Monday, February 25, 2013

Locus on Main Street at 25th in Vancouver

We were in Vancouver over the weekend and needed to go out for brunch on Sunday morning, I was resigned to having to wait and getting a large plate of mediocre food.   I have been to many popular brunch places in Vancouver and Victoria over the last two decades and I have never been wowed by the food and really did not like the idea that you have to wait in line for a long time at the popular ones.

I decided there were some interesting choices around Main and 25th and left it to Sheila to choose from a number of options.   She opted for Locus.  

I was worried we would see a line and was ready to try somewhere else if we are going to have a lengthy wait.   Turned out it was not too busy.  What was also nice to see is that they take reservations for Sunday brunch.   We were lucky there was a small table available for us and we did not need to wait at all.

huveos rancheros
Locus has an interesting decor, it is not some variation of a retro diner which seems to the primary design motif of brunch places.   Locus has a primitive art decor riff going on, the "pillars" look like tree roots carved in with tribal motifs hidden into them.   In the washrooms the wall decor is like the pre-historic paintings in the Lascaux caves.  It is a bit odd at first, but it makes the place cozy and interesting.

I like huevos rancheros, or I should say I like what goes into huevos rancheros, but I have never really been served any that have lived up to what I think the ingredients should deliver.   They have almost always been large plates of messy stodge.   What I got at Locus is a brilliant refined version of what huevos rancheros should be.   All the elements were there but they were done with a finesse that means the dish was light.   The salad meant there was an acid on the plate from the vinaigrette which really lifts the brightness of the other elements.   The beans were not a bland re-fried mush but well cooked individual beans.  Instead of a large flour tortilla they have a crisp tostada underlying the dish.
Leek, mushroom and yam strudel

Sheila ordered the leek, mushroom and yam strudel.   This does not look like a brunch dish but like a dinner appetizer in a fine dining restaurant.   The strudel pastry was crisp all the way around.  The thin stripe of balsamic reduction was a thick and syrupy and added a sweet tangy hit of acid for the dish.

The atmosphere in the restaurant was relaxed.   It was not loud as so many brunch places are.  The staff were calm and friendly.  

I saw at a neighbouring table someone unhappy with their dish and the staff dealt with it quickly and pleasantly.   Being from Victoria, this is something I rarely because it seems that restaurants in the capital do not seem to think the customer can be right about a dish being bad.

Locus is also open for cocktails at night, something Sheila and I were looking for in Vancouver but did not find a location we liked.  We want to try Locus for that the next time we are in town.

The food was of a quality we could not easily reproduce at home.  We will be going back for brunch again in the future.

  Locus on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Four Mile House

After watching the film Revolution with a friend last night we wanted to go to place to have a drink and something to eat and we ended up at the Four Mile House. I was not impressed but at the same time nothing was really wrong.

 Even though it is not all that far from where I live, the last time I went here was in 2005, in eight years a lot can change though I have to admit nothing much has resonated in my mind from that lunch.   The setting is nice enough, certainly it has more character than anything else within several kilometers of there.  The staff were friendly and attentive.

I had one of the items from the fresh sheet, the pork chipotle burger - ground pork patty, avocado  jalapenos, and cheese.   As a burger goes, the bun was not up to the task of fillings and fell apart, I had to eat it with a knife and fork.   The pork patty was underwhelming and the avocado was not seasoned which meant that the heat of the jalapeno overwhelmed everything else.

I had ordered onion rings but they brought me fries, they corrected their error and did not charge for the fries.  The fries were much better than the onion rings.   The onion rings looked like they were frozen ones and not made on site whereas the fries could have been made on site though I am not certain.

Overall the menu has no real sense of what it is about.   Pulled pork, pizza, fish and chips, calamari,  and Thai green curry are all on the menu.   This is not pub food and it is clearly not up scale enough to be gastropub.   The number of items on the menu are too many for the scale of business they do.  With more than 30 main course items there are likely many things that are not sold every day.   It worries me about any restaurant that has so many items available that realistically many of them will not be ordered every day.   You can not make a Thai green curry to order unless you have prepped the sauce ahead of time but if you only sell a few dishes of it a week can you really be making the sauce from scratch everyday?   Very unlikely.

Could I do better at home?  Yes.   Will I go back?   For the food unlikely, but I may go back for a beer.

Four Mile House on Urbanspoon