Monday, July 28, 2014

McCain Superfries Savoury Xtracrispy Wedges

Are these the best fries ever?

My mom spotted McCain Superfries Savoury Xtracrispy Wedges on sale at SuperStore and decided to give them a try. Despite the preparation instructions, we were going to try them in our so-far-very-disappointing Big Boss Oil-less Fryer. They didn't turn out so well. They were better on the grill, but not very crispy. She complained that they also took quite a long time on the grill or in the oven (plus there's the annoying turning) so with the last portions she deep fried them. And wow did they turn out great.

The outer shell feels thin but crispy. Seasoning is noticeable but not too particularly strong. Inside, it was probably fluffy but the experience in my mouth was one of light creaminess.

Good taste, excellent texture. Sodium content is off-putting but not really surprising.

Tasty lamb ribs at Tuc Craft Kitchen

Tuc Craft Kitchen on Urbanspoon

The deceptively small store front hides a deep room with upstairs party seating as well. Still, definitely make reservations because it was busy when I got there for a 7 PM reservation an it was still packed around 9 PM when we left the restaurant last Friday.

Trust me, you want the lamb ribs--Unless you're vegetarian, in which case there really isn't much reason to go to Tuc Craft Kitchen, which sports just the one veggie starter and one veggie main.

albóndigas ($8) beef & pork meatballs, vodka roma sauce, sheep’s milk pecorino romano
  • Three fat meatballs, each slightly bigger than a ping pong ball or golf ball.
  • Tasty. Firm and moist. Good but not "wow" -- but that may be in comparison to the wonderful ribs we'd just had.
pork belly crackling ($8) gelderman farms, star anise red wine reduction, coarse salt
  • In some places "pork crackling" gets you just the super-crunchy fat. Here you get crunchy fat plus a bit of meat.
  • Pretty tasty, but seems like a very small amount for your $8 -- about a cupful.
orange glazed lamb ribs ($9) australian lamb, jalapeno pepper, candied orange glaze
  • So popular they ran out shortly after 7 pm, and the next batch wasn't going to be ready for about an hour.
  • Just three meaty, fall-off-the-bone ribs per serving. You will probably want two rib per person.
  • Make sure you have a spoon at the table. The ribs came without a spoon, which was ridiculous since the super-tasty glaze had melted down to the bottom of the deep-dish cast iron pan. You definitely want that glaze back on the meat.
  • Eat it while it's hot. And it comes so hot the honey-like glaze is still bubbling/simmering at the bottom of the pan. If you let it cool the meat gets tougher and drier.
chicken confit ($18) fraser valley free run chicken, wilted kale, basil pistou, biscuit, consommé
  • Fall-off-the-bone chicken as touted by our server, but strangely on the dry side and I think that really ruined the experience.
    • Could have been a one-off fluke, though, considering how well everything else had come out.
    • Could also be intentional as you are provided with consomme, which they recommend you use as you eat rather than drown the chicken right away.
  • Huge amount of kale. If you don't like three cups of kale on your plate, ask for a substitution early. Sure it's a superfood -- but there's a heckuva lot of it so I hope you love it.
farmer’s crop pot ($15) green lentils, butternut squash, spinach, garlic béchamel, potatoes au gratin, arugula
  • The one veggie main. Sounds more complex than the actual presentation, which was very similar to baked beans except using lentils. Tasted similar too.
  • Overall tasty but nothing to write home about except that maybe it was too similar to baked beans that $15 starts to look pricey.
  • Portion for price also seemed a bit low, but being heavy on the lentils it was quite filling.
caramel popcorn ice cream ($4) popcorn infused house-made ice cream, caramel sauce, popcorn
  • I always complain about restaurant ice cream being a couple of scoops that cost the same as a small tub at Superstore. No different here, except the price point is happily low when restaurant desserts generally run at $8 nowadays.
  • Intense caramel popcorn flavour as advertised. Go easy with the sauce provided as it can smother the flavour of the ice cream.
  • If you order the chocolate brownie napoleon ($7), the same ice cream is used there so you can taste both in the same order, but you don't get the caramel sauce.
You may also be lucky to be served by the one lovely server with the most unexpectedly sweetest voice ever.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Revel Room

Revel Room on Urbanspoon

Mealshare quite recently added a bunch of restaurants to their charity line-up, and I'm just starting on working my way through the new list -- beginning with the Revel Room.

The menu has New Orleans influences, which is more or less the best you can hope for in Vancouver unless you go to one of the few dedicated places like Ouisi Bistro. The mix of New Orleans, New Mexico, and less adventurous-sounding things like burgers. Vegans look like they may be out of luck, though.

Sinister Chili Fried Shrimp with Honey Lime Dip ($10)
  • Strangely bland, so our experience may have been a fluke kitchen error.
  • For some reason the five "shrimps" (which were fat enough to be proud prawns) had nice crunch and firmness but not a lot of prawny flavour.
  • Honey Lime Dip was also rather tame.
  • Otherwise a decently done tempura. Be sure to use some of the sriracha (?) chili sauce drizzled on the plate.
Duck, Pear & Brie Quesadilla with Red Onion Compote ($11)
  • A bit weak on the duck flavour, but otherwise as advertised. I found the combination too subtle for my preference.
  • Nice syrupy sweet compote that was pretty candy-tasty, but can easily overwhelm all the other tastes.
Revel's Famous Bayou Gumbo of Shrimp, Chicken, Sausage, & Herb Rice ($9)
  • Slightly bitter but otherwise a tasty stew.
  • "Shrimp" were more like thick prawns. Prawny flavour was evident here, so I wasn't sure what happened on those Sinister Chili Shrimp earlier.
  • This was a pretty big and deep bowl of filling comfort-food like stew. Best value out of the three appetizers I ordered and I didn't need to order anything else for dinner. Could probably make for a light dinner all on its own.
Lonsdale ($5) almond syrup, ginger beer, fresh lime, apple
  • This is one of the few non-alcoholic cocktails available on the menu. The ginger beer gives it some bite at the back of the throat, but not too much and it doesn't last very long. Overall, it's a syrup-ed ginger beer, and it is neither a very sweet drink or a very strong gingery one, but something in between. Good if you like ginger beer (not that easy to find in the first place) but don't like them too strong.
Service seemed distracted. The room wasn't very busy but it was strangely hard to catch someone's eye and flag them down for service. Servers were, however, friendly and patient and unobtrusive.

If you have nothing to do (e.g., an awkward silence during the conversation), you can read the blurbs about various curious artifacts in the room and try to spot them -- like a whole shelf of Stay-Puft Marshmallow Men.