Archive for category North Vancouver
When I read the one other blogger review on Urbanspoon, suffice to say I was a bit dubious. There were numerous other positive reviews below that weren’t accompanied by pictures, but surely, I thought, that number of people can’t be wrong! I’m a scientist at heart and appreciate all of the work the Weston A. Price Foundation has done in trying to straighten out the misunderstandings and flat-out incorrect information out there about nutrition, so reading stuff on the Ethical Kitchen website got me pretty excited to visit the place. It sounded really awesome and all “gung-ho” about traditional foods, locally sourced ingredients, and all that jazz. Ultimately, though, I ended up with a large serving of disappointment.
To begin with, the service here is horrible. Dismal. The girls behind the counter will cook your food and serve it, but don’t expect them to greet you as you come in or even show you some basic human courtesy. From the website, you would expect that the people working here would at least be a little enthusiastic about sharing the benefits of eating locally-sourced, traditionally-prepared foods… Nope. No enthusiasm whatsoever. The entire time I was here, both waitresses/cooks were frowning. No smiles or “Thank you”s or “Come again”s. There wasn’t even a “Can I help you?” as we stood around after walking in, trying to figure out how the “restaurant” was supposed to work. You seat yourself, and order at a counter. Your food is brought to you. Without a smile, of course.
With such poor service wrecking the experience, I can hardly comment accurately on the ambiance. The moodiness of the waitresses kind of cast a dark shadow over the rest of the restaurant. Were they a little friendlier, I imagine the small dining area would have seemed a little more homely and welcoming. It is sparse in décor, but that is fine, since it exudes an atmosphere of being a typical kitchen that you could find in any back-country home. As I already said: under other conditions, it probably would have been very pleasant.
Ethical Breakfast: ★★★☆☆
This was… decent. My one compliment: THE EGGS WERE SO GOOD! But this had nothing to do with the way they were cooked (over-done; the egg whites were rubbery, like eating tires!), but the yolks were incredibly flavourful. The quality of the ingredients here is amazing. As they should be, though, considering the prices are ridiculously high. Aside from the yummy egg yolks, the potatoes were blah. Everything was unbelievably greasy. I tasted one tomato and almost choked on all the oil that clogged up my throat. Techie, who I was dining with (alongside Emme) that day, stole the other tomato. There was no way I was eating it. The salad dressing was just oil, too. Flavourless. If the plating looks pretty in the photograph, chalk that up to my photography skills (what little I have, at least). In reality, the plate was really messy. The “home-made ketchup” was also unexciting. The egg yolks and sauerkraut are the only reasons this isn’t rated a one-star dish. Also, the description included the sauerkraut, potatoes, salad, and eggs, but there was an option for vegetables or beef. I went with vegetables. The two tomato chunks were the only vegetables aside from the salad (which was mandatory). I’m sorry, but WTF? Rip-off. I was so annoyed at this. Aside from the egg yolks, the sauerkraut was really good – yes, so good that I bumped up the rating to three stars.
Lamb Chops with Buttered Potatoes: ★★★☆☆
Techie ordered this, and his experience was similar to mine: incredible ingredients, but messy plating and overly greasy. His potatoes were way tastier than mine, but still ho-hum. (Pretty much anything would be tastier than the potatoes on my plate.) The lamb was also fantastic. Again, the ingredients are obviously of very high quality. The salad is just a flavourless grease ball, aside from the occasional bitter green that makes it, well, bitter. It’s only getting three stars because on top of the delicious main ingredient (lamb), this dish had better potatoes as an accompaniment.
Coconut Macaroon: ★☆☆☆☆
Cheese Bun: ★★★☆☆
Emme got these, since she wasn’t that hungry and had eaten earlier (i.e. broke the cardinal rule of dining with a food blogger (which I am completely making up, of course) and that is eating before going out to eat even though you KNOW you’re going out to eat). Both of these were gluten-free. The macaroon was tasteless and fell apart the second Emme lifted it off the plate. I can’t help but find this hilarious, in a way, since coconut is supposed to be super flavourful and delicious and all that, according to many. (I wouldn’t know, since I’m allergic to it.) But this… wasn’t. Plain (like the macaroon…) and simple.
The cheese bun was slightly better. There was a nice cheesy flavour, although it wasn’t very strong, and the texture was pretty good for a gluten-free good. It was mostly doughy, though a little dry, with a hint of grittiness to remind you that it is in fact a gluten-free good. The type of grittiness that you come across in many gluten-free goods, really. Anyway, it looked pretty ugly, in my opinion, but ended up being the one thing that Emme almost finished. The coconut macaroon pretty much went untouched, aside from one bite from the first attempt to eat it (after which it collapsed into a sad heap of pink coconut shreds).
I have to say, even though the egg yolks I had that day were probably the best I’ve ever had, and the lamb was one of the best cuts Techie has ever had, I was really not impressed with the Ethical Kitchen. The website is bursting with enthusiasm for being more eco-friendly, for sourcing local and organic ingredients, and for preparing foods the traditional way, but the restaurant itself is a poor reflection of the attitude of whoever made the website content. The limited menu and unavailability of a large number of their dishes were both disappointing. Maybe my expectations were too high, as well? I don’t know, but I probably won’t be coming back for a second try, in any case.
It’s not often that I visit the North Shore. The West Side of Vancouver pretty much has everything and anything anyone could ever need or want, really, unless you need to visit bigger warehouses and the like, I suppose. As for food and restaurants, I haven’t found that the North Shore has anything spectacularly amazing to offer in comparison that you can’t get on the West Side. With these sorts of opinions, it’s not too surprising that I didn’t and don’t find Anatoli Souvlaki that outstanding or special… Of course, I’m also biased about Greek food, since it’s so simple to prepare but so expensive and overpriced at restaurants! However, that isn’t to say that Anatoli Souvlaki doesn’t have some great food! I stand by the opinion that Greek food is way too expensive, though. At least at Anatoli Souvlaki, you get some pretty fair quality food.
To start with, the setting – or at least the interior – is really nice. A far cry from the few Greek places I’ve been on the West Side. Some might think the restaurant management is “trying too hard” to give the restaurant a Greek feel, but I would disagree. It had a relatively authentic feel and creates a great dining atmosphere. The music is pleasantly low-key and adds to the setting… Makes for a better dining experience.
Emme and I visited for lunch one day when we weren’t patient enough to travel all the way back to the West Side after an appointment in North Van, and settled for Anatoli Souvlaki. (We weren’t patient enough to try the Japanese restaurants that we knew nothing about! Especially not me, the “authentic Japanese food” snob.) There were quite a few people inside, but it was still quiet and we got a great seat next to the front windows. The waiters were all friendly and accommodating, initially, but we did end up with one server (who brought our food) who was quite snarky. Hit and miss with the service, perhaps?
I had already eaten a pretty big breakfast, so I wasn’t too hungry and ordered Fasolada, a “hearty bean soup”, with a Greek salad on the side and some pita. Unfortunately, my opinion after my own dish was that one should probably stick to ordering the restaurant’s specialty, which, you can gauge from the name, is probably the souvlaki. The soup was definitely what I’d call “hearty”, and the soup was more oily and less tomato-y, bean-y, or hearty than the fasolada stews I’ve had in other Greek restaurants. The miniscule Greek salad was $8… and the feta cheese was not real! Just those dry feta crumbles, not the fresh stuff. Yep, I was very disappointed. Back to the soup, however – on top of being oily and very watery, it was hugely lacking in flavour. The slosh marks on the side of the bowl do detract from presentation, but I can’t really blame them since it’s pretty hard to carry soup in a bowl without it moving around a liiittle bit. The chopped herbs on top were a nice garnish, but must’ve been old since they had no taste. The bulk of my meal I would describe as “lacking”. The side pita, though kind of soggy with oil, was suuuuper delicious! I do wish it were a little drier, and it would’ve been nice if it had come with hummous… but yes, still very good, and very fresh.
Emme was clever, took a hint from the name, and ordered Lamb Souvlaki. It came with rice, buttery potatoes, Greek salad, and tzatziki on the side. It was supposed to come with pita as well, but there was none. (I had to order mine separately, after the meal came, so I don’t know why they omitted it from Emme’s meal?) This peeved me since I like getting your money’s worth when you eat out, though Emme didn’t mind and said she wouldn’t have been able to eat all of it anyway… In any case, what was served was preeeeetty darn good. The lamb was tender and bursting with flavour, with a lovely grilled taste and definitely not too oily. The buttered potatoes were a little overdone, but the rice was tasty and mixed with some fresh herbs. Emme’s Greek salad was no better and no bigger than mine, but at least the veggies were relatively fresh, though the tomatoes were lacking in flavour despite the fact that we went over the summer. The tzatziki was fantastic and the perfect coolant to serve with the hot lamb souvlaki. If anything, definitely get the lamb or sockeye salmon to get your full worth out of the meal. I’ll bet the chicken’s great too, but lamb doesn’t tend to be something people eat often… and it’s a great treat, especially when done well!
Anyway, my soup may have been terrible, the feta disappointing, but the souvlaki is pretty great. Everything is still overpriced (especially the dips!), and the service seems to have the tendency to be either really great or really rude, but the overall experience is still enjoyable. For the authentic Greek feel of the restaurant and for the souvlaki, I would recommend Anatoli Souvlaki. For cheap Greek food, and for anything aside from the souvlaki, I wouldn’t. The hummous and other dips, while expensive, aren’t worth it I find and aren’t that outstanding (I have had them on other visits!). Nevertheless… If I were to recommend any Greek restaurant in Vancouver, I would probably recommend Anatoli Souvlaki.
Food: 3.5 (Souvlaki alone would be 4.5!)
Value: 2 (expensive!)