Friday, September 18, 2015

"Granville" Siegel's Bagels

Siegel's Bagels Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Had a recent visit to Vancouver's Granville Island for a walkabout of the island including a stop off for a lunch at the famous Granville Public Market.

The first noticeable problem with dinging at Granville Island's Public Market is finding a table or bench to sit at.  There is very little seating available for all the ready made food options indoors.  Add to this a small section outdoors would seem to help alleviate the problem.  However, with large crowds, especially on weekends, all the available seating merely isn't adequate.

After touring the food options at the market and settling in our family to hard to find Saturday afternoon available seating, I returned to my first choice.

Siegel's Bagels (1689 Johnston Street, Vancouver) has a nice spread of freshly baked bagels laid out in a display case.  Siegel's makes wood fired Montreal bagels similar in nature to Ottawa's Kettleman's Bagels.  These bagels can then be prepared with your choice of cream cheese, sandwich topping choices and of course toasted.

Pack your patience at this Siegel's Bagels, as not only the Public Market crowds lead to decent lines here but also add in preparation time.  This is not merely a fast food joint!   I waited for three customers in front of me to order.  The worst had to be the last customer who couldn't figure out what she wanted while also asking questions left, right and center.  Finally, though she just stood there and let me go first.

The Order: 1 Cinnamon Raisin Bagel with plain Cream Cheese.

The order took about three minutes to put together which, along with the five minute wait to order, totaled eight minutes altogether.

I returned to my seat which had been hovered over a couple vulturous customers a couple of times asking if it was free, to enjoy my meal.

The cream cheese had melted slightly in the still warm freshly baked bagel.  This presented a nice tasty treat to go along with some coffee I picked up at another Granville Public Market stall.   The bagel was the usual soft chewy type that characterizes Montreal style bagels.  The only sad part?  I ate the bagel too fast.

Overall, Siegel's Bagels provides a fresh tasting bagel ready to be eaten right out of the wood fired oven.  Decent counter service for the size of the establishment is also there but do expect to wait a bit on busier days.  The only main issue that is really out of Siegel's Bagels control, is the lack of seating.  So be prepared on busier days to have to go elsewhere beyond the indoor seating to find a spot to eat your bagel delight.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Reconnection with Whitespot

White Spot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Recently, our family had the opportunity to visit a west coast family dining establishment that has done significantly well in British Columbia, White Spot (405 Dunsmuir Street, Vancouver, BC).

The Dunsmuir Street location is reported to be the biggest of the chain's stores when it opened in 2014.  Upon entering this location doesn't disappoint with it's wide open airy main floor restaurant with lots of space.  This was awesome as it's hard to find a Downtown Vancouver restaurant that is able to accommodate a stroller for our little one. This White Spot?  NO PROBLEM!

We were met by a cheery hostess who welcomed us to White Spot and showed us to our seats.  She paid special attention to selecting a table that could easily slide a stroller next to it.   Our menus were handed to us with a smile and the usual promise that our waiter will be shortly.

White Spot Restaurant Storefront
White Spot Restaurant Storefront

Sure enough our waiter was there within five minutes to again welcome us and take our orders.

The Order: 1 Legendary Combo (1/4 lb. beef burger with Triple "O" sauce and fries) and a Pepsi.

Legendary Burger Combo with Fries and Coleslaw
Legendary Burger Combo with Fries and Coleslaw
The food came fairly quickly.  My burger platter looked a little thin in quantity of fries.  But the menu seemed reassuring by advertising "unlimited fries".   Everything else looked satisfactory with an adequate amount of Coleslaw and a decent sized burger.

The burger though did have one issue, where exactly is the lettuce and tomato?  Our server was so interested in trying to annoy me in upselling me on adding cheese or bacon, somehow we missed the traditional: "and what would you like on your burger?"  But getting past the burger topping mistake, the burger itself was a decent 1/4 lb piece of meat with an interesting "Triple O's sauce".  Sure the burger wasn't gourmet over the top, but for an average family dining locale, it was decent.

The fries were a solid attempt at impressing the customer.  Straight sliced from a potato the odd potato skin was still evident.  Taste wise it was pretty potatoey with not a sign of sogginess.

The coleslaw was the traditional mayonnaise mixed with the usual vegetables. This concoction was a nice creamy tasting salad.  With a decent quantity compared to other family dining establishments, it was nice touch.

During our meal our waiter was not shy at refilling our soft drinks.  This was refreshing considering at some locations with free refills it seems like customers are conveniently forgotten.

Overall, this White Spot provides friendly attentive service.  Perhaps next time I'll be sure to ask about lettuce and tomato to make my burger truly "Legendary".

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fantastico Pizza at Fantastico Pizza 2001

Fantastico Pizza 2001 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Last week I had the chance to check out some of Vancouver's Robson Street near BC Place after doing some work.

Despite having pizza the previous night, I decided to try out some of Vancouver's more Mom & Pop style pizza shops.  I selected Fantastico Pizza 2001 (320 Robson Street, Vancouver) which had a couple of seats outside on the sidewalk and open sliding glass door.

The interior seating has a couple of large long tables that permit either a large group to use or more communal seating. Being tight for spice in a downtown urban location, most of the seats are utilized for individuals to grab a slice and find a drink.

I visited the counter where customers can order any two pizza slices and a soft drink for $6.25.  Not bad considering I'm used to paying $5.00 for only a single pepperoni pizza slice and a drink back home in Ottawa.

Fantastico Pizza 2001, 320 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC
Fantastico Pizza 2001 Storefront on Robson Street

The Order: Two Deluxe Pizza slices and a Can of Dr. Pepper.

2 Deluxe Pizza Slices & Dr. Pepper

After ordering and paying, I found a seat and sat down two spots over from a lady engrossed in a book while slowly munching on a pair of slices.

I dug into my Deluxe Pizza slices to be fairly impressed.  A decent amount of reasonably fresh toppings on a thin New York style pizza crust. Instead of a crunchy pizza crust, the crust is a more traditional doughy texture.

Service here is a little questionable.  The lady I ordered from I could barely understand when I asked if the combo came with a can or bottled soft drink.  I had to ask two times before I made out "can" in whatever she was saying.  Perhaps she was filling in for the day or perhaps this was her regular spot as one of the owners of the small business, I'm not sure.

Overall, for a quick slice or a bite to eat Fantastico Pizza 2001 quality is pretty good. Tucked in busy section of Robson Street, this restaurant has a prime location being just a hop skip and jump from from BC Place.  But with this easy access comes a downside, seating is at a premium so during busy times expect to have to look elsewhere for seating. If the food quality continues to be as good as I experienced, Fantastico Pizza 2001 will remain a Fantastico place for pizza for a while to come.


"Seymour" Burnt Pizza at Dominos

Domino's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Recently my family had a pizza party along with other nearby restaurant offerings.   The pizza was ordered from Domino's (916 Seymour Street, Vancouver) and picked up on time from the store.

The Order: 1 Deluxe Pizza and 1 Thin Crust Pepperoni Pizza.

After taking the pizzas back home things seemed hopeful.

The Deluxe Pizza was hot, cheesy and tasted like any customer has come to expect from Dominos anywhere in Canada. The toppings were not skimped on and the cheese was perfectly layered.

The Thin Crust Pepperoni Pizza though was a disappointment. Sure the temperature was great, but the whole thing tasted burnt.  Yes, thin crust pizzas usually have a more crispier crust compared to their traditional counterparts. But this one wasn't borderline about to about turn black and disintegrate.

The issue with the Thin Crust Pepperoni Pizza seemed to be the cooking method.  The pizza crust, obviously being thinner, does not require as much cooking time as more thicker crust pizza.  So in this case the thin crust may have been cooked as long as the Deluxe Pizza in the same oven. Hence the extra crispiness of the thin crust pizza.

Overall, this Dominoes needs to step up it's game. Sure it turns around the pizza for pick up in a respectable time.  But the lack of attention to food preparation in terms of cooking time to ensure optimal taste outcomes is a little concerning and may drive away customers. Perhaps it was a single slip up but it could be a regular occurrence.  Only the chance of another order would answer that question.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Tempting Tim Hortons on Robson

Tim Hortons Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato After arriving in Vancouver last week I needed a familiar pick me up. I ventured out to take a walk on Vancouver's famous Robson Street and to generally get the lay of the land.

A couple of blocks later and a big sign beckoned to this Canadian.  Was it mirage?  Was it a miracle?

I walked up the block and in the front door to the famous Canadian institution located 463 Robson Street, Vancouver, Tim Hortons!

Tim Hortons Storefront
Tim Hortons Storefront
 This Tim Hortons takes full advantage of it's downtown slightly tight urban setting.  As soon as you walk in the front door a sign directs you to the spot to line up.  The que area can hold maximum three customers only waiting for one of the three cashes to become available.  Normally this set up works but if one of the cashes is closed or there is a hold up due to customer errors or filling a large order, customers may end up quing out the door.

I was able to make it the front of the line and order my usual order:

The Order: 1 Medium Black Original Blend Coffee.

The coffee was quickly poured and I paid.  But a lingering question remains....

How come in Vancouver the Tim Hortons Medium Black Coffee is $1.80 as opposed to in Ottawa being $1.70?

To further add intrigue, how come in Vancouver and Ottawa a Tim Hortons Small Black Coffee is both $1.50?  Why the additional $0.10 difference for the medium as opposed to the small?

Tim Hortons Medium Black Coffee
Tim Hortons' Medium Black Coffee

Anyway, I enjoyed the medium black coffee as any Canadian would.  The coffee was made to specifications in terms of warmth and strength in a standard issue Tim Hortons cup.  It would make the President of Tim Hortons himself smile!

The seating areas though needed some attention.  Despite this being a downtown urban location, this Tim Hortons had more than adequate seating to handle the volume of customers.  However, unlike many other Timmies worship locales, this location's seating area was dirty with crumbs and coffee stained tables.  It appeared nobody had been hired to ensure tables were wiped or the floors swept and mopped on a regular basis.  I've since returned this location a couple of times and was forced to strategically select a cleaner table wherever possible.

Service wise the location is impeccable.  Short waits in line and a sandwich bar preparer who always seems to keeps things moving.

Overall, this Tim Hortons location has excellent counter service while serving average "nothing special" corporate Tim Hortons fare.  A few tweaks around the edges to affect cleanliness of the seating area would help make this location an all start showpiece of Tim Hortons' family in the Vancouver area.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Enjoying Familiar Costco Grub in Vancity!

Costco Food Court Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato After landing in Vancouver, settling in and in search of a few necessities which also included lunch, I ventured forth to find the downtown Costco (605 Expo Boulevard, Vancouver) and it's famed Food Court.

First the hard part was actually find this place.  Based on my Google Mapping of the place it was supposed to be easy to find right near both BC Place and Rogers Arena.  Seemed simple enough.  

My first attempt saw me try going down Georgia Street and the Georgia Viaduct looking for a way around BC Place Stadium.  Big mistake as all I got were stunning views across False Creek to Science World and no exit in sight.  So I backtracked and decided to head down Beatty Street in hopes of finding a coffee shop with Wifi.

Before I could find a Starbucks or Tim Hortons for Wifi, I stumbled across a ramp leading to a parking garage with a sign overhead saying "Costco Wholesale".

Success!

...Not quite as I was on foot. Next to the ramp was a park with pedestrian entryway with stairs that looked like it lead to the parking garage.

Success!

...Not quite as the door was locked.  I turned around figuring I was snookered.  Should I venture down the parking ramp on foot to the disgust of many a driver?   Hmmmmm....  As I was thinking and scanning around I saw another Costco Wholesale logo which accompanied a map.  Apparently I wasn't the only one to question how to get to Costco from here.  But perhaps they could move the map to the opposite stairwell where I tried and failed entering Costco from there.

I followed the directions on the map around to the Dunsmuir Viaduct and took the stairs (next to the elevator) just before reaching Rogers Arena when heading from downtown.  A tip on accessing Costco from here:  Take the elevator down!  The stairs wind their way around the elevator shaft making them a little longer than necessary compared to the traditional switchback style of most staircases.

After a little shopping and exiting the regular Costco store,  I ventured over to the food court.  Yes, this is a different type of Costco Food Court as the restaurant access is located outside the store as opposed to within the membership checked area.

I waited in the short line to order my usual Costco cheap lunch for $4.86:

The Order: 1 Jumbo Hot Dog, Soft Drink and Fries.

After paying and assembling my food, I asked for the usual tray for the meal and got the weirdest answer from Costco:

"We don't have trays".

Um....right!

Apparently the trays have been stolen or used for other unmentionable purposes.

I made several valiant efforts to juggle my food over to the drink station, condiment station and back to the food counter to inquire about napkins.  Unlike other Costcos where the napkins are located directly next to the ketchup, mustard and relish dispensers, this Costco has it right next where you order.  I presume this is so customers and non-customers are supervised so they only take what they need.

Finally, after almost getting lost and ending up in the far reaches of Burnaby and shopping at Costco I could eat!

Costco Food Court Jumbo Hot Dog
Jumbo Hot Dog

The Hot Dog was the usual standard all beef hot dog that is very similar to what you would get at a baseball game or from urban downtown hotdog stand.  In fact at less than two dollars with a fountain soft drink included this hot dog puts Ikea's famous hot dog deal to shame.

Costco Food Court Fries
Fries
The fries were the usual Costco slightly breaded fries.  These, I would argue, could be improved by changing them to a more freshly sliced technique made famous by New York Fries (i.e. slice the potatoes into fries and fry them up!).  That is to say to improve on an already decent product to make it even better.  Perhaps though this idea was considered to be too time consuming or costly so shipping them in a unique breaded style was better. To say the least, Costco fries aren't my all time favorites, but they aren't my least favorite either.

Overall, this Costco's uniqueness of being outside the members only store is great for those in the area looking for a cheap quick bite to eat while not being a Costco member.  With average Costco fare along with decent service that Costco Members have come to expect, this is a great spot to grab a hot dog, fries, pizza and a drink.

Tim Hortons Tribulations at Ottawa Airport

Tim Hortons Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato On an early morning last week saw myself on an early flight to Vancouver. After clearing security with minimum time to spare and no breakfast as of yet, the Tim Hortons (2nd floor beyond security in domestic departures of the Ottawa International Airport at 1000 Airport Parkway, Ottawa)

I waited in the lengthy line at this Tim Hortons storefront off the main hallway leading the airport gates.  The line at times never seemed to move.  Quite a few people nervously looked at their watches or phones to see if they should stay in the line or run for their flight without one last Timmies fix.  I stayed in line patiently but quite frankly the two cashiers seemed overwhelmed while the single employee at the sandwich counter was fantastic in keeping her orders moving.  Add in the odd customer who gets to the front of the line to ask six different questions of the cashier before ordering and whole families ordering their breakfast meals things were slow to a crawl.  To make matters worse there was only one single employee at each of the two cashes meaning they were also preparing the drinks, donuts and muffins preventing other orders from being taken.  Not sure why this occurred as at other Tim Hortons locations normally when there is usually two employees per cash during busy morning rushes. But eventually things progressed and I was able to order.

The Order: 1 Medium Black Coffee and 1 Cinnamon Raisen Bagel, toasted with Cream Cheese

After picking up my coffee at the cash and being impressed with the speed the bagel was prepared at the sandwich counter, I was off to my gate with little time to spare.   Thank goodness you're allowed to bring food and coffee onto the plane purchased post security checks.

The bagel was still warm and similar to what I get elsewhere.  To be fair it is hard to screw it up as Tim Hortons ships everything in and the preparation really comes down to cutting the bagel, toasting it in the automated conveyor belt toaster.

The coffee was also as expected corporate quality that any Canadian would appreciate.  But again, nothing special cause it really is pour the coffee grounds into the machine's filter, etc. and change the pot every 20 minutes.

Overall, this Tim Hortons could do well as it is highly visible right after security. The promise of success is even better as there is a captive audience of airport passengers who now have time to wait for their flight with possibly a drink and something to eat.  Sadly, though Tim Hortons' fails by not adequately staffing this location to keep the line moving in an adequate fashion. If there were just a couple more employees many more customers would instead be enjoying a fine cup of coffee instead of leaving in disgust sans le java to barely make their flight.

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