Tasting Plates Commercial Drive Review
From sexy red beet gnocchi at at Federico’s Supper Club, carnivorous delights at Pasture to Plate, 2000 calorie desserts at Fratelli Bakery, hearty Lebanese fare at Jamjar Canteen to I’m-having-one-of-everything at Grounds for Coffee, the following are my highlights of Tasting Plates Commercial Drive which incidentally took me three days to eat as there was so much food for a little ol gal like me. Whenever I get an invite to the Tasting Plates Commercial Drive, I know I’m always in for some really tasty treats!
Federico’s Supper Club
1728 Commercial Drive
I’ve always given the Italian cuisine at Federico’s an A+ but after this even I’ll have to add four more ++++ because I could have eaten two big heaping platefuls of the Gnocchi Di Barbabietola aka red sexy beet gnocchi which is a the product of a love affair between a potato and beet – so pillowy soft and tender and overflowing with gorgeous beet flavour. But if you’re not a beet fan, then shove your plate my way. This was paired with Tenuta Musone Via Rosa which had bright red cherry and cranberry notes and offered a refreshing contrast of bright fruit flavours. The wine pairing for these two dishes was just $8 for this event.
Then to ward off all the emotional vampires in your life, the second half of our Tasting Plate was this super duper garlicky Penne con Broccoli e Patate (diced potatoes, peperoncino, pangattato) paired with Tormaresca Trentangeli Rosso 2015 which is too powerful for that first kiss with a new man, that is, unless he’s a luscious Italian stallion – giddy up! Seriously I think there might have been a little bit of butter and flakes of cheese on this which didn’t overtake the fragrant garlic which definitely took front stage here. It was paired with a full bodied wine whose notes of chocolate, vanilla and dark cherries complemented this bold flavour.
But Federico’s Supper Club is more than an exquisite Italian restaurant, it is exactly that – a supper club where you dine and enjoy live entertainment and even dancing, which makes this place an oddity as we all know that places catering to the over 40 crowd is very rare indeed in this city. Here you’ll enjoy a three or four course dinner while listening to bands playing tribute to the greatest music legends such as Neil Diamond, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Elvis and more. And on other nights, the owner Federico Fuoco aka Mr. Suave takes the stage – but beware, swooning is a side effect of watching his performance. So is it a surprise that Federico’s has been around for 30 years? Great food + fabulous entertainment + affordable prices = fun times for all.
Grounds for Coffee
2088 Commercial Drive
Cuisine: Cinnamon Buns café
Usually when I ask for one of everything the answer is no followed by a snicker. But our Tasting Plate at Grounds for Coffee was more of a Tasting Platter as there were Oatmeal Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Vegan Pizza with Daiya Cheese, Cinnamon Buns, etc . It was like being in a candy store. I had to resist the urge to run and lick everything so I could decide what I wanted, but why bother when you can have one of everything!
Verdict – the “world famous” Cinnamon Buns were good although I have had some that had more cinnamon and cream cheese icing, but it was moist and left me ha-ha-happy. Apparently their Cinnamon Buns are made without trans fats, hydrogenated oils or bleached flour or preservatives and are also nut free, iced with vanilla bean cream cheese icing.
Oat milk is a dairy alternative I’ve wanted to try and it was delicious in the Chai Latte (top left). But I didn’t dare try the Americano as I can’t drink caffeine this late in the day which my friends said was strong which is typical for any Americano since it is espresso tempered with water. I also didn’t drink the Berry Smoothie (top right) as it had soy as I have a slight reaction to soy, but my friend happily drank mine (oink) and said it was refreshing and was chock full of fruit..
I loved the Vegan Pizza with Daiya Cheese (tapioca) as the cheese seemed to have the same consistency as dairy cheese and melted the same. For the life of me when I’ve bought Daiya pizzas at Whole Foods, they simply don’t melt properly in my oven, leading me to suspect that they only melt this well in commercial ovens. The muffins and cookies were good, but then again it’s hard to really get excited over them as i did have a goody box from Fratelli Bakery. Grounds for Coffee has another location on 2565 Alma Street which is easier for me to get to so I’ll be headed there soon on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
1795 Commercial Drive
Cuisine: Italian Bakery
Sicilian cannoli dipped in toaste pistachios, Bomboloncini baked donut filled with Nutella, Eccles, flaky puff pastry with currants, almonds and cinnamon, Lemon Whipped Bigne, Espresso almond biscotti dipped in chocolate
Just like Pavlov’s dog who salivates every time he hears a bell ring, I start to salivate every time I know I’m headed to Fratelli’s Bakery because I know I’m going to have a dessertgasm that will blow my taste buds. It used to be my go to place until I nurtured my lactose intolerance into a full blown allergy. Okay, are you ready to salivate?
The Bomboloncini was basically a donut hole with Nutella in the middle. If you’ve ever had Tim Hortons Timbits, well this was 1000 times better as it was brioche style which translates means its more buttery and softer in texture making it so much easier to swallow whole. The Eccles was a thin sheet of pastry chock full of currants, almonds and cinnamon – very flavourful. The Espresso Almond Biscotti dipped in chocolate was good as it had the great texture perfect for dunking in coffee. Personally, I always buy their white chocolate ginger biscotti whenever I find myself on Commercial Drive as I love the combination of ginger and white chocolate. The Lemon Whipped Bigne and Cannoli were the only two items I had to avoid due to my dairy allergy, but my friend said they were fabulous as you could tell they used fresh ricotta cheese.
Fratelli Bakery is another one of those quintessential Italian establishment on Commercial Drive that’s been around since 1997 and the reasons are quite obvious. And if you aren’t able to make it to Commercial Drive, there’s a second location in New Westminster at 459 E Columbia Street.
2290 Commercial Drive
Cuisine: Lebanese & Mediterranean
The Tasting Plate from Jamjar Canteen isn’t anything fancy, but its hearty Lebanese fare that has the right ingredients combined and cooked in such a way that it ends up to be a plate of really delicious comfort food. The Chicken Taouck was not overcooked as it seems that restaurants are so paranoid in churning out half cooked chicken that they’d rather sacrifice flavour for safety. It’s all about timing. The Lentil Black Bean Stew was hearty and satisfying and had fragrant spices. I’ve always liked Tabuleh Salad and here you could taste the fresh mint and parsley and it seems to be a perfect pairing with the Lentil Stew. As for the Cauliflower Fatteh Salad, well I adore cauliflower so I loved the simplistic flavours here.
Jamjar also offers happy hour Monday to Fridays, 3:30 to 5:30pm with $4-$8 bites and $8 drinks. A great way to sample a variety of dishes is to indulge in their tasting menus: vegan $24, vegetarian $28 and Carnivore for $32.
Pasture to Plate
1420 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Cuisine: Butcher Shop
Who will shoot me first – the vegans or the carnivores as I took this plate of meaty goodness from Pasture to Plate home so I could eat it with my vegan smoked Gouda cheese and crackers – we didn’t get any crackers or cheese to eat with it.
Out of all meat on my plate, I liked the Tiroler Ham (top) as it reminded me of speck with a nice layer of fatty goodness and I loved the intense flavour of the Beef Chiloctin (right). If you’re a meat connoisseur, you’ll definitely notice how fresh this tastes as compared to the stuff aka crap you get in supermarkets. The Pork Pepperoni (bottom right) and Beef Braesaola (bottom left) also tasted good and would be totally awesome on homemade pizzas with mushrooms. With our Tasting Plate, we were offered Ethical Kombucha which had a nice carbonated component to it and a great tart and floral flavour as I choose the lavender flavour.
Tasting Plates Fall Events
Get your advance tickets for the following events now. Note that the earlier you buy tickets, the cheaper they are, but don’t forget to bring your tupperware because it usually is a tasting feast:
October 16 — 4th Annual Pizza Palooza (tickets on sale now here)
October 23 — Tasting Plates Gastown and Chinatown (tickets now on sale here)
November 5 — Food Talks Vol 17 (tentative date)
November 6 — 2nd Annual Dumpling Fest Vancouver (tickets now on sale here)