Whistler Weekend - Part Two and El Furniture Warehouse

After lunch (well, I guess that was brunch) we got a text that we could check-in at the lovely Whistler Hilton.
I'm not in a position to comment on room rates (thanks again to Berts Electric) but we were certainly comfortable and the hotel proved pandemic conscious as things were spotless and hand sanitizer was readily available. Amazingly the pool was open but with social distancing measures which made the whole thing more complicated than we cared to endure. Still, for those fully invested, at least it was available.
Another new reality is the 2 person (or your family unit) per elevator rule which is sensible but means a bit of a wait sometimes. Be patient! BTW, while we're on the subject (and we're not really) I have become a little more religious about mask-wearing of late. Partly this is because I believe the medical professionals when they tell us it will help slow the spread of this thing and partly in order to set an example and make others comfortable.  When I walk into a space and others are wearing masks, I feel less like a nerd and comfortable that there are like-minded people around me. Also, if masks provide protection to others more so than to ourselves, then so be it. The greatest joy in life comes from serving others so put mask-wearing under that heading. You can put tax-paying under that heading too if you feel like you are paying more than your fair share. Contrary to popular belief selflessness is not terrible.
After checking in, we did what one does in Whistler, namely, walk around. Soon we came upon the Audain Art Museum which I had completely forgotten about! At $20 per adult, this turned out to be my favourite thing that we did this weekend and an affordable cultural distraction. Our tour started with a visit to Michael Audain's mask connection which is more than a little impressive. You may have seen some of his masks at the Vancouver Art Gallery. We learned at Vancouver, that Michael talks to his masks but we didn't get the impression that it was problematic!
The next room housed a collection of more than 2 dozen Emily Carrs. I am far from an artist or even a connoisseur of art but I find myself able to look at some of her paintings with appreciation and admire her choices of subjects. I wanted to post some pictures of them here but I got worried that there might be some copyright stuff that I didn't know about. So you have to go!
The masks and the ECs are only the beginning. Allow a couple of hours if you can and go get cultured! Before long we found ourselves feeling peckish and went in search of comestibles! We ended up putting our name in at El Furniture Warehouse upon the recommendation of a fellow Berts person and having wandered past Vancouver locations of the same restaurant group. I admit a certain fascination with the all items $5.95 concept, being more than a bit of a cheap ass.
We got the text much sooner than we expected but had not wandered too far. We were seated inside which was preferable to out in the sun as far as we were concerned (I was getting burned a bit already wandering around being a pasty white guy!).  I told our server that we intended to order too much food and we did so.
Everything arrived at once of course so we were suitably embarrassed about being pigs but we persevered! You get what you pay for is a familiar adage so we were prepared for mundanity but got some nice surprises.
The Crispy Salt and Pepper Wings were as advertised. Crispy and tasty! We added the blue cheese and veggies for a buck which was not a hardship wallet wise and hey!...you have to have blue cheese with your wings!
Definitely a very good Ceasar Salad, this one has a roasted corn salsa and avocado. If you want to add chicken or beef for a couple of bucks, you will have a whole meal here. We enjoyed this also.
We also got some pleasure out of the Warehouse Crispy Mac n Cheese. Sturdy cavatappi noodles and lots of cheese with some Alfredo sauce and other crispy stuff, this was great!
Slightly sliding downhill, the Calamari had completely missed the salting when it came out of the fryer step. If that had not happened, this would have been great also. It was served with tzatziki which saved the thing.
The Works Burger was not great. Definitely a frozen patty, we kind of got a 7-11 taste from the beef which could not be overcome by the bacon and cheese etc. We upgraded to Onion Rings for a couple of bucks which was a good move. They came with a Maple-Sriracha glaze. Very good. Avoid the burger, order the O rings.
We enjoyed our time at EFW despite the food up and downs. The music was thumping and we had the option of watching skateboard impressiveness on the tv monitors (and a few catastrophes). Social distancing was maintained with intermediate tables reserved for inflatable dolls (I know, right?) Our server was friendly but fairly busy also and a little distracted  (all I wanted was water).
Food 3 out of 5
Service 3 out of 5
Comfort 4 out of 5 (just a fun place)
El Furniture Warehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eating in Whistler is a bit of a crapshoot. Of course, there are some great restaurants but not everyone wants to spend a fortune. There are decent prices to be found without resorting to McD's however. Do some research. After a little rest back at our Hilton, we went out for a walk in the beautiful evening and were proud of ourselves for not crashing out at 10 like we usually do.
Stay tuned for Part 3 which is basically some more sightseeing and a wonderful lunch on the way home!

Whistler Weekend - Part One and Stonesedge Kitchen

Thanks to management at Berts Electric for picking up the tab for accommodations this weekend in Whistler! They gave a bunch of us some options either in Vancouver or Whistler for this or last weekend for a brief staycation. And so, Whistler was overrun by electricians this Saturday and Sunday! Marie and I got a semi-early start by hitting the road at 8. We made the same first stop that we always make at Shannon Falls.
We were early enough to actually get a parking spot at Shannon so we decided to try again at Alice Lake. Previous visits only resulted in driving around the parking lot with a lot of other vehicles all hoping for someone to leave. We got lucky again and were able to take a walk around and see this popular spot.
It would be a nice spot to spend the day picnicking, paddling, swimming and hiking. The key in both places is getting there early to get parking. There were already masses of people at the lake but we found that family groups were distancing themselves well and we didn't see any kind of irresponsible behaviour. It's almost like we finally get it!
We got to Whistler, parked at our hotel (too early to check-in but it's nice to leave the car and walk), and went looking for lunch. We put our name in at Stonedge Kitchen but they assured us that the wait would be about 45 minutes and our blood sugar was already dangerously low! 
So we made a quick stop to replenish at Hundo-P, a smoothie specialist located (albeit well hidden ) next to The Whistler Grocery Store at Village Square. One of my top three favourite things this weekend is the reusable bamboo straw for a buck that we got with this tasty smoothie. The Tropical Green Ninja is pineapple, coconut, spinach, chia, almond milk and orange juice. Not cheap but worth it at $9. Pretty well a meal by itself but Marie and I shared it.
We got seated at Stonesedge Kitchen at 12:45. We loved our shady outside table with a view of the lane called Golfer's Approach. To our surprise lunch does not begin until 1:30! Mate, if you are interested in breakfast at 12:45, you need to get up earlier in the day! So a couple of bennies at $21 each would have to suffice because we didn't want to wait 45 minutes somewhere else. This is the way of the world now (long waits) and Whistler is not renowned for dining bargains so we soldiered on.
First was the Smoked Salmon Benny which was as you would expect. A couple of nicely poached eggs, some lox and hollandaise on a croissant (that was nice) a potato medley and a branch of fried kale. Not bad, the potatoes were good. 
Next up was the Notorius P.I.G. 2.0 Benny, a rather grand name for a not overly impressive dish. Identical to the previous but with some bacon, back bacon, bacon and onion jam and chimichurri. None of these was in great abundance and, to be honest, I forgot to look for and identify the jam. While the food arrived slowly and was not impressive for the price, eating on the patio was nice and our hosts could not have been friendlier. 
The interior of SK is also warm and inviting and would be a great place to kick back during the ski season.
Still, we are kind of here for the food. I expect Whistler to be expensive but even though I thought I had vetted this place, we were a little disappointed. 
Food 2 1/2 out of 5 
Service 3 out of 5 (friendly servers, slow kitchen)
Comfort 4 1/2 out of 5 (lovely location)

Stonesedge Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Stayed tuned for Whistler part 2 as we visit the Audian Art Museum. This is my number one recommended thing to do in Whistler.

Wooden Spoon Brunch & Bistro

We're not huge brunch people. For the most part, I always feel like loading up with a lot of generally weighty foods in the morning is not my favourite thing. Also, we have been toying with intermittent fasting and feel pretty good about it. I generally sneer at food fads and diet fads but so far, it feels like some legitimate nutritional science people have been favourable (i.e. not your health food store publications people or others who promote supplements and BS). Today though, we found ourselves at the Wooden Spoon Brunch and Bistro in White Rock not far from 16th ad 152nd and we did not regret it!
Inside, we found that the staff are doing an excellent job with the whole socially distancing thing. They were all masked up and diners were well spaced out. There was a bit of a wait. We agreed to sit at the bar to save a few minutes off our wait time but I don't recommend that you do this. It is a fine bar for having a drink but awkward and uncomfortable for eating. Be smart and make an online reservation.
From the heading "Cast Iron Crushables", we tried a SoCal which not surprisingly, arrived in cast iron which was very hot! This was a really excellent dish of pulled chicken, roasted potatoes and a lot of melty, stretchy cheese! Some nice country gravy, assorted other tasty items and a couple of beautiful sunny side up eggs with Hollandaise made this a thing of beauty. Not the easiest thing to eat, especially at our high bar stool seating, we both made an effort not to get cheese all over our faces. Delicious!
We also had the Sweet and Salty. The star of this show was house-made brioche, thickly cut and loaded up with aged cheddar! Thick cut bacon, a couple of poached eggs, Hollandaise and a drizzle of maple syrup rounded out the offering. Again, we were impressed and Marie especially liked the sweet finish of it.
The menu to my eyes initially seemed a little pricy but the quality and the quantity (we came close but did not quite finish) revealed some decent value. We had great French press coffee as well. So make a reservation and don't sit at the bar. The folks here were friendly but to be honest, the food took a while (this may be interpreted and evidence of scratch cooking). There are a lot of nice-looking choices on this menu including some vegetarian (can be vegan) meals. 
Food 4 out of 5
Service 4 out of 5
Comfort 3 out of 5
Wooden Spoon Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Loz Takos Urban Tacqueria

I guess all the other spellings were taken? I dropped by here during the Vanfoodster Taco Challenge but found LT closed (there was no way to find that out...no web site message, no phone message etc.) which kind of annoyed me but what are you gonna do? Here I am, some weeks later, in the area, so I decided to try again and what do you know!
Can you tell that this used to be a Taco del Mar? Anyway, even though it is not Tuesday (whose idea was that?) I decided to check them out. Pretty quiet at 4:30 on a Wednesday so I was not in fear of infection but they seem to have their social distancing game in order and four tacos for $12 is not unreasonable.
I tried 4 different tacos; Chorizo with Potatoes which was probably my favourite because you don't see it offered commonly. The Tinga Vegetables were also good and while they weren't too exotic, at least LT has a vegetarian option. Complete with a couple of corn tortillas some onion and cilantro and assorted optional toppings, these were all decent tacos.
Corn Mexican style has become one of my favourite new things. Not that it's so new but I am just discovering it! Not sure what the cheese was. Cojita would be the first choice but it may have been feta. With a little sour cream and some spice, it is a creamy tasty side.
Black beans too. Nothing too fancy here. I just like them.
Finally, another pleasant surprise, a churro. Actually, I think that they call them Churritos and they are just the right size.
Their slogan here is, "We don't make fast food. We Mexican street food as fast as we can."
I think that they do a pretty good job. Times have changed since the days when Taco Time was the only game in town.
Food 4 out of 5
Service 4 1/2 out of 5
Comfort 3 1/2 out of 5.
Loz Takos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lunch Lady

We knew that there would be a line up to get in as there has been some serious hype over the opening of Lunch Lady on Commercial Drive (even though the opening was 2 weeks ago). The hype relates to the connection of the original Lunch Lady and Anthony Bourdain's admiration of her work ethic and wonderful daily soups that she prepared and sold on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. The Tran family have licenced the name (probably the wrong term) and Mrs Nguyen Thi Thanh (the original lunch lady) has even come to consult on the menu at the new outpost! So expectations have been running high, and we were not disappointed.
Our intention was to arrive for opening at 11 on Sunday but somehow we arrived at 20 minutes before. That was a good thing as there were already a dozen people in line and eventually another dozen behind us. Planned as a 50 seat restaurant, COVID has curtailed that somewhat but with careful planning and clever use of plexiglass, they are still seating at least 3 dozen. We were quickly seated in an orderly socially distant manner after the doors opened.
The manager Jean ended up making recommendations and taking our order which worked out well for us! I get the impression that most tables are cared for as a group effort as there were frequently staff members checking on our needs. Very nice! We started with the Crispy Prawn Fritter. These were crispy as advertised and even the prawn itself with munchable and tasty without needing to be peeled. The hot sauce on the side (Sriracha straight up? or with a small twist?) was a perfect accompaniment. The fritters were maybe just a bit on the oily side but I'm not convinced that was a bad thing.
The Bahn Mi Op La arrived on 2 plates which made it a little messier than the usual bahn mi but it was kind of fun! The bread was the ultimate bahn mi bread, crispy on the outside and pillowy on the inside. I saw it arriving as we were in line outside but the supplier is a closely guarded secret! So take a piece of bread and dip it in soft egg yolk with a bit of house-made delicious pate or house-cured pork belly or Vietnamese ham. Some sauteed onions and Laughing Cow cheese were also available on the side. This was great!
Finally came the soup of the day (a la the original Lunch Lady), Mi Vit Tiem. The slow-braised duck was ridiculous. I took a knife to share the meat with my partner but it fell to pieces. I have never had duck that was so tender and tasty and I know that it can be a challenging item to cook. It was amazing. The broth was likewise the work of a dialled-in chef. Perfect with just a hint of 5 spice! Complete with my favourite kind of noodles and some greens, we were so impressed!
I have already commented in this space that diners should not rush but neither should we linger. The viability of restaurants is based on asses in seats and selling soup. At limited capacity, they need to move people through. Certainly, no one rushed us but we feel like we can linger in the nearby park or window shopping. 
Food        5 out of 5 (worth the wait and hype)
Service     5 out of 5 (thanks to Jean and everyone)
Comfort     4 out of 5 (what do we expect sitting next to a necessary plexiglass divider?)

Lunch Lady Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cabizerra Bistro

When I called Cabizerra Bistro, I was surprised to hear that they were not yet open for dine-in service. OK, it's not bad to be cautious and take your time getting back to normal. Our friends south of the 49th are proof of the folly of rushing things. However, when we arrived to order take out (as we have gotten used to doing) we perceived that take out is the normal for CB. There are no tables nor is there room for any. So right off the bat, I'm not sure that "bistro" is the right word here.
Located on 108th and 148th, Cabizerra Bistro is in a little strip mall where 6 of the 7 small businesses are food-related and we have now visited and been impressed with half of them! 
The next perplexing fact about CB is the fact that their all-day breakfasts (silogs) are only available after noon along with a number of other menu items. What was available were prepared steam table type dishes and we were OK with that. A lot of Filipino restaurants serve mostly large family-style dishes so it is difficult for a couple without the whole clan, to try things. Cabizerra has small medium and large take out containers so we were able to try a few things in smaller quantities. This is largely a meat fest so be prepared. I want to apologize in advance to my vegan and vegetarian friends!
Lechon Kewali (deep-fried pork belly) is sold by the piece. A small piece (pictured) is $15 and weighed fully a pound.  It came with Filipino All Purpose Sauce (should be called lechon sauce because that's what it gets used for) which up until a few years ago was made commercially with pork liver but now uses breadcrumbs as a thickener. It is a tasty sweet, onion-vinegar- garlic sauce that could be used on anything if you ask me.
They offered to chop it up for us but I thought the whole piece made an impressive photo. Obviously, we were able to chop it ourselves.
Next up was very good Sisig. The key to success here is crispy bits and just a sprinkling of raw onion for texture. This was some of the best that I've ever tasted (not an expert, however). A nice little kick from chilis never hurts my feeling either.
There were at least 3 items on the steam table that had goat as the main ingredient. Goat is one of the most environmentally friendly meats (in terms of water and energy required ) and as you will see little is wasted. Pictured above is Kalderetta Kambing, a goat stew. This was a medium-sized portion ($12.50) and our server was not cheap about getting as much as she could into the container. This stew could have used a little more in the way of vegetables. That actually strikes me as being the case with all Filipino food. When Marie makes Caldereta there she uses some carrots, potatoes and tomato sauce ( a lot like my Mom's stews). The goat meat was very tender and it is not gamy or challenging as you might guess.
Speaking of challenging...I will never be a fan of Pinapaitan. Marie loves it and at CB it is one of their best sellers! This is another goat dish although you often find it made with beef. It is the dish that includes all the offal and I admire that nothing goes to waste. To be honest, when Marie got me to try the individual bits (gall bladder, lung etc.) they were not too bad. The overall odour of the dish, which is likely intestine related, is just too much for me though. This is a dish that drives me towards vegetarianism but a lot of folks love it!
Finally, and with a bit of overlap, we tried their Lechon Paskiw. This is basically again the lechon with more all-purpose sauce. It is typically how the leftover lechon might be used ina Filipino home. It was a little chewier than the Lechon Kewali (above) but still tasty.
It felt a little expensive (came to around $55) but really, make some rice and vegetables at home and you could easily feed 6 people! We will be eating leftovers for days! The limited menu before noon is a little annoying so don't do what we did. Show up after noon and enjoy some additional choices!
Food 4 1/2 out of 5 (of what was available)
Service 3 out of 5 (because of what was not available although they were very nice and patient with us)
Comfort NA (except that we were comfortable eating at home!)
Cabizerra Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Are you guys eating again? At some point Marie and I became the kind of people who take pictures of everything we eat, whether in a restaura...