Trattoria - The best gnocchi in Vancouver!

I have been wanting to try Trattoria since I came across it in the Dine Out list, 2 years ago. I mentioned it to a co-worker and she recommended it as a great place to go. So finally, I did!

Trattoria (according to Wikipedia) is less formal than a ristorante but more formal than an osteria. Trattorias tend not to have a printed menu, with a casual environment, wine is served in a decanter, and the focus is on approachable dishes with large portions that are to be shared. This restaurant draws the casual dining, a focus on a wide selection of wines (not served in a decanter, that I saw of) and they have share plates, which I’ll talk about later.

It happened to be a nice day, so we sat on their heated patio. They also have blankets if you need them. The decor was unique, although the overall atmosphere was generally modern. Sitting inside might have given it a more intimate feel, but nothing Italian about it (as far as I know). They do market themselves as casual Italian dining.

Our waitress was friendly…I’m not sure what else to say in that regard. We didn’t really test her knowledge. Overall, everyone seemed very nice and always busy.

Going to the restaurant, I had already been told about their Shared Platter. They have two, their Classic and Signature Shared Platters. We decided to go with the Signature which included linguini gamberini, garganelli pollo, spaghetti bolognese, and gnocchi aglio e olio. 

We weren’t entirely sure how large the platter would be, so we decided to order Soppressata Calabrese Salami to start. It was mildly spicy but very nice! I am generally a fan of Italian cured meats.

And of course there was the complimentary flat bread. Very lovely.

Of course, then came the Signature Shared Platter. We realized afterwards, we didn’t really need the Salami.

And then the waitress wildly grated some parmesan…

The spaghetti bolognese and linguini gamberini were both very good. It was interesting to taste how different two tomato sauces could be. We both agreed the gargenelli pollo didn’t seem right. It could be the pasta was too al dente. For the record, I do prefer my pasta al dente…but it seemed too much so. It almost seemed like it was the first one to be made and was sitting there for awhile. 

Now the gnocchi was amazing to me! I generally don’t like gnocchi. I had store bough gnocchi and I’ve had gnocchi from higher end restaurants. Every time, the gnocchi has a jelly texture that I am not a fan of. This gnocchi didn’t have that. I wonder if it was made using different ingredients than most store bought gnocchi. It can be made using flour or potatoes…I’m not really sure what made it different, but the texture wasn’t jelly at all. It also seemed like they coated it with flour and maybe some cheese before they baked it. The textures and flavours worked well. If you don’t like gnocchi or would like one dish of pasta, I recommend this one.

I would definitely return to try some of the other dishes, not included in the platters. They have a great variety of dishes! I would even recommend it for a day when you maybe want to get a couple of italian appetizers and enjoy some good wine. With their patio and the summer months coming up, it would be perfect. If you get the chance to check it out, or had your own experience there…feel free to comment, through the link near the title, about it.

Trattoria Italian Kitchen
1850 West 4th Avenue (@ Burrard)
Mon to Thurs 11:30am-1am
Fri 11:30am-2am
Sat 10:30am-2am
Sun 10:30am-1am

Finch’s Tea and Coffee House - Deliciously Wonderful Sandwiches

I had the most wonderful sandwich on Friday! I can’t stop thinking about it!

The picture doesn’t do it justice, I know. But this was their very amazing pear, blue brie, prosciutto, roasted walnuts, oil and vinegar baguette. I have been thinking about it for the past two days. The flavours balanced each other out perfectly and I individually love each of the ingredients, so putting them together was absolutely brilliant! I am going to have to exercise great restraint to keep myself from going back and getting another.

It is a lovely little restaurant that is often quite busy for lunch. If you are coming by on your break from work, it’s a good idea to check out their website and order ahead. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable. They clearly use quality ingredients in their sandwiches, so although it is about $10 (depending on which you get) it is well worth it. You won’t be disappointed.

Finch’s Tea & Coffee House
353 West Pender Street (@ the corner of Homer)
Monday-Friday 9-5
Saturday 11-4 

Check them out and let me know what you had and what you thought!

Good, Cheap and Filling - Bon’s Off Broadway

This isn’t exactly on Commercial, but within reasonable distance! I decided to go out for breakfast today, rather than eating at home. I intended to go to a coffee shop I often passed, along Commercial, and I recalled a friend of mine suggesting a good and cheap breakfast place on Nanaimo. If it’s a rainy day, I do recommend taking the bus from Broadway Station if you already have a pass.

They have a breakfast special that’s served all day $2.95 gets you your choice of ham, bacon, or sausage served with panfriend potatoes, toast (white, brown, or rye), and eggs. With a drink, easily you could have breakfast for $5/6 including tip. The quality of food is still better than a fast food restaurant and cheaper. And if you need a coffee refill they will come around soon. I do recommend taking the coffee only because you’ll regret it if you don’t (if you’re a coffee drinker). Mainly this is because you’ll see the waitress go around and realize you want some.

You could order off the menu. But the breakfast special has everything you could want in a breakfast, so I’m not sure why you would order anything else.

The people that worked there all seemed friendly and it sounded like some people were regulars in the restaurant. It’s a cozy restaurant, with lots of movie posters on the wall. If you’re looking for a place where “all the locals go”, this is definitely one of those places. My friend says the weekend wait is usually 30-60 mins. I went today, on a Monday and the tables seemed to be mostly full but no one waiting. The ideal dining situation. 

Overall, good environment, good food, good service, and cheap. It’s like a good Americano. No frills but has what you need.

[Review] @StAugustinesVan - Good food, good beer on The Drive

Finally, I went to the first location! St. Augustine’s (2360 Commercial Drive), right off of the Broadway/Commercial Skytrain station. 

St. Augustine (354-430) is the patron saint of brewers. St. Augsustine’s, the restaurant, lives up to its name by providing a healthy list of Canadian or west coast beer. Most of the beer named are ones that you wouldn’t normally find in other restaurants. 

Their mandate is to provide an “unpretentious” and “no attitude” environment, and a place to enjoy good beer. They also have UFC and Canucks nights.

I went last night, with my sister and we both agreed that it was a great place! They lived up to their mandate, our waitress was very nice and friendly. She was everything you wanted from a waitress and seemed genuinely happy to be there. Looking around, it seemed the staff knew a lot of the people that came in, they probably have a lot of regulars. My only complaint…and I could’ve been more forward and asked, but Monday is a cask night and she didn’t mention it, nor was it on the menu. It was the reason I went on a Monday, but then the menu had many different beers to try and its possible they were finished the cask (it was tapped at 6pm). Either way it was a good environment. The decor makes it feel more intimate and their menu is easy to understand and nicely lets you know if something is made to share and for how man. It would definitely be a great place to catch a game, with all new HD tv’s, all decently sized and placed all around. 

I had the Elysian blonde beer, which was good and interesting! The flavours seemed to change as I drank it. They have such a selection, I think next time I will try their tasters where you can have four smaller glasses of different beer, your choice. 

With both the beer and food, it seems they only have a certain amount each day. It may be they don’t have a large staff and only a certain amount of food prepared each day to keep it fresh and reduce waste. (In some cases I would say it’s because everything is ready made and they just heat it in the microwave, but that was definitely not the case.) We went to order the featured flatbread, but it was already out. Instead we ordered the featured Lamb Ribs and the appetizer Dipping Trio. 

The Lamb ribs were nicely cooked (definitely better to share) and had a bit of honey on it but not too much. Dipping Trio flatbread was very good on its own and of the dipping sauces, the roasted red pepper was my favourite, although they were all good! If you do get the rips, definitely pair it with the Dipping Trio, otherwise it’s a lot of meat! We found some room for their featured dessert which was warmed chocolate cake bits with Tahitian ice cream on top and strawberries—forgot the name of it. Should just be called Delicious! Between the two of us, the bill came out just under $60 before tip. A reasonable night out.

Overall, everything was great about St. Augustine’s and I would definitely go again. The service was great, the food was great, and the beer was great. My only complaint (unrelated to the restaurant experience)…is their website! Everything really fits within what they’re trying to do, but their website is difficult to read. It may be that their website isn’t important to them but it could use a lot of work. So don’t judge them by their website. Go and check them out!

Yesterday, I finally went to @minkchocolates on Hastings and Hornby. I have walked past it many times and wanted to try it. What could be better than a chocolate cafe? As well, it’s beautifully branded and decorated, very inviting. The clientele was different than most cafes. I noticed there were more people there on their own than in a regular coffee shop. It was like a self-indulgent treat! There were a couple of twosomes that were meeting there, as well. The staff was all friendly and there are lots of chocolate treats around.

I ordered an Americano with a Belgian Chocolate Monkey. The Americano was perfect. All the whip cream around my dish was some of the lightest whipped cream I’ve ever had. Wonderful! I enjoyed my Belgian waffle, although it was a bit tough to cut with the knife and I was expecting the waffle to be warmer than it was. I think, more than anything, it was a reflection of the time of day that I was there. Most people were sitting and having coffee, only a couple of others ordered food. Considering the care they put in the whipped cream and the passion they have for chocolate, I am confident if I had gone there during a busier time, the waffle would have been perfect. 

Altogether, I will go back there at some stage and give it another go, and I have no problem recommending it to others! At the very least have their chocolate! They had a small chocolate to go with the coffee and it was some amazing dark chocolate!

And if you’re keeping track, I realize it was not on Commercial Drive, but I had a meeting afterwards and had to forgo this week’s trip to The Drive. 

Cobs Bread - Country Grain Mini Loaf
I switched to whole grain bread a few years back, but a recurring problem and probably the reason that most people have not switched is that (grocery) store bought whole grain bread is often dry and thus a chore to eat (and it’s also ridiculously expensive). 
Today, I passed Cobs Bread and decided to buy the Country Grain Mini Loaf for $2.50 (Cdn). It has 12 slices and I tried one on my way home. The bread is soft with a crunchy crust. It tastes great and I feel could change a lot of people’s perception of whole grain bread. 
Cobs itself has great breads and buns. It may seem expensive but sometimes you need to weigh the overall cost of things with what you are really getting. Here, bread is made fresh everyday and is well-worth every penny. Bread is not expensive and you will never make it on your own. So try it. 

Cobs Bread - Country Grain Mini Loaf

I switched to whole grain bread a few years back, but a recurring problem and probably the reason that most people have not switched is that (grocery) store bought whole grain bread is often dry and thus a chore to eat (and it’s also ridiculously expensive). 

Today, I passed Cobs Bread and decided to buy the Country Grain Mini Loaf for $2.50 (Cdn). It has 12 slices and I tried one on my way home. The bread is soft with a crunchy crust. It tastes great and I feel could change a lot of people’s perception of whole grain bread. 

Cobs itself has great breads and buns. It may seem expensive but sometimes you need to weigh the overall cost of things with what you are really getting. Here, bread is made fresh everyday and is well-worth every penny. Bread is not expensive and you will never make it on your own. So try it. 

Tags: bread Cobs

Introduction

So I was taking a walk on Commercial Drive when I was reminded about how I have always wanted to just try every restaurant. I never really started this, partially out of laziness and partially because I wanted someone to do it with. I’m not really sure why, when I’m the one that has no problems going to movies, concerts, and restaurants on my own. On second thought, it must be mainly from laziness. 

Today, I decided that I will start. The plan is to start at St. Augustine’s and then go north to every restaurant (minus the pizza places because I can get a pizza anytime). I will go once a week (or if money is tight then every other week) and I’m not allowed to skip a restaurant unless it is too busy. I will be starting either Feb 28th or Mar 6th.

Ideally I would like for someone or some people to join me in this food journey. But in joining me (whether it’s for one day or on a regular basis) the rule is that I will not tell you where we’re going or what kind of food it is. If you have special dietary conditions, you can tell me and I will let you know if it is suitable, and I would be willing to skip a restaurant and go on to the next one. You must come with an open mind about food. Of course, if you’re really that concerned, you can make an educated guess as to where I’m going if you keep up with this blog.

I like the idea of trying every restaurant regardless of others’ reviews. People will often tell you “Don’t go there” or “Don’t do that” but I don’t like to live through others. Just because you thought it was bad or boring doesn’t mean that I will. There aren’t many places I listen to others for reviews. 

I also like the idea of the randomness of trying every restaurant. Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t base my food decisions on some insatiable urge to try a particular restaurant or dish (unless you’ve found me on a rare day I have a craving). I usually base it on what’s near me and what I don’t want (ie. if I had pasta for lunch, I don’t want it for dinner). 

So I will embrace methodical randomness and different types of foods, every Monday (unless there’s a hockey game…in which case it will be postponed a day). Let me know if you would like to join me in this journey, whether for a day or for multiple days. Just know that I will be taking pictures of the food. It’s a necessity in a food blog.


Tags: introduction