First Look – 12 Kings Pub

Ah The Biltmore Hotel… It has been many things over the years. It currently serves as a social housing facility and is home to the Biltmore Cabaret and its newest tenant, 12 Kings Pub. 12 Kings is the love child of a bunch of Craft Beer fans who wanted to watch sports in a pub that had their favourite local breweries on tap. I remember drinking at The Locker Room, the bar that lived here prior to 12 Kings, while I was building the elevators across the street back in 2007. That place was a dump. After the Whitecaps disappointing home opener I headed over to 12 Kings to drown my sorrows.

12 Kings Pub

12 Kings Pub

The beer list is exactly what you would expect from a place run by former CAMRA Vancouver executives. They have 12 constantly changing taps pouring all things local and delicious. The also have 311 Helles Lager and a shot of Jameson on special from time to time if you like to walk in wobbly lines back to the Skytrain, at least that’s how I remember it.

The Hammer Burger

The Hammer Burger

To counteract the copious amounts of alcohol it takes to forget a loss to TFC I ordered The Hammer Burger. Nice house made patty, bacon, smoked Gouda, crispy onions, drunken mushrooms (whatever that means?) and the usual fixings. I don’t know what I was expecting from the food at 12 Kings but this was a tasty burger. It really surprised me to be honest. Yes, those are tater tots on the side, I highly recommend them. The only complaint I had was that the crispy onions were a little chewy and didn’t seem fresh.

The renovations have erased all signs of The Locker Room. The place is almost unrecognisable, in a good way.

12 Kings runs a shuttle bus to and from BC Place on Whitecaps game days, they offer a Southsiders discount, and they show all of the Whitecaps away games as well as Canucks, Lions, and whatever other sport you’re into.

Well done boys, you’ve found exactly what Vancouver was missing.

Twitter – @12KingsPub

Facebook – 12 Kings Pub

Web – 12kingspub.com

Scott.

 

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Win Tickets To Meat, Beer, and Cheese Night At The Portside Pub from WFLBC!

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Meat, beer, and cheese. These are three of my favourite things. On February 26th The Portside Pub in Gastown is having an event and you can win your way in with WFLBC!

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THE EVENT:​ The Portside Pub Presents… A Meat, Beer & Cheese Night Vol. 2
THE DATE: ​Thursday, February 26th – 8-9pm
THE LOCATION:​ The Portside Pub, 7 Alexander Street
THE EXPERIENCE: ​Hosted by Cheese Mongers & Parallel 49 at the “friendliest bar in
Vancouver”’, your ticket to the Meat, Beer & Cheese Night Vol. 2 includes a flight of 4
sample craft beers paired with a variety of cheeses and meats for your enjoyment.
SOCIAL MEDIA​: For more information, please follow: @ThePortsidePub on Twitter,
@ThePortsidePub on Instagram, The Portside Pub on Facebook and use hashtag
#PortsideMBC
RSVP:​on The Portside Pub’s Facebook Event Page
WEBSITE: ​www.theportsidepub.com
TICKETS:​$20 each through Ticketzone at http://goo.gl/Ku1kbU. $25 at the door
SPONSORS: ​Benton Brothers Fine Cheese, ​Parallel 49 Brewing Company, ​D Original
Sausage Company and Cheese Mongers.

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How do you win your way in? Simply tweet the following “I want meat, beer, and cheese @ThePortsidePub with @wflbc! #PortsideMBC” You can also post a picture of meat, beer, and cheese on Instagram. Make sure you tag @wflbc and @theportsidepub and use the hashtag #PortsideMBC so I can find it!

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The winner will be chosen on Wednesday, February 25th and your tickets will be waiting for you at the event. Portside is planning on making this a regular event. I’m going to get gout!

Scott.

 

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The Fat Cow and Oyster Bar

You’d think with all of the people who’ve recommended this place to me that I would have eaten here ages ago. I’m not sure why I didn’t, but that has been corrected. You’d also think that, as someone who eats at restaurants fairly regularly, I’d know that Valentine’s Day is the WORST day of the year to eat at a restaurant. Well, I couldn’t say “Oh I don’t want to go there. It’s Valentine’s Day” to Lyndsey unless I wanted to sleep on the side walk. Let’s see how it went.

Oysters with a side of oysters.

Oysters with a side of oysters.

The menu was a fixed 5 course affair with a palate cleanser thrown in for fun. First up we received 2 oysters on the half shell with chili watermelon mingnonette. We also ordered another half dozen oysters because oysters always need more oysters. Super fresh and perfectly shucked. The word “Oyster” is in their name for a good reason, these were fantastic.

Saffron and Hemp soup

Saffron and Hemp soup

Our second course was a deeply flavoured Saffron and Hemp soup with celery leaf, crouton, and chestnut salad. Earthy and rich while simultaneously being light and fresh. Great soup.

Fig and Walnut salad

Fig and Walnut salad

Course 3 was a Fig, Walnut, and Celery Leaf Salad with beets, blue cheese, prosciutto, and mint balsamic dressing. I’ll start by saying that I really dislike figs. That being said the rest of this salad was well thought out and very flavourful. Every item of the Valentine’s Day menu was made with romance in mind using ingredients known to be aphrodisiacs. Too bad I don’t like figs, according to the menu notes they “Stimulate lasting erections and delay climax.” Well, there you go.

Before the main courses arrived we were given a strawberry sorbet palate cleanser with balsamic reduction, mint, and lemon zest.

Honey glazed salmon

Honey glazed salmon

We each ordered a different main to share. Lyndsey ordered the Honey Glazed Pan Roasted Salmon with sous vide asparagus, roasted carrots, and muscles. An unpretentious dish that let the ingredients shine through without being overpowered by seasoning. The salmon was perfect, even the skin.

Roasted pork loin

Roasted pork loin

I ordered the Roasted Gelderman Farms Pork Loin with pomegranate reduction, sous vide asparagus, roasted carrots, and almond butter. I was given the option of adding a whole or half lobster. No one wants to look like a glutton so I went with the half… The pork was tender and juicy, It seemed like it had been brined? The reduction was great and had a complex sweet/savoury character. After I did the dirty work cracking open the claw Lyndsey promptly stole it. Valentine’s day etiquette violation, I would have offered it. Tasty, decadent dish.

Chocolate cake.

Chocolate cake.

Dessert came quickly after our mains were done. Chocolate Cake with Star Anise whipped cream, banana caramel, coconut cookie, and cardamom ice cream. Overall this was a good dessert but the anise whipped cream was a little overpowering.

Service was a little slow but that comes with the territory when you choose to forego chain restaurants for Valentine;s Day. I was very impressed with the food and atmosphere at The Fat Cow, I’ll definitely be back.

One final thought. I received a few comments about The Fat Cow from people not liking the location. The gist of most comments was “how can you have a fine dining restaurant in a strip mall in Langley”. Is The Fat Cow “fine dining”? It’s upscale but I don’t see it as fine dining. Does the location of a restaurant add to the flavour of the food, the quality of the ingredients, or the atmosphere of the room? No, it most certainly does not. The idea that a restaurant is better because it’s downtown or in a fancy neighbourhood is silly. Be happy that this oasis of quality exists in the desert of garbage that surrounds it. Places like The Fat Cow and Oyster Bar are rare. Tap Restaurant in South Surrey is another great example. Give these places a look, you’ll be glad you did.

Twitter – @FatCowOysterBar

Facebook – The Fat Cow And Oyster Bar

Instagram – @thefatcowoysterbar

World Wide Web – thefatcow.ca

Scott.

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The Old Spaghetti Factory, A Culinary Dinosaur.

It’s been years since I’ve eaten at The Old Spaghetti Factory (OSF for short, I’m lazy and that’s a long name…). I remember fresh sour dough bread, reasonably good American/Italian pasta dishes, and spumoni (Italian ice cream). Hayley and I had dinner at the OSF in Richmond during a recent “Awesome Dads” outing with my pal Allan and his daughter. The place was packed and there was a 30-40 minute wait for a table. Thankfully there’s a bowling alley next door with an arcade so the wait passed quickly.

"Bacon" Caesar

“Bacon” Caesar

Once seated we received our ubiquitous loaf of sour dough bread that comes with regular and garlic whipped butter. The only problem I found with the sour dough bread was that it was not sour dough… When did this happen?! It’s a loaf of white bread, not particularly fresh either. That’s fairly disappointing. I ordered a Bacon Caesar from their drink menu. Where do I start. The bacon garnish was of the “McCain Readycrisp” variety and had been sitting out a LONG time. It was pale, floppy, and disgusting. My straw kept getting clogged by something which, after some digging, turned out to be artificial bacon bits. Seriously, just a bunch of soy based crunchy garbage added to a drink for flavour? No thanks.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Next up was an appetizer sized Caesar Salad. Other than a few bits of brown Romaine the salad was ok. Store bought croutons, dressing not dissimilar to The Keg’s Caesar dressing you can buy at a grocery store. To be honest this is what most people would bring to a pot-luck/picnic.

Spaghetti with spicy meat sauce

Spaghetti with spicy meat sauce

My entrée was Spaghetti with Spicy Meat Sauce. You would think that having a restaurant with the word Spaghetti in the name would mean they would know how to cook spaghetti. You would be wrong. Mark, aka @TheLowerCrust on Twitter, provided that insight for me and added this gem when I asked my followers what they thought of OSF and their pasta;

The noodles seem like they were made days ago and reheated. The sauce is ok, slightly oily and not much spice for “spicy meat sauce”. The random parsley is almost pointless and looks as if it was put there by mistake.

For dessert I had spumoni that tasted like ice cream.

There you have it. No entrées over $13 might be the only thing that would get me to recommend this place. I apologise in advance to all of the tourists who end up at the OSF in Gastown because they don’t know any better. It’s not your fault.

Twitter – @OSFCanada

Facebook – Old Spaghetti Factory Canada

World Wide Web – oldspaghettifactory.ca

Scott.

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CFOX Does It Again…

Remember June 5th 2008? I’m sure you don’t, I’ll refresh your memory. Captain Scotty, part of the CFOX Jeff O’Neil morning show, dressed up in a beaver costume and tried to buy heroin on the Down Town East Side. It was broadcast live on air and it took less than 10 minutes for Scotty the beaver to score some Junk. Scotty, Jeff, and Charis (Charis is no longer with CFOX) were “suspended” later that day. This all happened right near the end of a ratings period and was clearly orchestrated.

Fast forward to yesterday and the CFOX/CKNW simulcast that everyone is talking about. I’m not here to debate the things they said on the air, I’m here to tell you that this was planned, that CKNW was in on it, and that Chris Gailus and Squire Barnes were in on it.

CKNW is owned by Corus, CFOX is owned by Corus. The CFOX morning show has asked these questions to countless local personalities/celebrities on the air, both male and female. One of those people was Chris Gailus. You see where this is going…

This is all a ratings ploy (for both stations) played out right before Christmas. The fact that Jeff, Scott, and Karen K are not back until early 2015 has nothing to do with the controversial simulcast, they take this time off every year for Christmas. Corus is playing it all up for ratings and I’m sure it’s working.

But let’s all freak out on Social Media, because that’s helping.

Scott.

 

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Quick Bite – Say Cheese Gourmet Grilled Cheeserie

Ah Fort Langley, the place should be crawling with hipsters but it somehow isn’t. Coffee roasters on every corner, pop-up shops, hand made chocolates, antique stores. Seriously, the hipsters will come as soon as they put in bike lanes and a decent transit system. Anywho, right beside “Gasoline Alley”, which isn’t really an alley and yes it has a coffee roaster, is Say Cheese Gourmet Grilled Cheeserie. Say Cheese is a tiny shop, like REALLY small. Thankfully Gasoline Alley has picnic tables and grilled cheese is a good candidate for walking and eating. Grilled cheese in many varieties, soups, beverages, that’s pretty much the whole menu. Each sandwich comes with a pickle and potato chips. I had the pepperoni pizza grilled cheese. Let’s see how that went.

Pepperoni Pizza Grilled Cheese

Pepperoni Pizza Grilled Cheese

From the pictures I’ve seen on the Say Cheese Facebook page I thought the pickle would be bigger. You can just see the top of it in the picture and there wasn’t much more hidden by the paper. The chips were good, nice and salty, thick cut regular potato chips. The sandwich had pepperoni, mozzarella, pizza sauce and some basil (I think).

A little thin...

A little thin…

Tasty, yes. I was expecting more girth based on the few pictures I’ve seen. The bread was nice, I can only assume it was from a local artisan bakery because there’s a few of them (hipsters, seriously go check out Fort Langley). The pepperoni seemed like grocery store brand name pizza pepperoni, the kind you buy in a resealable bag.

The Verdict

For $8 I expected more. The concept is good, the execution is lacking.

9199 Glover, Langley

Twitter – @FortSayCheese

Facebook – Say Cheese Fort Langley

World Wide Web – nope

Scott.

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Quick Bite – Estrella’s Montreal Deli and Cafe

The Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich, a Canadian icon. Greater Vancouver has a few places that make a decent version but there is one that stands above them all. Estrella’s in Langley is as close as it gets to being in Montreal. Hidden in plain sight on 200th street between Industrial Ave and Logan Ave, you’d drive right by Estrella’s if you didn’t know it existed. It is surrounded by automotive shops, industrial buildings and an oddly placed dentist office.

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Now that you know where it is open up your calender and make some time to check it out. The smoked meat sandwiches are the best around, by a wide margin. Most places in Vancouver make a sandwich with meat brought in from Montreal which tends to taste like it’s travelled in a truck across Canada. Other places make their own but it always comes out too salty. Estrella’s house made smoked meat is absolute perfection. Tender, juicy, flavourful without being too salty. You can order it lean (less fat) or marbled (more fat) just like they do it in Montreal. Obviously the full fat is tastier, the choice is yours.

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You can get poutine, grilled paninis, burgers, sandwiches, soups, espresso and speciality coffee. Nearly everything is house made from scratch. The poutine is outstanding.

Tired of mediocre smoked meat parading as the real thing? Go check out Estrella’s at 5932 200th street in Langley (There you go random Twitter guy who couldn’t Google the address yourself…)

Web – estrellasdeli.com

Scott.

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Pipelines, The Fight That No One Will Win.

Kinder Morgan, Trans Mountain, Northern Gateway, Keystone XL, all across North America these projects spark a lot of controversy. People are divided when it comes to support for oil pipeline projects. I’m going to tell you why everyone is right, and everyone is wrong.

Oil storage tanks on Burnaby Mountain. Photo - Vancouver Sun

Oil storage tanks on Burnaby Mountain. Photo – Vancouver Sun

Both projects deliver bitumen, a horribly dirty version of “oil” produced in Alberta’s infamous Tar Sands, to ports where they can be shipped abroad or to refineries where they will be processed into usable oil and gasoline. Alberta’s Tar Sands are a horrendous thing causing irreparable damage to the Athabasca Watershed, not to mention the insane amount of energy it takes to produce bitumen from tar sands. The scale of the Tar Sands in unfathomable to anyone who’s never seen them in person. They use more energy than most large North American cities and belch out pollution faster than anything in human history.

The Keystone XL pipeline will run through the USA (mostly) and there’s very little any Canadian can do about it. The only ones who could stop it would be Alberta and we all know that isn’t happening until they can’t afford to gas up their Hummers any more. The Trans Mountain Pipeline, which runs from Edmonton to Burnaby, is a pretty controversial thing around the GVRD. Kinder Morgan, who operates the pipeline, wants to run a second pipeline along side the original. I’m here to tell you that it can’t be stopped.

Photo - CKNW

Photo – CKNW

As long as Asia is growing they will have a need for Canadian oil. BC occupies the west coast of Canada so unfortunately that oil will be loaded on ships on our coast. The Canadian Government has morphed into an aggressive Petro State and as long as the oil flows and the cash keeps pouring in that will not change. The alternative to pipelines are trains and trucks, both vastly more dangerous and prone to accidents than pipelines. This is, sadly, a case of the lessor of 3 evils.

Until the world can shed its dependency on fossil fuels and make wind/solar/clean energy a viable option we have to take steps to limit damage caused by the use/transport of fossil fuels. I applaud everyone who is up on Burnaby Mountain standing up for what they believe in. I feel the same way as you do, until I remember that I’m typing this on a plastic keyboard (oil), which was transported by ship, train and truck (oil), and you’re probably reading it on your smartphone made in Asia which is powered by the fossil fuels you are fighting against. The tarps and polyester twine keeping the protesters dry, their plastic chairs, plastic signs, clothing, all made from the very thing they are protesting.

Kinder Morgan and the Trans Mountain Pipeline aren’t the problem. We are the problem.

Scott.

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Where Have All The Burgers Gone?

You may have noticed I haven’t been posting much to wflbc.com lately. Maybe you didn’t notice, I won’t lose any sleep over it. The fact is this site has become a bit of a chore. I used to look forward to writing and I used to worry if I hadn’t posted anything for more than 2 or 3 days. Before I wrote about Famoso Pizzeria last week I hadn’t written anything for over a month. I didn’t know it had been that long until I logged in to upload some photos. I  still enjoy writting and I don’t plan on shutting it down but I’m not going to post unless I really feel like it. There are a few new adventures that occupy most of time now and I’d like to share them with you.

The first is civic politics. I am quite active on social media through @SurreyIsTheBomb breaking down mayoral candidates platforms through inappropriate memes and asking them uncomfortable questions. Their responses have shown their true character and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Civic politics impacts the people of a city more so than any other level of government. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for but I hope you research the candidates and cast an informed vote on November 15th.

The other thing that’s become a true passion is photography. Street and architecture photography are my main focus but I love taking pictures of anything and everything. I share my pictures through Flickr and Instagram, Please follow if you like what you see. Back in May my family bought me a Fuji X-A1 mirrorless camera for my birthday. This little beauty cost $399 and came with a 16-50mm OIS lens. It’s small, light, and very versatile. I inherited some old lens from my mom and I use them on this camera with the help of inexpensive lens adapters. I take a lot of pictures with my smartphone too. It’s a Nexus 5 and I love it. I’m able to share this time with my daughter and teach here about her city, the environment, and photography. Here’s a few of my favourites from Instagram and Flickr.

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Does this mean I’m not going to write about restaurants any more? No way! I love food and I plan on writing about it on my terms. I opt out of most menu tasting invites or new restaurant previews I get invited to these days. They don’t offer a fair view of the subject, it’s all the absolute best that you’ll ever get in those situations which is quite often not reality. I do the ones that interest me and I go as an individual diner but mostly I just go out and eat without anyone knowing I’m there and write about it without the guilt or influence of free food and drink. That being said I am going to a beer launch and a vodka/gin launch this week… I am human after all. You can still follow me on Twitter @WFLBC, but please don’t turn into a creepy stalker, ok?

Thanks for reading. Remember to vote. Take pictures of cool stuff. Include your loved ones in activities you’re passionate about.

Scott.

 

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Quick Bite – Gyoza Bar + Ramen

Aburi Restaurants Canada operates 2 of Vancouver’s favourite Japanese restaurants, Yaletown’s Minami and Miku in Coal Harbour/Gastown (it’s on the boarder…). Their newest spot is Gyoza Bar + Ramen located at 622 West Pender street between Seymour and Granville. Minami and Miku are consistently outstanding and the buzz accompanying the news of a new Aburi restaurant was palpable during the summer. I paid Gyoza Bar a lunchtime visit the first week they were open back in September.

Gyoza Bar + Ramen

Gyoza Bar + Ramen

Due to the hype and the fact that I was working I decided to go right when they opened the doors at 11:30. There was roughly 10 people already waiting outside and 10-20 people behind me when the doors opened. I was seated at the window which suited me just fine as the natural light is great for food pictures. I ordered the Umami Lunch Duo, 7 piece pork teppan gyoza and a medium ramen for $17. I opted for the pork tonkotsu ramen with aburi pork char siu and tamago with the Fraser Valley pork teppan gyoza.

Pork Tepan Gyoza

Pork Teppan Gyoza

The gyoza are cooked in a traditional cast iron pan which adds a crispy outer goodness that run of the mill gyoza can’t come close to. They are filled with barley fed pork and come with a spicy garlic soy sauce and an umami soy sauce for dipping. The spicy garlic sauce is the way to go, it’s fantastic. These gyoza are very, very good.

Pork Tonkotsu Ramen

Pork Tonkotsu Ramen

The ramen, while a little on the small side, is equally as tasty. Rich, salty broth, tender pork, orgasmic egg, great noodles. Basically heaven in a bowl. $17 is a little more than I like to spend on lunch but I left full and happy.

The rest of the lunch menu looks great with a 4 ramen options, 3 gyoza options, 2 sandwiches, and 2 desserts. The dinner menu expands things a bit and the drink menu offers up some nice Sake, Japanese whisky, Shochu, a few nice wines, and even some craft beer!

Gyoza Bar + Ramen. The hype is justified.

Scott.

Twitter – @GyozaBarRamen

Instagram – @aburirestaurants

Facebook – gyozabarramen

World Wide Web – gyozabar.ca

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