Sunday, December 25, 2011

Palki Restaurant

I've been in the market for a good Indian place nearby for a while now, so when Palki Restaurant invited me to try them out, I told them I'd stop by the next time I had a craving for curry.

My family is nuts for Indian food, so when they arrived on Thursday, we headed pretty much straight to Palki. The facade is rather dark and unassuming, which explains why I've never noticed it before. It used to be a Turkish place called Rime, which I remember visiting in my pre-blogging days. Palki's interior, done up in shades of purple, has a lovely feel which belies the reasonable prices on the menu.

Said menu has the usual suspects, along with an impressive array of other options. We all enjoyed everything we tasted. Our only complaint was that some of the naan was a bit overcooked. My sister thought the bathroom was a bit unkempt, and not in keeping with the rest of the place. I forgot to check it myself, but they may want to keep a closer eye on it. The service was super friendly and prompt.

The five of us were absolutely stuffed, some of us were tipsy, and we had substantial leftovers, so we were surprised that the bill came to less than $200 including tax and tip. I am all about cheap and delicious eats in my neighbourhood, so I'll definitely be back to Palki!

Palki Indian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Founders' Lounge @ The Cultch

The other night E and I had the great pleasure of seeing the Christmas Carol Project at The Cultch. The show, billed as "Western Canada's hippest holiday tradition," features a talented cast of Albertans making music in the voices of Dickens' classic characters. In buying our tickets, we noticed that on show nights, the Cultch's Cafe and Wine Bar is now a small restaurant called the Founders' Lounge run by the folks from Two Chefs and a Table and Big Lou's Butcher Shop. I'm a total sucker for a three course $30 fixed menu, so we booked a reservation before the show.

We enjoyed a past dinner at Two Chefs, so we had relatively high hopes for the Founders' Lounge. I'm not sure what the kitchen set up is, because our mains (coq au vin) were not quite hot enough. That was our only quibble with the food, which was delicious and well prepared, (wherever it happened). Our server was obviously new and trying to do things by the book. He was rather endearing, and the kinks will work themselves out with a bit of time. E and I both agreed that we'd like to eat at the Founders' Lounge before every performance we see at the Cultch!

Founders' Lounge on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Pourhouse

Having a friend in town for the weekend is the perfect excuse for dinner out. Ensemble last night was nothing special (my company excluded!), but my first dinner at the Pourhouse on Friday lived up to its promise. I have been there a few times for their expertly made cocktails, and it turns out the food is equally delicious and satisfying.

I tried to order a Blood and Sand, since I had first learned of it there, but apparently they no longer carry one of the ingredients. In its stead, I enjoyed a Pisco Sour, for the first time in a while. (There seemed to be a months long pisco shortage at Vancouver bars earlier this year.) For dinner, I started with perfectly turned out albacore tuna on a bed of butter lettuce and artichoke, followed by grilled cheese on brioche and cream of cauliflower soup. The three of us split the generous apple tart for two while tipsily puzzling over exactly how many fractions of dessert we were each consuming. Try it; it's harder than you think.

The atmosphere is warm, dark and cozy, all especially welcome attributes at this time of year. I have half a mind to go there tomorrow on my day off for lunch!

Pourhouse Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hume Atelier

A little more than two months ago, A's boyfriend J approached me with his plans to propose. After quickly bringing E in on the exciting news, we set about helping him find the right jewelry designer. Yes, E and I flanking him on the laptop as we searched through Vancouver jewelry designers online was just as much fun as it sounds.

We happened upon the very attractive website of Hume Atelier, a husband and wife team of custom jewelry makers in Gastown. The combination of local craftsmanship and ethically sourced materials was obviously appealing, so J made an appointment for the three of us to meet Kevin and Genevieve for a consultation. This, of course, was also an extremely good time!

Of course, this wasn't exactly my show, but J gave me the okay to give Hume Atelier the glowing review they deserve. They struck a perfect balance between offering their expert opinions and allowing J to make decisions in the scope of his budget. The ring is as pretty as can be, and A was justifiably thrilled to receive it.

As it happened, A saw an email she wasn't meant to very soon after the wheels were set in motion. I'll spare you the convoluted details but E and I were forced to play double agents for two months until the ring was ready and J was able to pop the question on her birthday. I'm definitely relieved that my life no longer resembles a rom-com farce ("She doesn't know that he knows that she knows!") So begins the planning of a beautiful East Van wedding to take place next July!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween at the Waldorf

After a recent spate of somewhat epic nights out, I find myself enjoying a quiet evening at home. One of these nights took place at the Waldorf Hotel last weekend, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to finally weigh on this 'cultural oasis in the middle of nowhere.'

In three words: I love it. That doesn't make much of a blog posting, however, so I'll delve a little deeper. I have (happily) eaten at the Waldorf's Nuba location too many times to count over the past year, and I have spent several evenings soaking up the atmosphere in the famed tiki bar. Despite an earlier promise to appear, however,  I had yet to attend one of their already legendary parties.

To remedy this sad state of affairs, I joined a small crew of friends for the Friday portion of their four night Halloween extravaganza. It was certainly extravagant: haunted hotel rooms (one of which sent me literally diving out into the hallway in fright), a classic (and rather naughty) carnival midway, and an incredible flash performance by the House of La Douche dance crew, to name just a few of the party's perks.

Our group's only complaint was the fact that we had to pay extra for certain aspects like the drop of doom ride, and the holographic burlesque show. The other issue was that E and I had bought early bird four day passes under the mistaken assumption that they included the Dinner for the Dead, so we ended up shelling out quite a lot for what turned out to be one evening's festivities. In light of that clarification, all four day pass buyers were offered a refund, but without a guarantee of available Friday-only tickets, we decided to swallow the extra costs.

These details aside, it was certainly one hell of a party. It wasn't necessarily as dramatic as the house party I attended in Victoria the next night, where a drunken Fiona smashed a glass goblet on an equally intoxicated Shrek's head, but you can only curate so much, right?

The people running the Waldorf and its many artistic machinations are insanely creative, and I think it definitely lives up to the hype. Though they won't be spinning 'Monster Mash' the next time, I'll definitely be back to the tiki bar on an upcoming Friday night to dance again to that awesome mix of 50s/60s rock 'n' roll!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Grandview Tire & Auto Centre

There's nothing more disheartening to someone on a budget than feeling a distinct and loud chugging in the engine of one's car. I had this unfortunate experience on a late night last week, and since my usual mechanic is way out in Langley, I got to googling. Happily, I found Grandview Tire & Auto Centre with their online appointment booking system and many excellent reviews from non-car people like me. Lo and behold, there was a spot open the very next day! Fearing that my two year old "purely cosmetic" front end collision damage was coming back to haunt me, I braced myself for sticker shock.

The guys at Grandview Tire were very friendly and, after a short test drive with a technician, during which the problem finally manifested again, I left Fitzie in their capable hands. When I came back a short while later, Ed the shop manager began explaining the problem to me using diagrams on the computer, but then just took me into the shop to peer into the engine. Through no fault of his, I didn't really understand the problem, but I certainly appreciated the attempt at explanation before I agreed to pay for the repairs!

The final tally was about $360; still not a pleasant surprise, but not exactly the budget sinking behemoth I had feared. I will definitely return to this shop the next time I need a mechanic, though I hope it's a while from now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

St. Augustine's

I am what I describe to servers as an entry-level beer drinker. Becoming a beer drinker has even been one of my New Year's resolutions. That same year I vowed to train myself to do the splits. Sadly I am still not very flexible, but my taste for beer has slowly but surely begun to take off. And in what better time and place than 2011 Vancouver, with its beyond burgeoning craft beer scene?

Near the front of the charge is St. Augustine's Craft Brew House and Kitchen, named after the patron saint of beer. I've been to this temple of barley and hops in many contexts now: lunch with friends, game night with a group, on a date, and even for a volunteer envelope stuffing event. A live beer menu listing their rotating selection of forty taps is on the website, and on screens in the pub itself.

I can't say that I enjoy the proliferation of televisions beyond the beer menu screens, but St. Aug's is a sports pub, so it's not really a legitimate complaint.

The focus is on the brews of course, but in my experience, the food is nothing to sneeze at either. The servers are friendly and patient with my likely inane questions about the "intensity" of certain beers. I won't be enjoying a Storm Black Plague Stout anytime soon, but I definitely like me some Howe Sound Pumpkineater to go with those incredibly delicious fries and garlic aioli!

St. Augustine's on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 26, 2011

Specials on a Sunny Saturday

This past weekend I volunteered again for the Vancouver Special (House) Tour. We were blessed with what was surely one of the last really nice days for a while. I hate to be pessimistic, but…
The tour houses were all in East Van, and though I didn’t have time to visit the rest, I definitely enjoyed having a look inside my appointed house at 608 Union. It's actually one of the Joe Wai Specials that were designed particularly for Strathcona in the aftermath of the (mercifully) failed freeway proposal. 
I recognized one of the other volunteers’ names, but it was only when we were stationed together at the front door that I pried a bit and found out why. For about an hour, I was happily ensconced in conversation with Michael Kluckner, longtime Vancouverite (aside from sojourns in Langley and Australia), author, artist, and local historian. What a treat for both the librarian and Vancouver lover in me! We chatted about our mutual love of East Van, and he mentioned that Grandview now is what Kits was back in the day. Very interesting stuff.
I was eventually (and reluctantly) reassigned to a post in the master bedroom, where my greatest entertainment was when people asked if this was my house, and I got to sigh “alas, no.”  But anyway, the tour is fascinating, both for those with a genuine interest in vernacular architecture, and those whose tastes run to simply looking through other people’s houses! Check out the Vancouver Heritage Foundation for all kinds of information and tours.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Community Thrift and Vintage

A couple weeks ago, my very stylish sister was visiting from Calgary. She wanted to go shopping, so rather than hit mall standbys on Robson at a seven per cent premium, I suggested we poke around in Gastown. Of course, with the gentrification, there are designer shops aplenty, and even more stores that are just slightly too rich for our blood. Imagine our delight when we stumbled upon Community Thrift and Vintage at 41 West Cordova. The store, which opened several months ago, has been beautifully renovated in a cozy Gastown style.

In high school  I wore almost exclusively vintage and I still pepper my wardrobe with secondhand bargains on a regular basis. It is exceedingly rare to find this kind of handpicked selection at these perfectly reasonable prices. Better yet, the store is a social enterprise which offers jobs to “women with barriers to traditional employment…and…[donates] all profits back into the community through key programs of the PHS Community Services Society.”

From now on, when I feel that familiar longing for something new (to me) to wear, Community will be my first stop. Check the website for how to donate your used clothing in good wearable condition.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pizzeria Farina

After spending almost a whole workweek daydreaming about their Miele pizza (apples, honey, ricotta, oh my!), I cannot overstate how disappointed I was to arrive at Pizzeria Farina last night to find it removed from the menu, for lack of interest. What is wrong with you Vancouver? How could you let something as surely delicious as this pizza must have been slip through your fingers? The cool and friendly staff (owners?) were sympathetic, but what could they do? The people had spoken. I can only hope they bring it back as a daily pizza speciale sometime that I happen to be there.

Calmed somewhat by the loaf of bread A bought (to make me happy; she knows me so well), I settled in to wait for my funghi pizza. As far as consolation prizes go, this one was a winner. The arugula was fresh, abundant, and perfectly complemented the delicate flavours of the mushrooms and onions. E proclaimed her finocchiona the best pizza she's ever had in Vancouver. And the crust! So good that I took A's crust scraps home with me for later. You just don't throw away crust that good.

I was charmed by the spare red and white decor, and special touches like side by side taps offering free still and sparkling water, butcher paper for those leftovers not quite warranting a box, and the mostly communal dining set up. The very cute pizza chef certainly did not go amiss. The only thing lacking is the vino, but a liquor license is in the works!

Pizzeria Farina on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Though I find its name singularly off-putting, I nonetheless seized the opportunity to finally try L'Abattoir when my mom and sister were in town recently. A joined us so we were Slaughterhouse Four. (Sorry, couldn't resist). A recent issue of Vancouver magazine rightly lauded the "attentive but unobtrusive" nature of L'Abattoir's service, and of course it has topped many a list of bests.

The menu is carefully curated with rather limited options but everything we tried was, without fail, beautiful, creative, and delicious. Of the cold dishes to start, we sampled all but the vegetable salad. For mains, our table was split down the middle with two of us going for the superb halibut, and the others the delectable steak Diane. Dessert was a round of warm chocolate tarts with one insanely yummy apple and olive oil cake thrown in for good measure.

L'Abattoir is at a higher price point than neighbouring Cork & Fin, and thus will be added to my repertoire of special occasion restaurants rather than random dinner out places. If you have something to celebrate and/or some spare cash to burn, you could do a hell of a lot worse than L'Abattoir. Enjoy!

L'Abattoir on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Teenage Dream

Aside from the brief and heady days when I was on the guest list of corporate parties at the Calgary Stampede, it’s been many years since I actually attended a summer fair. When my boyfriend suggested we check out the Fair at the PNE last night, I admit I was skeptical, and more than a little outraged at the price of admission. You could practically go to Disneyland for these prices! To cut costs, we opted out of the rides, since we rightly figured there was otherwise plenty to do, see, and eat.

After work, we booked it to the grounds to make it to the Super Dogs show where he sat patiently while I grinned, clapped and cheered like an idiot. Then it was on to the food! We can heartily recommend the perogies, crepes, funnel cakes, and of course, the mini donuts. Try the deep fried Mars bar if you haven’t already, but trust me, you don’t each need your own. Steer clear of Jimmy’s burgers, which are clearly a Costco burger patty fancied up with fried onions to the tune of almost $8.

Definitely check out the Evolution of Extreme motorsports show. I expected this to be a tit-for-tat deal in exchange for watching the Super Dogs, but I enjoyed it as much, if not more than my honey. The show gave me chills, and I thanked my lucky stars that my motorcycle man has no desire to perform these kind of tricks.

Also worth a gander are Canstruction, the container houses, and Container Art. The highlight of the night though, was certainly the carnival games. While I wasted some dollars trying in vain to break beer bottles, he sidled up to the crossbow game, and, no big deal, shot the arrow through the target on his first try. This is how I ended up with a giant wooly mammoth in my living room, and fulfilled a long held dream of proudly carrying around a huge stuffie won by my impressive boyfriend. My fifteen year old self was beaming, and even as a grown woman, I was admittedly more than a little chuffed.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


It's no secret that I think Mark Brand is the second coming, and his latest outing has proven to be another safe bet for dining on the East Side. Happily, Save-on-Meats is a lot easier on the wallet than my favourite arm of his multi-pronged business. After two visits, I now feel qualified to comment on the diner side of things. I can't speak to the other aspects of the reborn Save-on-Meats, but my trust in Brand runs deep, so I'm sure they're great.

For reasons I can't quite pinpoint, the food here is almost secondary. It's certainly good enough, and you simply can't argue with the prices. Save-on-Meats is more about the experience and the atmosphere, and they've nailed both. A, E and I had a collective girl crush on our server Kelcie, and we would have been happy to have her hang up her metaphorical apron and sit a spell with us. A friendly fellow behind the counter let us sample a bacon chocolate chip cookie before we committed our dessert calories elsewhere. The space is airy and spare, save for the many charming old-timey posters by local artist Dan Climan.

Biking there and back to work off the large portions topped off a truly perfect summer evening. I hadn't been to the original, but I think this incarnation deserves at least as long of a run.

Save on Meats on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie

As one of the buzziest new restaurants opened in the past couple of years, Bao Bei has long been calling my name. My parents were in town recently and they are both very into all types of Asian cuisine, so I figured the time was right. Like a gift from the universe, the four of us (E joined us) were seated straightaway in a cozy round booth, arguably the best seats in the (gorgeously designed) house. It helped that we were there on a Tuesday evening, since Bao Bei is a reservation-free zone.

My previous pescetarianism was what held me back from visiting in the past, since even the tofu has ground pork sprinkled on top. There is not a lot on the menu for vegetarians or even picky pescetarians such as myself who don't like shellfish. Their website notes that they can easily adjust many menu items to be vegetarian/vegan, but I always hated to be that person.

For better or worse, the constraints on my eating have increasingly fallen away over the past year. The four of us shared one of practically everything on the menu. I sat out the beef tartare and prawn dumplings, and standouts for me included the steamed vegetable dumplings and Shao Bing. Everything was well-received with extra points for creativity and presentation.

E and I each enjoyed a craft cocktail, which we can only assume was what protected us from the stomach upset my parents both suffered the next day. My mom was unfortunately turned off from eating at Bao Bei again, but my dad, nonplussed as ever, said that he would go back because "it was really good." I'm going to give them a mulligan and side with my dad on this one!

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 22, 2011

Nicli Antica Pizzeria

When I was 14, I went on a school trip to Italy. My interest in boys not yet burgeoning, I discovered other earthly pleasures such as gelato, which was not yet ubiquitous in Canada. I remember indulging to the tune of four waffle bowls of it in one day, though I paid dearly for it. The other sensory delight I found in Sorrento (just outside of Naples) was the pizza. Oh, the pizza. I don’t really remember what it was like, but I do remember thinking “this is the best pizza I’ve ever tasted.”

Now you can have that same superlative taste experience right in East Van! Check out Nicli Antica Pizzeria on Cordova. They follow special guidelines for authentic Neapolitan pizza, and the results are definitely worth the effort. The crust is best described as evocative of naan, but you’ve got to try it to see what I mean. The Bianca is to die for, as is the tiramisu.

A rather motley crew of us went after our ball game on Monday, and it was so good that I suggested it to another group of friends as we surveyed our dinner options last night. The service can be hit and miss, but that’s certainly forgivable in a relatively new establishment. Any kinks will be ironed out, and I predict this place will have a long and healthy life in East Van.

Nicli Antica Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 8, 2011

Campagnolo Roma

You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I’m not really one for Italian food. A, however, newishly transplanted from the West End, has been missing Nook, her favourite little pork-infused hideaway. On a rare evening when the three of us were available (after ditching our boyfriends and coworkers respectively), A, E and I headed to the cozy confines of Campagnolo Roma with our hopes held high. We were not to be disappointed.

The room has been beautifully renovated and you have to look hard for any trace of the strange Jamaican pizzeria that was the previous occupant. I am somewhat sorry that I never made it there, but I'm told I wasn't missing much.

The whipped ricotta appetizer was a revelation that I'm still wistfully phantom-tasting today. No sooner had the first bites passed our lips than we ordered another round. The fresh and simple pastas are priced reasonably, striking a balance between the obvious quality of the ingredients and the sensibility of the neighbourhood. A charmingly forgetful bartender who said he was only moonlighting and our shy but sweet server rounded out the equation.

CR, as I will henceforth refer to it in text messages, is a welcome addition to the burgeoning neighbourhood foodie scene. We will be back, sans car and plus wine.

Campagnolo Roma on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Guilt & Co.

The scene: Friday night in Gastown for a joint graduation party for two of my boyfriend's pals. We started out at Chill Winston, about which I feel rather blah. It seems a victim of its own success, and has been the favoured hangout for newly minted adults and the bridge and tunnel crowd for some time now. Plus, why would I hang out there, when the Diamond is right across Maple Tree Square, glowing warmly at me from its lovely windows?

We had a quick bite at Vera's (always tasty, and gets the job done, leaving more room in the evening's budget for craft cocktails!), then headed to CW. After a while, it became time to move on, and the plan was to head downstairs to Guilt & Co. What? Double what? Apparently this place has been beneath Chill Winston for more than a year, but it somehow escaped my notice. I guess I must have had my snobby blinders on with regards to that side of the square. One look at the sign promising board games, and I was sold. Oh, I was sold.

The line was short and the cover non-existent (hopefully they can sustain the latter). Many bonus points for the extensive board game menu (Battleship, Connect 4, Catan, and more!), as well as the speakeasy in a cave nature of the decor. The crowd was fun, the bathrooms unisex, the very creative cocktails refreshing and expertly mixed, and the Jenga blocks gigantic. I will certainly be back another night to sample the live music and other performances (never has a venue in Vancouver been more perfectly suited to burlesque!) and the food menu, which includes chunks of cheese. Awesome. The familiar font and wording of the printed ephemera hinted subtly at ownership shared with CW upstairs, but I much prefer what they've done with this place. I hope it can hang on to its relatively chill and secret vibe.

Guilt and Company on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 9, 2011

Summertime, and the living is busy

You may have noticed that I have turned into one of those slacker bloggers I vowed I would never become. I want to put you all on notice that posts will be few and far between in the ensuing months, but I am not hanging up my keyboard permanently!

Between time with friends and my boyfriend (no longer just my mysterious "dining companion"), my dog, riding my still hypothetical new bike, weekend getaways, out of town visitors, work, commuting, dodgeball, three softball teams, choir, and book club, there simply aren't enough hours in the week to blog right now!

Enjoy the warmer weather (if it ever comes), and I'll do my level best to create some new content here and there.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Docker's Diner

This particular post has been a long time coming, because Docker's was the first place I ever frequented in my new neighbourhood. I've been out of the habit but a few recent visits have reminded me to put it back in my rotation.

The place looks like it's been there for decades, but it's actually less than ten years old (I can't remember exactly how old). Joanna, the owner, has done an amazing job right down to the worn patina of the red fabric booths.

Initially, I was prepared to be disappointed by some aspect of Docker's. It all seemed too good to be true, and right down the street from my apartment. Happily, I couldn't have been more wrong. I've eaten both breakfast and lunch there more times than I can count, and it's always dependably great. The food is basic, but delicious, the service is wonderfully sweet or delightfully crusty (but always attentive!) depending on who you get, and the value simply can't be beat. The standing breakfast special is two eggs, bacon or sausage, real hash brown potatoes and toast for $5.45, including HST!

Docker's is justifiably popular with everyone from the blue collar set to young families and hipsters to cops. Give it one chance and you'll understand why.

Docker's Diner on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What does it mean?

The second double rainbow of the week. It's so intense. Hopefully it's another good omen for Canucks like Tuesday's version!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting

I am what a paramedic friend of mine once called a black cloud. That is, I often find myself witnessing situations which legitimately require a 911 call. Ever since I learned about the murder of Kitty Genovese in Psych 104, I promised myself I would always be the one who makes that call, since, statistically speaking, most people assume someone else will do it and don't bother. I counted, and in 2010, I called 911 something like 12 times.

Despite living on what must be ground zero for emergency responders in Grandview-Woodland and Hastings-Sunrise, I have only called 911 twice in the past 20 months for happenings in my own neighbourhood. Both were possible gunshots, and happily, I wasn't the only one to call.

Last night my dinner party was interrupted by one of the near weekly street operas that play out just below my balcony. This time it was a spectacularly loud relationship bust up, in which the woman swore she was "always f*cking faithful to [him]!"

Later on, when I was moving the open-windowed skunkmobile inside in case of rain, I was privy to a strictly verbal girl fight that was carried out with one woman walking down the middle of the street yelling at the other walking on the sidewalk. "Mary," one assured the other, "you do not want to get on my f*cking bad side!" With neighbours like these, who needs to go to the movies?

It must be the WASP in me who wonders why these people can't play out their dramas behind closed doors. That being said, I wouldn't trade my sometimes gritty, sometimes peaceful, but always interesting address for what I had in the 'burbs where people didn't seem to leave their houses, except to get into their cars.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A stinky situation indeed

Hello blog readers, (if there are any of you left). I had the best of intentions of posting last weekend at the latest, but I couldn't seem to make it happen. Chief among my excuses for this is the fact that everything I've done in the last week or so seems to have taken place either on the West Side (a day at Granville Island, the Smorgasbord show at St. Andrew's Wesley Church, and the Sun Run) or at old standbys about which I've already lovingly blogged (like The Diamond).

My other major excuse is that I've been spending a bit of time in Kits these days. If you know me in real life, you probably know why. I have to say, one thing I do not miss about Kits is the skunks. I don't recall ever coming across one in East Van, though of course they're here too. Unfortunately on Sunday evening, Murph and I ended our 5 year string of skunk-free luck in spectacular fashion. I have spent the last three days trying in vain to de-skunk the house in Kits into which he immediately dashed, my car into which we foolishly put him while we researched what to do, and even my own hair which received an indirect hit of the indescribably vile musk. So there you have it; I haven't been ignoring you...well, I suppose I have, but I hope you find my excuses legit!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


I am a rather ardent fan of Groupon and all its many, many copycat enterprises. In the year and a half that I’ve been wise to these deals, I’ve saved a bundle on everything from windsurfing to wine making, and dog sitting to dinners out. Sometime last year, I bought a Groupon offered by Blue Olive Photography, an outfit whose work I had much admired in a previous lifetime when I was in the market for a wedding photographer. The deal was $75 for a 30 minute photo shoot, with 3 prints of your favourite image.

A&E, though loyal fans of America’s Next Top Model, and far superior “smisers” than I, were wary of being included in the photo shoot. As is my custom, I insisted, and Reilly made sure we had a fun time. Murphy the dog was less accommodating, but I think he did his best. It was definitely awkward walking around Gastown and fake laughing while being trailed by a photographer, but the end results were worth it.

Of course, they’re counting on you to purchase products beyond that, and purchase we did. The image here is my favourite, and it’s the one I chose for our free prints. If Blue Olive ever offers another of these deals or if you can swing their regular fees, by all means, take advantage of their talent and friendliness. You’re guaranteed to have a great time and you will love your photographs!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Vancouver!

Unless you've been living under a rock (or perhaps somewhere besides Vancouver), you've probably heard that today is our fair city's 125th birthday! By worldwide standards, we're positively brimming with youth! Of course, East Van is where it all began. Check out this article from today's Sun for a quick primer on our beginnings as a city.

One of the things I love so much about East Van, and Vancouver in general, is the mostly peaceful coexistence of architecture from every one of our decades. I really really can't stand all-new cookie cutter-like neighbourhoods. They have their place, of course, but I'm more than a little pleased to live in a city that has mostly managed to avoid them, in favour of building up existing neighbourhoods while maintaining the organic and historic flavour that makes them unique and interesting. In cities like New York, it seems like practically everyone lives and/or works in what we would call a heritage building here, but that doesn't make our history any less fascinating or important!

Here's to you, Vancouver, and your next 125 years!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Big Brother is Watching You

Last night I had the great pleasure (and terror!) of attending a performance of Andy Thompson's new stage version of George Orwell's 1984 at the Cultch. It's billed as a multimedia adaptation, and it's a joint production of The Virtual Stage and Langara College's highly regarded Studio 58 program. E and I were blown away by the script, acting, and production values alike. I'm no theatre expert, but in my humble opinion, this performance was head and shoulders above the star-studded production I saw on Broadway a couple weeks ago. Seriously. You should go. (A few) tickets are still available here. And now I have to go read the book, because I'm ashamed to admit I have yet to do so!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The eastward migration continues

Something exciting is happening today, though I am so sleep deprived that I can't muster much outward enthusiasm. But anyway...everyone's favourite nurse/physicist team is moving to East Van! J has lived here before, but it's a first for A. I'm thrilled to have them closer, if not so much for the heavy lifting I will be helping with tonight. With this post I officially welcome you two into the East Van fold. I trust that you both will find much that pleases you. Also, I will try not to break any of your things tonight, though my apartment has already suffered one casualty this morning. It's going to be a long day...

Friday, March 25, 2011

My very favourite nightspot in Vancouver, and beyond

It’s no surprise that a single girl in Vancouver with a mortgage and a costly commute isn’t left with much in the way of disposable income. My disposable income, such as it is, is consistently funneled to two of my best friends (besides A&E): my aging dog and The Diamond.

I try to stay away for stretches here and there, so they don’t get tired of me hanging around, but the place exerts some sort of magnetic pull. Owing to my recent travels, it has indeed been a while, but a shortly upcoming visit is written in stone on my Google calendar!

When I describe the Diamond to friends, I often use the phrase “wonderland of beauty.” Truly everything is beautiful here: the staff, the filament bulbs, the stag's head chandelier, the exposed brick walls, the view of Maple Tree Square from the windows (especially when it snows!), the craft cocktails, and even the exquisite vintage glassware. Happily, it's an old-timey and warm type of beauty that was obviously not conceived in a Toronto boardroom, unlike the contrived corporate esthetic of certain other places. It’s just so easy to lose yourself here, and I’m always eager to show it off to someone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure of an evening at the Diamond.

I’ve never been here for an actual dinner, since the Asian fusion concept is more small plates than anything, and the drinks are so strong that it’s unwise to go on an empty stomach. That being said, what I’ve nibbled on while lingering over cocktails has always been wonderful: olives, nuts, gyoza, subs, and panna cotta. The drink prices run high ($10-12), but we're not talking watered down rum and cokes. The booze forward cocktails are nonetheless so eminently drinkable that it took E making us journalists at our own New Year's Eve pre-party for us to realize just why we often end up unexpectedly blitzed at the Diamond.

A small selection of beer is available, but as I once unwittingly asked someone who turned out to be Mark Brand, "How can you drink something like that in a place like this?" PBR has its charms, I'm sure, but I remain immune to them.

The service is such that I felt like a regular on my very first visit, and by this point, I actually feel among friends. Impeccably dressed, attractive, sociable, and skilled friends who make consistently incredible cocktails from memory, (I'm talking to you, Donnelly Pub Group), and don’t tease me (much) when I’ve had a few too many. What more could a single girl ask for?

The Diamond on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Back in Lotusland

Well, we arrived home bright and early on Monday morning. I've had a couple days to recover and now feel up to posting about my trip, bootcamp this morning notwithstanding!

It was a jam packed week, but we managed to spend some time relaxing in our gigantic hotel suite. Thanks for the mysterious upgrade, Salisbury Hotel!

I didn't avoid shopping entirely, but A&E held me back from doing any serious damage at Century 21. I did spend a glorious sunny morning checking out Park Slope in Brooklyn, picking up some sweet vintage deals (hello $35 Frye boots!) at Beacon's Closet, and a handknit scarf at Flirt.

Of course, we ate a wonderfully diverse array of cuisines, including Venetian at Osteria Laguna, wine and cheese at the Drunken Horse, and Persian at Persepolis. Modern American cuisine was well represented by The Red Cat, Stonehome, and 508, and those onion rings at the Heights Cafe can't be beat.

We added a few things (like MoMA) to our original itinerary, but most notable was riding our rental bikes through Central Park and Harlem, which was one of the highlights of my life. I still haven't made it to the Tenement Museum, but perhaps the third time will be the charm!

Our raison d'being there was for E to compete in her fifth straight American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. She made us very proud by placing 34th overall (out of 680!!!), and sweeping the foreign division handily.

All in all, a truly memorable vacation with two of my very favourite people in the entire world.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Taking a bite

Tonight I'm heading to New York City for a girls' week with my two besties, A&E. We'll be doing lots of eating and sightseeing, of course, and if I learned anything from last month's trip to Orlando, the most you should probably expect is a name-dropping post upon my return.

We've got big plans, including the Museum of Sex, the Museum of Natural History, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and That Championship Season, for starters. Then there's what may well be the pièce de résistance of our visit: the St. Patrick's Day Parade, and the partying that is sure to ensue.

With the support of my non-shopping friends, I will try to resist the lure of Century 21. The plan is to spend all the money I would have spent shopping at eateries like Eataly and The Red Rooster, and, in my case anyway, copious numbers of black and whites. I'll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Escaping the cold

I've been to Havana several times now, most recently for a lovely dinner on Friday night. I have a very happy memory of mojitos and guacamole with an old friend on their patio during one of those perfect Vancouver summer days last year. This is definitely an experience I hope to repeat this summer.

The other night, we braved a pitcher of the Champagne sangria, which wasn't as boozy as I feared (hoped?), but was nonetheless delicious. Guacamole with corn and the best chips I've had anywhere kicked off our meal. I opted for the tuna tacos, which I've had before. I don't remember the tortillas being so big last time, and they were folded in quarters with the tuna on top, which was sort of awkward to eat. If a die-hard bread lover like me thinks there's a bit too much of the accompanying carb in a dish, it probably means there's room to cut back. The tuna was as perfect as ever. My dining companion's nicely flavoured ropa vieja had a great texture and arrived in an ample portion size. The chocolate cheesecake was a wonderful finish to an all-around great meal. The website says the restaurant is inspired by the "faded glory of Old Havana," and as far as I can tell, they nailed it, atmosphere-wise. It was easy to pretend we were someplace much warmer than drizzly Vancouver, if only for a few glorious hours.

Havana Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Urban Fitness Movement

A couple of months ago a friend sent me one of those daily deal links to a bootcamp package from Urban Fitness Movement that was too good to resist: 15 classes for $20! This morning my decision to partake was brought to bear, and in the cold rainy non-light of 6 am, the whole thing seemed very resistable indeed. I perservered, however, and made it through (sort of) my first class, which involved testing like a timed obstacle course and how many reps we could do of certain exercises. I set myself a lofty goal, (do not throw up), and was pleased that I reached it. My friend and her husband amazed me with their strength and stamina and I assured myself that I was merely leaving lots of room for improvement as time goes by.

Sadly the picture I've included is not of me, but look how happy she is! Coach Allison Tai (also not pictured) is wonderful. I was sort of worried about being yelled at, but it's not that kind of bootcamp. She is very knowledgeable and encouraging, and in unbelieveable shape after giving birth scant months (weeks?) ago. Very impressive indeed.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Prophouse Cafe

After many a time peering forlornly through the windows of the Prophouse Cafe after dark, I finally managed to make it there during opening hours. I was rewarded by a vast selection of loose leaf teas, and a rather delicious chocolate chip shortbread square. The food and drink here are almost secondary, though it certainly helps that both are tasty. The real draw is the setting, amongst thousands of pieces ranging from antique to vintage, from kitsch to quirk and back again. It feels distinctly like settling in for a cuppa at an antique/junk shop, which is very much up my alley. Apparently it was (is?) a functioning prophouse for the film industry, and the owner so enjoyed entertaining in the space that his friends suggested he open it up to the public as an actual cafe. I didn't spend much time exploring this time, but I'll certainly be back to give it another go.

The Prophouse Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dinner and a movie with a twist

Tonight promises to be one of those perfect East Van evenings…dinner at El Pulgarcito and Hey Rosetta! at the Rio Theatre. E and I are big fans of El Pulgarcito, after having eaten there many a time. It’s not much to look at, but the food is delicious and plentiful. I usually get the chicken enchiladas with salsa verde, while E prefers the same dish with less spicy mole sauce. Try the pupusas; you won’t regret it! I’m also madly in love with their horchata, which is available in either the Mexican and Salvadoran styles, both equally creamy and excellent as hangover cures. It’s a two person show, but the service is always cheerful and prompt. I spent some time "studying" in Mexico during university, and this is the type of place that comes as close to an authentic experience as you can get this far north. The prices ($7 or $8 for a main with all the fixings) are also reminiscent of Mexico, which is much appreciated.

I’ve never been to a concert in a movie theatre before, and I am definitely excited to see how it’s done. I’ve read that Hey Rosetta! is one of Canada’s most underrated indie bands, particularly in terms of pure musicianship, but we must be on top of things here, because both their Vancouver shows are sold out!

El Pulgarcito on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 28, 2011

I'm back!

I know you're all very disappointed that I didn't blog while I was away, right? The truth is, I had neither the time, the inclination, nor the internet access to do right by you, dear readers. I apologize.

I did, however, witness the launch of Discovery first hand from Cocoa Beach, which was a rare treat indeed. Other treats included fabulous meals at Narcoossee's, Joe's Crab Shack, Jack Baker's Lobster Shanty, and my family's perennial favourite, the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre. I hear secondhand from my parents that their dinner at Victoria & Albert's was nothing to sneeze at, either. While they were there, my sisters and I spent a rather eventful evening at the Wall Street Plaza, before heading to the rooftop bar at Vain. I have to say that my time spent enjoying cocktails outdoors the other day made the snow a little harder to take upon my return. But alas, here I am, ready once more to share with you the chilly wonders of East Van. It's good to be home.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I Can Has Pixie Dust!

Tomorrow morning I'm getting on the first of three flights that will take me to that mecca of crass but irresistible commercialism, Walt Disney World! Not necessarily the destination I would have picked, but it will be an extremely fun family vacation, nonetheless!

I'll try to slip in some restaurant reviews, but consider this your warning that any content forthcoming this week will be of the Floridian ilk. Shield your eyes if you must, East Vanners, this could get sparkly.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Golden Afternoon

Yesterday evening I ran to my car amid a sudden downpour of hailstones. They were admittedly child's play, compared to the golf and baseball sized stones I've witnessed in Calgary, but still. Rounding the highway to Vancouver, I saw a brilliant opening in the sky, all pink and orange. A week or so ago we had another of these magnificent sunsets, but I missed that one. Yesterday I got right outside as soon as I got home to take in the light show. Unfortunately, these were all taken by my iPhone, so the quality is lacking, but damn, was it ever spectacular. Enjoy!

Curiously, just as I rounded the freeway bend into Coquitlam this morning, a suspiciously similar hailstorm began out of nowhere. Almost as if it had never stopped in the first place...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Post Valentine's Reminder

Anyone who knows me well would tell you that I spend a lot of time fretting about my financial situation. It seems like there's never enough to make it until the next payday, let alone save for emergencies or the future.

I chanced upon a nice scene today that encouraged me to chill out about the perpetual lack of funds and spend more of my mental energy being grateful for all the love in my life. Thank you, anonymous fabric graffiti artist; you made my day!

Monday, February 14, 2011

East End Blues & All That Jazz

February is Black History Month, which I think is a much more worthwhile cause for celebration than Valentine's Day. But I digress...

If you're looking for a way to mark this special month, I can't think of anything better than a performance of East End Blues & All That Jazz. This "musical tribute to Vancouver's historic East End black community" is running three shows this weekend at the Firehall Arts Centre. Tickets are very reasonably priced ($15 students/seniors, $20 everyone else). If I weren't headed to sunnier climes on Saturday morning, I would definitely check this out. Thanks to my awesome neighbour/new friend Travis for the tip!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Canada Screens: Small Town Murder Songs

The next Canada Screens is happening this Thursday, February 17 at District 319. Buy your tickets here before it's too late! The movie is Small Town Murder Songs, which sounds positively riveting. Same deal: pre-party at 6:30, and the show starts at 7:30, and a post film Skype rehash with the director. I have a contingent of friends attending, but sadly, as it's on a Thursday again, I won't be able to make it. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


On this morning's walk, I came across indisputable proof that no one, truly no one, can resist the siren song of a free buttermilk biscuit from McDonald's. I had a bite of A's, and it was indeed delicious, but we were justly horrified when the grease ran down her sleeve. She did make a rather bold proclamation though: apparently the classic Egg McMuffin is better.

For a while last year, I got weekly deliveries from spud and I love what they're doing. I had to suspend my deliveries because I don't actually need enough groceries to make it worthwhile, and I can ill afford their admirable emphasis on organic and local. In my oft-imagined hypothetical future where I have somehow considerably increased my cashflow, I see myself reanimating our relationship. If you don't live alone, and aren't on a super tight budget, it's worth checking out. Their selection and customer service are both great, and it's obviously very convenient.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monument for East Vancouver

Ken Lum's large scale light installation been up for a little over a year now, and the controversy over the symbol's origins seems to have mostly died down. Personally, I couldn't love it any more than I do. I chose to name my blog what I did knowing full well the gang connotations of the phrase as an addendum to the cross symbol in decades past. I think the sculpture and the name of my blog (to an admittedly MUCH smaller extent) speak to the richness and many layered nature of this area's culture and history. Check out a short video about the piece's construction and installation here. (Sorry the embedding isn't working for me!)

Thanks to Canuckism for passing along the video!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

As you've probably heard, last Thursday marked the beginning of a new year in the Chinese calendar. Walking down Hastings near Nanaimo today, I chanced upon a miniature version of the parade planned for tomorrow through Chinatown and the DTES. Billed as Chinatown's signature event, the Chinese New Year Parade began in 1974 and has been organized by the Chinese Benevolent Association since 1979. This year's parade route is a little over a kilometre, beginning at noon tomorrow, February 6, at the Millennium Gate on Pender.

I managed to finagle my way into the parade, (in a capacity which I will not reveal here!), along with my friend who is visiting from Calgary for the weekend. Aside from Little League opening day festivities in my younger days, I've never marched in a parade. Said friend hasn't been in one since a Santa Claus parade in Regina circa 1989. You can imagine our collective excitement.

The parade is just one aspect of the planned celebrations; there is also a free festival with family activities, and a post-parade ticketed banquet at the Floata restaurant. It should be a great time, as long we manage not to celebrate too hard tonight in our planned rockout downtown!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Tonight at the Waldorf

Last November, a combination of an irresistible social coupon deal and poor impulse control on my part led me to get half of my hair cut off. Thus, it will be a while before I patronize Barbarella salon at the Waldorf as an actual customer. Luckily, this reality doesn't preclude me from checking out their launch party tonight! Also taking off tonight is the first of planned monthly multi-room parties: The History of Dance.

I've become an almost weekly regular at Nuba, I went to a private party in the downstairs cabaret once, and I've been known to haunt the Tiki Bar on occasion. Despite all this, I have yet to check out one of the Waldorf's increasingly legendary parties, mostly due to insanely long line-ups and a lack of planning.

There's no time like the present, plus I have a friend coming into town tonight from Calgary. He's been dying to check out the Tiki Bar, and with all these special events, the Waldorf is certainly the place to be tonight. See you there!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Belgian Brunch

For something a little different, we headed to Beatty Street for a breakfast straight outta Belgium. I had only been to Cafe Medina once before. Last winter, there was a short article in the Sun inviting people to bring warm clothing to a fundraiser at the Medina. In exchange for a jacket, donors would receive a free drink, which I had assumed would be a latte or something similar. Instead I stumbled headlong into a rather exuberant party with beautiful people standing around trays of beautiful canapes. Never one to pass up free food and drink, I happily accepted my cocktail and tried in vain for the next 45 minutes to get someone to talk to me. I always use this story as an example of how people in Vancouver are a bit more aloof and cliquey than folks on the prairies. I highly doubt that I would have had trouble sustaining a conversation with strangers if this party had taken place in Calgary, for example.

But I digress. My mom opted for a hot chocolate, which was exactly as she hoped it would be: frothy and not too sweet, made with real chocolate. I had boring loose leaf tea, as I was nursing the slightest of hangovers. The paella pleased with very flavourful orzo, andouille sausage, avocado, and unidentified but tasty green objects as a garnish. I wanted an omelette (no surprise there!), but in the name of interesting food blogging, I went for the waffles. I ordered two waffles (about $3 each) with three toppings ($1 each). The waffles were just as good as ones I had years ago in Belgium itself, and the toppings were a revelation: good old mixed berry compote, milk chocolate lavender, and white chocolate pistachio rosewater. Yum. For an average female appetite, I bet two waffles would do it, but I don't have one of those, unfortunately. Luckily, I did not get my insatiable appetite from my mother, so she generously let me polish off the last of her paella. I'm more into the old school diner type of place for breakfast, but Cafe Medina offers something different, which is definitely welcome.

Cafe Medina on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cork & Fin

My mom and I decided to check out the Cork & Fin for their $28 Dine Out Vancouver menu. The Cork & Fin usually has a $30 three course prix fixe menu (+$15 for wine pairings), so while it was only slightly cheaper than usual, it’s still a good deal either way. My mom recently had knee surgery so I had asked (through Open Table) to be seated on the main floor. They led us upstairs and my mom decided she could handle the stairs, so we didn’t kick up a fuss. A few minutes after seating us our server rushed over and apologized because he had just seen our original seating request. Since we were already upstairs and loving the view and warmth, we opted to stay put.

We both started with the pomegranate and goat cheese salad and my mom added prawns to hers. The salad was flavourful and we both really enjoyed the unusual touch of pomegranate seeds. The second course of tuna negitoro was just as delicious as it was on my previous visit. Last on the docket was lingcod with tomato ragu for me, and steak for my mom. She enjoyed the flavour of the steak but remarked that it was a bit tough for her liking. My lingcod was wonderfully crisp on the outside, delicately flaked on the inside, and the ragu was a perfect complement to the flavour.

The portions are on the small side (as always with fine dining), but with one basket of crispy bread, we definitely left satisfied (and a bit intoxicated on my part, since I added the VQA wine flight for an extra $14!).

More adventurous seafood lovers than me will also find much to enjoy with the scads of fresh crab, lobster, and oysters on offer. If you’re looking for exquisite West Coast fare at a reasonable price point in a warm atmosphere, this is the place. It would also be a great choice for a romantic dinner for two, though I haven’t had that experience here…yet!

Cork & Fin on Urbanspoon

DTES Delight

This past weekend my mom was visiting from Calgary, and we embarked on an eating out bonanza, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in my life since the last time my parents visited in August. First stop: Acme Café for a cozy dinner on a chilly evening. My mom is one of those out-of-towners (and they are legion) who hear East Vancouver and think Downtown Eastside. In my time living here, I’ve been able to show her that there’s more to East Van than just the DTES, and it was finally time to demonstrate that this particular area has its own charms.

A short walk from our parking spot took us to the Acme Cafe. Much virtual ink has been spilled debating the wisdom and sensitivity of opening a café at this pricepoint in this particular location, but I don’t see any harm in a warm, welcoming and thriving business of any kind. Plus, I don’t think $12 dinner entrees homemade from quality ingredients are stratospherically expensive. Every time I’ve eaten at the Acme, I’ve been among people from all walks of life, which is part of what make East Van (including the DTES) so appealing. I guess it’s outside of some people’s comfort zones, but cookie cutter suburbs are waaaay out of my comfort zone, so there you go.

On this particular night, I overheard one of our fellow diners ask “Cocoa what?” when the server told him the daily crock pot special, which was coq au vin. I’m fairly certain another patron was a local character actor who I keep running across (at the Cultch’s Burlesque New Year’s Eve party, and then again at Canada Screen Casino Jack). It’s a small world, after all. A would-be customer tried to pass a counterfeit twenty, and he too was treated with respect.

But on to the food! I always have a cookie as an appetizer when I come here, simply because they’re so nicely on display and I can’t help myself. This time it was an incredible peanut butter sandwich cookie with chocolate chips.

For the main course, I went out on a limb and tried the High Falutin’ Grilled Cheese with the chicken noodle soup. The sandwich was good, but I think I would have enjoyed the classic grilled cheese more. I kept expecting non-existent turkey, since the High Falutin’ version comes includes some kind of cranberry spread. I usually order the chicken pot pie with salad, which is consistently perfect. My mom loved her shrimp guacamole sandwich with potato chips and broccoli slaw. The real stars of the show here are the desserts. I’ve tried the lemon meringue pie and countless varieties of cookies, but this time we split a slice of key lime pie. It was absolutely delicious: not too sweet, with a golden brown graham crust. Heaven.

Acme Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Canada Screens : A Drummer's Dream

The next Canada Screens event has been announced for Thursday February 3, and tickets are now available. I saw the trailer for this film at the last event, and it looked rather heartwarming, if somewhat ironically slow-paced.

The pre-show entertainment will feature drummer "Jon Morrison." I'm not sure if they mean this John Morrison, or if it's someone else. As an added bonus, there will be an in person Q&A session with the director, John Walker.

Unfortunately, I won't be there this time, because it conflicts with the first week of the new dodgeball season. More to come on that, don't worry!

I love Lucy's

Last Sunday I sidled up to the counter at another eastside diner, appropriately called Lucy’s Eastside Diner. I was meeting a carless friend who lives nearby so while it’s not the most convenient location for me, I can definitely see myself making a repeat visit, perhaps in the middle of the night, since Lucy’s is open 24 hours.

The place is blink-and-you’ll-miss-it small, but this only adds to the charm. We received very friendly service that I suspect I can only partially attribute to the server’s obvious crush on my dining companion. The food was yummy, though again I didn’t venture very far off the beaten path (artichoke, mushroom, pepper, and goat cheese omelette). I’d better start being more adventurous lest I bore you with an endless parade of omelette reviews!

The décor is 1950s hipster, which I can really get behind. My very favourite part was the bicycle handlebars mounted like trophy heads on the wall. Very clever.

My only complaint is the lack of depth between the stools and the counter. I’m not exactly working with Gisele-style pins here, and my knees had no place to go. It’s a small quibble though, and one that’s easily solved by sitting at one of the tables. Then again, maybe they’re just keeping it real; surely those midcentury types were shorter on the whole than we are now.

Lucy's Eastside Diner on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Canada Screens

When is a night at the movies more than just a night at the movies? When it's Canada Screens. I used to refer to it as Vancouver's best kept secret, but the cat has long since gotten out of the bag, and these monthly events routinely sell out in advance.

The most recent incarnation was held this past Thursday, as always at District 319, a very discreet, very posh event facility in the heart of the DTES. This go 'round, I brought along a friend who thought we were just plain going to see Casino Jack. Imagine his delight when he realized the tickets come with a complimentary glass of wine, and much, much more!

Canada Screens is a program of First Weekend Club, which aims to promote and raise awareness of the very best in Canadian film. The pre-party for every Canada Screens film offers up a bar (which you're free to patronize beyond that first free glass of vino), live music (this time, courtesy of Jim Byrnes, legendary bluesman), and appetizers (more finger foods than canapes, but still). You view the film itself from your very own red leather club chair. Very often, (perhaps every time?), there's a post film discussion with a cast member or the director either in the flesh or through Skype on the big screen.

All this for only $18 in advance. That's a great deal itself, but they also have gift cards available online or at the door (10 tickets for $100 or 5 for $60), which are almost too good to be true. I'm told the prices are going up a bit very soon, so act quickly to get the very best value.

A quick tip: arrive early and stake out your seats with your coat before hitting the pre-party, otherwise you'll be stuck in the very front row!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jump on the Red Wagon

With the Canucks doing so well these days, the buzz word around town seems to be bandwagon. I'd like to talk about a wagon of a different colour, that is, The Red Wagon. I've been a couple of times, most recently this past Sunday for brunch with a friend/former co-worker and her lovely cousin. It's the brainchild of Brad Miller, late of Au Petit Chavignol, Bistro Pastis, and West.

I arrived first at 11 am, and found myself third in line for a table since the "neighbourhood joint" was jumping. Why, yes, I would love a cup of tea while I wait! What a nice touch from a very friendly server. It is a diner after all, so we didn't have to wait more than 15 minutes for a table. There are also a couple of seats at the counter, which I would love to try out solo or en deux someday soon.

The menu is part standard breakfast fare (such as my perfectly turned out spinach/'shroom/cheese omelette), and part more inspired creations like the pulled pork pancakes with Jack Daniels syrup that my friend ordered. These looked so incredible that I almost abandoned the no-red-meat ship to have a bite (I know, I know, it's the other white meat, but still). G assured me they tasted as good as they looked, and I managed (barely) to take her word for it.

As of this writing, they're still closing daily at 6 pm, but various sources state that dinner is coming soon. I'll certainly be back to check them out once that comes to pass, if not before.

The Red Wagon on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Here we go...

Well, it only took a day for me to find an East Van blog I'd overlooked. I've seen their branded merch on lamp posts and torsos around my 'hood, but I didn't realize this was but a piece of a larger pie. From what I can gather, (the website's not super clear in this regard), Welcome to Eastvan is a clothing and gear company with an expanded online presence. The blog seems to support the stuff they're selling, not the other way around, so I don't feel too badly about missing it. At any rate, I'll be checking it out from here on in. Maybe I'll even get myself an apron. The stuff is locally designed (natch) and made (bonus points!), and accordingly a touch pricey.

Interestingly, Mark Brand is listed as one of the owners of the company. He also happens to be an owner of one of my very favourite places in East Van, nay, the world. It won't take long at all for me to blog about that place, so I'll leave it as a teaser for now. Of course you could always spend 0.11 seconds googling Mark Brand Vancouver to narrow down your options.

That's the thing about East Van. The more plugged in I get, the more connections I can draw between the artists, proprietors, and general gadabouts such as myself who call this place home. I hesitate to use the word incestuous for obvious reasons, but golly, is this place ever interconnected! The great thing is, these connections seem more natural and grassroots than they probably are in other urban areas of comparable renown, such as it is.

Until our next...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hello East Van!

Can it be that East Van has no real presence in the blogosphere? Really? Nobody’s devoting their public keystrokes exclusively to this bustling and diverse enclave of arts, culture, food and (it has to be said) hipsters? Yes, it can…well, it was. My fellow East Vanners, I am taking up the torch. My apologies if I’ve overlooked an active local blogger. If that’s the case, I’ll just be adding my voice to the chorus. The more, the merrier, right?

A little history: I moved from Calgary straight to the UBC campus for grad school in the summer of 2005. After a two year stint in Kits (and some experience writing for, I had a somewhat regrettable sojourn in the ‘burbs before returning to this amazing city in October 2009. I live in Grandview-Woodland with my shaggy grey mutt, and I try to eat, shop, drink, and hang out local as much as possible (boo to driving!).

Since my arrival here a little over a year ago five friends have moved within a 5 minute radius. There’s always been something special about East Van, and more and more people are cluing in. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up for debate, but it’s happening, folks.

I’ll be talking up whatever it is I’m buying, eating, drinking or doing in East Van, and wherever said consumption is taking place. No shortage of newsworthy action (good and bad) here either, so you can expect my take on that too. Send me your ideas of places I should check out, and I’ll do my level best to hit them up.