Monday, January 21, 2019

Breakfast Table

Breakfast Table Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato I was initially going for a Dine Out Vancouver 2019 brunch on Sunday, but my friend and I instead detoured to Breakfast Table. A smallish but apparently popular place, it still had a line-up at almost 2 PM, but it was quite short and the wait time was maybe around 15 minutes. You can leave your name and number with them and get notified by a text message when your table is ready -- Handy!

Apple Cinnamon Roti - $6 feature of the day
  • Roti wrapping cinnamon-dusted apples.
  • While the roti is nicely done as roti go, it is not special or flavoured so this is actually a very boring dish and not especially tasty. What you see is what you get and adding maple syrup still won't elevate it into anything special.
  • Nothing really wrong or bad here except that there are more interesting things to order at the Breakfast Table. Recommend you pass.
NEXT JEN gluten free vanilla bean waffle - $9.75; organic ground millet, brown rice, coconut milk, house made coconut yogurt whip, maple syrup
  • As far as gluten-free waffle taste and texture go, this is a winner. It is so close to "normal" dough that you probably wouldn't know you were going gluten-free.
  • That coconut yogurt whip has an interesting yogurt tang to it that makes it more interesting than your usual sweet glob atop a waffle. If you want sweetness you can then control it with the maple syrup freely available at the table -- but if you use too much you'll mask any coconut subtlety in this dish. Maple syrup a bit on the watery side but still very sweet so taste it first before drowning your plate.
  • Overall a bit plain and uninteresting especially for $9.75 unless you can't get a reasonable gluten free waffle elsewhere. Pass and get something more interesting.
Chicken Karaage Hash - $15.25; two eggs, sesame seed, nori, Sweet Ass Chili Sauce
  • Usually when I see "hash" I think diced potato golden-browned into hash but here we get largish chunks of mixed roots in what adds up to a rather filling bowl that's fair value at $15.25.
  • Chicken is really good. Enough crisp to it plus the use of seaweed adds an interestingness to it.
  • If you are a lighter eater, you might want to partner up with a friend and together share this with an appetizer so you won't over-order. Taking a doggy bag home with you is allowed.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Yelp Elite Event - Blaze Pizza (Downtown Vancouver)

Blaze Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato I got lucky and scored an invitation to try Blaze Pizza at their downtown Granville street location at a Yelp Elite Event. It was a warm no-pressure invitation to try their pizza and process and have a good look around.

Blaze Pizza operates sort of like a Subway sandwich shop: You tell them what you want and you follow them down the counter as they assemble it. They pop it into the open and a few minutes later it's ready for an optional finishing touch (like a drizzle of balsamic glaze) and you pick up your order.
In between there's a lot of customization available, like more or less or extra toppings and slight touches like a sprinkle of sea salt before it goes into the oven.

They try to make it easy with fixed pricing, and it's all the no-cost little extras like the finishing touches that gives the pizza a touch of class and personalization. Whether that's worth money to you depends on how you see pizza. If you think of it as super-cheap stuff-your-face at a couple dollars per mega-slice, then Blaze isn't going to be for you. Try Romano's just a couple storefronts down.

When they are super busy, like the Yelp Event was, if you DON'T want an extra be sure to state it carefully and watch them closely. It's too late once they've added it. For example, after they built my pizza they asked if I wanted a bit of sea salt or some spice on it. I guess everyone before me just asked for both so even though I asked only for sea salt they put both on it. It's a side effect of their assembly line process so if it's a big deal to you, stick close to them.

There are a lot of differences between Blaze Pizza and "regular" pizza.
  • The dough is thin in the Neapolitan pizza style (but obviously this is not traditional Neapolitan).
  • There is remarkable consistency with the dough as they use a press to basically cookie-cutter each one out into a set but not-yet-cooked shape.
  • Although it is "fast fired" in the style of a Neapolitan pizza, their oven does not seem to produce the same bubbling -- and extensive burning -- that the process can do to a pizza. Not uncommonly a wood fired oven can see literally blackened charring on the bottom of a pizza but the process here seems to have avoided that. Slight blackened charring at the edges of the pizza is sliced off before it is given to the customer.
  • They spread the toppings almost to the edge. Combined with a thin crust there's very little filling bread to go around. Which depending on your personal preference can be a positive. Personally I've seen AYCE pizza deals where people literally just eat the toppings off and leave the bread part behind like a mound of empty pizza shells. This sort of blatant cheating for AYCE is probably the reason they aren't that easy to find at a cheap price anymore.
  • Aside: Curiously, the dough is very, very, white.
They aim to get you in and out in 30 minutes and have an app (with loyalty program) to help move things along similar to the Starbucks app where you order en route and just walk in and pick up. From the time I placed my order to the time I picked up my pizza, it took about 14 minutes (yes, I secretly timed them).

Gluten free crust is available and not only does the dough look different but they distinguish it with a red coloured tray. Other than that I did not see any effort to isolate it and avoid contamination -- so if you are very sensitive to gluten you'll want to be very careful here and state it up front to see if they can accommodate you.
The gluten-free crust is extremely thin, apparently even thinner than their regular dough. As you can see from the pictures of the pizza I ordered there's barely anything there at all when you look at it from the side. So...
  • If you are worried about the taste and texture of the dough -- don't be. You're unlikely to taste and experience anything other than the ingredients.
  • If you can tolerate a little bit of regular dough, you might want to pass on the extra $2 for the crust.
They have other small bites like their "dough knots" (pizza dough with pesto) and cookies. Pass. Really. Stick to the pizza.

For the half pizza I ordered -- the Red Vine signature -- it was OK. These thin-crust Neapolitan style pizzas always look skimpy on ingredients and you don't get the same homogenous distribution with minced up ingredients so, for example, not every bite will have tomato. If that's not the style of pizza for you, if you want more filling bites or your buck, then go for a North American style pizza and not something from the old country.
Maybe especially because it's thin-crust and overall a very thin pizza, you really want to eat it right away as it gets cold really fast.