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While attending a film screening at the Cineplex Odeon theaters at the top of the International Village Shopping Center, we decided to grab a quick bite at Congee Noodle Delight.

This is a casual family operated wonton house on the ground floor of the shopping center, occupying the space that was previously home to East Fusion Food.
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The establishment is related to Congee Noodle House and Congee Noodle King (all owned by members of the same family).  As with the other locations, the menu is fairly expansive, covering simple noodle dishes, noodle soup dishes, rice, congee, etc.
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We went with an order of chow mein with chicken, mushrooms and bak choy.
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This is a fairly large plate of crispy chow mein noodles, topped with stir fried boneless marinated chicken, blanched bak choy and re-hydrated shiitake mushrooms.  It’s topped with a savory brown sauce.

This is a pretty good chow mein.  The portion is large enough to feed two people, there’s good flavor in the sauce, and the mushrooms.  The noodles were crisp where it was dry, and where wet, it soaked up the sauce to soften slightly. The vegetables still had just the right amount of firmness, and the chicken was tender with some decent flavor.

The room is brightly lit and reasonably spacious.  I find the color scheme a little too modern (lots of black), but it’s otherwise clean and comfortable.

The service, as I would expect from a chinese wonton place, efficient and minimal.

If the rest of the fare is consistent with the other locations (and it appears so), it’s decent simple cantonese food, at a reasonable price.
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On this weekend, on an impulse, I decided to head to the shopping plaza in south Burnaby and grab lunch at the Cactus Club on the corner of Byrne Road and Marine Way.

Upon arrival, we were immediately seated in the patio area of the restaurant. It’s bright and airy and cool, even on a hot summer day.

We started with an appetizer size Caesar Salad

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This is a large (for a starter salad) serving of fresh romaine lettuce, dressed in a lemony caesar dressing, topped with shaved Parmesan cheese and crunchy croutons.

I found the dressing very acidic.   But the greens were fresh and crisp, and the croutons were crunchy.

Next came the Calamari

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This is a large portion (for an appetizer) of tenderized squid, battered and deep-fried to a light crisp.  There were also some battered and deep-fried red peppers and jalapeno peppers as well. It’s served with a tzatziki dipping sauce, a lime wedge, and a chipotle dipping sauce.  This was very good.  The squid was tender and the batter was crispy and well seasoned.  The chipotle dipping sauce was pretty mild, didn’t really pick up much smokiness from the chipotle peppers.  The tzatziki was quite garlicky.

Next came the szechuan chicken lettuce wraps

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This is a stir fry of chicken with roasted peanuts and a sweet and spicy Szechuan glaze, topped with crispy won-ton strips, fresh scallions and cilantro.  It’s served with a spicy yogurt sauce and a few leaves of fresh iceberg lettuce.

I felt the chicken was over sauced.  It overwhelmed everything else in the dish.  You really couldn’t taste the chicken, or the peanuts, or the fresh cilantro or scallions because of the dominance of the sauce.  Even using the yogurt dipping sauce did little to take the edge off the Szechuan glaze.  But the lettuce was fresh and crisp (but we probably could have used an extra couple of leaves).

The final dish was a ravioli & prawn trio

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This is three hand-made ravioli, filled with butternut squash and mascarpone cheese, served with sautéed prawns. It’s topped crispy sage, toasted pine nuts and a butter sauce infused with truffle oil.  This dish had the best overall execution of the meal.  The ravioli were made from fresh pasta, and had a nice al dente texture to them.  The butter sauce with truffle oil was rich and creamy but still light, with some nice earthiness of truffles.  The prawns were cooked to just the right doneness, and the ravioli stuffing was smooth and creamy and mild.  The fried sage provided some nice herbiness, but the pine nuts were barely noticeable (there was so little of them).

This appears to be one of the Cactus Clubs newer locations, it’s in immaculate condition.  Our servers were very pleasant and friendly, albeit a bit hard to get hold of.  I might think it’s because of understaffing, but the restaurant was not very busy at this time, and there seemed to be ample staff on hand.

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This food cart started as a nameless truck trailer serving really inexpensive burgers in the downtown area. For the first half-year or so, it was only known as 2.85 Burger, because that was basically their menu.

Since then, the trailer has earned some graphics and a name. Now known as Wakwak Burger, their prices have increased a little, and the menu has expanded.

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The menu now includes the original burger and cheese burger.  But now they have fried potatoes, and a menchi-katsu burger.  That appears to be a breaded and fried pork patty.  And it looks like a chicken burger and kobe beef burger are eventually on the way.

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I ordered the cheese burger.

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This is a lean beef burger (it appears to be previously frozen) griddled on a flat top, topped with melted processed cheese, served on a toasted soft white bun with a few leaves of iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato.  The bun has a smear of mayonnaise and a teriyaki sauce.

This is an okay burger.  It’s really just your basic fast food restaurant cheese burger with the twist (teriyaki sauce).  That said, it compares pretty favorably with any fast food burger.  I would order this again if I happened upon the truck, but won’t make it a must-try destination (I feel the same way about Japadog…. it’s pretty good, but it’s not worth making a special effort).

Since it is a food truck, it’s not fair to comment on the service or the atmosphere.

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Cafe Loyal is a small hong kong style cafe in a small strip mall on the corner of Bridgeport road and Number 5 road in East Richmond.

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Cafe Loyal is a cross a hong kong cafe and a shopping center food court establishment.   This place serves the kind of cuisine that is typical of a hong kong cafe, but instead of table service, the patrons place their order at the register and receive a number.  When the order is ready, a server calls out the order number, and the patron goes retrieves order.

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I ordered the baked pork chop on rice.

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This is a tenderized and marinated pork loin chop, dredged in seasoned flour and starch, and deep-fried to a light crisp.  It’s then chopped into length wise pieces, served over fried rice, spooned over with a tomato bechamel sauce, with sauteed onions and button mushrooms, and baked in the oven before serving. This was pretty good.  The pork chop was tender, well seasoned, and had good flavor.  But the crispiness of the fried coating was already mostly gone by the time it arrived at my table.  The fried rice underneath was also pretty good, with decent flavor, not too dry or too wet.  The tomato and bechamel sauce was a little disappointing, it was sufficiently savory.  It was lacking seasoning or flavor of some kind. A little acidity would have been good.

This order took an unusually long time to come out of the kitchen.

Although this establishment has seating, and is technically a restaurant, it’s more like a mall food court establishment, in terms of the kind of service provided.  As such, the service is about a minimal as it gets, and in fact, because of the level of noise in the dining area, it was hard to hear the orders being called out when they came out of the kitchen.

The room is large enough, well spaced out, and quite clean, probably because it’s still a fairly new establishment.

Judging by the website, I get the sense that this business has aspirations for franchising or licensing it’s business concept.

Cafe Gloucester is a Hong Kong style cafe in the Cambie Village. As standard with most such cafes, there’s a pretty expansive menu of dishes that cross over between cantonese noodle house food, and a north american type diner.  We stopped in late in the evening, after catching a show down the street. It was sparely occupied.

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After scanning the menu, we settled on some sharing dishes.  It started with Portuguese chicken on rice

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This is chunks of boneless chicken, browned, and served over steamed white rice, with a thick cream sauce.  It’s sprinkled with bread crumbs and baked quickly before serving.  The cream sauce has a hint of curry and coconut milk. The dish was just okay.  The chicken was cooked properly, but a little bland and under-seasoned.

The next dish was Seafood Cream on Rice

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This is seafood (scallops, prawns, imitation crab, and basa) served over steamed rice with a white cream sauce that’s studded with cubed carrots, corn and onions.  It’s baked in the oven quickly before serving.  This dish was just okay.  The seafood was mostly well prepared (although I’m no fan of imitation crab) and it was cooked to the right doneness.  The cream sauce wasn’t that good, it tasted like it was made (at least partially) from evaporated milk.

The last dish was rice noodles with chicken, peppers and black pepper

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This is vermicelli rice noodles, stir fried with threaded chicken, onions, red and green peppers, and bean sprouts.  It’s seasoned with soy and lots of black pepper.  This dish was pretty good.  It’s well seasoned, with good flavor and decent texture on the vegetables and chicken (not over cooked).   It’s worth noting that this dish was supposed to use broad rice noodles, the kitchen had run out.  The server notified us, and we accepted the substitution.

 

The space is quite large, and well spaced out, but it’s a bit tired and in need of a refresh.

 

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The service was okay… about as good as can be expected from any Hong Kong cafe (efficient, somewhat cold and indifferent).

This is value dining.

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tAs is typical with me, on a Friday evening, I have no fresh food in my refrigerator, with which to prepare dinner, and on a warm summer night, I wouldn’t want to cook anyways, so I took this opportunity to try out a local place. I’d heard good things about Corduroy, a small establishment on Cornwall Street, not far from Kitsilano beach.

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This is a small neighborhood joint, probably seats thirty to forty, emphasizing simple fare, prepared from organic ingredients.  For the most part, I would call it gastropub fare.

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The untreated wood finishing on the walls, tables, plus the wall decor of antlers, snow shoes, and trapping gear seems to imply a very rustic lodge out in the wilderness.

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We started with the arugula salad, with add-on chicken breast.

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This was an arugula salad with blue berries, candied pecans, goat cheese, and grape tomatoes, dressed in a raspberry vinaigrette.  And we requested the optional chicken breast on top.

This was pretty good salad.  The peppery arugula was fresh and crisp, the candied nuts provided some sweet crunch, the tomatoes and the vinaigrette provided some nice acidity and tanginess. The chicken was pretty mild, I’m not sure if it was roasted or poached, but it had very little additional flavor or seasoning of its own, it could have used some more salt at least.

And we also ordered the organic smoked bacon pizza.

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This is a (approximately) twelve inch hand rolled pizza with a whole wheat rosemary crust, topped with cubed bacon, goat cheese, pear slices.  It’s baked, then drizzled with a sweet reduced balsamic vinegar.

 

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This is a very thin, cracker like crust.  Crisp, and able to hold the weight of the toppings without too much support. I couldn’t really taste much of the rosemary.  I liked the combination of flavors for the toppings.  The smokey savory bacon, with the sweetness of the pears, the tang of the balsamic vinegar and the creaminess of the goat cheese.  If you favor a thin crisp pizza, this is very good.  I like a pizza crust with a little more airiness to it (not necessarily bready, but something that is obviously yeasted.  This crust felt like it was unleavened.

As previously mentioned, the room is small, and very rustic.  It’s clean and not overly crowded.  In spite of being “primetime” on a Friday night, the restaurant was not especially crowded.

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While visiting the Commercial Drive neighborhood, we happened upon the Windjammer Restaurant. I remembered this establishment from its previous locals on Main street in the 2000s, and even when it was on Oak Street in the 1980s. I walked past it many times, and glanced at the menu, but never patronized it. This would be the day.

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I recall that in the original location on Oak Street, it was a classic British fish & chip establishment.  But here, the menu is expanded to include burgers and sandwiches.

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The special of the day was fish & chips, and fish-cakes & chips.

I went with the Fish Cakes with chips and coleslaw

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The fish cakes were minced haddock, mashed potatoes, shallots, parsley, and capers, formed into puck-shaped discs, breaded and deep-fried to a light crisp.  It’s served with sides of fried potatoes, coleslaw, a lemon wedge, and tartar sauce.

The fish cakes were pretty good; they had a rather home-made quality to them.  They had some decent flavor, and good seasoning, with a light crisp on the outside.

The fries were crisp on the outside, and tender on the inside.  They looked and tasted like they were made from frozen.  As frozen goes, they were actually not bad.

The coleslaw is shredded cabbage, and carrots, in a tart vinegar based dressing.

The tartar sauce was just okay.  It didn’t have much tang or flavor.

My lunch companion ordered the cod and chips with coleslaw

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The fish was fresh with a light crisp batter. It was moist and well seasoned.

The room is simple, functional and clean.

The server was pleasant, and helpful.

This was, overall, a decent meal at a very reasonable price (especially since we were having the special of the day).

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I attended a banquet at the Fortune House Seafood Restaurant in Metrotown Shopping Center. It’s located on the second floor, on the south side of the mall, close to the bus terminal.

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The opening dish was a cold assorted meat platter

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This is a cold platter of assorted meats, this time consisting of barbequed pork, pork hock, roasted pork belly, barbeque duck, and sliced marinated jellyfish. Roast pork was fairly lean, the cracklins had some decent crunch.  barbecued pork was pretty good.  The jelly fish was underseasoned (it doesn’t have any flavor if its own, the flavor comes from a marinade made from sesame oil).

This was followed by deep-fried prawn ball with almond coating
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Pretty much as named, this is a ball of minced prawn meat, formed into a ball, rolled in duck yolk, then rolled in toasted almond flakes, and deep-fried.  It had a nice crunch on the toasted almonds.  The prawn inside tasted okay but was very firm.  The seasoning was good.

Next came cuttlefish and chicken with snow peas and celery
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This is a stir fried platter of sliced cuttle fish, sliced chicken breast, with snow peas, celery, carrots, scallions and ginger.  The snow peas and celery were crisp and al dente.  The cuttlefish properly cooked, tender with just a little bite.

The next dish was fish maw soup with seafood and dried scallop
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This is a seafood soup made with fish maw (bladder), shreds of dried scallop, and prawns in a fish broth.

Soup flavor was just okay.  The dried scallop and prawns were barely noticeable.  Needed some tangyness from acid, fortunately rice wine vinegar was available as a standard condiment.

Next dish was stir fried lobster with ginger, onions and scallions
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This is two lobsters, segmented, dredged in seasoned starch, and stir fried with ginger, onions, scallions.  Unfortunately, this was slightly overcooked; the lobster meat was a little tough.  It’s a shame since this should be one of the highlight dishes in the menu, and is probably one of the priciest.

No to be outdone (price-wise) the next dish was braised abalone and peashoots
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This is whole braised abalone foot, served over blanched peashoots with a savory brown sauce.

I actually like abalone, but not in this format.  I prefer it sliced thin.  Whole abalone has a rather chewy texture.  But the flavor is excellent, and the seasoning was good.  The peashoots were a tender al-dente (if the word is appropriate for vegetables).

The following dish was steamed whole rock cod
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This is a whole (gutted) rock cod that’s steamed until cooked through, and dressed with soy, sesame oil and fresh scallions.  The server partially fillets the rock cod upon serving. Rock cod is a firm white fish with a mild flavor.  Much of the flavor in this dish comes from the soy, oil and scallion dressing.  This was pretty good.  The fish was the correct doneness, and flavors were on the mark.

This next dish (according to the menu) was supposed to be soy sauce braised whole chicken.  But instead, it was crispy skin chicken with prawn chips
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Not sure if we were presented with the wrong menu, or there was a last-minute substitution, but regardless, this is a whole chicken, air-dried, seasoned then blanched with searing hot oil until cooked.  It’s butchered into bite sized pieces and served with crunch prawn chips. This was well executed.  The meat was cooked to the right doneness and was still moist, with the skin crispy.  The seasoning was spot on.

The next dish was seafood fried rice with abalone sauce
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This is finely diced chicken and scallops, stir fried with carrots, dried shiitake mushrooms, and shredded dried scallops, then served over white rice with a savory sauce. This was a little disappointing because it was under seasoned, needed salt.

The companion dish to the rice, was braised e-fu noodles with enoki mushrooms and shrimp
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This is e-fu noodles, blanched in hot water, and drained, then stir fried quickly with small shrimp, enoki mushrooms, sesame oil and oyster sauce.  This was noodle dish was just okay.  The noodles were a little over done, and were a bit mushy.  And the season was off, it probably needed more oyster sauce.

The meal was followed up by two dessert courses, the first was chinese petite fours (peanut cookies and lotus bean pastries)

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The peanut cookies were light and crunchy with a nice peanut accent from whole roasted peanuts. The lotus bean pasty is just that, a flaky wheat pastry (not unlike filo) surrounding a center of lotus bean paste, baked and served warm.  I don’t care for this pastry.  Not because of poor execution, it was prepared well enough, I just don’t like the wheat pastry; it’s bland and tasteless (I think it’s supposed to be like that).

The last dish was red bean soup with rice balls
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This is a chunky sweet soup made from partially pureed sweet red beans and dried tangerine peels, served with several glutinous rice balls.  The rice balls are filled with sweet black sesame paste.   The red bean soup was okay, I could barely taste any tangerine peel (which is a good thing, since I don’t care for it), but the rice balls were a little firm and hard.

The service was as can be expected from a chinese restaurant (efficient but otherwise aloof).

The room is expansive, but still someone crowded.  But it’s well light and otherwise comfortable.
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“East is East” is an eastern fusion restaurant with locations in the Riley Park neighborhood of Main Street, and in the West Kitsilano portion of West Broadway. The menu combine dishes that originate from Afghanistan, India and Persia.

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The room is very rustic, using wall hangings and decorations that allude to the middle east.

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Upon sitting, the server offered some complimentary chai tea

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I’m generally not a big fan of chai tea, so I can’t really say if this was a good or bad example of it.

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The server brought  a small tray of sauces to compliment the pending entrée.  This consisted of cups of tamarind sauce, mint and yogurt, and a cilantro pesto.

The entrée we ordered was eastern roti rolls

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Roti is a unleavened whole wheat flat bread that originates from India (in contrast to naan, which is yeast leavened).

This dish came with two roti wraps.  The first was the “silk road” (miso salmon in mild green Thai curry)

and the second was “Persia’s favorite” (lamb kabob with spinach and basmati rice).

The salmon in the “silk road” was nicely prepared.  It was cooked to the right “doneness”, properly seasoned and the aromatic flavors of the green curry came through.  The lamb in “Persia’s favorite” was tender and properly seasoned, with some good lamb flavor.  The spinach provided some decent green flavor. The roti wrapper itself was tender with a decent chew and flavor.

This was accompanied by a side salad of Baby spinach, greens, avocado and sprouts with hempseed pesto dressing.  This was a fresh crisp salad, and the dressing was surprisingly good (I say surprising since I had no previous experience with hemp, and didn’t know what to expect).

The other cup was Dhaal Soup, consisting of three different kinds of lentils, cauliflower, spinach, herbs and spices.  I’m generally not a big fan of dhaal, but this was actually pretty good.

Our server was very pleasant and genial, and was very happy to explain the dishes and ingredients to us.
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Generally, if I’m at Granville Island and I’m thinking fish n chips, I make a bee-line for Go Fish Emporium by the wharf. But on this occasion, I decided to try Tony’s Fish & Oyster Cafe on Anderson Street, by the Theatre Sports auditorium. This place has been on Granville Island for a long time, but I hadn’t patronized it in probably six or seven years. I’m sure the ownership has turned over several times since. It appears to have undergone a reno or two in the interim as well.  It was a full house upon arrival (midday on a weekend), and I had to wait 5 minutes for a seat at the bench.

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The menu looks more or less the same.  Fish & chips, clam chowder, fried oysters, mussels & fries, calamari.

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I went with the classic 2 piece cod & chips.

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So this is two cod fillets, dipped in batter and deep-fried to crunch, served over a mound of crispy hand cut fried potatoes.  It comes with a side of cole-slaw and a cup of tartar sauce.  The fish is fresh, and the batter is airy and very crunchy indeed, one of the crunchiest I’ve ever had. I’m pretty sure this is a rice flour (or a rice flour blend).  But it is a little light on seasoning, the batter could use some more salt.  Likewise, the fried potatoes are crispy (some bordering on crunchy) and a little light on seasoning.  At least each table has a small condiment tray that includes salt, pepper, malt vinegar and ketchup.  Because the fried potatoes and fish were served in a wax paper lined straw basket, the wax paper doesn’t absorb oil, so a thin pool of oil formed on the bottom.

The cole-slaw was pretty good, consisting of shredded green and purple cabbage, slivered carrots  It was fresh, and probably more sweet than tangy.

The tartar sauce was okay…. not sure, but I don’t think it was house made, it tasted industrial.

 

Tony’s is a small place, probably seats about 25.  The decor is pretty simple and rustic, and a little cramped.

My server was pleasant helpful and prompt.

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