lunch

FOOD | New Menu items at Tractor Foods by Jenn Chan

Tractor Foods

 

When I was a kid the typical salad on the dinner table was iceberg lettuce with Kraft Ranch Dressing, or maybe Kraft Russian Dressing.  For variety it might be Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing on the lettuce with some added croutons.  As you might have guessed my childhood did not engender a fondness for salads in me.  As an adult I am pleased to say that I have found some excellent salads that have managed to turn my salad opinion around.  I will even go so far as to say that these salads qualify, in my opinion, as comfort foods.  This much needed correction to my salad bias is due largely to Tractor, the Everyday Healthy Food restaurants.  A fifth Vancouver location recently opened at 601 West Broadway and that is where we tried some new additions to the menu.

 

The layout of each Tractor location varies but the premise is the same: fresh, nutritious, delicious, locally sourced healthy foods served in a cafeteria style setting.  The Broadway location has patio seating on the large plaza at the corner of Broadway and Ash.  Once inside the line for food starts to the left.  Seeing all the freshly made food and looking at the menu may make you want to order one of everything, and maybe some wine or a craft beer too.  The soups are hearty and the stews satisfyingly filling.  Sandwiches don’t skimp on the fillings and can be ordered half size or whole.

 

Tractor Foods
Tractor Foods
Tractor Foods Menu
Tractor Foods Menu

 

The Everyday Rice Bowl has a base of rice and power greens.  With one market side and grilled avocado and you’ve got a meal for $9.95.  I loved the grilled avocado!  Should you, for some reason, want something other than avocado you can get the Everyday Rice Bowl with tofu or a hard boiled egg instead of avocado.  For a market side I had a kimchi topping.  If you are concerned about the kimchi being spicy you can rest easy, it is a mild type of kimchi that was enjoyable and not tongue searingly spicy.  There is a good choice of market sides so you could have a different Everyday Rice Bowl each day of the week and still have more options for next week.

 

A new mocktail, the Tractor Natural, is light and refreshing to drink.  It has sparkling water, grapefruit juice and rosemary.  It looks and tastes summery and I think quite a few of them will be seen on the patio this summer.

 

New Bowls at Tractor Foods

New Bowls at Tractor Foods

New Mocktail: Tractor Natural

New Mocktail: Tractor Natural

Everyday Bowl: Rice + Power Greens + 1 market side + grilled avo

Everyday Bowl: Rice + Power Greens + 1 market side + grilled avo

 

The Short Rib Bowl has certified Angus Beef Short Rib and adds a second market side to the rice and power greens for a price of $14.50.  We tried it with Mediterranean Couscous (couscous, grilled asparagus, basil, Kalamata olives, radicchio, shredded kale, orange thyme dressing) and Artichokes (artichokes, white beans, napa cabbage, watermelon radish, cannellini beans, parsley, orange balsamic vinaigrette) as the two sides.  However the bitterness of radicchio doesn’t appeal to me so I picked it out of the bowl.  To my taste this made the Mediterranean Couscous much better and I would not hesitate to order it again.  The Artichokes market side was quite good, no quibbles from me.  The beef was tender, moist, mouth wateringly delicious.  A great combo bowl, with that one small caveat.

 

 

Short Rib Bowl

Short Rib Bowl

 

The third new bowl item on the menu we tried was the Wild Coho Salmon Bowl which cost $15.50.  The salmon is Ocean Wise, which means it is an ocean friendly sustainable seafood choice.  The chermoula sauce on the fish was amazing!  Chermoula (aka charmoula, aka charmola) is a marinade that originates in North Africa with variations from Tunisia, Algeria, Libya and Morocco.  The market side with the salmon was equally amazing.  Grilled pears, arugula, candied walnuts, blue cheese dressing.  This is the kind of salad that makes friends easily.  The blue cheese dressing alone could make any salad better.  Maybe even a salad with radicchio.  The thin slices of grilled pear compliment the salmon well.  This dish is a winner all round.

 

Wild Coho Salmon Bowl

Wild Coho Salmon Bowl

 

Tractor has several grab and go items that could be eaten as desert after your meal, while binge watching Netflix, or as a mid day snack at the office.  The Dark Chocolate Bark could be described as a decadent granola bar but without the granola.  It has goji berries, apricot, pumpkin seeds and a slab of marvelous dark chocolate.  The Zucchini Loaf is densely packed with healthy goodness.  I initially compared the density to Christmas cake (which I dislike).  The zucchini loaf won me over and later in the day I found myself wishing I had bought a slice or two to take home.  Since it is a hefty hunk of healthiness you may want to enjoy it with a beverage and my choice is the ginger flavoured Kombucha.  It is a mildly sparkling and tasty cold tea drink, also available in a berry flavour.  Of course the chocolate cookies from Tractor are incredible, and gluten free too.  Jenn’s drink choice was a Matcha Latte, which she loves.

 

Dark Chocolate Bark, Zucchini Bread, Ginger Kombucha

Dark Chocolate Bark, Zucchini Bread, Ginger Kombucha

Dark Chocolate Bark

 

This location at Broadway and Ash has only been open for a short while.  It is already very popular and every seat was filled at lunch time.  Service is fast, which you would expect from a cafeteria style eatery, and the food was excellent.  Hours are 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. seven days a week.  The other Vancouver locations have different hours, and may have some menu variations.  I’ve never been disappointed when eating at Tractor.  The food tastes great, it’s healthy,  the prices affordable, and take out is available.  There are a wide variety of vegetarian choices.  What more need I say to convince you to go there?  Maybe two words: grilled avocado.

 

Tractor Everyday Healthy Foods

601 West Broadway (Broadway & Ash)

 

 
 

FOOD | Lunch at Fayuca, Yaletown by Jenn Chan

Fayuca, Yaletown

 

Yaletown is home to many popular and good quality restaurants.  If you live in Vancouver you’ve probably patronized more than one eatery in the redeveloped industrial area.  Today we are going to Fayuca for lunch.  It is located on Hamilton Street near Nelson.  Open for less than a year Fayuca is garnering good reviews and a solid reputation for top notch food.  North Pacific Mexican is how they brand their style, with the Baja region of Mexico providing inspiration for Fayuca’s menu.

 

Past the planters with small palm trees and through the front door we go.  The room is warm and inviting.  Wood and wicker predominate, ceramic tiles bring back memories of hot days in Mexican resorts, and a large swordfish leaps from one wall.  The music isn’t the clichéd tourist music you might hear in faux Mexican restaurants.  The tunes are new to my ear: pleasant, cheerful and not blaringly loud.  The bar seating invitingly beckons one to settle in and stay a while however we instead sit at a comfortable table by the window.

 

Fayuca, Yaletown
Fayuca, Yaletown
Fayuca, Yaletown

 

The lunch drinks list has several intriguing choices and soon three of them are sitting on our table.  El Diablito is Jenn’s early favourite.  Made of ginger beer (non alcoholic) and pomegranate, topped with lime, the pink drink is a refreshing delight.  The pomegranate is noticed first with the ginger an enjoyable second note.  I claim the Tepache Colada as I am eager to try the beverage made from the peel and rind of pineapples.  In pre-Columbian times Tepache was made from corn.  The modern pineapple version is just fine with me.  Not sickly sweet like pineapple juice, just well balanced flavour and very enjoyable.  The third drink is the Jamaica Canela, a cinnamon infused Hibiscus drink.  Dark red, almost black at first glance.  Sipping it brings back a faint recollection of time spent on a veranda not far from a sub tropical beach.

 

Fayuca Lunch Menu

Fayuca Lunch Menu

Coctails: Tepache Colada & El Diablito

Coctails: Tepache Colada & El Diablito

Cocktails: El Diablito, Tepache Colada, Jamaica Canela

Cocktails: El Diablito, Tepache Colada, Jamaica Canela

Jamaica Canela

Jamaica Canela

 

We’ve barely had time to sample our drinks when a Kale and Avocado Salad is presented.  The base layer is a split pea hummus with the always delicious avocado and fresh kale topping it.  Jenn really, really liked it and I have to agree (despite my normal aversion to leafy greens) that it was quite good.  Pumpkin seeds added some crunch and variety.
 

South of Mexico, past Central America and into South America, we can find a cooking pot from Chile called a Cazuela.  The food prepared in this pot, a thick stock of vegetables and meat, is also called Cazuela.  Fayuca has a Cazuela of Winter Vegetables on the lunch menu and we dove into this hearty comfort food eagerly.  Butternut squash, fennel, sweet potato, red beets, crème fraiche and topped with feta.  The tomato/pepper/olive sauce brought everything together wonderfully.  A bit of crunch is provided by sliced almonds.  This Cazuela is a good choice for a cold winter day, a rainy day, or any old day.  I was also impressed with the grilled bread that accompanied the dish.  It had a touch of charcoal flavour that was so good!

 

Fayuca Lunch Flatlay
Kale and Avocado Salad | green beans and pumpkin seeds on Split Pea Hummus

Kale and Avocado Salad | green beans and pumpkin seeds on Split Pea Hummus

Cazuela of Winter Vegetables | Butternut Squash, Fennel, Sweet Potato, Red Beets in a Charred Tomato-Pepper-Olive Sauce with Crème Fraiche and Feta

Cazuela of Winter Vegetables | Butternut Squash, Fennel, Sweet Potato, Red Beets in a Charred Tomato-Pepper-Olive Sauce with Crème Fraiche and Feta

 

Machaca is often a dried shredded beef but Fayuca’s Machaca con Huevo is made with smoked fish.  The scrambled egg with smoked fish, charred avocado and black bean sauce combination on a hearty ancient grain bread made my mouth water for more!  This is a dish I could eat often and with gusto.  Or maybe I should say “me gusta!”

 

In many places around the world chicken and rice is a common meal.  Common is not how I would describe the Arroz con Pollo that Fayuca serves.  The chicken was marvelous, so tender.  Beneath the chicken was red rice and sofrito, a tomato based sauce (also used in Italian and Spanish cooking) that infused the rice with layers of flavour.  Dribbled over it all was aioli, a garlic sauce somewhat similar to mayonnaise.  This was a hearty, satisfying dish.

 

Machaca con Huevo | Smoked Fish Machaca with Egg Scramble, Charred Avocado, Ancient Grain Bread, Black Bean Sauce

Machaca con Huevo | Smoked Fish Machaca with Egg Scramble, Charred Avocado, Ancient Grain Bread, Black Bean Sauce

Arroz con Pollo | Roasted Chicken with Red Rice, Tomato, Sofrito, Aioli, Greens

Arroz con Pollo | Roasted Chicken with Red Rice, Tomato, Sofrito, Aioli, Greens

 

We sampled four dishes from the lunch menu and all were winners, in my opinion.  Out of curiosity I looked up the translation of the word fayuca and contraband and black market were the results.  I’m not sure how the name was chosen for this restaurant but if the only way to get these dishes was on the black market then I would still want to be a patron.  The lunch menu is reasonably priced and the food and drinks are delicious.  There are some vegetarian options should that be a concern for anyone in your party.

 

Fayuca
1009 Hamilton Street
Vancouver

 

 
 

Notch8 New Spring Lunch Menu at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver by Jenn Chan

Notch8 at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Notch8 at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

 

"Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name and they're always glad you came." I'm blessed to be able to gaze upon the beautiful Fairmont Hotel Vancouver as I lay in my bed. We're neighbours and I'm lucky to get to spend a lot of time at Notch 8! So when Sophia welcomed us by name it felt nice. When Kristina greeted us at our table with a warm "you again?" it felt nice. Dining at Notch 8 feels nice.

 

notch8 at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
Notch8 at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

 

Our lunch started off with a couple of cocktails, but don't judge us it's after noon. The Lavender Corpse Reviver and Lillooet Daisy helped to shake the cobwebs from a Sunday spent touring Vancouver's craft brewery district. The former a gin centric tipple with citrus undertones and the latter a well balanced blueberry and elderflower dominant offering. Delicious!

 

Lillooet Daisy & Lavender Corpse Reviver

Lillooet Daisy & Lavender Corpse Reviver

 

Close on the heels came our starters; the Sunchoke Soup and Roasted San Mariano Tomato Soup as well as Notch's world famous honey wheat bread. Chef Will came out personally to grate fresh truffle on the Sunchoke Soup which Jenn found very "hearty and Earthy". It was loaded with truffle and artichoke and had a very nice broth. The tomato soup is a revelation! Campbell's soup ain't got nothing on this, sorry Andy Warhol. Sweet, fresh and served piping hot. An added bonus happens every time your spoon returns from the depths loaded with Notch's incredible fromage frais!

 

Warm Honey Wheat - honey loaf, fig, walnuts, Fairmont honey butter

Warm Honey Wheat - honey loaf, fig, walnuts, Fairmont honey butter

Roasted San Marzano Tomato Soup - tomato oil, fromage frais

Roasted San Marzano Tomato Soup - tomato oil, fromage frais

Roasted San Marzano Tomato Soup - tomato oil, fromage frais

Roasted San Marzano Tomato Soup - tomato oil, fromage frais

Sunchoke Soup - truffles, artichoke,sunflower butter

Sunchoke Soup - truffles, artichoke,sunflower butter

 

At Kristina's suggestion, executive order really, I partook in the Canada 150 Maple Leaf cocktail. Bourbon, maple syrup, lime and apple. Way to perpetuate Canadian stereotypes Notch... Everyone already knows Canadians love lime. As I was enjoying my first sip out comes out entrées: Prawn and Crab Risotto, Lingcod and Steak Frites. Yes, Jenn, all 110 pounds of her, ordered two entrées. My California cut steak came out the perfect rare, first box checked, and the meat was exceptionally tender and fresh. The fries, thin in the MacDonald's style, were unsalted and crisp; very good. In all the dish is a near perfect 9/10! Jenn claims the risotto was the best of her life: "flavourful, filling and the seafood is super savoury". Well summed up! The Lingcod, also a Jenn Chan selection, was very "flaky and it melts in your mouth". "The combination of garden vegetables that surround the Lingcod adds a certain depth to the dish". The pea and nasturtium velouté formed the perfect base of the dish and it disappeared quickly!

 

Canada 150 Maple Leaf - Bourbon | Maple Syrup | Lime | Apple A toast for our birthday!

Canada 150 Maple Leaf - Bourbon | Maple Syrup | Lime | Apple
A toast for our birthday!

Lingcod - lavender honey ash crusted, green pea & nasturtium veloute, spring vegetables, meadow flowers

Lingcod - lavender honey ash crusted, green pea & nasturtium veloute, spring vegetables, meadow flowers

Prawn & Crab Risotto - BC shrimp, dungeness crab, spring peas & beans, goat cheese, micro shiso

Prawn & Crab Risotto - BC shrimp, dungeness crab, spring peas & beans, goat cheese, micro shiso

Prawn & Crab Risotto - BC shrimp, dungeness crab, spring peas & beans, goat cheese, micro shiso
Steak Frites - California cut striploin, shoestring fries, pepper jus house steak sauce

Steak Frites - California cut striploin, shoestring fries, pepper jus house steak sauce

 

Our most avid readers would hypothesize that now is the time when we move onto some random smattering of mouth watering desserts. Notch won't let you down in this regard either! A quick google of their website shows several selections, many really, that I would fill a child's ball pit with and dive in. Normally we would indulge, but, as previously mentioned, I had occasion to visit no fewer than a half dozen craft brewers during the annual Vancouver Hop Circuit and my bed was beckoning me home. Satisfied we hugged our server goodbye, as people do, and skipped merrily out. We'd be back was out comforting thought and, hopefully, we'll see you there!

 

 

Fairmont Hotel Vancouver Lobby