Merchant’s Oyster Bar

A mutual friend of Fannypack’s and mine was visiting from out of town and Fannypack had the task of choosing a place for dinner.  She then of course passed it on to me even though lately she’s been eating out way more often than I =P.

Upon googling I came up with Merchant’s Oyster Bar which is located on “The Drive” (Commercial Drive).  What drawn me to this restaurant was its high rating on Urbanspoon plus the affordable $29 Prix Fixe menu.  I later learned that this establishment is from the same owner as Cork & Fin.

Merchant's Oyster Bar

Merchant’s Oyster Bar has a great nautical theme going on and I especially loved the rope embellishments right on top of the bar.  It’s also a very small restaurant and apparently the largest party size they can accommodate is 6.

Merchant's Oyster Bar: Freshly Shucked Oysters

Between the whole group we were able to try most of everything I would’ve wanted to try here.  I of course went with the prix fix menu.  For the first course I picked the Freshly Shucked Oysters served with a Champagne Mignonette and fresh grated horseradish.  Three different oysters were served but unfortunately, aside from the usual kusshi oysters, I couldn’t catch the name of the other two due to the high level of noisiness in the small restaurant, more on that later.

However it was no matter to my unrefined oyster tasting palette 😉  All three tasted great and fresh to me.  One in particular though (not the kusshi) had a more defined alkaline lingering on the tongue afterwards, and that was my favorite part.

Merchant's Oyster Bar: Roast Bone Marrow

Fannypack and I also ordered the two bone portion of the Roast Bone Marrow ($13) served with the usual baguette slices, parsley and tomato salad.

I must say the amount of marrow served was not enough to even cover the two slices of baguette each.  Not even to thinly coat, and to actually taste the marrow goodness you can’t really thinly coat the baguette or else all you’ll taste is baguette.  So in the end it was only enough to cover half of each slice or one slice total each.

But whatever I was able to taste, tasted divine.  It was buttery and satiating.  I’ve tried recreating this at home before, without having tried it at a restaurant.  Now that I have, I think I’ll attempt it again.

The subtle acidity of the parsley salad as a palette cleanser balanced out the fatty richness of the marrow.  I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed the parsley salad as parsley is probably one of my least favorite herbs.

Anyway Fannypack and I tried to quickly finish up this course as the others had to wait until we finished this extra helping until their second course arrived.

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Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana

A thing about Hitman is that he is into good, authentic food as much as I am. He’s always looking for the truest form of preparation for a certain type of cuisine and in reality, he is much, MUCH pickier than I am =P On our first date we were at a Thai restaurant and I ordered a green curry. He asked if they actually had Thai eggplant instead of the usual westernized version made with peas…
Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana exterior

So if we were to have pizza….of COURSE we have to have the most authentic one!! Somehow he found out about Via Tevere. Located near Commercial Drive, Via Tevere makes and serves authentic, Napoli pizza. Visit their website for the strict list of criteria.  In essense, true Neapolitan pizza, as required by the Associazone Vera Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), must be baked in a wood-fired domed oven using precise amounts of certain ingredients from specific locations.

.Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana interior

They open at 5pm every day. We arrived at quarter after and the restaurant was busy but we still managed to get a table right away. However a lineup formed pretty soon after.  The wood-fired dome oven is situated in the back.  The server was very attentive.
Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana: Frittura Napoletana

We started with an appy of Frittura Napoletana ($16 for 2) which is a sampling of deep fried Neapolitan street food.  From the left, it’s mac and cheese, risotto, potato and cheese, and pork meatballs.  Honestly, for the price I really did expect something a bit more extravagant…think about it…the two meatballs would be $1 each…and they were a quarter in diameter…and taste-wise not especially spectacular to boot.

My fav of the 4 would be the mac and cheese, but that really isn’t say much…the risotto is mixed in a tomato sauce, and the potato cheese concoction was kind of doughy, like a fritter I suppose.

But I digress…the star of the shows were supposed to be the pizzas anyways….

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The Foundation

Now I’m a complete carnivore.  I don’t think I’ll ever become a vegetarian or live off veggies alone.  However like most people that like to eat, I’m open to pretty much anything, so when a friend came back from Japan and we were to meet up for dinner, her suggestion of The Foundation was a much-welcomed one.

My only other time to eat at a western vegetarian restaurant was at Bandidas, and I enjoyed it a lot.  Plus the rave reviews of The Foundation did not help in deterring me from it.

The Foundation: "Small" nachos

Now everyone RAVED about the nachos here.  Between the 4 of us we shared a small ($10 + $2 for guacamole) and it was HUMONGOUS.  We couldn’t finish it.

It was simply tortilla chips covered in melted cheddar cheese, black beans, and corn.  It was really good, but not especially exciting for me really.  But then I was never a big nacho fan.

The guacamole was thick and chunky and really good.  I didn’t really use the salsa or the sour cream though.

Foundation: Mango Forte

Next we shared the Mango Forte, which consisted of rotini(?) pasta tossed with broccoli, zucchini, mango chunks, and jalapeños in a coconut sauce.

My impression of this was not good.  First of all, the pasta was very bland, even after mixing everything together.  The sauce really didn’t have much flavor aside from being spicy and then suddenly you’re hit with the sweetness of the mangoes.  I wonder if this is more like a salad, even though it was served hot warm.  Again, I didn’t like this.

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Marcello Pizzeria & Ristorante

Marcello Pizzeria exterior

Work friends decided to have our own Christmas dinner/gathering on top on the annual workplace party.  G, having been all around town, decided on Marcello on Commercial.  As he said, it’s Italian and most people enjoy Italian (except me that is haha).

I’ve never been there before so I read some reviews.  It seems that they’re really slow and service is not always the best, so honestly I did not prepare myself to receive the best service or to have the best experience there.

Also, from what I heard from L2, the owner of Marcello (Marcello Lombardo) used to be the owner of Lombardo’s, which is a thin-crust pizzeria just a few stores down.  But apparently he had a divorce and had to give Lombardo to his ex-wife, which is why he opened Marcello just down the street, probably as a vengence thing to compete for business haha.

Marcello Pizzeria interior

Even though we went on a weekday it was still busy enough.  Mind you it wasn’t packed but there was certainly a lot of people.  I liked the ambiant lighting.

Marcello Pizzeria: Long Island Iced Tea

Service so far was so good.  I started with a Long Island Iced Tea ($6.95).  It came pretty quickly.  It was quite sweet though and I couldn’t really taste the alcohol in it.

On a side note, I did not like how this picture turned out…the subject was blurry while the background was clear!!!

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