Location: 1191 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
“IT’S NOT ONLY THE FOOD OR THE ATMOSPHERE, IT’S THE BEER”
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.
RATING: 8/10 FULL BELLIES