pizza contained ham, pepperoni, salami, ground beef and spicy sausage.

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The thick layers of cheese and toppings makes for a decadent, high calorie dinner. Oakridge Pizza is in the same league as Hanni’s, our neighbourhood go-to. This is a deluxe, stick-to-your-ribs style of pizza. If I lived in the hood, I’d hit up Oakridge Pizza regularly.

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Thank you Terry for hosting a lovely, educational night. Our treat when we return from Japan. I’m already planning on bringing over sushi from Red Ember, or Chinese food from Sun’s BBQ, or maybe pizza from Hanni’s.

Oakridge Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beer · Happy Hour · Italian · Pizza · Restaurants

Posto – Pizza Lunch

Jyoti Gondek invited me along with a few other of her volunteers to Posto for lunch and a chat about her election campaign as city councillor for Ward 3. Jyoti let me pick the food, though Finance said she would order her own meal because she has so many allergies. I asked Chris for his input, but I changed the dishes last-minute when I realized he wasn’t going let me order what I wanted.  Sucker. He was too polite to protest.

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Finance ordered the special salad of the day – fresh heirloom Alberta red tomatoes, fior di latte, fresh basil with a balsamic vinaigrette ($16). The tomatoes were ripe and juicy. The cheese was subtle and soft.

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I ordered a pizza with smoked salmon, leeks, capers, creme fraiche and lemon ($24.00). I really liked the lightness of the creme fraiche and the creamy sauce on the crust. The smoked salmon was cool on the tongue and the capers added a nice saltiness to it. The crust is just awesome. Slightly charred, airy crust with a chew to it.

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We shared the special pizza of the day – house-made mortadella (pork sausage) with pistachios and balsamic vinaigrette ($22). The meat was juicy and flavourful. There was a touch of sweetness to the pie from the balsamic. I thought the sprinkle of pistachios went well with all the other flavours of the ingredients.

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If you haven’t been yet, I would recommend Posto for pizza. It’s a cozy date night spot. Best time to go is on Sundays, when pizzas are half-price all night long! I would recommend the potato, creme fraiche, leek, smoked pancetta ($21) and the spinach, shallot, garlic, wild mushroom, grana padano ($21), and the smoked salmon pizza.

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Posto Pizzeria and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato