Let’s rewind back to last month, when I participated in my first ever (UBC) Model United Nations Conference held at the Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle. For the whole weekend, I was scouring for new places to try around the hotel, either with friends or alone. In between the long committee sessions, delegates were allowed a half hour lunch break – and I am happy to say, spending a weekend staying at a hotel downtown allowed me to try more places on my list. So here’s a blog post dedicated to my food adventures between January 10th-12th.
Trying Meat & Bread at last was definitely the highlight of my weekend. As I told several of my friends, this place has been repeatedly bolded, italicized and underlined on my list for months because I had been dying to try it. Every time I scrolled past a picture of a mouthwatering Porchetta sandwich on my Instagram I would drool on the inside even more. Over the winter break I was so determined to visit Meat & Bread at 370 Cambie St. (which I thought was their only location), but after draining about 20% of my phone battery using Google Maps, I was disappointed to discover the place had been closed for the holidays until the beginning of January.
Our first lunch break landed on a Friday at around 1pm, so there was no doubt the place was busy. Thankfully, one of my friends I just met from the opening ceremonies suggested Meat & Bread just around the corner on Pender St. Off we went! The line moved quite fast, as the staff there worked assembly-line style. For a first-time Meat & Bread eater, I was slightly confused by the menu, but was luckily aided by one of the people working there. I heard from friends that have gone before that the Porchetta ($8) with salsa verde and crackling sold out the fastest, so I hopped on the bandwagon and chose that without much hesitation. One word to describe this experience: DELICIOUS. I am usually quite the messy eater, especially with sandwiches, but Meat & Bread was an exception.
Note to self: when asked if the food is “for here” or “to go”, ALWAYS SAY FOR HERE. Trying to make something in a cardboard look delicious with your camera is highly difficult. I unfortunately didn’t get the nice presentation of a wooden board, but oh well we were pressed for time.
Again, the next day I had little time to roam around the streets looking for an interesting place to try. If I recall correctly, Raincouver was POURING that entire weekend, and for someone dressed in business attire, I was not in the mood at all to get myself wet. This time I tried SMAK healthy fast food, newly opened sometime during the last year. My first reaction upon hearing of this place was that “healthy” + “fast food” = complete oxymorons that should never appear side by side. SMAK offers gluten-free options, compostable containers, and several other options that are pretty “hipster” in nature I’d say. After stalling the line-up that was slowly beginning to form after me (because I’m that indecisive), I decided to opt for the Butterless Chicken ($10.95, or $7.35 for a mini). Yes, you read correctly, “ButterLESS”. Featuring “Rossdown Farms natural chicken simmered in a rich luscious butter chicken sauce, made with almond served over SMAK rice, [and] topped with south asian slaw”, this definitely exceeded my expectations. I don’t eat spicy, so I was left with this option out of everything else offered under Hot Bowls.
I didn’t even notice the mini option, but I am glad I went for the original size because although the portions were generous, I thought the food was overpriced for the amount customers were given. Not exactly “affordable” for everyone as they claim themselves to be. There is always a price to pay for being healthy, I guess! However, I won’t discredit the quality of the food I was served – for someone that doesn’t really like tomatoes or multigrain rice, this was without a doubt tasteful, even for me. I don’t have a problem with food containing gluten, but having that option there is always nice (as a foodie, I must say I am EXTREMELY thankful for having no allergies).
The last two meals I had were both at the Show Case Restaurant & Bar, conveniently located downstairs of my hotel. Again, this was due to the rain and my unwillingness to set foot anywhere outside of the building. I think the dinner here was the first time I ever ate at a restaurant by myself (*cries*), but nonetheless the Albacore Tuna Niçoise ($21) compensated for the loneliness. Consisting of fingerling potatoes, confit tomatoes, green beans, olives, and a farm egg, I very much enjoyed this entrée and had the temptation to order more because the dish appeared smaller than anticipated. Regardless, the fingerling potatoes and albacore tuna were what completed the entrée. the Albacore Tuna Niçoise was moderately priced in comparison with other entrées, but as with SMAK, I feel the pricing could have been lower for this particular dish, even with the raw tuna.
For lunch the following day, the restaurant could not prepare my Roast Free Range Chicken ($20) with organic kale, mushrooms, and cipollini onions within the 30 minutes allotted for lunch, so I was forced to get the entire thing to go. I usually expect food to-go to be worse than when actually eaten at the restaurant, but my entrée proved to remain of top-notch quality – yes, even the presentation. T’was worth more than the Albacore Tuna Niçoise I had the previous night! Everything down to the onions were delicious, so I ate those as well (I usually don’t… I swear I’m not a picky eater).
(I had to suppress the inner Asian in me because the plastic container was soooooo nice I wanted to keep it… Dad would have approved of me bringing it home anyway, like some prized possession. In the end though, I decided to abandon the thing once I finished my lunch and headed back for the final committee session.)
From what I remember while skimming through the DineOut website, Show Case Restaurant & Bar was also among the list. However, the restaurant did not seem to be a popular choice among my friends, so I regretfully never managed to try the DineOut menu. Perhaps next year.
Food aside, UBC MUN proved to be a rewarding experience where I literally had to step “outside of my comfort zone”; and that meant leaving my lovely designated seat, with my placard “SWITZERLAND” propped up in front of me, to speak in front of a room of 30 delegates. I am feeling very fortunate to have met fellow delegates from other universities, including the University of Calgary and University of Washington!