Toulouse Petit – Ranked Favourite Restaurant in Seattle

Grabbed an early lunch at one of my now favourite joints in Seattle,Toulouse Petit. It was chosen as the 5th favourite restaurants in the U.S. on Trip Advisor in 2012. It’s ridiculous how this restaurant could maintain it’s quality yet get so wildly popular, I mean 2400+ reviews on urbanspoon is insane.

We opted for the daytime pre-fixe, 2 courses for $17. It is an absolutely steal.

Coffee
Coffee

First Course

Yellow Beets, Haricots Verts, Toasted Walnuts, Olives and Stilton Bleu Cheese. It had a balanced amount of tang and saltiness. Overall, a refreshingly light salad.

Yellow Beets
Yellow Beets

Crispy Fried Pork Cheeks Confit. The meat was extra lean and yet still very tender. The batter was not thick but, it was harder than I would have liked.

Crispy Fried Pork Cheeks Confit
Crispy Fried Pork Cheeks Confit

Second Course

Crispy Fried Chicken Gumbo, they are famous for the crispy chicken. They must have so much spice in their batter, the chicken skin was out of this world. The gumbo had quite a kick, so half way through this dish my mouth started to burn. I’m not a spice wuss either, I can take spice but, this is a different kind of heat, the kind that heats your entire body up.

Crispy Fried Chicken Gumbo

Housemade Ricotta Gnocchi with braised pork shoulder. Ooo lordy, melt you’re your mouth gnocchi, it was uber soft yet it still had a bit of resilience. Pork had so much flavor and was so tender that no utensils were needed. Both mains were slightly seasoned more than I would have liked. It got too salty near the end of our meal.

Housemade Ricotta Gnocchi with braised pork shoulder
House made Ricotta Gnocchi with braised pork shoulder

They also have one of the best happy hours, dishes range from $4-8. Between 4-6PM and late night 10 – 1AM, daily.
Toulouse Petit Kitchen & Lounge on Urbanspoon

La Mezcaleria: First Mezcaleria in Canada

la mezcaleria Vancouver

La Mezcaleria is the first mezcaleria in Canada, brought to you by the same people who opened La Taqueria, a Vancouver favourite. Located on the eclectic commercial drive. The shared plates are inspired by traditional Mexican recipes made from local and organic products and meant to be chased with sips of mezcal (or mescal). The flavour profiles of each dish are creative and unique, not your typical tacos and salsa restaurant here.

Little Background on Mezcal

It is a distilled spirit made from the heart of the maguey plant, a form of agave. Is smokey in flavor. Fruits and herbs can be added during the fermentation and distillation process. Some bottles contain a worm or a scorpian. Quite controversial, some say it’s there to impart flavor others say that it is proof that the mezcal is fit to drink.

Scorpion mezcal
Scorpion mezcal

Mezcal was first made and drank by farmers. It has become quite popular in the past few years as people start to realize how complex and vast mezcal could be.

Similar to vodka, I always cringe when pretentious alcohol snobs proclaim,” ohh I only drink Grey Goose because great vodka is supposed to taste like water.” Well shit, I don’t know what kind of water you drink but, the water I drink sure doesn’t taste like vodka.

Starter:
Daily Ceviche – snapper ceviche. Heavier on the lime than I’m more used to. Very refreshing tomatoes, cilantro and, fresh snapper, you can’t really go wrong.

ceviche

I like that there was a bit of kick to it.

red snapper ceviche
red snapper ceviche

Mains:
Tostadas De Pato: Fraser Valley duck confit, guava, fruit mole sauce, (manchamanteles), chayote, squash and radish. The fruit mole gave the dish a rich and earthy flavour and the candied guava for a bit of sweetness. A unique flavour combination that complimented surprisingly well with each other. It came with 4 house made sauces ranging from mild to habanero spicy.

tostados
tostados

Parillada: grilled beef shrot-ribs marinated in homemade pasilla chile sauce. Served with mexican chorizo, nopalitos, toreado peppers and green onions.

beef short ribs with Mexican chorizon
beef short ribs with Mexican chorizon

Traditionally in Mexico people like to play and suck on the bones, thus each rib had a bone. Served with 4 tortillas. You get two different tortillas in one dish. The chorizo tortilla paired well with chilli de arbio and the salsa de verde, rounded out the chorizo.

Drinks:

drink board
daily drink board

Agua Fresca del dia con piquette, spiked fruit water of the day was, white grape pear calvados, cinnamon and vodka. The cinnamon was quite prominent . Reminds me a a thanksgiving dessert. All my favourite fall ingredients in a delicious cocktail.

mexican cocktail
mexican cocktail

Espadin Mezcal Flight served with sangrita and lime with a little worm salt.

  1. Sombra: very smokey, reminds me of smoked wood chips. mmm…
  2. Fidencio Classico: mellower on the nose and quite smooth on the palette, when compared to the first mezcal.
  3. Siete Misterios: very fragrant, floral with a hint of olive, especially in the end. My favourite in the flight
  4. Scorpion Silver: This was delicious! Lime, cucumber and savory herbs and a hint of spiciness. You gotta try it with the worm salt and orange. NUTS! (I started craving this the next morning, I might have a problem)
mezcal
mezcal

For those who haven’t tried Mezcal, there are various ways to enjoy Mezcal.

How to Enjoy Mezcal

scopion silver mezcal
scopion silver mezcal

I’ve only drank mezcal once and because it is served in a shot glass I shot it down straight. Yep, big mistake, didnt’ feel so good after that. Thanks to our gracious host and co-owner Ignacio Arrieta, he educated us on 2 traditional ways to enjoy our mezcal. So before you shoot the shot down, read the glass, it said something like “sip don’t shoot”.

Method 1, Sip, Sip, Sip

Drink the lime juice before you a sip the mezcal and follow it up with a little sangrita. Sangrita is not locally available so La Mezcaleria made their own, from tomatoes juice and Mexican spices, garlic, garlic juice and orange juice. It helped cleanse the palette between sips.

Method 2: Sip, Suck, Sip (Noooo…don’t go there. Don’t go dirty.)

I found that it was tastier when the mezcal was followed by an orange slice that was sprinkled with worm salt. This way the mezcal doesn’t get diluted with the lime juice.

worm salt oranges
worm salt oranges

Worm salt, dehydrate worms mixed with Mexican spices and salt. Think of umami, or the japanese spice mix you add in your ramen. It goes sooo well with Mezcal and, I believe it would also go perfectly with good tequila.

worm salt
worm salt

To truly enjoy this type of food, you have to be more aware and interactive with it. From choosing your mix of La Mezcaleria house made sauces, to making your own tortillas and getting their hands dirty with the beef ribs. A truly enjoyable learning experience, I will be back.

La Mezcaleria on Urbanspoon

Cuchillo – Serves Up Creative Latin American Plates

Cuchillo, opened a few weeks ago in the heart of downtown east side where Railtown meets Chinatown. They have seen their share of protests so I decided to go and show my support. Cuchillo serves up creative Latin American dishes that are meant to be shared.

Cuchillo long table
Cuchillo long table

Unfortunately, they were just vandalized a few hours before, so they had to board up one of their windows. Don’t let this deter you from going though, this restaurant is worth a try.

They have this beautiful tall table parallel to the bar and in the back they have lounge area with comfy recliners. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxing, décor is similar to the Diamond in Gastown, except Cuchillo’s service is far superior, everyone was welcoming and staff was knowledgeable.  The service I received at Diamond was so bad that they were added and moved up to the top of my blacklist, the only restaurant on this list because of poor service, the others I was due to food poisoning. I will save that story for later.

They serve my favourite mojito’s in town. I like my classic drinks to stay classic. I stay away from any berry infused drinks. Cuchillo topped their mojito’s with dark rum. Yummy! My friend said it was too minty but, I I thought it was the perfect hit.

mojito topped with dark rum
mojito topped with dark rum

Antojitos and Taqueria’s – small plates and tacos

Corn bread azul with guajillo chili butter $7 was made out of blue cornmeal resulting in a grainier texture. It was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Corn bread are usually very dense, Cuchillo’s was fluffier and moist. The chili butter gave it some nice heat.

Corn bread azul with guajillo chili butter
Corn bread azul with guajillo chili butter

White bean parmasean fundido $8 with corn chips is quite filling. It is essentially a white bean dip, with pumpkin seed, cotija Monterey jack, sardo parmesan and two other Argentinean cheeses. The cheese was sharp, heavy on garlic and the bean was a perfect consistency. You’d need an appetite, this is a heavy dish

White bean parmasean fundido
White bean parmasean fundido

Mixto Traditionale, octopus, sidestripe prawn, rockfish, mussels, clams, sweet potato puree. $14. After having the last two dishes that had huge flavor, the ceviche was relatively light. The seafood was fresh but, I would have liked more seasoning.

octopus, sidestripe prawn, rockfish, mussels, clams, sweet potato puree.
octopus, sidestripe prawn, rockfish, mussels, clams, sweet potato puree.

Mole Lamb albondigas, sardo parmasean browned garlic popcorn $8. This was my favourite dish, the lamb which was served in a lamb-ball was amazing. Think the lamb mixture was mixed with beef, I don’t get the intense gaminess lamb flavor. It was juicey and topped with popcorn which gave it a nice texture. I have to admit I was sold on the popcorn first before our server even mentioned lamb.

lamb taco
lamb taco

Morita chili bbq pulled pork. This pulled pork taco was pretty run of the mill. The bbq sauce was very nice, sweet, not overly savoury and the pulled pork wasn’t drowning in the sauce. I’ve had so many pulled pork dishes that I getting sick of it. This would be my last pulled pork dish for the season.

Morita chili bbq pulled pork.
Morita chili bbq pulled pork.

My two cents on DTES Gentrification Protests…

My two cents on the protests
My two cents on the protests

As for this bullshit about it being expensive, well it is more expensive than Everything $5? Yes, the quality of the food is far superior, what do you expect to pay for quality ingredients, of course it costs more. Share plates range from $6 – 14, you get two decent sized tacos for $8 and, entrees range from $18 – $24. The prices are a little lower than what you would find in the heart of downtown and the food is crazy good. It’s not an Applebee’s, you won’t get bottomless fries and a heaping plate of pasta bigger than your head, that’s just nasty. So before you whine that it’s too expensive, go out to comparable restaurants around town to get some perspective.

DTES is not exactly a tourist attraction but, some parts of Gastown isn’t either. If I never venture out then I would not get a chance to experience gems like Pidgin and Cuchillo. Try it out yourself before you turn up your nose at these restaurants because of their location.

Cuchillo on Urbanspoon

Cuchillo, Gastown

Cafe Habana – East Village Spanish Joint

During my trip to New York we hit up a few, ok I lied, MANY restaurants. We chose Café Habana a small yet popular Cuban / Spanish joint in East Village. Café Habana is known for their corn and Cuban sandwiches.

Cafe Habana - East Village Spanish Tapas

During lunch time it was packed and we were seated in a cramped corner. Once I tasted their Cuban sandwich they could have sat me on a bus stop for all I cared. It was that good!

Cafe Habana cuban sandwich

The Quesadilla de Pollo was typical and the intensity of the flavours was dull.

Chicken Quesadilla

Next trip back I will be trying the corn.

Café Habana on Urbanspoon

Cocktail That Inspires of Summer – Salsa & Agave

Salsa Agave
Salsa Agave

Food Persuasion level : [rating=4]
Value: [rating=4]
Service : [rating=4]
Ambiance: [rating=3
Price: $$
Cuisine: Mexican Grill Restaurant
Location: Yaletown, Vancouver

Comfortably perched at Salsa Agave’s bar, I watch the gloomy quarter sized rain drops pelt down on unusually quiet Saturday afternoon. What could perk us up more than a refreshing, fruity cocktail that makes us reminisce of our lazy summer days on Kitsilano Beach. Strawberry  Rush cocktail, mixed with guava juice, at least 2 oz of vodka, soda and, freshly muddled strawberries.

strawberry rush - Salsa Agave
strawberry rush - Salsa Agave

Soft corn tortillas $2.25 each or 4 for $8. A recommend for it’s great value.

Fave beef tongue, tender, lacked a bit of salt but, delicious.

beef tongue - Salsa Agave
beef tongue - Salsa Agave

Next recommendation, Chorizo, mexican sausage, this was delicious. Unlike it’s competitor restaurant Don Guacamole’s which were dry and chewy, this was delicious.

The chicken and beef tortillas were good but, nothing special.

chorizo and chicken taco - Salsa Agave
chorizo and chicken taco - Salsa Agave

Menudo, beef tripe in a spicy broth with sides of onions, oregano and lime -$9. Our adorable and hot server suggested mixing the sides in the broth and let it sit for a few minutes so all the flavors can meld together.

Mendu taco - Salsa Agave
Mendu taco - Salsa Agave
1223 Pacific Blvd(604) 408-4228

Similar Restaurant Recommendations

Don Guacamole’s – Robson St.

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Salsa & Agave Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Red Hot Mexican – Don Guacamoles

Food Persuasion level : [rating=2]
Value: [rating=3]
Service : [rating=4]
Ambiance: [rating=3]
Price: $
Cuisine: Mexican Restaurant
Location: Robson St.,  DonwtownVancouver
Don Guacamole’s Restaurant Menu

Don Guacamole

Food Persuasion Level

It must be the pull of their large and always packed patio that drew us to Don Guacamole’s or, their guacamole dip in a martini glass. Whatever the reason, we were ready to explore Robson’s version of a Red Hot Mexican meal.

Starting off with a complimentary side of tortillas that comes with 3 dipping sauces. None, all too spicy.

Tortilla Chips

The best value and my recommendation are the Tortilla appetizers $2.75/ each, it is equally as big as the tortillas sized entrees. We ordered the Birria, slow cooked lamb with as their menu terms it a “unique” mexican sauce.  Really just a bunch of chillies, we started adding the dip from our chips to add extra flavour to a rather much too simple dish.

Birria

For the entree we ordered the Mulitas Campachenas – corn tortillas, ground beef and mexican sausage and guacamole -$10, it comes with two tortillas.  This turned out a little dry, added a spritz of lime, extra gucamole and salsa which turned out great.

Mulitas

Gauging from my foodie co-horts this place is a hit or miss, depending when you go, the line-ups are always long and whether their cook is on the ball when he made your dish. For that reason and the fact that I was my own sit-down chef I am not persuaded.

1333 Robson StVancouver, BC(604) 569-2295

[mappress]

Don Guacamole's on Urbanspoon