Viva Fine Foods & Bakery

As a massive and weak-minded glutton, one thing that I cannot stand the sight of is some beautiful baked goods being ruined. Case in point, I got quite distressed after my recent visit to Viva Find Foods & Bakery, a small cafe/bakery located near Kits beach. I went there for their baked items, and was a bit disappointed to find that they don’t appear to have much in the way of pastries: there were only a few muffins, cookies and tarts. I ended up getting a Lemon Tart, a Double Chocolate Brownie, and a Double Baked Triple Berry Almond Croissant for my mom. Now, the staff who was packaging my goods placed my lemon tart into a paper bag. I didn’t think much of it, until I tried taking it out later upon reaching home. The curd had gotten stuck to the paper.

Lemon Tart ($4.50):


4/5
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the lemon tart did get a bit battered from being stuffed into a paper bag (instead of being inside a box, which would have been a better method for transport). I found the curd to be a tad on the thin side, but was still very tasty, with a great creaminess and tang. The crust was a tad overcooked, but I didn’t really mind – the curd completely made up for it.

Double Chocolate Brownie ($4:25):


4/5
The brownie was more cake-like (light and fluffy) rather than the dense, fudge. It had a great bitterness of cocoa, however. Although I was a bit disappointed by the texture of the brownie, I really liked the frosting/ganache, which was smooth and rich with a wonderful bittersweet chocolate flavour.

Double Baked Triple Berry Almond Croissant ($5.50):

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Double Baked Almond Triple Berry Croissant

N/A

In spite of the pain of seeing my tart getting damaged, I did quite enjoy the food at Viva Find Foods & Bakery. I did find their prices to be a bit steep. All in all, this isn’t really a place that I’d go out of the way to visit, but it is still worth a visit if you happen to be near the area and are in need of a quick bite.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 3/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Lemon Tart, Brownie
Viva Fine Foods & Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Belgian Fries

Probably my favourite “Canadian” dish is poutine. Seriously, how can you say no to a big pile of delicious French fries smothered in cheese and gravy? Especially when you jazz it up even further with delicious toppings. I seriously having a massive hankering for poutine lately, and to satisfy my craving, I decided to check out Belgain Fries. The latter is a poutinerie on the Drive serving up a good variety of different flavours of poutines as well as dips. In addition to more common varieties (smoked meat, bacon, pulled pork etc), they offer some more uncommon flavours such as merguez, butter chicken, and kebab. You order at the front counter and is giving a buzzer, which goes off once your food is ready. I got a large Triple Decker Poutine, which came with chorizo, bacon, and smoked beef.

Triple Decker Poutine (Large, $16):

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Triple Decker Poutine (Large)


4/5
This consisted of fries topped with gravy, cheese curds, bacon, chorizo, and smoked beef. Of course, the fries soon got soggy from being drenched under all the gravy and meat; the ones that did not get soaked were quite crispy on the outside with a nice starchy centre, and were well seasoned. There was a very generous amount of meat present. The sausage had a nice bit of heat, the bacon was smoky while the smoked beef was incredibly tender and flavourful. The cheese curds appear to be “authentic” in that they did not melt, and had a nice chewy, bouncy texture. I found the gravy to be a tad starchy in texture, but quite flavourful with a nice bit of pepperiness. I did find the dish to be just a tad on the saltier side; it’s probably best enjoyed with some beer (or water, since I’m not a drinker).

My visit to Belgian Fries have certainly satisfied my craving for poutine and then some. Their portions are also quite generous; I actulaly ended up taking a quarter of my poutine home for later (hey, the fries are already soggy anyways from being soaked in all the gravy/meat). All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the food here, and I highly recommend checking it out if you enjoy poutines.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Poutine

Belgian Fries Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Red Wagon Cafe

The greatest advantage of being a single diner is that I don’t have to share my food with others. There is another advantage however: it’s generally easier for me to get seats. This is exemplified by my recent visit to Red Wagon Cafe. The latter is a popular restaurant located on East Hastings specializing in breakfast/lunch fare. The place is relatively small and was quite busy when I arrived; fortunately being a single diner, I as able to grab a seat at the bar (the place did clear out a bit over the next hour). I ordered their Pulled Pork Pancakes and Breakfast Banh Mi (with Pork Belly).

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Seat at the bar (too bad I don’t drink :()

Pulled Pork Pancakes ($15):


4/5
This consisted of three pancakes sandwiching pulled pork, and is served with a large piece of butter and Jack Daniels flavoured maple syrup. I really liked the texture of the pancakes, which were light and fluffy, with a slightly chewy texture. I did find there to be a slight bit of aftertaste however, whcih I think might be from baking soda. There was quite a generous amount of pulled pork present, which was tender and juicy, albeit a tad bland. I really enjoyed the syrup, which had a really nice fragrance from the liquor. Even though the portion didn’t look that big – I’ve been spoiled by places like Jethro’s and The Elbow Room Cafe – they are actually quite filling; I’m a big eater and I was actually quite full from eating the dish.

Breakfast Banh Mi, with Pork Belly ($12):


4.5/5
This consisted of a baguette filled with two eggs, pickled vegetables, jalapeno, and your choice of pork belly, pulled pork, or tofu (I went with pork belly), and was served with a small side of homefries. The baugette had a great crispy exterior while being soft and chewy on the inside. It was extremely flavourful, with a nice tang from the pickled vegetables and a great heat from the jalapeno. The pork belly was quite tender and juicy and the eggs added great richness, although the runny yolks did make the sandwich a bit messy to eat. I loved the homefries/hashbrowns, which were among some of the best that I’ve had (I’ve generally not had much luck with hashbrowns): they were crispy and fried with bacon and green onions, which provided great flavour. Unfortunately, I was quite full from the pulled pork pancakes, so I was only able to take a few bites of this dish before packing the rest for later.

The food at Red Wagon Cafe was truly fantastic. The service was casual and the staff can be stretched thin at times, but they are friendly. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, and I’d highly recommend visiting this place.

Summary:
Food: 4.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5
Recommendations: Pulled Pork Pancakes, Breakfast Banh Mi
The Red Wagon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Butter Baked Goods

One of the cutest bakeries that I’ve ever visited was Butter Baked Goods, which is an adorable little shop located on Mackenzie Street in Dunbar. During my past visit, I’ve sampled their Peanut Butter Sandwich cookie, which was seriously fantastic. On a more recent visit, I got one of their Homemade Wagon Wheel (Nutella version), and their Chocolate Sandwich Cookie. Of course, I had to get their Peanut Butter Sandwich cookie as well, NOT because I’m a glutton or anything, but because I needed to have something to compare with their chocolate version for scientific research purposes, you know.

Homemade Wagon Wheel, Nutella ($4.75):


4/5
This consisted of two biscuits with marshmallow and came in several varieties (raspberry, caramel, nutella, and peanut butter). I went with the nutella version. I really loved the cookies, which were crispy, and had a great, buttery, toffee flavour. The marshmallow as soft and fluffy and melted in my mouth, and the chocolate they used was not at all waxy. I did, however, find it to be a bit sweet: I think that the raspberry and/or peanut butter version would be better.

The Peanut Butter Sandwich ($4):


5/5
This consisted of two soft peanut butter cookies sandwiching a filling of peanut butter icing. I’ve had this cookie before, and it was just as good as I remembered it to be. The cookies were just soft, and melted in my mouth, and had the perfect balance between salty and sweet. This treat alone is worth a visit.

The Chocolate Sandwich Cookie ($4):


4.5/5
This is similar to the peanut butter, except with two chocolate cookies and a cream filling. The cookies again were very soft and melted in my mouth, and had a slight bitterness from the cocoa powder that paired really nicely with the sweet cream filling. While I loved the fragrance and sweet and savoury flavour of the peanut butter sandwich more, I think that this is just as well made as the latter.

I absolutely loved all the treats at Butter Baked Goods, in particular their sandwich cookies, which alone are worth visiting the bakery for. Although their prices have been increasing over the years, they are still fairly reasonable, and the staff are very friendly. All in all, I highly recommend checking this place out.

Summary:
Food: 4.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 4.5/5
Recommendations: Cookie Sandwiches, Homemade Wagon Wheel
Butter Baked Goods Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kranky Cafe

I admit, I can get pretty cranky. I don’t like to be bothered. I like being left alone in my own little cave, watching shows and eating pastries. Thus, after learning of a place called Kranky Cafe, it seriously sounded like a place for me. The latter is a small coffee shop located near Main Street and Broadway. In addition to various drinks, they offer sandwiches, patties, and rustic homestyle baked goods. I’ve sampled their Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, Chocolate Coconut Nanaimo Bar, and Chocolate Cake.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie ($5):


4/5
Unfortunately, the pie was quite wet and delicate, and did fall apart during the trip back home. Fortunately, it was still very tasty. The filling had a great balance between sweetness and tang, and was filled with large chunks of rhubarb. The oatmeal streussel topping provided a nice texture and sweetness. I did not care for the crust, which had gone soft and gummy, but that really didn’t bother me too much as the filling and streussel more than made up for it.

Chocolate Coconut Nanaimo Bar ($3.50):


4/5
Their version consisted of a thin layer of chocolate cake/base topped with coconut and covered in another layer of chocolate. It was delicious for what it was. The coconut had a wonderful fragrance and texture while the chocolate melted in my mouth and was not waxy. I did find it a bit small for the price.

Chocolate Cake ($3.80):


3/5
This was a simple dessert consisting of a piece of cake covered with thick chocolate frosting. I really liked the cake, which was very dense and fudgy, but still moist. I did find the frosting to be a bit overly sweet however (and I love sweets), and a bit lacking in chocolate flavour.

Although Kranky Cafe does not really appear to be a hangout for cranky people (since cranky people probably don’t like hanging out anyways), I did quite enjoy their food, and their prices are very reasonable. I’d recommend checking this place out if you’re near the area, especially if they have pies available.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Pie

 Kranky Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The American Cheesesteak Co

I’m generally not the biggest fan of sandwiches – I find them to be kind of boring – but there are exceptions. I do enjoy a good donair or burrito (although I guess those are more “wraps” than actual sandwiches. And a good sandwich overstuffed with loads of meat and cheese is certainly hard to resist. I encountered the latter at American Cheesesteak Co, a fastfood joint specializing in variations of Philly cheesesteaks. I decided to get myself a Koagie and a Big Shot.

Kaogie AKA Korean Hoagie ($13):


4/5
This contained prime rib, american cheese, kimchi, sauteed onions, peppers, and spicy miso mayo. The sandwich, although not particularly large, was filled with a very generous amount of filling. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of beef, the meat here was very tender and juicy, and had a wonderful richness when mixed with the american cheese. The kimchi and spicy miso mayo blended very well together, and provided a tremendous amount of flavour. The bread itself was soft, slightly chewy and lightly toasted. This is quite a wet sandwich, and the juices and sauces tended to soak through the bread – I ended up using quite a few napkins to get through this.

Big Shot ($13):


3.5/5
This sandwich contained prime rib with wild mushrooms, provolone, truffle aioli and crispy onions. Once again there was a tremendous amount of filling. I absolutely loved the mushrooms and truffle oil, which provided a great fragrance. The crispy onions also had a great flavour as well as texture. With the absence of sauce, I did find the beef to be a bit bland, although it was still very tender and juicy. This sandwich was considerably drier compared to the Kaogie and much less messy to eat.

I thoroughly enjoyed the sandwiches at American Cheesesteak Co. Although the food did take a while (probably 20 minutes) to prepare, they were worth the wait in my opinion: the sandwiches were very tasty. I do think that their prices are somewhat high – however, I do prefer their food over places like Meat & Bread.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 2.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Koagie
The American Cheesesteak Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Devil’s Elbow

I’ve yet to find the perfect rendition of Chicken and Waffles. In some places the waffles are very tasty, but the chicken is somewhat lackluster (Chewies) or just plain bad (Yolks), while Tuc Craft offers a very good fried chicken, but less impressive waffles. Recently, I’ve tried the version at Devil’s Elbow. They are a bar/bbq house located right next to Jam Cafe, which of course had a long up as usual. In contrast, Devil’s Elbow as almost completely empty when I arrived, and I was quickly seated and chowing down on delicious plates of food while a group of suckers continued on waiting to be seated next door (don’t get me wrong, the food at Jam is pretty good, just not worth waiting 30+ minutes in line for good in my opinion). In addition to the aformentioned Chicken n Waffles, I also got their Mac n Cheese, to which I added pulled pork for an additional $5.

Chicken n Waffles ($16):

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Chicken n Waffles


3.5/5
This consisted of a waffle and two generous pieces of fried chicken, and was accompanied by a side of syrup and butter. The chicken had a nice crispy coating that had some nice spice to it, and although it was white meat, was still quite tender and relatively juicy. Unfortunately, I found the meat itself to be completely underseasoned and very bland. I liked the waffle however, which was fluffy with some nice chew. The butter had a nice sweetness to it, and the syrup had a great smoky flavour that I really appreciated. The portion was also fairly good and quite filling.

Mac n Cheese + Pulled Pork ($10 + $5):

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Mac n Cheese + Pulled Pork


3.5/5
The noodles here were well cooked and were tender while still retaining some chew. I did find it to be a tad dry however. More importantly though, the dish again was quite underseasoned and very bland on its own. Fortunately that was offset by the addition of the pulled pork, which was tender, juicy and had a great smoky flavour as well as a bit of sweetness that I really enjoyed. There was also quite a generous amount as well. While the mac n cheese wouldn’t have been very good on its own, it was quite tasty when paired together with the meat. The portion was also quite generous too, and since I was quite full from the chicken n waffles, I ended up taking most of it home.

Unfortunately, the rendition of Chicken n Waffles at Devil’s Elbow has fallen into the same pitfall as places like Yolk’s and Chewies of having a good waffle but not so great chicken (although it is definitely miles better than the chicken from Yolk’s). Nevertheless, I still quite enjoyed the food that they have offered, and the prices are fairly good for the portions they provide. The service is casual, but quite friendly. All in all, I’d actually rather visit this place than spend over 30 minutes in line to get into Jam’s Cafe next door.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Pulled Pork, Chicken n Waffles
Devil's Elbow Ale And Smoke House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Valley Bakery

It kind of sucks not to own a car (hashtag first world problems). Not are buses generally pretty slow, but they can often be incredibly unreliable. The last time that I visited Burnaby Heights to check out Chez Christophe, I ended up spending almost 3 hours getting to and from my house to the shop, mostly because I had to wait about 40 minutes for the motherf***ing No. 20. I had a horrible case of bus rage (is that a term?). I seriously wanted to just punch the bus driver (and everyone else associated with Translink) in the face. Fortunately, I’ve discovered a new method of getting to The Heights via the (usually) more reliable No. 430/49 to Metrotown followed by a transfer to the No. 130. To test this route, I decided to make a trip to The Valley Bakery, a popular shop located in Burnaby Heights, producing a good assortment of European pastries, cookies, breads and cakes. They have a system where you take a number at the front and wait to be called by the staff. During my visit, I sampled several of their pastries (Mocha Whipped Cream Shell, Vanilla Slice, Chocolate Slice, Tower, Chocolate Mousse Tart, Mocca Log, Whipped Cream Tart, Mocha Buttercream Slice, and Chocolate Mousse Slice).

Mocha Whipped Cream Shell:


3/5
This consisted of coffee flavoured whipped cream inside a chocolate shell. The cream was a tad greasy, but had a really nice coffee aroma as well as mild bitterness. The chocolate shell was a tad waxy, but still enjoyable.

Vanilla Slice:


3.5/5
This consisted of two layers of puff pastry sandwiching vanilla custard and was topped with some icing. The puff pastry had gone a bit soft and was a little hard to cut though. The custard was quite tasty though, and was thick without being overly gummy.

Chocolate Slice:


3.5/5
This consisted of layers of cake sandwiching buttercream, and was topped with a layer of chocoalte ganache. The cake was quite soft and tender, and had a nice fragrance of liquor. It was quite sweet and a bit one-note in taste, but still enjoyable to me.

Tower (Chocolate):


2.5/5
This was essenatilaly a cupcake topped with chocolate buttercream icing. The cake was quite soft and tender. I did not care for the cream however, which I found to be a little too greasy and also not very flavourful.

Chocolate Mousse Tart:


3/5
This was pretty much the same as the mocha cream shell, except with chocolate flavoured whipped cream instead of coffee. Again, I found the cream to be a bit greasy and the chocolate shell to be a tad waxy, but overall still enjoyable.

Mocca Log:


2.5/5
This was a small cake sitting on top of a base of phylo and covered in buttercream. The buttercream was a bit greasy, but had a nice coffee flavour. I found the cake and pastry to be a bit dry and bland.

Whipped Cream Tart (Cherry):


3.5/5
This was filled with almond paste, and topped with whipped ream and cherry. The tart shell was quite tender while the almond filling was mildly sweet and had a nice fragrance. The whipped cream tasted fresh and the cherry topping had a nice tartness, and did not taste artificial. This was probably my favourite of all the pastries that I’ve sampled.

Mocha Buttercream Slice:


3/5
This was somewhat similar to the vanilla slice, except that it consisted of mocha buttercream instead of vanilla custard. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to eat this in one piece as the buttercream tended to just squish right out. As with the other dishes, I found the cream to be a bit greasy. However, I did enjoy the pastry here more than I did from the vanilla slice as it was crispier and not too soft/gummy.

Chocolate Mousse Slice:


3.5/5
This consisted of a thick layer of chocolate mousse on top of a small layer of chocolate cake. The mousse was quite light and creamy, although I did find it to be a bit bland. The cake was quite light and moist, and had a nice liquor flavour to it.

I quite enjoyed my trip to the Valley Bakery. While I did not find any of their treats to be outstanding, they were all fairly enjoyable and fresh, and at about $2 a piece (I spent less than $18 for all my treats), the prices are extremely reasonable. This is definitely a place worth checking out.

dav
Very affordable prices!

Summary:
Food: 3/5
Price: 5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Vanilla Slice, Chocolate Slice, Whipped Cream Tart, Chocolate Mousse Slice
Valley Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ho Ho Yummy

I’ve always unabashedly loved Chinese fast food. Yeah, I know that it might not be my mom’s cooking, but isn’t that the point? Why would I want to go out to eat food that I can get at home for free? I was having a hankering for some sticky sweet Chinese food recently, and decided to give Ho Ho Yummy a try. They are a small shop on Davie serving up pre-made Chinese fastfood. I decided to go with their 2 Item Combo, with Noodles, Sweet & Sour Pork, and Sesame Chicken.

2 Item Combo ($7.35):

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2-Item Combo (Noodles, Sweet & Sour Pork, Sesame Chicken)


2.5/5
The combo come with your choice of rice or noddles and two toppings. I went with their noodles, Sesame Chicken, and Sweet & Sour Pork. The noodles were surprisingly good and was flavourful, with a slight chewy texture. I quite enjoyed the sauce for the sweet & sour pork, which was thick, sweet and tangy (just the way that I enjoyed it), but I found the meat to be tough with too much batter. The sesame chicken on the other hand was considerably meatier, but I did not like the flavour nearly as much, which was quite salty without much sweetness or heat, and more importantly, not a single sesame seed.

I was a little underwhelmed by the food at Ho Ho Yummy. Yeah, I know that I shouldn’t expect anything gourmet, but I’ve had better food at other similar places. The prices are decent though, and the lady at the front counter was quite friendly. All in all, while the place wasn’t bad, it isn’t really one that I’d recommend either.

Summary:
Food: 2.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3/5
Recommendations: N/A
Ho Ho's Yummy Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Papa’s Gourmet Pizza

So I just had probably the most awkward/embarrassing experience in recent memory. The day started out normally enough. I was craving food, as usual, and decided to visit Papa’s Gourmet Pizza, a small casual shop on Main Street serving up pizzas, a big selection of pastas, and various casual Greek fare. I had a slice of their Pesto Chicken pizza and also a large Mac and Cheese.

Pesto Chicken Pizza Slice ($2.25):

dav
Pesto Chicken Pizza slice

4/5
The pizza was quite heavy and loaded with toppings consisting of chicken, pesto, and feta cheese. It was very flavourful, perhaps a bit salty for those who who don’t like overly salty foods, but I really enjoyed it. I did find the crust to be a bit soft, probably because it had been sitting out under a lamp for a while, but that did not bother me too much.

Mac and Cheese (Large, $10):


3/5
This came with two slices of garlic bread, which were perfectly toasted, buttery with a nice flavour of garlic. I absolutely loved the layer of gooey, rich cheese on top. The noodles themselves were a tad on the soft side, but not too mushy. I was disappointed with the sauce however: I found it to be way too watery and hence, did not really coat the noodles too well, and was also quite bland. The portion was very generous: I ended up taking about half of it home. It actually tasted better reheated the next day, after the sauce had thickened.

I quite enjoyed my visit to Papa’s Gourmet Pizza. The prices are very good, especially for their pastas, where you get a very large portion for currently just $10. Moreover, the staff were also very friendly. All in all, while their food does have room for improvement, I still really enjoyed my visit, and I’d highly recommend checking this place out.

So now, are you wondering about the “embarrassing” incident that I referred to earlier? Probably not, but here it is. I needed to use the washroom, and unfortunately Papa’s Gourmet Pizza was small and did not have one available to the public. Fortunately, there was a JJ Bean right next door. Since I felt pretty embarrassed about being one of those people who just use the washroom without making any purchase, so I got myself an iced Americano.

dav
$3 for a bathroom trip…

My conscience cleared, I headed to their toilet. Unfortunately, being the idiot that I am, I just could not figure out how to lock the door properly. I thought that I had it closed, but then a man walked right in on me while I WAS LITERALLY SITTING ON THE TOILET WITH MY F***ING PANTS DOWN. Needless to say, I was quite traumatized (although to be fair, I think that it was probably even more traumatic for the man as he’s had to actually witness the disturbing picture that I’ve just described to you). I ended up bolting out of the place and spent the next few hours curled up in a ball in humiliation.

Summary (for Papa’s Gourmet Pizza):
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Pesto Chicken Pizza, Pastas
Papa's Gourmet Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato