October 29, 2008


Location: 1191 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Telephone: 604.254.2437
Website: STELLA'S


In the past, Commercial Drive was usually associated with good deli’s, vegetarian donairs and lots of produce and while all that is still there, the restaurants have really kicked it up a notch. Places like WAZUBEE'S and HAVANA and my previously reviewed REEF and ME & JULIO have really put “the Drive” on the “tasty eats map” but one place continues to shine and it’s not only the food or the atmosphere, it’s the beer. I’m talking about STELLA’S TAP & TAPAS BAR, it’s a winner.

Since moving to East Van, the wife and I have eaten many, many at time at STELLA’S and not once have we been disappointed. They have a kick ass brunch menu, featuring many delights like House-made Belgian waffles topped with whipped cream & Bananas Foster (brown sugar & dark rum sauce), Caramelized Onion, goat’s cheese & red pepper Frittata, and the legendary Croque Monsieur with oven roasted ham, mornay sauce & melted emmenthal cheese. This is some serious brunchy goodness and serious brunchy goodness needs to be partnered with a serious bloody Caesar and I am happy to say that STELLA’S make a seriously good Caesar.

However we are not talking about brunch here, we are talking about dinner and at night, STELLA’S stays true to its moniker as a tap and tapas house, they rock at it. First off, this place has the best Belgian Beer selection in town, hands down, in fact, they have a four page menu filled with Belgian Beer, it’s remarkable. My personal favorite is the Piraat 9% (Massive snow white head. Nose has some spice to it, with some orange, citrus and sugary aromas. Very high carbonation, lemon and green apple bitterness. Swings between fruity bitterness and some sweet alcohol tones). Along with the Belgian explosion they have quite a few domestic & imports on tap and In the bottle but seriously, be adventurous and try a Belgian, you won’t be disappointed.

Enough about the beer, let’s get onto the eats, they are fantastic. Out of the 31 dishes on the current tapas menu I have personally tried 19 of the choices and have not been let down yet. This time around, we went with a few friends, ordered a bunch of dishes and all shared. Here’s what we had and some thoughts:

  • Belgian Poutine - Stella’s frites, fresh cheese curds, Blanche de Chambly & Miso gravy, green onions (rich and delectable, a table favorite)
  • Calamari - Panko breaded squid, flash fried, chipotle aioli (lightly breaded and not greasy at all)
  • Chili Pomegranate Wings - One pound of Piquin chili & pomegranate molasses glazed chicken wings (tasty, cool and flavorful. Sweet & spicy)
  • “Filet”-delphia Cheese Steak - filet mignon medallions, snow goat cheese croute, cranberry salsa (wow, tender meet, potent cheese, awesome!)
  • Tuna - Sesame-crusted, seared Yellow Fin tuna, wilted spinach, wasabi aioli (some of the best tuna around, the sesame takes it up a notch)
  • Thai Mussels - 1 pound of Fresh hand graded Gallo (Washington State) mussels Thai style - Sweet bell peppers, kaffir lime leaf, red curry coconut broth (My wife’s favorite, always ordered no matter what – order some bread to soak up the killer sauce)
  • Green Beans - Soy kissed sambal green beans, black and white sesame (you can’t beat these beans – so tasty)

The food here is fantastic and the prices are reasonable, the most expensive dish was the mussels (1 pound for $14) and the dish was so big it took four people to finish it off. The service is always friendly and like I’ve said time and time again, the food & beer are both deserving of a try. Here’s the kicker, STELLA’S isn’t a secret, a lot of people know about it and enjoy it so it’s always busy especially at night. Prepare to wait but the wait is worth it, STELLA’S TAP & TAPAS BAR is a great place for food and friends, it’s that good.


October 27, 2008


Location: 1009 Hamilton St, Vancouver
Telephone: 604.331.1511


One of Yaletown’s regular haunts is the HAMILTON STREET GRILL located on the aptly named Hamilton Street in you guessed it, Yaletown. I’ve been there for dinner, I’ve been there for a staff party and now I’ve been for lunch and all three times, the meals were good. Not great, just good. It would probably be better if there weren’t so many similar restaurants like this one in Vancouver. It seems that a large number of our fair city’s eateries suffer from a similar syndrome: the lack of originality.

Now I don’t want to get on a soapbox here because there are hundreds of unique and original restaurants in Vancouver worthy of enjoying and filled with good eats but it seems like in the core of our downtown, there are a lot of similar themed joints with similar styled menus that offer similar tasting food. Oh, HAMILTON STREET GRILL offers up a pulled-pork sammich? So does Dix and both Earls and Keg have it as a special this week. You see what I mean? I know we can never escape this as it comes with the territory of having so many different places to choose from, you’re bound to get some cross pollination. I just wish that sometimes it wasn’t so blatant. Anyways, on with the meal….

This time around, a few folks from work got together for a quick bite at HSG and this is what we had: 4-cheese Macaroni with Chorizo Sausage, Pulled Pork Sammich and Grilled Chicken Penne. I chose the Macaroni, a deep dish bubbling over with cheese and bits of grilled Chorizo thrown in for good measure. While rich and filling, believe it or not, I found it somewhat dry, like they baked it for just a bit too long as they top and bottom had lost the goo and crisped up. The center was nice and flowing with gooey cheesy goodness. My buddy Nate had the Pulled Pork and in his own words, “I’ve ordered this nine times and I’m ordering it again… it’s good”. When I asked him if he’d every tried anything else on the menu, he said “sure but I like the Pulled Pork Sandwich, it’s the best”. Finally, Ben ordered the Grilled Chicken Penne with an extra breast of chicken, the thing was a monster and he devoured it like it was his last meal (Ben works out… a lot). He was quite please with the chicken itself and the sauce of the perfectly cooked pasta saying “it’s quite tasty”.

So HAMILTON STREET GRILL seems to be a winner. Friendly and quick service, good food and decent prices make it a solid yaletown destination choice for the lunchtime crowd. Next time, I want to grab a quick and tasty meal over the lunch hour, I’m sure I’ll find it at HAMILTON STREET GRILL.


October 13, 2008



Location: 1109 Hamilton St, Vancouver
Telephone: 604.684.9111

There are a number of different MILESTONES locations to choose from in our fair city but the wife and I seem to continuously return to one in particular, the Yaletown one, why? Two simple reasons, solid food and solid service.

MILESTONES as a franchise seems to have gone through a major image retooling as they now call themselves a "Grill & Bar" and they now focus on "Canadian casual fine-dining restaurant giving its guests a vibrant and inviting place to enjoy an exciting twist on the classic Milestone's experience". What does that mean to you and me? It's modern, it's upscale, everything is .50 cents more and there are a lot of new things on the menu.

This Thanksgiving weekend we met a few friends for lunch and all of us started with the classic Caesar cocktail. I always start brunch with a Caesar and the Milestones Caesar doesn't disappoint. Smirnoff vodka, Mott’s Clamato, house-made Worcestershire sauce and a Blaze’s spicy bean adorn this tasty beverage, in fact it's so nice, I had it twice! I'm a big fan of their homemade Worcestershire Sauce and always ask for a Caesar "extra dirty".

With the drinks out of the way, it was time for some "thanksgiving nosh". The gents had the same deal, The Smoked Turkey Club while the girls went the breakfast route and had the Eggs Milestones and the Prime Rib Hash.

15 minutes later the food arrived and thank the maker, we were all starved. I am a huge fan of Milestones sandwiches & burgers and the Smoked Turkey Club does not disappoint, it's a monster meal. Served on toasted cranberry sourdough, the piles of turkey come with double-smoked bacon, sliced Roma tomato, and whole-grain mustard mayonnaise. They also add this kick ass spicy house-made avocado salsa to the mix that takes it to the next level. Add those classic curly fries and ask for a side of the "sesame mayo" (it's the dip that usually comes with the the Thai Drummettes) and trust me, you are in for one hell of a "flavourgasm".

My wife went with the Prime Rib Hash as she described as "sweet and tasty". Slow roasted and thinly sliced prime rib morsels tossed with crispy seasoned potatoes, bell peppers, sweet onion and roasted corn. The whole shebang is topped with two poached eggs, decadent hollandaise sauce and on the side, Roma tomatoes and grilled herb toast. Nice!

The final was also the classic Brunch spectacular with a twist, Eggs Milestones. Two poached eggs and more of that kick ass hollandaise sauce over sliced tomatoes, house-made avocado salsa and cream cheese on two slices of those great english muffins. The meal is served with house-fried potatoes and trust me, it's good. I've tried a lot of different Eggs Benny in my day, some good, some sloppy, some overcooked and some just plain bad and Eggs Milestones always holds up.

All in all, our experience at the newly renovated Yaletown MILESTONES was great. The new decor is eye-pleasing, the staff is on-the-ball and the food is still tasty and enjoyable. I am a little sad that the pizza oven is gone as they made one of the better pies around but the brunch and the rest of the menu makes up for it. Like I said, solid service and solid food.


October 5, 2008



Location: 783 Homer St, Vancouver
Telephone: 604-689-2800
Website: No Website

Sometimes you just want a quick bite and there are tons of choices downtown, so I decided to give JIMMY'S a try. A lot of folks at work go there and the place was packed to the gills on this particular day. I went with two co-workers and decided to order a couple of appetizers: Steak Bites and Hot Wings.

First off, the Steak Bites were quite tasty, tender and mildly spiced bits of beef coupled with a tangy sauce for dipping. They were worthy of another bite. Unfortunately, the second appy was nowhere near as good. I asked for some Hot Wings that were extra cripsy and minutes later I was given a plate of cold wings. I kid you not, they were cold, not warm, cold and if extra crispy means soggy? Then yes they were extra crispy... I mean soggy. What a disappointment, you'd think in this day and age, when every other restaurant in town offers decent wings it amazes me that some places still offer crap and think they can get away with it. These were the worst wings I've had in a while.

Despite the popularity of JIMMY'S, I think it will be a long time before I return as a bad plate of wings will deter me for a quite a while. This place may still be popular with my co-workers but it isn't with me.