PiDGiN Restaurant – Everything you’ve heard is right, and wrong.

PiDGiN, it's more than a video clip on the 6 o'clock news.
PiDGiN, it’s more than a video clip on the 6 o’clock news.

It’s safe to say that most of you have heard of PiDGiN. If you haven’t I’ll assume you are a Quaker who eschews television and the internet. PiDGiN has been the target of anti-gentrification protests since it opened. The thing that I’ve never understood is why PiDGiN was targeted over other places nearby. There are lots of restaurants and bars serving food and drinks that are most likely unattainable to some locals but they’ve been largely left alone. I’m not here to figure it out but I can weigh in on PiDGiN and its menu.

Nikka Yoichi 10 year single malt.
Nikka Yoichi 10 year single malt.

First things first, what’s on the drink menu? I can tell you this, they have an impressive selection of Japanese Whisky and that makes me happy. The cocktail list is long, varied and interesting, and they have wine on tap. My beer nerd pals can choose from a few P49 bottles as well.

Potatoes with spicy cod roe and seaweed butter
Potatoes with spicy cod roe and seaweed butter

The food menu is an east meets west affair with a preference for Japanese style dishes melded seamlessly with classic western techniques. The first dish to arrive was a riff on udon using long shredded potatoes cooked al dente with spicy cod roe and seaweed butter. mix it all together and you have a textural masterpiece. The slightly firm texture of the potato is an unexpected treat. The seaweed butter and spicy cod roe provided a not overly salty backbone with a hint of the ocean.

Shishito peppers with parmesan and pine nuts
Shishito peppers with parmesan and pine nuts

Next to arrive was a bowl of roasted shishito peppers with grated parmesan and toasted pine nuts. 90 percent of these peppers are harmless but one in every 10 has a pretty awesome hit of mouth burning amazingness. Now stay with me hear as I try to describe the flavour. You know the way a movie theatre smells? The scent of popcorn and sweet candy? That’s what this tastes like. I’m being serious. It’s good.

Parisienne gnocchi with radishes, radish green pistou, and buttermilk ricotta
Parisienne gnocchi with radishes, radish green pistou, and buttermilk ricotta

This dish, gnocchi, takes a hard left turn from the east/west love affair, but not in a way that upsets the flow of the menu. The gnocchi are fairly large, fresh, warm, and tender. This a a relatively simple dish constructed in a way that elevates every ingredient. The peppery radish and mild ricotta are a great companion to the gnocchi.

Vitello Tonnato - Veal and Albacore tuna with fried egg emulsion and togarashi
Vitello Tonnato – Veal and Albacore tuna with fried egg emulsion and togarashi

Next up was “Vitello Tonnato”, Veal carpaccio, albacore tuna, fried egg emulsion and togarashi (chilli pepper). Veal is a no go for a lot of folks and I get that. I am not one of those folks, judge me accordingly. The raw albacore and veal were a silky combo with the egg adding richness and flavour. A very nice dish all around. The veal seems slightly unnecessary though. Using a high quality beef that isn’t veal would open this dish up to a wider audience and the dish wouldn’t suffer at all. That’s my 2 cents.

Pan roasted halibut, cauliflower puree, pine nut raisin agrodulce
Pan roasted halibut, cauliflower purée, pine nut raisin agrodulce

Finally I had the Pan roasted halibut with cauliflower purée and pine nut raisin agrodulce. Halibut is a conundrum. It was, until fairly recently, an inexpensive fish but marketing and trends have pushed it to another level. Halibut IS a great fish and this preparation is outstanding. The sear is spot on and the slight sweet/sour character from the agrodulce is a nice touch. Cauliflower purée is the new mashed potato and I’m a big fan.

PiDGiN is the real deal. The protests have seemingly stopped and the place was packed and buzzing with happy customers when I was there. Kudos to owner Brandon Grossuti and his staff for persevering, most business owners would’ve given up long ago. I’ll definitely be back.

Twitter – @pidginvancouver

Instagram – pidginyvr

Web – pidginvancouver.com

Facebook – pidginvancouver

Scott.

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Breakfast at Acme Cafe

The Downtown Eastside, a good breakfast and running into old friends. When you get all those things in one place you must be somewhere great! I love the DTES, it has an energy unmatched anywhere else in Vancouver. I know it has its share of troubles but you have to look past the obvious flaws, there’s so much good happening and so many amazing, misunderstood people trying to figure out where they fit into a city that has become completely unaffordable for them. Gentrification is an issue for another post but the restaurant scene in the DTES is growing and quickly becoming the place to be for Vancouver’s food lovers.

Baked egg scramble
Baked egg scramble

Acme Cafe has been around for awhile but this my my first visit and who do I run into? The uber handsome Dylan Redekop, Mr. morethanafeelingmusic.com himself! He was having breakfast with Tiffany (who I also know) and Brad ( who I now know). Small world. I love the look of Acme, an updated version of an old style diner. I ordered the Baked Egg Scramble, sun dried tomatoes and goat cheese baked into eggs. The eggs were laying on a bed of shredded red skin potatoes and some sauteed mushrooms (shiitake I believe). Everything was high quality, very fresh and delicious. Even the multi grain toast was great (fresh bread) and the little cup of fruit salad was filled with juicy, firm, fresh fruit.

Acme Cafe is a winner, I’ll definitely be back.

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.

Roaming Dragon menu launch at District 319

The Roaming Dragon is the rock star of the Vancouver food truck scene and has been on quite the roll since I first met the team a couple years back. They’ve recently brought Chef Tina Fineza on in a consulting role to update and relaunch their menu on both the street food and catering sides of their business. A bold move for something that was already a success but Jason Apple and Jory Simkin. Roaming Dragon co-owners, are always looking to improve and grow their empire on wheels.

The venue for this relaunch was District 319 on Main St between Hastings and Cordova, not a part of town I frequent but the space was super cool with Asian inspired décor that suited the event perfectly. The new food was a big hit as was their well known basil lychee lemonade with a shot of vodka added for adults only. This event really showed what an awesome job these guys do with their catering business.

It’s always great to see Jason and Jory, they’re really great people. Check them out for your next event! catering@roamingdragon.com

Scott.

Save On Meats

I’m a little late to the party on this one but hey, I’m a busy guy. Save On Meats is a Vancouver landmark located in the heart of the Downtown East Side, a neighborhood that I don’t frequent due to a pathological fear of bedbugs… After 52 years of serving the people of Vancouver the original meat market closed down in 2009 so owner Al DesLauriers could retire. This past June Save On Meats was resurrected by local businessman and restaurateur Mark Brand. Now operating as a diner, street side sandwich counter and meat market I was pretty excited to see what all the fuss was about.

The sandwich counter is closed on the weekend so I ventured into the diner to get some takeout, the obvious choice being “The Burger”, a $6 bacon cheeseburger with a side of fries. This burger has garnered a ton of positive press and the hype is warranted. Sharp cheddar, thick cut bacon, a fresh hand formed beef patty on a fresh bun with butter lettuce, tomato, mayo and relish, perfect combo. The fries were really tasty too, not the best ever but good. $6 is a crazy good deal for this food, try and find something this good for this little anywhere, you won’t.

The atmosphere in the diner is awesome, a good feeling in an otherwise bleak area. I was asked if I was a cop on my way out the door by a local who seemed to be intoxicated but I’m sure he was just tired from being up all night walking around… If I know most of my readers as well as I think I do I would guess that 70% of you will never go to Save On Meats simply because of its location. Don’t worry about the neighborhood, it’s coming around and places like the new and improved Save On Meats are the key to making the DTES a place worth visiting again.

Scott.