Tapas house drawing from influences across the globe. Taps feature Belgian beers. Formerly called Stella's.
Took the family (hubby and kids - ages almost 5 and almost 3). I called earlier as 1) it was Valentines Day; 2) it was Chinese New Year and 3) the Olympics. I was told that I would be fine without a reservation for lunch around 1:00 and clarified that it was a restaurant, not a pub so I could bring the children.
We arrived shortly after 1:00. We were seated by a friendly server and given a choice of seats (which is nice as I know my kids best and chose a table next to a wall and with limited distractions). We were given water immediately and I chose to have the kids use their sippy cups, which was fine by the server.
For our lunch, hubby and I each had the burger. It was nice that they offered a choice of fries, salad or 1/2 fries and 1/2 salad. We enjoy fries, but not too many - so hubby and I both chose "1/2 and 1/2). The kids wanted Mac and Cheese. I asked the server if one order would be enough for both kids and she indicated that it would. Interestingly, they do not offer root beer (I know, I know they specialize in genuine Belgian Beers, not "root beer" - but for the kids it would have been nice for them to have "beer" too. The waitress offered blueberry lemondade, which the kids got excited about. Hubby and I both had specialty Belgian beers. There is an excellent menu with a list of beers and good descriptions of their appearance and taste - so choosy took some time - but was foolproof as long as one's English language reading skills were good.
The food was good. The mac and cheese was indeed a generous portion easily split between two kids. The lemonade was tasty. The beer was excellent and served in the proper glasses and at the proper temperature.
My only quibble is that the 2nd server who brought the burgers for hubby and I got them mixed up. Hubby ordered his with blue cheese, I ordered swiss. She even said, "who is having the swiss" and I took that one. Hubby started in on his burger first while I was helping the kids. He had finished three quarters of his when I bit into my burger and immediately tasted blue cheese!! The server should have made sure that she was giving me the right burger (especially when she asked if I was having the swiss). Hubby apologized, but was hungry and, swiss being a milder cheese, just didn't clue in that he didn't have the right burger. We did not make a big deal of it as we could have switched burgers if we had been more mindful ourselves.
Hubby paid the bill, which allowed for an option of automatically adding a 20% tip (which he chose). I think that this is good, as long as it remains a "choice" - as some people are more comfortable with a standard 15% tip (or less depending on the service).
All in all, I found the restaurant comfortable, the ambiance pleasant (with a pub feel, but welcoming to children), the washrooms clean and functional, the food and beer good and the service friendly.
We will be back.
It was quite a while back when I went to Stella's for the very first time. I quite enjoyed the beer and food. It's an excellent place to just chill and catch up with friends. Be prepared for an extensive wait if you have a group of 4 or more, but definitely worth the wait. The place is hopping and happening. Will be back for more. =)
Came and visited after the name change and noticed some different things. Between 2-5pm M-F they have 1/2 price tapas. What a great deal. Favorites include the rare beef, mussels and squid. All done perfectly. Also tried their $28 prix fix menu. Oysters to start - Ok but not their specialty, then the steak and frites - great and tiramasu to end. Service is great even though they are very busy. Great ambiance. Would return for the 1/2 price tapas.
One of my more frequented tapa places in a busy area on Commercial Drive. I first came here for lunch and have since brought many friends here and introduced some of them to the world of tapas.
It's always busy and always loud inside. I savour the opportunity if we get seats outside the patio. Servers manoeuvre around a space that's not very traffic friendly with poise and a smile, albeit sometimes seeming forced with the buzz.
They have quite a list of tapas choices and I've basically tried every dish on the menu (I had celebrated a friend's graduation here) and there's no dish I can think of that I didn't like. They also have a brunch and lunch menu. Typical regulars include the Hummus, Seared Ahi-Tuna, Yucatan Steak Tacos, their Gallo Mussels (with many different emulsions) and whatever other dishes that look appetizing at the time. The mussels are the best part of coming here. I suggest ordering a bucket of fries and basket of bread to soak up all that great sauce (my favourites include the Madrid, Orleans and Normande). I will note that the "bucket" (for the fries) is nothing more than a shallow personal sized baking dish.
They have a large drink menu and specials on tap as well.
Service has been good each time although food coming out of the kitchen is usually slower.
I went here on a Saturday afternoon with a girl friend for some brunch. I found that they had a large variety of dishes available for brunch - which was great! I had the roasted vegetable frittata with salad and hashbrowns and my friend had their waffle. Both dishes were tasty and delicious! The frittata was just the right size and cooked perfectly. The hash browns were perfectly cooked and had a nice kick to them with some sort of spice. My friend's waffle was also tasty - she normally barely finishes her dish but this time it was clean!
The service was excellent. Our waitress was friendly and attentive.
The value is pretty standard for brunch.
The ambiance was good. We sat in the heated patio and had a view of the Drive.
Overall I'd definitely return for their brunch!
I was there with my friend on a sunday. It was fairly busy but not crazy. We sat at one of the hightops beside the bar. We ordered some beers which took quite a long time and the server we got wasn't exactly friendly either. We weren't really hungry so we just ordered a calamari to share. Well I thought I was back in the 70's with parsley thrown all over the rim of the plate, (nice presentation), also the batter wasn't even sticking to the calamari, no seasoning, just bland. Why bother? I was there before when it first opened and it was okay, seems like they just don't care, no pride.
I'm right behind Stella and for a quick walk up the street, I can enjoy a good beer and some food. Stella is a place I find too expensive for my cheap budget.
The Food: Expensive in my books. Qaulity isn't that good and for the price, I could get more and better hot wings elsewhere. The hype is mostly from business type people in their fancy suits and ties. I walk by everyday and find half of the people in there on a "business lunch".
The Serivice: Slow as a snail crossing the street. The waitress can't find the side patio if it's staple on her hand. We waited 20 minutes for our food to arrive and found out she figured we disappeared from our seats. She was the one who took us to our seat in the first place.
The Ambiance: The only decent thing in Stellas is the quality of the restaurant itself. It has a nice patio on the side of the building and the inside looks great with all the wood on the walls and ceiling.
I intended to treat a few beer buddies to a night of the good stuff. I had read the previous reviews and expected to be disappointed with the food. However, everything was Outstanding. We were instantly seated and served. The service never stopped. We barely put down our empty glasses and the server appeared at the table. No doubt this is just good server practice but its a refreshing change from those places that seem to think they're doing you a favour by selling you a drink. Anyway, we ordered a couple rounds of mussels and they were... Outstanding. No, really. Some of the freshest tasting mussels I've had in a long time. The fries with them were great too. We ordered a half dozen tapas and all were well presented and tasty. I can't say all the tapas ordered were Outstanding, but the mussels merit the high marks for food. As for the beer: Outstanding. I found, though, that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Belgian beers are pretty heavy duty and I don't really think that many of them are designed for all night drinking. Or, maybe we just have evolved sufficiently as a species or nation to be able to drink the big boys all night. I settled on Palm beer and stuck with it: truly an Outstnding beer. As for the ambience, lot's of shiny happy people. Nice lively room and a positive vibe, Outstanding.
Nice little bar/pub on the Drive serving up really enjoyable tapas dishes and import beer - the humus dip is really good here. Good value as each tapas dish ranges from $6-12.
Great place to grab some good beer and appies after work or to catch a sporting event. It gets quite busy during the evenings, but if you can get a seat, it's good times.
Will definitely be back!
We have been to this place maybe 40+ times over several years The last 6 visits as "Biercraft" and prior to that Stella's. It was our "go to" place on the drive for a good beer and a delicious plate of mussels. Unfortunately, the staff has been completely changed over, and sadly, not for better. Last Friday we popped in for a quick beer and some mussels and the server was completely condescending to us. We asked how the mussels were that day because in the past the bartenders and servers could always be relied on to give an honest appraisal of the size of specimens coming out of the kitchen, as we know mussels are varietal in size and that is no fault of the cooks. This server looked at us like we had three heads each and said, "Well, they are fantastic, we are known for our mussels." She was both flip, arrogant, and condescending... quite a feat to convey all three attibutes in a single sentence. So, we took her at her word and ordered a pound of mussels of "drunken" mussels with bread for dunking. The mussels we got were, 1. Not hot, 2. Soaked in a disgusting lime flavoured watery liquid with tons of RAW garlic thrown in, and 3. At least 4 of the mussels were dead prior to cooking, 1 of the mussels was so completely off that I gagged and spit it out as soon as it entered my mouth. Since we were short on time and could not see the waitress having even the slightest couth in dealing with our complaints, we just paid and left. Honestly, we wouldn't have complained to this server because her hostile attitude made us feel that she might actually so something disgusting to our food or drink if we did. Goodbye Biercraft... one bad server managed to kill off our business after years of visits. Hello Portugese club across the street, ambience isn't super... but we've never had a nasty server there.
I was going to Commercial Drive to grab a quick pizza-by-the-slice when my companion convinced me to walk up the drive to see if we could have a sit-down dining experience. So, we walked up to Stella's and was quickly seated at the back (the place was packed)! Before being seated, we asked the hostess what she would recommend. Calamari and the prawns, she said ...
When we got to our seats, we went over the long list of tapas items and decided on the calamari, beef carpaccio, bay scallops and mussels. I had a glass of wine while my companion tried their bottled specialty beer and their draft beer. The server was great, as well as the atmosphere, but the food was mediocre at best. My companion didn't think much of the beer (but he was experimenting) and we both did not care for the calamari or mussels at all and the carpaccio and scallops were just okay. Nothing about the food had a "wow" factor to it. But we both said that we would go back to Stella's for the ambiance and to people watch.
Sunday, street blocked off for the jazz festival. Not many people either on the street or in Stella's. I love Stella's, but something has changed. More staff running around than customers and we couldn't get seated. Wait, wait, - what's the problem. Stop talking to each other and focus. Focus on the customers.
Next problem, Stella's used to have a menu item, delicious thai prawns, huge. Grilled, 3 of them delicious. Well some smart back room person person is buying smaller prawns that lack the flavour, punch, juiciness. B string product.
Worse yet, on Sunday we placed two orders of prawns and rec'd old stock. The prawns stuck the shells, dried out, tasteless, small. We sent them back. Not edible.
I don't know what's going on, but it's not all good. I'll go back in a month and see what happens. Who knows, could have been a bad day. Stellas has a wonderful history. I think the manager needs to stand up and start managing.
Stella's is one of my favourite places to go for casual dining and a great beer selection. The food prices are reasonable and the quality is consistent... the the six or seven mussel dishes are always good (be sure to get a side of bread to soak up the sauce with), the salads are decent, and the tapas, while not traditional in the Spanish or Portuguese sense, are tasty with a fusion flair about them.
It's the beer list that continues to draw me back to Stella's. Over the past year, I've begun to discover the variety and complexity of Belgian beers, and Stella's has an amazing list that spans four pages. Most are in the $9 range, but when one considers these same beers often cost between $4 and $5 at Brewery Creek, Viti, or Firefly, they are not bad values at all. Their tasting notes for each of the beers is very accurate, and the staff seem, for the most part, knowledgeable about the different beers. The great thing is the chance to share a beer and a plate of food to try different pairings... I recently had the Nostradamus Aud Bruin with the Pomegranate molasses chicken wings, and it was a great combo!
Stella's can get noisy, but considering they haven't tried to position themselves as a "fine dining establishment" (as has Chambar), the noise doesn't bother me in the least. If you are looking for some great moules frites and an incomparable selection of Belgian beers (probably three or four times the number that Chambar has), Stella's is the place to go.
Stella's has the best beer in the city hand's down. The beer menu is fantastic, lots of variety and a lot of bottles that you can't find anywhere else. The staff are amazing, every time I can't decide what to order I describe what I might feel like (light carbonation, fruity, dark, etc) and get the perfect drink every time. I also ask for food suggestions and once again, perfect recommendations. The mussels, mushrooms, salad, even dessert, were all perfect. I used to think the place was pricey but I now know that it's worth it every time!
I have eaten here a couple of times before. The first time, a long time ago, was forgettable, the second time (recently) I had the mussels Normande, which were very good. But I went back there and had them again this week, and was so put off that I don't think I'll ever eat mussels again. When the waitress set the bowl down I could smell that they weren't fresh - they have a distinct taste and smell when they're not fresh, and any chef should know that in an instant, and should not have served them (I mean, come on! They're so cheap in any case!). After I'd forced my way through about half of them, I regretted not sending them back. I know mussels can be hit and miss. But these were a definite miss, and you don't expect that in a restaurant that has a decent reputation. In fact, speaking of misses... I won't be back here.
Even though we live within 2 minutes walk of Cambie; we are bigger fans of the Commercial Street location. Service here is more friendly and professional. Love the mussels, frites, and brunch French Toast. We noticed that Commercial now has the manager from Kitsilano Daily working there! Yea! better wines we hope as well as already better service. We loved Kate our server. What a happy bunch compared to our local on Cambie. Please get more beers from Vancouver Island and Washington - the Belgium beers are too sweet and boozy.
I've eaten there a few times only because someone I was doing business chose it for lunch meetings. He talked about the place like it was innovative cuisine, and on the edge.
All I got out of their menu was crappy pub food. Had the Seared Tuna sandwich last time I was there. The bread was stale, and the tuna not fresh, and everything else bland.
The time before I had an omelet, can't remember what kind as it was a while ago, and it was completely unrememberable.
The service was standard bar service, nothing special or interesting, I would not choose to dine here again, but maybe go here for a drink.
I've been here a few times. Every time the story is the same. The food is mediocre and overpriced but the beer is excellent. This is a great place for people watch and relaxing after a long week with a cold one in hand. But if you are hungry, don't go here.
I went there today for brunch with a friend. We ordered eggs benedict, hamburger and two coffees for $42. This is like a pub not a five star hotel. The food was not that great and nor was the service. When it came time to pay I pulled out my credit card and when I pressed ok a 20% opinion came out. Why do servers believe they are entitled to 20%? I was not happy with the price of the food nor the value. When restaurant do that I put them instantly put them on my do not go list and make sure I tell my friends the same.
Tips are not manditory so I only left 10% because I felt that was fair.
I feel like I'm transported back to Belgium when I step into Stella's - it's quite a cozy place with sea of chatter and laughter. The place is quite small and packed with people - some tables seems smaller than a 24 inch computer monitor. For those who are claustrophobic, Stella's won't be a good choice for you but for those who don't mind the tailend of rushhour on the skytrain- Stella's is a great place to sit back and do a bit of catch up with friends.
Mussels aren't the best here as I remembered it to be the first time around! I've been served raw mussels once so that was a bit of a turnoff. All in all, the food isn't bad here, it's just that I like my mussels to be memorable and magical....
Service is good though the kitchen seems to be slow at times.
I go here for the ambiance! I haven't sat out in the patio but that seems to be a great spot for people watching on the Drive.
I'll go to Chambar to see and taste what the hype is about - I'm not sure if I'll return to Stella's...
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