So I recently got dragged on a lab retreat with my colleagues, and I’m not exaggerating about the being dragged part: I initially said that I didn’t want to go, but then received an email from The Boss basically ordering me to come along (partly because I didn’t go on the retreat the year before and party because he knows that I’m extremely antisocial). We spent three days up in the mountains in Chilliwack, doing some hiking and kayaking, as well as some very brief scientific discussions to justify our retreat. We made a couple of stops during our drive to and from the location, and I was reminded of why I like to eat alone.
1. I don’t like to hang out with people. Don’t get me wrong, the people at my lab are absolutely great and fine dining companions. I’m just a Gollum. I like to live inside my own little cave with my precious pastries and other treats.
2. I don’t get to pick which restaurant to go to. The Boss does, and The Boss is very picky and does not like any “shady” looking greasy spoons or diners. And for some reason The Boss during our trip decided that he wanted Thai food (even though there are like over a dozen Thai restaurants back home in Vancouver), so we ended up going to Coconut Thai Restaurant, which turned out to be a small, casual shop located near a large strip of stores and restaurants not far from the highway. Fortunately, there weren’t many people when we dropped by late in the afternoon and all 12 of us were able to get seated together at a long time. And this leads me to the third reason why I don’t like eating with others…
3. It takes FOREVER for everyone to finish deciding what they want. I’m a pretty impatient person. I tend to make decisions very quickly. About half of my dining companions, however, were much less decisive, and I found myself just sitting there, getting increasingly hangry while I waited for the others to finish making up their goddamn motherf***ing minds. It seriously took every ounce of self-control not to have a hangry meltdown.
In the end, we finally got our orders out. We got some appies (Satay, Popcon Shrimp, Crispy Wontons) to share, as well as individual dishes. I had their Lunch Pad Thai and Thai Iced Coffee.
Satay (Chicken, $7.99):
One portion comes with 4 skewers, and was served with peanut sauce. We had the chicken version, which was made with white meat, and was a tad bit dry. However, I quite enjoyed the sauce, which had a great fragrance of coconut.
Popcorn Shrimp ($7.99):
This consisted of a small plate of fried shrimp that’s served with sweet chilli sauce. The shrimp had a nice crispy texture, and was quite flavourful, but were also very small. The portion was also quite small, probably more suitable for a single person than for sharing.
Crispy Wonton ($7.99):
The wontons were really nice and crispy, and was quite tasty when covered in the sweet and tangy plumb sauce. This was a simple dish that was surprisingly tasty.
Lunch Pad Thai (Chicken, $9.45):
I had the lunch version of their pad thai, which came in a smaller portion and came with a side of soup, salad, and spring roll. I quite enjoyed the pad thai: the noodles had a nice bouncy texture, a great fragrance of peanuts, and a nice tang. You get to chose how spicy you want your food; I requested spicy, and the heat level was perfect for me. I was quite disappointed by the lack of meat in the dish however: I had requested for chicken, but only received probably two pieces. The sides were okay: the soup was brothy and savoury with some vermicelli noodles while the spring roll was crispy but did not really had any filling inside.
Thai Iced Coffee ($2.50):
This was quite sweet; I actually could not detect any coffee flavour, just sweetness. I thought that the coffee was supposed to be like this, but according to one of my dining companions, who had been to more Thai restaurants than me, their iced tea was also overly sweet.
I was lukewarm on Thai Coconut. The food was okay, but not particularly memorable. I found the portions for their appetizers to be a bit small for sharing, but their lunch specials are pretty good deals. The service was fairly attentive, but not overly warm or friendly. All in all, this wasn’t a bad place, but not one that I’d necessarily recommend either.
Recommendations: Pad Thai
On our return back, we stopped by another joint in Chilliwack for late lunch/early dinner. Once again The Boss chose the spot, and this time he decided to go to a coffee shop named Decades Coffee Club. Yes, The Boss loves his coffee (he even brought his own espresso machine along for the trip so that he can get his espressos every day). Since it was pretty late in the afternoon when we visited (around 5 o’clock), the baked good/dessert selection in the shop was pretty limited. They have a relatively limited food menu consisting of different fillings (Bella Roma, Tropical Chicken, Pesto Chicken) in either flatbread, panini, wrap or quesadilla form, as well as a decent selection of either cold or hot drinks. I had a Pesto Chicken Quesadilla, Nachos, and their Seasonal London Fog. This brings me to the 4th reason why I don’t like eating with others:
4. I’m a glutton. I’ve got a freakishly massive appetite. I didn’t know how big the portions at the shop were, and I was worried that I’d still be hungry if I just got one quesadilla. On the other hand, I didn’t want to order too much food for fear of being regarded as either a massive glutton by my peers, or worse, a moocher since The Boss was covering all the food costs for the trip. I ended up getting some nachos since it’s generally regarded as a shareable item and I could get it under the pretense of wanting to share with others (which I did).
Seasonal London Fog (12 oz, $4.85):
Their seasonal version was lavender flavoured. The tea had a really nice fragrance of citrus, and was very creamy and foamy. It was a tad on the sweeter side, and I would have liked the tea flavour to be stronger. I also was unable to detect any lavender.
This consisted of tortilla chips topped with cheese, tomatoes and olives, and were served with sour cream and salsa. I did not really care much for this dish. The chips I found to be a bit stale and not as crispy as I want. There wasn’t that much cheese present, and most of the chips were bare. I did enjoy the sour cream.
Pesto Chicken Quesadilla ($10.65):
This consisted of a tortilla filled with pesto, chicken, and cheese. The menu describes it best “simple and delicious”. The tortilla was perfectly grilled and was nice and crispy. There was a generous amount of filling inside. The chicken was incredibly tender and juicy while the cheese and pesto lent great flavour and richness.
Again, I was quite lukewarm on Decades. I really enjoyed their quesadilla, but I did not like their nachos. If I had been visiting the place by myself, I’d have likely gone for two quesadillas, or one quesadilla and a flatbread/panini.
Recommendations: Pesto Chicken Quesadilla
I know that I like to complain a lot, but I have to say the retreat was not half bad. Okay, I’d still have MUCH preferred to have stayed at home in my own little cave hissing and stroking a piece of cake (I’m so sorry for this disturbing image), but I’m still glad to have spent some time socializing with my lab mates and, more importantly, not offending my boss. We had a hike during our last day up into the mountains. I almost perished during the trip, but I did get some nice pics (proof that I did actually go up the mountain).