Thursday, May 28, 2009

The St. Regis Bar and Grill has a downstairs meeting space

Attended the Vancouver Blogger Meetup tonight at the St. Regis Bar and Grill, with a panel of local well-knowns (Shane Gibson, Raul Pacheco, Raincoaster) talking about social media etiquette and such.

No summary here -- You sort of had to be there to try to make sense of the chaotic conversation and pick out what was relevant for you. Best if you had a question and asked them about what you wanted to know, which someone did at the end, about how to gauge how much time a business should be spend building relationships in social media. Gibson answered it best -- Measure results and compare time and returns (business gained from it) with your other advertising efforts (expect to put in start-up effort of course).

Most curious to me was how a few people professed to not have known of the existence of this lower-floor meeting space, even though they'd been to the street-level St. Regis bar plenty enough times. This "Regis Room" has pictures of historic Vancouver, the kitchen entrance, a big-screen TV, and a small sink/kitchen one one corner. Pretty quiet upstairs for 6pm when we were there, so there wasn't a disruptive stream of comings and goings from the kitchen.

Restaurant recommendations -- Order your own thing

Last time I went dining out on a recommendation was based on a newspaper column. Some kind of latin bakery that sold lots of desserts, but also these supposedly authentic Mexican sandwiches with fresh bread, slices of beef, mayo, and green beans. Sounded bleah, but the reviewer said the combo worked, so I gave it a go. It was bleah (her recommendation for the 3-milk cake turned out fab, though).

Cut to today: My friend Lina recommended La Bretegne Creperie. Said she had the apple, cinnamon, cheese, and sausage crepe and thought it was fab. It was a nice little restaurant, just off busy Robson on subdued Jervis, opposite the Pacific Palisades hotel and a bit squashed between louder storefronts, so you might easily miss it when you walk by. Very friendly and attentive staff when I was there, hours after the lunch crowd and still a couple of hours before any kind of dinner rush from the end of the work day.

I ordered the apple, cinnamon, cheese, and sausage crepe (from the Savoury menu). It was bleah.

Still, it comes highly recommended with thumbs up from many reviewers at DineHere and Yelp, some trumping it over Granville Street's Cafe Crepe, so if you know how to properly evaluate a crepe, you might want to try it out -- Just remember to order what you think you'd like, and not rely on what someone else liked.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Intimate Get-Together at Sip Resto Lounge

Took time out from working on more screenshots (from Dungeon Siege II, to add to my website, The Fantasy Art of Computer Games) tonight to meet up with Yourah at her Young and Adventurous Social Group meet-up at Sip Resto Lounge. We went in just after 7pm, and the place would have been dead if not for a Persian business networking group that grew in size steadily till close to 10pm. They had a photographer nosing about taking shots of the beautiful people, and ubiquitous socialite Francis Hui also made an appearance, which could only mean that this was a big deal.

If you don't already know, all the menu items use booze of some kind. I ordered the beer-battered fries to share, and it came with a generous amount of dip. Very crispy, a little spicy (but not hot) kick to it. No beer flavour, though -- The beer evaporates during the cooking, and is used to make the batter crispier. Definitely not greasy at all, and, like all fries, best when hot. Good fries, but I thought it was a smallish portion for $8.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Special Thanks to Oasis

Donated platelets at the Canadian Blood Services permanent clinic on Oak Street today. Three weeks ago, Oasis juice was giving out FREE 960ml Oasis Classic juice tetra packs to all donors, and they were doing the same today! You can even sample it first, as it's served to all donors after donating either blood or platelets.

Thank you Oasis juice!

Japadog's Okonomi at the Sutton Place Hotel

Japadog (Burrard & Pender) on Urbanspoon

Okay, it's not "at" the Sutton Place Hotel per se, but it's more or less right outside (outside the wine store, actually). I finally got around to trying the fourth of Japadog's four specials, the Okonomi. I was meeting my friend Marcy there for dogs today, and got there shortly after 12:30 pm. One of the four, one of them (the MisoMayo, I think) was already marked SOLD OUT (though I wonder if they had just run out of an ingredient?).

My Okonomi (not listed on their online menu yet) was a nice mix that had a sweet sauce juxtaposed with savory fish flakes precariously sprinkled in a generous quantity on top -- cover your dog on windy days! You might want to duck under the awning nearby to eat your dog without bits flying all over.
Marcy also liked her very first Japadog, the Oroshi. We both declined to try the various optional condiments (such as the popular miso mayo), as we wanted to taste what it was like before possibly ruining it with our experimentation.

Japadog's been around for quite a while, but there's still no one else like them in Vancouver (or if there are, they just aren't big enough a blip to show up on the local eats radar yet). If you're looking for a quick dog on the run, this isn't the place for you. I chatted briefly with a construction worker who paid his money and was standing in line, then fretting about being late for work as he thought it'd go as a fast as a typical hot dog stand where they slap a dog in the bun and hand it to you. He said he ran a hot dog stand for a while, and was certain that at the time you order, Japadog doesn't actually relay what you order. Instead, when you are in line, they ask you what you order and assemble it there. I suppose that's the most practical way when your lineups constantly hover around 7-10 people waiting to order, and a similar number waiting to get their dogs.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

John Chow at Third Tuesday

Went to my very first Third Tuesday Vancouver Meetup put on by NetChick (Tanya Davis) today. The speaker was none other than John Chow -- the John Chow, the blogger Google hates, the blogger who makes $40,000 a month. It was at Republic (958 Granville), and best of all, it was completely free to attend! Check out Third Tuesday Vancouver regularly for more free-to-attend events local to Vancouver (or the Lower Mainland), BC, Canada.

At the talk, John Chow presented the fundamental paradigm shift necessary to have all three of time freedom, financial freedom, and location freedom. What I took away from that talk was a reminder of Robert Kiyosaki's book, Rich Dad Poor Dad:
  • Buy Assets, where Assets are defined as things that make you money without effort from you.
  • Use Time to Create Leverage, instead of trying to do it all yourself, or trading time for money (i.e., working at a job).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Customer Loyalty Program with the Glowbal Group

When I originally wrote a review at Yelp for Sanafir (1026 Granville), I forgot to mention that at the end of the meal, there was a brochure for their current regional menus promotion, and on the bottom of that, a tear-off coupon for a free appetizer at any of the Glowbal Group restaurants. I also filled in the customer survey form, and couple of days later, got a note thanking me -- a note that included yet another tear-off appy coupon!

Tonight I finally got to catch up in person with my friend Charlene, and I decided to invite her to the Italian Kitchen, another of the Glowbal Group of restaurants. They would only accept one coupon, and in exchange gave us the free appy of the day, something apparently everyone who turns in a coupon gets, and something not on the menu -- a pair of Kobe beef meatballs. Very tasty balls and about the size of golf balls.

I let Charlene choose and she got the garlic pizza she'd seen on the online menu (available only as PDFs on their page), and I we agreed to a second order, the bruschetta sampler plate. Food was slightly above passable over all. If you are looking for light meals with what appears to be an authentic historical Italian look, this place is definitely worth a look.

When the bill came, there were three (3) different brochures promoting the Glowbal Group of restaurants -- all of which had tear-off coupons!