Posts Tagged South Cambie

Seasons in the Park

Seasons in the Park is by far and above one of the most scenic places to dine in Vancouver. It’s one restaurant in the Sequoia Company of Restaurants, which all seem to be beautifully situated, regardless of where they are in Vancouver. Seasons in the Park happens to be smack-dab in the middle of Queen Elizabeth Park, and must be one of the restaurants with the best view in the spring- and summer-time. I’ve actually been here for my birthday twice – this year and two years ago! It’s not a tradition, but a fun choice when the weather is great and the flowers are in bloom.

Needless to say, the ambiance makes this restaurant a winner – but the food itself is great, too! Top that off with friendly and attentive service, and you have a restaurant worthy of being called “amazing”. The dishes aren’t incredibly “innovative” or mind-boggling, so I wouldn’t start mentioning Michelin stars or anything, but they are still delicious and dining here is still enjoyable.

BC Salmon Burger:

BC Salmon Burger

In-freaking-credible. The salmon was perfectly cooked and melty; no dry fish or rubbery texture here whatsoever. The onions and lettuce in the bun were crisp, and the bun itself was outstanding. It was buttered and grilled, I believe, and was warm and fluffy when I bit into it. The buttery-ness went really well with the buttery salmon. The rémoulade had a nice cooling effect to offset the “warmth”, with a pleasantly mild tang. The salad was nice and crisp, as was the pickle. Highly recommend the salmon burger. This was probably one of the best salmon burgers I’ve had in Vancouver (though I haven’t had too many so perhaps my saying that doesn’t mean too much).

Queen Elizabeth Burger:

QE Burger

Another outstanding burger. I guess it’s hard to go wrong with buttered burger buns!

The meat was tender but deliciously juicy. The bacon – a class addition, of course – took it over the top with its subtle crunch and smoky flavour. The cheese was white cheddar, which was awesome but… just a pinch too scant. If I could have re-ordered this burger for Pita, I would have asked for extra cheese. It had a great, strong flavour that cheeses aged over a course of years typically have, but dominated this one side of the burger… Needs more cheese to balance it out!

Pickle and vegetable toppings were great, as was the coleslaw, which was acidic with sweet undertones – the way it should be – and not overly creamy. (I don’t like coleslaw in general, so the latter point is really important in my opinion… It’s not coleslaw if the texture is more creamy than it is cabbage-y.) The fries were thinly cut, warm, and crisp. They weren’t overly-greasy, and tasted fresh. Fries done right!

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake:

Yes, I realise it’s hard to go wrong with dessert but… I love this cake. And not just because it says “Happy Birthday!” to me.

I would not change ANYTHING. I love the multiple layers of a lighter tasty chocolate mousse and a darker chocolate mousse. Both layers are fluffy, and the ganache topping is just sweet enough to take the bitter edge off of the chocolate. This is definitely a dessert I would say should be shared – maybe between three people. But it was my birthday, so I ate most of it, alongside Pita.

Just looking at it is making me salivate. IT IS AMAZING. Texture-wise and flavour-wise (and scent-wise, too, if you’re in-the-know about how important smell is to taste). I guess if I had to complain, I would say that the “Happy Birthday” sign was too sweet… It doesn’t usually come with the cake (of course), so I didn’t factor it into my ranking. The presentation of this cake is also beautiful. The cape gooseberry on top was a nice touch and added a great burst of fruit flavour.

This was my favourite part of the meal, clearly.

Butter

The bread basket at the beginning of the meal was good, too. The buns were fluffy, fresh, and warm and… the butter says “butter” on it! Cool. Just in case you can’t recognise butter when you see it, I guess? Hah. The buns were good but the butter was nothing special. Serving herbed butter would probably be appropriate here, especially because of the “fancy” atmosphere in Seasons in the Park.

The wait staff here, in the couple of times that I have been, has always been very friendly. Maybe we’re just lucky to get great waiters and waitresses serving us here. I definitely appreciate great service when I see it! Our server on this occasion was knowledgeable about the menu and the restaurant’s background (happened to be a topic of conversation for a moment), and was very conversational. Our water glasses were pretty much full throughout the meal, also.

Two thumbs up! Though slightly costly, Seasons in the Park offers great service, delicious food, and a charming atmosphere and view.

Ambiance: 5

Food: 4.5

Service: 4.5

Value: 4

Overall: 4.5

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Trixi’s Crepe & Coffeehaus

One place worth considering on South Cambie, should you ever be in the area for a movie or otherwise, is definitely Trixi’s Crepe & Coffeehaus. This little place is a small, cute, yet nondescript “hole-in-the-wall” type place on the corner of Cambie and W 17th. Aside from serving up the obvious — crepes and coffee — Trixi’s also offers a selection of cold desserts (ice cream, sorbetto, gelato…), teas and tisanes, baked goods, and lunch items like bagels, paninis, soups, and salads. It’s the perfect pit-stop if you need a quick bite-to-eat or just a place to visit for a warm, inviting place to chat with a friend over coffee (or, if you’re like me, tea!).

Mocha Latte

Emme, who just so happened to need an afternoon snack before we went to watch a movie at the Park Theatre one time, suggested we drop by since the place didn’t look too busy. Upon entering we were greeted by a welcoming counter attendant and an equally welcoming interior. Trixi’s is a long and narrow café, but is quite cozy — even more so because of the cushy, comfortable chairs available if you’re not running out the door after getting your coffee. Not in the mood really for crepes — though all the combinations and choices on the board seemed really delicious — Emme ordered a Vegetarian Panini and got a Mocha Latte on the side.

The latte was apparently perfectly done… Emme couldn’t really compare it with one from Starbucks, since she usually doesn’t order mocha-anything from Starbucks, but this latte was hot, tasty, and flavourful. Quite nicely done.

Vegetarian Panini

The veggie panini looks delicious, and, Emme assured me, it was actually as delicious as it looks. The veggies were fresh, as was the egg (which was also cooked to perfection!). The melty cheese brought all the ingredients together and the oregano sprinkled within and on top of the panini was a particularly nice touch. It added a pleasing herby flavour to the sandwich.

Raspberry Dream tisane

I’d eaten a snack just a bit earlier and was satisfied enough with a tea – or rather, a tisane, as it was a fruit infusion. Trixi’s carries teas and tisanes made by Steeps, and they all sounded extremely appealing to a tea-lover such as myself, but I managed to pick one: Raspberry Dream. It was a lovely blend of flavours in its own right, with a strong raspberry taste and delicate undertones of rosehips and hibiscus. If you’re starting to feel blue thanks to Vancouver’s seemingly semi-constant rainy weather, perhaps you could try sipping some of the Shi**y Weather tea? (I don’t swear, really, but that tea’s name definitely made me chuckle a bit, and Trixi’s does offer it — along with the perfect environment to enjoy it in on a rainy day!)

Although we didn’t stay for long and didn’t try what the café is obviously known for — its crepes — both Emme and I agreed that we would happily come back again just to taste the crepes and maybe some of the gelato. Both sweet and savory crepes are available, so there should be something for everyone! And if the quality of the panini is a good reflection of the rest of the food options at Trixi’s, then we can decidedly say that the place has great food… Alas, that’s a far shot just based off of one sandwich, but the place definitely left a good impression. The attendant at the counter (actually the owner, I think?!) was also super friendly and happy to answer any and all questions we had as well as strike up conversation and make us feel even more welcomed. True, it’s not a restaurant, but I’d still compliment the place on great service. The ambiance was also lovely, and aside from comfortable chairs, the décor was also tastefully done (and the bathrooms clean – always a good sign, haha).

All in all, a very pleasant “dining” experience! We will be back to try the crepes (and more tea and hot coffee!). [And if what I’ve been told is true, then the counter attendant is actually no mere attendant, but the owner! Even more impressive, in my opinion. Good way to build up strong connections with customers and ensure that they get nothing but exceptional customer service.]

Ambiance: 5

Food: 4

Service: 4.5

Overall: 4.5

Trixi's Crepe & Coffeehaus on Urbanspoon

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SalaThai on Cambie

After finally watching The King’s Speech (which is a fantastic film, by the way, and deserved all the Golden Globes Awards it received) last night, a companion of mine (codenamed “Emme” for the sake of privacy~) and I found ourselves on Cambie St. at dinner time. Although I live close to Cambie, I’ve rarely explored it or spent time poking around past Cambie and W Broadway… Yep, that means I’m hardly acquainted with any restaurants in that area, though I have heard from several people that Shiro, which is at Cambie and W 15th (I believe) is worth visiting. As it stood, however, I just went out for Japanese with Emme over the weekend, and although I could eat it every day, Emme likes varying things a little more than I do…

Walking a bit took us to the front of SalaThai, which I recalled seeing on urbanspoon.com. I couldn’t remember reading anything particularly horrid about it, and there were signs all over the window making claims to fame or being the “best” Thai restaurant in Vancouver in 2010, etc. etc. There was also a large plastic menu with pictures of every dish posted on the window… Now, I don’t know about the rest of the dining crowd, but Emme is pretty suspicious of places that post pictures of their dishes everywhere in order to draw a crowd in (or to show what a dish is?). I’m somewhat of an amateur when it comes to picking good restaurants, or discerning good from bad, and I’m new at this food blogging thing, too… So anyway, I completely fell for all the “Best Thai Food in Vancouver!” and “Voted #1 in the city!” signs and urged Emme that it didn’t look that bad and that we should try it out.

Well… Let me start by saying that I was wrong. I’m sorry to be harsh and/or disappointing, but my meal at SalaThai on Cambie was one of the worst meals I’ve had in a while.

To start, we were seated in a warm dining room by the window, and the ambiance was quite okay with slightly dimmed lights and a quiet dining crowd. The restaurant was pretty clean, but several times throughout the meal we were subjected to listening to the obnoxiously loud crunching and crackling of plastic bags as take out was prepared right in the dining room. (Could this not be done before the dish comes out of the kitchen?) Also, the dining room did not stay consistently warm. The floor staff that evening turned the heat on and off throughout the evening… The restaurant became chilly just as quickly as it warmed up when the heat was turned back on. Is it really necessary to play with the heating switch? Why not find a comfortable temperature and leave it at that? The restaurant never got “too warm” in the first place, so I don’t understand the logic behind this (to save money?).

While the service was not terrible, as it seems other reviewers have mentioned experiencing at this particular SalaThai branch, our waiter could hardly explain dishes to us when we inquired about anything. Fortunately, he was quite smiley in compensation for inability to speak proper English, so I can’t say that my experience with the service here was as bad as others’ experiences. Our glasses were not routinely filled with water, however, and asking for water top-ups was a bit difficult simply because catching the attention of the waiters was not an easy task… (Being short on water is not something you want when you’re eating spicy food, I think!)

Onto the food: Emme ordered Chicken Cashew Nuts ($10.50), which is “chicken sautéed with cashew nuts, onion, dry red chili, and bell peppers” only Emme asked if they could omit the red chili to take down the spice level. This simple request confused the waiter… Initially Emme just asked if they could make it less spicy, or just mildly spicy, and the waiter didn’t get what we were asking (even though, looking at the website now, we apparently should have been able to ask for varying levels of spice!)… Thus she ended up just saying “No red chili” and he finally understood.

Half-eaten plate of Chicken Cashew Nuts

This dish was the first out of the kitchen – literally about five or ten minutes after it had been ordered. Usually speediness is a good thing in a restaurant, especially if you’re hungry… but this is only if speed is accompanied by quality. This dish was, sadly, pretty terrible. The chicken was soggy, the veggies limp, and the sauce – which should have had a nice nutty flavour from the cashews and should have been tasty even without the red chili – was flavourless and watery. In fact, we’re both pretty sure that the entire dish was just prepared earlier in the day and then nuked in the microwave for a couple of minutes before serving. (The website says otherwise, but you can never really know…)

Some of the ‘Chicken Cashew Nuts’ with Coconut Rice

Emme tried the dish alongside some coconut rice ($2.25), which was pretty standard. Overall, a very disappointing dining experience for Emme, who has in fact been to Thailand and tasted true (and truly fantastic) Thai cuisine.

To top off the evening, Emme was extremely sick less than an hour after eating. Food poisoning? I’m not sure… That or just a really poorly prepared meal. She could only pinpoint the chicken as perhaps being the cause — it seemed suspicious even when she was eating it.

Being the health-conscious one that loves vegetables, I of course ordered a salad: the SalaThai Seafood Salad ($12.99).

SalaThai Seafood Salad

This was actually not that bad. It definitely could have done with a bit more seafood, though… and less iceberg lettuce, which seemed to dwarf the plate and take up half of it, pretty much. The spicy lime juice was actually a nice complement to what would otherwise be a totally bland salad. The seafood was all cooked, at least, but not really in a consistent manner… By that I mean, I had a few pieces of squid and shrimp that were really rubbery, and a few pieces that were quite okay and tender as they’re supposed to be. I only had two mussels on the plate, but they were both tasty. The lumps of white fish fillet I had were, at the very least, cooked well and not dry. The shrimp, squid, and fish fillet chunks were all flavourless and lacking the typical mild and soft sweetness I’ve tasted when eating seafood at other times… Luckily, the veggies on the plate were crispy and fresh, although the cilantro (which was supposed to be mint) didn’t have as strong a flavour as it should have and may have been a bit old. The two orange slices I got were obviously cut earlier in the day — they were soggy and just tasted old.

I ordered a little bowl of Jasmine Rice ($1.75) on the side to make my meal more filling.

Jasmine Rice

I was expecting a delicately flavoured bowl of rice with a light, fragrant, subtly nutty aroma… but this just tasted like plain white rice. Also, if I’m not completely mistaken, isn’t Jasmine rice supposed to not be sticky? (Just as Basmati rice isn’t sticky?) Well, in any case, it at least was a reasonable side dish, I suppose.

For what we got in terms of service and food, the meal was really not worth it… As Emme commented, we definitely did not get good value for our money. (Especially true for Emme, whose digestive tract suffered from the meal…)

Apparently the SalaThai downtown is better, but I’m not sure I would even give it a shot if the chain can’t maintain some consistency in quality between its branches. If you have the opportunity to dine in this area, I would give this restaurant a pass and pick one of the many other restaurants around.

On a five star scale…

Ambiance: 3.5

Food: 2

Service: 3

Overall: 2.5

SalaThai on Cambie on Urbanspoon

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