Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Cactus Club: It's Craptacular!

American hygiene products company, Cintas Corporation, holds an annual competition in the States for the country's best public washrooms. This year, they allowed Canadian companies and institutions to enter the contest, which is judged via the website and considers everything from design to comfort. 

The Burnaby Cactus Club Cafe won best Canadian lavatory. This local chain has sure been doing well since Rob Feenie joined ranks after being flushed by David and Manjy Sidoo. I have eaten at a Cactus Club once and really disliked the slick, corporate atmosphere and the cautious, Earlsesque menu. Although, I must admit that I do remember the bathroom being pretty swank. The Cactus Club water closet even passed the Dawkins Kupatilo Test! That is, it offered both paper towels and an air dryer.

Cintas noted that the illuminated makeup mirrors, flatscreen televisions, and fresh flowers made for especially pleasant evacuations.

Keywords: Rob Feenie, Alex Dawkins, "Cactus Club bathrooms"

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hide from the Bustle - The VAG Cafe

This past summer, I volunteered at the Vancouver Art Gallery every week as part of my Library and Archives Masters program. I am a born-and-raised Vancouverite, and I have always known about the intimate and airy Gallery Cafe, but I didn't realise that they produce such a wide and delectable range of items. From panini to a variety of interesting salads, the Cafe serves a diverse selection appropriate for both lunch and dinner. The VAG Gallery Cafe actually has one of the best patios in the city, which is a great place to enjoy a drink on a summer's eve.

Sadly, the coffee is only so-so, and I often hopped over to Artigiano across the street for my morning cappuccino. However, I would always grab a pastry from the Gallery Cafe. They have an amazing dessert section which changes daily. Popular items include a chubby blueberry pie, dark chocolate bread pudding, trifle, lavender creme caramel, and rhubarb muffins. I...ummmm... have a sweet tooth.

I disagree with a number of people I have spoken to who claim that the Gallery Cafe is expensive, or that it is laid out like a cafeteria. Resembling many of the great museum cafes of North America and Europe, the VAG Gallery Cafe employs a deli set-up, which is an efficient format for employees and patrons alike. It is usually logistically impossible (and just plain unnecessary) for galleries and museums to have full-service restaurants, although many of them (including the Gallery Cafe) do serve restaurant-quality vittles.

Keywords: "Alexander Dawkins" , "Vancouver Art Gallery", "Vancouver Patios"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Wicklow...Hells No!

I grew-up in False Creek and really want to give The Wicklow a positive review, for sentimental reasons. I was a regular at The Wicklow's predecessor, Stamps Landing, which was borne of local Expo 86 development within South False Creek. Stamps Landing went out of business about two years ago and, sadly, I will never be a regular at this recent incarnation.

Everyone mentions how wonderful the view is from The Wicklow's west-facing window seats and patio, but few mention that the cheapest pint at this "pub" is $6.00. I have also spoken to many individuals who defend the food quality at this bar, but the entrees at The Wicklow are more expensive and of lesser quality than choice selections that you can find on Main Street, or even Broadway.

I have patronized The Wicklow between 7-10 times, and I will never be back after the experience I had tonight. The music was obnoxious, the place was filled with macho muscleheads who were ensconced for UFC 118, the service was brusque, and those $6.00 Rickard's left a bad taste in my mouth. If you are looking for a local pub with outstanding views, I would recommend that you mosey down to the Backstage Lounge on Granville Island. 

Keywords: "ABC Dawkins", "False Creek"

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Vancouver Fringe 2010

Having lived in Edinburgh - home to the largest theatre festival in the world - Vancouver's Fringe Fest seems small and disorganized. However, it is young, and it is gaining popularity despite funding cutbacks.

I attended the Fringe for the first time last year and really enjoyed myself. Granville Island is transformed into an artsy, loud, fun bazaar of tourists, locals, self-proclaimed theatre nerds, actors, and late-night cafes. The reality is that you will see some amateurish doozies, but hidden amongst those amateurish doozies will be a few golden nuggets. At about $10 a pop, you can see four or five plays for the price of one play produced by our established Arts Club Theatre or Playhouse Theatre Company.

If low-budget, unpredictable, raucous theatre isn't really your "thang", just wait until the Pick of the Fringe later in September. This consists of the most popular plays being reprised for limited-time viewing...and most of them are very good. The only drawback to attending the Pick of the Fringe is that it lacks the atmosphere of the real Fringe, in all of its inconsistent, flamboyant glory.

The Fringe runs from September 9-19, and Pick of the Fringe runs from September 23-26.