The Only Cafe

In Vancouver, coffee shops are numerous, so our goal was to hit as many as possible, including the The Only Café. This was the fifth shop to check out on our short trip to Vancouver. My son and his girlfriend recommended this place to us a long time ago.

The Only Café is located on west 4th between Stephens and Trafalgar Street in Kitsilano.

 

The Interior

The interior design to me was lackluster and seemed somewhat cluttered. The only thing that stands out about the cafe is the cloud light. There is plenty of seating and they have a few tables with free complimentary headphones to use, which is a pretty cool idea. Hopefully the headphones are getting cleaned regularly.

They also have a world map that you can scratch off where you are from. The wood furniture makes this coffee shop more natural but makes me feel like they don’t want you to hang around too long as the chairs and stools have no cushions making them less comfortable. There is 4 comfy chairs in the place but that’s it.

The Only Café has a few big windows that do let a lot of natural light in. To me, overall the place looked a tad run down and could definitely be freshened up.

As mentioned in a previous review, I normally don’t talk about the bathrooms but this place the bathroom seemed run down but clean. Go in, do your business and get out.

The Drinks

We ordered a Vanilla Latte, a White Mocha Matcha Latte, and a Green Tea Lemonade.

The White Mocha Matcha Latte, was pretty good, not to sweet, but as my daughter got closer to the bottom, the drink got a little gritty. It’s hard to find somebody who can make a great Matcha Latte.

The Green Tea Lemonade was super refreshing, not super sweet. I was impressed they are using paper straws. I am happy to see more places are starting to use them. Plastic straws will become obsolete.

The Vanilla Latte, was just ok. The espresso in the drink left me with a very strong bitter aftertaste. The coffee was just average. Super unfortunate as I was hoping this would redeem this café.

I am always excited to see when a place does Syphon coffees, but I am always leery to try them as I have had really good ones and a number of really bad ones. Syphon coffees are a fine science and I didn’t see anything making me feel that these guys could do them justice. That is a judgment by me and I was not feeling confident.

The Food

My wife and I split a Turkey Cranberry Sandwich, overall the sandwich was really good, and my only wish was that they used real turkey instead of just regular deli meat.

My daughter had the Turkey Croissant, this too was a good sandwich, however needs real turkey.

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The Service

Overall the service was pretty good. The drinks and food took a little longer than I expected, but if it’s good, you don’t mind waiting.

 

The Hours

Sunday & Monday: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Tuesday to Saturday: 7:30 am to 7:00 pm

 

Parking

There’s lots of metered street parking around the area.

Last Words

To put it simply, I really wasn’t impressed with The Only Café. They “seem” dedicated to quality and yet, I am not convinced. Fortunately for the cafe, it’s in a thriving, trendy part of town and even though the coffee culture keeps reaching younger and younger, it seems most people remain oblivious great coffee.

 

 

 

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Our Town

It amazes me how many coffee shops fall short on the day to day stuff such as the quality of their beans, the skills of their baristas or just the lack of overall atmosphere. In traveling through different towns and cities, I aim to try out as many different shops as I can, and in my experience there are approximately 2 or 3 coffeehouses that are just ok for every great one you find.

But when you find a great one, it is so refreshing. Our Town is one of those great shops I have found in Vancouver.

The shop is located at 255 E. Broadway (at Kingsway).

 

The Interior

The interior of Our Town is very modern and spacious. Lots of huge windows, which is great for people watching. Lots of seating and yet lots of open space for moving around while you wait for your coffee. The place was immaculate.

At one point in time, I saw Drew the barista out fluffing pillows for the next guests to arrive. Rearranging bags of coffee beans on the shelves to make the display look better. Drew definitely has an eye for detail and takes pride in where he works.

The Drinks

Before I ordered I was thrilled to see that they used multiple roasters, such as Timbertrain, Cuppa Joe Roasters, and Modus Roasters. It is always exciting when you have a choice, I only wish more shops would do this instead of sticking with just one roaster.

The day we were there, we ordered the Vanilla Latte, a Chai Tea Latte and a Spanish Latte.

The drinks were all delicious, and I just wanted to say the Spanish Latte was the very best I had ever had. Steamed milk was very smooth and heated to the right temperature. I went with the Timbertrain espresso, which is a custom blend for Our Town and was an excellent choice if I do say so.

The Food

First off, everything at Our Town is made in house and made from scratch. Everything looked terrific and that made it tough to make a decision on what we wanted to try.

My daughter went with the Breakfast Wrap, which contained eggs and bacon and came with an apple and grape Crème Fraiche salad. Very good.

My wife and I couldn’t decide on a muffin so we ordered 3 of them. We ordered a Maple Pecan Cranberry muffin, a vegan Carrot Muffin, and a Blueberry Lemon Muffin. All the muffins were delicious and moist.

The Service

The service at Our Town was outstanding. The people working that morning were very welcoming, friendly, and were very patient with us as we couldn’t make up our minds.

One thing I really wanted to mention about our visit was a gentlemen named Drew. That’s him behind the bar.

This guy was amazing, he was extremely talented and dedicated to his craft. He took his time with every beverage being made. He was meticulous. I appreciate a perfect crafted drink. On one drink that he was pouring into a paper cup, I watched as he made it. He continually turned the cup as he poured. I had never, and I mean never, seen such care go into a drink. I sure hope all of their baristas are this caring.

The Hours

Monday-Thursday:   7:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Friday:                         7:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Saturday:                     8:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Sunday & Holidays:   8:00 AM to 8:00 PM

Parking

There’s lots of meter parking around the area though. We were there very early so had no problem getting a spot on the street about a block away.

Last Words

Shops like Our Town, that pair great coffee with beautiful aesthetics are still a rarity in coffee world. Definitely you need to stop by Our Town, whether on your way to work or if you find yourself in Vancouver looking for a refreshing caffeinated beverage. Stop by and check this place out.

Tangram Creamery

We stopped by a little place in Vancouver called Tangram Creamery, it is located on Artubus, just off of Broadway. This is quite the place, not only do they make ice creams and sorbets, they roast coffee as well.

They are extremely creative with their flavors, such as Smokey Cheese Whiskey, Japanese Pumpkin with Rum Raisin and Apple, Black Sesame and Nutella Apricot just to name a few.

 

The Interior

The venue is compact but they’ve made great use of the space, with a communal table and small bench in the window for people to perch in, as well as, a bench outside.

The interior has some cool vintage pieces in it. The stereo receiver they had sitting in the cabinet was the first stereo I ever bought. I laughed a little as it was like the 80’s again. I really loved the industrial look with all the pipes and wood they used.

Everything seems to be custom made, from the shelves, the portable pour over station, cabinets and even the chair the roaster sits on is custom. The one piece I thought was extremely cool was the water dispenser, it was designed to look like an espresso porta filter. Very cool and creative.

The Drinks

With my ice cream, I decided to go with the Latte and my wife and daughter went with the London Fog.

The girls said this was the very best London Fog they had ever had. The drink even came with a vanilla bean stir stick. This really added something to the overall flavor of the drink and was a very nice touch.

The Latte, I ordered was well balanced, milk was steamed just right and it had a strong punch from the espresso.

Aside from the above, they have Nitro Cold Brew, assorted teas and kombucha.

Tangram Creamery roast their own coffee on site. Unfortunately we weren’t able to see them roasting while we were there. The roaster is front and centre in the store. All of their coffee is roasted in small batches in house and monitored via roasting software to ensure the perfect roast.

The Ice Cream

Let’s talk ice cream and sorbets. The staff who think up the flavor concoctions are amazing or crazy, maybe both. As I mentioned above they have come up with some amazing, creative, and unique flavors.

After seeing what they have come up with I was quite boring going with the Salted Caramel and a second scoop of Rum Raisin. The ones I chose were amazing. Very creamy, rich and very smooth.

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My wife went with the Maple Walnut in a waffle cone, which is different for her as she is the one that tries new things all the time.

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My daughter chose the Frozen S’mores. It looked like a huge marshmallow on a stick. Once they pulled it out of the freezer, they pulled out the blow torch to brown it up. I was told it was amazing but really big for one person.

Hey if you don’t want a full scoop, they offer half scoops if you would prefer.

When you go there, don’t be bashful in asking to try something. I thought it was pretty cool that they use metal spoons when giving out samples. No waste here. Everything they serve is compostable right down to the wooden spoons. So good for the environment.

Kudos to Tangram!!!!

 

The Service

The staff at Tangram Creamery are very welcoming, knowledgeable and more importantly enthusiastic about their products. They seemed excited to tell us about new ice cream flavour.

Overall very nice, polite and friendly.

 

The Hours

Monday to Sunday they are open 9:30am to 10:30pm.

 

Parking

I wish I could have found some free parking, but I didn’t. There’s lots of meter parking around the area though.

 

Last Words

If you are a lover of ice cream and of course coffee give it a try. You won’t be disappointed. I would like to go back and try one of their many unique flavors, taking a step out of my comfort zone.

Hit this place up if you haven’t already.

 

Laurence and Chico

A while ago I read an article about this café that was going to be opening in Vancouver. Once I seen the photos, I told my wife we had to go visit this place next time we were in Vancouver. Wait until you see the photos, this place is unlike no other café you been to. Trust me.

Laurence & Chico is a Canadian based womenswear and accessories brand founded in 2015 by Laurence Li and Chico Wang. The duo met while studying at the prestigious Parson’s School of Design.

Laurence & Chico Cafe is located on the West End in Downtown Vancouver just off Robson Street. Just out front of this café is a community piano where anyone can play. While we were there, this older gentleman was playing beautifully.

The Interior

Not sure where I should start??? Wow is where. This space is the most unique and funky spot with the most amazing interior I have ever seen in a café. How do I put it? It’s where Dr. Seuss and Tim Burton come together. These guys’ artwork and fashion designs are way out there. I do however, applaud the imagination.

The cafe was filled with their inspiration – from chairs, tables, walls floors, to even the water closets and the peak-a-boo ceiling.

If you look at the artwork on the walls, you see eye balls everywhere. You see nothing but plant based characters. Totally crazy visuals and with so much attention to detail. I read that you will only see Laurence and Chico drawn in the human form, whereas their families and friends are drawn as animals, plants, fruits and vegetables. Even the mannequins are not normal, they are 7 feet tall and weird looking. (Alien if you will). This just adds to the senses.

The tables and chairs are whimsical, and freaky at the same time. The stools appear to be made out of a huge exercise ball, which I was told were a little interesting to sit on. I loved the monster-like chairs and the pearl bead work on the inside of the creative balloon chairs is amazing.

There is also a little section at the back where you could buy things such as cellphone cases, t-shirts, sweat shirts and jackets. The clothing was very expensive, T-shirts were $125.  One thing I wanted to note was that the actual seats were quite limited. However, there was a bar-like table that you could drink/eat while standing up that looked like a whimsical snake.

This is a great place for Instagrammers. So much to take in.

The Drinks

When we were there I ordered a Vanilla Latte, my wife had the Oolong Milky (their version of the London Fog) and my daughter ordered the Place St Marc Tea.

Laurence and Chico’s roaster of choice is 49th Parallel. My wife and my drinks were pretty good, no real complaints to speak of. I appreciated getting out drinks in ceramic mugs. I am not a fan of paper cups. They do serve a purpose but not when you are staying in house for a drink. My daughter got hers in a to go cup only because she wanted the design on it, even the cups have their eyeball art on it.

Overall, I felt the prices were very reasonable considering that you get 2 shots in a regular size latte. My latte was $5.45 and the teas were about $3.50 each

They also serve an assortment of teas and fresh juices if you’re into that.

The Food

As for the food, there was quite a selection of tiny sandwiches, desserts and pastries. All of the food looked really good. On this day we went with the Black Forest Mousse Tart and the Honey Bee Lemon Tart. The tarts were also very good and looked almost too good to eat. If I had one complaint, it would be that it was a little pricey. I think both tarts were about $5.50 each.

The Service

All in all the customer service was super friendly. All personnel were smiling and very helpful. They encouraged us to wander around and take pictures. We definitely felt the baristas had a sense of pride at this café.

The cashiers were wearing hats with lace that almost looked like hair, which was pretty cool. The experience to have coffee in such an environment was very pleasing and fun.

The Bathrooms

I don’t normally write about my washroom adventures but I had to this time. When you are there, check out the washrooms, they are very interesting. One of them has a funky mural and a million yellow rubber ducks on the ceiling and the other one has hydrangeas hanging on the ceiling, neon lights changing color and mirrors on all the walls. The sink, soap dispenser and paper towel dispenser are built into the wall as well. I had to really look for it. See the pictures below.

Never in my life have I ever seen bathrooms like these. Incredible attention to detail is the only word for it.

 

The Hours

Monday to Thursday they are open 11:00am – 8:00pm. Friday and Saturday they are open 11:00am – 11:00pm. On Sundays they are open 11:00am – 8:00pm.

Parking

There is some paid parking on the street. I parked in a parking lot behind the shop, still had to pay, after all this is Vancouver, no free parking anywhere.

Last Words

I now have been to over 150 different cafes in the past few years and this was the most unique one so far. I would highly recommend this place to anyone, the staff are terrific, and the atmosphere is really cool. I will be going back to Laurence and Chico’s again, just to see what they have come up with next.

 

La Foret

Certain retail spaces always seem to stay what they were in their previous lives such as a coffee shop stays a coffee shop, and a gas station stays a gas station. As if the space can harbor no other type of business.

I really wish more businesses would think outside the box to create something amazing. La Foret is that place. Once you see the pictures, you won’t believe this space used to be an auto body shop. I applaude what they have fashioned with this auto shop.

The Interior

The interior of this place is amazing with high ceilings and very modern décor. We showed up as they were just about to open so they let us roam around and really look at the space. We were expecting what we seen. Huge windows, large skylights and lots of seating. Did I mention the garden. They call it their forest (“Foret” means forest in France). Incredible.

The coffee bar is long and open. They have a huge display case with all the baked goods for viewing and to drool over. The kitchen is also open for all to see. No hiding in this kitchen.

For the space being so large, they have made it very interesting. We haven’t even mentioned the gabion walls. In case you were wondering what gabion walls are, they are built with a cage filled with rock.

The Drinks

We ordered a Vanilla latte, a Spanish latte and a Darjeeing tea. All drinks were terrific.

As for the coffee, they offer Timbertrain as their day to day roaster of choice, which is one of my favorite roasters. It’s unfortunate that I can only get Timbertrain at one shop in Calgary. So when I am able to get it, I like to take advantage of it.

The Food

After seeing the pictures of their waffles, we decided to grab some breakfast while we were here. Decisions, decisions, what type of waffle to order.

We ordered a couple waffle platters and I ordered the Mango waffle platter, I also ordered a side of potatoes and a side of bacon.

My wife and daughter’s only comments were that their potatoes were not too hot. They thought that they should serve a thick cut bacon, as the bacon they served lacked flavor. Both my wife and daughter thought the small salad on the plate was a great idea and tasted terrific.

Waffle Platter had a Fresh waffle, some eggs, bacon, a side salad, and potatoes

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My mango waffle platter was outstanding. If you love mango, order this. When I go back to Burnaby, I will be going back there for another.

Mango Waffle platter had a Waffle, chunks of mango, blueberry, mango ice cream, almonds, mango syrup, and whipping cream

Not into breakfast, check out their baked goods. Everything looked amazing, everything is fresh and made in house.

The Service

All the staff we dealt with were very friendly and helpful. Just to let you know that once you order you get one of the light up coasters that lights up when your food and drinks are ready. No table service here.

The Hours

They are open 7 days a week, and they have great hours.

Monday to Friday: 8am to 11pm

Saturday, Sunday and Holidays: 9am to 11pm

 

Parking

They do have about 6-8 parking spots in the front and more parking behind the building. There is also some street parking available.

 

Last Words

I love to see these independent coffee shops thrive and survive. I would think that La Foret will have no problem doing that, they have quite a few office buildings close by as well as they sit in amongst houses in the community. After we sat down, the place was busy right until we left, which was great to see. Delicious food and great atmosphere. Definitely make a trip here if you are in Burnaby. Absolutely amazing!

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The Art We Are

Many people love their local coffee shop for no other reason than it provides a pleasant place to congregate. Most people naturally look for a communal gathering spot and a spacious coffeehouse is probably the best place to do this. It’s no wonder that people flock to such spaces.

Next stop in our journey on our way to Vancouver was Kamloops. Today we decided to stop at a place in downtown Kamloops called The Art We Are.

 

The Interior

This space was quite large when it comes to coffee house sizes. The ceiling height had to have been 15-20 feet high. The large walls were filled with local artist’s paintings and pictures. There was also an area they were selling local artists jewelry and other crafts.

There is a ton of seating, mismatched tables and chairs, which we thought was pretty cool. I would call it eclectic rustic décor.

When we were there, Pride week had just finished and they still had a huge display in their front window showing their support.

The Drinks

First off, as you can see by the pictures that the menu is huge and not just the size of it on the wall. They have a huge assortment of drinks to choose from. Myself personally, I found it too much to look at and had trouble deciding what I wanted to try.

We ordered a Matcha Lemonade, a Vanilla Latte and a Pina Colada Smoothie. All prices were pretty reasonable except for the smoothie which was $8.95. The smoothie was served in a small mason jar. The smoothie had a more banana flavor instead of the coconut we were expecting.

All the other drinks were good, they served Kicking Horse Coffee. A local vendor from Invermere.

The Food

First off, they like to support the local community, by sourcing items such as produce, baking, cooking supplies, and milk from local farmers.

We had ordered a Chai Lemon Loaf and a Coconut Apricot Pineapple Muffin. All were reasonable priced and  had terrific flavor.

 

The Service

The service overall wasn’t too bad, the only negative I had was that we asked for all the drinks to be put into to-go cups. The drinks showed up in mugs and mason jars. Staff were pretty friendly, nice to talk with. For their table identifications when you order food, they give you an animal or character. That day we received a donkey, earlier that day we had drove past Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge just outside of Chase, my daughter really wanted to stop but we had to keep moving. She was so excited to see we received a donkey. After they had messed up on our beverages, not being in to-go cups, we wrote a ransom note, left $2 and we decided that we would take the donkey on a little adventure to the ocean. Later that day we decided to name the donkey Poncho.

 

The Hours

Monday- Saturday 9am to 9pm and Closed on Sunday

 

Parking

Street parking is available, we ended up parking about a block away from there.

 

Last Words

After sitting down with our drinks, my family and I enjoyed a delightful hour of good coffee and conversation in their shop. After leaving the coffee house, I can easily see why The Art We Are holds a solid place in this community.

Poncho’s adventures became a big part of our trip throughout Vancouver and to continue following his adventure in Calgary, follow extremecoffeefreak on Instagram.

 

 

Legendz Diner

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I once said it’s no secret that everyone loves going to old diners. Listen to some tunes and eat some good old fashion diner food. On our way to Vancouver, we decided to stop and check this place out. A co-worker recommended us to visit. First appearance from the road, it looked alright, a few burnt out neon lights. Then you walk in and it is a totally different experience.

 

The Interior

The inside was truly modeled after an old diner. It looked like they hadn’t done any upgrades since the 50’s. Numerous neon lights on the inside of the diner were burnt out. Overall the whole place looked a little run down and could use some help.

The Drinks

My wife and I split a Chocolate Strawberry Milkshake. Chocolate was the dominate flavor in this milkshake, with just a touch of strawberry flavoring. It came out in the metal cup they mixed it in. I wish it would have been a little thicker, but overall wasn’t too bad.

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The Food

We order a couple of bacon cheddar burgers with crinkle fries. We loved the bun, fresh and soft. Great bun-to-burger ratio. I only wish the burger could have been a little thicker. The burger had good flavor. We also ordered a side of gravy, it was very flavorful and thick.

My daughter order a pizza, overall the pizza was very good. She wished they had used a different cheese as it was a little greasy. She did mention the crust was really good.

The Service

The waitress was very friendly and helpful. She did come back a few times and check on things. When we were leaving, we came across an older lady at the till. She wasn’t the friendliest and really didn’t say much.

 

The Hours

They are open seven days a week, 7:00am to 10:00pm

 

Parking

They have lots of parking for cars and trucks and there is street parking if you are pulling a trailer to driving a big rig.

 

Last Words

Overall, I am not sad we stopped here, food was pretty good, just wish the place looked better and cleaner. The place was fairly busy, just not sure if they were locals or tourists.

Would I stop again, probably not.