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Recently The Boyfriend and I went to Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver, on an errand. While we were there we planned to go to a Chinese restaurant in the area. The task of picking the place was supposed to be my responsibility, but I didn't have time to do it and still make it there on time, so I called up a friend and asked her for her advice. She mentioned a place and we walked there, but it was closed Mondays.

We sort of walked around after that and ended up picking, of all places, Felico's, a Greek restaurant. We agreed that there was a sort of delicious incongruity in Chinese food fanatics coming to Richmond, Chinese central of the Vancouver area, and not eating Chinese.

It was actually a rather cool and overcast day, so I don't know why I ordered a frozen mango margarita, but I did.

It was alright, neither fantastic nor horrible.

The pita bread, on the other hand, was fantastic. It was so warm and fresh like it had just come from the oven. Mmmmmm.

We ordered two dishes. Here is the Oreftika Platter, which is their appetizer combo and costs $19.95. I don't know if the picture does it justice but this thing had an overwhelming amount of calamari. Since The Boyfriend doesn't like calamari it was all for me, and it was a bit of struggle, because I like calamari but this was like five squids worth. We ended up taking most of it home, which brings me to something that really irritated me: there was a good amount of hummus and tsatsiki left, but they didn't pack it up. They did, however, carefully pack up the au jus that went with our lamb dish that neither of us gave a crap about. So it definitely wasn't that they didn't have those mini sauce take-out containers. Grrrr. It was really good hummus!

I also wasn't a big fan of the spanakopita and the stuffed grape leaves were too meaty for my taste. They were more like grape leaf wrapped meatballs. Which is good, but not what I think of when I think of this dish. Too much beef, not enough rice.

The other dish was the Kleftico ($16.95), lamb in mustard sauce served with roasted veggies. The Boyfriend was skeptical at the idea of mustard on lamb but it was quite good. Very, very fatty but so tender and juicy. It put me in mind of the traditional Sunday dinner, something that would be the highlight of your week.

My overall impression of the place was a mixed bag. They did some things really well but there were a number of things that irritated me needlessly. I'm somewhat of a stick in the mud so when I noticed that they hadn't charged me for my tea (I got mint tea) I brought it up to the waitress. In this kind of situation, when a restaurant makes a mistake and undercharges on a minor item, I'm used to them just waving it off, but she said she would fix the bill. I wouldn't have a problem with that either, except she took forever to fix it! We were standing right there and she couldn't seem to figure out how to add the tea. I was thinking "Surely at this point she will wave off what is essentially the cost of a tea bag?" But no, we had to wait for at least five minutes as she and another person (a manager?) wrestled the machine into adding the tea.

Even more irritating was the aforementioned failure to pack up the hummus and tzatziki. Even thinking about the hummus now, I want some. It was so full of garlic!

Name: Felico's
Location: 8140 Leslie Rd Richmond, BC (604) 276-8282
Prices: $7-11 for appies, $15-25 for entrees, as well as three platters for two around $35
Service: See above.
Food: Very good Greek food in an upscale atmosphere.
Recommended?: I'm undecided. I guess I would say I liked it. But there's this niggling dissatisfaction at the same time.

Felico's on Urbanspoon
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Part of the 2009 Izakaya Crawl.
We were surprised by Tapastree. I just copied down the names and opening times of a bunch of izakaya places in the area and printed them out. I had no idea that it was actually Western tapas. In Vancouver "tapas" actually is used more to describe Japanese food than anything else.

Tapastree is on Robson past Denman, and thus away from the hustle and bustle of the main shopping area. It's a more quiet, tree-lined feel, and we took advantage of the lovely weather by sitting on the patio. After frantic Guu with Garlic, this was a nice change of pace. We were glad that we had decided to dress up for our night out, because Tapastree definitely has a more formal air.

They brought us some bread with whipped butter containing what we decided was probably sundried tomato. Fresh bread, but not warm.

We ordered cocktails and a dish of mixed olives ($5). My cocktail, the Pan's Labyrinth, was sparkling wine, elderberry liquor, and...... something else.... dangit! I didn't write this part down, and their online menu doesn't include their cocktails! Which is a shame, because their cocktails were all fascinating combinations. Behind it you can see Ann's drink, which was called a Rock'n'Rolla and had apricot liquor in it... and some other... things?

This one was called "Ain't No Sunshine" and I know it had ginger beer in it. Man, I'm going to have to call them and ask what was in these things. I think they were all around $8 each.

Duck confit, $12. The Boyfriend has always told me that he does not like duck, but he grudgingly tried this dish and then said, "Hey, this tastes good!" So apparently he just never had duck prepared right before. The sweet, tart cranberries were a perfect balance to the rich flesh of the fowl, and a little greens never hurt nobody.

Lamb chop in a gorgonzola demi-glace, $6. I don't like gorgonzola but this sauce was amazing. At the end of the night, it was actually this dish out of everything that we each named as the most memorable. When I took my first bite, I leaned back in my chair with my eyes closed and swooned. Then I said "Everybody shut up, I'm having a moment here," just savoring that first taste.

We knew we had to keep our pace down if we didn't want to get full too quickly, so with these three dishes we said adieu to Tapastree, and walked to Kingyo to continue the crawl.

To eat here as a meal, I think you would want at least three dishes per person.

Name: Tapastree (the website kinda sucks and is out of date)
Location: 1829 Robson St. Vancouver BC (604) 606 4680
Prices: $5-13/small plate, so for a meal that would be like upper 20s/person. An extensive wine list, with by the glass being around $9, and everything up to $500 bottles of wines. A really fascinating cocktail list with most cocktails around $8.
Service: As a more upscale European-style place, the waiters are smooth and professional, not overtly friendly. Left me feeling like I ought to be discussing a terrible blight affecting fields in Provence. "Not tragic? Darling, it ruined the view from my villa! I was so depressed I flew to that little spa in Geneva I was telling you about..."
Food: The lamb chop was out of this world, and the cocktails were complex and sophisticated. My favorite was probably the Rock'n'Rolla.
Recommended?: A great place for a unique evening or anyone who's ever thought "Man, I wish I could order one of everything!"

Tapastree on Urbanspoon
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I've decided to label the "neighborhoods" that Taipei reviews are listed and tagged under according to the nearest MRT Station, because to be honest that's how I organize them in my brain. You're going to see a lot of reviews from around Taipower (where I lived) and nearby Gongguan (where I went to school), and I basically never ventured anywhere that wasn't within walking distance of the MRT. The MRT is also extremely easy for non-Chinese speakers to use, so that's a plus.

Ok, that out of the way, to get to the current assignment, exit at exit 3, pause to wave at the building across the street where I once lived if you like, and go up Shida Rd. (By up, I mean not crossing Roosevelt Rd.) You'll see kgb across the street from the Wellcome Supermarket.

When I visited kgb with a classmate, it had literally been open a week. But they had their act together already, and I'm happy to see that Google confirms they are still in business.

The interior of kgb is very hip, warm, cozy and bistro-like, with soft lighting. It's a good place to take a date because many of the tables for two are in the corner so that you sit next to each other rather than across from each other, hence why you can see my friend Anthony's hand. XD He was just a friend, Gordon, I swear!

As you can see, kgb offers a wide selection of New Zealand and Australian beer, as well as some beer from a Taipei microbrewery. Since I had never had NZ beer before, I tried the Monteith's Radler. I liked it. :3 If you click on the photo you can enlarge it and squint at the menu--if you have good eyes you might be able to make out that they sell a number of non-alcoholic drinks as well, such as teas, milkshakes, and sodas. Anthony is drinking iced rooibos IIRC.

I ordered the CC Chicken Burger. The CC stands for "camembert and cranberry" which is apparently a popular combination on sandwiches in NZ. They also sold a CC Burger (you know, with cow meat). I paired it with a salad (what is up with me pairing fatty sandwiches with salads, honestly, who I am kidding) with their tangy house dressing. Incidentally, the quality of the veg on the sandwiches is no joke. No sad, pale iceberg at kgb.

Anthony ordered his burger with lime aioli. I'm afraid I didn't write down the name, but it was awesome. Er, yes, he let me have a bite. *shifty eyes*

I went again at a later time on the spur of the moment with my roommate, and at that time I ordered the same thing Anthony had. They were sold out of their New Zealand beers so I tried Victoria Bitter (resounding "yay") and a North Taiwan Brewing Co. version of a witbier (resounding "meh").

Also apparently putting beetroot and egg on your burger is a big NZ thing to do, and kgb has a version of that as its signature dish.

Name: kgb
Location: #5, Lane 114, Shida Rd, Taipei, Taiwan ROC (台北市大安區師大路114巷5號) (02) 2363-6015
Prices: NT$200-300 (US$6-9) for sandwiches with sides, imported beers from NT$100-150 ($3-4)
Service: Friendly--like many places in the area, the waitstaff seemed to all be students at the very nearby teacher's college. Your server will definitely be fluent in English and Mandarin. Menus have English on one side, Chinese on the other. No service charge.
Food: To my American taste buds, the combinations were unusual but refreshing. The burger itself wasn't quite as good as nearby Evans Burger, but the toppings more than made up for that.
Recommended?: Take someone you are MOST DEFINITELY NOT HAVING A SUMMER FLING WITH to kgb. He or she will love you for it. Platonically. *coughs*
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Let's get something out of the way first.

The Elbow Room is not the place for you if you object to:
1. Being called darling, honey and princess, no matter what your gender.
2. Having your ability to finish what you order questioned.
3. Cooking staff who drop the f bomb.
4. Having to refill your own coffee and get your own water.
5. Having to wait for a table.
6. Having to donate money to charity if you don't finish your food.

The Elbow Room is the place for you if you like:
1. Good-natured "abuse" that doesn't cross the line, IMHO. For example, they might accuse you of getting your outfit at Wal-Mart, but they won't call you a fat pig. It's kind of what a favorite but kind of rude uncle might say to you.
2. A huge menu with amusing descriptions.
3. Truly original dishes with fresh ingredients in large, delicious portions.
4. Looking at photographs of various celebrities who have eaten there.
5. Bantering with your waiter about things.

Those lists probably give you a good idea of the atmosphere of the Elbow Room. The Elbow Room has a gimmick, that's for sure: the waiters are friendly but they make fun of you. But even if it weren't for the gimmick, the Elbow Room would surely be popular because of the quality of the food and drinks served.

Our friend Naazia ordered the Rosemary omelet, which contained salmon, cream cheese, and green onions, cranberry sourdough for the side. Her drink was a blueberry milkshake. She asked our server, who was in fact the owner, whether she should get the milkshake or the smoothie (same price), and he said "Oh honey, get the milkshake!" XD

I got the B.C. Benny--two poached eggs, salmon, cream cheese and chives on an onion cheese bagel, covered in hollandaise sauce. I ordered the hashbrowns for an extra buck but tbh I would skip them, they were pretty ordinary. The Benny itself, however, was marvelous. Way better than ordinary eggs benedict.

Gordon ordered the 12" Savoury Big-Ass Pancake. Just look at that thing. It's huge and thick. Make your own dirty joke here (and if you don't, the servers will!). It's got bacon, cheese and sausage in it, and it's topped with butter and syrup. Do NOT order this thing if you have heart problems.

Gordon and I both got coffee, and the coffee is good, but like I said, they bring you the first cup, then you have to refill it yourself. If you want water, it's only free if you get up and get it yourself, otherwise they charge you.

The Elbow Room is only open for breakfast and lunch (until 4pm). If you want to try the amazing food, but aren't so into the banter, from what I saw, if you look uncomfortable or don't respond, the servers leave you alone. If you give it, then you'll get it. ^_^

Name: The Elbow Room
Location: 560 Davie St, Vancouver BC 604 685 3628
Prices: $10-20. Licensed.
Service: Ordinarily, a server saying "Make up your mind already!" and a cook saying "What the f***? That's not on our menu!" would be considered bad service, but in the Elbow Room, that's the charm. The service is really prompt considered how busy it is.
Food: Fantastic. A huge menu, with dishes you can't get anywhere else, in unusual combinations like a fruit omelet with bananas, kiwi, pineapple, cheese and pecans. There's also the old standbys like eggs and toast. The burgers are supposed to be really good as well, so I will have to go back there sometime when I'm in a lunch mood instead of a breakfast mood.
Recommended?: I probably wouldn't go here on a day where I was in a bad mood or feeling sensitive or thin-skinned. Otherwise it's a must-try.

Elbow Room on Urbanspoon
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The New Bohemian (subtitled "Local Restaurant and Social Lounge", I guess as opposed to restaurants that require out-of-province ID at the door and bars which cater to agoraphobics) sent me a card in the mail for $10 off. This is a good way to get me to try your restaurant because I am a sucker for coupons and sales. So, Gordon and I tripped over there.

The atmosphere is similar to a lot of recently opened high-end casual restaurants: lots of muted lighting and warm colors, hip music, couches for VIPs and their posses to crowd around, and at least one piece of bizarre decoration. In this case it's that "icon" sign you see to the right of the bar. What does it mean? Who knows?

Our waitress fit the scene to a T, with her stylish outfit that could have fit in perfectly at a club. She was friendly and gave me the frank advice that I had better not have the soup, because not many people order it during the summer so it's not as good. A quibble: we had to ask what the specials were, then we had to ask about drink specials, and finally I had to ask what the soup was (spurring her advice). Overall though she was excellent.

Drinks first. Gordon ordered the Bohemian Lager on tap, and I ordered a gin and tonic. Despite being a drink special, my gin and tonic didn't skimp on the gin. With my meal, I ordered a caipirinha, because I had never tasted cachaça before. Interestingly enough, although Gordon and I are often bitterly opposed on cocktails (he likes vodka, I like gin) we both really liked the caipirinha. COULD THIS DRINK BRING ABOUT WORLD PEACE? Possibly. We'll have to get a bourbon partisan and a scotch supporter to taste it, then we'll see.

For an appetizer, we ordered the 1/2 pound mussels and frites ($9), because Gordon had never tried mussels. We picked the leek and chardonnay sauce option for the mussels. I think the subtlety of the sauce was the perfect way to let the plump mussels shine. The frites were sprinkled with kosher salt, and although they were served with ketchup, we dipped them into the mussel sauce.

We had long debates about what to order for our meals. The New Bohemian uses organic meat and Ocean Wise seafood, "Ocean Wise" meaning that the Vancouver Aquarium approved of it in some fashion. After a number of rounds of "Well if you get that then I could get this, but if you get this I'll get this other thing," we decided on the grilled wild salmon sandwich for him ($14, plus $1.25 for yam frites instead of potato frites) and the slow-braised organic lamb shank for me ($20). Gordon asked for no tomatoes. Well, I asked. He didn't want to make a fuss. LOL.

His sandwich was great: two thick pieces of salmon steak with a splash of lemon aioli and some greens, served on a warm and crunchy ciabatta. And served with a truly enormous bowl of yam frites, with a curry mayo to dip them in. I don't know what's up with Vancouver and yam frites, but I can get behind it.

As soon as my plate got to me, I just sat and inhaled for about a minute, it smelled so good. The lamb was fork-tender and covered with a tangy tomato puree. The angelhair pasta's truffle cream sauce was low-key, yet it held its own against the strong flavors of the meat. I would have liked a few more veggies, but that's partly because the ones that were there were so tasty. :3

Gordon was still slightly hungry after we finished our main courses. We debated getting another food item or dessert, and finally decided to split a vanilla bean cheesecake ($6.50) and two signature coffees.

I was a little sad for our dessert. Real vanilla bean is such a lovely flavor. There was absolutely no need to smother the poor little vanilla bean cheesecake with raspberry and caramel sauces, not to mention the assertive flavor of graham cracker crust. I don't think that caramel and raspberry go together that well in the first place. The bites I enjoyed the most were the ones I got with only cheesecake on my fork. However, this might be another case of YMMV. Gordon remarked on how great the raspberry sauce was, and he used his fork to scrape up caramel and raspberry sauce when the cheesecake was gone.

Gordon told me his verdict was that this was a good place to impress a date. ^_^ He didn't really need to impress me, but I agree that this is a fun date place. I think it's especially a good place to try something new, either libations-wise or food-wise, but their more conventional offerings will please the hidebound. It's not a cheap place if you're drinking--our bill was about $86 (including tax, not including tip, not including our coupon). If you need a place to unwind after flipping another downtown condo, you could eat here regularly. The rest of us can have it as a special occasion. :)

I should also note that The New Bohemian is open nightly until 2am, and it advertises that its kitchen is open "late". How late is late, I don't know, but Vancouver's cardinal flaw in my eyes is that even restaurants are mostly closed by 10. I'm the kind of person who thinks life doesn't even begin until then. So if you're looking for something late night, this might be a place to try.

Name: The New Bohemian
Location: 3162 W. Broadway, Vancouver, BC 604.736.7576 (reservations recommended on Fridays and Saturdays)
Prices: $15-25/person for food, beers $4-7, cocktails $5-10, wines by the bottle $27 and up, wines by the glass $6.75-12.50
Service: The waiters may be cooler than you, but they won't be snooty. Attentive, friendly, and prompt. Food and drinks came out quickly. Restroom clean, but it looked like it was not wheelchair friendly (the toilet blocks the path to the sink).
Food: Contemporary Western fare done excellently with fresh, often organic ingredients. An inventive and skilled bartender offers old standbys and many intriguing new combinations, with champagne cocktails a specialty.
Recommended?: A special occasion and a wish for experimentation? Look no further.

The New Bohemian on Urbanspoon


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