Location: 345 10 Ave SW
This is the second time I’ve been to the restaurant, but the first time was for a company Christmas lunch and I didn’t think it was appropriate to take pictures.
The first time I was here I ordered the Ahi Poke Bowl because this was the first time I was going to lunch with my lawyers and other lawyers and assistants in my pod and I didn’t want to order anything too messy and make a bad first impression. To be clear though, it’s not like my lawyers haven’t given me work to do over my lunch break and I happened to be sitting at my desk eaten, so it’s not like they haven’t seen me eat, but I just don’t think I need to leave them with the image of a burger falling apart in my hands, sauce dripping down my arms and food all over my face. The Ahi Poke Bowl consisted of sashimi grade ahi tuna with cucumber, pickled carrots, avocado chunks, seaweed, fresh ginger and togarashi aioli all stacked on top of steamed rice and sesame seeds. While this was a good dish, there wasn’t anything particularly memorable about it. That being said, two things that did stand out for not the best reasons were that the pickled carrots weren’t really pickled and the fact I don’t even remember there being fresh ginger in the dish at all and ginger is a pretty strong flavour.
If you’ve ever been to CRAFT, then you know it’s more of a burger and wings kind of place. The bar/pub atmosphere isn’t really the kind of place you walk into and think hmm, let’s eat a pasta or poke bowl. These places make you want to get messy and really enjoy the entire experience of eating. Maybe that was one of the factors that made the Ahi Poke Bowl seem so underwhelming.
I had the opportunity to return here a few nights ago and order what my lawyer had ordered that day. I’m not gonna even lie, I was side-eying (and at times straight up staring) that thing for the whole meal, wishing I could eat it, but imagining that in my tiny, girl hands, that the thing would become a disaster. The dish in question? The Crispy Chicken Sandwich.
Now, I know some of my readers have only recently joined and I know some of you personally and vice versa, but if there’s anything to really know about me is that I love the combination of savoury and sweet in a dish. I don’t usually care for desserts unless it’s chocolate mousse, so the sweetness in the dish is that bit of balance that makes my palate feel satisfied. My all time favourite combination is chicken and waffles and this sandwich is kind of a play on that. The Crispy Chicken Sandwich consists of a succulent piece of fried chicken drizzled with hot sauce and maple syrup on a house made bun with lettuce, slaw, and house pickles. When it comes to hot sauce on chicken, I’m very particular about it. I definitely don’t like hot sauces that are more acidic because I only need it to burn me on one level. I like a complex blend of flavours in my hot sauce because if you’re going to burn me, at least let me enjoy it. I’m not sure if the hot sauce is house made, but it is pretty on par with the one I had at Diner Deluxe, which I also really enjoyed. If there’s one salad I love more than anything in the world, it’s coleslaw and that slaw on the burger provided the perfect hit of freshness, creaminess, and a little bit of acidity to cut through the deep fried chicken. The house made bun felt like it was egg based and vaguely reminiscent of waffles because of it (but also, nothing like waffles, but I do prefer egg buns over regular burger ones). The house pickles were slightly on the sweeter side, but I didn’t mind. I usually find that house pickles are sweeter than commercial ones, but that just might happen to be the case for all the places I’ve tried. I can appreciate both kinds of pickles as they each have their place in the dish and add depth to the dish.
Compared to the sandwich, the fries were mediocre. My coworker, Alex, someone I may have mentioned in past reviews who shares in my food adventures, disagrees. We both look for very different things in fries. I enjoy fries that are thinner and crunchier (think McDonald’s or Smashburger fries), while she enjoys the pillowy, fluffier fries. I liked the salt and pepper seasoning because it’s different from most places that just salt their fries, but it wasn’t really good enough for me to finish. Alex ordered the same thing as me and her boyfriend Alex (hence Alex²) ordered the Brewmaster’s Chicken Sandwich, which looked equally delicious, but he opted to get a side of Mac and Cheese instead of fries. From the small sampling of the Mac and Cheese, I’d have to say it was pretty good. I think if I ordered that I’d keep the poblano peppers in.
Then we decided to have dessert. I probably should’ve listened to Alex, but I wanted to find out for myself. We both ordered the Dessert in a Jar, while Alex (the boyfriend) got cookies. The Dessert in a Jar is a gluten free brownie topped with vanilla gelato, sponge toffee (made in house), sliced bananas and topped with chocolate sauce. This sounded a lot like the dessert I had at Cactus Club Cafe (a chocolate mousse shot) which I enjoyed, so I thought what the heck. The only thing I was apprehensive about were the bananas because I only enjoy them at a certain ripeness. Of course it came, the bananas were too ripe and eventually the overripe taste of bananas is what made me sick. It was a fairly disappointing dessert overall. The vanilla gelato was not even really cold and more like a flat whipped cream. The brownie was dry and I had to mash the ice cream into the brownie to make it a little more manageable to eat. The toffee was okay, but I like the one from Cactus Club Cafe better (not sure if they make theirs in-house though). I did not even come close to finishing that dessert. So, if you plan on ordering this, unless you are a garbage disposal chute, endless pit, or black hole, do not attempt alone.
The only difference between my meal and Alex’s (coworker) is that she had the International Beer Sampler. It was surprisingly affordable (only about $12). I can’t really comment on beer because I generally don’t like alcohol, unless it’s like Yakult or Peach Soju.
I would definitely come back here to try the fried pickles, tacos, and a few other burgers. This visit was far more enjoyable than the one with my pod. I would give this place a 4/5. It was a bit loud and I felt like my voice was going at the end of the night, but that’s typical of a place like this so that’s fine. Service was good. I liked that we were given enough time to order without pressure and that we weren’t just left in a corner and forgotten.
I do apologize for the quality of the photos though; the lighting wasn’t great.