Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ratings are overrated...

370 17th Avenue SW

It's Sarah's last day at work last Friday so we went to Avocado for lunch to wish her well before she returns to school. I checked out the
'Spoon to see what people had to say about the place before I left and was shocked to see it rated at -45%. That's pretty low. I cringed. But Sarah's a good friend (Introduced me to my other love, Frisbee. The first love being food.) and she assured me it was really good. We arrived shortly after noon after a quick stop at the bank (no dollas in the wallet), thankfully we were not the last to get there. When everyone finally showed up, we ordered our food. I had the Ranchero Fajita Burrito. Wrapped in a flour tortilla were strips of medium rare tenderloin with sauteed peppers and onions, medley of cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and topped with a "spicy" ranchero sauce. The burrito is then toasted and served with some crispy tortilla chips and salsa. I'm not a avid spicy food eater but I didn't find it to be very spicy at all. The portions were decent. The filling was oozing out of the wrap and dripping all over the place (Maybe I'm just a sloppy eater. Don't judge.).

I can't say that I'm a connoisseur of Mexican food (Or any type of food for that matter. I just like to stuff my face and blab. If you haven't noticed already.), but it really wasn't THAT bad. I thought, taste wise, it was decent. No points for added for authenticity (Or apparently lack thereof). 6 stars out of 10.

On a side note (I was told to mention this in the blog), Brendan ordered a chicken salsa club. It arrived unsandwiched and he proceeded to eat each half separately. What a newb. Despite this inefficient and rather embarrassing approach, he still managed to finish before everyone. Definitely put
Takeru Kobayashi to shame.

And special shout out to Sarah, best of luck to you at school! You best be back when you finish!

Avocado Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Economic Stimulus Package

200 - 8th Avenue SE

So on Thursday at 'round 11:30, I had a little window pop up on my computer screen. It was Jordan sending me a message on communicator (Think 'msn' but not free) asking if I had any lunch plans. Music to my ears (Eyes)! He suggested we go somewhere with a patio. "Teatro!" I responded. I'm pretty sure he rolled his eyes when he saw it. I rattled off a couple more locations but quickly reminded him about Teatro's "Economic Stimulus Package" and sent him the link. He caved. I fist pumped. And when the clock strike 12, we headed to the restaurant.

Located in the historic Dominion Bank building on the same block as Olympic Plaza and the Epcor Center along Stephen Avenue, Teatro opened its doors in the fall of 1993 serving up fine Italian cuisines to its patrons.

I'm not sure when the economic stimulus package was first introduced, but I suspect it would have been shortly after when "shit hit the fan" back in '08. $15 bistro lunches. 5 delicious options were available. Upon being seated in the sunny patio (There's second patio around the side of the building that is not all dark and shady), the waiter informed us they had ran out of the rotisserie chicken. But that's alright. Because I was eyeing the salmon burger. As we waited for our food, we had a gander at what the tables beside ours had. 5 rotisserie chickens. It looked amazing and I was starting to regret not coming earlier. My salmon burger arrived shortly and it looked just as delicious as the chicken.

Sandwiched between a freshly baked dinner roll type bun was a salmon patty, lettuce and tomatoes with a dill mayo type sauce. It came with a side of fresh greens with a olive oil type dressing, fries with a homemade tomato sauce (aka ketchup) and a spicy mayo dip. The salad was topped with chopped up asparagus and some melted parmesan cheese chip thing. You know the little crusty cheese bit that hangs off the bottom of your cheese buns? It's just like that and it's super delicious. The salmon patty was very favourful and the bread was soft (Not quite as soft as the memory foam focaccia bread from Charcut. Close. But not quite). And for an amazing low price of just $15, this was an amazing deal. And to think we almost went to Vicious Circle... 7.5 stars out of 10.

Teatro on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Quick and Easy

Pho Thanh Vietnamese Noodle House
6630 4 Street NE

Whenever I go out for Pho, I always get the same thing. The house special. You know... the one with all the miscellaneous cow parts? It's great. Some people can't do the texture. So I guess it's an acquired taste. And you know what I love about Pho Thanh? They are quick and consistent. Consistently delicious. Consistently fast. And consistently busy.

Arriving a few minutes before the lunch time rush, I was able to get a table all to myself. I quickly order my usual. Took my jacket my off and BAM! A steaming bowl of pho appeared before me. It look them 2 minutes. Seriously. I'm gonna bring a stop watch next time. Piled high to the sky were slices of rare beef, flank, tripe, tendon and beef balls. A little squeeze of lemon and it's chow time! The broth was very flavourful. The beef was thinly sliced and very tender. A solid 7.5 stars out of 10. And best of all, it cost only $8.40 for an extra large (GST included)! As I was leaving, a line had formed at the doors with more people showing up to join the party. Sure glad I got there early!

Pho Thanh Vietnamese Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Black Rooster

Il Gallo Nero
211-17th Avenue SE

Went out for lunch with the work team on Thursday to bid farewell to Nick before he leaves to go back to school. Upon being seated, we were offered a very nice mineral water. After staring at the menu for 5 minutes, we opted to go with the chef's special. A 3 course surprise. We then proceeded to rattle off a list of allergies we had. Shellfish... sesame... peanuts... et cetera, et cetera.

While we waited for our food, I had a sip of
my precious mineral water. It was carbonated. It was kind of like drinking a pop except after the initial fizzing, there was no flavour explosion. And you realize that it was just water. And you just dropped some mad cash for it. It was quite unfortunate.

The first course of the chef's surprise is a salad. A caesar salad. With prawns. I can't say I was super impressed when they first brought it out but it was pretty good! The dressing, likely made in house, was fairly light with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. The prawns were delicious. I wished I had more.

The main dish arrived shortly after we finished the salad. Veal and chicken were served with steamed vegetables and
rigatoni. Decent portions. I was shocked that we received two types of meat. The veal was definitely better of the two. The chicken was perhaps overcooked and a little tougher (relative to other chicken meat). The veal was much more tender. The sauce served over the veal was very flavourful. The veggies were a little bland but the veal sauce certainly helped. They must of known I was a food reviewer as I received an extra slice of carrot. But I'm a man of principles and do not take bribes. Not carrot bribes anyway... The pasta, served with a tomato sauce and parmesan cheese, was very rich.

Dessert consisted of gelato, a piece of chocolate cake and half a strawberry. I thought the plate was a little big and despite having three items on it, felt very empty. The chocolate cake was warm and fresh with a chocolate sauce. The strawberry was little sour (because I ate the cake first. BIG mistake) but delicious nonetheless. Strawberry gelato was served over a slice of orange. It was very creamy and delicious. For those who don't know the difference between ice cream and gelato, check out this sweet article

The food was decent. It was extra delicious as I didn't have to pay! : ) 8 stars out of 10. To account for the price, I have determined the following equation to adjust the rating: actual rating = unadjusted rating - e^ln[cos(2*π)]. Therefore, the actual rating is 7 stars out of 10. As a side note, Il Gallo Nero is The Black Rooster in Italian. Hence the logo. It just doesn't have the same ring to it in English. But maybe that's because I don't speak Italian. And of course, best wishes to Nick in his studies.

Il Gallo Nero on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 16, 2010

Food Fest!

Taste of Calgary
Festival Plaza at Eau Claire

Taste of Calgary 2010 has come and gone. I was fortunate enough to go again this year. Twice in fact. Yay for yummy food! After witnessing the amazing
Walking with Dinosaurs with Ryan on Saturday afternoon, I decided to strolled on over to Eau Claire to check it out. The weather was sunny, the band was playing and most importantly, the grills were cooking. It was off the hizzy. I headed to the ticket booth with the shortest line and got 20 tickets.

Tickets in hand, I hit up the first booth I saw. Frugal Gourmet - Thyme & Lime. "One steak and onion cake please!" I proclaimed. To which they replied, "Sorry, we're out of steak and smoked salmon!" I was crushed! I settled for an onion cake with caesar salad. I suppose it was for the better as it was the only veggies I had that night. It was decent. Onion cake was pretty crispy, very flavourful but didn't leave you with smelly onion breath. 6.5 stars out of 10.

Next up was the JapDog from Shibuya Izakaya. I stood in line for a solid 5 minutes. As I approached the front of the booth, they announced they only had 1 JapDog left. "I will take it!" I blurted out, threw down my tickets and proceeded to
fist pump like a champ (I can't believe there's a wiki page for fist pump). A JapDog is a regular hot dog topped with Japanese garnishes like katsuobushi, nori, cabbage, mayo and possibly a okonomiyaki sauce. It was so delicious! And to have the last one (For the next 10 minutes anyway) made it taste extra sweet. For a mere 4 tickets, I reckon this was the steal of the festival. 9 stars out of 10.

Still on my JapDog high, I rolled on over to
Halo Steak, Seafood & Wine Bar. The line at Halo, despite being longer than Shibuya, moved quite quickly. I had the prime rib stuffed baby yorkies. I was a little disappointed as it was very bland, both the prime rib and the yorkshire pudding, despite having a sauce poured over it. 6 stars out of 10.

With only 8 tickets left, I had to choose my last items carefully. For 3 tickets, the pulled pork slider from
Tango Bistro seemed like a good choice. It was alright. Sandwiched between a relatively hard bun is pulled pork and carolina coleslaw (which I think is regular coleslaw). Like the baby yorkies before it, the slider was rather bland. 6 Stars out of 10.

I spent my last 5 tickets at the
SoHo Bar & Grill booth and got 3 mushroom glazed meatballs. These mini balls of deliciousness were full of flavour and definitely put the Ikea swedish meatballs to shame. Onions and mushrooms and various spices were mixed with the beef to form the balls. It was chewy with a meaty texture. The mushroom dressing complimented it very well. 8.5 stars out of 10.

Because I love food so much, I went back on Sunday to taste test more delicious goodies. First up was
La Vita e Bella. For those who haven't been, I highly recommend it. Amazing food. Check out my review here. Unlike most places, La Vita e Bella only offered one item at their booth; Bocconcini stuffed meatball. This thing was so massive that it had to be served in it's own bowl. This was a grapefruit compared to Soho's kumquat sized meatballs. It was super delicious. The tomato sauce was very sweet and the bocconcini added a unique texture to the chewy meatball. Despite being chewy, the meat was tender enough to be broken down to more manageable pieces with a fork. A solid 9 stars out of 10. This gets the nod over the mushroom glazed meatball from Soho due to its shear size. For an extra ticket, this was clearly the better deal. That, and I got a coupon for a complimentary order of meatballs when I purchase a bottle of wine. But really, that totally didn't change the outcome. Not at all.

I hit up Tango Bistro again to try their skewer. Cherry tomatoes, bocconcini balls and
Kalamata olives were threaded through a wooden skewer. Two sauces were drizzled on top. Wasn't a super huge fan of it. The sauce was kind of sweet, the olives - salty, bocconcini (not particularly known for their flavour) added substance and texture. 4 stars out 10. Despite two weak entries at Taste of Calgary, I will keep Tango Bistro on my wish list.

Still trying to finish my meatball from La Vita e Bella, I stood in line for some
jerk chicken and Ting soda at Caribbean Choice. Apparently jerk is a style of Jamaica cooking. I guess I'll just add that to the growing list of definitions for jerk. Anyway, the spicy chicken was served over rice and kidney beans(?). It was pretty good, decent portions. The chicken was very tender, though I was slightly disappointed that I got mostly bones. : ( The Ting soda was very refreshing. Though Ving would have been a even better offering. : D

7 and 8 stars respectively for the jerk chicken and Ting soda. Special thanks to Hazel for being my
Vanna White in this picture.

Take a look at the picture below, what do you see? If you'd guessed well graded
washed crushed gravel, you'd be wrong. It's cookie dough flavoured ice cream from Mini Melts. Nothing too crazy here. Just ice cream in crushed gravel form. 7 stars out of 10.

As we strolled by Nubian Express again, the line which was at one point 20 strong has shrunk to zero. I "ditched" my friend and hauled ass over there to order the African styled beef. But they ran out. So I had the chicken instead. It was also spicy but quite delicious. It came with a side of roasted
plantain (that's the giant blob looking thing at the front of the plate). It was very malleable and extremely sweet. A solid 8 stars out of 10. On a side note, unfortunately Nubian Express hasn't officially opened yet. If you google-map the address it comes up as a house. In a cul-de-sac. Sort of. It was actually placed on the wrong spot for me. I'm eagerly awaiting the official opening of the restaurant. I hope it's in the north west.

To finish things off, I had a Mojito from SoHo. Down it in 2 seconds and stumbled home. Very refreshing. No picture though. Anyway, that's a run down of all things I had at Taste of Calgary this year. Till next time! Chow (down) for now!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cha Siu Bao

T.Pot China Bistro
100 - 9650 Harvest Hills Blvd. NE

I went out with the fam jam for some dim sum at T.Pot this weekend. Growing up in a Chinese family, we used to go out for dim sum every weekend. People would tell me how jealous they are because "they love it so much and it's so incredibly awesome", but it was never something special that I would look forward to since we would go so often. I'm not super picky when it comes to dim sum places, they all kind of taste (super greasy) the same to me. There might be a place here or there that serves a particular dish that I really like but as you will see below, there are a couple of items that I normally get and the rest is filled based on my mood.

First up,
preserved meats with sticky rice. Probably not the best item to be eating first as the sticky rice fills you up pretty quick. It was pretty average. A little skimpy on the toppings and as a result not much flavour. Lots of chopped scallions though. Definitely had better.

Next up was the satay beef tripe; also known as cow stomach. In contrast to the sticky rice, this was very flavourful. The stomach lining was a little chewy. We normally don't order this dish but I haven't had it for a long time so I figure why not? Daikon lined the bottom of the plate to soak up all the fatty cow stomach goodness.

The rice crepe arrived shortly after. Made with a
dried shrimp and chopped cilantro filling, the rice crepe has virtually no flavour and relies heavy on the toppings and sauces. Typically when I order rice noodles, I get this or Zhaliang which is rice crepe wrapped around deep fried dough. I personally think it's better to ask them to serve the sauce separately (which I forgot to do) so that you have the option to pick which one. I'm not a big fan of the sweet sauce or the sesame sauce. Sweetened soya sauce all the way!

The congee that my dad ordered arrived next. Lean pork and
century egg were mixed into MSG filled congee. This is by far one of my favourite congees. The century eggs are so creamy and flavourful! I am well aware that it looks quite rotten but I can assure you that it is not and in fact quite delicious. In moderation. I wouldn't recommend popping these back like Miss Vickie's though (As a side note, Miss Vickie's make the best chips. I get invited to all the cool parties because I bring these as a snack).

The pork dumplings arrived in an oversized steam container. It rolled around a couple of times as the waitress set it on the table. This is probably one of my favourite dishes and I order it every time regardless of where I go. It's really a benchmark of the dim sum of the place. If they have good pork dumplings, then I will generally like it. If the pork dumplings are gross, then it would be very rare that I would go there again. I don't think I've ever been to a dim sum restaurant that didn't serve pork dumplings. It's like a staple item for all dim sum places. Aside from the size, this little ball of deliciousness gets an a-okay from me. At T.Pot (And probably 90% of the dim sum places), crab meat is mixed into the pork along with mushrooms. They are then finished by sprinkling fish roe on top. The crab meat was decent. I've been to places where the crab meat has turned bad and that's never good.

The shrimp stuffed veggies arrived next. Four were available; Two stuffed eggplants and one of tofu and green pepper. You could tell the shrimp cake was refried as it was hard and not crispy at all. And considering you order it from a sheet rather than from a cart, there is no reason for this. The sauce was really thick with scallion sprinkled on top. Definitely one of the more disappointing dishes of the day.

The last item to arrive was the shark fin dumpling in soup. I'm pretty certain all the P.E.T.A. hippies are shaking their fist at their computer screens and writing me angry comments. But you know what? They can hate all they want... because what's done is done. And what's done was also delicious. The dough for the dumpling was thin and soft and ruptured upon being poked. Dried scallops, crab meat, mushrooms and shark fin (might have been in the soup) oozed out of the massive ball of dough. The soup was very flavourful.

The food was decent overall, there were definitely things that they could have done better. Out of all the dim sum places (or Asian restaurants for that matter), T.Pot is definitely the cleanest and classiest. 6 out of 10 stars.

T.Pot China Bistro on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Great Pizza Dough Famine

Michael's Restaurant, Pizza & Bar
139 10 Ave SW

We arrived at Michael's at noon for a Friday lunch. Upon being seated on the second floor, we quickly ordered our food. 4 large pizzas on regular dough. A house special, Michael's special, all meat and SFO (Spinach, feta and onions). We were quickly informed that only whole wheat is available for large pizza breads. We said that's fine and the waitress disappeared to put in our order only to return to tell us there's only 2 large pizzas left. We revised our order to 2 large and 3 mediums. The waitress returns a few minutes later to tell us there is actually only 1 large pizza left. Revising our order yet again to 1 large and 5 mediums, we were informed by the chef moments later that there's only 4 mediums and as many small pizzas as we wanted. We opted to stick with 1 large and 4 mediums. The chef returns to our table shortly after that to inform us that they found an extra medium pizza. How do you find extra pizzas? Yeah, like "we were sweeping the floors and found some extra dough under the oven". Or "we were grabbing a can of tomato paste in the pantry and lo and behold! Extra pizza dough!" Seriously, I don't want that! I'm not too entirely sure what we finally order. All I know is a solid half hour later, a medium all meat and house special pizza was placed in front of me.

First up, the all meat. Pepperoni, beef, salami and ham topped a regular pizza dough. I'm pretty sure this was the one that they found as it was on regular white pizza dough. You may noticed there's a slight blur at the top left hand corner of the picture. This was Megan's hand swooping in for a slice of the pizza. Poor girl was so hungry from waiting so long for the food. The pizza was of the thick crust variety. It's no
neapolitan pizza that's for sure. Thick slices of meat were layered between Michael's homemade tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. It was pretty decent. Very hearty and afternoon nap inducing. The cheese was thoroughly melted and very stringy.

Topped on whole wheat pizza bread, the house special was decent. I wasn't a super huge fan of the whole wheat aspect of this pizza. Toppings include pepperoni, mushrooms, ham, green peppers, tomatoes and feta cheese. Despite being a
carnivore, I do enjoy having some fresh veggies on my pizzas. It adds a different texture so it's not just a giant slice of soggy meat and dough. The resulting flavour is also very refreshing.

This pizza dough debacle is nothing new, we've had this happen before. Is it super delicious? Not really... But it's super close so it's got that going for it. With all things considered, this was a mediocre 5 stars out of 10.

Special Happy Birthday shout out to Kristel and best of luck to Megan for going back to

Michael's Restaurant Pizza Bar & Rooftop Patio on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 9, 2010


8000 11 St SE

Went chair shopping with my mom this weekend at Ikea. It was an tedious process. She's looking something so specific. High back, not swirly, no wheels. Comfy enough for use while playing free cell on the computer. Light enough to be easily moved to the living room to watch Asian soaps. After debating for over an hour on the showroom floor, we finally opted to go with a heavy, swirly office chair.

We stopped by the Ikea cafeteria for some quick eats before heading downstairs to pick up the chair. I had the swedish meatballs. Thinking... Ikea... Sweden... Swedish meatballs... Can't go wrong, right? Wrong. So very very wrong. Upon ordering, the assembly line of staff slapped together a plate of 15 meatballs and a pile of fries. The meatballs, likely from a giant bag labelled Köttbullar in the marketplace freezer downstairs, were mushy and bland. Tasted like chewy plastic at best. The lingonsylt, also likely from the marketplace shelves downstairs, helped by adding flavour to the meatballs. The fries were average. Nothing too spectacular.

0 stars out of 10. I feel like a food snob now. I can't fathom why people think the cafeteria at Ikea is great. Blows my mind away. They should stick with furniture. Avfall indeed. Also, if anyone cares, we got
Markus chair and removed the wheels.

Ikea on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Shack Week

Cowtown Beef Shack
5250 Macleod Trail S

Next up on Shack Week here at F-log For Thought, Cowtown Beef Shack. Located in the parking lot of
Home Food Inn on Macleod, Cowtown Beef Shack serves one thing and one thing only. Beef (That was pretty obvious given the name).

Swooping in before the 6 o'clock closing time, I ordered the BBQ Beef. Sandwiched within a footlong sub, is perfectly seasoned BBQ beef and fresh onions. When the guy asked me if I was ok with onions, I thought it was going to be sauteed (or at least cooked) and not of the raw variety. I guess I should have realized this when it said "fresh" on the menu. Needless to say, I wasn't a huge fan of it. The onions, that is. Because the beef was amazing. Slowly cooked to perfection and pulled into tiny strands, the beef is then seasoned with their special BBQ sauce. The resulting meat was very tender and flavourful. A solid 7 stars out of 10. I think sauteed onions would take it to the next level.

Cowtown Beef Shack on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 6, 2010


Shikiji Japanese Noodles and Sushi
1608 Centre Street N

I checked out Shikiji way back when they first opened (I don't remember what year but it was a long time ago). My first impression, although a little fuzzy now, was not the greatest. It never stood out as being spectacular and I remember my parents complaining about how expensive it was. Fast forward to 2010, Shikiji is the talk of the town (slight exaggeration). Everyone is talking about how it's the
bomb and the ramen and noodles are amazing! Naturally, I had to go check it out...

I had the BBQ Pork Ramen. And as the title of this entry suggests, it was "Meh". The noodles were soggy and the soup was bland. The BBQ pork, although in abundance, was stringy and had no flavour. I would much rather have quality over quantity. 7
PT Cruisers does not equal a Ferrari F430 Scuderia. This bowl of mediocrity was topped with a quarter stock of bok choy of the large variety and chopped scallions (I know, I was confused too). It was a pretty pitiful attempt given the rave reviews by friends and on urbanspoon. The one cool thing I found was they brought out the sesame seeds in a suribachi so I could grind them up myself. It was definitely a cool experience that I've also had elsewhere.

The service was interesting... They were definitely trying too hard, perhaps to compensate for the quality of food. Maybe the owners pay their employees minimum wage and they really need the tip to make a living. My server was a bit of a tool though, asking questions like "Would you like something to drink?" and "Would you like to order something?" Really? No... I'm just gonna sit here and take up space. Of course I want to order something! The appropriate question here would be "
What would you like to order?" I'm pretty certain he came by at least a couple of times in a 10 minute span to see if everything was alright. It almost felt like he poisoned my ramen and wanted to see if I passed out or not so he can rob me. With the prices they charge, it sure felt like I got robbed. 2 starts out 10.

Shikiji Japanese Noodles and Sushi on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Parking Lot Shack

Smokee Lee's
500 - 6 Ave SW

After hitting up all those $$$$ restaurants the last couple of weeks, I decided to check out some of the hole in the walls this fair city has to offer. Smokee Lee's, located at the intersection of 6th avenue and 4th Street SW, is not quite a hole in the wall. But mostly because there are no walls nearby. It's a shack on a parking lot. See below. On a beautiful summer day, you will see a line that stretches to the sidewalk.

I had the 7 ounce piled high on rye. Sandwiched between two slices of winnipeg rye is steamed montreal smoked meat. The meat was pretty fatty, yet stringy at the same time. Wrapped with aluminum foil, the bread was a little soggy by the time I got back to the office (a solid 10 minute walk) from the heat and condensation trapped within. Totally understandable. It would have been much better had I eaten at the picnic tables there. Very flavourful though. Sides include a quarter pickle and 5 chips of the plain variety. Now that I think about it, this probably is not as cheap as I thought... $10 for a sandwich?! Considering they are situated in a shack on a parking lot, I bet they are making a killing on this. It's pure genius I tell you! 6 stars out of 10.

I would like to end this entry with the following picture. Note "The Searsy!". The battle cry is likely followed by a triple bypass.

Smokee Lee's on Urbanspoon