It was quite by accident that we stumbled upon West 2nd’s Cafe Kitsune the other day after a shopabout on Granville Island. The unassuming counter-service tea/lunch spot opened last year, featuring good steeps and a few really clean, healthy, quick, sushi-less, fiddly Japanese-inspired bowls amped up by super bright flavours. Case in point: these buckwheat soba noodles hidden underneath a tangle of cilantro, sesame, radishes, carrot, drunken chicken, ginger, soy, chili, and lime ($8.50). Mmm.
Cafe Kitsune | 1538 West 2nd Avenue | 604-336-3436 | 11:00am – 4:00pm
by Andrew Morrison | The thought of an ice cold chocolate malted shake in a tall fountain glass doesn’t pop into my head nearly as often as it used to. My Mom and sometimes my Grandparents would buy them for my brother and I with burgers and fries at old school lunch counters. They were awarded for our patience after whole afternoons spent listless and yawning on shopping trips for lady bits at Eaton’s or The Bay. Malted shakes are therefore a halcyon thing. I order one – together with a monster steak burger with bacon and swiss next to a big plate extra crispy fries – whenever I visit Moderne Burger at 2507 West Broadway. It’s the shortest, tastiest route that I know of back to being 10 years old.
by Andrew Morrison | Damn, that was good! One can always depend on the cauliflower, falafel, chicken shish tawook, mjadra, hummus, haloumi, and jalapeno sauce at any of the four Nuba locations around town, but the one at 3116 West Broadway is straight up the best. Why? Because of the ambiance. The old Greek icon (it used to be the legendary Orestes) is now Lebanese, and still its wooden banisters and labyrinthine collection of rooms and landing make it one of Vancouver’s coolest addresses, heavy with the patina of good times past and the promise of more afoot. It reminds me of some of the restaurants I went to as a kid (more Kozmas than Il Giardino); besotted by singers, belly dancers and amazed at the evident effects of alcohol on many of the grown-ups. And the light! Such memorable light. You don’t leave without it.
You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when it rains for several days in a row, your windshield wipers put you to sleep, and moss starts to overwhelm the marrow inside your bones? Of course you do. It’s an actual medical condition called Marchsuxicitis, and it runs rampant in these parts (other symptoms include: feelings of empathy towards crows, bewilderment at bright lights, listening to The Smiths, and loitering around tanning salons for the smell). Anyway, I found a cure this week. Take a friend over to La Buca, the tiny Italian restaurant deep in the West Side, and split a couple of pastas after munching on bread sticks and sipping a Negroni. You’ll feel right as…er…rain. We recommend the Vongole (top) and the Carbonara (bottom right). We were walk-ins before the dinner rush, but it’s wiser to make a reservation.
by Andrew Morrison | You know those urban myth horror stories that you sometimes hear about gigantic snakes swallowing entire pigs in one go? I happily joined their ranks over the weekend, eating my weight in pork and lobster at Yew in the Four Seasons. It was a special Visa Infinite supper, a course by course duel pitting Yew chef Ned Bell against John Jackson and Connie DeSousa of Calgary’s meaty Charcut. Greasing the rails were some outstanding local wines from Sumac Ridge, Meyer, Tinhorn, Le Vieux Pin, Painted Rock, and Orofino, with all being bookended by a couple of original Yew cocktails (one included a lobster claw and the other a strip of candied bacon). Personal highlights included the lobster bisque accented by vanilla and pineapple from Ned Bell (it sounds weird but it totally worked) and the savage, family-style delivery of ham hocks, Hunter sausages, and hominy from DeSousa and Jackson, two of the most enthusiastically pork-loving, burst-worthy chefs I’ve ever had the pleasure to blame for a morning of physical immobility. Take a closer look in the shots below…
After a solid and successful morning Tsawwassen hunt on the weekend we hit up Wildebeest for brunch. Do people even know the popular West Hastings eatery also does brunch? Well, they do, and it easily rivals nearby league-leading Cafe Medina for best in show. We really enjoyed the snacky pork and polenta croquette and the granola with housemade yogurt lightened with fruit and honey, but the ass-kicker was the eponymous “Wildebeest Brunch”. That’s three scrambled eggs (fried by default), a few slices of Angus steak wet with peppercorn sauce, a smoked cheddar bierwurst cut down the middle to expose its sparkly sausaginess, a couple of slabs of thick cut bacon, a bowl of “thrice cooked” potatoes (amazing), and a pair of toasts. A daunting feast, to be sure, and pricey at $23, but it felt worth it, and it was made all the better by a couple of well-seasoned Caesar cocktails (Vancouver most capable and schooled brunch service bar by far). Equally good, half as much (in both price and size) and twice as decadent was the cranberry bread French toast topped with a spoon of fresh ricotta, many roasted apple wedges, and some vanilla chantilly — a pretty pile of sweetened awesome if ever there was one.
If you’ve yet to give Wildebeest a whirl in the daytime, now’s the time before word gets out and a line up starts to crystallize. Brunch is served from 10am to 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays, and reservations are (for the time being) recommended but not essential. Book online or call 604-687-6880 for peace of mind. Supertip: the best fourtop in the house is Table 41.
Marc Lepine, chef at Ottawa’s famed Atelier and the current Canadian Culinary Champion, cooked an amazing meal for judges, Canadian Olympians (that’s Jamie Salé with all those black truffles) and special guests up on Big White last night. Seeing as the competitions start tonight, it was billed as his “last supper”. We weren’t disappointed. Lepine cooked a great many things, among them kusshi oysters sexed up with horseradish foam and foie gras croquettes floating in chanterelle soup, but the meat course was my favourite: insanely marbled wagyu beef striploin on hot and buttery corn juice with shavings of black truffle and dollops of truffle sour cream. It was as good as it looks, ending his reign on the highest of notes.
Tableau Bar Bistro | 1181 Melville St. | $11 for the soup, $9 for the beer | Pricy, but damn…
Vancouver company Sugo Sauce has come out with their very own lemon-infused organic extra virgin olive oil. We picked up a bottle (along with with a fresh baguette from the new Finch’s in Strathcona) and took it for a pleasant spin. So simple and so good!
Lemon Infused Olive Oil (Sugo Sauce) | Finch’s Market | 501 East Georgia | $14.50 a bottle
Feeling a little decadent? This beauty has a chocolate cookie crust, a chocolate glaze with caramelised peanuts, and creamy innards of peanut butter mousse punctuated by toasted peanut bits. Though it looks a little like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, don’t be fooled — the PBPP is 10 times bigger, 20 times tastier, 50 times richer (we measured), and wholly forkable. It’s also made with genuine maternal affection instead of weird things that even Jeremy Irons couldn’t pronounce. In other words, it’s freakin’ amazing and you should probably get yourself a slice right now because you work hard, you miss your Mom, and the sun doesn’t always shine on Thursdays.
Cadeaux Bakery | 172 Powell Street | www.cadeauxbakery.com | $3.50 per slice
There are a lot of bad things in this world that one can easily get addicted to, and then there’s the smoked salt-dusted maple bacon chocolate caramel bar with roasted almond and nougat made by BETA5 for Meat & Bread. We think it’s hands-down the best chocolate bar being made in Canada right now. If it could be chain smoked, we’d buy a pack and light the hell up. | $3
Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookie | Beaucoup Bakery | $3.75
You know those soups that you sometimes chance upon on especially rainy and shitty Vancouver days, the ones that restore your affections for the wet and cold like angels singing Holst on vinyl next to a fire with two fingers of Talisker in one hand and something good smoking in the other? This was one of them: hot and silkily textured leek puree with lemon, olive oil, rosemary, thyme, and a whack of black pepper on vintage china.
Soup of the Day | Finch’s Market | 501 East Georgia at Jackson in Strathcona | Take a look