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Metro Vancouver Restaurant Reviews
Wings Restaurants & Pubs14945 Marine Dr, White Rock
Terrible Lunch
By AnnieO of Surrey BC (1 Review)
Submitted Monday, August 3, 2015 - 7:49pm [Dine in]

Was at the beach with my daughter, son inlaw and 2 grandchildren on a Friday afternoon and suggested we go to Wings for lunch as I had eaten two or three times at the Wings on King Geo. Hwy and had very postive experiences there although it was about 3 years ago. My daughter and I ordered fish and chips. The fish was quite good, the batter was nice and crispy but the fries were limp and the coleslaw was tasteless. My gr.son and his dad ordered burgers and they were edible but nothing to rave about, their fries too were limp. My gr.daughter ordered the beef dip and asked if she could have a cesaer salad instead of fries and the waitress said yes they could do that. According to my gr.daughter the beef dip was gross! I ordered a Long Island Ice Tea that came in a short 8 ounce glass and was more ice then anything else. First time I've had one in a short glass.
The service was very slow. There was only one other couple sitting outside on the patio and our table inside.Once we ordered our food it took about 40 min to come to the table. I wouldn't want to go there when it was busy. There were 3 waitresses. One was taking the orders the other two were cleaning menu's. The cook seemed to be spending time on the phone. The server we had looked quite stunned when we asked what the specials were. She seemed to zone out for a minute before remembering. Actually kind of comical thinking back on it. When we got our bill a $3.00 charge was added for the cesaer salad. When the server was questioned about it she said she assumed we knew the switch would be extra. After a discussion and our asking for the manager the charge was waived. Other places I have been to tell you there is an extra charge when you ask for a switch not "assume" you'd know! The value is over priced for the quality of food you get there.
As to the ambience, there is none. The restaurant seems quite rundown and the washrooms were not very clean. Would we go back, a resounding no from all of us.

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Frenchies Diner2470 Main Street, Vancouver
The owner loves to talk.
By Foodcriticbc of vancouver (40 Reviews)
Submitted Monday, August 3, 2015 - 5:12pm [Dine in]

Was there today with a few of my friends. One of my friends is a poutine junkie and really wanted to go to this place. I remember this place from commercial drive but didn't remember the food only the owner that appeared to be selling a used car when talking about his food.
As soon as I walked into this place dejavu, it was him again. Our conversation from 5 years ago was no longer was a bad memories but reality. Don't get me wrong he is not a bad guy but there is so much you can hear why his product was amazing and everyone else is bad. After the way we were talking we were expected a food explosion in our mouth instead all we received was an explosion of our wallet.
A small plate of normal poutine was $9. It not too bad but nothing special. The montreal smoked meat was also average but really pricey. I had a sandwich, beer and poutine that came to $35. If I am ever craving smoked meat or poutine I will jump in my car and drive right past this place. Overpriced, average and you leave with a headache listing to the owner. All four of us left the place unsatisfied with no intention of returning.

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Poor Italian Trattoria & Ristorante3296 East 1st Avenue, Vancouver
Oh my gosh, I cant believe how bad it is
By eating good food of Vancouver (120 Reviews)
Submitted Saturday, August 1, 2015 - 10:10pm [Dine in]

Have driven by this place many times, and decided today with a friend to come for dinner..... When we came in, we thought the ambiance looked great and were looking forward to a nice dinner.... We werw told we would be seated momentarily..... Time passed about twenty minutes ans no one came..... My friend and I just decided to get up and leave.........

Not recommended..... Will not be back

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Cucina Manila10294 City Pky, #104, Surrey
Dishonest Business
By sk refrigeration of Vancouver (1 Review)
Submitted Saturday, August 1, 2015 - 8:43am [Dine in]

Please don't go there because it is an dishonest business. The Owner will not answer and return my phone call regarding an out standing Invoice. it is been more than 6 Months. The employees are really unhelpful too. if you go there is supporting dishonest business. It is unfair to small business like us that we provided service without getting paid. it is shame on these dishonest business owners.

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Zefferelli's Spaghetti Joint1136 Robson Street, Vancouver
Food was good, but expensive for what it was
By eating good food of Vancouver (120 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 - 10:57pm [Dine in]

I have been here before, but it was a friends first time coming here and they wanted to come.

Upon being seated they brought us bread......our waitress came and took our order. I ordered a ceasar salad (for starters) spaghetti carbonara (with added chicken) and my friend got linguine with salmon and some beer. My ceasar salad came and it was $10.50 (for that?) It was on a small plate....I was like "ok....." good, ate it, it was not anything special....(There goes $10) afterwards came our entrees. It did taste pretty good, but portion size seemed to be much smaller than it was last time I came (you know that plate you get at milestones that has chicken appetizers? (wings, chicken bites etc.....) That was what our pasta was on.

But to be fair; the pasta did taste pretty good, but think portions should be bigger.

The service was pretty mediocre......nothing good, but nothing bad ither. The Ambiance was great.

Who knows. I might return; I might not.....who cares

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Chambar568 Beatty Street, Vancouver
Prince Gastronome
By PrinceGastronome of Vancouver (6 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 - 8:10am [Dine in]

I realized, sitting visibly but inaccurately melancholic at my table in Chambar, staring intently into my water like I'm checking it for neutrinos, that I've fallen into a cliché probably inevitable given the empty seat across from me. I was that lonely man unaccompanied in a French restaurant, a prime source of comedy open for improvisation by the likes of Robin Williams and John Ritter (not kidding, they actually did that). I imagined the waiting staff were sympathetic, wondering who stood me up. They knew that the reservation was for two and can only wonder what kind of an ass would not show for a dinner at Chambar, one of the best reviewed restaurants in Vancouver. In truth, I had no companion; I only asked for two in case I did. I admit most of my friends down here wouldn't appreciate first-rate French cuisine, asking for ketchup to top their sherry-braised rabbit cannelloni. I jest, in actuality, my friends were occupied that day, but if there was one restaurant where I badly needed a dining buddy, it was this one.

I'll return to a previously used metaphor where I compared a restaurant to Doctor's Who's TARDIS, only in this case, it's not irony. Chambar's front fascia is barely a car's width but extends from a congested lobby and bar to two more dining areas, each one slightly brighter than the last. It was like Chambar broke down walls and found more dining areas to take over. The lobby was dark and moody, followed by a traditional banquet hall lit only by candles and massive windows encompassing the distant wall. My table was past this one, into a final room where untreated brick walls shifted to painted boards. The aged wood floor paneling shifted in color the moment I crossed the threshold.

So I shouldn't have been upset with the waiting staff when they proceeded to ignore me for damn near twenty minutes. I was sitting the farthest in the most distant room at a table with two place settings obviously waiting for a companion who would never arrive. I still hadn't ordered any food when the family next to mine received their appetizers. I finally informed my waiter that my companion was never going to show and that the experience could begin.

I also never felt more like a pariah for not ordering wine. If my sister or mother were here, they'd polish off a quart of Canalicchio di Sopra '06 which would double the bill but cut their chances for cardiovascular disease by half. It's called the French Paradox—why that fluky country manages to down wine by the barrel, eat meat like they're extras in an Italian splatterpunk film, and still live longer on average than anyone in North America. I'm sure it has something to do with stress. I'm sure. I'm practically a teetotaler (one who abstains from all alcohol), like I'm choking on a Eucharist at a Christian Scientist convention—you could measure the irony with a dipstick. I closed up the four-page wine menu and opted away from my predilection for water in favor of a cola. Non-diet. No ice. Wild man. The coke includes free re-fills, which you may think is typical but isn't.

Immediately upon browsing the dinner menu, I locked on a specific appetizer like a grey owl on an unsuspecting squirrel, the foie de canard--spiced foie gras terrine, port reduction, Kriek granita & truffled brioche French toast. To those loyal readers out there (Mom), you'll remember that last time I enjoyed foie gras with brioche was in Gordon Ramsay's Savoy Grill. I'll give credit for Chambar's presentation—they easily topped Savoy in the panache of their plate, though Savoy's brioche was offered in a miniature bread pan which could best Elmo in face-contorting adorability. Savoy does edge out in flavor—their foie gras was creamier—but Chambar sent it home with the inclusion of the Kriek granita pallet cleanser. Kriek is a brand of Belgium beer made from fermented cherries. When I mentioned my foie gras history with the waiter, he commented on the coincidence given their head chef had worked at the Savoy Grill before coming to Canada. This was repeated with the maitre d, leading me to suspect that the kitchen was following my progress. When weighing such tempting starters as lime & chili rubbed beef striploin and grilled asparagus with white spring salmon & saffron mayonnaise, who would order the goose liver pâté? This patron must have taste?

Or I'm simply arrogant. Probably the latter.

I followed this astounding starter with the canard et chèvre--spiced rubbed duck breast, Okanagan herb goat cheese, roasted hazelnuts, ricotta gnocchi, and sauce bigarade. Barring the bite off my mom's plate at the Savoy Grill, I've only enjoyed duck three times, all in the last two months and all in high-end bistros. I'm starting to think that duck could be my baseline in fine cuisine. I'll certainly never try it at home, as it would surely never measure up. This plate goes down as the best of the bunch, which reveals an ocean's-worth given I've never had bad duck. The platting was exquisite, with crunchy nuts, diabolical herb gnocchi, and a cream sauce I would drink like Red Bull if given the choice. It makes heroine look like a heaping bowl of orange jelly beans. There was a cracker that topped the plate, and if it was boxed, I would clear the store shelf.

With two courses like that, you know I'm not leaving without dessert. With so many options, I decided upon the le camping--graham cracker ice cream with salted chocolate cremeux and toasted meringue. What that doesn't tell you is that they smear the meringue on the plate and torch it in place. I am so doing that at home to impress my dinner guests.

By the end, any complaints I had about the misunderstanding about my lack of a dinner guest had been disregarded. This came after Vij's but I can't compare that with Chambar. Chambar is intended to be a fine dining experience, with exquisite platting and elegance. Vij's is unique, avant garde even, breaking rules you shouldn’t break because they can, where Chambar is the best example of a French restaurant still painting within the lines.

Is that a criticism? These experiences are what I supplant for sex, so I think not.

DECOR: 9
PLATING: 10
SERVICE: 9
FOOD: 10
VALUE: 10

OVERALL: 9.5 out of 10

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Vij's1480 West 11th Avenue, Vancouver
Prince Gastronome
By PrinceGastronome of Vancouver (6 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 - 8:09am [Dine in]

On its surface, you could dismiss Vij's, baring you possessed some form of extrasensory culinary clairvoyance. I had criticized restaurants in the past that matched the straightforward décor approached by Vij's, but here, it's intentional and not the result of a limited budget. Vij's stands a proud achievement in a city of over half a million people that the most respected, most critically praised restaurant is so modest and unpretentious that it refuses to take reservations. Compared to the other dinners I would have on this Vancouver outing, Vij's not only came up the cheapest, but the friendliest as well. Of course, the day had to balance that experience with a depressing lead in.

I had arrived that same day, and after dropping my bag on the bed of the hotel, I hustled out and took to the road, guided my by TomTom voiced by Billy Connolly ("Turn around, if possible…it's important to turn your whole car around; don't just turn around inside the car."). Prior critics had recommended arriving around 5:00, thirty minutes ahead of the dinner service, if one had any hope of getting in on the first seating. My watch read 5:00, unaware that it would take 15 minutes to find a parking spot in this cursed town. I eventually stumbled into an empty stall mated to a Canada Trust that threatened to tow any car before 6:00 unless it was owned by a customer. Anxiety began to build. I couldn't remember if the doors opened at 5:00 or 5:30, and I began to worry that I'd be standing in line for hours, my empty stomach trying to convince my brain to eat the toddler in front of me while his parents tapped away on their iPhones.

Vij's is paired with another restaurant, Rangoli, owned by the same chef and promising modest prices with smaller portions. Rangoli also features a store where interested buyers can purchase prepackaged food and cookbooks related to the franchise surrounding the head chef and owner, Vikram Vij.

My substandard $15 dollar watch silently flipped to 5:30 and the doors opened, revealing the pleasant head chef and host, the celebrity himself. What modesty to welcome each customer personally? I managed a table at the first seating and took a moment to enjoy the décor, or rather lack thereof…well, what I could see in a restaurant as dark as an adult video store…I've heard. I did make out a painted but otherwise unfinished roof with exposed pipes and air ducts, bargain light shades only in fashion before 1979, and a cluster of female chefs clad head-to-toe in black like gastronomic ninjas frantically preparing the first set of orders.

The first waiter placed an unidentified brass jug on my table and I spent the first few minutes of the meal staring at it, unsure what could be concealed in its dimly-lit depths. As I pondered this culinary Lemarchand's box, passing waiters kept offering me free food. To start was pana puri, followed by glass of masala chai, a cassava root fry, and a vegetable pakora. My assigned waiter followed and poured water from the brass decanter still mocking me at the center.

Just water, huh? Kind of disappointed now.

Disappointment is being sarcastic. Some critics have pointed at the owner's boisterous attitude as being pompous, that the restaurant's refusal to accept reservations is inexcusable. My scholarly counter to such a criticism is to tell those people to bug off. Show up at 5:00 and swallow your damned pride; or better still, just avoid Vij's and drop twice as much money on a pretentious slab of cow you self-important philistine. I'm sorry that Vij treats each patron equally, regardless of the house they live in or the car they drive. There's no bouncer, no mandatory tie. Vikram Vij wears a scarf over an un-tucked kurta and doesn't ask for anything from his patrons. Expensive? Vij's was the cheapest place I patronized for dinner during my vacation, and maybe it might be expensive if what you're used to is the Indian equivalent of a culinary bukkake (yeah, I went there), where you're offered thirty variations of curries and kormas and can eat nonstop until you bankrupt Macau. Waiting twenty minutes is a small price to pay for the best Indian-inspired food you likely ever to find.

Don't expect butter chicken or masala chops; Vij's is about something entirely new, original recipes inspired by classic Indian traditions. The menu is a meek collection of dishes, scattered on the single page in seemingly no sensible order. I opted for the popular wine marinated lamb popsicles in fenugreek cream curry on turmeric and spinach potatoes. The dish was delivered with a side of rice and chapattis. Given the snacks preceding the meal, I hardly required an appetizer, although I would've liked to have ordered those somosas. Although I'm not one to enjoy tearing meat off bones, I found myself bravely diving in. There was no gristle or tough sections, the bones stuck up inviting from the large bowl and I alternated between them and the cream sauce, spooned up with rice or bread. The curry was without a doubt the best I had ever had.

The stress of my car's fate took hold and a rushed through the bill, racing to the stall to find my car still waiting patiently without a ticket. I wandered back to Vij's and dropped down cash for one of his cookbooks. The clerk asked if I wanted Vij to sign it. Yeah, she actually asked. While the chef signed my sister's name across the leaf, he recounted how easy the fenugreek sauce is to make at home, and that the secret to the lamb's tenderness is to marinade it in the wine for a full day. Oh, simple as that?

If I lived in Vancouver, or anywhere near it, I would make it my mission to order each and every dish on Vij's modest menu. I would run a blog dedicated to just this one restaurant. It truly is that good, even ignoring the demands imposed by its novelty. It isn't pretty, could stand with a few extra lights, and I did feel rather tight against other patrons, but Vij's placement on the upper echelon of the culinary elite is well earned.

DECOR: 6
PLATING: 9
SERVICE: 10
FOOD: 10
VALUE: 9

OVERALL: 9 out of 10

By the way, I think describing a buffet as a culinary bukkake may be my most disgusting metaphor yet.

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Koho Restaurant and Bar3211 Grant McConachie Way, C3330, Richmond
Prince Gastronome
By PrinceGastronome of Vancouver (6 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 - 8:08am [Dine in]

As some of you know, I’m on a two week trip through England. I’m flying out on a charter flight and staying with a friend in Watford. Watford? Yes, a region of London isolated from the rest of the city, at least from the perspective of its mass transit. The way London works is that its mass transit is separated by expanding consecutive circle-zones. When you get a travel pass, you can acquire a card for 1 zone, 2 zones, or all zones 1 through 6. Here’s the kicker: Watford is not in any of those zones; it has its own “W” zone, separate from all the numbered zones. So we would have to get a travel card that states, “All zones plus Watford.” But that’s beside the point. We are still debating on whether we should travel to Scotland or Paris.

But before any of that can occur, we must wait five hours at the Vancouver international airport—an effective, unambiguous, and utterly uninspired location that tries its very best to extract all joy out of air travel. I’ve spent time stuck in large airports like Calgary, Taipei, and even Hong Kong, and by far, Vancouver is the most boring. Hong Kong had its own metro. Taipei had a two mile-long unbroken, unbent corridor that literally extended to the vanishing point. I’ve been stuck at YVR longer than any of those. It used to have a Cheers replica bar. Now it has a vague restaurant called Koho.

Don’t get the wrong idea. It’s not Japanese. It is just another in a long line of necessary evils that populate airports across the planet. At least it’s not the Popeye’s I had in Hong Kong that refused to stay down between on the way to Taipei. To be an actual restaurant in an airport and not a counter kitchen, you need tables segregated from the others, often enclosed in a wood and iron menagerie that makes you think you’re in a zoo. And like what you would expect, the first page is all alcohol, just in case you wanted to polish off a quart of bourbon to make the flight go by just a little bit easier. I am far too tired to be in the mood for that. Instead, I order the Greek lamb burger. Cubed feta (YES) with olive oil and chopped onions cover a patty that’s a little on the slender side. It tastes good but doesn’t set itself apart from any lean beef burger I have had.

This is but the first. I plan on writing about every place I eat in London, and yes, I will be avoiding all chains…assuming I can identify them as chains. We’ll be starting each day with a pair of grain bars to get the energy going before taking on the city. Lunch and dinner will be eaten out. It’s just too bad the high point, our dinner at Gordon’s Ramsey at Claridges, is on our second day. Every meal from then on will have quite the mountain to measure up to.

So…what about Koho? Well, if you can’t eat at home and want something healthier than a cinnabun, you could do much worse, especially for a Moxi’s clone shoe-horned between the American and International baggage checks of the Vancouver Airport. Just don’t be the type that decides to eat here if you are arriving home. There are far better places the moment you escape the penal complex that is YVR.

Food: 3/5
Service: 4/5
Presentation: 3/5
Value: 3/5
Recommendation: 3/5

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Gotham Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar615 Seymour Street, Vancouver
Prince Gastronome
By PrinceGastronome of Vancouver (6 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 - 8:06am [Dine in]

I get the feeling I may not want to show my face around Vancouver if I offer a negative or even mildly critical evaluation of Gotham Steakhouse and Cocktail Bar, a title which leads very little to the imagination. Even before I made the reservation, friends had cautioned me to such an extent, I felt I should park well enough away and approach the restaurant flanked by anonymous bystanders. Perhaps I should've laced Kevlar through my jacket just in case little Suzee's head doesn't adequately absorb the energy of a .44 Magnum hydra-shock hollow point fired from a passing Bentley.

What I'm saying is that Gotham Steakhouse and Cocktail Bar—boy, that's a mouthful—carries a certain reputation, a swagger if you will, like Big Pussy Bonpensiero; will you be greeted like family or pummeled into gravy from repeated blows from a Louisville slugger? This reputation stems from a 2008 gang shooting where criminals killed other criminals as they were about to enter the restaurant. I mention this bluntly though it was in no way Gotham's fault. I'd perhaps lay credence if shootings were habitual of the location, but if you take restaurant themes into account, you'd have to avoid every Asian restaurant before vetoing the steakhouses. What I found more interesting was that during the 2008 assassination, one of the other patrons was none other than Keanu Reeves, probably enjoying an overpriced fillet mignon and wondering if a spiteful movie aficionado was finally exacting revenge for Chain Reaction.

Taken as a statistic, the shooting at Gotham Steakhouse and Cocktail—that's just too long and it's getting annoying, I'm just going to call it GothCock. GothCock wasn't the first and wouldn't be the last in Vancouver, proudly claiming six restaurant shootings in the past five years. This isn't a critical observation of Vancouver restaurants, and given the number bistros, cafes, diners, eateries, and pubs in the downtown region alone, you'd have better chance contracting thyroid cancer from a misfired Russian kill-satellite then getting caught in one of these shootings. On top of that, what are the chances of it happening twice at the same location? If I felt that shootings were a determent to patronage, no one would be eating at our local Moxis.

No, my ridicule of GothCock is that it actually LOOKS like a restaurant from Goodfellas. I expected the ceiling to pull away, followed by a thick-browed director acting like a ferret on a double-espresso dropped via crane to correct me on my posture during the shot. I spotted at least three Pesci-like patrons digging into a steak like it contained heroine.

An ominous descent into the lower levels led me to the bathrooms, flanked by closed buffet rooms where private gatherings operated well away from the other patrons. GothCock wants to be THAT kind of restaurant, but not for disrespectful modern gangsters, heavens no. Not even for the 1990's sweat-suit wearing Soprano's generation. No, GothCock was built for the era of fedoras and white cocktail dresses, outside of the post depression era and into the optimistic and pre-free-love age of the 1950s, an era I would love to visit but hate to be stuck in.

At some point, I should mention the food, but GothCock doesn't seem to care about it, so why should I? Outside of the impressive décor, GothCock mimics many of the motions you'd expect from a high-class grill, not unlike The Savoy in England. What they forgot was the food. I'd mentioned the steak at The Savoy as being the best in the history of carved meat, a title I was curious if GothCock would challenge. Did it succeed? Short answer, no, long answer… ummm…no.

Was it good? Of course it was good; GothCock knows how to make steak. And they knew how to present themselves as a high-class grill, including the white dinner jacket-wrapped piano player clacking away at his keys, the wine list a'la iPad, and the cocktail lounge where you could enjoy a meal while your table was being prepped. Yes, this place looks great, and on the surface would give the panache of Claridge's a run for its money, but Claridge's shifts from shaded and comfortable to bright and inviting as you pass from the lounge to the dining area. GothCock just remains dark. Where Claridge's offered herb-encrusted bread sticks and truffle-oil cream cheese, GothCock offered a stainless steel bowl of cheese-flavored Goldfish.

One might argue I was finding fault for no good reason, but my negativity began when I saw the prices. GothCock was by a large margin the most expensive restaurant I enjoyed during my Vancouver trip, and I must stress my often stated opinion that price does not equal quality. I would praise the cost if I felt I was getting my money's worth, if I felt the staff, cooking and waiting, were trying their best to earn every dime. Wait, I'm getting to the point, I promise. The meal opened up with a half a loaf of onion bread, which is a great complimentary starter, and one you should enjoy considering how much you're going to get razed for the main. The fillet mignon arrived virtually orphaned on an oversized plate, a branch of parsley its sole companion, though isolated on the edge like a scolded child being punished for breaking a vase.

Any other side must be purchased; this included the small plate of potatoes I opted for. Without a side, that's all you get, a lone steak on a white plate, and for that, they'll charge you $50. That's right, $50 bucks, not counting the 9$ plate of potatoes. Enjoy your god damned onion bread. For the blissfully ignorant, this is a method started in France and given a posh French name which was then embraced by restaurants wanting to squeeze every dime from their customers. It's called à la carte, "according to the menu", and the few times I've sat down at restaurants employing this, the prices were either low or the plates were occupied by more than just garnish and dreams. The Savoy Grill was à la carte, but I didn't feel I was being fleeced, and counting for exchange, Savoy was cheaper. Even if they were on par, The Savoy steak was an F1 to GothCock's Indy. To me, it feels like I'm paying for the prestige of GothCock and not its food, like they expect their reputation to be worth the weight of Apple stock.

I finished the meal with the sticky toffee pudding and found it blisteringly hot, so much so that I had to make a choice, eat it and pay the price in charred taste buds, or wait and simply drink the ice-cream melting faster than the polar caps. Later that evening, I enjoyed a better sticky toffee pudding at Earls. That's a depressing revelation, especially since this dessert cost more than my lunch at Country Meadows.

So that was GothCock, proof that my desire for flamboyance has a cutoff. It's a litmus test where a restaurant forgets why it exists in the first place. Eventually, they won't serve food at all, they'll only charge you 30 bucks to sit down, giving you just a certificate to prove you ate there. Yes the meal was good, yes the restaurant looked great, yes the service was without fault—they even picked up the crumbs from the bread. I can't deny those facts, but I also have problems recommending it, not while they're so many places that remember that they're in the culinary business. I think I'd be swayed if GothCock had stripper poles or tight uniforms, or if you could put money on a horse race while you ate, but as of now, there are better investments.

DECOR: 9
PLATING: 6
SERVICE: 10
FOOD: 8
VALUE: 6

OVERALL: 7.8 out of 10

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Tojo's Restaurant1133 W Broadway, Vancouver
Prince Gastronome
By PrinceGastronome of Vancouver (6 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 - 8:03am [Dine in]

Of all the restaurants in my journeys, outside of Gordon Ramsey at Claridges (which is no longer Gordon Ramsey at Claridges), there has never been a more hyped restaurant than Tojo’s. They obviously wallow in the accolades—you can barely see through the glass door with all the stickers on it from various review sites like Zagat, Trip Advisor, or Yelp. I may never again encounter a restaurant with this much buildup. Hell, I was even discussing my visit with Jewel Staite. Jewel Staite! Jewel Staite? Yes, Jewel Staite. You know, Firefly, Stargate—oh forget it, those of you who know, care. She reaffirmed the apparent certainty that Tojo’s was one of the best if not THE best restaurant in all of Vancouver.

Okay.

I’ll go.

Would it then be a surprise that it didn’t fulfill such lofty expectations? I was practically guaranteed transcendence, and no one was more shocked than I at my reaction. It’s admittedly unfair; it already counts as one of the best Japanese culinary experiences I’ve ever encountered, but with this level of hype, I was expecting it to top the list, and it didn’t. As it stands, it’s unfortunately just amazing. I await retribution for stating Tojo’s as simply fantastic, merely astonishing, regrettably excellent.

Based purely on its décor, it deserves high praise. This is not a conventional Japanese restaurant, but a Japanese restaurant’s ecstasy-laced hallucination of itself. It’s enormous, with gaps of hardwood floor shockingly underutilized, still leaving dozens of tables and an expansive bar open as we entered. The bar was reserved for omakase.

No, that’s not some mid-level Yakuza boss in Grand Theft Auto 5, but the term labeled for chef menus in Japanese restaurants. I find the exclusiveness of the bar disappointing, especially since I wanted to try omakase. My girlfriend wasn’t, leaving me trapped at a table ordering the non-omakase chef’s menu…yes there are two chef menus. No, I don’t really know the difference. I could see the owner/head chef, the one that looks like Sonny Chiba from Kill Bill, behind the bar serving a half-dozen men clearly ending their shift as GQ models. How badly did I want to sit at the bar? So much so that the $80 price tag felt like a drop in the bucket, not that I’ve had good experience with omakase.

In another feeble attempt at self-glorification, the last time I had a full-on omakase was at a restaurant in the New World Mall in downtown Hong Kong. Against a backdrop of fireworks blasting beyond a window overlooking Kowloon Bay on the final day of the Autumn Festival, as the Blade Runner-esque cityscape of the Admiralty fired lasers into a starless night made ever blacker by rampant pollution, I enjoyed a $300 omakase. It also gave me food poisoning, which is a tale in itself. A chef obviously lower on the totem pole, but one of some obvious talent was supplying my dinner in Tojo’s. My tasting menu included five courses of what I expected would be alternating variations of raw fish and rice. I held my chopsticks the proper way in anticipation, ironic that most of the delivered dishes were in dire need of fork. I consider myself a chopstick master—got a technique down and everything—I don’t even squish the rice. All but one of the dishes I was served was nearly impossible to enjoy with sticks, but at no point was I offered a fork. Some of the bites were as minute as Adam Sandler’s box-office draw.

The first dish, a tuna tartare, was one of the greatest dishes I’d ever sampled, followed by a salmon sashimi, followed by…I honestly don’t know what it was. I mean it was good, and I recognized the bed of morel mushrooms it sat on. Carrots, I saw carrots. All that led to a dish punctuated but what felt like slightly undercooked tripe, a dish so disappointing, I had to break a personal policy and share my displeasure with the staff (in the most polite way possible, of course). It was only after that was I served some actual sushi, five various pieces of exceptional refinement. Of the five courses, two disappointed while three overwhelmed, a fact obviously perceived by the wait staff, who obviously conveyed this to the chef, and the previous setback was redeemed with a complimentary green tea crème brulee, a dish of which all future crème brulees will be compared.

Tojo’s reputation is obviously well earned; it has reached that critical mass where no bad publicity can stop it. Like a G-type main sequence star, Tojo’s is unlikely to dim in the foreseeable future, feeding on a nearly inexhaustive supply of publicity garnered from celebrities like Anthony Bourdain, Tom Cruise, and Jack Black. Wait…is that…Pat Morita (hasn’t he been dead for eleven years?). By the way, funny that Bourdain is the only one labeled; even Cruise is listed under just…”people”. Heaven forbid I offer up a negative review, not that I would give one. The experience, taken on an average of décor, service, and the six dishes served, still comes up with a top grade across the board. Odd that I walked out still…disappointed. How does that work?

Should you visit Tojo’s? Hell yeah. I’m required to visit different restaurants each time I visit Vancouver and I still want to try omakase. It was absolutely worthy the visit...if you have the money. Remember, such a reputation does equate to rather lofty prices. The only sushi combo dinner offered is a staggering $55. That price I quoted for omakase was only to start, with the cost likely to increase, up to triple depending on the details. Thank god, my girlfriend only ordered the California rolls. I left her out of the review until now because her comments perfectly reflect the justification of my review. She hates sushi…hates it. I can’t get her to try anything, but she ordered California rolls, and said they were the best she’d ever had. Thank you, Tojo’s, you might have finally opened up my girlfriend’s culinary horizons, and for that, I cannot offer a greater score.

Food: 4.5/5
Service: 5/5
Presentation: 5/5
Value: 5/5
Recommendation: 5/5

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Pear Tree, The4120 Hastings Street, Burnaby
Prince Gastronome
By PrinceGastronome of Vancouver (6 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 - 8:01am [Dine in]

After a time at the Pear Tree Restaurant, I began to feel like the Merovingian from The Matrix as he spoke French, akin to wiping your…well, you know…with silk. I’d like to say “that” word, but most of the review sites discourage it. It felt like the luxury it truly wanted to be.

From the outside, The Pear Tree is rather unspectacular, yet being that stands out among rainbow walls and neon signs—the restaurant next door was salmon-colored with a yellow awning, leaving The Pear Tree’s shale tiles as somewhat reserved. This perfectly exemplifies how simplicity can be scenic. At least I wasn’t assaulted by varying shades of brown, the apparent default décor of every restaurant nowadays. A glass wall of wine divides the serving area from the colossal pristine kitchen. My girlfriend and I were shoehorned to a miniscule table at a far corner, a depressing point given our reservation days in advance. That would be the only criticism of the evening. Since Araxi the previous week, I had been waiting for a truly pampered experience, and The Pear Tree shared space with Araxi in a restaurant guide claiming both among a thousand restaurants across the world one must enjoy before dying. That’s a…big list. I got five down so far though. I better get off my butt.

The menu was Spartan, barely ten entrees, indicating the courses were made to order. We had already decided upon the seasonal table d-hote, akin to the chef’s menu. Three fixed courses for 64 dollars intermixed with pallet cleansers and bread. Yeah, not cheap. Quick spoiler warning, the dishes were all incredible. Against a canvas of ceramic white, each plate was a moment of beauty, fleeting until I rammed them down my gullet like a voracious duck. I’d be honest and doubtful to remember if I even chewed. Green was a dominant color used, offset with whites and browns. After the brioche opener, we were treated to glazed pork cheek with chargrilled green asparagus, mustard textures and bacon wrapped leeks. In truth, I’m not sure what mustard textures is meant to imply. It was grainy mustard; just say its grainy mustard. And I wasn’t kidding about varying textures, combine the asparagus with the leeks or the leeks with the pork cheek, toss one of the crisps that top the dish if you want. The same was extended to the main, pan roasted “Haida Gwaii” halibut, with Yukon gold potato pave, spinach fluid gel and spring vegetables.

Now I know what you’re going to say—I made up half those words, but that was a direct quote from the menu. So let’s do a Google search. I honestly didn’t know Haida Gwaii was once the Queen Charlotte Islands and that the name changed only a few years ago, did you? Potato Pave refers to the French word for paving stones, and was coined by the world famous chef Thomas Keller—so basically it’s a square potato. Fluid gel? Well, it’s pureed spinach mixed with a gelling agent like xanthan gum… yummm. Actually it was. Finally, the meal concluded with a simple dessert. Though still delicious, it was oddly subdued. In the end, that was The Pear Tree’s strongest note, how it doesn’t go overboard. It skirts the outer periphery of molecular gastronomy without fully embracing it. My girlfriend selected the pear sorbet while I dove into the chocolate ganache with a crisp nut base, salted caramel and orange/chocolate sorbet.

Pear Tree was an amazing experience but not transcendent…and I honestly don’t know if that translates to being a disappointment or not. I mean it’s less expensive than other places promising the world. I think the fault has to lie with hype. We picked it out from only a handful of restaurants in Vancouver listed in this restaurant guide. It listed only seven restaurants in Vancouver, and I had already been to Vij’s. But Vij’s wasn’t divine either, only fantastic, but I didn’t have a book that attempted to sell me on otherwise. I guess that means it’s all the book’s fault. I’m okay with that. The Pear Tree is worth a visit, certainly. It falls into a slot of restaurant I didn’t know existed—the one just below the best of the city, but one not trying to be better. Leave the top spot for the likes of Chambar or Absinthe, for those wanting to spend half as much but still feel they got 70% of an pinnacled experience, the Pear Tree is a worthy compromise.

Oh and one other thing, we were given a utensil that insanely combined fork and spoon, but I dare not call it a spork. We agreed it will forever be called a “foon”, as it was more fork than spoon. Crazy talk.

Food: 4.5/5
Service: 5/5
Presentation: 4.5/5
Value: 5/5
Recommendation: 4.5/5

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Fable1944 West 4th Ave, Vancouver
A great farm dining experience
By sadayuki.shigemori of V5K 1S6 (2 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, July 26, 2015 - 9:40pm [Dine in]

Enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Fable while visiting Vancouver. The atmosphere is fun, hip, friendly, casual, and warm. Dishes were variable and tasty, especially the sausage stuffed pork loin and the smores desert. Service was friendly and helpful. Reasonably priced, wonderful service. This is perhaps the best farm to table place I've ever been to. I will return every time I come back to Vancouver.

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Romano's Pizza902 Granville Street, Vancouver
Romanos pizza’s the best
By sadayuki.shigemori of V5K 1S6 (2 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, July 26, 2015 - 9:36pm [Dine in]

This place has excellent pizza. We dropped in for a couple of slices for a quick dinner. Don't expect great décor, just great pizza. No pizza in my entire life has come close to this. I always order the pesto and artichoke and veggie pizza, 1 large pizza with half and half. I love the sesame seeds in the crust. Delicious, exquisite and so well made. Romanos pizza’s awesomely amazing!

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La Grotta Del Formaggio1791 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Sandwich Heaven
By 072415jean of V5K 1B6 (2 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, July 26, 2015 - 8:25pm [Dine in]

La Grotta has been a local favourite for sandwiches. It has always been their legacy to pack a sheer amount of meat in every sandwich, giving the customers a tasteful treat. I have never been let down with a single sandwich I've ordered from them. For every order, you are sure that you are paying for the premium meats, best cheese and fresh vegetables. The main thing people come for are the paninis and for good reason they are amazing! To top it off, the staff was super friendly & helpful.

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Cinch Grill1517 Robson St, Vancouver
Great pasta adventure
By 072415jean of V5K 1B6 (2 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, July 26, 2015 - 8:23pm [Dine in]

This little gem in Vancouver serves great pasta! The staff were accommodating and happy to guide us through the menu, and we enjoyed a fine meal that was well presented and beautifully cooked. I came here once for lunch and dinner. I personally like their angel hair pasta with the seafood. It was rich and delicious. On the other time, I felt adventurous and ordered the seafood risotto, which I thought has excellent flavours. If this was just nearer to our home, I would visit and eat here regularly.

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Red Robin3000 Lougheed Hwy, Coquitlam
Will this place just go away already....
By princess123 of New Westminster BC (146 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, July 26, 2015 - 8:05am [Dine in]

Hubby wanted to go here because it was close. Lunch time on a weekend restaurant mostly empty. I remember many years ago there was always a line up. Waitress seemed bored and disinterested. Opened the menu and it was the same as last time I was there many years ago. Yawn.

Hubby had a burger that was ok( can u screw up a burger?) few fries and they were cold steak fries and tasteless. Child 10 - had grilled cheese that came cut up in about 10 mini pieces- like she can't handle a whole sandwich. Filled with plastic process cheese- she said it was gross. She ate almost nothing except for the drink which came in a glass with a plastic lid on it like she was 2. Waitress did not ask why it wasn't eaten. Looking for something smallish and healthier - other than. $12 salad. I opted for soup of the day and garlic toast. The soup was corn chowder. Sounded good. What I hot was a bowl of vegetarian chilli precursors. Sautéed onions carrots celery black beans and corn it about a teaspoon of broth with taco seasoning. That wasn't soup - soup is liquid. It was disgusting. I only ate the few tortilla strips on top and again was not asked why I didn't set it. The " garlic toast" were two mini slices of baguette and burned. Just terrible .

This place is way past it's prime and needs to close so that a restaurant from this century can more in.

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Shiraz Grill20526 Fraser Hwy, Langley
Great Food; Absolutely HORRIBLE Service
By courymarie of Vancouver (1 Review)
Submitted Sunday, July 26, 2015 - 3:16am [Dine in]

I loved this place up until this past week. While the food is excellent, the service is absolutely horrible and has tainted my entire opinion of this business. My fiance and I looked forward to going to Shiraz for our anniversary dinner, especially since we were in talks of having them cater our wedding, only to be turned away three nights in a row with a list of random, contradicting excuses. When we requested to speak to the owner we had been emailing, a front of house staff member got upset with us, told us we couldn't eat there without a longstanding reservation (another lie), and that there was nobody else we needed to speak to. She for the past four days she has told us to "come back tomorrow," only to be greeted with more excuses, attitude, and disrespect. Needless to say they have lost our business and a our recommendations to friends.

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Mr. Red Cafe2234 E Hastings, Vancouver
One of the best Vietnamese restaurants in town
By pkwok of Shaughnessy, Vancouver (123 Reviews)
Submitted Saturday, July 25, 2015 - 11:00pm [Dine in]

I purposely went to dine here because it was rated as one of the top new restaurants in town in Vancouver Magazine. I had the pho with rare beef. The soup base was excellent, very flavorful without tasting like MSG (I did not feel thirsty afterwards). The beef slices had more fat content than the ones elsewhere, which I really liked, because they did not taste "fatty" per se or oily but were very tender, the most tender I have had at any Vietnamese restaurant. I also had a chicken sandwich, and at $4.50, it was very reasonably priced. Very tasty, with fresh veggies inside, and a roll that was toasted to perfection.

The waitress was attentive without being intrusive. All in all, a very positive experience.

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Boston Pizza805 Boyd Street, Unit P100, New Westminster
Great Staff
By me3vanc of Cloverdale (17 Reviews)
Submitted Saturday, July 25, 2015 - 12:30am [Dine in]

I hadn't been to this location before. But our group had a toddler and new baby ... on a week night ... so seemed a good choice. I do not believe the food is worth the prices they charge but it is consistent. What made the difference here was the staff. They were very helpful and REALLY REALLY nice. Going into a restaurant with little kids is not easy and we try to not disturb other dinners - if a kid starts to cry we either calm them down instantly or we take the kid out of the restaurant asap. Our server was fast, efficient, and actually seemed to like the kids (a lot pretend they are invisible). The bill says her name was Natalie and she had longish white blonde hair - a great server!

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True Confections3701 W. Broadway, #6, Vancouver
No Ambiance at all!
By me3vanc of Cloverdale (17 Reviews)
Submitted Saturday, July 25, 2015 - 12:11am [Dine in]

We decided to take a drive and ended up here. So not what I expected. Tiny parking lot and from the outside like a small unsophisticated neighbourhood café.... same inside. There is no ambiance here, tables are too close together and whole place is very small. I counted 5 waiters which seemed very excessive. We chose our dessert and were served quickly. Good but not really impressive. Skimpy with sauce and whip cream. As soon as plate with clear, it was taken away. The bill was brought so fast my son-in-law was offended and changed his mind about buying more to take home. Frankly, this place is set up to get you in and out ASAP. Not a quiet place to relax and savour a special treat.

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