So I feel compelled to write about my experience at Brown’s Social House last weekend.  Now, it was the first and only time I’ve been to the Kits location, and I admit I didn’t have any food, but I just want to talk a little bit about the service I received.

I spent a week planning my girlfriend’s 30th birthday, and surfed around a bit for a good spot to host the celebration.  I invited about 15 people with the assumption that 8-10 would show up.  I knew I wanted to have the event at around 8pm (so people who didn’t want to eat wouldn’t feel pressured to order dinner), and I wanted to pick someplace that would be really condusive to socializing and maybe having a few appetizers with drinks.

I decided on Brown’s Social House because it was a good location for our friends to get to, it got dynamite reviews for atmosphere and staff, and wasn’t too expensive.  Everything was in place down to the smallest detail.  I admit I obsessed a bit because the last thing I wanted to do was ruin someone’s 30th birthday.  Turning 30 is grounds alone for a ruined day, anyway.

That’s when I realized I’d forgotten one small-little-itsy-bitsy-minute-almost microscopic detail:  I didn’t make a reservation.  Oops.  I can’t take me anywhere.

I didn’t think it would be a big deal.  I thought everything would work out.  My girlfriend trusted me to make sure everything ran smoothly.  Hmmm….

So we arrived at about 7:15 to make sure we didn’t miss anyone.  The place was absolutely busting at the seams.  There wasn’t a table to be had anywhere.  I started to get that sinking feeling in my stomach, naturally.  I was pretty sure we were going to have to get a booth at Denny’s and all bring flasks.

So we explained the situation to the staff.  They seemed pretty calm in relation to me (but so would an air traffic controller in a blizzard).  They said most of the tables were reserved (the one we really wanted, in particular).  So they seated us on the heated patio and said they would do some manuvering to make sure they could accomodate our party.

They went out of their way to make room for us in the back, got our drinks, and were really adamant about updating the status of our request.  After about 30 minutes a gentleman came back and said he had found us a spot, and hoped it would be OK.  He took our half-consumed drinks and led us to our table.  That’s when I saw the angels…

It was probably the best table in the house.  A 10 seater booth right near the washrooms and servers station.  I could see sunshine and heavenly lights radiating from it.  I feel like the whole staff had surrounded the table with their arms extended welcoming us to the spot.  It was absolutely perfect.  They said it was no problem at all, but I imagine it took a little creativity to secure such a desirable table.  We sat down and it was one of the most comfortable booths we’d ever been in.

So our guests began to file in, 10 in all, and the staff was excellent.  The servers cheerful and friendly, helpful to a fault, and absolute naturals as what they do.  It was just the right kind of service for our event.

With the labour shortage and constant turn-over experienced in a restaurant, it’s difficult to find that perfect consistency.  They made our evening outstanding.  I’d have to say it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.  Under the circumstances, it could have been a lot worse.

So my girlfriend had a wonderful evening, I didn’t have to move any of my books off the couch, and we all went home happy.  Now it’s never appropriate to judge a place on one visit, but they earned my respect and certainly another visit.  Next time I’ll have some food and report back.  If the food is half as good as the accomodation, I might just make it my official go-to hang.

Brown’s Social House

2296 W 4th Ave, Vancouver
Tel: 604-733-2420

Have you ever been to a restaurant and said, “I can’t wait to come back here again!” and then the next day, you actually do? I never had…until I went to Cobre Restaurant. Always up for a new culinary adventure, I sauntered up to the bar greeted by an inviting room, a welcoming kitchen and lovely staff. The two fine gentlemen who entertained me turned out to be two thirds of Cobres’ owners. Jason, who is also the beverage manager and Stuart, whose passion and detail in describing the Nuevo Latino menu, proved that he commanded the kitchen. The third, Tyson is the G.M. and trained chef who collaborates with Stuart on the menu.

My journey consisted of Tuna Ceviche, Wild Mexican Sea Prawns and Pan Seared BC Sablefish. I took family there the next weekend and my boyfriend and I now indulge ourselves regularly. Cobre surpasses expectations on all counts – service, ambiance, and food are exemplary. I highly recommend sitting at the bar and getting to know Jason, Stuart and Tyson. You’ll want to visit them every chance you get.
“…blending the passion of Argentina with the exuberance of Cuba, the sultriness of Brazil, and the joy of Mexico.” 52 Powell Street, at Columbia Vancouver BC in Gastown.

~ Kimberlee Alexander

Cobre Restaurant logo

Tapastree

March 5, 2009

By Natalie Carriere

Here’s a wonderful place to celebrate Valentines Day. Tapastree
has been a keystone on the Vancouver restaurant scene since 1997 and in
restaurant years, that’s a lifetime. Treat yourself to dinner there and
you’ll soon see why Tapastree has been a top rated establishment time
and time again.

With a warm atmosphere and delicious food, Tapastree
like drinking a rich Brunello in front of a roaring fireplace while
watching the snow fall out of your window. Prawns grilled with pesto,
flat iron steak with peppercorn sauce and my favorite, buttermilk fried
chicken. Tapastree is also known for their wine list which features
prices and tastes to suit every budget. Never disappointed, always
wanting more and pleasantly full – that’s what you will get with a
visit to Tapastree.

1829 Robson St., Vancouver, BC 604-606-4680

Kimberlee Alexander

Tapastree

Yew Restaurant

March 5, 2009

By Nathalie Carriere

Cuban born Executive Chef, Rafael Gonzalez has a new playground. The last time I stepped foot into the Four Seasons Hotel Restaurant, I remember a somewhat out dated atmosphere that was not indicative to the hotel’s high standards. The Four Season’s finally decided to do a renovation of epic proportions to the dining and bar area and the new space is now called YEW, after the rare indigenous Pacific Yew tree. With 20 foot high ceilings, hints of a nature-focused theme, a 2 faced stone fireplace that divides the lounge from the dining area and a glassed cellar room – This new face lift is definitely a “step up”.

If you get a chance to drop in, here are my recommendations: “Braised Veal Cheeks, Torchiette Pasta Moonstruck White Grace, Walnuts, Cipollinis” ($16), “Parsnip and Coconut Soup, Dungeness Crab, Coconut Crisps” ($14) and to share for two the “Spicy Paella, Lobster, Prawns and Clams, Chorizo, Honey Mussels and Chicken” ($61). Yew restaurant

Pinky’s Steakhouse

March 5, 2009

Here’s a classic steak house with a reasonably priced menu and a great selection of wines

Pinkys Steakhouse oozes sex-appeal. Sit cozy in their half-moon booths and take in the atmosphere, trimmed with splashes of red flora and accented with damask printed wallpaper. If you only have time for a drink, they have a welcoming circular bar in the center of the room.

Needless to say, so up my alley.

Here’s the course: You must start off with the Spicy Kobe Meatballs ($12), a side of Scallop Potatoes ($7) and follow up with the 7 oz Steak & Lobster ($40) and finish it off with a fluffy Key Lime Pie ($7). Here’s the pre-warning, you’re going to have to roll yourself out.

Pinkys Steakhouse – Yaletown Location
1265 Hamilton Street, Vancouver BC
604.637.3135, info@pinkyssteakhouse.com

Pinkys steak house

Ok:  Who HASN’T told you about their FAVORITE sushi place around town.  Pretty much everyone you know has a go-to spot that is ABSOLUTELY the best.  No question.

Some people want great quality, therefore are willing to spend a bit extra.  A lot of us like the sit-and-go 18 pcs + miso for $5.95 lunch.  I’ve had a lot of those specials, and find them to be satisfying, but standard across the board.  Rarely do the two worlds mesh.

Hold up.  A shockingly inexpensive, carefully prepared sushi tray you need both hands to hold doesn’t exist only in a vacuum or alternate universe.  It just takes forever to get it once you know where to go (you know what they say about 2 out of 3).

Sushi Town (5935 Hastings St., Burnaby) a “best kept secrets” selection in the “word’s already out” class meets all the requisite sushi qualifications in a big way.  Some of the specials:

Tuna or Salmon Sashimi (9 big pcs) = $7.95

Alaska Roll (6pcs) + 2 Salmon, 1 Ebi, 1 Tuna Nigiri = $7.75

Cali 1/2 Roll + Dynamite Roll + Tuna Roll + Salmon Roll = $7.95

Now if the prices don’t shock you, the portions will.  Sushi Town offers some of the largest pieces of sashimi and sushi around, and the roll presentations are fantastic to boot.  Combo B ($23.95, 46 pcs) could either feed a family of 6 or me.  The atmosphere is very tasteful (albeit a bit crowded) and you’re guaranteed to never leave hungry for more.

Tip:  Peak hours are just that: you’ll feel like you’re climbing to the top of a very skinny, crowded mountain with only your fellow patrons as fall protection.  It’s very busy most of the time, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself being a bit proactive to snag a server.  If you set aside enough time, and don’t mind sitting close to your neighbour (think 99 B Line at 8am on a Monday) then Sushi Town is a must try (you only need to go once every two days because what you don’t finish will be lunch for tomorrow).

I recently made my first trip to Burgoo (3096 Main St.) and left feeling the way everyone loves to feel after dining out for an evening: full and still with a few spare bills in my wallet.  This visit convinced me that, pound for pound, few restaurants can offer up the same hearty portions, great prices and friendly atmosphere for which Burgoo has become so well known.

But let me tell you…my experience is based on appetizers alone.  I’ve yet to sample an entrée, but if they’re anything like my appetizers, I may need to skip them next time and go straight to the main course.

Burgoo is at the former site of a laundromat and, more recently, a Subway Restaurant.  Outside, the patio is perfect for casual summer drinks and dining, with an attractive wood and stone exterior and a neon sign.

Inside, the dark, rich, Tudor-trimmed interior evokes images of working-class England and Ireland, with stonework and tile creating a more elegant balance that perfectly reflects the upscale, flavourful pub food served at this budding establishment.

My visit here was brief, so I was only able to sample the Burgoo Biscuits ($4.99) and BC Pacific Chowder.  What I didn’t realize was how satisfied I could be from such a seemingly innocent snack!

The biscuits were soft, moist and perfectly infused with parsley and cheddar cheese.  For someone who spent two years in the gravy-and-biscuits-rich southern United States, I didn’t think I could find such a worthy offering so far from my old home.

I did manage to save two of the four of my biscuits for my BC Pacific Chowder ($8.00), which was a rich and flavourful portion with satisfying chunks of smoked salmon and potatoes folded perfectly into a fishy-but-not-too-fishy thick broth.  The staff was friendly and accommodating, adding yet another highlight to the first-class experience.