Posts Tagged organic

Portage Bay Café (University District), Seattle

Most Vancouverites I know have either been down to Washington state once or go down routinely to shop. I easily fit into the latter category, but on this occasion Emme and I journeyed down to meet up with a very old, very good friend of mine in Seattle. We decided to rendez-vous at the Portage Bay Café, in the University District, after I suggested it to my friend and he replied that he had heard good things. Word-of-mouth reviews that substantiate written claims on UrbanSpoon.com are fine by me!

We managed to make a reservation, although we still ended up waiting half an hour for a table to open up after arriving early. No worries – we chatted in the meantime! There was unfortunately not a lot of room to stand and wait, which would be a downside, though it’s not like the place is particularly small… It’s just very popular, clearly. (It was probably particularly busy because we went there on a Sunday – the only day I could meet up with my friend – so there were a lot of families out to brunch!)

The menu has plenty of options, all dishes with either organic or sustainably-farmed/raised ingredients. Since it was still relatively early in the day, all three of us opted for breakfast-y dishes.

Apparently on the same wavelength, both my old friend and I asked for salmon omelettes, while Emme opted for a gluten-free eggs benny.

Wild Salmon Omelette:

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Wild Salmon Omelette

Yes, it really was as humongous as it looks here. It’s a three “cage-free” egg omelette stuffed with local wild salmon. I ate it all – very filling, very delicious! Because the dish is quite simple, it really allows the quality of the ingredients to shine through. Maybe it’s the placebo effect, but cage-free eggs taste far better than standard factory-raised chickens’ eggs. They’re more eggy (eggier?) and definitely more golden-hued. Much love for the omelette itself. My criticisms would be these:

  • The menu said the salmon was smoked, but I’m pretty sure it was roasted. While perfectly cooked (moist and flaky, not tough), there is certainly a flavour difference between smoked and roasted (or even pan-fried) salmon. Smoked salmon would have been lovely and added some extra umami flavour!
  • Needs more capers! Does it look like there are a lot? The green things were mostly green onions that were sautéed into the omelette, so you couldn’t taste them. Topping the already-cooked omelette with chives/scallions (as I thought would be the case from the menu description) might add a nice flavour boost.
  • The sour cream was supposed to have dill, but there wasn’t any… Add dill!

So, I still gave this 4/5 stars. Why? Though not smoked, the salmon was still delicious. Though lacking more dimension in terms of flavour, the omelette was, also, still delicious. High quality ingredients will take you far.

As for the ‘taters, they were yummy but nothing special. Actually, the only difference between my pal’s plate and mine was that I ordered extra roasted potatoes instead of toast, so I didn’t try the bread. It looked fresh and was thickly cut, so I imagine it was true to the menu’s description (“freshly baked”).

The Classic Benedict (with GF toast):

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The Classic Benedict

That’s molasses ham underneath the eggs! I’ve already raved about the eggs, so just know that they were great here, too. Poached to perfection. The chefs at Portage Café certainly know how to cook their eggs.

The ham added a great molasses spin to this dish. I thought the hollandaise was a bit too thin, but it wasn’t bad. The gluten-free toast was perfect for soaking up the extra sauce, and wasn’t crumbly like some gluten-free baked goods can be.

The 3 stars is for the fairly average hollandaise (that should be a star feature, but the eggs and the ham seemed to carry this dish, mostly) and, also, the lack of toppings! No chives?! Need an extra sprinkling of fresh pepper, too! I also downgraded the rating for the value aspect. My $14 omelette with its huge side of roasted potatoes was unquestionably a better deal than the $14 benedict, not only in terms of flavour but purely in terms of bang-for-your-buck (i.e., $/amount).

The ambiance was charming. The restaurant is clean and bright with an uncomplicated interior and design. Décor is minimal, which is fine; the food is enough to steal your attention. This is really the kind of place you come with good company to enjoy a hearty meal – which is exactly what I did. Though extremely busy, the waiters remain very friendly and patient with customers. Ours was helpful in regards to finding a gluten-free option (to a usually gluten-containing dish) for Emme and accommodating when it came to any other requests or favours. The hostesses were slightly less friendly, but perhaps understandably so; they have to stand at the front and deal with repeated questions about how much time is left before a party is seated and so on. For the amount of people they’re handling on busy mornings, I’d say they do a good job.

If not for the cheerful and busy atmosphere, then I would certainly recommend the Portage Bay Café for its wonderful food (made with high quality ingredients). Try to grab a bite here if you’re ever in Seattle and can bear a bit of a wait!

Ambiance: 4

Food: 4.5

Service: 4.5

Value: 4

Overall: 4.5
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La Taqueria (Fairview)

I went to La Taqueria ages ago, but revisited it this past week and was reminded I still hadn’t written about it. It is one of those places, like Meat & Bread, that deserves to be written about right away after vising it; I’m just a slow blogger! Nevertheless, my first visit was so memorable that I could never forget how awesome it was, anyway.

The Chemist and I went here for a quick lunch, and I didn’t expect that it would be so small. It’s really not a sit-down restaurant, although there are tables and a counter to sit at. Most people would grab their order and go; still, all the tables were full when we went in, and so we sat at the counter.

Pescado:

Pescado Taco

I wasn’t too savvy at ordering here, and they are very fast-paced. So I ended up with two pescado tacos. No complaints here though, really; I really enjoyed the fish. It was moist and topped with a tasty pico de gallo and some sort of lime-spiked sour cream that both made the flavour “pop”. Of course I topped it with one of the salsas provided (and pickled onions, because I love pickled things) but, even without them, thought it was something I would order again – even though I normally hate sour cream. My only other complaint would be that I wished I’d actually thought through my order before asking, so I could have been a good food blogger and ordered four different types of tacos.

De Lengua:

De Lengua Taco

Definitely, definitely my favourite. I am someone who likes eating offal (so animal livers, kidneys, hearts, etc. – they are all extremely nutrient dense!), but even if I had not known this was beef tongue, I would have loved it. It was tender and delicious all by its lonesome. The condiments, as usual, take it over the top. The raw onions gave it a nice bite, and the salsa verde added a kick and acidity that went well with the soft beef tongue.

Get this! If not for the name, I doubt anyone could tell that this was beef tongue. One of the shopkeepers came over and asked us what our favourite taco was, and this was the one I told him. The Chemist also thought so, so I know I’m not just crazy.

De Cachete:

De Cachete Taco

The beef cheeks are a very close second favourite to the beef tongue, for me. Again, you wouldn’t know these are beef cheeks unless someone actually told you (or unless you know Spanish). I think it’s the condiments that made the tongue my favourite, since the de cachete actually had more flavour carrying through the beef alone than did the de lengua. Maybe because it was fattier? It was amazing, though you could taste the oil on your lips sometimes (which was not so amazing). I thought it could benefit from some chili powder or cumin or maybe some salt, since the cilantro and onion on top didn’t add too much extra flavour or dimension. I added a generous amount of salsa, which made it (in my opinion) worthy of five stars.

Al Pastor:

Al Pastor Taco

The Chemist ordered this! I normally don’t eat pork for a variety of reasons. At first glance, this looked really spicy. I mean, look at it; it’s red and everything! It was marinated with some spices, unlike some of the beef tacos, but tasted more like pungent tomato sauce. The onion was overshadowed by the pork, which – aside from tomatoes – tasted like bacon. This is totally understandable, of course; it is still pork. Still, the smokiness was quite strong and seemed to outdo any sweetness that might have come from the small amount of chopped pineapple or any bite from the raw onion. It was really good, nevertheless; The Chemist did end up adding salsa halfway through eating it.

Machacha Taco

Machacha:

Isn’t that fun to say? Machacha. This was a special of the day, and looked really similar to the taco with beef cheeks, only a little darker in colour. It was good, if a little bit drier than the other two beef tacos. This is the one taco that the Chemist added a lot of salsa to – one of the hotter salsas, too. It was supposedly slow-roasted, but didn’t really taste like it. It was a bit tougher, and tasted leaner than the de cachete. I would still, by far, opt for this over my least favourite flavour (the Rajas Con Crema Taco, which is like an assault of sour cream, blegh). It still lost out to the pescado, though, and was the one I would deem “most in need of salsa”.

Overall, I loved eating here! As I have mentioned, I have revisited it since my initial visit. I really like the atmosphere – not only “authentic”, what with all the Spanish being spoken behind the counter, but so friendly! – and the food is almost always great. The restaurant is bright, colourful, and really adds to the “cheerful” ambiance… even on rainy days (of which there are plenty). I also love that I am able to take my gluten-free friends here – the wait staff and manager have told me that their tacos are 100% corn-based. (The only things on the menu that contain wheat are the quesadillas… which I actually haven’t seen anyone order yet. Their tacos are just too good!) I am also a huge fan – as mentioned in other posts – of restaurants that go to the trouble of sourcing out local and free-range meats. Many restaurants that place on emphasis on quality, locally-sourced ingredients seem to follow through with that theme and produce quality, great-tasting dishes… and La Taqueria is definitely one of them.

Ambiance: 4

Food: 4.5

Service: N/A (but the counter attendants are definitely friendly, for the most part!)

Value: 4.5

Overall: 4.5

La Taqueria on Urbanspoon

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Shizen Ya (Fairview)

Triple Attack Brown Rice Bowl

If you’re particularly picky about the type and quality of the seafood you’re eating, Shizen Ya would be a top choice for Japanese cuisine. Or, at the very least, Shizen Ya is the restaurant that most blatantly markets their offerings as “organic” and/or “OceanWise certified”. Unsurprisingly, the quality of cooking and food prep here is just as high as the quality of the raw ingredients. Although this specific Shizen Ya ‘branch’ is small, it is still a great restaurant contender when deciding where to go for Japanese food if you’re in the area. The manager has done a really good job of creating an atmosphere that reflects the restaurant’s name (shizen (自然) meaning nature or natural), in the sense that the ambiance is very mellow and the décor conveys a kind of “wholesome” feeling. The service here is also usually very friendly and accommodating, and your water glass and/or tea cup will both always be full. (This is probably due to the convenient size of the restaurant, but even disregarding the latter part of the statement, the waitresses (and store manager) all seem to be very nice. This should be a necessity at restaurants, in my opinion; it is called “service” for a reason.)

Triple Attack Brown Rice Bowl: (for taste/quality, not satiety factor)

As aforementioned, the food here is also top-notch, based on a couple of visits. My personal favourite is probably the Triple Attack Brown Rice Bowl, which has slices of tuna and wild sockeye salmon sashimi alongside some boiled spinach and pickled ginger sitting atop a dome of brown rice. The fish is all very fresh tasting and thawed to perfection. As with most high-quality salmon sashimi, the pieces just melt into your mouth, and at Shizen Ya they are neither too cold nor warm. Like I said: thawed to perfection. I have had the Kheema Curry Combo for lunch once, too, and it was also very good, very flavourful, and really good value for what you pay. While I do love the “Triple Attack”, it probably won’t fill you up if you’re really hungry, where any of the combo meals would for a much better price. As a final side comment: the presentation is wonderful. I love the sprinkling of shredded nori on top not only for flavour but also for how it enhances the aesthetic appeal.

Beef Teriyaki Combo

Beef Teriyaki Combo:

When I came here with Techie and Emme, Techie opted for the Beef Teriyaki Combo. This may actually be the best combo meal on the menu. The sauce is just thick enough to make a good coating for the beef, and the cuts of beef are all of good quality – no blobs of fat or stringy bits. The accompanying salad is, well, a typical salad. It has a nice dressing, though; it tastes more of miso and less like the average “house-made dressing” that you find at other restaurants (that all seem to taste the same). I was personally pleased that the Spinach Goma-ae that comes with the combo was made with actual sesame paste, and not peanut butter (even moreso because Techie is deathly allergic to peanuts). There is a really nice balance between “nuttiness” (I know sesame is a seed… It just has a nutty-ish flavour when it’s all ground up) and subtle sweetness. Actually, I could say something similar about the teriyaki sauce, which avoided the sickly sweet taste that so many other restaurant teriyaki sauces have. All in all, a great meal at a pretty great price. (I kept it at 4/5 for two reasons: 1) I am totally biased and am not really a fan of teriyaki, and 2) it still is nothing “amazing”, although it is certainly better than the average beef teriyaki in Vancouver.)

Chicken Breast Teriyaki

Chicken Breast [Teriyaki] Combo:

This comes with the same accoutrements that the beef teriyaki combo does, so the same comments apply to the side dishes and the sauce. I don’t know why, but the chicken breast was a fair bit tougher than what Emme was used to, although still very good. It may just have been an oddity in the batch of chicken breasts, because I have ordered this myself and it was much better, relative to the one Emme ordered on this occasion. In any case, even with the sauce, it’s pretty standard. Shizen Ya seems to do everything well, so I will say that they did a good job here, too. A word about the brown rice, since I haven’t mentioned it until now: whether or not you like it is obviously highly individual. Personally, I love the taste and chewiness of brown rice, although when eating Japanese I will admit that I would prefer the more traditional white rice. The flavour of brown rice kind of competes with other flavours on the plate, although that wasn’t really a problem here. In any case, it gets a thumbs up from me, only because I have a personal affinity for the stuff.

Again, I must comment that the presentation was well-done – even for the teriyaki dishes. I thought it was kind of weird how there seems to be a lack of consistency in how they present the combos (sometimes like the way the beef teriyaki was served, with the rice and goma-ae on the same plate, and sometimes like the chicken breast teriyaki here, with the rice and goma-ae served separately), but it all tastes good in the end so I don’t think it matters.

Chicken Breast Gyoza

Chicken Breast Gyoza:

I thought these were done pretty well. They weren’t too oily, but still had plenty with flavour, even without the sauce (unpictured! And please excuse the horrible picture). The outside was the best part, in my opinion; while still soft, the cooked parts had a nice touch of crispness that I really appreciated in contrast to all the soft fillings. Speaking of the fillings: this chicken was seasoned well – nice ‘n’ tasty – and even the vegetables were cooked in a tasty manner.

Prawn Sunomono

Prawn Sunomono:

This was yummy. Loved the freshness of the shrimp, and the really refreshing taste of the marinade. It had a less offensive taste than some of the other sunomono dishes I’ve had in the past. Again, a nice balance with the sweetness, which was offset nicely by the slight tang of the rice vinegar and subtle saltiness. The carrots were an interesting addition, and Emme (who always orders this!) really appreciated how the toppings were a bit more plentiful than the vermicelli. (Does anyone else find that, a lot of times, the sunomono served in many places is like 50% noodle, 45% horribly sweet “vinegar” dressing, and 5% actual topping?)

Salmon and Avocado Roll

Salmon and Avocado Roll:

Well, the salmon and the avocado were both incredibly delicious. This was actually a new combination in a sushi roll for me (how lame am I? I vow to be a bit more adventurous with rolls, going forward…) and it worked really well. You can also tell they were formed by someone who actually knows how to make sushi by how well they stuck together. They were presented prettily, and they stayed pretty until I ate them. Nothing much else to say. The brown rice did not really detract from the flavour. Very yummy – and would order again as an appetizer or addendum to something else.

Tofu and Vegetable Miso Soup

Tofu and Vegetable Miso Soup:

Don’t bother with this! It may be “organic”, but this is the only thing I’d whine about. It tasted fine (like any other miso soup, really) but there were hardly any “vegetables” to speak of, and something like four really tiny cubes of tofu. The $2.50 that you could spend on this dish would be much better invested in the salmon and avocado roll (which is $2.95 – barely any more, but much better bang for you buck, I think).

Green Tea Crème Brûlée:

Do get the crème brûlée if you want to finish off your meal with something sweet. It has a nice, subtle taste of green tea – just enough to differentiate it from the average crème brûlée – but enough sweetness to prevent the bitterness of the tea from dominating. The top has a nice, crisp finish and the texture is wonderfully creamy below the surface. I really liked the faint green colour, too, to remind you that there is green tea somewhere in the dessert. (It has green tea, therefore it is healthy. Heh heh…)

Green Tea Creme Brulee

If you’re in the neighborhood and have a hankering for Japanese food, pass up Minato Sushi (about a block and a half away) in favour of Shizen Ya! You and your tastebuds won’t regret it, and I don’t think the prices are really that different. (Even if they were – Shizen Ya would still be much better value.) It may be small, but it really delivers when it comes to good service, quality food, and a peaceful ambiance.

Ambiance: 4.5

Food: 4.5

Service: 4.5

Value: 4

Overall: 4.5

Shizen Ya on Urbanspoon

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Gorilla Food

I think most veggie-lovers, vegan (or vegetarian) or not, probably give Gorilla Food a try at least once if they’re in Vancouver. A vegan friend of mine recommended it to me (rather, she was gushing about how truly awesome the food was there), and so I decided to give it a go. I dragged a hesitant Emme and an equally hesitant Pitah along with me for the ride… Pitah in particular would never turn into a vegetarian, vegan, or — least likely of all – an “all-raw” vegan — and Emme also quite likes her meat. I only managed to convince them to give Gorilla Food a shot, actually, by saying that we could just view the meal as an afternoon snack rather than lunch or dinner.

The actual “restaurant”, if you can call it such, is small and has that “hippie” sort of atmosphere that you seem to often find in vegetarian restaurants – sort of akin to the Naam but very different at the same time. One thing the two have in common is that the waiters – or, in the case of Gorilla Food, the counter attendants – are very chill and laid back. Nothing is rushed. The music is… relaxing, but… interesting? Because of its limited space, it did feel a bit cramped. Being partially underground also made it a bit dimmer and darker, and gave it a “cave”-type feeling. The place was almost empty when we came in, and people were picking up food to go rather than sitting around. Nevertheless, the three of us grabbed a table and then took turns ordering at the counter…

GO Veggie Burger

Emme asked for the GO Veggie Burger, preferring to stick as close to her meat-eating ways as possible, and was served up an impressive stack of veggies plus the burger “patties”, surrounded by lettuce and two crackers/bread slices. Although she was not particularly a fan of the veggie flax “bun” – it tasted earthy, she reported, but not bad per sé – she liked the guacamole and rather meaty veggie patties. The ginger tomato ketchup also added a nice taste and tang to the dish. It kind of amazed us how the patties held together so well, and the texture was pretty impressive as well. The only real downside, aside from the “bun” in Emme’s opinion, was that it wasn’t filling at all. At $8, that is pretty disappointing for a dish. Otherwise, everything was very fresh and the actual patties were pretty good!

Maui Waui Pizza

Pitah ordered a slice of Maui Waui pizza… and ended up getting two, since I suggested that one might not come even a bit close to filling him up. (Even if I were to eat regular pizza, I would reach for at least two pieces… and so found it hard to believe that one could fill up a typical meat-eating guy.) The crust of the pizza is made from sprouted sunflower seeds, buckwheat, carrot, and flax, according to the site. It’s topped with a sundried tomato herb sauce and massaged kale, as well as walnut “cheeze” and pineapple chunks. Amazingly, Pitah devoured both slices. If Gorilla Food is great at one thing, it’s at getting people to get their raw veggies. Usually, even I can’t eat kale raw, but Pitah said it was tender and not all that bitter. I guess massaging the kale really makes a difference. Other than the kale and very fresh pineapple chunks, the savory sauce was also pretty good. Actually, I think the sauce with the walnut “cheeze” was what made the pizza seem far more edible to Pitah. It actually did taste a bit cheesy” – it was just a bit nutty at the same time, of course. Somehow, the two slices filled him up… for a little while. He commented that he certainly felt “very healthy” afterwards, haha. At $7 a slice, however, I can hardly call this a good deal.

Nice Bowl

I specifically asked the counter attendant what would be filling, and at first debated between getting the Water Wisdom Seaweed Salad (love seaweed!) and the Nice Bowl, but ended up getting the Nice Bowl since I was curious about what the “ryce” was, and it seemed like it would have more substance. Now, maybe this is just because I’m a crazy vegetable-lover, but I… really liked this. Actually, I would go so far as to say I loved the dish – since I ran home and recreated it at a later time, heh. I usually can’t eat broccoli raw; it just tastes too iron-y, in my opinion, even if served with dip. The curry “sauce” in this made the entire thing delicious, and the “ryce” was also very tasty. I think it was comprised of processed raw cauliflower, and the entire dish was mixed with plenty of sesame seeds. I’m not sure which was the best part: the curry seasoned veggies, leaves and sprouts or the “ryce”. I can see why the raw kale did not bother Pitah, also, since it was wonderfully tender and gave the illusion that it was lightly steamed or cooked. As the menu described, it was served warm, which was a pleasant surprise since I think I expected it to come out cold anyway. Clearly, raw food does not always equal cold food.

Would I go back? You know, I probably would. The Nice Bowl actually did fill me up, and I had to take a portion of it home to finish later. However, would I bring a meat-loving omnivore here? Eh… probably not. As “interesting” as Pitah and Emme found their dishes, and as creative as the ‘chefs’ are, in the end they did not really leave with fully sated appetites. The food was pretty good, though, just not the best value – organic or otherwise. Also, I would probably just grab a dish ‘to-go’ next time like most of the other customers, since the little “hole-in-the-ground” feeling from the restaurant didn’t really appeal to me. Emme and Pitah commented that the music was kind of bizarre. The lack of waiters isn’t a bad thing at all here, though; with seemingly few “sit-down” customers, more people getting tale-out, and limited space, the current set-up makes much more sense and doesn’t detract from the ambiance. The counter attendants were friendly enough, though a little bit brusque.

Personally, I’m looking forward to going back and trying some of their other dishes… I have heard good things about their desserts and drinks, none of which I tried. According to Pitah, if not full you will at least leave here feeling very “healthy”.

Ambiance: 2

Food: 4

Service: 3

Value: 3 (Not the best bang for your buck in terms of leaving with a full, satisfied belly.)

Overall: 3

Gorilla Food on Urbanspoon

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Aphrodite’s Organic Café and Pie Shop

Let’s face it: Whether or not you choose to acknowledge it, the organic movement has been growing and becoming increasingly popular over the years, so much so that organic markets have popped up and dozens upon dozens of studies have been released detailing how much better organic food is for you, or how much better it tastes, etc. In many ways, it’s easy to see how it’s much better for you — its being “pesticide/herbicide/insecticide-free” definitely helping with that aspect. As for tasting better, however… That is a claim that is still very much “in the air” and up for debate. Even if it’s one day proven that organic food doesn’t taste any better than food made with conventionally grown ingredients, one thing is very clear to me: The food at Aphrodite’s tastes amazing.

Caffè Latte

Emme and I first heard about Aphrodite’s a little over a month ago, and already we’ve been there three times… Our first impression of it was definitely that it was another sort of trendy “hippie” place that served healthy food, a bit like the Naam [only cleaner and with obviously much better service]. However, I wouldn’t look at it as such anymore. Now, I just can’t help but think of it as a great place to eat — lunch or dinner. Décor is actually pretty tasteful and trendy, with some artwork that’s clearly “local” and some that’s from decades past. The paper maché figurines hanging from the ceiling give the restaurant more of a “homey” feel (and in no way come across as tacky), as does the tiled floor and fact that the kitchen is rather open and only hidden behind a big blackboard with specials and pies written on it.

Cinnamon Roll

On our first visit, Emme had actually just had a late breakfast and wasn’t too hungry for lunch, and so instead sipped on a Caffè Latte and ordered a cinnamon roll to nibble on. The latte was good, of course — though there is only so much you can say about it. It was hearty, warm, and satisfying, as all properly done caffè lattes should be. The Cinnamon Roll was fantastic. I think you can tell that just by looking at the picture, almost! It was ginormous, and amazing value for what you dish out to get it. The nuts in the swirls gave it a nice crunch, and the exterior had a nice crispness while the interior was soft, gooey with delicious layers of cinnamon and sugar, and just full of deliciousness. They may have the word “pie” in their name, but clearly they’ve got other baked goods down pat, too.

Harvest Vegetarian Chili

I was starving, and actually having a hard time choosing from their large selection of delicious-sounding dishes, but settled on the Harvest Vegetarian Chili, partially because I’ve had a huge craving for spicy foods lately and partially just because I’ve always loved chili anyway. The chili came out steaming hot and fresh, with equally fresh salad and bread. The salad greens were crunchy, crisp, and delicious. The grated carrot, beets, and sprouts reminded me a bit of the Naam, but somehow just seemed much classier here. In any case, the salad provided a great way to escape the spice of the chili and cool down between bites. Oh, but the chili… It was a dream come true. Hearty, delicious, spicy but not overly so, and full of nutritious goodness in the forms of beans and veggies… It was just amazing. I love this chili. I would get it if I went back. And again. And again. Even though there are so many other items on the menu that definitely hold great promise.

Home Baked Multigrain Bread

As if the fabulous chili wasn’t already enough to talk about, I could probably also go on for quite a while about the fabulous bread, too. It is fluffy but hearty at the same time, and the best bread I have eaten in a while. Don’t skip the butter, in this case. If you need to feel better about spreading it, just know that it’s organic, from grass-fed cows, local, etc. etc. And… butter makes everything better. Even bread that is fantastic on its own.

Caramelized Leek and Lentil Soup

Emme still didn’t have much of an appetite on our next visit, and just got the Caramelized Leek and Lentil Soup with a side of the amazing, freshly-baked bread. This soup is delicious as well though. [I apologize for overusing that word, but I’m finding repetition especially necessary in this post.] It is light, but definitely does not skimp at all on the flavour and is still very filling because of the lentils. Do not let its plain appearance fool you: a wonderful blend of complex flavours is what you’ll get when you order this seemingly bland dish. How do I know this when I didn’t order it, myself? Because I did actually get it, too. Obviously the bread did not disappoint the second time around, as well.

Chai Latte

Recently, Emme has shifted from drinking coffee to drinking chai tea more, and ordered the Chai Latte to go with her bread and soup. It was also great, according to Emme… though she hasn’t tasted enough chai lattes at different places to rank it relative to anything. The least that can be said is that yes, like everything else at Aphrodite’s, the lattes are good too. [East is East probably still has the best chai tea, though! That is one thing Emme said, although this one was very good.]

Potato-Crusted Wild Coho Salmon on a vermouth beurre blanc

On our most recent visit, Emme ordered something off of their “Fresh Sheet” for dinner: the Potato-Crusted Wild Coho Salmon. (I, with my supposedly unquenchable thirst hunger for spicy things, was boring and got the awesome chili again.) It may not look like a very pretty dish, but both Emme and I can vouch for it: It was, like everything else on the menu seems to be, amazing. The salmon was cooked perfectly, the crust was indeed nice and crunchy and was a very refreshing take on your typical bread-crumby or panko crust. The beurre blanc sauce was what really made it special, though. It was amazing. Oh, and yes, of course all of the “seasonal organic vegetables” were cooked perfectly as well, maintaining some crispness and all of their flavour. The salad that came as a part of the meal was also fantastic, with fresh veggies and a “to-die-for” house dressing. The meal came with a slice of pie, so Emme decided on a slice of Apple Blackberry Pie. Neither of us have actually tasted it yet – we were stuffed after our dinners! – so I can’t comment on the quality of the pies at Aphrodite’s, but… Well, everything else is amazing, and I’ve read and heard lots of great things about the pies here, so I imagine it will be outstanding! Actually, I’ve also gotten a [ginormous] Raspberry Millet Muffin from Aphrodite’s as well, and that was delicious. It was huge, but I went through it pretty quickly. The millet give it a nice crunch! And as far as I can tell, all of their baked treats taste great without being too sweet, and are also great in terms of value and bang for your buck.

Our dining experiences here have all been pleasant, even when you exclude the quality of the food. The service is super friendly, and even though the waiters are all very laid-back in their work, they are extremely attentive and routinely check up on you to make sure that your water glass is full, that you have everything you need, and that your meal is nothing short of amazing. We’ve only once had a little trouble getting the bill, but that was an extremely busy evening where the place was starting to get an overflow of customers lining up. Otherwise, service is personable, upbeat, quick, and pleasant. Food is out relatively quickly and is consistently delicious.

The ambiance isn’t bad, either. The country-style décor that exudes a homey feeling, and the place has two dining rooms which allows diners to spread out a bit. Even if you eat here when it’s full, you will most likely find that you don’t feel cramped, or that you can’t hear the people at your table talking to you. The atmosphere is very relaxed, and makes for a peaceful and enjoyable meal. Also, the bill shouldn’t knock you out of the water too much. Some dishes may seem a little expensive, but at least know that you are certainly getting what you pay for when you come to Aphrodite’s. A higher price here is merely indicative of higher quality, and quality is what you will get.

Whether you’re a fanatic about only buying organic and/or local food or not, I would definitely recommend you pay Aphrodite’s a visit. You won’t regret it.

Ambiance: 4

Food:5

Service: 4.5

Value: 4

Overall: 4.5
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