Uncle Willy’s

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Uncle Willy’s brings back memories when you were a kid and buffets were the  best things ever. And that’s exactly why K and I were craving it… I mean it’s still around, so we decided to go check it out to see if the food has improved or what.

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Arriving on a Saturday night, the place was actually decently packed with 80% of the tables filled. Dinner on a weekend goes at around $17 after tax, so it’s not exactly the cheapest thing ever to get a meal for dinner, but quite a good price for a buffet.

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I had read reviews beforehand that pictures were not allowed in the restaurant, so I had to sneakily get these at my table. The choices are quite your typical and basic. I started off with some chicken noodle soup, corn, pasta salad, lasagna, lamb curry, mashed potatoes, ham and their famous fried chicken. I mean, everything was just average or below average. The fried chicken was decent, but the skin wasn’t very crispy. The ham is sliced when you ask, and I found this to be too salty for my liking.

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My second round was a different type of pasta salad, some more mashed potatoes with gravy, the roast beef, and fried chicken again. The mashed potatoes here are done quite well and the gravy is also not too salty. The roast beef was much better than the ham, and this is also sliced when you ask the server to. All in all, everything was mediocre. You could try to fill up on the roast beef and fried chicken to get your money’s worth.

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The main courses were pretty average, so I decided to go for their desserts. Most of their desserts look either overly sweet or just did not look appealing. Looked like they had sat there for quite a while, so I skipped the cakes and pastries. Instead, I went to another favourite of the regulars here which is their soft serve ice cream. I also got a bowl of jello, which of course is a no brainer to make. You can also get chocolate sauce on your soft serve. This was pretty good with the soft serve being quite thick so it wasn’t watery.

Overall, Uncle Willy’s is what it is. It’s a place to go back because it’s nostalgic, but K and I have both agreed that it’ll probably be our last time. Unless you can eat tons of roast beef and fried chicken, you’re better off spending that $17 elsewhere. Plus, the ambiance wasn’t the prettiest thing. I almost felt like it was a bit dirty…

Pros:
– Fried chicken and roast beef are pretty good
– One of the cheaper buffets around town

Cons:
– Rest of food was mediocre or below average
– Ambiance isn’t nice and felt a bit dirty

Price Range: $10-20

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

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

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Flying Pig (Gastown) – revisit

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Not too long ago, I visited Flying Pig at their Gastown location for lunch. A few months later, here I am again checking out their brunch menu. Restaurant was busy, but we made reservations ahead of time, so we were seated right away.

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Complimentary Banana Bread

Service begins with their complimentary Banana Bread. I love this since it’s very moist but a little sticky. It’s also not too heavy or dense.

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Featured Corn Beef Hash

They offer some daily features and that day they had the Featured Corn Beef Hash, which SP got. It came with two poached eggs on top of corned beef and hash. It also came with Hollandaise sauce and a side of salad. I really liked the sauce it came with and the potatoes were crispy on the outside.

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Smoked Salmon Benedict

For myself, I got the Smoked Salmon Benedict, which also came with a salad. The house smoked salmon came with dill cream cheese on top of a piece of toasted bread. The Hollandaise sauce topped the poached eggs which I asked to be done to medium. The yolks oozed out as you broke the egg, and was delicious when mixed with the cream cheese and smoked salmon. My only concern was I found the bread to be too toasted, hence it was difficult to cut into with a knife.

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Country Style Breakfast

SK got the Country Style Breakfast, which came with 2 eggs, back bacon, baby greens, and some sourdough bread. She got the eggs sunny side up.

Brunch is pretty good here, but the prices are slightly higher for the food you get. Service was also very cold this time around. Our server took the wrong order for my friend and when the dish came and we said we hadn’t ordered that, she got very defensive and said we were wrong. Quite disappointed, since I had some pretty good service the previous time I visited.

Pros:
– Conveniently located in the heart of Gastown
– Great place for brunch type of food

Cons:
– Prices are slightly high for the portion size and what you get
– Service wasn’t so great this time

Price Range: $15-25

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

Food: 4
Service: 2
Ambiance: 4
Parking: 3
Overall: 3.5

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Dunn’s Famous

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K and I had signed up for Paint Nite, which is a two-hour painting experience where an experienced artist teaches you how to paint well-known paintings. The nice part of this is that they use different venues and you can drink and eat while you paint. For our event, the location was at Dunn’s Famous in Downtown.

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The restaurant itself is sort of like a sports bar, but it’s definitely one of the nicer ones. Just around the corridor though, they set up the Paint Nite event so it was more like a private event.

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At Paint Nite, everything is supplied to you and it normally costs around $45 per person. We got a Groupon, so it was only $25. Pretty good deal and they often have these deals if you look around. Food and beverages are not included.

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Dunn’s Famous Mac & Cheese

Since I just got off work, I was starving. Dunn’s is famous for their smoked meat, but I didn’t think holding a smoked meat sandwich in one hand and painting with the other would work too well. I ended up getting the Dunn’s Famous Mac & Cheese, which had three cheese elbow macaroni baked and topped with a julienne of Montréal smoked meat. It was also served with a side of Caesar salad & garlic toast. I liked how the pasta was very cheesy in the middle, but the top was slightly crispy. I didn’t find the smoked meat anything too special though. I thought it almost tasted like bacon bits. The garlic bread was toasted nicely while still being soft and fluffy. As for the Caesar salad, it was slightly under dressed, but came with a good amount of Parmesan cheese and croutons. Pretty good for pub food.

Based on my experience at Dunn’s for Paint Nite, the service was quite attentive and very accommodating. Prices are reasonable considering it’s right in the heart of Downtown. I can’t comment too much about the food since I didn’t try what they were famous for, but the pasta was good regardless.

Pros:
– Casual, retro ambiance
– Decent eats based on what I had

Cons:
– Not exactly the greatest value considering it’s pub food

Price Range: $20-25

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

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

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The Oakwood Canadian Bistro (Dine Out 2014)

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For my second dine out, I visited The Oakwood Canadian Bistro with J. Parking is a bit tough here since there’s only street parking and it’s pretty packed in the Kitsilano area. The bistro was packed and I found the atmosphere to be a bit too loud. It was sort of hard to talk, but it would be a nice place to hang out with friends.

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Pork Terraine – maple cauliflower puree, pickled shallots

For the appetizer, J got the Pork Terraine. I took a bite and it was alright. We both agreed it sort of tasted like spam, but of higher quality. Wasn’t my favourite.

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Smoked Seafood Chowder – cod, clams, bacon lardon, oyster crackers

For myself, I got the Smoked Seafood Chowder. It was quite flavourful, with loads of clams and bits of cod fish. It also came with oyster crackers, which I enjoyed. You could actually taste the oyster flavour in the crackers.

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Grilled 16 oz Pork Chop – roast fingerling potato, charred cippolini and fennel, apple glace

For the entree, J paid an extra $10 for the Grilled 16 oz Pork Chop. It was decent, but I don’t know if I would pay an extra $10 for it. The meat was juicy and came with a nice apple glaze.

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Roast Porchetta – confit garlic brocollini, dijon spatile, caramelized onion puree

For myself, I got the Roast Porchetta, that everyone talks about. However, I was actually quite disappointed in it! I found that my dish had more fat than anything! The amount of meat was so minimal. I know porchetta is supposed to come with some fat, which is why it’s so delicious, but this was too much. It felt kind of disgusting just chewing on the fat.  The crispy layer of the porchetta, however was quite crunchy, although I found it under-seasoned. It was just salty, but not flavourful. My favourite part was actually the dijon spatile. Not exactly sure what it was, but it’s crunchy and sort of like popcorn.

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Chocolate Mousse – coffee pistachio crunch, whip cream

For dessert, J got the Chocolate Mousse. This was the only item he really enjoyed the whole night. He loves coffee desserts, so this was perfect. It was a chocolate mousse with coffee flavoured bits mixed with pistachio, so you got a nice crunch. The whip cream just underneath this crunchy layer gave it a smooth texture along with the mousse. Mix it all up and you get a delicious mousse with a crunchy bite.

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Maple Creme Caramel – pecan shortbread, cranberry gel, vanilla caramel

My dessert was the Maple Creme Caramel. It was such a Canadian dessert, with the red being a cranberry gel and the maple leaf being a pecan shortbread. Underneath was a vanilla caramel that tasted sort of like a pudding. I personally didn’t really enjoy this dessert. The cranberry gel gave it a sour taste and I found it a bit odd.

Overall, we were slightly disappointed with the Dine Out Vancouver 2014 menu at The Oakwood Canadian Bistro. Next to us was a friendly diner who said he visits the bistro regularly, and he agreed that the dine out menu did not showcase the best of what there is to offer. He suggested that we try their regular menu next time because there are some really good dishes. The Dine Out menu was for $28, and although I wouldn’t say that’s pricey for the amount of food we had, the dishes weren’t that great. They weren’t dishes that made me want to return to try out more of their menu. But again, I hear good things about their normal menu, so I’ll definitely think about a revisit soon.

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