Friday, February 25, 2011

HYDE, Main Street Vancouver

With Vancouver weather feeding the stereotype that it’s known for, I was pleased to see the sun and finally feel the warmth after a whole day of hail and slush on the roads. This prompted me to grab my sunglasses and get the family into our car to go for a drive to Vancouver for a much deserved patio-lunch. I chose to eat at the newly-established, Hyde on Main Street, formerly known as Zigs Urban Bistro only a couple of months ago.

Being a huge fan of restaurants with eccentric and unconventional decor (like Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe on West 4th and The Eatery on West Broadway), Hyde, was definitely a pleasant surprise paying homage to the illustrations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland books. Although there was a sense of “Goth” – with some of the walls being painted dark purple and displaying some eerie artwork, the vibe of the restaurant was the least bit sinister. In fact, the room was filled with the sound of strangers laughing like old friends and was beautifully lit by a mixture of sunshine through the huge windows at the front and the plentiful lighting inside the restaurant. I was also glad the music wasn’t ear-splitting (like it is in most restaurants/pubs) as that provided a comfortable environment for the little one.

The menu wasn’t pages long (it was actually condensed into a one-sided sheet, cleverly attached to a clipboard to stay intact) but it still contained enough dishes to choose from - typically ranging from appetizers, like a Caesar salad or yam fries to more filling dishes, such as their chicken, beef or lamb burgers. The price range is also very affordable for the customer who usually frequents more mainstream restaurants that serve similar food, like Earl's, with Hyde’s most inexpensive dish being $4.95 to $14.95 for the priciest dish on the menu.

Playing on the Alice in Wonderland theme, the restaurant also features a “Potions” menu to list the many alcoholic beverages they have, being categorized either under Modern or Vintage.

Having one server manning the entire restaurant (which includes about 6 tables indoors, a bar that seats about 8 people and the patio hosting another couple of tables), I was amazed at how frequently present, informative and friendly she remained with us. Most servers would’ve been frazzled and short with this many customers to tend to but somehow our glasses were magically filled to the rim most of the time and our questions about the ingredients and production of each dish were answered with detail and confidence.

Only a short while after ordering, our appetizer was brought out. Before I even took a bite of this delightfully layered poutine, I already noticed that the fries were indeed fresh, seeing the potato skin making a humble yet obvious existence. This was certainly not made with the same rush of a fast-food poutine but rather a dish carefully tiered to avoid having any of its key components from being too clumped together. No matter which way I dug into this dish, I was sure to have a fork-full of just the right blend of fries, gravy and cheese.

Lunch was served shortly and I was thrilled to take my first bite into one of their (less quirky) items on the menu (sorry, I wasn’t feeling too adventurous this time around). I personally judge a good BLT by the thickness and my ability to gnaw into the sandwich. Hyde’s BLT, without a doubt passed my (not so formal) test with flying colors. I also appreciated the freshness of the tomatoes and lettuce, along with the chicken breast which isn’t traditionally included in a BLT but was worth the addition. I’m not sure what type of bread they used but it felt like the portion was never ending. This may be a good or bad thing depending on how hungry one is or if one is willing to carry a doggy-bag at the end of their meal. I had a choice of soup, salad or fries with this entre and being a cream of mushroom soup-fanatic, I naturally chose the soup. Although it was a tad on the salty side, I ate through most of it as I enjoyed finding huge pieces of sliced mushroom throughout the soup.

I have to admit, I did end up feeling full after wolfing down ¾’s of my BLT and soup, so I had the rest to go and saved just enough room to steal some of my husband’s order, the pork sliders with coleslaw. I’m not really sure if these can even be called “sliders” (mini hamburgers) as they didn’t taste like your traditional burger nor were they mini. Instead of your conventional beef patty, the jalapeno infused cornbread sandwiched heaps of savory grilled pulled pork that together created a taste of being at a backyard family barbecue. The coleslaw was also a great partner to these “sliders” and continued the trend of alternative ingredients for everyday dishes.

As the end of our winter season would have it, the weather didn’t stay warm and the sun quickly went down so we didn’t end up eating at the patio as I had planned, but this wasn’t to say our drive to Vancouver wasn’t worth the gas. I thoroughly enjoyed our lunch at this restaurant and consider Hyde as Main Street’s version of the Cheers pub, where everybody seemed to know everybody’s name – only with tastier food and an ambiance that keeps one feeling “curiouser and curiouser.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Somebody Pinch Me!!!!

Is this really happening?

It's been about 3 to 4 years since the last time I sipped on one of these things but the day has finally come where I don't have to be scared of my caffeine consumption. Oh happy day.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

3 reasons why I came over

I am not a fan of cupcakes but these were just heavenly

Planning on getting this for the husband for V-day (shh)

Good way to start the evening

1/3 of what I came for

A 2008 issue but she was still a hottie - surprise surprise

Dinner is almost ready (Chicken Parmesan)

Cheese stuffed ravioli

Home-made pasta sauce

Time to plate!

The other 1/3 of what I came for


My Chinese New Year gift that had 100 different wrappers all with the same candy inside

We didn't have room BUT it's that time of the month for the both of us so we went for it.
I went to my friend's house for dinner tonight and as usual, she prepared the tastiest meal and opened up her fridge to me (I should get her a sign that says "mi refrigerador es su refrigerador"). She was also sweet enough to ask one of her friends who came from Japan to pick up an issue for my birthday (yes, the blessings are still coming!). I didn't post a picture of my friend but she is obviously the last 1/3 of why I came. She has the biggest heart and gives me so many reasons to come over time and time again.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cattle Cafe, Burnaby

My BFF and I decided to do a GNO (Girl's Night Out) tonight (sans the little one and the husband and her BF) and ate at one of her favorite spots, The Cattle Cafe (in Burnaby). Don't be fooled by the name of the restaurant - their menu is not comprised of beef and only beef products. We actually came for the soup which I didn't end up having because I chose to have pork instead lol (oh the details that should really go unmentioned).
My take on the place: it was alright - nothing special or a HAVE-TO-DINE-HERE sort of place for me. Other than the soup they were serving, most of the dishes I saw were very "cook-able" at home. Regardless, the prices were reasonable and the assortment was generous. The only negative thing I could really say about the place is: save your money and buy your bubble tea elsewhere. The one shown above was a fresh-fruit papaya slush shake which was a tad on the bland side. Anyway, the trip was worth it because my catch up session with my BFF was priceless :)
We decided to go to Chapter's afterward and found ourselves sitting on a bean bag and some stuffed animals while reading fashion magazines. We couldn't believe how much the VOGUE one cost (approx. $60 USD) so we flipped through it frantically, trying to soak every little bit that we could since we weren't planning on purchasing it.
 To my dismay, I was stuck with 3 of my monthly "go-to" magazines that unfortunately had 3 celebrities on the cover who I can't stand. This has always been enough for me to back away from purchasing any book or magazine, despite how brilliant the content may be inside.
The last mag I picked up was a MAXIM as I find them entertaining - getting inside the male mind and all. I didn't really get to flip through this one though because my BFF and I spent most of the hour setting up her new Blackberry. 
Nevertheless, it was time well spent. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Red Lobster, Aberdeen

It was my mom's birthday so I chose for us to have lunch somewhere she hadn't been to so naturally, we headed for the border. It's a good thing we don't have a Red Lobster in Vancouver or BC for that matter because this place is heaven for those of us who love salty and buttery food. Regardless, I eat here probably once every couple of years (last time was when I was in Winnipeg 3 or 4 years ago) so it was a nice little treat. 

(The true treat however, was the shopping apres-lunch ;)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

MY GREEK TAVERYNA, Coquitlam (My Birthday Dinner)

How all our cakes will look after singing Happy Birthday and before cutting it, thanks to my little one's quick Karate-chopping hands.

My real birthday evening was spent with family at My Greek Taverna in Coquitlam. I decided to order something different from my usual beef souvlaki and found that I should've stuck with that one. The dolmades dinner was so-so but it was my birthday dinner (and mom's treat) so I made the best of it. If you are looking for the best dolmades in Vancouver, you have to go to Stepho's. That's where I had my very first taste and experience and maybe it set the standard too high, but that's not a bad thing is it? Anyway, the company (and stealing a bunch of calamari from my mom's plate) made up for it. Oh having some of the cake spelling "Happy Birthday Justing" was a nice way to end the evening. I would say that I had a very nice birthday but I don't celebrate "birthdays." I celebrate birth "weeks" or "months" and this year, I choose to feel special and get what I want for the remainder of this month.

Feeling overly entitled,

My Friends know me too well...

What do you get someone who you know loves fashion and is a shopaholic? Well you get them something they don't have 10 of! My closest knew exactly what to get me: cookbooks, interior design magazines and a gift card for more books or magazines! By the time we move into a bigger home, I want to own tons of cookbooks and books on interior design and fashion. I really am getting older. I've graduated from reading and owning magazines to actual books... imagine that.