Tasting Plates North Van
Review of North Vancouver Restaurants
Last year when I was at North Vancouver Tasting Plates, a friend drove me from place to place which inadvertently led me to think that North Vancouver is so walkable. Yes, its really easy not to notice that in order to get to point B from Point A in North Vancouver, involves a hike uphill which serves as a warm up to the Grouse Grind… which when I used to have two legs was not that big of a deal, but now I’m looking for my own personal caddy. But in the end, all’s well that tastes well… The following is my review of this year’s Tasting Plates North Vancouver or how I sweated my way through North Van.
123 Carrie Cates Ct #156, North Vancouver
Matcha Latte Blender and Kombucha on tap
Registration was at Shipyards Coffee (formerly called Bean Around the World) located at the back of Lonsdale Quay Market and which was also featured in last year’s North Vancouver Tasting Plates event. Same owners, some great drinks. Our Tasting Plates was not a measly one ounce sample of a specialty coffee drink, but a 12 oz drink of anything we wanted on their drink menu. Say what? Does that mean that my upstairs neighbours won’t be awakened by me richoeting off the ceiling from all the late night caffeine? So I grabbed the on tap Raspberry Kombucha which was mighty refreshing with the right combination of tartness with sweetness, on this oh so very hot hot hot day. I’ve tried all kinds of bottled Komboucha and some I’ve liked, and some not so much. But I’ve never had a problem with Kombucha on tap because its keeps the carbonation which prevents the off-putting taste I’ve experienced in some bottled Kombucha.
Besides Kombucha, Shipyards Coffee features 34 coffees, including Fair Trade, Organic, single Estate as well as blended coffees plus fresh baked goods and a variety of gluten free baking. It’s a great place to grab a coffee right after you get off the Seabus or perhaps after spending a day doing the Grouse Grind.
Cinco De Mayo Mexican Grill
200 Esplanade W., North Vancouver
Specialty: Mexican cuisine
Taco De Barbacoa, Australian Halal lamb, marinated 24 hours with Barbacoa salsa, braised all day with elote blanco, hojas verdes and a special blend of chilies served with corn tortilla, roasted salsa verde, onions, cilantro and charred lime on the side
Tinga de Res Enchiladas, sirloin beef braised with chipotle chiles and onions on corn tortillas with roasted salsa verde, salsa roja, jack cheese and housemade chipotle crema Guacamole & Chips, Hass avocados, diced tomatoes, onions, cilantro, kosher salt and lime juice
I suspect that if you google the phrase “Cinco De Mayo restaurant”, you’ll come up with a gazillon search results as Cinco De Mayo seems to be a popular name for Mexican restaurants. For those of us who only go as far as Lonsdale Quay when we venture into North Vancouver, it’s worth walking the extra two blocks to eat the fresh, authentic Mexican fare at this quaint Mexican establishment, whose food tasted exactly like that which I’ve had in Mexico (and I’m not talking about the touristy all-inclusive resorts). The food was a little slow in coming but I’m guessing because they make most things from scratch (except the nacho chips). Everything tasted fresh and had the perfect combination of seasoning. Although the Taco De Barbacoa wasn’t huge (it was the same size as all the other taco restaurants I’ve been to), it was meaty and satisfying. At $3.5, it just inspires you to order three different tacos. I had just one bite of Tinga de Res Enchiladas due to the fact that I’m lactose intolerant but it was simply delicious with plenty of meat and not overwhelmed with cheese. No complaints about the guacamole as I have on occasion made my own so I could tell it too was fresh. One thing about Mexican food is that although it may appear to be simple, when it’s executed well with fresh ingredients and a combination of spices and herbs, its food that satisfies the soul.
On the menu, there are authentic beverages such as Agua De Jamaica (hibiscus iced tea) which is my favorite. Or if you want something more spirited, then try a tasting of 4 premium tequilas for $20. Or pair your Mexican cuisine with a Margarita at the mere price of $8. And finish your meal with a churros for $3 or flan for $4.75.
Roasted Carrot with Gorgonzola, spiced roasted carrot with almond, parsley, gongonzola cheese with kale pesto drizzle
Brassica Caesar, crisp roasted broccoli with cavolo nero toasted chickpeas, capers, green olive and cream vegan Caesar dressing
Pickled Egg, organic free range egg marinated in beet juice brine topped with house-made caraway salt
Blue Valentine ‘Booch Slushie, locally brewed Booch kombucha slushie infused with blue spirulina and raspberry lemonade
Unfortunately, Larry’s Market new location was not open for business so we had to boldly go trudging up the long, long, long hill in the heat to Welcome Parlour on 8th Avenue. Oh my orthopedic surgeon would be so proud of me as I actually managed to survive the climb without having to resort to begging my friend to grab me by my ponytail and pull me up the hill the 7 blocks (which felt like 70).
So by the time we finally reached Welcome Parlour, I was more than ready for my Blue Valentine ‘Booch Slushie, which was so refreshing and well worth the horrific brain freezes I suffered when I drank it too fast. I’ve had spirulina before and found that when mixed with liquids, it has a grassy taste I can’t stomach. But amazingly enough, I liked the taste of the blue spirulina in the slushie. I’ve never heard of blue spirulina, but apparently its just this bright blue shade from the fact that this is pure phycocyanin which is extracted from the rest of the algae and therefore has a higher concentration of antioxidants in each serving, in other words, super spirulina. I’m not really sure if blue spirulina has less of a “grassy” taste than regular spirulina as the flavour might have been masked by the other ingredients, but due to its higher potency, I’m thinking that this is one superfood that I should add to my diet.
Besides the Blue Valentine ‘Booch Slushie, our Tasting Plate was a combination of a few different elements with the Roasted Carrot, Egg and Brassica Caesar all on one plate to produce the best darn vegan dish I’ve ever had – you just ruined Whole Foods for me! Roasting vegetables brings out the natural sugars and produces a nuttiness flavour which makes roasted carrots ten times more tasty than raw carrots. I loved the vegan Gorgonzola with kale pesto as it gave the carrot so much more flavour. The pickled egg was great as the beet juice brine and caraway salt gave it more of a depth of flavour than regular pickled eggs without the pickled aftertaste. The Brassica Caesar was great and for those people who dislike anchovies, this is a veganized version you will love. Most people don’t know that when you make your own Ceasar dressing, there is no dairy in it but mayonnaise you buy at the store often use casein which is a milk deriative. Incidentally, casein is in products labelled as dairy-free because it’s not an animal byproduct but it is still a mike derivative that may cause issues depending on your level of lactose intolerance.
I would have loved to try the BBQ Jackfruit Pizza as I’ve had jackfruit before and believe it or not, it actually tastes like pulled pork. So I guess I’ll have to trudge on down to their new Shipyards location when it is open or I’m guessing they might be at the Friday nights Shipyards Market (no information about what vendors are there). You can also find Blue Heron Cheese, vegan Kefir and Jam Jar Canteen Lebanese food and an express machine from you can buy vegan rice puddings and more. Apparently, Larrys Markets already has a salad vending machine in the Lonsdale Quay.
Welcome Parlour Ice Cream
125 Victory Ship Way, North Vancouver
Specialty: Ice cream and dessert cafe
I call this the Veganator – chocolate orange, lavender lemon and mango pineapple – dairy free – yesssssss
When I scream for ice cream it’s due to the pain I get in my gut when I eat dairy. Creamy and tasty with the chocolate flavour bursting with chocolate goodness, the flavourful mango with big chunks of tasty pineapple chunks and fragrant lavender paired with tart lemon – there’s always room for this dessert no matter how much I ate for dinner.
I forgot to take a photo of my friend’s dairy selections of Coffee, Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, Espresso and Maple Bourbon – blame it on the brainfreeze from the Kombucha Slushy I had earlier, but she said it as Amazzzzzzzing! I think we just gained back the calories we had lost during our North Vancouver uphill hike!
One of the reasons why Welcome Parlour is so successful is that one of the partners is Eleanor Chow Waterfall of Cadeaux Bakery, which has great baked goods – as I’ve been there quite a few times and few pounds ago. Like Larrys Markets, Welcome Parlour has opened another location in the Shipyards and you can also find them at the Shipywards Nightmarket on Friday nights.
264 1st Street E,, North Vancouver
Specialty: Chocolate shop and factory
When you say, I’ll have one of everything here, that means that you get a taste of all the flavours of chocolate at Coconama! I literally tasted everything from mango, earl gray, blueberry wine and even cocoa nibs and raw chocolate. But as Coconama used to be in Richmond, I’m quite familiar with their products and my favorites are Yuzu, the Blueberry Wine, Salted Caramel and Lemon Basil. But when I can’t decide, I buy a collection for $4.99 and up.
Here I am talking to the bean (a real cocoa pod from Ecuador) and hoping that all I have to do is to push a button and then chocolate will magically appear