St Lawrence

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St Lawrence, a sister restaurant of Ask for Luigi, opened up earlier this year. The restaurant is located next to Cuchillo, the Mexican restaurant, in not the best area in town, but once you step inside, you will forget about the exterior. S brought me here for my birthday and she had called to make reservations before the restaurant even opened to only score a 9pm reservation. Yes, this place is in high demand! We decided to go half an hour early to see if we could get a seat, and luckily were told that there was a chefs table seat!

 

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If you are into cooking or are a major foodie, I highly recommend asking if the chef’s table is available. We got to watch the chefs in action and the whole plating process. The menu offers classic French cuisine with Quebecois inspiration. The restaurant also offers some daily specials which change up daily.

 

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We started off with complimentary bread served with pork pate and grainy mustard. That pate paired with the grainy mustard was seriously so damn good. They need to give us more bread to clean that plate up!

 

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Ravigote Smoked Bison Tongue

The dishes at St Lawrence are great for sharing, so S and I decided to order a variety of dishes to share. Our server was very knowledgeable and gave us quite a few recommendations. For appetizers, we started with the Smoked Bison Tongue which was seasoned with Montreal spices and served with a ravigote herb sauce. The bison tongue was really tender with a nice sear and paired well with the slightly acidic sauce with capers.

 

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Fish Quenelle

The next appetizer was the Fish Quenelle which was served with mussels and a cream sauce. I had never had a dish like this before but apparently fish quenelles are quite the traditional French dish. It is sort of like a fish dumpling where the fish is very creamy. It was served with some puff pastry.  The appetizers here are seriously great for sharing between two so you get a good amount to taste. I think it is quite a lot and too heavy for one to finish the whole appetizer.

 

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Ratatouille

Moving on, S suggested we get some veggies, so we chose the Ratatouille. I haven’t had many ratatouille, but this was absolutely delicious! The mixed vegetables were served with a parmesan custard and when you break it apart, the creamy cheesy custard spills over the vegetables. Highly recommend this!

 

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Pork Chop

For our entrees, I suggested trying the Pork Chop since I had read good reviews about this. If you are going to order this, then you can probably skip the appetizers because this plate is HUGE. It can definitely feed two if you are going to have some appetizers beforehand. The pork chop is served with Oka cheese and a butcher sauce. The plate is $37 but given how large the portion is, this is a great deal! Normally, I don’t order pork chops because it tends to easily be cooked dry. However, this thick cut of bone in pork chop was seared beautifully with the inside juicy and tender. The pork chop sat on top of mashed potatoes which were buttery smooth.

 

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Duck Ballotine

The second entree we chose was the Duck Ballotine. The tender duck was wrapped around these leaves which gave it a very interesting flavour. Definitely my first time trying duck this way. The duck was served with crisp potato puffs and maple sauce. I loved the potato puffs! So crispy on the outside while the inside was smooth and creamy. I don’t see this dish on the current menu anymore though.

 

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Rice Pudding

To be honest, we were both beyond full becuase we definitely over-ordered. Even the chef was impressed by us and said we did a good job! He ended up treating us both to dessert which was Rice Pudding with salted caramel. At first, I wasn’t too excited because I’m not a fan of rice pudding. Clearly, I have been having terrible rice pudding though, because this was next level! The rice pudding had the perfect creamy texture with rice not clumping together at all. The salted caramel brought a slightly sweet flavour without it being too sweet. Now I know what good rice pudding tastes like!

Overall, I was very impressed with St Lawrence and can see why it is so hard to get a reservation. The meal was not cheap, but the portions are actually quite reasonable (especially the entrees). We ended up leaving with half of each entree packed up and it made a whole meal the next day for me! Definitely a great spot to celebrate a special occasion!

Pros:
– Well executed classic French dishes
– Chic ambiance and friendly service

Cons:
– Not in the nicest place in town
– Can be quite the pricey meal

Price Range: $50-100

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

Food: 4 Service: 4.5 Ambiance: 4 Parking: 2 Overall: 4

 

St Lawrence Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Maruyama

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Maruyama opened last year in East Vancouver by Chef Yoshiyo Maruyama who previously worked at Blue Water Cafe as the raw bar chef.

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The restaurant was is small but the simple black and wooden decor makes the space look very elegant. There are only 4 seats at the sushi bar if you want to watch the chef in action. It would be best to make reservations ahead of time to secure a spot.

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Maruyama is famous for their omakase tasting menu which features one of the more affordable prices in Vancouver. You can also order a-la-carte and their fish is supposed to be shipped from Japan daily.

 

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They also have homemade udon, tempura and various appetizers. The restaurant is fully licensed for liquor so they have some good options of sake, beer, and wine.

 

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Goma-ae

We decided to go with the $40 tasting menu as you get to try a bit of everything. This five course menu is pretty good value, as it includes 5 pieces of nigiri. This starts off with a Spinach Goma-ae Salad, with peanut sauce and freshly roasted black sesame. One of my favourite appetizers at Japanese restaurants.

 

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5-Piece Nigiri

Next up was the 5-Piece Nigiri set which was what we really came for. The omakase set will change daily depending on what type of fish is fresh. That night, our omakase included: Bin Toro (albacore tuna belly), Warasa (wild yellowtail), Houbou (red gurnard), Hirame (flounder), and Isaki (threeline grunt). I had not heard of many of these fish, but they all tasted fresh and there were none that I disliked. My favourite was the toro as it was very fatty and the flounder which had a buttery texture and melted in my mouth. Interesting that the chef features mostly white fish in his omakase though as it would have been nice to have a mix. When you place your order, you will be asked whether you want wasabi or not in your sushi.

 

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Cold Udon

Next up were their homemade udons. You can choose between hot or cold. Half of our table got the cold and the other half hot. The Cold Udon comes with a separate sesame base sauce with you can then pour onto the noodles. The noodles come with green onion, cucumber, seaweed, egg, and assorted mushrooms. I really liked their handmade noodles as they had a nice chew. They sort of remind me of the ones at Kinome.

 

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Hot Udon

The Hot Udon comes with assorted mushrooms, wakame, tempura bits and a dashi broth. Both the cold and hot udon are special in their own way and I would highly suggest to try both.

 

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Jumbo Prawn Tempura

A perfect pair with your udon is the Jumbo Prawn Tempura which comes with a small zucchini tempura as well. The prawn was large and bouncy but I did think that the batter could be a little thinner.

 

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Matcha Ice Cream

To end your meal, the tasting menu finishes with a Matcha Ice Cream with a side of sweet red bean paste.

 

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Overall, we thought that the Maruyama $40 omakase menu was a pretty good deal given we were all full and got the chance to try a variety of their dishes. However, if you are looking to only eat nigiri sushi, then you can try their nigiri-only omakase which goes for $35, $60, or $75 depending on the number of pieces you get and how premium the fish is. They also have some pretty good lunch deals, so I will definitely be back again.

Pros:
– $40 omakase tasting menu is pretty good value
– Handmade noodles were solid

Cons:
– If you order a-la-carte, the prices can be pretty steep

Price Range: $40 (omakase tasting menu)

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

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

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

Cuchillo

After being hungry at a beer event, J suggested we go grab some tacos at Cuchillo. I didn’t know this place existed and it is quite a hidden gem with only a skull on the outside of the restaurant!

We started off with some white wine and rose. I can’t remember the names of these but that they were rather fruity.

Baja Style Battered Rockfish

Our first taco was the Baja Style Battered Rockfish. The beautiful green coloured kale and hemp corn tortilla was topped with jicama slaw, chipotle aioli, and of course the battered rockfish. This had a good spicy kick but man this was good! The batter was light and the fish remained moist. Their tacos are quite packed for the amount of tortilla you get so it can be quite messy to eat!

Pulled Duck Y Cracklin’

The second taco we had was the Pulled Duck Y Cracklin’ which came with roasted garlic, blackberry habanero jam, pulled pork, crackling, and this all sat on top of a black bean corn tortilla. I really enjoyed the sweetness of the blackberry jam against the tender pulled pork.

Pork Belly Confit

We also tried one of their larger dishes, which was the Pork Belly Confit which came with a maple chipotle and tamarind glze, a granny smith puree and was topped with chicharon and patacones (or fried plantains). The ratio of fat to meat was right on and the meat was tender! So much fatty goodness.

This is definitely a great spot to grab some tacos and enjoy Mexican food. I like how the place feels more upscale yet it’s casual enough so you don’t need to dress up. If you’re feeling a little fancy but want tacos, then here’s the place to go. Great for a girls night out or date night.

Pros:
– Solid tacos
– Great ambiance and service

Cons:
– Not the cheapest for portions

Price Range: $25-35

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

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

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

Parallel 49 Brewing – 4th Anniversary Party

Last Thursday, Parallel 49 Brewing celebrated their 4th anniversary with a fiesta party along with the launch of their newest beer. We were invited to join the fun!

The anniversary was celebrated in style with sombrero hats, tacos, beer and live music.

We were able to sample some of their top beers, including the Craft Lager which won gold in the category of North American Premium Style Lager for their Craft Lager. Brewed by Graham With, Head Brewer at Parallel 49 Brewing Company, the Craft Lager is a light lager brewed with malted barley and local Sterling hops grown at Satori Cedar Ranch in Chilliwack, BC.

Parallel 49 is also known for their super wacky artwork label designs on their beer bottles as well as hilarious names for their beers. Since opening in 2012, they have brewed up over 60 varieties of beer including many collaborations with other breweries.

Other than the many beers we sampled, we were here mainly for the launch of their newest beer.

Their newest beer is the ¡Orale! which is a salted lime tequila Gose. There is a slight citrus flavour from the lime and this would be perfect for those who enjoy tequila.

Congratulations to Parallel 49 for 4 years in business and many more to come!

Parallel 49 Brewing Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

17°C Dessert Cafe – ChineseBites Media Event

Note: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are based on my own personal experience.

After our huge meals over at Golden Eats, the ChineseBites crew walked a block over to the newly opened 17°C Dessert Cafe. Pictures have been all over social media and they even ran out of ingredients on their grand opening.

They focus mainly on fruit shaved ice and offer some drinks as well. The interior is rather small so can only fit around 20 people or so.

They also have the famous Lightbulb Drinks featuring four flavours right now.

Cantaloupe Icy

We started off with the Cantaloupe Icy with a milky shaved iced and melon balls scooped out on top along with popping balls. It also comes with condensed milk to drizzle on top. This was refreshing with the shaved ice being very creamy. I quite enjoyed this as it was not overly sweet.

Watermelon Icy

Another popular icy of theirs is the Watermelon Icy. Again, same concept with the watermelon being scooped out into balls resting on top of the same milky shaved ice. This one came with thinly shaved almond and Pocky sticks. The watermelon was not very sweet, so it really helped that a scoop of vanilla ice cream sat on top.

Pineapple Icy

We got to try one of their new menu items which was the Pineapple Icy. Same concept again, but I would say you get less of the pineapple balls just because of the size of the fruit. I was surprised they were able to scoop these out though since it can be quite difficult with a pineapple. This came with blackcurrant gummies which were pretty good on their own but I didn’t think it added much to the dessert overall. This was pretty good since it had a nice balance of sweet and tart.

Lightbulb Drinks

Lastly, we tried their series of Lightbulb Drinks. We tried the passionfruit, kiwi, lemon, and red pomegranate. This were slightly fizzy as they were carbonated and you could choose to mix it with green tea. Frankly, I found these underwhelming as they tasted like artificial flavour. They only look good in pictures but flavour is a definite miss.

Overall, I quite enjoyed the shaved ice but would skip the lightbulb drinks. The shaved ice do come at a price at $14.99 for both the cantaloupe and watermelon but I guess you are paying for the fruit itself and the labour of scooping the balls.

17°C Dessert Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sushi Nanaimo

1

After hiking, we went to go look for some cheap sushi. We decided to go try Sushi Nanaimo, which is in the East Village. Sushi Nanaimo is very similar to Sushi Garden and is also run by Koreans. So, if you’re looking for authentic Japanese food – this is not the place for you. However, if you want cheap and large quantities, then this is a great option! There’s always a wait here, and we waited roughly 30 minutes to get a seat. We noticed that many people get take out here.

2

Spicy Salmon Sashimi (1/2 Order)

I knew the menu would be similar to Sushi Garden, so I went for my favourite Spicy Salmon Sashimi. Cubes of salmon with a spicy sweet sauce and topped with sesame seeds and green onions. It also comes with cucumber cubes. It’s not the most amazing salmon, but it does the deal for the price it costs. This was only half an order and was only around $6.

3

Agedashi Tofu

J ordered the Agedashi Tofu. Nothing too special. Typical fried tofu. The batter was light, but I felt the sauce to lack any oomph to it. Didn’t really do much.

4

Tray C – California Roll, Red Roll, Mangodise Roll, Chopped Scallop Roll, Dynamite Roll

Since we were quite indecisive in what to order, we decided to go for Tray C, which is supposed to fill 3 people. However, it’s more than enough for 3 people. It could probably fill up 4. It came with 5 different rolls, which were all fairly good. My favourite was the Red Tuna, which featured chopped scallop inside and topped with spicy tuna on top. The Mangodise Roll was also pretty good, which imitation crab filled inside, and ebi and mango on the top. The rolls aren’t spectacular, with them looking quite clumsily made. But what can you expect for the price you pay? Tray C also included the nigiris shown below and it came to a total of $36 for the two plates!

5

Tray C – Chopped Scallop, Ebi, Tuna, Salmon, Hokkigai (3 pc each)

As mentioned, Tray C also comes with 5 types of nigiris (3 of each type). The tuna and salmon is not as fresh, but they are large pieces. It’s similar to eating at an all you can eat restaurant, but slightly better. The Chopped Scallop was quite a disappointment. It didn’t taste fresh, but rather a little fishy. They seemed to add a lot of mayo to cover up the fishy taste. It was also very mushy.

Overall, I wouldn’t go for the nigiris at Sushi Nanaimo. However, their rolls are not bad for the low price. I also recommend getting their spicy sashimi. Don’t come into Sushi Nanaimo expecting authentic sushi. Just come in with a hungry stomach and you’ll be happy that you leave with your wallet still full.

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Yolk’s Breakfast Restaurant and Commissary

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Manmosa – P49 HayFever Saison, fresh squeezed orange juice

After exams ended, I met up with my Barca buddies K and U for brunch. I suggested we go try Yolk’s Breakfast Restaurant and Commissary. They have a food truck, but they also recently opened a restaurant near Knight and East Hastings. It was a far drive for me, but definitely worth it! We waited roughly 10 minutes and were given a seat. The restaurant is actually fairly large compared to many other breakfast spots. They don’t take reservations, like many of the popular breakfast restaurants. Our server was friendly and checked up on us once in a while. We first started off with some drinks. I went for the Manmosa, which came with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and a bottle of beer. I was a bit skeptical of mixing beer and orange juice together, but it turned out great! It’s supposed to be the manly version of a manmosa, but I could care less! A bit of alcohol to start our day off!

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Mimosa – sparkling wine, freshly squeezed orange juice

U got the girly version and chose the Mimosa. It comes in a skinnier glass and is already premixed with sparkling wine and orange juice. She said it was pretty good!

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Yolk’s Caesar – Bacon infused East Van Vodka, Clamato juice, freshly grated horseradish, Worcestershire, Tabasco, lime, celery shrub

K got the Yolk’s Caesar. Very typical and nothing too fancy with the play on ingredients.

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Hand Carved Honey Ham on truffle-lemon hashbrowns and English Bangers

For food, Yolk’s is famous for their Poached Free-Range Egg Sandwiches. Their menu has a cute design for this item, and it guides you through the options for this dish. You can choose the topping, whether you want two eggs or one, english muffin, hashbrowns or gluten-free buns, a sauce or cheese, and any additional sides. K got the Hand Carved Honey Ham, which came with fresh spinach & Yolk’s made Dijon. He also got two eggs and double everything. He chose the truffle-lemon hashbrowns instead which cost an additional $1.50. He had the double smoked bacon last time which he said he preferred. Other than the eggs, he also got the English Bangers which were perfectly grilled sausages. He said they were delicious!

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Chicken & Waffles – organic fried chicken, Belgian waffles, chicken gravy & pure Canadian maple syrup

U didn’t go for the eggs, but rather their Chicken & Waffles. Yolk’s has a fairly simple menu, hence probably why they can execute good dishes. The chicken & waffles is also one of their famous dishes and it consists of organic fried chicken between two Belgian waffles. It also comes with a chicken gravy, but we all agreed it didn’t taste like gravy and was very bland. U said that the chicken and waffles, however, were very delicious! The chicken was moist and flavourful.

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Poached Free-Range Egg SandwichesPortobello Mushroom on truffle-lemon hashbrowns

For myself, I also went for the Poached Free-Range Egg Sandwiches. I chose the third option which is Portobello Mushroom. It came with an aioli sauce and fresh arugula. Just like K, I chose two eggs and double everything and had my eggs on truffle-lemon hashbrowns by adding $1.50. I also chose the real hollandaise as my sauce. Cutting into the eggs, they were perfectly poached with the yolks running out. It doesn’t look like too much on the plate, but I was beyond full by the end of the meal. There’s plenty of hash and they were seasoned well! The option for two eggs and double everything comes to around $10.75. Since we substituted for hashbrowns instead of the English muffin, the total cost was $12.25.

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Overall, I highly recommend Yolk’s for a breakfast spot. I know some people wait an hour for this, which I probably wouldn’t, but since I only waited 10-15 minutes, I really didn’t find it too bad. Plus, they have great drinks and the portion sizes of food are just right. A pretty reasonable priced breakfast. Only downside is how far it is for me!

Yolk's Breakfast Restaurant and Commissary on Urbanspoon

The Red Wagon

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After watching countless Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives after midnight and having cravings of those greasy dishes, I’ve finally made my way to one of the featured diners. I’ve heard people raving about The Red Wagon, but it’s not exactly located in an area I would often go by. To be exact, I didn’t even know where it was. Located in the East side, this is definitely an area I never visit. It wasn’t too bad to get there though. A Canada Line skytrain to Waterfront, and then a short bus ride takes you one block away from this diner. As you can see, people were lining up, and it was around 1pm on a weekday.

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But then J and I just walked in, since we weren’t sure if we should leave our name first, and the waitress told us to grab a seat right away. I guess the group outside was quite large and needed to wait for a large table. So if you’re looking for a table for two, it’s definitely easy! Literally no wait at all! So awesome, since we had imagined ourselves lining up.

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This picture reminds me of the scene I saw on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives! But yea, as you can tell, the place is quite small. The kitchen area is extremely small as well.

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Iced Lemonade, Iced Coffee

On a hot, sunny day, we needed some refreshers. I chose the Iced Lemonade, even though I was afraid it would be too tart. Surprisingly, it was quite sweet! They must’ve put some sweetener in or something. The colour was also extremely yellow…almost golden yellow. Not exactly the colour of lemonade I see when it’s freshly squeezed. But hey, it tasted great! J said his Iced Coffee was quite strong, but good. They also gave him an agave sweetener syrup, since he told us that sugar wouldn’t melt nicely in the iced drink. How thoughtful!

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Crispy Pork Belly Sandwich – pickled veg, jalapeno, cilantro, mayo, baguette, chips

Onto our food! OMG. This was like delicious. We sort of chose the Crispy Pork Belly Sandwich, since the daily special was sold out, but am I glad I decided to try it out. It comes with a side of chips, which I believe are freshly baked, and extremely crispy. They are also ever so lightly seasoned with salt and are absolutely delicious. I wish they sold these to go. For $12, it’s a decent price for the amount of food you get, because you will actually get full by the end. I mean, you pay that price for a burger at many Western restaurant chains, but this is way better.

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Onto the sandwich itself. I was not expecting so much pork belly in it, but it was filled with it! They were quite large pieces, but the pork belly was so soft, that it wasn’t a mess to eat. Other than the grease that was just pouring out. Yup, by the time I finished devouring this sandwich, my plate was filled with oil and grease. The pork belly had a good balance between the amount of fat and meat. This is definitely not something you should be eating everyday, but this is worth having a cheat day. I’m not a big fan of cilantro or even veggies in my sandwich, but for some reason, all these ingredients just added so much flavour and worked so well. I didn’t even pick out any cilantro, like I would usually. The baguette was also soft to bite on the inside, and crispy on the outside. I have to say, I enjoyed this sandwich more than the one at meat and bread, even though the two aren’t exactly the same.

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Pulled Pork Pancakes – 3 buttermilk pancakes layered with pulled pork, JD-spiked maple syrup

And of course, we had to get their infamous Pulled Pork Pancakes. Pancakes aren’t my usual go-to item for breakfast, but these ones were amazing. The buttermilk pancakes were extremely fluffy. One thing I usually hate about pancakes are how dense they are made, and it makes you feel like you are eating a bunch of cake. This one was exactly the opposite. Fluffy and light. And who knew pulled pork would go with pancakes? I sort of questioned that at first, but once you try it, it will change your mind completely.

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There is so much pulled pork in between each layer of pancake, and the flavouring is perfect. They also have their signature Jack Daniel’s syrup. I actually didn’t really taste any alcohol, but the flavour was definitely a bit different from normal maple syrup. This is a must try and well worth your $13!

By the end of the meal, we were completely full. We both shared each of the plates, and we couldn’t end up finishing all the pancakes. It’s a good idea to also take a walk after…since you will feel very guilty for eating all that oily food. I wouldn’t suggest coming here every week for breakfast, but it is definitely a must try! Oh, and when your bill comes, you get some coca cola gummies. I don’t know why, but it gives me a retro feel to it. Service was also quite pleasant. Our food did take quite a while to arrive though. At least 20 minutes. Other than that, I was extremely pleased with my food at The Red Wagon! PS. You could say this is heart attack food…so beware 🙂

The Red Wagon on Urbanspoon