RingSide Fish House (Portland Dining Month)

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When we visited Portland, it happened to be Portland Dining Month where many restaurants offered three course menus for only USD$33. This is essentially the same concept as Vancouver’s Dine out Festival. We decided to try RingSide Fish House which is known to be a classic spot among the locals. The restaurant is located in the Fox Tower in central downtown. The restaurant ambiance was very nice and service was spot on.

 

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RingSide Onion Rings

The RingSide Onion Rings were not included in the three course menu, but we decided to add this to start as the menu said that James Beard declared these as “The Best I’ve Ever Had!”. We also noticed many other diners were having this. We ordered the small size which was USD$10.50 and the onion rings were huge! The rings were lightly battered and not oily tasting at all. It paired deliciously with the ketchup and a aioli mayo sauce. I highly recommend getting this if you have a few people to share with!

 

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Soup of the Day – Butternut Squash Soup

For our three course menu, we started with the Soup of the Day which was Butternut Squash Soup. This was creamy with a medium to thick consistency and had flavours of Indian spices. Really good!

 

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Tender Steak Medallions

For our entree, we had the Tender Steak Medallions which were cooked to medium rare. These were served with whipped potatoes, broccolini and a Bordelaise sauce. The portion was actually very filling although I found the steak a little on the drier side. Decent for the price though. The whipped potatoes were also extremely creamy and buttery.

 

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Malted Vanilla Pot de Creme

To finish, we had the Malted Vanilla Pot de Creme which was topped with a sour cherry compote and vanilla Chantilly. The dessert was huge and we could barely finish half of it. It was creamy and not overly sweet.

Overall, we were quite happy with the Portland Dining Month menu at RingSide Fish House. USD$33 is a pretty good deal given the restaurant has a fine dining feel to it. Would recommend coming here for special occasions.

Pros:
– Good value for Portland Dining Month
– Onion rings were delicious!

Cons:
– Regular menu can be on the pricier side

Price Range: USD$33 per person during Portland Dining Month

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3.5 Service: 4.5 Ambiance: 4.5 Parking: Free parking in Fox Tower Overall: 3.5

 

Ringside Fish House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Steelhead Diner

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For our first night in Seattle, we decided to go to Steelhead Diner which is located on downhill near Pike Street Market. The restaurant has a large selection of beer and cocktails so great for those looking for a drink.

 

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We started off with complimentary bread and butter. The bread was sourdough while the butter sat in a plate of pesto oil. The butter was so good with the pesto!

 

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Pike “Kilt Lifter” Fish & Chips

S of course got the Pike “Kilt Lifter” Fish & Chips which featured two pieces of Scotch ale battered Alaskan ling cod served with tartar sauce and lemon. S can usually eat quite salty food, but even he found the fish to be extremely salty. It was to the point that he didn’t finish his fish and I don’t think I’ve seen that before! Even the fries were on the saltier side.

 

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Flash Fried Pacific Oyster Po ‘Boy

For myself, I had the Flash Fried Pacific Oyster Po ‘Boy which was a huge portion! The fried oysters along with a aioli type sauce was great, but I did also find it slightly on the saltier side. Not sure if we are just used to less sodium in our foods, or if they just went nuts with the salt here.

Overall, we were slightly disappointed with our food. It had really good ratings, but our food was just too salty for our liking. Something I disliked was that an automatic tip of 20% is added to our bill. I don’t mind tipping more if I get really good service, but 20% is a bit steep given the venue and I don’t think our service was anything beyond expectations. Location-wise, good spot for tourists, but other than that, nothing memorable.

Pros:
– Good location for tourists

Cons:
– Our food was way too salty for our liking
– Automatic 20% tip

Price Range: $25-30 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 2 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 2.5 Overall: 2.5

 

Steelhead Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Blu Burgers & Brew

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During the holidays, S and I made a short trip to Seattle for fun. Our first stop was to check out the Boeing Factory in Mukilteo near Everett. Since we arrived in the area during lunch time, we decided to go for lunch first. I did some Googling and there aren’t too many restaurants nearby. However, Blue Burgers & Brew had good ratings, so off we went.

 

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The restaurant is quite casual and you order and pay up front. You can then choose a seat and they will bring you your food. Of course, their menu consists mainly of burgers but there are some select sides you can choose from as well. They also have a selection of beers. Surprisingly, there were quite a lot of families with children here during lunch. I guess they are quite family friendly as well.

 

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Chicken Tenders

Given S does not fancy burgers, of course he went for the Chicken Tenders served with fries. For $6.50, this was decent with 3 strips and a decent amount of fries. S said the tenders could have been warmer in the center and that they were rather average. But then again, they are known for their burgers.

 

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Shroom ‘N Onion

For myself, I had the Shroom ‘N Onion which featured crimini mushrooms, onions, swiss cheese, romaine lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and a house sauce. The burger stacked tall and they didn’t skimp on the ingredients. My mushrooms were overflowing and that house sauce was bomb. The patty was also very moist and juicy. My only complaint is that for around $9USD, I’d expect it to come with fries which was an added cost. Definitely not cheap given the self-serve type of set up, but the quality of the burger is great.

Overall, a good stop if you are heading to the Boeing Factory or if you’re in the area, but I wouldn’t make a trip out here just for this.

Pros:
– Great execution of burgers

Cons:
– Slightly pricey given self-serve

Price Range: $10-20 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3 Service: N/A Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 3.5 Overall: 3

 

Chachi’s

Note: All food and beverages were complimentary. Opinions are based on personal experience.

Thanks to Sherman, a group of food bloggers and I were invited to a menu tasting at the new Chachi’s located in the food court of Metropolis at Metrotown.

Chachi’s goal is to “make mall food better” and this is their first location in BC with plans to expand to other locations in BC. The focus is on sandwiches, but they also have a variety of salads and sides. All ingredients, including cheese, meats and breads are locally sourced. The bread is fresh from a bakery in Langley daily.

You can choose from the set sandwiches on their menu, or build your own.

They also have three of their own lemonades and iced teas.

Freshly made cookies are available as well. The ones we tried were quite healthy with oatmeal and raisins.

Other than their homemade drinks, they also have a select few bottled drinks. Surprisingly, my favourite was the Cherry Iced Tea. It had a light cherry/raspberry flavour to it. Their homemade drinks are overall slightly on the sweeter side, but not bad.

Asiago Caesar

We also tried two of their salads, including the Asiago Caesar which features crisp romaine, bacon garlic crostini, Asiago, Caesar dressing and topped with turkey.

Arugula

My favourite was the Arugula, which had arugula, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, red onions, goat cheese, and a balsamic sauce with turkey. You can choose your type of meat or have it without. I loved the sweetness of the artichokes along with the acidity of the balsamic. The salad was slightly overdressed though, so a little less dressing would have been perfect.

Cali

Onto what we really came here for – the sandwiches! We tried almost all the sandwiches on the menu, inclduing this Cali, which was filled with chicken breast, double smoked bacon, house made guacamole, cheddar, tomato, romaine, and spicy mayo. I really liked how the bread wasn’t too tough.

Bahn Mi

The Bahn Mi was Chachi’s take on the Vietnamese sandwich. It was filled with beef brisket, asian marinade, pickled carrots, cilantro, jalapeno, and garlic aioli. The beef brisket was very soft and tender, but the sandwich was slightly too saucy.

Hot Philly

The Hot Philly is not for the weak as this is one of the spicier options. Filled with rib steak, bell peppers, onion, jalapeno, provolone, garlic aioli and spicy mayo, this is a delicious spicy sandwich.

Smoked Bacon Breaky Sandwich

They also have some Breaky Sandwiches, including this Smoked Bacon Breaky. I didn’t try this but it looks quite similiar to a McMuffin.

Pork with Mac

My favourite sandwich was the Pork with Mac. This is filled with tender pulled pork, sweet chili, BBQ sauce, and topped with loads of mac ‘n cheese. The pulled pork was so tender and sweet, and the mac ‘n cheese was savoury with a slight spice. Amazing creation!

Dill Chips

They also have homemade chips with a variety of flavours. We tried the Dill Chips, which had a nice pickled flavoured. The chips are kettle cooked and reminded me of Ms. Vickie’s. Addictive!

Spicy Mac ‘N Cheese with Capicollo, Mac ‘N Cheese

The Pork ‘N Mac Sandwich was good, but I would actually just skip the sandwich and order their side of Mac ‘N Cheese. These come in two versions: the original or the spicy with capicollo. These were so smooth and creamy and some of the best mac I’ve had! If you enjoy a bit of spicy, I would highly recommend the Spicy Mac ‘N Cheese with Capicollo.

Overall, Chachi’s is a great addition to the food court by offering a more gourmet sandwich option with quality ingredients. The sandwiches are priced slightly higher at $8-$12, but I can understand since the ingredients are all locally sourced.

Chachi's Metrotown Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Keg (Alberni)

I always tell S to skip the chain restaurants, because there are just too many new and more exciting restaurants to try in Vancouver. Not that I don’t like chain restaurants, but you sort of know what you’re going to get. But since I had a $100 gift card to The Keg, I might as well use it, right? I suggested we try the somewhat new location at Alberni in Downtown and was blown away by both the beautiful interior and amazing food.

Complimentary Bread

Dinner started off with Complimentary Bread and whipped butter. The bread was served warm and super fluffy. We loved this!

Filet Mignon

I decided to choose the Filet Mignon with a side of mashed potatoes and vegetables. Served medium rare, the tenderloin was wrapped in applewood smoked bacon and was literally what they describe it on the menu as “ultimate in tenderness”. This was served with Béarnaise but I found the meat itself was already very well flavoured. One of the best cuts you can get and didn’t disappoint!

Prime Rib with side of Lobster Tail

S chose the Prime Rib and went all out by adding a side of a 6oz Atlantic Lobster Tail. Best choice ever, because the lobster tail was cooked absolutely perfect! Buttery and tender, this was delicious dipped in the lobster oil. A must order! The prime rib was also very tender although there were some fatty parts which were difficult to chew. The prime rib was rubbed with Keg’s unique blend of spices and hand-carved. It is served with horseradish and red wine herb jus which further enhances the flavours.

Billy Miner Pie

For dessert, I suggested we skip the other choices and stick to Keg’s top dessert, the Billy Miner Pie. Perfect for sharing because one slice is huge but I could probably have it all to myself… Does mocha ice cream on a chocolate crust with hot fudge, caramel and almonds not sound delicious or what?

Overall, I have to say I was impressed with The Keg and would happily come back here for a great steak. I guess they have been doing this for so many years, that they clearly know how to cook steak. Plus, you know the service is going to be great here.

Pros:
– They know how to cook steak perfectly
– Portions are great

Cons:
– Dishes are more traditional, you won’t see much fancy stuff going on
– Some of their cuts can get pretty pricey (this location appears more expensive as well)

Price Range: $30-50/person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 4 Ambiance: 4 Parking: 3 Overall: 4

The Keg Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Buckstop

I had won a dinner for two at Buckstop from the 12 Days of Giveaway of Nomss so we headed to the cozy restaurant on Denman on a Friday night. The winning was a Social Shopper voucher for the American BBQ Feast for 2 valued at $59 for the price of $28.

The restaurant is very narrow with a bar at the front. Seating is a bit tight but I loved the ambiance with the dim lighting. Service was alright even though we were using a Social Shopper.

Phillips Blue Buck Ale

On Friday nights, they have select pints for $5. We chose the Phillips Blue Buck Ale since we like lighter beers. I noticed that they ended up charging us $6 (their regular price) but I didn’t want to fuss about the $1 difference since we were already using a Social Shopper voucher.

Fried Dill Pickles

The American Feast for 2 comes with all of the following items I’ll mention. First were the Fried Dill Pickles which was served with a cajun aioli. These were lightly battered and had a nice crunch. I did find them a little too sour but they were good when eaten between the meats.

Hush Puppies & Corn Bread

Next up were the Hush Puppies and Corn Bread which were served with a honey butter. These were still warm and I quite enjoyed the hush puppies as they were not too dense.

American Feast for 2 Platter

The main platter of the American Feast for 2 is more than enough food for two. This included two Smoked Chicken Legs and Thighs which had a nice barbecue flavour to it, but the meat was a little dry. In the middle was the Pulled Pork Sandwich featuring a Portuguese bun filled with a ton of pulled pork and sauce. It was odd that only one burger came and that it wasn’t cut in half for sharing. S and I really enjoyed the burger though as it was very flavourful and the meat was moist. However, the sauce was very wet so the bun became soggy. On the far right were St. Louis Pork Ribs. The meat was extremely tender and fell right off the bone. Flavourwise, it was rather bland. It needed the help of the homemade BBQ sauce to make it right. For sides, my favourite were the  Kennebec Fries. They were not the crispiest, but when dipped in their homemade ketchup, they were amazing! The ketchup had a bit of an onion flavour to it. The Navy Beans reminded me of chili as they were smokey and not your boring canned ketchup beans. Not bad, but again, they were rather dry. The Dijon Aioli Slaw was underwhelming and we didn’t end up finishing it.

Overall, we were quite happy with Buckstop. There are some hits and misses but overall we didn’t have too many complaints. Plus I really enjoyed their homemade sauces and most of their meats were tender. Nice spot on Denman to grab drinks and Southern food. Will revisit to try other items.

Pros:
– Most meats were tender
– Awesome homemade sauces!

Cons:
– Pork ribs fell short in flavour
– Seating is narrow and a bit tight

Price Range: $20-30/person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 2.5 Overall: 3.5

Buckstop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Joe Fortes (30th Anniversary)

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A few weeks ago, Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House celebrated their 30th anniversary with select items during lunch at their 1985 prices. S and I decided to head over on Friday at around 11:30am to join the crowds. Of course, there were tons of people waiting and we left our name and number with the hostess who said they would text us when a table was ready. She told us it would be probably a two and a half hour wait, but we stuck with it anyways.

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More than two hours later, we still didn’t hear back so I suggested we go back and check. Turns out there were no patrons waiting anymore and that apparently she had texted us about the seat. I was pretty choked since we were starving and the hostess had clearly entered the wrong phone number into the system. To make things worse, the $12 steak that we were excited about was sold out by now… We had waited so long already, so we settled with it and were led to their upper floor where the patio was. The patio was very nice and was heated so we didn’t need to bare the cold. They also had a beautiful bar on the patio.

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After placing our orders, we were served complimentary bread with lobster oil and balsamic vinegar. This is always a plus at Joe Fortes since the lobster oil is delicious!

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Shrimp Cocktail

Of course we got some items from their anniversary week menu, so we chose the Shrimp Cocktail which was discounted to $5.95. I had imagined them to be big plump shrimps, but they turned out to be baby shrimps already premixed in the cocktail sauce and topped with fresh horseradish. Slightly disappointed, but the shrimp was still very fresh and you got a good amount.

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West Coast Fish Cakes

I didn’t know that Joe has Blue Plate Specials every weekday during lunch, where a dish is on special each day of the week. On Friday, it was the West Coast Fish Cakes for $9.95 so we got that to share as well. These were delicious! Lightly battered with well seasoned fish.

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Blackened Rock Fish

And since we couldn’t get the extremely good $12 deal of New York Steak, we opted for the Blackened Rock Fish which was also offered only for $11.95. The rock fish was actually very moist and the blackened crust had a peppery taste to it. It came along with roasted potatoes and market vegetables. A good deal for sure.

Overall, the food at Joe Fortes didn’t disappoint. However, we were slightly disappointed with the service that day given that I’ve had really good service in my previous visits. Our waitress completely forgot our order and had to come back to ask and she also didn’t appear very friendly until near the end of our meal. Perhaps she was flustered with the busy lunch hours with the anniversary week…

Pros:
– Dishes are well executed
– Nice ambiance

Cons:
– Service we got that day was quite poor

Price Range: $20-25

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 1.5 Ambiance: 4 Parking: 2 Overall: 3.5

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Li’l Cheese Steak Spot

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Li’l Cheese Steak Spot recently opened up in Royal Centre’s food court. Since I was nearby for work, I headed over to grab take out. The food takes a little longer to get prepared since they make the sandwich when you order. You can wash the cook grill your steak and veggies on spot. They also have other sandwiches and soups to order.

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Cheese Steak Sandwich

I went for their signature, which is the Cheese Steak Sandwich. It doesn’t look appealing because it was all wrapped up and the sauces got all smothered, but this was delicious! If you love steak and cheese, this is for you. The beef was tender and you actually got quite a lot of it. It was also filled with onions, melted cheese, banana peppers, tomatoes, and a white sauce. Only downside is that the sandwich is quite pricey at $9. Nevertheless, it’s filling and the quality of steak is great.

Pros:
– Steak is tender
– Sandwiches are made to order

Cons:
– Pricey sandwich for food court

Price Range: $10

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3.5 Service: 2 Ambiance: 2 Parking: 3 Overall: 3.5

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