Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Whip Restaurant Gallery

Because I was breakfasting today with my sister-in-law, who is an ah-ma-zing artist, I wanted to investigate The Whip and it’s “gallery” status. Not only is it a rotating showcase for local artists, it is a restaurant, a café, and a bar. If I wanted to give them one label only, though, it would be “hangout”. With it’s casual wooden-table-and-chair decor, it feels like the perfect spot to gather with friends and chitchat.

To match, the food is informal, yet still tasty. My Roasted Tomato and Avocado Benny had a nice hollandaise, her Shrimp, Pesto, and Feta Omelette was savoury (is there a better adjective for “salty” when it’s a positive attribute?), and both were served with paprika-spiced roasted yams and potatoes and fruit salad.

209 East 6th Avenue
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Oakwood

I am reminded of the benefits of having an open mind. Upon entering The Oakwood, I was honestly surprised by what I saw – a packed house, a space filled with warmth, and pleasingly contemporary design. There have been many restaurants come and go in this location over the years and I believe this owner may have finally found the magic formula to transform the mojo.

We sat at the bar, which allowed for a clear view into the kitchen. I knew the food was going to be great by seeing the way the chefs approached their cooking. You can just tell when someone is serious about food. These guys are. Their concept is Canadian Bistro with a focus on locally-sourced and made-from-scratch. They nailed my criteria for food success – obvious passion, clear concept, delicious flavour, exacting execution, and playful presentation. The Blueberry-Mascarpone Filled French Toast was cooked to buttery, crispy perfection. And the Braised Short Rib with Potato Pancake and Marinated Tomato was succulent and boldly flavoured.

I believe if this owner embraces what he is already doing so well – hiring great staff, offering a welcoming environment, and serving great food – he’s here to stay.

2741 West 4th Avenue
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Soul (Honolulu, HI) (CLOSED)

UPDATE (11/18/12): Sadly, this location of Soul is closed. A new downtown location has opened, but is only serving lunch.
I recently realized that there is only one thing that will move me to do the things I am terrified of doing – love. My best friend currently lives in Hawaii and she is the reason I will get on a plane and endure what amounts to 6 hours of emotional agony. There is another love, however, not quite as powerful, but still enticing – great food!

At Soul they specialize in soul food, obviously. The chef here exudes soul, a genuine warm smile, and an obvious love for his business and his food. When I travel, I love being able to enjoy cuisines that I cannot find in Vancouver. I also love it when a chef will take a classic item and give it a twist using local ingredients, such as the Crab Cake Benedict with Mango Hollandaise. Our other choices included Smoked Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash, Fried Chicken with Biscuits and Sausage Gravy, and my favourite, Fried Chicken with Southern Spiced Sweet Potato Pancakes and Local Banana.

A whole lotta love.

3040 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI
Breakfast hours: 10:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Sunday only