Food for Thought

A review of two of Vancouver's tasty restaurants.

The Cascade Room

2616 Main Street
Review by Candice Harvey

The Cascade Room is a hipster hotspot without the attitude. Funky handmade lampshades are strung from a ceiling decorated with wallpaper that stretches to the floor. The dim lighting and intimate table settings give the restaurant a warm atmosphere.

The drink menu is impressive, with an extensive list of cocktails, beer and wine, all at very reasonable prices. The overwhelmed look on my face prompted the server to kindly suggest a few of her favourites. I settled for a glass of local pinot noir.

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Calamari

The dinner menu is less notable, with only a few dining options; however, most items are locally sourced. The seafood, which comprises half the menu, is Ocean Wise certified, a verification that food is farmed or caught in a way that ensures the stability of fisheries.

I opted for the crisp calamari as a starter and the spinach-stuffed lamb for dinner, while my friend ordered the halibut. Both entrees were priced under $22. The calamari came out quickly, but unfortunately the large rings were too oily, even with a tasty roasted red pepper and smoked paprika aioli to dip them in.

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Spinach-stuffed lamb.

The main courses were artfully presented, but disappointment arose when we dug in. My stuffed lamb came with red rice soaked in sun-dried tomato and olive sauce. The rice was seasoned to perfection; however, too many olives spread across my plate made the meal a tad too salty. The lamb was on the dry side, but its spinach stuffing introduced some much needed balance. The halibut was far more appealing, cut thick to retain its juices and perched on a pile of dauphine potatoes. Green beans, streaky bacon and clams complemented the fish.

The Cascade Room is visually appealing and inviting. Menu items are reasonably priced, though ours could have used more attention from the chef. It’s the affordable, creative drink list as well as the warm atmosphere that will make me return for a second visit.

Controversial Kitchen

1420 Commercial Drive
Review by Jordan Petryk

*Controversial Kitchen has since closed down after this review was written.

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Controversial Kitchen, located in the heart of the Drive, is a restaurant that keeps ethical practices in mind. The restaurant has a welcoming, open environment with an eclectic, organic feel. The plants on every table, the mismatched furniture and the vintage chandeliers charm patrons and passers-by alike. The rich smell of home cooking lingers in the air.

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Peruvian eggs
As stated on the kitschy menus hanging on the wall, Controversial Kitchen has dining options for both herbivores and omnivores. The two items I had the chance to taste, the Peruvian eggs and the breakfast sandwich, were refreshingly rustic and very amply portioned. The Peruvian eggs sat on a bed of rice with yams and pickled cabbage. Being a “hot-sauce-aholic” and preferring bold, robust flavours, I found the dish to be a little bland. The breakfast sandwich consisted of scrambled eggs with pickled cabbage, parsley, onions, celery, and roasted pork wrapped in a piece of naan bread. Similar to the Peruvian eggs, the sandwich lacked flavour; however, individuals with a milder palate may find it pleasing. Overall, the healthy fare revitalized me.

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Breakfast sandwich

In 2008, Barbara Schellenberg opened her first restaurant, Ethical Kitchen, in North Vancouver. Barbara and her sister Fiona decided to team up for the ethical culinary adventure that is Controversial Kitchen. The controversy stems from Barbara’s assertion that serving meat can be ethical, an idea many people do not ascribe to. The sisters only serve meat and poultry from their parents’ biodynamic south-central BC farm. The Schellenbergs’ grass-fed meat is also available just down the road at Drive Organics.

Controversial Kitchen will charm you with its decor and friendly staff, intrigue you with its philosophy and leave you feeling healthy and satisfied. It is a comfortable place where you could spend hours meeting with friends or enjoying a good book. The food is healthy and it’s good to know you’re supporting a local and independent restaurant serving food that has been treated right on its way to your plate.