Seb's

Aaron's hat

It’s not often we have the chance to eat breakfast in Vancouver, since we usually just get up there for lunch and dinner, then head home – but last week we went up with some friends and spent the night. The hotel breakfast looked more than a little dour, so we walked to a place I’d read about – Seb’s Market Cafe on Broadway.

Seb'ssuper mario

A very pleasant spot out on the wastelands of Broadway, Seb’s is a combination market/deli/bakery/restaurant/catering business. Their menu offers a strange melange of options, from a simple plate of toast and scrambled eggs (with or without caribou meat), to elk medallion eggs benedict, to lamb shanks with apricots. I’m pretty sure it’s the only place I’ve been that listed elk steak as a side dish. For breakfast.

eggs, tomatoes, spinach and toast

fruit plate

I had fried eggs with spinach, grilled tomato, potatoes and toast. I adore eggs with tomato and spinach, so I was quite ready to appreciate this, but I was a little sad that the spinach seemed to be plain, reheated frozen spinach with no seasoning, and the tomato was barely heated, let alone grilled. The eggs were perfect, though, and the toast was a really nice flaxseed bread. We had overindulged a bit at Vij’s the previous night, so the vegetables were welcome no matter how they were done. By the same token, one of our party got the fruit plate with yogurt, which she was very pleased with, as well as a carrot-ginger-celery juice (she asked the waitress about the yogurt, as it was so tasty, and the response was “It’s just good, pure yogurt, eh?” – I love Canada). The other two split an eggs benedict with crab and havarti sauce, plus a glass of cucumber-spinach juice. They reported that the biscuit was excellent and the cheese sauce extremely good with the crab. The coffee was good, too.

bread

It was a fine place for breakfast, especially for the slightly-hung-over. I’d love to come back and try more of their menu sometime when I’m really hungry.

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ma po pie

ma po tofu

After a long hiatus, we just made it back to our current favorite Chinese restaurant, Peaceful in Vancouver B.C. After a mighty emotional struggle, we decided not to get noodles this time. Instead we got Jon’s favorite beef rolls (rich fried bread rolled around thin slices of beef, raw scallion and hoisin sauce, OMG theyaresogood), an order of Sichuan greens and ma po tofu. I burned my mouth and ate way too much and have no regrets whatsoever. The ma po was really good – remarkably like the version we make at home, but with pork instead of beef, loads of Sichuan pepper, and very fresh wobbly tofu – but it inexplicably arrived in a Pyrex pie pan, which made me feel like a complete hog. Not that that’s a bad thing.

Chambar

Chambar

For our splurge dinner in Vancouver, we went to Chambar, a sort of Belgian/small plates kind of place on Beatty Street. I had heard nice things about it, but only had a vague idea of what it would be like.

When we walked in and the waitress led us into the back, I became gradually more and more appalled. This place is huge! We began to think that we were too un-trendy for the restaurant and were being stuffed into a dark corner where nobody would be bothered by us. That certainly may have been true, but our table turned out to be quite nice: a corner spot overlooking the room with a window out to several high rises and GM Place, with fog misting about between the buildings. The room was dark but the high ceiling and big windows gave it a comfortable open feeling.

Chambar

After securing drinks, we got an order of the beef carpaccio. Continue reading

fooding our way around Vancouver

So we were able to squeeze in a few days up in Vancouver, B.C. last weekend, mostly spent walking and eating. There were many highlights, but one of our favorite moments came at Chow, a restaurant on South Granville. We had ordered cocktails some time previously, and were beginning to get slightly annoyed at their absence. Suddenly the waiter appeared, took on a shamefaced aspect, and announced, “Your cocktail has gone horribly, horribly awry.” We tried to get more detail out of him, but he would only say that many things can happen in restaurants, and they would make a new drink immediately. My, how that fires the imagination!

My sazerac, when it came, was delicious.

Here are a few other highlights:

49th Parallel coffeehouse Continue reading

a Peaceful lunch

Vancouver

We managed to slip out of town for a day last weekend, and spent a happy afternoon in Vancouver, B.C. It’s strange that we can live so close to Canada, but make it up there so seldom. Every time we go, we tell ourselves “We should do this more often!”

This time we took advantage of the opportunity to get some good Chinese food. Skagit Valley is a pretty good place for many kinds of food, but good Indian or Chinese restaurants are just not happening. Vancouver, on the other hand, has amazing Asian food of all possible kinds. I wanted to find a place with good noodles, and according to the Chowhound boards, Peaceful is one of the top spots.

Peaceful Restaurant

When we walked in, it was still early in the day, and the place was mostly empty. We quickly emptied our first pot of hot, weak tea and enjoyed being in out of the rain while we studied the rather huge menu. Everything looked fabulous, which made things difficult. We finally settled on an order of the Peaceful beef rolls, a plate of cumin lamb noodles and some Szechuan stir-fried string beans, then settled in and watched the restaurant fill up. Continue reading

Cru

Vancouver at night

It’s a quandary. Every time we go into Vancouver or Seattle to eat we face the decision: try somewhere new, or go back to a restaurant that we know we love? We frequently opt for a new place, so as to expand our repertoire of great standbys for times when we just don’t want a challenge (like right after a long airplane flight). But some places are so great you just have to go back, if only to make sure they’re just as good as you remember.

Cru

We went to Cru a couple of years ago. The small plates/wine bar phenomenon hadn’t gotten nearly as widespread as it is now, and there was still a novelty factor in getting to choose a bunch of different dishes to share. We walked in off the street (through a very nondescript entrance), sat at the bar and proceeded to have one of the best dinners ever – all the more appreciated because we didn’t know what to expect. We’ve since eaten our way through a bunch of other great Vancouver restaurants, but Cru has remained our fondest memory, and we’ve always intended to go back.

Cru

So, we were in Vancouver last weekend, doing some damage at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks (a dangerous shop if there ever was one), and decided that it was as good a time as any to check out Cru again. This time, of course, we made a reservation – but we made sure to sit at the bar again. It’s a great way of doing a small plates dinner, because the bartender is always handy to take your next order (although from what we’ve seen, Cru has great waitstaff). We started out with cocktails and a plate of bruschetta. Continue reading

A day in Vancouver

I had a birthday recently, and to finish off the celebrations we decided to take a day trip up to Vancouver, B.C. – something we like to do every now and again as a change from Seattle. We headed out around 9 am and had a relatively uneventful border crossing, picked up a few important items in South Granville (Lothantique green tea soap, crucial to gracious living) and attempted to get lost in south downtown looking for our lunch restaurant, Fiddlehead Joe’s. Amazingly enough, we found free parking and the restaurant in plenty of time for our reservation.

Fiddlehead Joe’s

I had heard on Chowhound that this place did a great brunch, and it was pretty darn good. The day was blustery, cold and wet, but the big windows looked out to False Creek and the Granville Island Market, the food was good and everyone seemed to be having a good time. I had the salmon hash, which was a sort of do-it-yourself affair with a pile of fried potatoes, a poached egg, a fillet of salmon and a drizzle of hollandaise all piled up together, with a side of sauteed fiddleheads and a roasted tomato. I mushed it all up together and it was tasty. J asked the waiter what was not to be missed, and was pointed emphatically towards the “slaughterhouse special,” which turned out to be a plate attractively piled with meat: bacon, pancetta, chorizo, a small steak, an egg and a roasted tomato.  We drank champagne cocktails and felt happy. Continue reading