Tag Archives: review

Fighting for the Iron Throne

A Game of Thrones is one of my new favourite board games. I played two quick games last night, and I’m hooked. (And by quick, I mean they only lasted 90 minutes instead of the expected 3 hours.)

Now this game isn’t for everyone, you have to enjoy deep strategy games and knowing the difference between a Lannister and Stark definitely adds to the experience. Once you figure out all the rules (warning: there’s a lot), the game play is lots of fun.

A Game of Thrones reminds me of Diplomacy (especially being able to support other players in battle), but doesn’t suffer from the grinding paralysis that every game of Diplomacy I’ve played devolves into. All of the games elements – alliances, secret orders, leaders with special powers, warfare, and power and influence tracks – really complement each other well and create a complex, but extremely fun experience.

I did well in both games we played, as House Greyjoy in a 4-player match and Baratheon in a 3-player game. Ultimately I lost to rapidly advancing opponents from Baratheon and Stark. I can’t wait to play again in a full 6-player match, and see what House Tyrell and Martell have to offer.

The only game play problems we ran into was it was too easy for Baratheon to take over neutral territories in the 3-player game. And in both games, the uneven distribution of Muster and Supply cards screwed us over (all mustering in the first game and none in the second).

Tap and Barrel – Vancouver’s Newest and Possibly Best Patio

Best Patio in Vancouver
The Olympic Village is abuzz, and it isn’t (exclusively) because of the pretty ladies collecting food scraps. The newest restaurant/pub, Tap and Barrel, is open (at least for a soft-launch) and it has the best patio in Vancouver.

Yesterday, the restaurant opened without any advertising, but the word quickly spread throughout the village and soon the place was packed. The main floor of the restaurant looks like a sports bar, with a large outdoor patio. Upstairs is more restaurant seating with a great balcony overlooking False Creek. The patio and balcony have great views and get sunshine for most of the day. This is the patio that Vancouver has been longing for.
Enjoying a Beer on Tap and Barrel Patio

The beer and wine selection is excellent. We tried a few yesterday and I can recommend the 4 Fruit Ale and Whiskey Jack Ale. As for food, I was a bit disappointed in the vegetarian and vegan selection. There is only one vegan menu item, the avocado fritters, which were good, but not enough to keep us coming back for dinner. Even the yam fries are smothered in marshmallow fluff. Granted, most pubs lack vegan options, but I had high hopes for Tap and Barrel after seeing pictures of vegan chili dogs on their Facebook page.
Avocado Fritters

Pre-Opening Menus:
Tap and Barrel Pre-Opening Wine Menu Tap and Barrel Pre-Opening Menu

More Pictures:
Continue reading Tap and Barrel – Vancouver’s Newest and Possibly Best Patio

The Acorn – Vancouver’s Newest Vegetarian Restaurant

Cacao dessert at The Acorn
Yes, yes, yes! Vancouver finally has an upscale vegetarian restaurant, with excellent food and great service – The Acorn. And it’s conveniently dangerously located on Main Street and King Edward, the epicentre of several great restaurants including Grub and The Reef.

A few months ago, I was excited when the Yew added a vegan menu – it was good but I wasn’t blown away by the food. I’m happy to report that The Acorn sets the bar for vegetarian fine dining in Vancouver. The quality of the food reminded me of Candle 79 in New York.

We tried the Strawberry and Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho, the Braised Oyster Mushrooms, the Zucchini Tagliatelle, and the Ginger Cacao Cake. All of the dishes were great. The gazpacho was light and flavourful. The mushrooms were perfectly seared and served with grilled asparagus. The zucchini tagliatelle is a raw pasta dish with a fabulous tomato sauce. I’ve had raw pasta dishes at several restaurants, and it’s often boring, but this was really tasty with a great texture. The only thing we weren’t wowed by was the sangria.

Most of the dishes at Acorn are vegan or have vegan options. Impressively there isn’t a single tofu dish on the menu, but there are a few gluten-free and raw options. The portions sizes were perfect – small enough that I could comfortably enjoy an entree and split an appetizer and dessert. The food is expensive compared to most vegetarian restaurants ($16-19 for entrees), but it was good value for the quality of the food. Our bill for 2 people, with 1 appetizer, 2 mains, 1 dessert, and 4 drinks was $80 plus tip. Not bad for some of the best vegan food I’ve eaten in Vancouver.

My only suggestion to The Acorn is get more bike racks. The two bike racks in front of the restaurant were rammed.

More pictures (including pictures of the menu) from Scout Magazine, and a review:
IMG_3137 IMG_3172 IMG_3149

The Acorn on Urbanspoon

Vancouver International Film Festival 2010 Reviews

The Vancouver International Film Festival is over, but I thought I’d post quick reviews for the 6 movies I watched.

Tamara DreweTamara Drewe – The movie I was most reluctant to see, but the one I enjoyed the most. A British chick-flick that was smart and witty. The romantic comedy bits were either over-the-top funny or refreshingly intelligent. Hardly any clich├ęd content. Probably the funniest movie I’ve seen all year.

City of Life City of Life – Remember the movie Crash? A portrait of several people of different racial and economic backgrounds intertwining in a dramatic plot. This was the same movie, but set in Dubai. Not that that is a bad thing. It was an extremely interesting and entertaining portrait of life in one of the craziest and interesting cities in the world.

Back to the GardenBack to the Garden, Flower Power Comes Full Circle – An interesting documentary about hippies in Eastern Washington. The film maker tracked down a bunch of hippies he had met in the 80s to see what they were up to today, and surprisingly found most were still living the hippy-life. It was about 15 minutes too long, but fascinating.

Leave Them LaughingLeave Them Laughing – An inspiring story of a woman who deals with ALS with a wicked sense of humour. Watching a woman who’s health is rapidly deteriorating, but who is handling the situation the best she can (often with crude jokes), was both tragic and inspiring.

Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie - press photoForce of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie – A biography of environmentalist and scientist David Suzuki, who really has had a fascinating life. It was an interesting summary of everything he’s experienced (being shipped off to a Japanese internment camp to hosting the Nature of Things), but I was looking for something more inspirational. He did a great job answering the Q&A afterwards, but I wanted to see more of his ideas in the film.

Die 4 RevolutionThe 4th Revolution – Energy Autonomy – A slickly produced documentary on solutions that will allow us to transition from a fossil-fuel based economy to a renewable energy economy in the next 20 years. The film is a series of vignettes focusing on the politicians, scientists, business leaders, and inventors who are leading the way and the technologies that are already available and being used around the world. Because it was a series of short (around 3-5 minutes per person) clips, it did lack depth, but there were some really interesting bits. The person who fascinated me the most was Hermann Scheer, a German politician who champions renewable energy. He had some interesting quotes about how the greatest challenge isn’t technological or social, it is overcoming giant, multinational oil companies who are paralysing people by convincing us that the transition to renewable energy is impossible in the next 50 years.

Restaurant Review: Loving Hut

Pamela Anderson Peta Ad

Inspired by Pamela Anderson’s banned PETA ad and Jennifer’s recent post, Emily and I went to Loving Hut for dinner. Loving Hut is a new(ish) restaurant in Vancouver that offers a completely vegan menu. There are a lot of vegetarian restaurants in Vancouver, but none of them celebrate veganism and vegetarianism like Loving Hut does. One wall of the restaurant is a shrine to famous vegetarians, with pictures of celebrities from Albert Einstein to Shania Twain.

The menu at Loving Hut specializes in items that vegans cannot normally eat, like pizza, poutine, nachos, and nuggets. I’m used to eating at non-vegetarian restaurants with only a few veggie options, so I often find vegetarian menus overwhelming. We decided to try a few items that seemed unique – pizza, nachos, and nuggets. That might not sound unique, but we don’t eat at McDonalds and it is rare to find vegan items at most restaurants.

I’ve never had vegan nachos before, and I was impressed. The nachos came with lots of toppings, including vegan cheese which tasted authentic and kept my stomach happy, and was served with fresh salsa, guacamole, and fake source cream. The pizza was made with spelt flour (a treat for Emily who avoids wheat), and came with really good fresh toppings. The nuggets tasted good, but never having had chicken nuggets I don’t have much to compare to. For dessert, we had a huge piece of vegan, flour-less, chocolate cake which was big enough for two to share.

We really enjoyed our dinner, but wished we would order some more vegetables. The next time we go to Loving Hut I’m looking forward to trying the spring rolls, nature’s wrap, and maybe the poutine.

Loving Hut on Urbanspoon