A tradition SJ and I have when in Vancouver is to visit one of our favourite tapas bar’s, Stella’s. Now, having been introduced to Stella’s over a year ago by SJ and having great experiences since, we continue to hit it on every second or third visit to this fine city.
An always interesting mix of clientelle, this multi location restaurant in Vancouver is a place to hang out, have good conversation, and drink from a vast and incredibly unique selection of (predominantly) Belgian beers. I will never forget our first visit to the location on Commercial Drive. It is a pub atmosphere that serves only tapas, of which we had mussels served in Stella (yes the beer), Jumbo Tiger Prawns that were more like mini lobsters, and something else that fails to come to mind. Everything was amazing, thus we continue to return to either of the two locations, and recommend it to everyone we know as a place to go for great beer and tapas. As mentioned this place appropriately named Stella’s, is largely about the beer. There is a full 4-6 page menu exclusively of Belgian beers
from numerous microbreweries and trappiste breweries in Belgium.
Ironically the name Stella’s was likely chosen to capitalize on the success of said beer, however we are told that it is a beer largely looked down on by the Belgian beer elite.
On this occasion, we went to the Stella’s on Cambie, that features a dinner menu as well as tapas. Neither of us had an idea Stella’s offered dinner, so it was a pleasant surprise. SJ and I ordered the Bière des Ours, one of SJ’s favourite beers of all time and extremely difficult to find. This beer is honey in color and taste and goes down a little too smoothly. Not a beer drinker myself, I have taken a liking to it. We chose Jumbo Prawns from the tapas menu to start, as the three course prix fixe provided nothing of interest for appies, and while these were not the massive prawns we had on our first visit to Stella’s they were still relatively large. Must say however, they were a bit over cooked and rubbery, but tasted good none the less. The only comment I must make about this dish is that the Prawns came unpeeled with the shell fused to the meat and covered in a sweet sticky glaze. Some people do eat the shell, I however don’t and never will, so I painstakingly removed the shell in order to eat it. I am sure I am not the only person out there who removes the shell so I would suggest to make the experience better, that they provide a finger bowl as my fingers were sticky and covered with sauce making the experience very messy.
SJ ordered the Belgian meat balls to start and thoroughly enjoyed them. Covered in a beef based gravy these meat balls were adequately portioned, juicy and well seasoned. SJ’s brother in law, SW, opted for the prix fix including the appie and decided on the roasted beet salad. SW’s salad was well portioned and more of a salad than the typical beet salad one would expect, decorated with pecans and a few beets to offset adding a savory taste to the salad as a whole. SW thought the salad was good, but missed dressing. SJ’s sister, HJ, opted for the BC Haibut with a basmati risotto. It is important to note, this isn’t your typical risotto, it was more of a basmati rice in a creamy sauce accompanied with peas, so if you are expecting “real” risotto, as we were, you may want to steer away from this dish.
The Halibut however was done quite nicely according to HJ. SJ and SW opted for the Fraser Valley Pork Loin Chop which was accompanied with a mashed yam patty on top of a corn and bean succotash. SJ and SW enjoyed the maple glazed pork chop, SW enjoyed the succotash and yams considerably more than SJ (not so much of a vegetable guy). For dinner I opted for the Chicken Milanese which was very good. The Chicken was accompanied with potatoes which were rather dry, and I would suggest a better accompanying vegetable as it didn’t add anything to the dish other than filler. The Chicken was a rather large portion, so the potatoes wouldn’t have been eaten regardless of how good they were as I could barely finish the chicken.
As HJ had raved about the cheesecake we decided to give it a try, and wow was she right! The Mascarpone and Bourbon Cheesecake was amazing, topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with nuts, this is a MUST have... shared amongst the table we devoured it.
The service as a whole was adequate and the waiter engaging. [SJ’s note: SC in the past had a preference for the Brazilian type. Our waiter brought back some memories and hot flashes....lol] The muscles from Brussels turned out to be Brazilian, lucky SC as she guessed his nationality correct in our friendly wager...[SC note: guess old habits die hard- LMAO]
Location visited: 3305 Cambie Street
Cuisine: Tapas / Fusion
Presentation: Above Average
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