Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A few words (okay, quite a few words) about three interesting restaurants in Vancouver that serve tasty food that you should definitely go eat


I had never heard of this place, but as usual Michelle was up on these things, and told me about it one day before her good friend Naomi invited us there for her thirty-first birthday party. It was a great place to have a fairly large group, actually, as it is essentially a charcuterie, and the more people you have, the more dishes you can sample! The 'tasting room' (as it bills itself) is part of the group of eateries owned by Sean Heather that includes the wonderful pub The Irish Heather, the Salty Tongue Deli and the Shebeen Whisk(e)y House. Should whiskey be spelt with an 'e' or not, Michelle?

Anyway, it's a lovely Gastown place, just off of Blood Alley (oh, the intrigue inspired by such a name!), with all the exposed brick walls one could want. Its long communal tables and steel stools reminded me a little of Picnic, the deli attached to Meinhardt's, but thankfully there were no white ceramic tiles to be found anywhere.

There is no kitchen at all, but instead a selection of cheeses and meats that change daily, garnered from various local suppliers (like Oyama on Granville Island) and from further afield (like Australia, France and Spain). And a list of red wines, white wines and sherries. Mm. I had a very nice gewurtztraminer.

You choose from that day's available cheeses and meats written up on the back wall that is entirely covered by a chalkboard (a very cool idea), and they bring you condiments that they pair with the food, like grainy Guinness mustard, almonds, olives, piccalilly, slices of pear and apple.

I particularly loved the Petite Comté cheese from France, which was one of the most delicious cheeses I've had in a while, and the Roaring Forties Blue from Australia was great too. Also, the Oka from Québec is so good — I first had it when my stepdad bought some from the St Lawrence Market in Toronto, and it was amazing then too. as for the meats, the York Ham from Oyama was lovely, but was essentially prosciutto (so good!). And the cured and smoked pork belly was great too. I have to say I didn't try the Head Cheese. Perhaps it was the name. Or perhaps it was the fact that it is, and I quote, "the meaty chunks of a cow's, sheep's, or pig's head, chopped and combined with a savory gelatinous broth and allowed to cool in a mold."

Here's the Salt logo, from their website. I quite like it, the hand-drawnness of it, and of course the hand-written type (though the type underneath is a little squished). It's very appealing.


Locus was first introduced to us all by Meg, though these pictures were (sadly) taken on a day she couldn't come with us. But we must go back, even though I know Michelle will take issue with that, because when they get it right, they really get it right! So I include pictures of their yummy food in hopes of winning you back, Michelle. Alisha, Michelle and I went for brunch (a few weekends ago now!), and both YoonJu and Raisa met us for a little coffee — they make this amazing coffee, which even Michelle and I like, and that's saying a lot, as we are confirmed tea-drinkers. They also have two kinds of great bread, which they serve with two kinds of butter to start. Two kinds of butter! It doesn't take much to impress me.

Here is my breakfast — it was amazing. They did something to the pancakes to make them crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Fantastic! The chocolate sauce and creme anglaise was unnecessary. But the fruit salad and bacon were perfect.

The Reef

Another great place to eat on Main Street. Actually it's almost just across the street from Locus, really. They have a very cool website that should give you an idea of their vibe and food. Which is colourful and Caribbean, respectively. It's just a nice sunny place to go on a cloudy Vancouver day. We (Michelle, Sean, Alisha and I) shared the spinach salad, which was delicious. And there was enough for four of us, even though it was on their 'small tings' menu. Spinach, chevre, caramelized red onions (mm!) and a mango sesame vinaigrette. We should make that one Wednesday!

Michelle and I ordered these unusual drinks — kola champagne, which is Jamaican cream soda, apparently, sweet and delicious, and homemade ginger beer, (and I can tell you there was plennnty of ginger in there). Sean had the West Indian veggie curry, I think, and Michelle had Miss P's Stew Beef Bowl, and Alisha and I the Trini Roti. Which is huge. Really good. But absolutely huge. Enough for lunch and dinner. Especially if you'd also had the johnnycakes. Which we had. Sooo good. Deep-fried carbs. What could be better?


moyrad said...

Well to the first question:
Whiskey or Whisky?
Though I could not discover a reason, it appears that Ireland and the US spell with the "e" while Canada, Scotland, NZ go without. I will continue to investigate.

The Heathers know how to do a restaurant, pub, deli or bar. Salt was a great experience and the food was tasty. i think probably the more people the better so that you get to try a little of everything. Everyone knows how i feel about the Irish Heather. A pint of Strongbow and some Curry fries please or maybe the guiness pot pie. Ohh their whole menu is great.

As for Locus, I will give props for the coffee but I have been disappointed with my steak and eggs the last couple of times and the organic beef burger was just meh. I don't want to spend on meh. I won't even mention the weirdo service. So if we must go I will have coffee and maybe an order of the potato bread with salty butter. You all can have the sweet stuff and breakie.

As for the Reef all I can say is another round of Jamacian Soda, JohnnyCakes and Stew. This is the flavour I am willing to pay for!! I will go there anyday.

Meg said...

Thanks for the reminder that we must go to Salt as soon as possible! I'm dying to try some unusual tasty meats, and maybe experiment with wine-pairings! I wonder if they have many sheep cheeses...? Hope so!

I have to defend Locus, of course. Bottomless americanos! In pretty cups! And free, fresh-baked bread with special butter. What more could you really wish for? But my meals are always delicious too – you just have to go with one of the benny's and then you'll be eternally happy. I promise.