Save On Meats

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Save On Meats has been on my list of “to try” restaurants ever since it was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. So when K suggested we give it a try, I was excited to see what it’s all about. What’s cool is that the building was actually built in 1891, so it has over 100 years of history! You cannot miss this building driving down Hastings because you’ll see the neon pig sign. Save On Meats also has a butcher shop next to the diner, so you can conveniently head over there for some fresh and local meats.

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You can see that the interior has that retro old diner feel to it, but the seats and tables were well kept and clean. Funny paintings and signs decorate the walls of the diner.

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Coffee SOM Milkshake

SOM is famous for their milkshakes, so I decided to share the Coffee SOM Milkshake with K. It’s quite the large one and it’s great since they give you all the leftovers from making it in a metal cup. You end up getting 1 and a half cups of the shake for under $5. The milkshake is thick spun and I loved the light coffee flavour we chose. It reminded me of an iced cappuccino! There are also various other flavours you can choose from.

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Real Nova Scotian Seafood Chowder, Caesar Salad

We were supposed to be here for brunch, but it ended up more like lunch as usual… Well lucky us, since they feature breakfast and brunch items until 4pm on weekends. Both of us didn’t end up going for their breakfast menu though. Instead, K went for a simple soup and salad. She had the Real Nova Scotian Seafood Chowder, which came with a cheese scone on the side. She said the chowder was not as thick as she had expected, but filled with lots of ingredients. She was thinking it would be something like canned soup, but nope, it seemed to be homemade. She also got a side of Caesar Salad which was lightly dressed and topped with croutons and Parmesan.

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Shepherd’s Pie

For myself, I was feeling like it was a pie day. I chose the Shepherd’s Pie, which showed up on a skillet with a side of green salad. I was slightly disappointed at first because I was expecting a pie, but this was rather deconstructed. Nevertheless, it actually tasted pretty good. There was a mixture of ground beef and vegetable stew and it was topped with a cheesy mashed potato crumble. It was very simple and probably something very easy to reconstruct at home but tasty.

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Overall, I was quite pleased with Save On Meats. You will find simple diner food here – nothing extravagant or fancy. I wouldn’t say it blew my mind, but I don’t think I was expecting much anyways. Prices are kept low and probably the most expensive item is roughly $12. Plus, I think what makes SOM very special and worth a visit is that they are a strong supporter of the Downtown Eastside community and partner with various organizations in giving back to those in need. They also have a token program where you can purchase a token for $2.25 and this will allow you to redeem a Breakfast Sandwich. You can either distribute this yourself or have SOM do so. A great way to help those in needs and I personally think it’s a better way than donating money. Definitely a cool place to check out!

Pros:
– Cool retro ambiance
– Cheap simple food

Cons:
– Service was a bit slow at times

Price Range: $5-15

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

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

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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

Tubby Dog

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Day 2 in Calgary: Shortly after lunch and some presentations, S, H, J and I decided to go explore the city a bit and look for some snacks. S had previously checked out the top places on Urbanspoon, and Tubby Dog was one of them. Since it was quite a far walk, we decided to take a cab instead. Upon arriving, there was a man cleaning the windows, hence the bizarre picture.

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They had their menu on their door, and it reminded me of Japadog, but North American style. The prices are quite high for a hot dog, so I was hoping they better be good.

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Inside, they have the menu again, but also with some specials. I wish I got a picture of the kitchen area, since  you can watch your hot dog get cooked and assembled in the front. You basically order at the counter, and they call your name when it’s ready.

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The place is super retro and hipster. If I were still in high school, I would probably think that this would be where the “cool” kids hung out. I love how they had a cabinet full of food items that seemed to be collectibles. They definitely weren’t the typical packaging you could find in a grocery anymore. I’m guessing some of them might’ve been limited editions.

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And they even have a mini arcade! I can totally picture some skaters coming here for a hot dog and playing games after school. It’s so old school and almost gives you a “back in the day” vibe. The place has posters hanging around the walls, and they all add to that hip vibe. Even the employees have a retro vibe to them.

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Tubby Dog – homemade chili, bacon, cheese, onions, mustard

And now finally onto the food! We decided to share a Tubby Dog since we had just ate lunch. We weren’t sure which hot dog to choose, but I guess you can’t go wrong with the one that’s named after the store! It was layered with tons of chili, onions, cheese and bacon bits along with a mustard sauce. It is definitely quite a large hot dog for one person, and would be decent to be shared between two for a snack. You basically need to eat this with knives and forks though, since there is no way to avoid a mess. I actually found that the bun was a bit soggy though, and wasn’t as crisp and toasted as I would’ve liked it. The onions were also barely cooked so the taste of raw onions were quite pungent. I loved the chili, bacon bits and loads of cheese though!

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T-Rings

We also ordered a side of T-Rings. These are essentially double battered onion rings. I can almost be sure to say that they are also double fried… These things are deadly and oily! Because they are double battered, the batter is extremely thick and oily. I actually found that distracting and would’ve liked a thinly battered onion ring instead. It felt so unhealthy eating all that oily batter! The onion rings, however, were huge in circumference! Each order came with 5 onion rings.

Overall, I wasn’t extremely impressed with Tubby Dog’s food. I didn’t think it was as amazing as the reviews said. If I were to pay a price of around $7, I  rather buy a Japadog instead. I guess Calgary needs to try some Japadogs, and they may rethink about what a good hot dog is! I do, however, love the atmosphere at Tubby Dog. That retro vibe is difficult to find, and they definitely played it well at this diner. A really cool place to hang out with some friends and devour some greasy food!

Tubby Dog on Urbanspoon

Floyd’s Diner

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During my winter break, I headed over to Victoria. We were told by a local to try out Floyd’s Diner, and so we did. They have an extremely small parking lot, so be prepared for pay parking on the streets.

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The place is quite diner like, with simple furniture, and even couches for some tables. It’s unique and a little hipster at the same time. It’s decorated with art and bright colours. The restaurant was quite packed on a weekday as well. We looked around and realized that the portions were huge. Most of us ended up sharing a plate.

I went the bathroom and to my surprise found a chalkboard behind my stall’s door! Apparently it was only in that one stall and also only in the girl’s washroom! I left Victoria 2012 on it for fun 🙂

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BC Hash – Potato, green onion, salsa, sausage, bacon, egg, cheddar & jack mixed together served with toast

This was only HALF the serving. So imagine double of this for one person. I don’t know who would order this by themselves, cause the portions are ridiculously large! M and Y shared the BC Hash, and they both had trouble finishing it. I took a bite from the dish, and it was pretty good. Lots of flavour, and it’s pretty much everything mixed together. The sausages were pretty good and with everything being bite size, you didn’t need to fuss with the knives.

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Cajun Club served with fries – Caramelized onions, tomato, lettuce, Cajun spice, mayo, bacon, chicken, cheddar, swiss, & chipotle

This is also half of the full order of the Cajun Club. It was quite filling for the guys as well.

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Eggs Ben-Hur served with pan fries – Spinach, sun-dried tomato & mushrooms topped with herb pesto hollandaise & feta

C and I shared the Eggs Ben-Hur. This is also only half it. The portion was this was much more normal I guess. It was basically two eggs benny along with hash fries, which is a typical amount in most breakfast chains. I found that the pan fries, which are really hash fries, were way too burnt. They included the potato skin, which is noramlly fine, but most of them were black and just unhealthy to eat. They also weren’t served warm, so those weren’t that great.

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Here’s a closer look at the eggs benny. This was actually delicious! Eggs were cooked perfectly with the yolk being runny as you cut in. The sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach made you feel extra healthy and the flavours worked well together. The pesto hollaindaise sauce was my favourite, as it was just a little different than original hollaindaise sauce, yet it worked. The english muffin wasn’t tough so cutting through it wasn’t a problem.

Overall, I was pretty satisfied with Floyd’s Diner. Service could’ve been more friendly but I guess we had quite a large group. I felt our server was just a little too cool though. Prices are also extremely affordable for the portions you get. Cool place to grab some quick breakfast and conveniently located in Downtown Victoria!

Floyd's Diner on Urbanspoon