Sipping and Supping

BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse in Laguna Hills
24032 El Toro Rd.,
Laguna Hills, CA
Ph: 749 -848-3747

BJ's Restaurant Brewhouse on Urbanspoon

When you are heading out for an early supper with an infant and a pre-schooler, the key feature you look for is not eclectic  contemporary cuisine but a family-friendly  environment and a children's menu.  Fortunately there seems to be no shortage of such style eateries in the several neighbouring communities of Orange County where my family lives.

One such chain is BJ's, that presently has about 95 restaurants scattered throughout the West, South and Mid-Western states. They began with a pizzeria in Santa Ana in 1978, began handcrafting beers in Brea in 1996 and are about to open several new restaurants to add to the present list.

Merluzzo -pan-seared sable fishLa Terrazza

1088 Cambie Street

Vancouver

Ph: (604)-899-4449 or Reserve Online

La Terrazza on Urbanspoon

When I first moved into the Yaletown area four years ago, La Terrazza was literally a two minute walk from my rented apartment and I enjoyed several meals there. But I had not been back for more than a year, since I moved to my new home a few blocks further away. Each time I drove up Cambie on my way to dance class, I would make a mental note that it was time to check out La Terrazza again - but my mental notes seemed to get misfiled!

Then one rainy Vancouver night I had tickets for a performance at GM Place and it occurred to me that this would be the perfect time for a pre-show dinner at La Terrazza. From there it would be a quick walk to The Garage.

5 appetizer platterShanghai River Restaurant
#110-7831 Westminster Highway,
Richmond, BC
Ph: (604) 233-8885

With its large diverse Chinese community, Vancouver celebrates Chinese New Year in style. This year a group of us, 12 in all, took the Canada Line out to Richmond, for a Chinese New Year banquet at the Shanghai River Restaurant. Arranged by Susan, whose petite frame belies her formidable social organizational skills, the evening promised to be a veritable feast and it was.

As we were led to our table which seated 12 quite comfortably, we passed by the pastry area where the dumplings and noodles are freshly made. We sipped on our hot tea while Susan and Nick decided what needed to be added to the standard  banquet menu for 10 people. The rest of us debated whether to order beer or wine. Five of us settled on a bottle of Mission Hill white wine of unknown varietal. The menu did not specify. We guessed it was a Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris but we got so involved with the various dishes that we forgot to ask them to bring back the bottle so we could check. The others ordered beers.

the crispy oystersMaenam Thai Restaurant
1938 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver.
Ph: (604) 730-5579 or Reserve Online

The last time I visited this location  at its previous incarnation as Gastropod I enjoyed an excellent meal. Since chef Angus An renamed  it Maenam and changed the focus to Thai specialities  in May last year, I have not had an opportunity to revisit. But heading off to the Jericho Arts Centre to see The Vic, we decided to test our taste buds against some spicy Thai dishes.

Lucy and Jamie tend the barThe Wine Bar at The Cultch
1895 Venables Street, Vancouver
 

The renovated exterior Tucked away on the corner of Venables Street and Victorian Drive, a block east of  buzzing Commercial Drive, the creaky old Vancouver East Cultural Theatre had a quaint charm for theatre lovers despite its uncomfortable seats and awkwardly located washrooms.  Originally an old abandoned church that was developed into a theatre space some thirty-seven years ago, the facility suffered from structural and technical limitations and uncomfortable working conditions for casts and crews and has now been extensively renovated.

Curry platter for twoEnigma Restaurant
4397 W. 10th Avenue
Vancouver.
Ph: (604) 222-6881

Being  South African by birth, I was naturally intrigued when Enigma was suggested as a before-theatre dinner spot. The proprietors are from South Africa and my  dinner companion suggested that the menu featured  several dishes of  African origin.  We were on our way to see Ivanov at the Jericho Arts Centre so the location of Enigma at 10th and Trimble, just up the hill from the Centre,  was perfect.

As well as  "foodie" I am very much a "wordie" so naturally I wondered about the name. Enigma is an unusual name for a restaurant. But  the Buchmans explain - "how could such delicious food possibly be so affordable?"  Hmmm.... That's setting my expectations high.

Chambar Restaurant
562 Beatty Street
Vancouver, BC, V6B 2L3, Canada
 Ph: 604- 879-7119 or Reserve Online
 

East Fusion Food
1021 International Village
88 Pender Street, vancouver.
Ph: 604-568-6988

After a pleasant Sunday afternoon spent wandering around the neighbourhood of the new Simon Fraser University campus and the housing developments on the old Woodwards site, we decided to take in a movie at the Tinseltown cinema complex.
 
With an hour or so to while away before the film would begin, we dropped in at the tiny East cafe, tucked into a corner of the International Village complex. They were offering an excellent deal, appetizer, soup and a main course for under ten dollars
 
I put in my order not expecting much at that price but surprise ! surprise. What great value.
 
My hot and sour soup was satisfyingly hot in temperature, spicy but not overly hot in flavour, and quite delicious. For our appetisers one of my friends and I ordered one portion of spring rolls and one portion of shrimp wonton and then shared them. Again they were crisp, piping hot and delicious.

Crispy calamariThe Boathouse Restaurant

900 Quayside

New Westminster

Ph: (604) 525-3474 or Reserve Online

Boathouse (New Westminster) on Urbanspoon

Cru Restaurant
1459 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC V6H 1H6
Ph: 604-677-4111 or Reserve Online

Prior to heading off to the Stanley Theatre to see Mrs. Dexter & her Daily my theatre buddy and I opted to have dinner at Cru. Surprisingly I have not been there before although it is really convenient for pre-show dining if you are going to the Stanley Theatre. And even though it is a slightly longer walk, it is also quite convenient if you are going to the Pacific Theatre at 12th and Hemlock.

We were seated in a comfortable booth and given the prix fixe menu. At 42 dollars for 3 courses I thought it was a little pricey, until I tasted the food.

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