Market (Calgary, AB) – Great Oysters and Delectable Duck Tacos

Market Restaurant came to my attention after appearing on Vacay’s Top 50 Restaurants in Canada list. The style looked refreshing and something my wife was in the mood for one Friday evening.

Situated on 17th Avenue among the many popular restaurants in the area, Market blended in well.

Market

Inside, the atmosphere was modern with an open kitchen concept though acoustics were a bit loud due to the crowd.

Market Interior

Market Interior 2

My wife saw raw oysters on the menu and insisted on a half dozen. There were 2 options: traditional or foam and caviar. My wife decided to go with the Foam and Caviar Raw Oysters.

Market - Foam and Caviar Raw Oysters

The raw oysters came on the usual plate of ice. They were fresh with a light brininess. My wife thought the caviar and foam worked well with the oysters as they added more dimensions of flavor. She thought these were better than the past ones that she had and would suggest these over the traditional ones given the same price point.
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Burger Boy (Red Deer, AB) – Burger and Fries, Of Course!

With all the major fast food franchises around, it’s nice to see a small business fast food restaurant still around. With that in mind, I made the short haul to Burger Boy.

Burger Boy

Burger Boy is located centrally, just north of Downtown Red Deer. With ample parking in the parking lot shared with several small businesses, you can spot its sign from as far away as Antique Mall Red Deer.

Burger Boy Sign

Inside, the restaurant had a fast food atmosphere with an upfront counter, behind-the-counter menu, and a vintage McDonald’s-style seating arrangement.

Burger Boy Interior

In view of the immense menu, I stood awhile before deciding on the Moz’n Bacon Boy. Bacon was the key draw for me.

Burger Boy - Moz'n Bacon Boy

The Moz’n Bacon Boy arrived in a classic Red Robin-style red basket, a perfect medium for the atmosphere. Besides the beef patty, mozzarella cheese, and bacon, the burger included shredded lettuce, tomato slices, pickle slices, relish, and what I suspect was thousand Island sauce.
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White Spot (Calgary, AB) – Pirate Pak Day 2014

For people growing up in British Columbia, White Spot was the place to go with family and the words “Pirate Pak” brought out big smiles. Pirate Pak was the ingenious idea of Nat Bailey, founder of White Spot, as a way to cater to kids just like the McHappy Meal. Banking on these childhood memories, White Spot came up with Pirate Pak Day as a way to bring in past customers who grew up with White Spot while supporting a worthwhile charity. On Pirate Pak Day each year, White Spot serves a special version of Pirate Pak for adults (normally for kids 10 and under).

On Pirate Pak Day 2014, which was on August 13th 2014, I decided to head to one of two White Spots in Calgary. The one I went to was north end one near Barlow Trail.

White Spot

The interior of the restaurant reflected the modern cozy trend found in Earl’s, Joey’s, Moxie’s, etc. It certainly wasn’t the casual diner-ish atmosphere from my childhood.

White Spot Interior

White Spot - Pirate Pak Sign

Without even bothering to open the regular menu, I peruse the special Pirate Pak menu. There was a choice of beef and chicken burgers with different toppings. I decided to go with the Bacon Cheddar Bigger Burger which was a 6 oz beef patty topped with hickory smoked bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and Triple “O” sauce. All Pirate Paks include a soft drink (which I was oblivious to), endless fries, creamy coleslaw, a scoop of premium ice cream (chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry), and the famous chocolate coin. Unfortunately, no paper crowns were provided any more.

White Spot - Pirate Pak

White Spot - Pirate Pak Closeup

The Bacon Cheddar Bigger Burger Pirate Pak arrived to my childhood memories’ delight. The colorful paper pirate ship carried the entire meal within its compartments.
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Sura Korean Restaurant (Calgary, AB) – Korean Pancake and Galbi Galore

It’s interesting how we learn about restaurants in the area. Take Sura Korean Restaurant for example. It was suggested to us by a Korean salesman while we were shopping in Calgary. He stated that Sura Korean Restaurant was his go-to place for authentic Korean cuisine.

Sura Korean Restaurant is located north of 16 Avenue, across the street from McDonalds. It has a parking lot so you won’t have any issues with parking.

Sura Korean Restaurant

Inside, the restaurant was surprising big with tables spaciously apart.

Sura Korean Restaurant Interior

As tradition in Korean cuisine, we were served a multitude of Banchan (small plates). These small plates are typically cold dishes which include kimchi, beans, spicy tofu, and various fermented/pickled vegetables.

Sura Korean Restaurant - Banchan

Sura Korean Restaurant - Banchan 1

Sura Korean Restaurant - Banchan 2

Sura Korean Restaurant - Banchan 3

Sura Korean Restaurant - Banchan 4

Sura Korean Restaurant - Banchan 5

Sura Korean Restaurant - Banchan 6

Sura Korean Restaurant - Banchan 7

Sura Korean Restaurant - Banchan 8

My wife wanted to start with the Pajeon which is basically a korean-style savory pancake containing various seafood and green onions. The wall near us had photos of food available and the pajeon shown was what we were used to seeing.
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Flippin Good Crepes (Red Deer, AB) – Finest Crepes in the Red Deer Market

Red Deer Market is one of our favorite places to visit on a lazy weekend. It is always bustling with cheers and laughter. The biggest fans show up bright and early. Unfortunately, not being a morning person, I tend to be a latecomer. Usually, my wife and I would do a few loops around the marketplace and fawn over the many products available, particularly from local farmers.

My wife discovered a love for crepes on one of our visits to the Red Deer Market. The Flippin Good Crepes cart is usually located in the northwest corner, across from the Red Deer Lodge.

Flippin Good Crepes

Flippin Good Crepes - Holy Crepes! Sign

A line-up is expected though it does move pretty quickly. The gentlemen who runs Flippin Good Crepes lives in town, but is a snowbird who hits the south in the winter. I guess this is the perfect business for him to be in.

Flippin Good Crepes - Owner

My wife never orders from the menu, but, instead, requests a Strawberry and Nutella Crepe (standard is banana and nutella) every time. There are savory options too, but my wife likes her crepe as a dessert.

Flippin Good Crepes - Making Crepe

Flippin Good Crepes - Adding Nutella

Crepes may seem simple, but we have had many bad ones that were either too thick, too doughy, or just plain bad. Despite just being a food cart in a Farmer’s Market, Flippin Good Crepes consistently makes the best crepes (gluten-free is available too). Here, they are crispy (my wife requests her crepes to be extra crispy) with just the right touch of sweetness.
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Diner Deluxe (Calgary, AB) – Crispy Potato Pancake and French Toast Goodness

We had our eye on Diner Deluxe ever since we noticed it while visiting OEB Breakfast Company. It is just as busy as OEB Breakfast Company on any given weekend. We decided that we had to see how it compares to their neighboring competition, OEB Breakfast Company, and lined up for the long haul.

Diner Deluxe

It took over an hour and half before we got a table. Inside, the restaurant had a diner atmosphere with license plates, toys, and vintage signs decorating the walls.

Diner Deluxe Interior

Diner Deluxe - Black Cat Sign

Diner Deluxe - License Plates

My wife ordered an Orange Mimosa (not quite the classic breakfast/brunch drink) to start.

Diner Deluxe - Orange Mimosa

After looking over the menu, she decided to have French Toast which were made from Urban Baker’s Dark Chocolate Sourdough bread and topped with a grilled banana. The alternative choice was honey oat bread topped with vanilla bean cream cheese and mixed berries.

Diner Deluxe - French Toast

The French Toast arrived nicely stacked with 2 banana halves on top. It was rather dark, but expected when dark chocolate is added to bread. My wife was surprised that she didn’t like the addition of dark chocolate (she usually likes that type of chocolate) and thought it was overwhelming. However, the nice eggy coating present on every slice of french bread was pleasant and stayed true to the french toast concept. She also appreciated the caramelization on the banana which offered another dimension of flavor.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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