Archive for May, 2012
If there’s one thing to be said about this place, it’s that it – like many of the Boathouse restaurants – has a nice view and is in a nice location. It’s quite pleasant to sit on the patio on a warm night and look out on the water. Yup – the “ambiance” is the highlight of this “restaurant”. You order at a bar, though, so service is pretty much nonexistent. For the most part the counter attendants are pretty good at taking orders and listening; the girl who took our orders only made one mistake.
As for the food… It’s not that it’s bad; contrarily, my Wild BC Salmon Burger was pretty good and grilled to perfection. It maintained that “melt-in-your-mouth” quality and the bun was nice and fluffy. My only complaint would be that the veggies were pretty lacking and not the best quality, but since they’re not the primary feature of a burger anyway it was no big deal.
On this particular night, I went with Emme, Pitah, and another couple – I’ll call them Red and Garni. (Seriously, I do have a reason for all the nicknames I pick… They are not random, I swear!) Emme went with the Prime Rib Cheddar/Bacon Burger, which was also very good. Again, lame veg… but the bacon wasn’t bad and I can say the same for the cheddar. I wonder if even the bacon and cheese are local? Anyway, the flavours were good, and obviously the buns were all the same – all tasty.
Red and Garni both got the Prime Rib Cheddar Burgers… which are the same as Emme’s, sans the bacon. The bacon makes the burger! But the prime rib patties themselves are tender and juicy. The sweet potato fries were good for what they were; they’re not better than other fries I’ve had, but they, like the burgers, were well done. Good, but nothing that would blow you away.
Pitah went with the BBQ Free Run Chicken Burger. The sauce was sickeningly sweet – just how Pitah likes it. (I’m not a fan.) The chicken, like the salmon, was cooked just enough to be tender but not tough – which you sometimes find with chicken or salmon burgers, maybe because they cook so quickly.
In any case, after all those “yep yep it’s good” comments, why do I still give the place a thumbs down? Because it’s a freaking rip off for totally mediocre good. Sure, it’s all good – nothing was horrible enough to scare us away from the food. The prices here are ridiculous for what you get, though. Maybe White Spot, for example, charges similar prices… but in that case you’re getting full sit-down service and usually a nice indoor ambiance. The location here is great, but I’ll never come back here just for the food. Like I said before – there was nothing mind-blowing here. You could certainly get just as good a burger at Vera’s or a Triple O’s. I have a feeling that this place is taking advantage of the fact that they pretty much have a captive market in this area. A lot of people probably don’t want to jump in their cars and drive somewhere for some grub after being out on the water… so they just settle with whatever’s offered at the club. Too bad “whatever’s offered” is pretty poor value.
Final verdict? Good food. Nothing outstanding. Unnecessarily pricey.
As of now, writing this, there are 71 blogger reviews (173 total reviews) for the original Meat & Bread location on Cambie, in Gastown… the majority of which are positive, or just flat-out glowing reviews. Well, here’s another to add to that pile, and another satisfied diner voting “Like it!” on Urbanspoon.com.
I think Mijune over at the Follow Me Foodie blog was spot on with her take on the place and its food: “Was it worth the wait? Yes. Did it live up to expectations? Yes. But was it the best sandwich I’ve ever had in my life? Not exactly.” But hey, I’ve had some pretty good sandwiches! I am, an amazing chef after all. (Kidding! Well, sort of kidding. Heh.)
When a friend suggested heading here for lunch one day to catch up, it only seemed right to agree and go see what all the fuss was about. Yes, there is certainly a lot of hype around Meat and Bread and its supposedly amazing sandwiches. And I have to say, they are amazing. Seriously. So amazing, apparently, that this is one of the few restaurants (if I can call it that) that I’ve blogged about on the day of visiting (instead of days or weeks later…). Before I say anything else:please go here if you’re visiting Vancouver. Or if you’re anywhere near Gastown and have a grumbling gut. Or if you’re not either of those things. Just go here.
Perhaps it is overhyped – but it’s hard to argue (at least, in my opinion) that the food isn’t good quality. My friend – I am calling him the Chemist – and I did wait in line (ehh for 20 minutes or so?) because we went directly in the middle of ‘lunch hour’, but the sandwiches were worth it. Everyone says the porchetta is to die for, and the Chemist stood by that and ordered it for himself. I’m going to assume it was as good as all the other times he’s been here before, since there were no complaints from him! Chopped up roasted pork with crispy pork skin and salsa verde – straightforward but delicious is the formula here, it seems.
I’ve never been a pork person; my mother never cooked it for my family as I grew up, probably because my father thought it “unhealthy”. Well, to that I say: puh-leeze, pork is perfectly healthy. Especially the stuff they serve at Meat and Bread – this is local, non-medicated pork. Good stuff, people. The rest of the meats and cheeses are supposedly also either local or organic or both, with pastured beef and free-range chicken – if those are on the menu for the day. Just my luck, actually, that beef was on the menu on this particular day. I went with the Fraser Valley beef chuck roll, cumin spice, salsa criolla, chimchurri, and arugula. How’s that name for a mouthful? The sandwiches are a mouthful, too, obviously… a tasty mouthful… Well, needless to say, it was awesome. I think I know where Guy Fieri’s coming from when, in his episode that featured this place, he said “I can’t even remember my name” after taking the first bite of his sandwich. The beef chuck was moist and tender, not stringy; the high quality of the stuff is obvious, and it was cooked to perfection to achieve that whole “melt-in-your-mouth” texture. It was a great sandwich – and probably the only way I’d ever eat arugula. (I hate arugula by itself. I couldn’t taste it here. WIN-WIN.) Looking back, I think my only complaint would be that I couldn’t taste any cumin spice?! The chimchurri was pretty powerful, though unbelievably tasty. Whatever the salsa was, it wasn’t noticeable. But if I haven’t already made my point clear: the sandwich was still delicious.
There is something to be said for the ciabatta, too! The ciabatta are crispy (and taste buttery… although they don’t butter them!) and don’t detract from the sandwich contents. There’s just enough bread to hold all that flavourful meat and accompanying sauce together – which is definitely what you want, considering that these are pricey sandwiches at $7 or $8 a pop, depending on what you get! Although I think the sandwiches are probably all great and I love the whole “simple” concept (which, don’t get me wrong, Meat and Bread pulls off extremely well, what with placing focus on menu item quality as opposed to quantity), I think the only thing on their menu I would change would be to offer something else instead of a grilled cheese sandwich as one of the four options. Oh, and I’d pull the salad from the menu. Yes, so says the reformed salad-lover who has taken a year to realise that ordering salads at restaurants is a waste of money (pretty much). (I did not come to Meat and Bread for a salad…) But I digress…
Again, as Mijune rightfully concluded: Meat and Bread may not have “the best sandwiches EVER”, it definitely dominates the whole “gourmet sandwich” niche and really delivers in terms of taste. Personally, I love the emphasis on quality meats and think that the seemingly high price-tag is totally worth it for what you get. Would I return or recommend this place to others? Count on it.
Meat and Bread, I’ll be back.
What better way to get back into the swing of blogging than with a review about a Japanese place?! Kibune Sushi! This little gem is located right next to Hapa Izakaya, another stellar Japanese restaurant, though the two are worlds apart in terms of their menu items and entire atmospheres. Despite the fact that they are both great, they seem to co-exist beautifully, neither one putting the other out of business. This is probably because each one attracts different crowds – or at least, people would choose one over the other based on the type of dinner they’re looking for. Want a cool, upbeat scene with more fusion food and sake – a place to feel a part of the “in” crowd? Go to Hapa Izakaya. Want traditional Japanese with a more serene, quiet atmosphere and classic sushi bar? Kibune Sushi’s for you.
Emme, Pita, and I enjoy going here for dinner – though it doesn’t seem to be open for lunch very often (supposedly due to staffing issues). The prices aren’t too bad, although obviously the location seems to dictate that prices be a little steeper in this area. The setting is fantastic, and the food is pretty great, too. The service is sometimes inattentive when busy, which they always seem to be (a good sign!), but otherwise extremely friendly and welcoming. The booths are all very cozy – though limited in number – and the place oozes the feel of a traditional Japanese restaurant you might find yourself in, in Japan. The setting is also quite nice, as it is right by Kits Beach.
The food is decent. Although I really do like Kibune Sushi, I have to admit that I would go to Hitoe Sushi or even Hapa Izakaya nextdoor if I wanted really *amazing* food. The food here is good, but I haven’t had anything yet that’s blown me out of the water, and I’ve tried quite a number of different items from the menu. I’m sure I’ll eventually come across a dish here that’s truly a ‘must eat’!
In any case, we started off with edamame on this particular visit. Pretty standard – warm and sufficiently salted, for the most part. I’m a big fan of Japanese pickles, so I also got some assorted pickles as an appetizer. Again, standard. I’ve long since come around to the realisation that the pickles are going to be pretty identical, regardless of the Japanese restaurant, unless they’re pickled in-house and not just purchased from the same Japanese grocer or supplier as everyone else.
For my main course, I got the yosenabe, which is promoted as the healthier option. That may be true, but I have to admit that I’m never really a fan of anything that lacks flavour just because it’s supposed to be “healthy”… The broth had little to no taste – I thought it might just be water. I was disappointed that there was so much tofu and not as much fish, since I ordered it thinking the description of having lots of fish would be literal. In any case, it wasn’t bad… I was just a little disappointed, or maybe I had my hopes up too high. It must’ve been served a while after the pot had been boiled, because the salmon – the first thing I ate – was completely rubbery and overcooked when I picked it out. And there was only one piece of salmon! Yeah, my critique for this would definitely be: too much tofu and too much “noodle”, not enough actual fish.
Pita went with the beef teriyaki… one of his, and one of Emme’s, staple meals at Japanese places, since neither of them like sashimi (such a shame!). The presentation was very nice, but the sauce was super watery and the beef, while it may look somewhat impressive in the picture, was actually not a very good cut. It was comprised largely of blobs of rubbery fat, and wasn’t very appetizing. The sauce wasn’t too flavourful, also.
Emme treated herself to pork katsu, which was probably the redeeming dish in this entire meal. The breading was perfect – not too thick, and not too oily. We’ve previously encountered pork katsu dishes that are actually like 80% cheap breadcrumbs fried in oil, 20% pork. This pork katsu was not like that at all; there was plenty of pork, and the breading was crunchy and crisp. Like I said – not too oily, and not “over-breaded”! Again, nice presentation with the shredded cabbage and lemon slice. If I were to recommend anything here, I would probably recommend the pork katsu. The sushi here, which I’ve tasted on other occasions, is indeed good – just a little pricier and not particularly any better than sushi at your average Vancouver sushi joint downtown.
I do like Kibune, despite all I may say! I think we’ve been here four times or so over the course of a year and a bit, and some visits are definitely better than others. Some of their specials are quite good, too – try the stuffed shiitake mushrooms if they’re on the blackboard for the day. We mostly enjoy coming here for the ambiance; the intimate and private booths make the dining experience quite pleasant and allow you to actually talk to your fellow diners! (Sometimes that’s an issue at other restaurants… Not always, just on occasion!) Aside from its great location and amiable ambiance, though, there isn’t anything extraordinarily special about it. Perhaps I’ll be eating those very words after I’ve tried more of their sushi, though! (I would’ve already done so, if not for the prices of the sushi and sashimi in comparison to their other dishes, which makes those other dishes seem like better deals…) Still, I would choose any of my other favourite sushi places over a visit to Kibune, if I were looking for really great sushi and not just a nice dining ambiance.