Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review: The Dock on Princess

Menu: Standard pub fare. We had nachos (which were passable but nothing special) and fries (which were passable but nothing special). 

Vegetarian Options: A few things but the menu is heavy on traditional meat items. 

Quality: The cover the menu states that their beef and chicken is made in Manitoba. The company names of the providers of bread and coffee are listed. This suggests that the meat is not ethically sourced but is only locally sourced. This omission/discrepancy is something to be aware of. 

Cost: Average. Suits the quality of the food. 

Service: We ate an early supper at the non-bar tables near the door. Our service was horrible - truly horrible. In addition to having to wait for items (missed order of fries, empty drinks) she engaged in ridiculous conversation (like asking us if 'We wanted to get going' when she had only moments before given me a second beer), constant interruption for no reason (30 seconds after asking my dining companion if she wanted another drink, she returned (or should I say swung around the booth to ask her again) and overall inappropriate behaviour.  

Atmosphere: This bar boasts a 'Husband Daycare' which is extremely sexist! You know - because men can't like shopping and women can't like beer. The bar area seems like a nice place to watch the game and get a pint of beer, unfortunately only 6 of the 14 taps are Canadian craft beer. The existence of the Husband Daycare, combined with the shoddy service already experienced and the mediocre food and limited craft beer selection makes me want to declare that I will never return to this establishment - especially because they aren't open Sunday. Lazy Sunday afternoon beers are the best! However, as it is one of the only places to get draught craft beer in Brandon it seems inevitable that I will return. That is until I buy a second fridge with which to stock craft beer and start my home brewing hobby with full force. 
Favourite Item: Canadian draft beer. 

The Dock on Princess
1133 Princess Ave

The Dock on Princess on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March Loves

1. I'm in love with Big Rock Brewery's 'Life of Chai' beer. 

2. I've been a big fan of Alphabet Soup Podcast for a while now. Thankfully after a hiatus they are back and better than ever! 

3. The Toronto fermenting and 'putting up food' blog, Well Preserved has recently started sending out weekly newsletters that resemble tomes on a particular vegetable. Last week's subject was cabbage! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Review: Blu Kitchen Bar

Menu: A little bit of 'big city prejudice' is going to show through in this post. This place is trying very hard to be a high end restaurant but the 'cutting edge' menu has become standard fare in the restaurant industry. This would be fine if the quality of the food was up to par but the food was bland, greasy, and unappealing visually. The beer and hard liquor selection is very 'bottom shelf' and I found it difficult to find something I wanted to drink

Vegetarian Options: A few salads, a wrap, a few pasta dishes. Nothing inspired.

Quality: I wasn't too impressed with the food here.

Cost: A touch expensive given the taste but not too bad. Drink and food specials. 

Service: This restaurant was extremely well staffed and the service was pleasant, friendly and fast.

Atmosphere: Besides the annoying loud club music, the atmosphere at Blue is pleasant. The dominate colours are dark brown/black and silver. The lounge side of the restaurant has several bar style tables and deep circular booths. It's clean and well lit with several large televisions that seem perfect for watching hockey games. The atmosphere (combined with the service) is the primary reason that I would return.

Blu Kitchen Bar
1630 Park Avenue

Blü Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 28, 2014

Review: The Magic Bean

Located in small, aggressively friendly Carberry, this little coffee shop is the perfect anecdote to big city living. It serves all the standard cafe fair (espresso/cappuccino/steamer) but the staff seems genuinely friendly and helpful, especially to older customers. The locals come out in force to consume soup and sandwich lunches and to engage in the traditional small town gossip. The decor is a mix-match of styles but because they had a comfy couch and armchair in which to read I didn't mind. 

There are two big grievances I have with this coffee shop. To get to the washroom you have to walk by the kitchen, through the office, and past a storage room. Then to add insult to injury the washroom ceiling isn't completely closed in but at least they had a low-flow toilet. The other issue is more serious as the milk for any steamed milk beverages is stored in the fridge, taken out to be steamed and placed back in the fridge while still hot to be re-steamed for another beverage. This seems gross and unsanitary as well as resulting in a watery beverage. 

While not a must-visit, The Magic Bean is a nice place to meet friends for lunch, or to stop for a coffee while on the way through town. 

The Magic Bean
48 Main Street, Carberry Mb
8:30-4:30 Monday - Friday

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review: Wok Box

Menu: Order and pay at the counter, take a seat and your food will magically (and quickly) arrive in front of you. Drinks are serve yourself. This is a fast food system but efficient.  

Vegetarian Options: All the main dishes can be made with tofu which results in this restaurant being very vegetarian friendly.

Quality: I've ordered many dishes but cannot distinguish their flavour from each other. This is not to say that the food is bad, it's just not memorable. I do like the multiple choices of noodle available.   

Cost: Affordable. The cost is consistent with the quality and the food is okay which makes Wok Box a nice place to go for a quick meal in Brandon. 

Service: The food arrives very quickly and is always piping hot. 

Atmosphere: Standard Family restaurant

Favourite Item: None.

Wok Box, 930 D 18th St

Wok Box on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 24, 2014

Review: Sushi Hut

Menu: I've only had the All-You-Can-Eat option. Using a grease pencil, you mark off what type and quantity of dishes you want to order. They do charge for uneaten food but you can order as often as you want and I doubt they would charge if you ordered one portion of a dish and didn't enjoy it for some reason so this policy is not an issue. 

Vegetarian Options: Quite a few. Ask the staff if you are unsure of what comes in a roll.  

Quality: Food is always fresh. A tip off quality raw ingredients is the state of the avocado served. At this restaurant the avocados always perfectly ripe - never under ripe or overripe.

Cost: I find the cost of this AYCE to be slightly high but the experience is pleasant and the food good so I will return on occasion.  

Service: Friendly and Fast. I have been to this restaurant at various times of day and week and wouldn't return on Friday or Saturday night as this is when they are busiest and the food arrives slowly (but still hot and delicious). I would go for lunch as the all you can eat is cheaper during that time and the service is very attentive and the food arrives quickly.  

Atmosphere: Kitschy interior but always clean. A portion of the kitchen is visible to the dining room so you can watch the chefs prepare certain dishes. Bathrooms could use a good update, but they are clean and functional.  

Clientèle: Every time I've been to this restaurant I've been witness to some extreme, unnecessary and ridiculous customer behaviour ranging from the benign but annoying (rubbing chopsticks together) to the outright rude (yelling at the waitress as they assume she doesn't speak English). Please note: No one made you go to a sushi restaurant, so if you are racist, please stay home.    

Favourite items: Mango Avocado Roll, Avocado Roll, Broccoli Tempura, Veggie Pizza, Edamame 

Sushi Hut, 2728 Victoria Ave

Sushi Hut on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 21, 2014

Flavoring Kombucha: Working with the Strong Flavour of Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented food so there are health benefits reaped from consuming it but kombucha has a strong vinegary taste that can be quite unpleasant for some people. The key to overcoming the strong flavor of kombucha is to work with it and not attempt to mask it. This means leaving delicate flavorings like grapefruit, lemon grass and mint to homemade soda recipes and focusing on stronger flavors like ginger and blueberries. Flavoring home brewed kombucha is as simple as combining brewed kombucha with flavor ingredients and letting it sit for a few days.

There are few other, slightly more interesting and complex ways to flavour kombucha that works with the vinegary taste of plain kombucha rather than fighting it.

Shrubs, or drinking vinegars, are flavoured vinegars used as ingredients in mixed drinks and cocktails. Shrubs are easily prepared at home as they merely are a combination of fruit, apple cider vinegar, and sugar. This mixture is shaken daily then stained after a week or so. As shrubs are frequently made with apple cider vinegar (a common descriptor of kombucha) they make an excellent addition to kombucha. I simply pour a little bit of shrub over ice, then top off with unflavoured kombucha.

If you brew your own kombucha you'll have two (or ten) extra SCOBYs floating around your kitchen. The next concept for working with the strong flavours of kombucha is coffee kombucha. Coffee kombucha is insanely easy to make (drop an extra SCOBY in cooled, sweetened coffee and wait) but it's flavour is very difficult to explain. It smells strongly of coffee but has a lessened coffee flavour. Its flavour is reminiscent of sweetened regular coffee while simultaneously being tart and having a slightly fermented flavour. Coffee kombucha definitely works with the flavour of kombucha to create an interesting drink but one that may not suite everyone's tastes.

Do you like the strong flavour of k
ombucha or do you prefer to mask it with complimentary strong flavours?