Tag Archives: restaurant reviews

Cibo Trattoria (Photo Post)

22 Aug

900 Seymour Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 3L9

T: 604 602 9570

Another restaurant that I recently had the pleasure of eating at was Cibo Trattoria. This was my first, and only, visit to Cibo so I won’t be reviewing it until after another visit or two.

I was having fun playing around with my new camera so here are a few snaps of the food that we ate. Yes, all of this food was just for B and I. We are self-confessed pigs and we need help. By the way, the liver was B’s choice. I have learnt that it doesn’t matter how nicely you cook it, or even if you serve it with crispy pancetta goodness, liver is still liver. Ugh.

First course:

Second course:

Main courses:


Cibo Trattoria & Uva Wine Bar on Urbanspoon


More Melbourne

21 Jul

Whilst researching places to eat in Melbourne, I was crestfallen to discover that Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen Melbourne” had recently closed. I was pretty disappointed as I have never eaten at a Jamie Oliver restaurant and he is my all-time favourite chef. Luckily we had Gordon Ramsay’s Maze to console us.

From the ashes of “Fifteen Melbourne” rises “The Kitchen Cat”, which is owned and operated by Tobie Puttock, who has worked directly with Jamie in many different restaurants and projects (including setting up the first “Fifteen” restaurant in London). “The Kitchen Cat” prides itself on offering rustic Mediterranean food, with a heavy lean towards Italian food. Unfortunately, these photos don’t do it justice.

MoVida, located in an artsy graffiti-covered laneway, is a tapas bar/restaurant hybrid. It came highly recommended to us by a local foodie that we met and it constantly rates as one of the top food establishments in Melbourne. It isn’t cheap but the food was extremely innovative and the atmosphere made us feel like we were in a genuine tapas bar somewhere in Spain.

Another great spot that we ate at in Melbourne was Cookie, a popular casual Thai restaurant in the heart of town that also doubles as a beer hall. Cookie was serving the kind of Thai food that I have been yearning for since being away from Australia; Thai with a mod-Australian twist. I wish I’d had time to return to make my way through the extensive menu that consists of sweat-inducing curries, noodle dishes, spicy seafood selections, and various takes on stir-fries. Service was very slow but I’d expect as much in a place this busy. Try and visit at an off time (not sure if there is one!) to ensure you get a table.

Melbourne’s food scene truly stunned and impressed me. The food scene thrives in Melbourne and even with as many restaurants as there are, they seemed to always be busy. The Aussies have high expectations for a good meal and, from our experience, these expecations are met and often excelled. I cannot wait for my next trip to Melbourne.

Spring time; a return to Rangoli and patio dining

10 Apr

1488 West 11th Avenue
Vancouver, BC  
V6H 1L1

T: 604 736 5711

Brief Description: In a neighbourhood that is home to some of Vancouver’s most well-known and costly restaurants (West, Vij’s, Cru), Rangoli stands out from the crowd by offering affordable, superb Indian food in modest surroundings.

Spring is in the air which means the slow migration back to patio dining is starting. Yesterday, a Saturday in early April, B and I braved our first patio of the year at Rangoli. With a covered patio that comes complete with heaters and blankets, it was an easy maiden voyage.

We settled into our seats and dug into a plate of the crunchy cauliflower, spinach, onion and potato pakoras ($8.75). They were paired with a refreshing mint and yogurt sauce and a side of daal. The crispy, chunky vegetable pakoras were full of spice but were void of heat so they would appeal to those who don’t enjoy spicy/hot food. Highly recommended.

For my main course, I ordered the lamb in cumin and light cream curry, which came with rice, salad and the most amazing naan. The naan was thick and airy making it ideal for mopping up curry sauce. The lamb curry was satisfying; however, B’s beef short ribs in Kalonji curry immediately stole the show.

The beef was incredibly tender and slipped effortlessly from the bone into the slightly thick curry sauce. The curry was fairly light on heat but there was a lot of depth in flavour and spice so I would recommend ordering the beef over the lamb.

Final Thoughts: The service at Rangoli is fast, the food is very good, and the prices are much more reasonable than next doors sister restaurant, Vij’s. In many ways I actually prefer Rangoli to Vij’s. Definitely worth a visit.

Rangoli on Urbanspoon

Dog-sitting = a trip to La Quercia – April 2011

9 Apr

3689 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V6R 1P2

T: 604 676 1007

Brief Description: A small, intimate neighbourhood restaurant located on the corner of Alma and West 4th, La Quercia offers exceptional Italian food and wine at reasonable prices.

Ever since B and I have been together we have always dreamt of owning a dog. Whilst other couples gaze longingly at babies, we have always “oohed and aahed” over dogs. Until we dog sat. We eagerly volunteered to dog-sit our friend’s dog, Jack, a super cute Boston terrier with an incredible amount of personality. This meant 10 days of early morning walks (in the rain), late night walks (in the rain), and constant monitoring and attention-giving. It was hard work! So, although we love him and it was fun to have his little face around the condo, we are no longer in a rush to buy a puppy. 😦

Our friends were grateful that little Jack didn’t have to spend 10 days in a kennel and so, as a thank you, they took us out for dinner at a restaurant of our choice. We chose to return to La Quercia as it has been almost a year since our last visit. We find the small and intimate La Quercia is less formal than fine dining so that makes it an ideal dinner spot for a date or special occasion.

This time around we opted for à la carte rather than the alla famiglia (a chef’s menu that everyone at the table shares). Although I like eating my own meal, I still have really fond memories of the alla famiglia so I would still recommend that for first time visitors. Since learning how to make pasta by hand, and realizing how much work goes into it, I always try to order pasta at places that make it from scratch. Therefore, I had no choice other than to order a pasta, the garganelli carbonara, to start my meal. The pasta was perfectly al dente but I would have preferred a little more of the sauce.

My main course was the lamb shoulder with rapini and lentils. A delightful slight crust on the meat gave way to tender lamb that was falling off the bone (like lamb should). There was, dare I say it, too much meat for this part-time vegetarian but that’s what B is for…to vaccum it up. At $27 I found the lamb to be good value for money.

One my fondest memories of our first visit to La Quercia was of the blueberry semifreddo, a creamy yet fruity semi-frozen dessert. So, not surprisingly, one of my fondest memories of our most recent trip is also of the semifreddo, this time in raspberry. Made from real fruit, the flavours of the semifreddo were vibrant and tangy which paired well with the delicate raspberry mousse and lemon cake. I found the cake to be slightly dry but still a nice way to end a great meal.

One of the things that we  are still talking about is the complimentary bread that was chewy on the inside, yet crunchy on the outside. We both said later that if we hadn’t been in company we would have each happily devoured a basket of that bread!

Final Thoughts: La Quercia is still a winner as a romantic neighbourhood restaurant that serves up unpretentious, authentic Italian cuisine. Our evening was totally worth the 10 days of early morning dog-walks and cleaning up dog pee.

La Quercia on Urbanspoon

Nicli Antica Pizzeria

3 Mar

62 East Cordova
Vancouver, BC
V6A 1K3

T: 604 669 6985

Brief Description: This funky new addition to the Vancouver food scene brings us something we haven’t seen here before; authentic Neapolitan pizza. Yes, the real deal!

Although Vancouver has a great food scene (and one that I am even happier with after my recent trip to Seattle) there are a few things that Vancouver could do better. One of those things, along with better South East Asian food, is pizza. The topic of who makes Vancouver’s best pizza has been hotly debated for quite some time but I do believe we have finally found a genuine contender. (For the record, Nook has always gotten my vote for the best pizza).

If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to visit Italy and eat away from the tourist traps, then you may have already been welcomed into the wonderful world of authentic Neapolitan pizza. If you haven’t then you should make a visit to Vancouver’s newest pizzeria, Nicli Antica Pizzeria, and allow your cherry to be popped.

Don’t be mistaken – a pizza joint this is not! You will not find bits of chewed up crust on the floor, nor will you be given access to an all-you-can-eat pizza bar. This is a genuine pizzeria and it is classy. And don’t let the gritty location on East Cordova allow you to think otherwise. Exposed brick meets gleaming, crisp white features, such as the floor-to-ceiling oven, to create a stylish and modern restaurant.

The menu is simple – pizza. Oh, and a scattering of salads and antipasti. But, really, you come for the pizza and considering that it is the main event it is not surprising that a lot of care and skill has gone into making it. The dough is made from “00” flour and formed by hand. The tomatoes are San Marzano’s (reputed to be the best) and the oven is a traditional wood-fired “Acunto” made in Naples. This bad boy has an internal heat of 900F so it can churn out pizzas in 90 seconds flat. The result? Oh, it’s pretty amazing. Think of a light and fluffy base that comes complete with sporadic flame-kissed blisters. All of the pizzas start with a thin layer of delicate tomato sauce and rounds of fior di latte mozzarella cheese before other ingredients are added. Ama-ZING!

The classic Margherita is wonderfully uncomplicated and the simple ingredients (tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil) speak for themselves. The menu offers a total of ten pizzas and choices include Napoletana (oregano, garlic and anchovies), Proscuitto Crudo (parmigiano, fior di latte, basil and prosciutto crudo), and the Diavola (parmigiano, fior di latte, hot sopressatta, basil, and chili oil), amongst others. Prices range from as low as $9 to $20. The affordable wine and beer menu pays homage to Italy and includes beers like Menabrea and Peroni.

It would seem that I was not alone waiting for the grand opening of Nicli, which was a painful seven months overdue. I was surprised to find that I had to wait 40 minutes for a table in their opening week. The bar was full of hip, young things all eagerly awaiting a table at the newest restaurant in town. As a foodie, this warmed my heart. People were not only willing to travel to the East side in search of good pizza, but they were willing to wait for it! *Happy sigh* If you don’t want to wait for a table, I suggest going in for lunch. I was seated immediately.

Final Thoughts: If this pizza is not the best pizza in Vancouver, it is very, VERY (!) close. For me, I still can’t turn my back on Nook. Thankfully, I don’t have to choose. I can continue to visit both. What I do know for sure is that I will be back at Nicli time and time again. Their pizza is a much welcomed addition to the Vancouver food scene.

Nicli Antica Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Maenam – December 2010 Visit

29 Dec

1938 West 4th Ave
Vancouver, BC
V6J 1M5

T: 604 730 5579

Brief Description: A popular Kitsilano-based restaurant that offers well-executed, modern Thai food. Maenam is friendly on the wallet, without sacrificing quality or ambiance.

Angus An, the chef at Maenam, is a lucky man. Not only does he get to cook for a living but he also gets to go on regular “research” trips to South East Asia in order to scout out new recipes, ingredients and inspiration for the menu at his popular Kitsilano-based restaurant. Yeah…OK…I might just be a tad jealous. B and I popped in tonight to try a few of the dishes from their recently updated menu.

Having had already reviewed the menu before we arrived, I knew that I would be ordering the mussaman curry of lamb leg before we had even walked in the door.

Considering that mussaman curry is one of my favourite meals, from my favourite restaurant in my hometown, and one that I have been craving for a long time, it was wrong of me to get my hopes up so high. I have found that doing so, more often than not, leads to disappointment rather than joy and, unfortunately, I was a little disappointed by the mussaman from Maenam. But only because I was comparing it to the mussaman in my memory – rich, thick, and full of tender meat that falls apart at the touch.

I should clarify that Maenam’s lamb did also crumble at the touch; however, it was the shank which meant that there wasn’t really much meat to be had. The curry was also wetter and not as rich as I am used to. By all means it was satisfactory but I think I just had pinned my hopes on this being it; a comparable mussaman to the one in my memory. I absolutely love Maenam so it disappoints me to say that my search continues.

On the other hand, the panaeng curry of maple hills chicken completely knocked it out of the park! It had an interesting and complex flavour, enhanced by tender pieces of chicken and fried Thai basil. B and I were both impressed by the dish and will definitely be ordering it again.

Some other notable additions to the new menu are the green mango salad with grilled albacore tuna (sounds tempting), a southern style rice salad, and a hot and sour soup of sablefish and turmeric. One dish that I am sad to see has been replaced is the halibut green curry. It was always fantastically spicy and full of delicate halibut pieces. I will miss it.

Final Thoughts: As is always the case with Maenam, the quality of the exotic and interesting food remains outstanding and the prices are still comfortably affordable, with most main dishes around the $17 mark. The atmosphere retains its sophisticated, yet unpretentious, flair.

Maenam on Urbanspoon