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.

 

Advertisements

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.

10809781_815247161870683_1153088980_n

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.

10809875_673892336058896_231137952_n

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.

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.

DSCF1539 15174888315_e01d7268cd_o 15108551032_9bd05fcbd6_o 14929168676_b6e39814e2_o 14695676545_0008ac294c_o 14314630261_13e15e9858_o 10731714_1475357962752947_732085872_n DSCF1583 927461_567504773379567_808064639_n 10724035_349533988544956_366227827_n 10724804_324926714345790_133270745_n 10727501_1479993215608732_1629228028_n

 

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.

 

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.

Milltown Bar and Grill

Did you know that there’s a part of Richmond located in the middle of the Fraser River that you can only access from Marpole? There’s a tiny Island called Richmond Island located on Musqueam land that is part of a development called Milltown. There’s a new Bar and Grill at 9191 Bentley Street, which is the home of Milltown Marina. Milltown Bar and Grill is pretty damn cool.

Milltown Bar and Grill
Milltown Bar and Grill

Milltown sits just north of the Vancouver International Airport and has an incredible view of the north runway. More on that later. There’s a rotating craft beer tap, currently Hoyne Devil’s Dream IPA, and a small selection of craft bottles to keep my beer nerd pals happy. The Devil’s Dream was pouring beautifully and was the perfect companion to sunshine and plane watching on the south patio. There’s another patio on the north side that overlooks the marina, they’re both good choices if you like to sit outside.

Hoyne Devil's Dream IPA
Hoyne Devil’s Dream IPA

The menu is a classic west coast bar and grill line-up with all the usual suspects along with some non traditional items like Butter Bhicken, Halibut Tacos, and Salmon Wellington. I opted for the Freighter Burger, a house made all beef patty with Pale Ale BBQ sauce, bacon, and gouda plus the standard veg. The freighter is a solid buger, I’d order it again. The house made patty has nice tecture and is properly seasoned. The fries that came with it are battered, something I’m not super keen on but they were tasty none the less. I’d love to see in house hand cut fries with this burger!

Freighter Burger
Freighter Burger

Sitting on the north patio puts you up close with some pretty big planes landing at YVR from all around the world. The noise isn’t as loud as I thought it would be and watching planes land is pretty awesome, ya know? Here’s a couple of 747-400’s I managed to photograph.

Lufthansa 747-400
Lufthansa 747-400
British Airways 747-400
British Airways 747-400

Overall Milltown Bar and Grill is a great place to spend an afternoon. There’s tons of parking, good beer, tasty food, lots of action on the patio, and you can bring the whole family (something I did not know until after I got there…oops). Here’s a handy Google Earth shot to show you where they are, followed by all their pertinent links and so forth.

Map1

 

Twitter – Milltown_Bar

Instagram – milltown_bar

Facebook – Milltown Bar & Grill

Web – milltownbar.com

Scott.

 

WFLBC Building History – what we’ve seen so far.

For the last 2 weeks I’ve been exploring Vancouver’s buildings and trying to uncover some history about them. I’m really enjoying digging through the archives and learning about Vancouver’s history. Here’s a quick recap of the buildings I’ve looked at so far.  Click on the pictures for more info/history about the building and remember to click follow while you’re visiting my Instagram Page. Also you should check out the Vancouver Archives page, it’s a great place to lose an entire day looking at the past.

The Robert Lee YMCA and Patina.

1517210_1489213147960471_1069849451_n 3ee9c802ca8f11e3ab4b24be059c1fa0_8

 

The Marine Building.

914661_565537420210330_1573870876_n 917419_1411469189125309_1493343163_n9a046dd2cb4d11e385fd0002c991e75c_8

 

The Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

3540dba2ccbe11e383180002c9121740_88f0fb96cccc011e38c360002c9d38b50_8

Cathedral Place and the Georgia Medical Dental Building.

b5cf0ac8d00611e382cf0002c9559ce2_80f1fe84ed00811e3bf2f0002c9d76b66_8

 

The Dominion Building.

6da87bdccf4611e3aa7a24be058c5100_810254339_624721560939017_452842510_n

 

Nelson Square.

Nelson Square

Scott.

What’s your favourite building in Vancouver?

Do you have a favourite building in Vancouver or the GRVD? Tell us what it is! Over the next few weeks I’ll be exploring Vancouver taking pictures of my favourites and sharing a little history about the building, the previous building that occupied that space, or whatever interesting facts I can dig up. If you have a favourite that you’d like me to explore leave me some info in the comments section or send me something at wflbcscott@gmail.com.

The Woodwards Building.
The Woodwards Building.

Info I’d like – Building name, address, and why you love it. During this time my Where In Vancouver Instagram adventures will be going on hiatus until I’ve finished this project.

Here’s some of what you can expect. Make sure to follow me on Instagram as this will be a non blog post project, Twitter/Instagram/WFLBC Facebook Page only. I’m planning on having a few guest photographers join me, let me know if you’re interested!

Emery Barnes Park and parts of Yaletown
Emery Barnes Park
West Cordova from Waterfront Centre
The Marine Building and The Guinness Tower along West Cordova street.
Towrds the DTES from HSBC
Harbour Centre, Granville Square, PWC Place, and various other office buildings.
VPL Central Branch
The VPL Main Branch.
The Vancouver Block
The Vancouver Block.
The West End from The Maritime Museum
The West End at dusk.
Trump Tower construction
The Trump Tower under construction.
The Qube
The Qube.
The Planetarium
H.R. MacMillan Space Centre.
The Marine Building
The Marine Building.
The Landmark Hotel from The Melville
The Landmark Hotel.
The Electra
The Electra.
The DTES from DVS
The Woodwards building.
Scotia and TD tower from HGR
The TD Tower and Scotia Tower.
Shangri-la from One Wall
Shangri-La
Still Creek
High rises along Still Creek in Burnaby.
Sunrise from HGR
The DTES under the rising sun.
Telus Gardens construction
Telus Gardens under construction.
The Convention Centre
The Convention Centre.
Science World and False Creek from Espana B
Science World.
Rooftops on Dunsmiur
Rooftops at Howe and Dunsmiur.
Robson Square from HSBC 2
Robson Square and the VAG from above.
Rasty shack on Granville Island
A run down shack on Granville Island.
Metrotown and Mount Baker from HGR
Mount Baker and Metrotown as seen from the heart of Vancouver.
MNP Tower construction from The Melville
The MPN Tower rising in the morning sun.
One Wall though cherry blossoms
One Wall seen through cherry blossoms.
Patina in the fog
Patina in the fog.
Port of Vancouver from undernaether 200 Granville
Port of Vancouver from West Waterfront Road.
Looking south west from Waterfront Centre
Jameson House
Looking NW from Electric Ave
A few of my favourites in one shot.
Looking north west from the dome of the Sun Tower
The Harbour Centre seen from a top secret location.
Infifity Towers
The Infinity Towers in Surrey.
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson’s Bay Company.
Harbour Centre at night
The Harbour Centre from below.
Harbour Centre from 200 Granville
The Harbour Centre.
HGR and HSBC from Hornby
The Hotel Georgia Residences and the HSBC building.
Highrises on West Georgia from The Melville
Office towers on West Georgia.
Highway 1 from Lougheed Mall area
Highway 1, the Port Mann Bridge, and Surrey’s City Centre from Lougheed and Austin.
Hotel Vancouver relected in the TD Tower
The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver reflected in the TD Tower.
Gastown at night
Gastown at night.
False Creek from One Wall
False Creek and the Granville Bridge.
False Creek from Habitat Island
Yaletown from Habitat Island.
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver from HSBC
The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver bathed in light from Cathedral Place.
Downtown-Central Van from One Wall
Lots of my favourites in one picture.
English Bay from One Wall
English Bay and the West End
Dawn from HSBC
The Port of Vancouver at dusk.
Central City and Library
The Central City Tower and the SPL Main Branch.
Central City
The Central City Tower in Surrey.
Cerry Blossoms and The Electra
The Electra hiding behind cherry blossoms.
Chinatown
Chinatown.
BC Place
BC Place.
BC Place from One Wall
BC Place with Metrotown in the distance.
BC PLace and Scotia Tower from HGR
The Scotia Tower, VPL Main Branch and BC Place.
Alex Fraser Bridge durting SF Perimeter Road construction
The Alex Fraser Bridge as seen from underneath the new South Fraser Perimeter Road.
1500 West Georgia
1500 West Georgia, a very under rated building, quite stunning in my opinion.
1075 West Georgia
1075 West Georgia aka The Concrete Waffle
200 Granville aka Granville Square
200 Granville in the morning fog.
West Georgia from Georgian Towers
West Georgia street.
The waterfall at Waterfront Centre
The Water Fountain at Waterfront Centre

Sabatino’s Trattoria Menu Tasting

I was recently invited to Sabatino’s Trattoria in South Surrey to sample some dishes from their new menu. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a menu tasting as I’ve been blogging less and exploring Vancouver with my camera more these days but it was nice to be back in the game. I was joined by May and Dennis of pangcouver.com and Sherman from shermansfoodadventures.com, good company indeed.

Gamberi Napoli
Gamberi Napoli

We were treated to Gamberi Napoli as an amuse bouche, Tiger prawn flambéed in Pernod with garlic, grape tomato, onion and basil. There was a very slight hint of licorice from the Pernod and the prawn balanced well with the tomato and onion. A little more seasoning would’ve made this a home run but it was still quite nice.

Barbabietola Arrosto
Barbabietola Arrosto

Next up was the Barbabietola Arrosto, a lovely roasted beet salad. Roasted beets, goat cheese, tomato, and roasted walnuts with spinach and dill vinaigrette. The dressing wasn’t overly oily and the dill worked well with the earthy beets and the punchy goats cheese. When I started writing about food 4 years ago I never thought that beets would end up being one of my favourite foods.

Spaghetti Carbonara
Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara was the next dish to arrive. Rich, rich, did I mention it’s rich? I love Carbonara but it’s not something I could eat often. Prosciutto, egg yolk, and Granda Padano wrapped up in tender spaghetti noddles. Slightly more oily than I’d anticipated but the deep, rich flavours were great.

Brasato al Valpolicella
Brasato al Valpolicella

The main course was Brasato al Valpolicella, red wine braised shortrib on the bone with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. The short rib is from Two Rivers Meats and is outstanding. Braised perfectly, seasoned well,  juicy, tender. The potatoes are rich and creamy and quite dense, not your average restaurant mash. This dish was a winner from start to finish.

Agavé Julep
Agavé Julep

Along with my food there were some great, original cocktails and bold red wine being served. My favourite was the Agavé Julep, a tequila based cocktail with mint, watermelon, simple syrup and soda.

Frangelico and chocolate cheesecake with biscotti crust
Frangelico and chocolate cheesecake with biscotti crust

Last but not least is dessert, Frangelico and chocolate cheesecake with biscotti crust. So decadent, so good. I’m a savoury guy so when a dessert wows me it has to be pretty great.

For all of you craft beer fans out there you’ll be glad to know that Sabatino’s has Fat Tug IPA and Whitebark Witbier from Driftwood Brewing on tap.

If you’re in the mood for Italian check out Sabatino’s Trattoria in South Surrey, it’s a nice spot and a bit of a hidden gem.

Twitter – @SabatinosYVR

Facebook – Sabatino’s Trattoria

Interwebz – sabatinostrattoria.com

Scott.

*My food and drinks were provided at no charge by Sabatino’s for review purposes.

 

Quick Bite – Carl’s Jr!

Fast food is fast food, quick, cheap, not that great. Is that actually true? In most cases it is but there are a few exceptions. Five Guys and In and Out are both fantastic fast food joints but they also cost a little more than a Big Mac combo. A recent addition to Vancouver’s fast food scene, Carl’s Jr, takes a similar approach. Fast food that aims to be better than most but at a slightly higher cost. Does it all add up?

90b7faf0bb9911e3acb712518441482d_8

 

Located on Dunsmiur between Howe and Hornby, Carl’s Jr isn’t easily found if you don’t know it exists. I’ve had lunch there 2 or 3 times now and I’m not blown away by anything in particular. The best burger I’ve had is the Western Bacon Thickburger complete with an onion ring and a “fresh baked bun”. The regular Western Bacon Burger is pretty underwhelming but the trademark Thickburger version brings a larger beef patty with better seasoning and the bun is actually pretty good too.

If I were forced to compare Carl’s Jr to another fast food burger joint I’d say it reminds me of Burger King but more expensive.

The verdict? Carl’s Jr IS slightly better than most burger joints but I don’t see the extra dollars being worth it. I’d gladly pay the extra at Five Guys and for slightly less I’d rather have a Bacon Deluxe at Wendy’s.

Scott.

Quick Bite – Sciué – Hard to Pronounce, Easy to Love

Pizza, it’s basically the best food ever invented. Thank you Italy. Sciué does pizza a little different than we’re used to in Canada. It’s Roman style pizza that’s like a flat bread, thin crust pizza hybrid. It’s delicious.

A slice of mushroom and a slice of sausage
A slice of mushroom and a slice of sausage

Sold by weight, you choose how big your slice will be. Tons of variety, breakfast options, REALLY great coffee. I have a food crush on Scuie.

Sopressata slice and zucchini with eggplant.
Sopressata slice and zucchini with eggplant.

My favourite pizza at Sciué has to be the breakfast pizza. Scrambled egg, sopressata, and tomato sauce on their amazing thin and crispy crust. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Breakfast pizza
Breakfast pizza

Sciué has locations throughout Downtown Vancouver.

Twitter – @sciuevancouver

Facebook – Sciue-Italian-Bakery-Cafe

Interweb – sciue.ca

Scott.