I’m a regular at Tasting Plates for a few reasons:
1: I’m a sucker for variety
2: I love the type of people who take part : social, food lovers (in a nutshell)
3: I get to try out restaurants that I haven’t been to (and revisit some that I have)
It makes perfect sense then that I would join Vancouver Foodster, and my fellow Vancouverites, on another culinary adventure. Richard’s most recent edition was focused on Commercial Drive, otherwise known simply as “The Drive” or “Little Italy”. There are more than 400 business on The Drive, from Venables to 13th Avenue, many of which are cafés, coffee shops, diners and restaurants. You want Mexican Food? You got it. Ethiopian? That too. How about Sushi? You bet. And the list goes on…
On our tour we tried out a handful of cuisines that varied in ethnic roots, from Italian to Vietnamese.
Here’s what we ate:
Prado Cafe @PradoCafe1938
Iced coffees, Ice Tea and Espresso Macchiatos
Mini cookies “with no name”
I ordered the macchiato, and loved it. I’m instantly elated when I know that a coffee shop does a traditional macchiato rather than the Starbucks version. The “latté art” was nothing to write home about, but it was in a paper cup, and technically wasn’t a latté, so I’ll give them a break.
Prado is modern, clean and fairly basic, but they’ve got a wicked espresso machine, friendly staff and they make some incredible treats. The cookies we tasted were delicious: warm and soft in the middle, with a peanut butter oat flavor, just enough chocolate, and a mini marshmallow to top it off.
Via Tevere Pizzeria @ViaTeverePizza
Pizza! It was a shame that we didn’t get to sit in the restaurant because it looks lovely inside: warm, cozy, and slightly romantic. We were focusing on their new food truck this time around, so we sat down in their back patio (covered), with some basil on our table and two slices of pizza in front of us. My favorite of the two was the Capricciosa pizza because I’m a carnivore and I love mushrooms. This is the kind of pizza that has bubbled crust, is easily foldable, has thin crust and minimal sauce. Love it or hate it, it’s just short of being qualified for the VPN.
Gelateria Dolce Amore @DolceAmore6
Featured three flavours of Gelato including Strawberry Buttermilk, Hazelnut and Polenta.
I wasn’t offered Polenta, which is fine with me because I was more than content with the other two. This was the most flavourful and creamy gelato that I’ve had in Vancouver. My favourite of the two was the Hazelnut, but the Strawberry Buttermilk was just a nose behind.
Siddartha’s Indian Kitchen @ChefSiddharthas
Aloo Tiki (V) and Sesame covered Chicken Goliya
I’ve been to Siddartha’s before, so I know what Siddartha is actually capable of. I don’t think these tiny portions were a great reflection of the dishes that he creates, especially since I showed up at the last-minute, thus receiving the “dregs”. I suggest you pop in to share a dish or two with a friend, and say hello to Chef Sidd for me, he’s lovely! Also be sure to check out the great mural on the side of the building.
La Mezcaleria @LaMezcaleriaYVR
Ceviche, Guacamole (V) and Beans (V)
During Tasting Plates, this seemingly popular restaurant was open for business, which meant that those on the tasting tour had up to a 40 minute wait! Many, including myself, put their name on the list and returned when a table was ready so that they didn’t waste so much time. Others, showed that patience was one of their virtues….
The ceviche was citrusy and refreshing, and the guacamole was smooth and light, both contrasting the heavy, thick refried beans. The tortilla scoops were not only adorable and a great container for the two dishes, but they tasted great with them, adding that much-needed texture.
Ceviche is a popular dish in South America but, since I’ve never been there, my best experience with ceviche was at El Camello in Tulum, Mexico. Traditionally it is eaten at lunch or brunch with many cevicherías closing in the late afternoon. The reason? By the afternoon, the fish is no longer fresh. Knowing this, purists may shake their head if they see you ordering it for dinner, and you may get a slightly “fishier” taste. Fresh is best!
Pasture To Plate @PasturetoPlate1
A variety of sausages with garlic aioli and mustards.
Herb crusted beef Carpaccio with roasted garlic aioli or a parmesan truffle aioli on crostini.
Mini Pizettas made with bite size rounds of puff pastry. Caramelized onions, bacon and plum slice.
Mini Porchetta bites on focaccia with an orange and pinenut gremolata & basil/arugula pesto. (V)
I’m a meat-lover, so I pretty much enjoyed everything on my plate, to the point that, when some people didn’t finish theirs…and I considered taking it. Weird? Probably.
The mini porcetta bite was spiced perfectly and complemented perfectly by the pesto and gremolata, and the pizettas were like dessert – sweet with just a hint of savory crunch from the bacon. I loved the carpaccio with the creamy, truffle aioli!
We also sampled some Kombucha from Ethical Sodas. My favourite was the cassis, with the lavender a close second.
Jasmin and Felix, the owners of Pasture to Plate, fell in love with “The Drive” and decided that was where they wanted to open a retail shop. While I personally think the area is more about cheap eats, there’s no denying that many of the nearby residents have a soft spot for their animal friends and are conscious eaters. With photos of production from “pasture to plate” donning the walls, Jazmin and Felix are certainly doing a good job of targeting that market, while also showing their desire to be transparent and sustainable.
Five Elements Cafe @5ElementsCafe
Three menus were presented to guests to choose from:
Crispy Spring Roll, Green Papaya & Shrimp Salad, Shrimp on Sugar Cane and Creamy Pumpkin Coconut Soup
Menu B: Vegan option (my choice)
Crispy Spring Roll, Green Papaya & Tofu Salad, Coconut Curry and Tom Yum Thai Hot & Sour Soup
Choose 1 of the Noodle Soups:
Phở- Rice noodles Soup – Choice of Chicken, Beef or Tofu & Vegetables
Phở Saté Peanut Sauce: Rice Noodle Soup-Choice of Chicken, Beef or Tofu & Vegetables
Hủ Tíu Nam Vang – Phnom Penh Mixed Seafood & Pork on Rice Noodle Soup
Bún Bò Huế – Spicy Lemongrass Beef & Pork Vermicelli Noodles Soup
Being a sucker for variety actually worked against me this time. Ariane (ArianeCDesign), ordered the peanut noodle soup with tofu and as soon as it was served I was immediately sitting there in envy. I contemplated that same soup with chicken and was kicking myself for not ordering it. That said, I loved the Coconut Curry! I found the spring roll to be too doughy, and with more “packaging” than filling. The Tom Yum Thai Hot & Sour Soup struck me as more sweet than hot or sour, but I loved the chunks of veggies swimming about. The Green Papaya Tofu Salad was light and refreshing.
I found out after leaving this restaurant that they serve bubble tea with all fresh fruit. I’ll be back for one of those (apparently they’re decently priced) and for some noodle soup this time.
For more high-resolution photos check out my TastingPlatesYVR set on Flickr.
Find out more and buy tickets to the next Tasting Plates in North Vancouver here.