Friday, July 30, 2010

Rockin Red Robin at Lunch

Vancouver - Today for lunch I met some coworkers for lunch at Red Robin (4640 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC). 

Our friends were already there, so there was no waiting for a table as they already had one.  We caught up socially for a little bit, so I didn't take the usual time to peruse the menu.   This being my first time to a Red Robin Restaurant I thought I would try what made them famous.  So like anyone should on their first time at a Swiss Chalet (Chicken), I ordered a Hamburger. 

The Order: Simply Grilled Beef Burger with unlimited fries and a Dr. Pepper. (Note: Others ordered other items but I can't remember what they ordered nor did I try them).

The waitress through the entire meal was very attentive to our needs.  Our drinks came fairly quickly and were refilled just before our glasses were drained.  I never did get to suck on an ice cube as the waitress was quick to fill up our glasses.

The food also came quickly.  The only downside was the amount of fries that came with it.  But in hindsight they were fat thick steak fries.  I easily devoured the delicious hamburger.  Then it was onto the french fries.  The fries were thick and potatoie.   The fries are very good with a little ketchup, but would also suffice by themselves. 

Overall I found the service and food were exquisite.  But this should be expected at a burger place.  The burger market is quite competitive with White Spot, Red Robin, McDonalds, Wendy's and Burger King.  Thus, Red Robin competes by providing quality food products and upping the ante when it comes to service and amount of food (i.e. unlimited fries and pop).

If your in the mood for a burger and find yourself in British Columbia or Alberta (the only two provinces with Red Robin unfortunately) try out Red Robin.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ai Caramba!: A Mediocre Restaurant

Whistler - Today we visited Whistler, BC for a day trip into the mountains.  We arrived shortly after 1 P.M. Pacific Time (Vancouver Time) and started looking for a place to eat. 
We looked at one of the local tourist maps and chose Elephant & Castle.  However, when we arrived there we noticed the location was closed and wouldn't open until 3:00 P.M.  I double checked the map and it said the location served "Lunch & Dinner."  Um...if you serve "Lunch & Dinner" don't you need to be open for at least the noon hour through to eight o'clock?  Just askin. 

So we changed directions and started looking.  We stopped and eyed the Caramba Restaurante (4314 Main Street, Whistler, BC) menu and headed inside.    

We reviewed the menus and ordered our drinks (glasses of Whistler's finest wet water all round!) and then made our food order. 

The Order: 1 Margherita Pizza ($13.95) and Two Caramba! Club (Sandwich) with Salad($10.95) and a B.B.Q. Pork Sandwhich with Salad ($10.95).  

Our orders came within fifteen minutes of being ordered.  But this should be expected as we were one of two tables occupied.  The other table had nine young mothers discussing everything to do with babies and were already well into eating their meal when we were seated at the table next to them.  Besides us and the table of mothers, the rest of the restaurant was empty!  Just a question, why would you sit two tables so close together instead of spacing us out a little bit?

The Margherita Pizza was the size of a plate and the crust was very thin.  If it wasn't for the delicious tomato sauce, this pizza would have been a failure.  Besides for that price, I could have gone to Dominos, also nearby, and ordered a decent sized pizza and shared it with someone.  Thus, due to the size of the pizza and the taste I was left a little hungary. 

I tried some of the Caramba! Chicken Club Sandwich.  It tasted like any other chicken based club sandwhich except for the mayonaise.  WHERE WAS THE MAYO?   The side salad portion was a complete joke.   The portion was barely the size of my fist. 

The total bill came to over $50.00 including taxes.  We left the restaurant feeling slightly full (but not totally) and receiving very little value for our money.

We left the restaurant partially full onto our adventure at Whistler and Blackomb Villages (see other blog entry from today).

Oh the Mountains!

Vancouver / Whistler - Today we headed to Whistler, British Columbia for a little mountainous sightseeing.  The ride up the Sea to Sky Highway was amazing. There were mountains to our right, the ocean and rivers to the left and waterfalls here and there.   Most of all, great big gorgeous Douglas Fir Trees.  

Two hour drive later we pulled into Whistler Village, home of the Olympic Skiing and Sliding Venus for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.  The bright blue skies only exaggerated the imposing view of the surrounding mountains of Whistler and Blackomb.   We had lunch at Caramba Restaurante (I had a Margerhita Pizza) and headed out to villages of Whistler and Blackomb for a walk around to see what was going on.  The views of the buildings and trees being overlooked by the mountains were exquisite.  Overall it was a fun visit.

On the way home we stopped off at Tantalus Lookout which looked like this:

Overall it was a great day out of Vancouver.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bicycling Stanley Park and Watching Planes take off

Vancouver - Today we slept in a little bit then headed off to Stanley Park.  We rented a Tandem Bicycle from Spokes and were off on two wheels to explore the Stanley Park Seawall.  Overall we cycled for about 1.5 hours.  Along the way there was faboulous views of North Vancouver, the Rocky Mountains, the Lions Gate Bridge and Downtown Vancouver.   All for about thirty dollars and change.  It was quite fun cycling along letting the wind blow threw my hair. 

After returning the bike we had lunch at White Spot and had a walk along Coal Harbour.  At Coal Harbour we hung out on a park bench watching the float planes take off and land in Vancouver Harbour. 


We then headed over to Robson Street walked along until the Vancouver Art Gallery.  The Gallery has a special on Tuesday's where admission is by donation from 5-9 P.M.  It took an hour to visit the Gallery from bottom to top.  It wasn't that impressive a collection, in fact, we thought it was quite small compared to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa or the Gugenheim in New York City.  Thus, I was a little shocked to see the regular price of admission is $22.00 for an adult (then they have the audacity to ask for donations on the second floor).  Overall, your best bet is to visit the Vancouver Museum on Tuesdays 5-9 for a donation of max ten dollars. 

Overall, yet another good day in Vancouver.

Monday, July 26, 2010

North Vancouver & UBC

Vancouver - Today we headed off to the Seabus and the Lynn Canyon Park Suspension Bridge (Read: Why pay $30.95 per adult to walk over the Capilano when the Lynn Park is free...yup...butkiss, zero, zip nada...I rest my case).  

It was a faboulous trip over on the Seabus from Vancouver to the Lonsdale Quay and Lonsdale Quay Market.  We nosed around the Market for half an hour, looked up the bus schedule and were on our way up to the Lynn Canyon Park Suspension Bridge.    We spent an hour at the Lynn Canyon Park hiking and bouncing on the suspension bridge over the falls on Lynn Creek.  The view was spectacular. 

Following the Suspension Bridge we returned to the Lonsdale Quay Market for lunch at McDonald's (I was having a Big Mac Attack...nuff said).   After lunch we hopped on the Seabus to return to Vancouver.   From Waterfront Station we headed over to University of British Columbia (UBC) for walkabout of the campus.  We discovered a breathaking view of the mountains behind the Museum of Anthropology (we'll visit the museum later when we have more time). 

Here is a sample of that view:

Note:  I've started uploading more photos of my trip on the Vancouver page of the Scrapbook Section of My Website.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Karen & Erick Yuen's Wedding

Vancouver - Yesterday was my first Cantonese Chinese Wedding (Peter and Alice gave me my first taste of a Chinese Wedding).  I had a lot of fun. 

First we had an afternoon reception.  I got to meet my Wife's large extended family (you need a programme to keep track of them all) and then dinner later in the day at the Rainflower Restaurant in Richmond. 

It was a lot of fun being part of the Groom's family.  At one point, the Bride, Groom, Wedding Party and the entire immediate family travelled to each table and toasted.  Over twenty-five tables later my glass was empty. 

The food was delicious.  We had everything from fried pork, to fish, to shark fin soup.  I've really enjoyed the past couple of days enjoying true chinese food traditions including "Dim Sum," "Yum cha," and now a Wedding Banquet.  

A few videos from the banquet....

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hon of a Good Time at Hon's

Vancouver - This afternoon we stopped off at Hon's (1339 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC) for lunch while on a tour of Downtown Vancouver.

We were seated immediatly after walking in the front door by a smiling waitress who dropped off the menus and poured some tea.

We quickly reviewed the menus and ordered a couple of lunch specials.

The Order: Budha's feist with rice with corn soap and Wun-Tun soup and beef and vegetables with rice.

After ordering I quickly reviewed the decor. It is a simple "tile everywhere" decor with long tables to sit people at. Basically this location is to get you in the door, sit down, eat and leave. Good Service and decent food portions are the order of the day at Hon's. But a Ritz Carlton restaurant this is not.

The food was piping hot and very delicious. The rice and sauce with my beef provided a symbiotic relationship of taste (sauce) and texture (rice). The beef was great too! The only downfall was the delicious broccolli included.

Really the only issue at this place, if you come for lunch, is the fact that the portions are way to large. You definately will not go home hungry from Hon's.

Welcome to Vancouver!

Vancouver - Yvonne and I arrived Wednesday night in Vancouver.

Our trip was a little adventurous. First we headed to Richmond Hill Centre Terminal (Yonge & Highway 7 near the movie theatre) to take the GO Transit Airport Express. What a trip...just over 20 minutes from Richmond Hill Centre and we are standing at the entrance to Terminal cool is that?

Anywho... we headed up three floors in the brand spanking new Terminal 1...but were a little freaked out when the Departures Board said our flight had been cancelled. So we had to wait in line in order to rebook our flight. We rebooked onto another Air Canada Flight leaving at the same time for the same destinations (Vancouver with connections to Sydney, Australia and Hong Kong) It was like they didn't want us to have the ability to express check in. So we waited for like 15 minutes in line to check in as there were only two agents on duty. ARGH!

Then we got to security. Yvonne went to one screener and zipped through. I on the other hand had to go through the heavy duty security. There was a family of four (two parents with young children). Each person had to be patted down. I got patted down too, it just seemed to take forever.

We eventually got to eat at Tim Hortons in the secure area. I have a new appreciation for the Tim Hortons in Aurora now. It seemed like we there forever before getting our food. Why is it that as soon as we waited in line, got our food, sat down, ate and were cleaning up that the line shortened to one or two people. As Christine would say "What's up with that?"

We mosied towards our gate. I stopped off at the convenience store to pick up a Toronto Star...another FIASCO! This gentleman in front of me but this ceramic frog. The only cashier on duty was determined to take her sweet time in hunting for a box elsewhere in the store. I gave up and left. I came back when Yvonne told me she needed the facilities. But then I got stuck behind three other people buying t-shirts...this threw off the single cashier. Eventually the manager came out and opened the other cash. She was quick!

We boarded without any issues. Oh, I forgot, in true Air Canada fashion, they seated Yvonne BEHIND me instead of next too me on the plane. No room to seat us next to each other? There was an empty aisle seat next to Yvonne whereas I ended up in front of her at the window seat. It wasn't too bad though, except when annoying lady in the row in front laughed at her little sitcom so the entire Boing 777 plane could hear it (yes we were on the largest plane I've ever seen. It makes a little plane at Buttonville Airport look like a flying ant). Then she tilted her seat back and I had my nose almost pressed against the video screen. It was hillarious. The lady sitting next to me was from Sydney. She had the coolest Australian accent. BLIMY! She said Air Canada seated her boyfriend like 10 rows behind her and also cancelled her flight.

We took off 15 minutes after scheduled departure time and arrived in Vancouver at 10:30 PST (Vancouver Time) or 1:30 A.M. in Toronto. We waited at least 15 minutes for our luggage to arrive on the carousel. Michelle and Mommy came and picked us up and we headed off to McDonald's on No 3 Road in Richmond for a meal before heading home. We arrived home and climbed into bed at about 4 A.M. EST (Toronto Time). To say the least Yvonne and I almost stayed up for 24 hours straight.
An interesting sight I spotted last night on the way home from the Vancouver airport, there were these lights that looked like stars hovering above the city. I thought they were stars, but it didn't make sense as below, to the left, to the right and above there was darkness...what was this select stars coming on in order to be energy efficient? No just the ski lights on Cypress Mountain. COOL!

Looking out the condo windows this morning I can see the Queensborough Bridge and the Rocky Mountains off in the distance. I would take a photo but it is a little overcast right now and we are about to leave for adventures.   More adventures and pictures coming soon. 

Watch the Vancouver Section of the Scrapbook Section of My Website.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

How a 75 Cent Coupon Turned into Free Detergent & Money in my Pocket

On Saturday my wife and I headed to No Frills with two coupons for $0.75 off Arm & Hammer Detergent in hand from   We cruised the aisles working on our grocery list.  We stopped off at the cleaning aisle at the skid where the Arm & Hammer Detergents were on sale (as per the flyer) for $1.97 a bottle.  We selected the two varieties that matched our coupons and ventured on.

At the cash register the cashier looked over our coupons ten times then looked at the bottles and looked at the coupons again.  She rang them through and put the coupons in.   I watched the prices come up on her computer screen and pointed out one of the Arm & Hammer laundry detergents through at $4.97 a bottle.  The cashier claimed this one wasn't on sale and proceeded to look for her flyer to show me which ones were on sale.

I looked at her quiscially pointing out I got this one off the skid in the middle of the cleaning aisle with a clear price sign of $1.97 a bottle and that I couldn't have mistakenly picked up the wrong one as there were at least five other bottles of the same detergent also on that skid.  

The cashier paged grocery to investigate.  A stock man came by and looked at the detergent in question and dissappeared for two minutes.  While he was gone, the cashier rang through the rest of my groceries. 

The stock man returned and said confirmed the bottle in question was for sale.  I then interupted point out that Scanning Code of Practice, which LCL Companies subscribes too, says I should receive this item for free as it rang in at a  price than the posted price on the shelf.

The cashier looked quizically and then asked for help from the cashier at the next lane over.  She quickly explained the problem to the other cashier and that I had used a coupon as well.  He rang through the refund on the bottle in question, then put in the correct price of $1.97 and then refunded that as well. 

I paid for my purchases and left.  

On exiting from the grocery store I quickly ran through the transactions and noticed not only did I get the bottle of detergent for free, but the cashiers didn't take return the coupon too me or refund the coupon. 

My wife and I really should do some grocery shopping more like this.  On today's visit No Frills paid us to haul away one bottle of Arm & Hammer Laundry Detergent.  In future, No Frills, feel free to call me if you need help like this again.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hero of a Burger at Hero Certified Burgers

Today for lunch my wife and I ventured to Hero Certified Burgers (9625 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill).  We walked in around noon to find the place barren except for the friendly server behind the counter. 
Now normally we skip places that have nobody in them around lunch or dinner time fearing the worst.  However, today seemed different.  Hero Burger doesn't have a patio which may mean regulars to this establishment may be elsewhere on a nice sunshiny day like this.  

My wife and I dove right in and ordered. 

The Order: 2 4 OZ Hero Burger Combo (burger topped your way, plus fries and soft drink). 

The burgers are made to order so that they are freshly made when served.  This is unlike McDonald's where only the big man upstairs knows how long your burger has been sitting in a heating tray. 

We sat down with our soft drinks and waited for our burgers to be ready.  We expected perhaps a ten minute wait but were surprised it was only five. 

The total price of eight dollars and change (including taxes) for a combo may scare off some people, but I thought "this had better be good".  

I was right.  The burger itself was meaty and juicy.  The ingredients were fresh and the hamburger bun felt freshly semi gourmet made.

The fries were fresh cut potato wedges that reminded me of the fries I used to get at "Pivens" when visiting my Grandmother in Huntingdon, Quebec.  Soft, but good, fries.  

The soft drink?  Nothing to write home about.  The usual fountain Coke you would find anywhere.  

Overall, I wouldn't mind visiting Hero Burger as the food was excellent, the service fast and the place looked relatively clean.  A great place for a Saturday afternoon lunch.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Abruzzo Pizza = Meh

Tonight my wife and I got take out from Abruzzo Pizza (9010 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill, Ontario).  We ordered a Small Special Pizza as we had some premade salad already at home.

The Order: Small Special Pizza (Tomato Sauce, Cheese, Pepperoni, Mushrooms, Green Peppers, Bacon & Onions)

I placed the order at 6:05 P.M. and was told it would be ready at 6:25 P.M. I walked in the front door at that time on the dot and was pleasantly surprised to find my pizza ready for me, boxed and hot.

I made the quick trip home and opened the box. We really enjoyed the pizza but didn't find it too much better than any other pizza we had before. However, the only notable difference was the was a slightly higher quality.

But the value wasn't there for the price. The total came to $15.25 for a Small pizza with five toppings. I think I might be able get a medium sized pizza for a similar price.

We may try Abruzzo's again, but this place didn't have me after this, my first try.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Loving the Extra Time Spent NOT on the Bus

As I sit here typing I reminisce about where I was a year ago today.   Last year I was looking forward to getting married with not even an inkling of purchasing a house.  Also, last year I was suffering through a consistent commute time of over an hour fifteen minutes even through the imaginative scheduling by YRT/VIVA on their trip planner says it should take 50 minutes.  That is presuming the buses actually showed up closed to their real times on a consistent basis (that is because YRT scheduled times are completely laughable in some cases...just ask some of the drivers) and weren't experiencing delays. 

Now, a year later, I get home (to a house I actually own!) usually in forty five minutes at most.  But I will admit to walking 20 minutes in order to avoid one bus, TTC 107B (operating in York Region under contract by YRT), as it rarely seems to come on time over half the time. Although if everything goes right and somehow I catch an earlier 107B (i.e. the earlier scheduled one running late) than I can be home in thirty minutes.

Yup, I save about an hour round trip on my commute.  With a few other additions and subtractions to my work-life balance I go to bed much later and get up when I want.  In fact my mornings are wonderful.  I can lounge around or head straight to work if I feel so inclined.  Really it is up to me. 

What do I do with my extra time?  Oh let me count the ways:

1. My wife and I go to the library a little more often.

2. Go grocery shopping.

3. Cut the grass on a weeknight evening instead of during the day on a weekend. 

4. Unpacking...memo....I've almost been in my home for a month and I'm still not fully unpacked..I really should get on that...but I digress.

5. Blogging apparently, I've increased my postings a little bit after moving.

But most of all, I love not watching the VIVA bus inch up Yonge Street stuck in traffic and the bus' GPS unit showing a minus sign with a number getting larger and larger that only means the bus is falling further and further behind schedule.

In the future after I strike number four off the list I look forward to doing other things with my time.  What might that be?  At this stage I'm not really worried, but, like a passenger waiting for a YRT/VIVA bus, I will worry about it when the time comes. 

What a difference a year makes.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Tall Ships in Toronto

Today my wife and I headed down to Toronto's waterfront to take in the Tall Ships Festival.   Here is just a sampling of what we saw.

Looking down Bay Street at the Tall Ships.

The HMS Bounty

The Europa

Lots more can be found in the Toronto page of My Srapbook at my website.

Liberal Customer Service Part Trois

After floundering at Customer Service (see here and here), The Liberal finally came through! 

On my front stoop this morning, delivered before I even got a chance to look outside, was a copy of Saturday's Liberal newspaper. Everything, including the three flyers, was there with an elastic band around it. 

Finally someone at the Liberal took notice.  Too bad it took two complaints to The Liberal office to get this issue resolved.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Liberal Customer Service Part Deux

A little prereading is required on this post....see here for your assignment.

With that out of the way your up to speed where our continuing saga (soap opera?) of getting a correct local freebie newspaper delivered to my home may have ended.   If you thought so, like I did, you would be majorly WRONG!

Fast forward to the evening of Thursday July 1st.  I had just returned home from Canada Day celebrations in Aurora.  I checked my driveway to find what I thought was the usual Thursday Edition of The Liberal newspaper.  All the usual 20 flyers were there along with a York Region New Homes publication, but no Liberal.

I quickly returned to the driveway and checked my neighbour's edition.  Same stack of flyers and York Region New Homes.  

This morning I called The Liberal and spoke to the local supervisor for the area.  I let the supervisor know my name and immediatly clicked on who I was from my previous call last Monday.  I then told her what I found on my driveway last night.

The supervisor's reply was simple: "the carrier didn't have enough newspapers to complete his route" and she said the previous errors were done when the regular carrier was off on sick leave. 

I replied that if he was short on papers and since the carrier was aware of a previous complaint, perhaps the carrier should ensure at least my end of the street had correctly assembled and delivered newspapers. 

I also pointed out the article on The Liberal's very own website about how important customer service.  This last piece the Liberal Carrier Supervisor refused to even comment on.

I then said that I would be watching the delivery this weekend of the Saturday or Sunday paper (which is it really?...your front page date says one thing and your Editorial Page masthead says another) and would be making my decision if I wanted to have this newspaper delivered to me or not.

The Supervisor promised to look into the situation by calling the carrier to see what occurred.  I said she may also want to drive down to my street as when I left this morning there were still several copies of the paper people had yet to pick up.  I pointed out she could randomly sample these to see if the carrier was putting the paper together correctly or not. 

At the end of the call the supervisor promised me a phone call back as to what occurred.  I don't have much hope I will receive either a phone call back and/or a reasonable explanation.  

It's a pity really.  One would think that for a newspaper who claims to have started in 1878, simply ensuring proper delivery to a residential home wouldn't be rocket science.    But apparently for The Liberal it is.

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