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Elder_MMHSBurnabySince December 29, 20092 Reviews
Average Rating
2.5 (2.5)
  • Food2 (2)
  • Service1.5 (1.5)
  • Value2.5 (2.5)
  • Ambiance4 (4)

Reviews

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2 Reviews Found
Closed
Chill Restaurant5507 Kingsway, Burnaby
A seemingly Fusion-esque cliché done right.
Submitted Sunday, January 17, 2010 - 12:02am [Dine in]

Fusion. It's pretty common to read about restaurants and cafes that describe themselves as "east meets west" only to find out it is either a predominantly Asian establishment with spaghetti and minute steak or a Western restaurant with an Asian "inspired" menu (think stereotypical tempura, tuna, green onions and ginger). In many respects, there's nothing entirely wrong with either case, but the promotion is overdone and upon leaving you often can't help but feel disappointed. Enter Chill, another seemingly futile attempt at fusion.

Located on Kingsway in Burnaby where O'Brien's Pub & Grill and the short-lived, forgotten Korean family restaurant used to exist, Chill attempts to place itself where many have claimed, but often let down. It's easy to think it would end up being an "east meets west," bad service, cash-only bubble tea and steak place for cheap.

To start, Chill's food and drink selection are pretty standard Asian fare, combining a variety of favourite tapas and main entrees. Seemingly uninspired, it sets itself apart firstly by having a concise menu that is reminiscent of a fine dining experience. Each dish is well-described and distinct. The permutations are limited, which is a refreshingly sharp contrast to your typical bubble tea cafes. What you won't find are fine dining prices - it is competitively priced at cafe-style levels. Complementing the succinct food menu is a drink menu that shares similar qualities. Again, you won't find 764 varieties of tea drinks but you will find many classics, a good selection of uncommons and some interesting picks. Happily impressed, I chose a Miso Chicken meal ($6+2) with a mango green tea w/ pearls ($4.25+0.50).

The meal comes standard with a small assortment of side dishes (in this case, steamed broccoli, seasoned celery and peanuts) and a generous bowl of rice topped with black sesame seeds. The portions were well-sized and appropriately "cafe-style." The chicken was stir-fried in a house miso sauce with garlic, ginger and basil. It was undeniably tasty in its sweet and savouriness and the kitchen spared no expense with the ingredients. Unfortunately, this worked against them as I spent a fair amount of energy and effort discerning and picking out chicken from the plentiful quantities of garlic cloves, ginger slices and basil leaves in the sauce.

The mango green tea was relatively pricey but came as a "large" drink. The pearls were a bit tough to chew and probably could have been boiled a bit longer. The drink's taste was standard and less sweet than usual. That said, it is always enjoyable to taste *tea* in your bubble tea drink - there was obviously less sugar/syrup used and that, to me, is fantastic.

Far and away the most outlandish and impressive aspect is the ambiance. From the onset of entering (where you will find a menu outside for your perusal), you can observe well-coordinated decor and furniture. The place is sufficiently well-lit yet retains a lounge-type mood. The overall design is interesting yet neutral should your focus remain on your party. The layout and structure is distinctively modern and Western yet the materials and details are notably Asian. Observe and you will find many interesting details - red accent lighting to set a warm, relaxing tone that also complement the waitress attire; strange mash-up music mixes of Asian and Western pop songs (a few work, many are regrettably just interesting experiments); an over-sized, western-style bar loaded with mugs for bubble tea; a "CHILL" lettering pattern cut into a metal panel separating the waiting from the dining area; washrooms that are (for now) disturbingly clean and well-kept. It's all outrageous, sophisticated and simply cool. You will ask yourself many times whether Chill is "just" a bubble tea cafe or "another" Earl's/Cactus Club/Milestones-type restaurant. You will discover that Chill is much of both yet stands unique in its ambition, value and execution. This is fusion done right.

If there's one knock on Chill, it is the service. Three waitresses serve the dining area and while they are friendly and smiling, they appeared less attentive and alert than I had hoped. It's pretty standard at a bubble tea cafe, but with all the Western, fusion-esque ambiance this could be escalated to match.

Chill is ambitious. It is definitely rooted in homely Asian cafe-style value and cuisine yet brings in the elegance of Western-style ambiance and delivery at cheap prices. It has bubble tea and starting next week, it will have beer and wine. There is an events calendar and hopefully when it warms up, the patio will open. There is even some live music on specific evenings. It can be hard to fathom for a Western/Chinese/HK/Taiwanese-"fusion,"-bubble tea/tapas-cafe/restaurant/lounge, but Chill is also a genuine dining experience. It's in the right location, in the right city and has the right combination of food, drink, value and ambiance. With improvements to the service and its promotional network, this could turn into something big that will appeal to a broad spectrum of customers. Here's hoping this experiment succeeds.

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Closed
Capone's Restaurant & Live Jazz Club1141 Hamilton St., Vancouver
Suspiciously Poor.
Submitted Monday, December 28, 2009 - 6:40pm [Dine in]

I'm undecided on what it means to write a negative restaurant review. It could be for the sake of discussion and storytelling - a cautionary tale to optimistic diners that you will encounter occasional failure between your successes. It might also be the lingering feeling of frustration - the need to emotionally vent and express dissatisfaction to an audience. Yet it could still be a message to the restaurant staff - for whatever was left unresolved during the dining experience is passed on haphazardly via the internet. For Capone's, it is all of the above.

The food was mediocre at best. 'Disappointingly poor' is a more succinct term. I ordered the wild mushroom soup ($9) for an appetizer and the pan-seared halibut for a main ($29).

First, I ended up with a salad. It turned out that the server took my order down incorrectly. This was taken back. The soup came out 10 minutes later forming a thickening skin on top as a cream would after cooling for minutes without a stir. It was modest in flavour. For those that can appreciate very subtle notes of cream, mushrooms and black pepper, it is acceptable. It was severely lacking savoriness. The consistency was fairly thick and hearty, but not smooth. Imagine a can of condensed "Campbell's Cream of Mushroom" soup that had not been properly mixed with the required milk and water.

The pan-seared halibut was presented well enough. Potatoes and string beans beneath the cut of fish with some enoki mushrooms and mushroom 'sauce' on top along with almond brittle on the side. First observation - the mushroom sauce ('au jus' on the menu) was actually just the wild mushroom soup heavily reduced and thickened. The mushrooms were raw and clumped. This was not going well. The fish was burnt on one side, overcooked and mostly flavourless. I began to notice a trend. If I wanted to appreciate fish in its purest and naked form, I would order sashimi. The almond brittle was sadly hard and chunky. The potatoes and greens were satisfactory but they are meant to reset my palate, not invigorate it.

I guess the food could be sent back to the kitchen as a mark of disapproval, but when you have been waiting 30 minutes for a soup and 30 more minutes for your mains, you start to get a bit hungry. You also can't help but wonder if something is going on in the restaurant. As well-intentioned as our server may have been, he returned at infrequent intervals. He could not differentiate between a soup and a salad. When it came time to receive our bill, the salad was still listed. At first, he mentioned that it was the same price as the soup and it would end up costing the same for me. The salad was $10 and the soup was also listed. When I pointed this out, he apologized and said to literally "take off $10" and left to attend someone else who also had their bill incorrectly rung up. I recalculated my bill manually and paid accordingly.

People could eternally debate about the facade of 'value' at higher-end restaurants, but there was none at a place like this with poor food and service - the core elements of a dining experience. High prices did little to justify this and only elevated expectations.

There is one saving grace to this establishment - the ambiance is promising. The live jazz reverberates from the back. The red lighting and decor set a classy, stylish and warm mood despite the cold winter draft that came through the front door every time it opened (more often than I'd expect, too).

As an aside - I noticed several peculiar things - a "set menu" for December (think Dine Out Vancouver) where they ran out of some dessert, a ravioli selection made of turkey, beef and salmon (how assorted), a broken kitchen, frantically lost service and a staff member commenting to the chef that "we still have a lot of salmon." How bizarre. Maybe they know they're about to crash and are clearing house. I'll leave this as an exercise for interested readers.

Unfortunately, the jiving rhythm and blues do little for the taste of bitterness and lack of quality service. Capone's seemed like it was in the midst of a free falling kitchen nightmare. However, I do believe in balance and that one cannot appreciate genuine, bona fide success without experiencing the occasional, tragic failure. I present Capone's for the latter.

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