On Wednesday evening, droves of hungry people could be seen wandering all over Vancouver’s West End with maps clutched tightly in hand. No, it wasn’t an invasion of tourists, but rather participants of Vancouver Foodster’s latest edition of Tasting Plates YVR.
The event, which provides tastings at participating restaurants in one area of town, featured seven stops this time ranging from a wine shop to a Moroccan eatery.
Guests first registered at Marquis Wine Cellars to pick up their stamp cards needed to gain access to each venue. Staff poured samples of Merlot and Chardonnay-Viognier while people mingled before heading off to explore the nearby restaurants in any order they chose.
Stop 1: Morocco West (795 Jervis St.)
Morocco West represented my first sampling of Moroccan food. The executive chef, Nourdine Majdoubi, grew up in the region and has created an eclectic fusion-style menu. The set plate included two pieces of Moroccan bread, topped with hummus and zaalouk (pureed eggplant/tomato), a chermoula-marinated prawn tasting of herbs, spices and lemon, and a savoury samosa filled with merguez sausage.
Stop 2: PappaRoti (1505 Robson St.)
The Asian coffee shop chain PappaRoti recently opened its first store in North America on Robson. They were serving their signature coffee bun with a side of labeneh cream cheese and kaya (coconut jam), and a choice of espresso, honeyberry organic iced tea — I chose this option, which was not overly sweet with a rooibos flavour — and kara ginger milk tea.
Stop 3: Buckstop (833 Denman St.)
The only barbecue joint on the list, their motto is “Eat, meat, repeat.” That’s exactly what we did with a deliciously smoky house-made sausage, and an autumn slaw that was peppery with just a bite of spiciness.
Stop 4: SPAGHeTei (1741 Robson St.)
This was originally supposed to be one of the first stops, but there was a huge line up earlier on in the evening at this Japanese establishment that puts an eastern spin on traditional spaghetti. With two of four tasting items offered at random, we were given a generous portion of mentaiko (seafood) and barayaki (beef) noodles served with a slice of garlic bread topped with a spinach sauce.
Stop 5: Milestones Denman (1210 Denman St.)
Located at the very popular corner of Beach Avenue and Denman Street, the casual fine dining chain had an elaborate Tasting Plate menu for visitors. A surprisingly spicy but tasty roasted poblano soup was the appetizer to the halibut main done with a smoked tomato ragu and Serrano crème sitting atop a quinoa pilaf. A glass of Dreaming Tree Chardonnay accompanied the meal.
Unfortunately due to time constraints and large crowds, we didn’t make it to the last two destinations of Pizza Fabrika (1680 Robson St.) or Oollo Tea at the West End General Store Popup (990 Nicola St.) That might have been a good thing since it was unlikely I would have been able to eat another bite. The next Tasting Plates is on Sept. 23 in the West Vancouver Neighbourhood.