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Everyone I know, including me, that has been in Vancouver for more than 15 years has lived in the West End at some time. Only a few establishments remain from my time such as Hamburger Mary, Marquis Wine Cellars and of course the old standby Denny’s where bar flies and night crawlers go for 24/7 eats (oh those were the days, which of course, I don’t remember as I was drinking). So when I received an invitation to the Tasting Plates West End which takes a spin around my old hood, I’m curious to see the new eateries as it seems the shelf life for restaurants seems to be less than two years.
849 Denman Street, Vancouver
Cuisine: coffee shop
Registration starts at Milano Coffee, a place where true caffeine addicts hang out as Milano coffee distinguished flavours comes from the skill of the torrefazzioni – a secret method of roasting and blending organic coffee beans that is handed down generation to generation and never revealed, that is unless you can make nicey nicey with one of this family’s who talks in their sleep.
Our Tasting Plates consisted of a strong robust Cognac coffee which is a combination of nine beans, anise, vanilla and burnt orange creating a boozy fruit and spice with a rich and amazing finish. There’s some other interesting coffee beans I’d like to try such Black Candy with blackberries and a vanilla finish and Black Beauty with burnt sugar and toffee with Arabicas from India, Africa, Indonesia, Central and South America. Can you think of a better way to start off your day? I can but it doesn’t involve getting out of bed to make coffee – wink wink!
1610 Robson St, unit 108, Vancouver
Moroccan Beef couscous, cheesecake, macaroons
Next stop on the Tasting Plates West End event, Casablanca Crepe which is a small quaint eatery at Robson Public Market and as we had been first in line, we were fortunate to get a seat. Here we enjoyed a combination of sweet and savoury food. Had the Moroccan Beef Couscous not been so salty, I think it would have been quite delicious as it had a flavourful combination of fragrant spices overpowered by the salt. The sweet components of macaroon and Madeleine were so-so, but then again I have eaten a whole bowl of fresh Madeleines at Cafe Boulud in New York (if you judge me, then I know you’re jealous), so my standards are pretty high when it comes to pastry or anything sweet for that matter. As for the Cheesecake Crepe, my friend told me it was creamy and rich, aka very delicious and was all too happy to take mine as I couldn’t have it due to my dairy allergy. There’s also other dessert crepes on the menu such as chocolate banana, honey or apple pie and the Tropical Coconut Crepe with chocolate, banana, coconut and chocolate mousse does sound intriguing.
854 Denman Street, Vancouver
Aburi Unagi Oshi-Sushi, Inari Sushi, wagyu beef carpaccio, veg tempura
Does Vancouver need another high-end sushi joint? When you consider the fact that more than 35% of BC’s population is Asian who have a rice and fish based diet, well if your food is good, we will come in droves with chopsticks in hand. Besides besides gambling and shopping, eating is one of our most beloved hobbies and we do it well! Our Tasting Plate at Izakaya Gon’s was everything a sushi fanatic could want. The fish on the Abura Unagi Oshi-sushi was very tender and fresh. The Wagu Beef Carpaccio was a little thicker than most carpaccio I’ve ever had and turned off my friend, but I ate it as I do appreciate good beef, which this piece of wagyu beef was. Although it was little more chewier than other capaccio, it had the perfect amount of seasoning and still tasted good and as a meat lover, you could tell it was high quality beef. The vegetable tempura came with matcha salt which I liked instead of the usual ponzu sauce. As for the Inari Sushi, I’m usually not a big fan of this as it’s just tofu and rice. Izakaya Gon’s is a Japanese company based in Japan and the food apparently shows that they know what they’re doing. ….
Pasture to Plate
1061 Denman Street, Vancouver
Special beef burger on sweet potato bun and quail egg with Ethical Soda Kombucha
It used to be that 15 years ago if you told people you ate organic, they just looked at you like you were a millionaire as organic produce and meats at that time were only available at specialty markets and cost an arm and a leg. Now every one is going organic and there are a ton of eateries offering organic eats. In the West End, Pasture to Plate Grill, Broths & Deli isn’t necessarily cheap, but it allows people who are too lazy to cook who want to eat organic meat to come here for a delicious bites of delicious goodness.
Our Tasting Plate consisted of a Beef Burger with a Quail Egg on a Sweet Potato Bun served with thirst quenching Ethical Soda Kombucha. Because it was a warm day, the Ethical Soda Kombucha went down quickly and was quite refreshing. I actually saved my burger for the next day as I was already full and what I did notice was that the Sweet Potato Bun wasn’t soggy. The Beef Burger itself was a little too well done for my taste as I do like the burger to be slightly red. Other than that, there wasn’t any spices in the burger and I didn’t think it tasted any better than burgers that weren’t organic but for those people who only eat organic, they would know the health benefits of eating organic meat. Personally, I’ve had lentil and bean burgers that I thought were more delicious than beef burgers. There’s also gluten-free cakes in Almond-Pear, Coconut Chocolate and Tumeric-Squash Coconut ,although I always wonder why some places have more gluten-free alternatives when statistics show that 65% of the population have lactose issues as opposed to 13% of the population who have gluten issues. ..
Davie Dosa Company
1235 Davie Street, Vancouver
Cuisine: South Indian
Fish pakora, veg pakora, cottage cheese, cauliflower
If you like it nice and spicy and don’t mind drinking a gallon of water with your meal, then you probably love Indian food. At Davie Dosa its spice me nice with fragrant and hot spices that opens up the pores – why go to a sauna when you can eat Indian. I love the Cauliflower with its spices and being deep-fried gave it a nice crispy crunch. Kudos to our waitress who offered to substitute my cottage cheese for more pakora. Because the pakoras were actually quite spicy, the cottage cheese would have acted as a buffer as the casein in dairy neutralizes the capsaicin in hot spices, making them more tolerable. The fish in the Fish Pakora was still quite tender and the Veg pakoras were equally as spicy. I was a little disappointed that our Tasting Plates didn’t have a dosa, after all it is the Davie Dosa Company, and they seem to have a variety of them on the menu.
Tartine Bread and Pies
1069 Davie Street, Vancouver
Cuisine: Bakery and eatery
Sante Fe club Sandwich, cole slaw
I scream, we all scream for, nope not ice cream as pie is more my friend than ice cream who hates my guts – sob. As someone with a high dairy sensitivity, the small amount of butter someone might use in a pie doesn’t kill me. So when I saw that Tartine Bread and Pies was on the Tasting Plates West End itinerary, I clicked my red shoes three times… but nothing happened. No tornado appeared to whisk me to our last destination, so the gimpster aka me, made it all the way through the Tasting Plates West End without having my friend drag me down the street by the roots of my hair.
rhubarb pie with vanilla ice cream
Our Tasting Plate at Tartine Bread & Pies consisted of a Sante Fe Cub Sandwich, Cole Slaw and Rhubarb Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream, which of course, I said no-no-NO-NO to the ice cream. This was lunch the next day and the bun actually held up and was still quite firm. The sandwich itself had a fair chunk of meat with green spinach (I think) that had not wilted and the whole combination of meat and greens was tasty. I think it’s hard to ruin a sandwich unless you skimp on the ingredients, because it really isn’t that hard to make one. The Rhubarb Pie was tart and the pastry flaky, no complaints from someone who loves tart fruit. So far to date, I’ve never had a piece of pie from Tartine Bread & Pies which I didn’t love and that is probably why they now have two locations and some of their products can be found at Meinheart Fine Foods.
Gimme Gimme Gimme Gimme!
The Lemon Meringue Pie wasn’t on the Tasting Plates West End menu, but I couldn’t resist taking a photo as it contains miles and miles of dreamy fluffy meringue which made me salivate so much that someone had to come over and wipe my saliva off the glass. I will definitely be coming back to Tartine Bread & Pies to see if the tartness of this measures up to my standards. . .
About Tasting Plates
Each month Richard Wolak organizes a different Tasting Plates event focused on a specific neighbourhood. There are usually four or more restaurants on the tour. This is a self-guided tour which you are given about four hours to visit each location. You begin at a common registration point where you receive your Tasting Plates ticket which will list the tasting plates at each establishment. The price of this ticket varies as the earlier you buy your ticket, the better the price is. You should subscribe to the Tasting Plates newsletter to learn about new Tasting Plates events. My ticket is complimentary as I market this event and write reviews and I tweet and instagram the events to death.