Dessert · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion · Vegetarian

Ten Foot Henry – Birthday Dinner

Beep Beep insisted on treating L and I out for my birthday dinner. I’ve been wanting to check out Ten Foot Henry ever since Zoomhahaa recommended it to me. L has been twice for work-related events. I always threaten to tag along and get my own table close enough to annoy him. For this post, let’s listen to Divinyls “I Touch Myself”.

Before we left for dinner, L surprised us with a bottle of Pol Roger Vintage 2009. Our neighbour Mr. Sirsky had brought a bottle of Pol Roger (non-vintage) to share with us on New Year’s Eve. Mr. Sirsky told us to try the vintage version. I have to try both back to back for a proper comparison. What’s the difference between vintage and non-vintage? Vintage is made with grapes of one year’s harvest. Non-vintage champagne is a blend of different years’ harvest. Another interesting fact – Pol Rogers is one of the few family owned luxury champagne firms.

The crowd at Ten Foot Henry is young, thin and attractive. The room is dimly lit, filled with plants and cool cartoon wall drawings. The noise level is loud, not so much from the music but from the customers.

Our server Stephanie was lovely. This is an odd comment but she has a very positive vibe. She also provided good food and wine recommendations. I noticed that the excellent service we received was a team effort. Whenever I or Beep Beep would get up, our napkin would be refolded and our drinks attentively topped off. It has been a while since I experienced service at this level.

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L ordered a Last Best beer and Beep Beep and I shared half a bottle of Vinho Verde ($37). The first dish to arrive were the Tomatoes ($15). We were instructed to mash-up the tomatoes, fresh feta, and herb together and then spoon it on top of the grilled bread. That herb in the dish turned out to be cilantro, my arch nemesis. The feta melted with the tomatoes and reminded me of cream cheese.

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Zoomhaha told me to get the Marinated Beets ($13). I liked the combination of avocado and the crunchy, buttery pistachios. The beets were firm but still tender. L loved the taste of citrus and heat. The grapefruit added a refreshing twist to this dish. Again, there was cilantro, but it was easy enough to pick out.

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The Jerk Spice Cauliflower ($16) was my favourite of the three vegetable dishes. The cauliflower was roasted and had that charbroiled taste. The root chips were crunchy and sweet. L thought he could taste a bit of miso in the pineapple mayonnaise.

L was surprised he enjoyed the vegetable dishes as much as he did. I was impressed with the range of flavours and textures. I enjoyed the unusual combination of ingredients. I thought the vegetable dishes were well-thought out and interesting.

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I enjoyed the Spaghetti ($18). The noodles were covered in a bright lemony pesto. I could taste little crunchy bits in the sauce. As the pasta is rich,  I’d recommend sharing it.

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The star of the show was the Seared Pickerel ($25). The fish was fluffy, light and tender. The skin was crispy and crackly. The lovely white sauce paired well with the brussel sprout leaves. The addition of pickled grapes added an element of dryness. I’d go as far to say this is one of the best fish dishes I’ve eaten.

I mentioned to Beep Beep that all the vegetable dishes were good, but nothing could hold a candle to the pickerel. She responded that there is only so far you can go with vegetables.

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Ten Foot desserts should not be missed. We shared the Coconut Cake and Butterscotch Pudding.  Beep Beep asked Stephanie to put a candle in the cake for me.

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The coconut cake was light – similar to Angel food cake. I liked the sweet, creamy frosting with toasted coconut flakes. The cake was delicious, but it wasn’t nearly as spectacular as the butterscotch pudding. The taste of butterscotch was like an intensely flavoured creme brulee. The pudding was cool and custardy, topped with sponge toffee. I liked the flakes of salt, which balanced the sweetness of the dessert.

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Thank you Beep Beep for a wonderful birthday dinner. I’m looking forward to my next visit. Even L is on board. I give Ten Foot Henry two fat thumbs up and it makes it on my list of favourite restaurants in Calgary.

Burgers · Chain Restaurants · Cheap Eats · Fast Food · Restaurants · Vegetarian

A&W – Beyond Burger

Bottlenick told L that he recently tried the Beyond Burger at A&W. He mentioned that people often wonder why vegetarians want to try mock meat. Bottlenick said it was because flesh cooking on a BBQ has an appetizing smell. My stomach churned at that description. I pictured my detached arm, pale side up, sizzling on the grill. For this post, let’s listen to The Breeders – Cann-ibal.

L and I were grocery shopping when I started to get hangry. He suggested we go to A&W. I said no, because I didn’t have my coupons with me. L hates using coupons. He said coupons never work for him. He gets something he never wanted in the first place and ends up paying even more for it. L and I don’t ever really fight, but when we do disagree, it’s usually about fast food coupons.

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We ordered one Beyond Burger, onion rings and one root beer. When the employee told us that the bill would be $13 dollars, I said in shock, “Wow! That’s expensive!” L hushed me and said the employee could hear me. I didn’t care, she should also know how expensive the food is for us common folk. L was impressed with how easy the transaction was – he said this was the first time he could hear the employee speak clearly over the intercom. It took about a minute to receive our order.

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Usually at McDonald’s, the burger looks small, sad and pathetic. At A&W, the burger actually resembled its picture on its advertisement. The burger was stacked with fresh produce. Two layers of chilled crisp iceberg lettuce, pickles, a whole slice of tomato and red onion. The bun was fluffy and toasted. The size of the whole burger was quite substantial, double the size of a McChicken or Quarter Pounder.

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The cheese was melted all over the patty. The patty didn’t quite taste like meat, the seasoning was mild and lacked that taste of animal fat. The texture was soft and crumbly and the exterior wasn’t crispy.  However, it was a very tasty burger, particularly so because of the abundant amount of produce, cheese and sauce in each bite.

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The onion rings were hot and still sizzling from the fryer. I liked the crunch of the batter and it was tasty enough that you didn’t need anything like condiments like ketchup. By the way, if you want ketchup, you got to ask.

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Would I get this burger again? Yes. Was it worth $8? Yes. A&W taste more like something you get from an American diner. I plan to use my coupon book to return and taste test the Beyond Burger against my old favourite – the Mozza Burger.

.A & W Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Indian · Vegetarian

Veg-In YYC

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A fellow staffer in my department recommended Veg-In YYC, a relatively new vegetarian take-out place near our office. The unit is small with a handful of spots for singles or pairs of two to eat. For a new place, the cafe sure has caught on with the locals. Whenever I walk by, there are two to three people waiting for their food.

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I asked for a recommendation, but the male employee working at the till couldn’t offer any suggestions and just shrugged his shoulders. After hemming and hawing, I picked the lunch special, a pakora naaco with rice and vegetables ($10.00).

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It took about ten minutes for the staff to assemble my order. You can tell everything is prepared and cooked with care. I was pleasantly surprised with the flavours of the vegetables, curry and potatoes. I don’t know how healthy the dish was, as quite a bit of it was deep-fried.

I plan to go back to try a burrito or something that isn’t fried. Most dishes are around the ten-dollar mark. For the quality and flavour, I’d say the food is worth it. If you haven’t already, check it out.

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Veg-In YYC Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Vegetarian

The Coup – Meat Eaters Rejoice

L and I wanted to go out for dinner but he wanted something “different”. I told him to call J-Thug and ask for a recommendation. I know the name “J-Thug” doesn’t connotate images of refinement or sophistication, but this dude knows his restaurants, women and booze (in that particular order). J-Thug told L to check out The Coup.

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In the past, when I’ve recommended The Coup to L, he would never go with me. He always says that his balls would shrivel up if he didn’t eat meat with his meal. I told him we should do an experiment and do some measurements before and after. He looked at me like I was nuts  (pun intended).

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L ordered a beer which he thought tasted too yeasty. I didn’t see any beers that I liked, so I opted to go sober. I wish The Coup would start serving Banded Peak beers…

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J-Thug told us to try the scallops. The “scallops” turned out to be king oyster mushrooms ($14). The mushrooms are tea-smoked and pan-fried. At the table, hot dashi broth is poured all over the mushrooms.

The entire dish is a winner. The mushrooms have a similar texture as scallops. We used up the grilled red fife sourdough crostini to sop up all the delicious broth. The salad of seaweed and radish was lovely, clean with a taste of the sea.

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We both ordered the falafel quesadillas ($16.5). I really dig the blend of vegetables, like the carrots, purple cabbage, pickles, bell peppers and olives. The sauces included a light touch of hummus, tahini and tzatziki. I enjoyed the crunch of the toasted sprouted tortilla and the creaminess of the goat feta. Overall, a nice balance of flavours and textures. The fat rosemary yam fries were baked, soft and sweet. The extra sauce of garlic aioli I ordered added a pungent richness to the yams.

Both L and I will be back, more so for the appetizers than the mains or salads. Thank you for your recommendation J-Thug, it was a ballsy pick.

The Coup Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Vegetarian · Vietnamese

Tamarind Vietnamese Restaurant

My buddy Jaime is leaving Calgary. She wants to hit up some of her favourite restaurants before she leaves at the end of this month. On a chilly Wednesday night, she suggested we check a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant in the downtown core, Tamarind.

Before I talk about the food, I’m going to set the mood with a song to show how I feel about my friend leaving me. If the ever so melodramatic Celine Dion depresses you while you read along, you can blame Jaime. Sadly, I’ve become attached to the little vegetarian.

Tamarind is tiny and near closing time, was still packed with customers. The food takes a long time to arrive as it is so busy and the homemade food is plated with care. For example, the tofu is house made with non-GMO soya beans and without calcium sulfate. I noticed the colours were bright and  the food artfully presented.

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When Jaime opened the menu, she let out a happy little squeal and said, “I can order anything off the menu!” I take it for granted that I can go into any restaurant and choose whatever I want. Well, except the really expensive stuff but that’s my choice as I want to stay within my budget.

Jaime and I wanted to try the Veggie La Lot Rolls ($9), but the restaurant was sold out. Instead, we tried the Tofu Mini Pie ($8.50). The tofu is mixed with mushrooms, bean thread noodles, peas and carrots. As instructed, we poured the fish sauce on top and spooned the warm tofu mixture on sesame rice crackers.

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I ordered the Sate Tofu Noodle Soup ($11.00) sans cilantro. The broth here rocked. Spicy, clean, flavourful but light. The tofu was particularly good, sweet with a pleasantly firm, silky smooth texture. The bowl was filled with broccoli, cauliflower, onions, carrots, celery, sugar snap peas, and mushrooms. I added some fresh basil leaves and sprouts. Usually I’m still hungry after eating vegetarian food, but here I was more full than a regular non vegetarian restaurant.

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Jaime ordered Laksa ($12), which came with similar vegetables and noodles. I tried a sip of her broth, which was lighter and more fragrant than my sate soup. I could detect the lemongrass and the coconut milk. Jaime enjoyed her dish but preferred the sate tofu soup over the laksa.

I found the prices reasonable for the portions and quality. If I was a vegetarian, I would come here every day. I plan to return but I will likely opt for take-out. Next time, I want to try  Tamarind’s fresh Paradise Rolls ($7.50), Veggie La Lot Rolls ($9.00), Pad Thai ($13.00) and any dishes with tofu. Tamarind’s tofu is delicious.

 

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Tamarind Vietnamese Grill & Noodle House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mediteranean

Aida’s Mediterranean Bistro

For my birthday, Jaime took me out for dinner. After our usual pilgrimage to Espy and then to the new Gravity Pope store, we strolled along Mission looking for eats. My first pick was Carino Riserva, but at 7:00pm on a Saturday, the place was packed. Every single seat was occupied. The gracious server there told me there would be seats opening in 2o minutes. However, I was hungry and wanted something to eat NOW.

Lucky for us, some customers just left Aida’s Mediterranean Bistro. I felt bad for the two servers manning the restaurant. They were running their feet off, trying to accommodate the entire room. Our server, despite the chaos, was patient as we hemmed and hawed over the wine list. She kindly let us sample her favourite white wine before we decided to ordered half a litre of it.

Jaime peppered our server with a few questions about the mezza platters. We decided on the Vegetarian Mezza ($35). This was a feast. We received endless pita and a large array of food.

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Of the three dips we tried: hummus, baba, and mouhammara, the mouhammara was my favourite. Most likely because it’s the most decadent tasting, made with red pepper paste, walnuts and pomegranate juice dip. I liked it because it was sweet and nutty and the sticky texture was delicious with pita. The baba – broiled eggplant and tahini, came in a close second.

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The fatayer – pita pastry filled with spinach was simple and easily dolled up with the side of yogurt and mint dip. The rookaak was heaven in my mouth. A cigar shaped phyllo stuffed with a piping hot blend of cheese and olives. The grape leaves were well done as well. The leaves weren’t rubbery and the filling was a tasty blend of perfectly cooked rice, tomatoes and onions. The fattoush salad was fresh and bright with lots of romaine, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a ton of radishes.

The food at Aida’s was even better than I last remembered it. The food is refreshing and plentiful, a good value in the Mission district. Thank you Jaime, for taking me out for my belated birthday dinner.

Aida's Mediterranean Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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