Moxie’s Grill and Bar (Red Deer, AB) – Bruschetta, Loaded Burger, and Chipotle Mango Chicken

I have driven pass Moxie’s Grill and Bar many times, going back and forth throughout Red Deer. It helps that Moxie’s is situated on Gaetz Avenue, the main road for the city of Red Deer. However, it doesn’t help that the immediate area does not offer a lot of foot or vehicle traffic. Although I drove by the restaurant a lot, to actually get to it required taking a detour into a small road with little surrounding opportunities to “be in the area”, ie. Grocery or Hardware stores.

Having eaten at other Moxie’s in other cities, I knew that they targeted the same demographics as Cactus Club, Earl’s, Original Joe’s, Browns Social House, etc. It’s interesting that in different cities, different chains dominate. For example, in Lethbridge, Moxie’s Grill and Bar is the place to be and is always packed. Here in Red Deer, Earl’s and Original Joe’s tend to be the most popular destination.

Moxie’s Grill and Bar is located in the same area as Sandman Hotel and a car dealership. Inside, the atmosphere was very similar to Earl’s, being cozy and a bit darker in lighting.

Moxie's Bar and Grill Interior

Moxie's Bar and Grill Interior 2

Moxie's Bar and Grill - Lamp

Moxie's Bar and Grill - Dual Forks

My wife ordered a Strawberry Bellini.

Moxie's Bar and Grill - Strawberry Bellini

My wife spotted Bruschetta and insisted on trying Moxie’s attempt at it. It was described as fresh diced tomatoes and bocconcini on crostini bread.

Moxie's Bar and Grill - Bruschetta

The Bruschetta arrived beautifully plated. Despite the simplicity (as opposed to other restaurants’ attempts at dressing up the bruschetta), what was on plate was delicious. The fresh tomato offered both texture and tartness to counterbalance the bocconcini. For some reason, despite being a type of cheese, the bocconcini always comes across light rather than heavy. The crostini was crispy and gave the needed starch component. Unfortunately, the one artistic touch Moxie’s made with the dish, putting the balsamic vinegar reduction glaze below the bruschetta, was unsuccessful. It stuck hard to the plate so we had trouble scraping it off to add to the bruschetta. We would have preferred the glaze drizzle overtop so we could easily enjoy the bruschetta.
Read More

The Sugarbowl Bar and Cafe (Edmonton, AB) – Chicken, Waffle, and a Lamb Burger to Boot

My sister and I were in Edmonton one day and wanted to have lunch. She saw the Sugarbowl Bar and Cafe on the show You Gotta Eat Here and thought we should try it.

The Sugarbowl Bar and Cafe is located close to the University of Alberta, not too far from one of our favorite restaurants, the Urban Diner. Parking in the surrounding area is a challenge due to the numerous restaurants clustered there. However, there are a small number of parking spaces available behind the Sugarbowl Bar and Cafe.

The Sugarbowl Bar and Cafe

The restaurant was packed when we arrived, clear proof of their popularity.

The Sugarbowl Bar and Cafe History

We finally got a table and menus were quickly dropped off.

The Sugarbowl Bar and Cafe - Menu

My sister recalled that the Chicken and Waffle was prominently promoted by John Catucci on his show You Gotta Eat Here so she chose that. The dish consisted of a waffle topped with a buttermilk and spice marinated chicken breast. Simple, but delicious. A choice of soup, salad, or fries was available of which my sister chose salad.

The Sugarbowl Bar and Cafe - Chicken and Waffle

I have seen many attempts at Chicken and Waffle, especially on the US Food Network. Every single dish involved a deep-fried chicken on top of waffles. The Sugarbowl Bar and Cafe does things a little different here. Their chicken breasts were pan-fried, resulting in a thin, slightly crispy crust.
Read More

Mr. Red Café (Vancouver, BC) – Diamond in the Rough

[Guest Blog by GVBlack]
Mr. Red Cafe

Mr. Red Cafe Sign 1

Mr. Red Cafe Sign 2

Vancouver has more than its fair share of Vietnamese restaurants and typically they all offer very similar menu items. That is, until I stumbled upon this new gem. Tucked away in what is now known as The East Village is Mr. Red Café. This tiny little restaurant does not even look like a restaurant on the outside. In fact, I did walk right by and not notice it for the longest time. What finally caught my eye were the jars of pickled chili and garlic sitting on each table. According to the owner their focus is on North Vietnamese cuisine and their menu does indeed offer items which I have not seen in other Vietnamese restaurants in town.

Mr. Red Cafe Interior 1

Mr. Red Cafe Interior 2

Mr. Red Cafe - Condiments

Inside it is a very cozy restaurant with at most seven tables. The most important thing to note is how clean the restaurant is! But from what I understand the restaurant just opened in April so I guess it is to be expected.

Joining me today for lunch was Mama and Papa Bear. As we sat down we were offered hot tea. This was not your average tea as I soon found out! The tea served had a very unique flavor and we found out later that it was a pineapple leaf tea with small bits of ginseng (I suspect that its actually pandan leaf and not pineapple leaf as the owner claimed). Quite tasty!

Mr. Red Cafe - Green Papaya Salad

As Mama Bear was not too hungry today we ordered a few items to try. First up was the Green Papaya Salad with jerky and liver. This was a fantastic salad, sweet, savory, and crunchy with hits of minty flavor from the fresh mint. The bits of liver and jerky did not interfere with the flavors at all and provided a nice contrast to the greens.
Read More

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria (Red Deer, AB) – Mozzarella Balls and Siciliana Neapolitan Pizza

The restaurant industry has seen tremendous growth in Red Deer lately and as residents and patrons of these restaurants, we stand to benefit. Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria is a chain that opened up its first restaurant in Red Deer a little while ago. According to the official web site, there are chains in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. I believe the original location was in Alberta.

When they first opened, they distributed coupons for Red Deerians to give them a try. I got one and it kept them in the back of my mind.

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria - Coupon

The Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria in Red Deer is located in downtown, in the same parking lot as the Real Canadian Superstore.

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria

The interior benefited from the floor to ceiling glass, allowing plenty of sunlight in especially during the summer. The atmosphere was similar to a Tony Roma’s where it wasn’t too bright, but had a family dining room vibe to it.

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria Interior

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria Interior 2

The process of ordering is a little different at Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria. You are first shown to a table and instructed that when you are ready to order, we should get up and place your order at the cashier. Menus are readily available at each table with a booklet of order forms for you to check off what you want. However, oddly enough, you don’t actually need to use the order form as orders are placed verbally at the cashier. From what I gathered, you use the order form to remember what you want to order when you are at the cashier. This process gave me the impression that Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria is right between a Chipotle Mexican Grill and a Tony Roma’s.

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria Interior 3

Drink orders, however, are taken by the wait staff so my wife ordered a Red Sangria. It is described as a “delicious, fresh fruit-based Italian wine punch spiked with blackcurrant liqueur and orange Italian soda”.

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria - Red Sangria

We decided to start with the Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella Balls(3) which were baked in Campania (famous for macaroni, pizza, and tomato sauce) tomato sauce with basil and percorino romano (sheep milk cheese). Flatbread accompanied the dish.

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria - Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella Balls

The Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella Balls were a little burnt on top, likely due to the fire oven, but thanks to the high impact flavor players in the dish, there was no noticeable burnt taste.
Read More

9′s By The River (Red Deer, AB) – Home of the Bubba Burger Challenge

I never noticed 9′s By The River because of its location. In fact, I only managed to locate the restaurant with Google Map. Interestingly, the restaurant is pretty active on its Facebook and to a lesser extent, its twitter. I had previewed the special of the day before heading down for a meal.

9′s By The River is just off southbound Gaetz before the Gaetz bridge. Angled parking stalls are available out front.

9′s By The River

Inside, the atmosphere felt like a dive with a random assortment of tables and decor.

The restaurant itself was divided into 2 rooms with the farther side covered in vintage posters and high tables.

9′s By The River Interior 1

I sat on the side adjacent to the kitchen with the kitschy decor and diner-style television.

9′s By The River Interior 2

Against one wall was Bubba’s Corner (named after one of the owner’s son who passed away in an accident). It advertised the Bubba Burger Challenge: eat an 11-pound Bubba Burger in 90 minutes and it’s free. Moreover, you get a t-shirt and your photo on the wall. Failure to conquer the burger would result in $65. However, all proceeds go to the charity Child Find.

9′s By The River - Bubba's Corner

9′s By The River - Bubba Burger Challenge

Researching further, I found an article in the Red Deer Advocate detailing the first attempt and resulting failure to conquer the burger. A youtube video of the inaugural event can be seen below.

I decided to go with their Today’s Special which was available from 11 AM to 2 PM. For my visit, the Today’s Special was a Grilled Bacon, Tomato, and Cheese Sandwich with Cream of Beef and Mushroom Soup. Pretty self-explanatory.

9′s By The River – Grilled Bacon, Tomato, and Cheese Sandwich with Cream of Beef and Mushroom Soup

The Grilled Bacon, Tomato, and Cheese Sandwich arrived diagonally sliced with a big bowl of Cream of Beef and Mushroom Soup.
Read More

Westerner Days Fair and Exposition 2012 – Chips and Fries

So it was time again for Westerner Days in Red Deer. I managed to make my way down for the parade. Please see the following gallery for over 150 photos that I took of the parade participants.

This time I took my wife to enjoy the festivities at Westerner Days. Like a typical Alberta summer day, the sun was strong and bright.

Westerner Days 2012 - Ride 1

We passed by the usual rides and games. I did not notice anything new from the year before.

Westerner Days 2012 - Ride 2

Westerner Days 2012 - Ride 3

Westerner Days 2012 - Ride 4

Westerner Days 2012 - Ride 5

Westerner Days 2012 - Ride 6

Westerner Days 2012 - Ride 7

Westerner Days 2012 - Ride 8

Westerner Days 2012 - Game 1

Westerner Days 2012 - Game 2

Westerner Days 2012 - Game 3

We saw a booth sponsored by the Dr. Oetker Company to advertise their Panebello, Ristorante, and Casa Di Mama pizza lines. A staff member made eye contact with us and beckoned us over. They were handing out mini pizza slice samples and gave us each a slice of Pizza Pollo. We never had frozen pizza before, always assuming they were akin to the cardboard pizzas found at questionable seedy pizza joints.

Westerner Days 2012 - Dr. Oetker Company

On first bite, I found the pizza crust to be light and crispy. I had expected a stale and dense pizza dough, but found this was not the case.

Westerner Days 2012 - Pizza Pollo

The chicken was dry as expected, but the addition of spinach along with the cheese and tomato sauce gave the needed moisture to the pizza. We both were surprised at how light the pizza tasted – not greasy at all.
Read More

Sushi Maru (Red Deer, AB) – Favorite Sushi Place in Red Deer

Taking highway 11 back to Red Deer from Sylvan Lake, we spotted a new restaurant in the northwest corner of our wonderful city. Sushi Maru looked bright and clean from the outside. Despite the Japanese cuisine focus, the owners are Korean as evident by the Korean writing below the whale logo.

Sushi Maru Side

Sushi Maru Front

Inside, the restaurant had a modern design, quite similar to some of the local Sushi restaurants in Vancouver. Later on, I realized that this was due to the fact that the owners (husband and wife) and the other chef were originally from Vancouver.

Sushi Maru Interior

Sushi Maru - Table Setting

Sushi Maru Menu

I decided to have the Agedashi Tofu to start to see how they measure up. Agedashi Tofu is deep fried tofu in a tempura sauce/broth.

Sushi Maru - Agedashi Tofu

The Agedashi Tofu arrived as a pair sitting in the tempura sauce/broth topped with some diced green onion garnish. The traditional grated daikon was missing and the tofu were sliced into rectangles instead of cubes.
Read More

Tubby Dog (Calgary, AB) – Clearly, Joey Chestnut Would Eat Here

We were in Calgary when our stomachs grumbled and recalling that Tubby Dog was featured on the show You Gotta Eat Here, we headed that way.

Tubby Dog Sign

Tubby Dog is located on 17th Avenue which is a very popular shopping area. Street parking is available, but it’s not easy to find.

Tubby Dog

Inside, the restaurant has a diner atmosphere which goes well with the hot dog theme. Tubby Dog is essentially a restaurant focused on dressing up the simple hot dog with different ingredients, namely crumbled potato chips.

Tubby Dog Interior

Tubby Dog Interior 2

Tubby Dog Interior 3

Tubby Dog Interior 4

A huge menu board on the side outlined what’s available.

Tubby Dog - Menu

You have to put in your order before grabbing some seats. Because your food is made fresh to order, it takes some time before you receive them.

Tubby Dog Interior 5

Tubby Dog - Stove Top

My wife ordered the Sherm’s Ultimate Gripper which was a classic dog wrapped in bacon and then deep-fried, topped with with ham, homemade chili, cheese, mustard, bacon, hot peppers, onions, and a fried egg. She definitely went all out here. Actually, what caught her eye was the fried egg – it’s the reason why she chose this hot dog.

Tubby Dog - Sherm's Ultimate Gripper

The Sherm’s Ultimate Gripper was a massive hot dog, definitely satisfying the biggest of appetites. In fact, my wife managed to tackle only 1/3 of it. She particularly loved the fried egg which wasn’t overdone and bounded all the ingredients together.
Read More

Thap Ba (Red Deer, AB) – Bánh Mì and Fried Wings Plus the Usual

On one of our regular visits to Thap Ba, we decided to explore the menu a little bit after it met our expectations the first time.

My wife requested an Iced Tea which came with a slice of lime instead of lemon (lemons are never used in Vietnamese cuisines).

Thap Ba Vietnamese Restaurant - Iced Tea

We started with their Hot Wings which were deep-fried chicken wings dosed in hot sauce.

Thap Ba Vietnamese Restaurant - Hot Wings

The Hot Wings arrived piled up like a pyramid. It doesn’t take much effort, but the little details do show the care and pride they have in their food. The skin was very crispy, likely helped by a little dusting with flour before frying. Inside, the meat was moist and juicy thanks to the sizeable pieces used. Cost may be a little more than Wing Wednesday wings (often tiny and dried out), but the size and quality makes up for it. The wings were plenty covered with hot sauce, but did not overwhelm our palates. More importantly, despite being soaked in hot sauce, the skin remained crispy.
Read More

Astha Fine Indian Cuisine (Red Deer, AB) – Vindaloo and Curry in No Hurry!

One of the great things about Red Deer is the number of East Indian restaurants available which as of this post totals to 5 (4 restaurants and 1 food court outlet).

Astha Fine Indian Cuisine, situated in the northwest side of Red Deer, was recommended by a co-worker of mine so I made the drive out for dinner one day.

The plaza has many other restaurants which means that if the food isn’t good enough, no restaurant will survive long.

Astha Fine Indian Cuisine

Inside, the restaurant was dark with windows available on one side only so to make do, lighted boxes were added to another side to create the illusion of another wall facing the outside. The actual windows themselves were covered with hues of blue to red drapes.

Astha Fine Indian Cuisine Interior

Astha Fine Indian Cuisine - Drapes

Astha Fine Indian Cuisine - Decor 1

Astha Fine Indian Cuisine - Decor 2

The menu cover was elegant, consistent with the table setting and the interior decor.

Astha Fine Indian Cuisine - Menu

Astha Fine Indian Cuisine - Table Setting

Astha Fine Indian Cuisine - Water

My wife ordered the Lamb Curry which was described as a traditional flavored gravy in an onion and tomato base.

Astha Fine Indian Cuisine - Lamb Curry

It arrived steaming hot, full of lamb chunks. It tasted different than the lamb curries that we had in the past. It had mild heat, but seen to have a stronger onion tone than we were used to. Speaking to the owner, we learned that every Indian makes their curry slightly differently and can vary through the regions of India as well. The lamb itself was tender and delicious without the gamey aftertaste that lamb can be often times.
Read More