Sabatino’s Trattoria and Bar

I don’t eat at Italian restaurants in this town because most of them are awful. There are exceptions to every rule though, and Sabatino’s in South Surrey is actually pretty great. My Twitter pal Jeremy, who works at Sabatino’s, asked me if I wanted to come down and give their menu a try a few weeks ago. I haven’t been to Peninsula Village, the strip mall that Sabatino’s calls home, in a LONG time. The Starbucks is now a Papa Murphy’s. Hampton’s, a sports bar I used to be a regular at, is now Cora. In other news I’m old and change scares me.

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Let’s get to the food. First up I had the Arancini di Riso. Sicilian deep-fried risotto rolls, stuffed with spinach & mozzarella served with marinara sauce. As risotto balls go these were really nice. Creamy, crispy on the outside, hot, rich, and seasoned perfectly. The marinara was on point too. Did I mention they have Fat Tug IPA? Ya, they do, in 650ml bombers. Risotto balls and IPA are a tasty combo.

Inside the balls.
This is what the Risotto balls look like right before you burn your eye.

Next I had Insalata Sabatino’s, romaine lettuce, crumbled goranzolla cheese, crispy prosciutto, red onions, served with Sabatino’s “signature house dressing”. What a great refresher after the rich risotto. Crisp, fresh romaine, salty prosciutto, I really liked this simple salad.

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For my main Jeremy recommended the Chicken Piccata, chicken breasts with capers and lemon butter, herb roasted potatoes, and veggies. I don’t think this dish will win any plating awards but who cares. What it lacks in presentation it makes up for in flavour. The sauce was rich with a citrus note that worked with the capers. The potatoes and veg were, well, potatoes and veg. Nothing earth shattering there. The chicken itself was cooked just right, not too dry. I’d order this again.

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Dessert was a WFLBC favourite, Crème Brûlée. As most of you know if there’s Crème Brûlée on a menu it’s going to end up in my mouth. This was a fairly average version of my favourite dessert that had been made sometime earlier and refrigerated. I’d rather have it fresh with the caramelized sugar still hot and the custard a little more “loose” from the torch. You can’t win them all.

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Overall Sabatino’s is very good and I’d recommend it to anyone craving Italian. Also having some decent beer on the menu helps, put that Fat Tug on tap and South Fraser Beer Club will put you on their list!

Twitter – @gm_sabatinos

Facebook – Sabatinos-Trattoria

Web – sabatinostrattoria.com

Scott.

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Washington Avenue Grill

White Rock’s Washington Avenue Grill, known to locals as The WAG, bills itself as an upscale casual dining restaurant. I have no idea what “upscale casual” is so let’s just slide right past that and get to the good stuff. Located at the east end of White Rock Beach The WAG is one of very few restaurants in the area that is actually on the water side of Marine Drive. The views are top shelf, there’s live music most nights, and there’s lots of free parking. The WAG has been around for years but this was my first visit.

Ahi Tuna Carpaccio
Ahi Tuna Carpaccio

 

I started with their Ahi Tuna Carpaccio, Shaved raw Ahi Tuna, cucumber ginger salsa, wasabi soy, wonton crisps. The Tuna was paper thin, fresh, and very tasty. The wasabi soy dressing added a nice salty heat and the wonton crisps added some much appreciated texture.

Surf and Turf
Surf and Turf

For my main I had the Sunday special, Surf and Turf for $22.99. A 10oz Flat Iron steak with prawns, garlic mashed potatoes, grilled veggies and a crab bearnaise sauce. The presentation of this dish is kind of off putting. The steak is sort of half on top of the potatoes making an odd beef ski hill for the copious amounts of crab bearnaise sauce to slalom down ending up in a pool at the side of the plate. You have to deconstruct it in order to eat it but once you do all of the pieces are tasty and well executed. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare and I’m a big fan of flat iron steaks. The texture is a little tough due to how it’s cut (with the grain) but when cooked properly it’s a great piece of beef. The bearnaise sauce was good but there was WAY too much of it. The prawns, potatoes and veggies were all quite good.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

For dessert our waitress recommended the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. It was everything I hoped it would be. Rich, sweet, salty, amazing. I’d recommend this to anyone.

There’s a pinkish hue to all of these pictures due to the candle on the table and some holiday lighting near my table. I could’ve used my flash but it wasn’t that kind of night. The service was outstanding, the live music was good (I usually hate live music at restaurants) and the prices are pretty comparable to other places on Marine Drive.

Would I go back? Maybe, free parking is great, being right along the water is a plus and they have a couple of craft beers in bottles on the menu. There are other places in White Rock with more modern décor and modern menus, the WAG feels a little dated but overall I would say it’s worth a try if you’ve never been.

Scott.

 

Celebrate Oktoberfest all month long with the Joseph Richard Group

October, the one month of the year where I can drink every day of the week because of those crazy Germans and Oktoberfest! The other 11 months I try and keep it to 7 days a week. Every Tuesday in October The Hemingway Public House, located right on the strip in White Rock, is having their very own Beerfest!  With beer from 9 breweries including Hoyne, Central City, Elysian, New Belgium, Parallel 49, Hacker Pschorr, and Schneider Weiss you can guarantee that you’ll see me there at least once this month.

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All Joseph Richard Group pubs are celebrating with awesome beer features everyday! Check out this handy calendar and plan your month wisely, October only comes around once a year! Don’t forget, CAMRA members get awesome perks (aka discounts…) so sign up!

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Twitter – @WEAREJRG

Facebook – WEAREJRG

Interwebzzz – jrgvancouver.ca

Scott.

What’s new at Surrey’s fabulous Tap Restaurant

It always makes me smile when I mention Tap Restaurant in conversation with someone who lives outside of Surrey. When I start describing Tap the envy washes over them, it’s a hidden gem in every sense. I first wrote about Tap WAY back in January of 2012 and it’s been one of my favourites ever since. Tap had a little get together recently to promote some new things they’re doing and they were nice enough to invite me out to see what they’re up to.

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The night was filled with delicious tapas paired with exceptional wines. The tapas were some of the items featured in their Events Package which is really great for anyone looking to have an event in Surrey who wants something nicer than a pub or community hall, the usual options. They are experts in planning and executing special events like weddings, rehearsal dinners, corporate dinners, fundraising, bridal & baby showers and they even offer in home dinner parties.

Tap is a great room with a warm, inviting atmosphere tucked away in quiet suburbia. A true oasis in a desert of chain restaurants. If you’d like to know more about Tap’s Event Program give them a call at 604-536-1954 or shoot them an email at taprestaurant@gmail.com

I’m going to post all the pictures of my tapas now so you can drool and wish they weren’t just pictures on a computer screen. Enjoy!

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Twitter – @TapRestaurant

Facebook – Tap Restaurant

Internets – taprestaurant.ca

Scott

Fundraising with the Joseph Richard Group is awesome

Fundraising is something that most pubs do for various organizations. Sponsoring local amateur sports teams or having Pub Night fundraisers for various causes is quite common around the Lower Mainland. The Joseph Richard Group has taken this tradition and reinvented it to be easier, more flexible and just plain better.

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You can fund raise for whatever you want and they’ll donate 10% of your groups purchases to the organization/cause of your choice. Here’s how it works:

• A 10% rebate on all purchases made by any member of the team or company over the duration of the agreed upon time frame.

• Management and main contact person will establish the duration for the season.

• JRG will supply each member of the team/company with a personalized key tag to present on each visit to JRG. each key tag will state the team name and expiry date

• JRG commits to maintaining a detailed ledger on site at all times that will record each and every purchase made by team members. the ledger will contain: team captain/main contact person name and contact info, date/name/amount spent, initials by JRG staff and team member for every purchase made, and copies of every receipt.

• JRG will also commit to allocating an additional 10% of the total spend, to a maximum of $500, towards an ‘end of season’ / ‘wrap up party’.

• JRG will also provide a complimentary ‘JRGmvp’ trophy during the end of season party if executed.

• For regular fundraising ‘pub nights’, JRG will provide the design and print costs of any tickets needed, provided they are within the template of the current fundraiser ticket design. details of such events will have to be discussed and confirmed by the team captain and management at JRG.

• Rebate dollars can be paid out at any time with a minimum 72 hours notice. rebates can only be approved for disbursement by the documented team captain/main contact and senior management at JRG. rebates will be paid out in the form of a company cheque.

But here’s where it gets really cool. Say you like to raise money for a specific charity. For example. I like to raise money for Variety and other children’s charities. Sign up with JRG, get a whole bunch of key tags to give to your friends and family (or Twitter followers or whoever) and BOOM, you’re raising money for charity every time you or your friends hang out at a JRG establishment. For me it’s Edith & Arthur in Fleetwood because it’s within walking distance and they have Fat Tug IPA on tap. Win, win, win.

Also this is in no way a sponsored post, I just think this is awesome and I plan to do good things with it! WFLBC/Variety key tag anyone?

Find a JRG location near you at jrgvancouver.com, follow them on Twitter @WEAREJRG and on Facebook at facebook.com/WEAREJRG.

Scott.

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Photo credit – JRG

Beast and Brine

The Beast is here
The Beast is here

A few months ago I told you about Beast and Brine, a cool charcuterie and cheese (and a million other things) shop that was set to open in South Surrey just up the road from Crescent Beach. Well guess what? They’ve been open for awhile now and it has become a weekend ritual for my daughter and I to visit and stock up for the week ahead. Sausages, high end cold cuts, the best bacon in Greater Vancouver, specialty cheeses, a sandwich counter and much much more. This kind of product used to be the exclusive domain of Granville Island Public Market vendors and a few hidden gems around Vancouver. A lot of their product is made in house by Uli’s Restaurant Executive Chef Ryan Bissell who is a co-owner along with Uli’s owner Tyson Blume.

Words to live by
Words to live by

The staff is incredible and it’s always buzzing in the shop with happy customers eagerly awaiting their meaty treasures to take home and brag about to their friends, it’s that good. Check out some photos I’ve taken over the last few weeks, they’ll make you want to drop whatever you’re doing and drive to Beast and Brine. It’s ok, I would too. Kudos to Tyson, Ryan and the whole Beast and Brine team for totally living up to my ridiculous expectations. I love this place.

Added bonus – Fieldstone Artisan Breads is right next door – food heaven. After you’ve looked at the pics there’s a list of my “WFLBC must buys” at Beast and Brine at the bottom of the page.

Stuff from my first visit
Stuff from my first visit
Buffalo Brats
Buffalo Brats
Heritage Bacon (The BEST)
Heritage Bacon (The BEST)
Pickles and sauerkraut
Pickles and sauerkraut
Delicious craft sodas
Delicious craft sodas
Amazing Avonlea clothbound cheddar
Amazing Avonlea clothbound cheddar
Charcuterie
Charcuterie
Cheese porn
Cheese porn

Twitter – @BeastAndBrine

Facebook – Beast & Brine

Interwebz – www.beastandbrine.com

WFLBC Must Buys

Heritage Bacon, Double smoked bacon, Frikadelle, Porchetta, Bavarian Meatloaf, The famous Uli’s hot dog (!), Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar (when it’s in stock), Phillip’s Soda Work’s Captain Electro Intergalactic Root Beer.

Scott.

My second love, buildings, bridges and public spaces

I love many things in this world, my family is obviously first on the list. My second love may come as a surprise to some, unless you read the title. Buildings, bridges, public spaces, I love architectural design, industrial design and well planned neighbourhoods. A beautiful building or bridge is like art soaring into the sky or spanning a body of water, well planned public spaces energise the streets, bring foot traffic to local businesses and inspire families to move into urban areas.

Whenever I have the chance I take pictures of my favourite places using my Smartphone (Sony X12)  and Instagram. I’ve gathered up some of my favourites and wanted to share them with you.

1500 West Georgia, Vancouver.
1500 West Georgia, Vancouver.
Central City Tower, Surrey
Central City Tower, Surrey
Alexandria Bridge, Fraser Canyon near Hell's Gate
Alexandria Bridge, Fraser Canyon near Hell’s Gate
Athletes Village main square, Vancouver
Athletes Village main square, Vancouver
BC Place looking towards Mount Baker, Vancouver
BC Place looking towards Mount Baker, Vancouver
Burrard Street Bridge, Vancouver
Burrard Street Bridge, Vancouver
English Bay and the West End, Vancouver
English Bay and the West End, Vancouver
Georgia Street, Vancouver
Georgia Street, Vancouver
Granville Street Bridge and False Creek
Granville Street Bridge and False Creek
White Rock Pier, White Rock
White Rock Pier, White Rock

 

Granville Island, rust can be beautiful, Vancouver
Granville Island, rust can be beautiful, Vancouver
Granville Street Bridge, Vancouver
Granville Street Bridge, Vancouver
Harbour Centre and Hastings Street, Vancouver
Harbour Centre and Hastings Street, Vancouver
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, Vancouver
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, Vancouver
Lonsdale Quay looking across Burrard Inlet, North Vancouver
Lonsdale Quay looking across Burrard Inlet, North Vancouver
Main Street, Whistler Village
Main Street, Whistler Village
Manhattan Apartments at Robson and Thurlow, Vancouver
Manhattan Apartments at Robson and Thurlow, Vancouver
Queensborough with the Alex Fraser Bridge in the distance, New Westminster
Queensborough with the Alex Fraser Bridge in the distance, New Westminster
Robson Square and the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver
Robson Square and the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver
Saint Paul's Hospital, Vancouver
Saint Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver
The DTES as seen from the Sun Tower, Vancouver
The DTES as seen from the Sun Tower, Vancouver

 

The Electra, Vancouver
The Electra, Vancouver

 

The Qube, Vancouver
The Qube, Vancouver

 

Tynehead Regional Park, Surrey
Tynehead Regional Park, Surrey

 

Vancouver Public Library main branch, Vancouver
Vancouver Public Library main branch, Vancouver

 

White Rock Beach pier, White Rock
White Rock Beach pier, White Rock

 

 

Grab your smartphone or camera and take some pictures of your favourite places, it’ll make you appreciate the place we call home and you might find something great that you didn’t know was so close to you.

Scott.

WFLBC sneak peek. Beast & Brine is coming!

The beast is coming
The beast is coming

Tucked away beside South Surrey’s Fieldstone Artisan Breads is an empty store front with it’s windows papered over. Inside this space the team behind White Rock’s Uli’s Restaurant is creating something amazing. Beast & Brine is coming and it can’t get here soon enough for me.

Beast&Brine

Specializing in Charcuterie and speciality cheeses, Beast & Brine is like nothing else in the Fraser Valley, in fact it’s the first shop of it’s kind in Greater Vancouver bringing a truly European style Charcuterie shop to the masses.

The team
The team

Cured meats, sausage, pates and more made in house by some of the most talented people I know,  speciality cheeses brought in from Quebec which aren’t available anywhere else in BC and the bacon, oh god the bacon. If you’ve eaten at Uli’s you know about their bacon, soon you’ll be able to buy it and take it home!

The best window in town
The best window in town

The equipment is on it’s way, top of the line stuff. A smokehouse, a Sous Vide kettle,  meat grinders, sausage makers and so much more. Custom coolers, one with a window that faces out to the retail area so everyone can see the product in the making. Add this all to great branding, from the logos to hats and t-shirts, everything with a funky old time feel. The team behind it is a fantastic group of people, if anyone can make this a success it’s them.

Follow their progress on Facebook (www.facebook.com/beastandbrine) and keep an eye on their website (www.beastandbrine.com) which should be launching soon. You should also follow Uli’s renowned chef Ryan Bissell (@chefbissell) and Uli’s Restaurant (@ulis_restaurant) on twitter, they’re the reason this little piece of heaven exists. Opening time is tentatively planned to be the end of January or the beginning of February. Stay tuned for more details.

Scott.

White Rock Beach

White Rock Beach is a great place to spend a Sunday in October, especially when it’s sunny and 20 degrees outside. A walk along the strip followed by another walk to the end of the pier and back, a perfect afternoon. White Rock is over flowing with great places to eat, cool little shops and cafes and great spots to take stunning pictures. If you’re there when the tide goes out you can walk for miles on the beach exploring tide pools filled with sea life. You can watch fishermen catch flounders and crab off the pier. There’s so much to see and do.

Uli’s veggie burger
The Uli burger, the best burger in the GVRD

 

After our walk around we headed to Uli’s for lunch. I’ve written about Uli’s before (Check it out here!) and I still say they have the best burger in Vancouver along with one of the best craft beer menus. This time along with the Uli burger we tried the Mac & Cheese and the Veggie burger. The Mac & Cheese is great, very rich and creamy with a sharp cheddar flavour. The Veggie burger is outstanding, so much so that I would order it for myself even though I love meat more than most things in life. Uli’s menu is mostly gluten free so it’s a great place for folks with a gluten allergy to enjoy great food. Another feather in Uli’s cap is their consistency. Seeing as it was Thanksgiving Sunday Owner Tyson, Chef Ryan and Manager David had all taken the day off yet the food, service and staff were all exactly the same as my last visit. Some of my favourite restaurants are noticeably different when the bosses aren’t around, the food quality and service standards slip, but not Uli’s. Well done guys.

Check out all the pictures we took!

Scott.

My daughter loves Uli’s too

Mt. Baker

There were lots of Flounders swimming near the pier.
The actual “White Rock”.

My family

 

 

 

 

Uli’s Restaurant in White Rock

Uli’s Restaurant has the best burger in Vancouver, end of story. Pretty bold way to start a post but it’s a fact. Uli’s has been a fixture at White Rock Beach since 1986 and is situated right along the beach directly across from the famous pier. Uli’s reminds me of Abigail’s Party, one of my all time Vancouver favourites, with it’s great ambiance, friendly service and fantastic food and beverage menus.

I started out with the buttermilk marinated calamari with tzatziki  and chilli flakes. The squid was tender and the buttermilk gave the flavour a creamy quality which balanced out the mild heat of the chilis. I also think I detected a hint of curry powder somewhere in the dish, a very nice addition.

Next up was the house made (HOUSE MADE!) hot dog. Yes you read that right, they make their own hot dogs in house. The casing had a nice snap to it and the flavour of the dog was great. It really is somewhere between a hot dog, a smokie and a sausage but it’s fantastic. I had mine with mayo, grainy mustard and diced white onions with a side of golden crispy onion rings.

After that I tackled the Special of the night, Halibut in a clam and chorizo broth, it was kind of like a bouillabaisse done as an entrée with big protein feature, the halibut, instead of lots of small stuff in broth. The Halibut was great, very fresh and the broth was outstanding, tons of flavour and very well balanced.

Now, the burger. Simply called the Uli Burger it is a house made patty and comes with burnt onion relish and smoked cheddar on an amazing challa bun. Of course  you all know I added bacon, if I didn’t it just wouldn’t be me. It’s house made bacon too, so good. The burger patty is packed with flavour, it has great texture and it’s as juicy as…well I can’t say that here this blog is pg13 (mostly). The onion relish, smoked cheddar and bacon make a delicious trio to accompany the patty, the bacon is awesome and I’d love to try some on its own, you know, for research. The fries were good but the burger, like I said it’s the best burger in the GVRD, probably in BC.

To top things off Uli’s has an incredible craft beer menu and I had a few Elysian Idiot Sauvin IPA’s and a few more La Chouffe Begian style pale ales. Owner Tyson, Manager David and Chef Ryan are are awesome guys who get what running a restaurant is all about, The food, the room, the attitude and the drinks make a for an unforgettable night out.

Follow them on Twitter @Ulis_Restaurant (Tyson) @aliquidfish (David) and @chefbissell (Ryan)

Check them out online at ulisrestaurant.com and most importantly get yourself down to White Rock! I seriously might make this a semi regular spot, which is something I don’t ever do, it’s that good.

Scott.