The Ascot

The Ascot

For our monthly gossip session, Fannypack and I visited The Ascot with a Groupon in hand.  As we approached the restaurant we were impressed by the swanky hipster-looking storefront.  However it did look out of place for its location, as it’s near Richards and W. Pender.

The Ascot

Stepping in the hipster-factor was confirmed.  It definitely looked good and rustic with its huge brick-face wall and chandeliers.  Vintage would be the theme I supposed.  The night we visited happened to be a night where they had a paint class type of thing.  We were not part of it but we saw the group of people all learning to paint the same picture.

The Ascot: Halibut Ceviche

We were trying to decide between the Halibut Ceviche ($8) or the Cold Smoked Duck ($10).  Finally we picked the Halibut Ceviche since it’s supposed to be made fresh in-house everyday, and is therefore served in limited quantities.

Fannypack and I both decided that it was too tart and basically tasteless.  To me the fish was mushy and we definitely needed the pita chips to cut down on the acidity.  However towards the bottom of the glass it became less tart, so the sour start could be due to a squeeze of lemon or lime juice at the top.  This was definitely not my favorite of the night.  (Should’ve gotten the duck….)

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Lickerish Lounge

lickerish lounge

Some friends headed out to celebrate a couple of birthdays on Saturday and decided to have the dinner and pre-drinks at Lickerish Lounge on Davie St.  Neither of us has been here but we have heard of it; the paintings of major urban music figures on the walls were what came to mind immediately.  We did a bit of reconnaissance online and came up with some pretty bad reviews, but we noticed they were mainly from previous years so we figured hopefully its changed for the better since.  And I’m glad we gave them the benefit of the doubt since our experience there was top notch!

lickerish lounge

We were running a little late so when we got there the party was in full swing; a diverse crowd packed the downstairs area and everybody seemed to be having a good time.  There’s an upstairs loft as well and apparently later in the evening both levels can get pretty packed on a weekend (they also offer an outdoor patio).  At this point in the evening rap music was pumping from the sound system to accompanying videos on the plasmas on the walls (including a giant 106″ HD screen above the DJ booth!), and although we didn’t stay late enough to catch the DJ sets they have live DJs Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights after 10 PM.

I recognized one of the waitresses as a former co-worker, and although she wasn’t the server for our section we did get a chance to chat about her new gig.  I know her as a straight shooter, and she had nothing but kind words for the owner and establishment.  She said she has a lot of fun working there and that the crowd is phenomenal, none of the sketchiness or aggression you might expect at a hip hop venue.  One of the main gripes it seems people had with Lickerish in the past was in the service department, but the current staff seemed very pleasant and capable, and handled our crowd without any complaints or hitches.

lickerish lounge: White Sangria

Wendy had a couple shots of Tavi tequila to start the night off with a bang: a newish entry into the premium tequila market, Tavi’s known for a clean taste, smooth finish and purported lack of hangover (and a gorgeous looking bottle!).  For her next drink she had a White Sangria ($7.50), which she thought looked quite pretty served with a couple of cranberries and a slice each of lemon and lime.  She didn’t find it very boozy, but sangria is usually deceptively easy to drink so it more than likely had the requisite amount in it.

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Victoria Weekend Trip Part 1 – The Mint

Howdy, it’s Hitman here to start off this post where we’re going to review several restaurants we dined at during a recent trip to Victoria for my sister’s wedding.  Victoria is notoriously hit and miss for the food scene, and I’ve had my share of misses there but thankfully this trip we lucked out and would highly recommend any of the following eateries.

The Mint Dining Lounge in Victoria

While we were deciding whether to have Thai or Indian food for our first meal in the city, which was a Friday night dinner, I rang up a local friend to see what they recommended.  He was eating at a place called The Mint dining lounge which was just a short walk from our hotel and after a quick google search (I’ve been steered wrong by the locals before….seems in Victoria sometimes places get popular just by virtue of being “hip” regardless of the food so we weren’t taking any chances), we decided to join them for some crazy Indian/Thai/Greek/Italian/Tibetan/Japanese/whatever fusion.

We could hear music playing as we descended the dimly lit, glitter covered concrete steps which was a sign of the funky, cool atmosphere to come.  Once inside we could see the place was packed, but thankfully no lineup–everywhere we went in the downtown core we saw some pretty crazy lineups for clubs, pubs, restaurants etc.  Even a lineup for a pho place!!  We will be hitting that one up next time as we could smell the broth half a block away and it was intoxicating, even though we had just ate!  Back to Mint, the lighting was quite impressive in the opening dining area, with small Xmas-style light bulbs strung along the ceilings which cast the perfect illumination to set a romantic mood, even though the place was batshit noisy.  Part of this noise was coming from a live DJ spinning on a converted stovetop setup complete with kettle!  Some nice electro beats on this particular night, nothing too overwhelming but a nice compliment to the hipster ambiance.  The decor was quite a mixed bag, dropping hints of the eclectic menu: Thai and Indian masks, elephant statues, modern wildlife artwork including some with the wildlife engaged in sex acts…daily specials written on a giant circular saw hanging on the wall behind the bar.

The Mint Dining Lounge in Victoria: Water Buffalo Momos

There wasn’t room at the table the friend was at as they had a big party going on so we didn’t join them until some guests left later, so we settled in to our own table and ordered Water Buffalo Momos to start which were a special for $8.95.  They were practically thumbnail size so we didn’t feel like we got anywhere near our money’s worth.  They appeared to be deep fried instead of the steamed style we were used to…not as good in our opinion.  It came with an achar that tasted like a salsa with a slight pickled flavour.  Maybe they can find a better use for it than the momos because it was kind of interesting.

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The American Grille

Taking my parents out for dinner one night, we wanted good steakhouse food without travelling all the way to Downtown.  I remembered having been to The American Grille before and had a good meal there, so I decided to take my parents there.

They are also in the Entertainment Book so there was all the more incentive to go!  Besides that, they are currently doing a “2 Courses for $28” promotion right now which we also took advantage of.

The American Grille: bread basket

The restaurant has a very understated decor.  Nothing fancy.  They’re also not particularly busy but there seems to be a steady stream of people coming in.  I love the bread here.  Soft, fluffy and warm.  They give you a type of poppyseed cracker thing, also white and multigrain baguette.

The American Grille: Steamed Mussels

The American Grille: 10oz Rib-eye Steak

For Mom, we took advantage of the promotion and ordered the combination of their Steamed Mussels (originally $10.50) and their fabulous 10oz Rib-eye Steak ($28).  Because of the mussels, it was $3 extra which was fine.

Now the mussels weren’t the best I’ve had.  They were pretty tiny and the broth (white wine reduction, garlic, diced tomato, warm filone bread) could be better, but it wasn’t bad.  It is still a pretty big bowl of mussels, very fresh and sweet.

The steak was done to a perfect medium-rare.  It was served with field mushrooms, Brew city onion rings, with rosemary jus.  It was a nice cut and hit the right spot that night.  Those onion rings were massive and Dad was very impressed.

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Pinky’s Steakhouse & Cocktail Lounge – CLOSED

The night we had dinner at Pinky’s was during the Olympics.  As expected, anywhere else from the Downtown core has very little business during those two weeks, doesn’t matter what day of the week.

Pinky’s, being in Kitsilano, was no exception.  We were probably the 3rd table there that whole night.

Which was fine with us.

Pinky's Steakhouse

It’s actually a very nicely decorated restaurant.  Very modern, albeit a bit dark.  I imagine it can get quite noisy here since it is still kind of small, and the bar is right in the middle of it all.

Pinky's Steakhouse: yazuka

I started off with the Yazuka ($9), which is a Sake blended drink with lychee and peach schnapps.

It came smaller than I already expected.  The glass doesn’t even look full.  Oh well.  It was refreshing and of course, peachy.  I did have to savor every drop though.

Pinky's Steakhouse: House Salad

We ordered two appetizers to start.  We figured that since we’re at a steakhouse (this was one of those steakhouses where when you order a steak, it ONLY comes with that steak, plus an onion ring), we need to get some fiber intake somewhere.  So one of our appies was a salad.

Mom and PS originally wanted the Caesar salad, but I voted against it since it’s actually not very healthy for you.  I asked that we had the House Salad instead which was served with blue cheese, pecans and cranberries.  I love any salad with cranberries.  And blue cheese.  This was very good.

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