It’s foodies’ most favourite time of the year, Dine Out Vancouver! For those who don’t know, Dine Out is an annual event wherein participating restaurants have set menus for three course meals at various prices ($18, $28, $38). These prices are a bargain for most restaurants considering you get an appetizer, main entree, and dessert. This year, the event goes on from January 18-February 2. I for one take this as an opportunity to try out restaurants that would otherwise be slightly out of my last-semester-of-university-student budget.
First up, Dan and I checked out a place that’s been on my must try list for a while now—Raw Canvas. This cozy little place situated in the heart of Yaletown is perfect for your inner artsy-fartsy waiting to come out because you get to dine and paint!
For $38, their Dine Out is well worth it considering the average price of their smallest canvas alone is $55!
Going with a partner is perfect because you can order one of each appetizer and share! The Artisan cheese Tasting plate which came with three cheeses—Riopelle, Marechal, and a three year aged gouda was the perfect match to the Charcuterie Tasting plate filled with delicious slices of Pheasant and Pistachio terrine, Prov. Saucisson sec sausage, Czech beer salami. In the middle were tasty extras like pickles, figs, almonds, olives, tomatoes, and mustard. They also serve a healthy bowl of french baguette on the side for you to experiment different combinations of cheese and meat on.
My personal favourites were the Riopelle + figs + almonds and Czech beer salami + mustard + mustard + tomato. We also paired our meal with the recommended wine (Poplar Grove Chardonnay and Monster Vineyard Red Eye blend) that they have special for Dine Out.
The dessert, gelato accompanied with Port wine poured on top, was the perfect cap to the meal. We yummied it up quite quickly as we couldn’t wait to get painting!
As mentioned earlier, part of the Raw Canvas experience is suiting up in a paint splattered smock and going to town on a blank canvas (pardon the blurry picture, argh!). They provide all the art supplies, all you have to do is bring your creativity! I was stressing out about what I wanted to paint. Eventually, I took the advice of one of the lovely staff and “just went in their thinking abstract”. It’s definitely more fun to just splatter paint without any care in the world!
Below is our final product, you can guess who did what. Raw Canvas is an awesome place to go with tons of friends or perfect for a date night. We were quite proud of ourselves in the end and had tons of fun!
Raw Canvas is located at:
1046 Hamilton Street
I love chick flicks. Always have and always will. Call it the hopeless romantic in me. As an ode to them, I purposely left these next two NYC food entries for last. Let’s kick it off with a Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack classic.
Tina and I—along with Tina’s real sister Jen and her wannabe one Justine—planned dinner around dessert this time around. We gambled and decided to head to Serendipity on a Saturday night without reservations. Although it wasn’t the best waiting close to an hour for out table, it was totally worth the wait. Warning: This entry contains absurds amounts of chocolate. It is quite possible you could induce yourself in a sugar coma by just reading this.
Just like the movie, we sat on the second floor and immersed ourselves in cute and quirky decor. The tables to the right on the picture above are exactly where John and Kate sat in the movie and dropped that famous black glove that sealed their fate.
So we bartered our plane tickets on the street just so that we could order this. Just kidding. We went the more economical route and ordered the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate and the Forbidden Broadway Sundae.
The Forbidden Broadway Sundae is basically chocolate on chocolate on chocolate with layers of cream separating them. The base of the goblet is their Chocolate Blackout Cake which is then topped with ice cream. The ice cream is then topped with super rich hot fudge and then whipped cream which is finished with a drizzling of chocolate shavings. See, I wasn’t exaggerating.
Besides, embracing our inner hopeless romantics, this delectable drink was the whole reason why we wanted to visit Serendipity. The Frrrozen Hot Chocolate is probably what this joint is most known for. I guess the contradictory name which seems to leave people going “Wha?”, is easily explained as being something close to a chocolate milk shake/slushee. If you love chocolate, this one is for you. I even purchased two packs of powdered Frrrozen Hot Chocolate from the General Store to take home back to Vancouver for my family.
Because of the massive sizing portions in goblets, I think all the desserts at Serendipity are best shared with good company. Even between the four of us, we were still in a state of sugar comatose once we were done!
Serendipity is located at:
225 E 60th St.
New York, NY
It was strange, while we were in NYC we didn’t really have too much Asian food. If there’s one thing we do it better here in Vancouver, it’s definitely that. I guess we’re used to always having a plethora of delicious Asian cuisine at cheap prices within steps of wherever we are so we take it for granted most times. However, our good friend CRPP said that we had to visit Momofuku Noodle Bar while we were in NYC. And as we all know, I love ramen so how could I say no?
I really loved the atmosphere inside. It’s really catered towards people who are constantly on the go and are probably on a quick lunch. We stopped by after our absolute last shopping session.
We started off with the pork buns which CRPP specifically told us we had to try. The buns were soft and delicious like the Siopao buns I oh so love. It had pork, hoisin sauce, scallions, and thinly sliced cucumbers. Perfect appetizer.
I could eat ramen everyday and still love it. For my main meal I decided to go with the Spicy Miso Ramen which had smoked chicken, Swiss chard, and sesame. The noodles were soft and chewy and the broth not too spicy or salty. It was just right :) Even in the absurd NYC heat, I thoroughly enjoyed this big bowl of noodles that left my stomach feeling tres happy.
Momofuku Noodle Bar is located at:
171 1st Ave
New York, NY
Have a sweet tooth? Well Momofuku Milk Bar will be right up your alley. The Milk Bar is one of David Chang’s five establishments scattered across the New York. I was lucky enough to also visit the Noodle Bar (see review here).
This little hole in the wall is literally tucked in and camouflaged so well into the other East Village buildings that if you weren’t looking for it you could easily walk past it. On our first time visiting, Tina and I chose to share a slice of their famous Crack Pie and a jug of their Cereal Milk.
The name Crack Pie is probably an ode to how it’s addicting like crack. It’s not your ordinary pie. At first glance you’ll feel that it’s under cooked because it’s uber oooey-gooey. But let me tell you it is goooood. So much so, that people are willing to pay the outrageous $44 price tag for a whole pie. The contents of this highly addicting pie are so simple it sounds to good to be true—butter, cream, brown sugar, sugar, and corn flour. I’ve found a couple recipes online that I think I will have to try and make this myself one day.
Cereal lovers, this one’s for you. The Cereal Milk is quite literally what the name says it is. Imagine you’re eating a bowl of cereal and you get to the part where there are none left. Depending on your preference for cereal to milk ratio, you’re left with a approximately three gulps of delicious milk that the cereal has been swimming in. Now instead of three gulps, you get a whole jug! You can buy the jug ready to drink or if you would rather make it yourself later you can by a jug filled with all the ingredients you need. All you have to do is add in the milk!
On our last full day in NYC, Tina and I decided to return to the Milk Bar post our adventure to the Noodle Bar so we could indulge ourselves one last time and buy some goodies to bring home. The picture above is pretty self explanatory now that you know the story behind Cereal Milk. It’s Cereal Milk soft serve dipped in Frosted Flakes. I unfortunately don’t have any pictures of the cookies I purchased that day for souvenirs (my family devoured that before I could get the chance) but I’ll list my favourites for you below.
Compost Cookie Pretzels, Potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch, and chocolate chips
Cornflake Cookie Cornflakes, marshmallows, and chocolate chips
I might also attempt to make these myself one day as there are recipes online. Or they do ship internationally …Hmm tempting.
Momofuku Milk Bar is located at:
251 E 13th St
New York, NY
You know that feeling when you don’t notice how many people have a certain thing until you actually buy it yourself? Well a similar thing happened to me. After visiting NYC, I slowly became apparent to the fact that various parts of the city are used repeatedly as sets for many movies and television shows. This is now my second food adventure inspired by one and it’s not my last. This particular food adventure to Cafe Habana—known for corn of all things—was a collaborative effort of planning and fate.
Back story: We had already planned to visit Cafe Habana based on the mere fact that a short scene in the movie Friends with Benefits starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis was filmed there. After a morning spent seeing the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, and Wall Street, we decided that it was the perfect afternoon for shopping. We deliriously wandered through the streets of SoHo and Tina kept denying my feeble attempts of stumbling into any random restaurant we walked by. Finally, we noticed a diner looking place with no name. As soon as I walked in, I realized that we had found Cafe Habana by fate.
Tina and I both knew we were in for a delicious snack when we were welcomed upon entering with “Hi. Are you here for corn or lunch?” When people go to a spot specifically for the corn of all things, you know that it has to be pretty damn legendary.
Behold! Grilled corn served with mayonnaise, cheese, chilli powder, and lime. Each order comes with two cobs of corn so it’s perfect to share with a friend (Tip: maybe not a good first date meal because it’s messy). Don’t let the lack of words that I have to describe this delicious snack take away from how good it is. Because trust me, it is. It’s left me craving for something similar now that I’m back home so I might just have to try to make it myself. Oh and to top it all off? We got to sit in the exact spot where Justin and Mila sat in during that scene of the movie :)
Cafe Habana is located at:
17 Prince St
New York, NY
Right before Tina and I left for New York, we asked people for a list of places we just HAD TO try while we were in the city. And I’ll tell you, Shake Shack was the unanimous answer people gave us. There was a lot of hype put on this one particular burger joint (almost as much as the West Coast favourite, In-N-Out).
Our first time stopping by Shake Shack was after checking out The American Museum of Natural History one afternoon. We found that all the walking around had really worked up our appetite and luckily the Upper West Side location was within a couple blocks.
This time around, I picked the SmokeShack Burger—a cheeseburger with ranch dressing, all-natural apple wood smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers and their famous Shack sauce. I decided to also pair it with their Black & White shake (pictures below).
With our food in hand and limited seating inside Shake Shack, we decided to have dinner on a bench in Central Park in typical New York fashion. It took a while for us to find the perfect spot to sit so the burger wasn’t as good as it could’ve been had we indulged immediately. Also, because I had finished majority of my shake by the time we sat down, I was pretty full so my appetite was slightly ruined. Nonetheless the burger was delicious. The bun was quite possibly my favorite part as it was so soft and really brought the whole burger together.
Feeling like we didn’t really get the most out of Shake Shack our first go around, we decided to make it our last meal before we headed for the airport on our last day in NYC. Post mani-pedis and starving, we made the trek back in the heat. Boy, it was worth it. We inhaled our burgers so fast that we forgot to take pictures (sorry). Even with the basic staple of the single patty Shackburger our stomachs were satisfied. And of course, I couldn’t say no to the delectable Black & White shake. At that point we were already so WAYF that we said “Why not?” to the cheese fries.
So a word of advice, come excited and hungry because Shake Shack definitely does not disappoint.
Shake Shack is located at:
366 Columbus Ave
New York, NY
Hi everyone, Pat’s back from NYC and ready to share some awesome food adventure stories! To kick it off, let’s start off with the very first meal Tina and I had when we finished the long trek through the concrete jungle—Gray’s Papaya.
It was almost 9:00pm and we were starving and bordering close to hanger. Luckily this popular NYC joint was just steps from our apartment. Gray’s Papaya is a famous New York staple that has been featured in numerous films and TV shows—How I Met Your Mother, Sex and the City, The Back Up Plan, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist… the list goes on. This 24 hour Upper West Side joint is known for their frugal prices and fast (although sometimes short) service. It’s perfect for those who are on a rushed lunch break or for a late night meal.
Tina and I both opted for the “Recession’s Special” which includes 2 hotdogs + tropical drink for $4.95. Sauerkraut and onion add ons are complimentary while the chilli, cheese, and relish are .50 cents each. My favourite combo was the chilli + cheese and the relish + sauerkraut/onion. The papaya drink on the side was a good refresher to the hot and humid NYC weather.
Gray’s Papaya is one of the more economical meals in NYC that definitely helps when the purse strings start to tighten (which this city will do to you quick). So if you’re ever in the Upper West Side, swing by and check out Gray’s Papaya. It was our inaugural welcome to the big city!
Gray’s Papaya is located at:
2090 Broadway at 72nd Street
New York, NY
There’s a lot to love about this heritage site on the edge of Gastown, with its building just as full of character as its menu. The restaurant has a ton of rustic decor and plenty of seating since it also has a cozy lower floor. If you’re as lucky as us, you can get a table at the far end where trains pass by right outside the window. It’s not something you get to experience all the time, but it was definitely neat.
Boasting an impressive beer menu, we couldn’t settle on just one. They have the option to create your own personalized Beer Frat Bat – a set of four beer tasters of your choice. Needless to say, we were in. Being the indecisive individuals we are, we told our server to please bring us his recommendations based on how hoppy we like our beers.
From left to right: Seedspitter Watermelon Witbier, Farmhand Saison, Rise Up Organic Red Ale, Naramata Nut Brown
It helped that the Frat Bat was organized according to hoppiness. Our favourites in order were the Naramata Nut Brown, Farmhand, Seedspitter then Rise Up Red – the darker ale we particularly enjoyed because it tasted lighter than it looked. We would recommend the Farmhand to try as your next lager as it’s not too hoppy and paired well with everything we ate. So if you’re looking for beer heaven, Alibi Room just might be it.
And for our meal, we opted for the cheese plate with various Canadian cheeses, house condiments, and breads. Since the cheese plate changes daily, we’ll probably order it again. But for now we trust Alibi Room in putting together some wonderful cheeses and spreads to complement their selection of breads, which we found completely delicious!
So according to Nikole and Kat, here’s how to have the perfect Alibi Room Experience:
- Give your server parameters on levels of hoppiness (or happiness) you’re aiming for, to create the perfect Beer Frat Bat combo.
- Order amazing share plates such as the cheese platter and bucket of fries. Why have wine and cheese when you can have beer and cheese?
- Realize that the cheese-to-bread ratio is not going to work, so you’ll have to get creative.
- Make ridiculous combinations of bread, apple, jam, and cheese (but it’s okay cause they pair well together, we promise).
- OPTIONAL: Proceed to make a beatbox/rap about bread, apple, jam, cheese in any given order.
You can probably tell we are an easily amused group of friends. We eat together, share stories, and laugh about random and usually epic things. And we wouldn’t have it any other way! So Alibi Room, kudos to you for creating a lovely atmosphere for get-togethers and great conversation.
So don’t think twice about trying Alibi Room if you haven’t been. Have a great weekend everyone!
157 Alexander Street
After finishing one of our many design projects, we visited Acme Cafe for some celebratory food action. This restaurant can be found in Gastown right before you enter the Downtown East Side, and has a really retro, diner-like feel to it.
As we were seated right by the window, we witnessed many interesting people walk by and even more interesting scenarios (think firefighters, travellers, funky outfits). Always something new every day, right?
Now for the delicious plates we ordered:
Spinach portobello mushroom and cheese cannelloni
Turkey sandwich with a side of mac & cheese
Brie, cranberry-Grand Marnier sauce, grainy dijon mayo and arugula on panini grilled Ciabatta
We have no idea how we ate all of this, it was a LOT of food. Of course we concentrated on eating the main courses, and our reason being “there’s no need to fill up on SALAD!” But don’t get us wrong, the salad was a perfect palate cleanser. The cannelloni was packed full with multiple cheeses, and distinctly feta. It was a tad on the bland side, but overall nothing really to complain about. Here’s what really stood out for us: the turkey sandwich. Acme Cafe did a fantastic job at merging Thanksgiving’s turkey and cranberry with brie and dijon mustard, to create a nice twist to this classic. Many restaurants already offer similar sandwiches, but hardly do we find any that live up to the grand holiday. Our take on it is do it well or don’t do it at all! We give Acme brownie points for creating a killer Thanksgiving-in-a-sandwich combo.
Chocolate Cream Pie
Acme’s Twitter description says “keep your fork – there’s pie!” We were wise to take their advice, and settled on the chocolate cream pie. It was extremely rich, so we only recommend it if you have a severe case of sweet tooth. We loved the oreo pie crust! If it’s one thing we agree on about Acme Cafe, it’s to always ask what pies they’ve baked that day to complete your meal, you won’t be sorry.
For a reasonably priced and more than filling dinner (around $40 for beers, entrees, and pie), we would probably go back. The turkey sandwich alone has us convinced that trying their other ones wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
51 West Hastings Street
After a lovely meal at Finch’s Tea & Coffee House one afternoon (see review here), it was absolutely necessary for us to go get something sweet as a pre-class snack so we hit up Cartems Donuterie (Pop-up Shop). We’ve heard a lot about this little spot recently and decided that we needed to check it out! Boy, it was worth the trek.
Cartems makes their donuts fresh every morning and is open until they run out of donuts for the day. What makes them even better is that all their ingredients are sourced locally! They have staple donuts that they make almost every day but once in a while they get creative with some and have an interesting donut of the day.
1. The Green Tea & Mango Donut
This was their special creation of the day. And if you’re reading this Cartems, please make more of these! It was an interesting combination that was deeeeelicious. We both tried it and loved it. Pat then decided to include one more with the other five she brought home for her family.
2. The Classic
I firmly believe that the classic/plain flavours tell the full story. Bringing everything back to the basics if you will. The classic is anything but boring. As it says on their website, it’s nothing but straight goods. It’s a simple vanilla donut with vanilla bean glaze.
3. Triple Chocolate Threat
For all the chocolate lovers out there, this is for you. This baby doesn’t mess around. It’s a chocolate cake, with chocolate ganache, drizzled with little balls of chocolate. Drool.
4. The Carrot Cake
This one came out of left field. Carrot cake isn’t usually up there in favourite flavours, but this one ended up being Pat’s favourite! They embed carrots into the dough itself and glaze it with caramel. It’s finally topped with toasted oats. Would go great with a cup of coffee. Just sayin.
5. The Mexican Mole
I picked this one out of pure intrigue. Typically when people say chili and chocolate you don’t really imagine them together. But this worked. It had four kinds of chilis, cumin, coriander, star of anise, cinnamon and dark dark dark chocolate. Yum.
Say hi to the super friendly people at Cartems Donuterie! We’ll definitely be going back because we didn’t get to try their Earl Grey Donut that they were unfortunately out of for the day we went (stay tuned for review once we get our hands on it).
Cartems Donuterie (Pop-up Shop) is located at:
408 Carrall St
Tagsbeer breakfast broadway burgers cartems cheese chinese cora dessert dineout vancouver donuts finch's fried chicken frozen yogurt gastown hotdogs japanese kitsilano mac&cheese menchie's mexican momofuku nachos nan chuu japanese izakaya noodles nyc pie poutine pulled pork quick eats richmond sandwiches serendipity shake shack snack steveston sushi tacos taiwanese tapas tea turkey WAYF wine bar yaletown