Freiraum – Vienna

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Next stop was Vienna! K had friends on exchange here, so they took us to Freiraum. It’s a very casual bar/ restaurant on a busy street called Mariahilfer Straße. Pretty noisy too but the atmosphere is fun. For non-smokers, it’s good to keep in mind that in Vienna, you’re allowed to smoke inside restaurants, although they have designated areas. Even though there’s a non-smoking area, the smoke really just travels over. The restaurant was packed, so we ended up sitting in the smoking area. Not ideal, but being in Europe for so long, I’ve sort of gotten used to the smell.

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Zwettler Beer

We ordered the Zwettler Beer since apparently it’s the most common Austrian beer. For some reason, I think the server heard us wrong, and he brought us a variation of the typical Zwettler beer. It had a taste of lemon and wasn’t very fizzy. It didn’t even taste like beer…

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Freiraum Schmarren

I was way too hungry to wait for dinner, so I had ate some kebabs before arriving at dinner. So instead of having an entree, I ended up going for an Austrian dessert. On the menu, it’s called a kipferlschmarren. I think it’s more often known as the Kaiserschmarren or just the Schmarrn. Schmarrn means shredded pancake and Kaiser is named after one of the Austrian emperors who enjoyed this pancake. Basically they were pieces of fluffy pancake mixed with caramelized walnuts and apples. It was topped with a bit of icing sugar and came with a side of homemade applesauce. I actually really enjoyed this! No need to fuss with cutting up the pancake into smaller pieces and the toppings worked really well together. It didn’t taste too sweet, which can happen with maple syrup. It’s a very common dessert in Austria, so I recommend trying this!

The Pancake Bakery – Amsterdam

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Early morning, a few of us went out to explore the city while the rest continued to rest up at the hostel. We were able to walk around to most tourist points with just a map and even discovered a casino where my friend won some money! We then met up at The Pancake Bakery which our friend said was supposed to be very good. We got there a little late and saw a huge line up. Luckily, our other friends had gotten there earlier and lined up for a bit and got us some seats!

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Maple Walnut Ice Cream Pancake

The pancakes here are definitely not the typical American pancakes we find at IHop. They’re not fluffy and thick, but instead quite thin. They remind me of something in between a crepe and an American pancake. The edges are crisp, but it’s still not as thin as a crepe. They have both savory and sweet pancakes. K went for a sweet one and chose one filled with Maple Walnut Ice Cream and some nuts. It was also dusted with icing sugar. It was really good! Lots of whipped cream and the hot and cold feeling was good!

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Mushroom and Cheese Pancake

For myself, I wanted something savory. I went for the Mushroom and Cheese. These pancakes are huge by the way! They literally cover the whole plate, and these are large plates! There was an abundance of mushrooms and the cheese made me really full! I have to say, these were way better than those De Dutch pancakes that they claim are traditional Dutch pancakes… I espescially loved the crispy edges and the cheesiness of my pancake. I had a hard time finishing this and should’ve totally shared one with another girl.

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Bacon and Cheese Pancake

U got the Bacon and Cheese Pancake. Also very cheesy and filled with bacon. She said it was very good as well!

All in all, amazing pancakes at an appropriate price. I would suggest sharing these so you get to taste a bit of everything. There’s also huge line ups here so it’s not a place to go if you’re in a hurry. I think the reason is because they have very limited staff. They have an open kitchen concept, and there’s honestly only around 2 people making these pancakes. Even waiting for our food took a long time.

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 🙂

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