The plan was to get together with the boys this afternoon and continue our Game of Thrones season 2 marathon (this is how guys spend Sunday afternoon’s during the NFL off-season), but schedules didn’t line up (Ivon has a meeting with his parole officer, while Lawren’s girlfriend is hosting her Oprah’s book club meeting and he promised he’d stay home and bake scones) so I ended up working instead.  As a result, I ended up completing the eighth act of the miniseries Paul and I are writing.  That’s two hours, eight acts, and 106 pages down – and roughly the same amount to go.  I’m only at the halfway mark!

Between these fairly intense and exhausting writing sessions, I’ve taken the occasional break to head out with the dogs, do some readings, and go out for the occasional meal.  There was a time in my life I would eat out every night.  Now, the majority of my meals are enjoyed at home, and my last few dinners out haven’t exactly made me nostalgic for the old days.  It’s been disappointment after disappointment after disappointment.  Not even the food offerings of the annual Summer Night Market were able to live up to my relatively low expectations.

Last night, Ivon joined Akemi and me in checking out the annual Summer Night Market (not to be confused with the very similar Richmond Night Market we’ll be checking out next weekend, now with even lower expectations).  No one goes to these things for the flea market sales.  They go for the food.  And the food on this night was mostly unmemorable or downright disappointing.  I’m not why the organizers felt they needed half a dozen food stands all serving the same fried potato sticks.  On the other hand, I felt bad for the sushi vendor who, despite the crowds, was seeing no business at all.  I felt sorry for them, but not sorry enough to buy and eat night market sushi.

May 20, 2012: Disappointing Dinners!
Akemi, daintily eating her corn.
May 20, 2012: Disappointing Dinners!
Ivon and I sample The Hurricane Potato, not to be confused with The Original Hurricane Potato which was even busier. I think that next year, Ivon and I will open our own stand and call it The Original Original Hurricane Potato.
May 20, 2012: Disappointing Dinners!
Akemi finds the extra spicy curry fish balls extra spicy indeed.
May 20, 2012: Disappointing Dinners!
A selection of skewers. Cold bacon-wrapped asparagus, way-too-fatty lamb, and tender but kind of bland chicken.
May 20, 2012: Disappointing Dinners!
I consider the Taiwanese sausage. It was actually quite good.
May 20, 2012: Disappointing Dinners!
While Ivon enjoys the enormous pork bun he picked up.
May 20, 2012: Disappointing Dinners!
What would a night market be without some takoyaki? When I saw that one of the options was “cheese”, I wasn’t thinking parmesan.
May 20, 2012: Disappointing Dinners!
The mini waffles came in matcha (green tea) and original flavors. I found them unremarkable, but Ivon and Akemi seemed to enjoy them.

Another disappointing dinner took place the other day when we checked out a new(ish) seafood restaurant in Gastown.  Among the lowlights: a bland lobster salad containing nominal lobster, some overdone tagliatelle with crab, some terribly underdone brussel sprouts, and a couple of desserts I actually felt sad eating because they looked  like they’d commanded a fair amount of effort but the results had been so disastrous.

May 20, 2012: Disappointing Dinners!
These would’ve been more successful had they actually been cooked through.

And then there was dinner the other night at an old (sort of) favorite. Following a salad that tasted like it should be good for you (and I mean that in the not nicest way possible), we followed with three pasta dishes we shared.  The first, a spaghetti, was perfectly al dente and the accompanying sauce was simple and flavorful, if not a little less thick than on our last visit.  The second, a rigatoni, was also nicely cooked, but the accompanying sauce was unremarkable.  The third, a tagliatelle special (what is with tagliatelle?) was an overcooked mash that inevitably clumped together.  We decided to take the pastas to go, figuring Akemi might enjoy them the next day, if not the last two then certainly the spaghetti.  Moments later, our waitress returned with two boxes and informed us that one of the other servers who’d helped clear our table had mistakenly tossed our leftover spaghetti in the trash. The guilty server swung by our table to offer a half-hearted apology, then suggested our lack of leftovers should prove ample motivation for us to return and try the dish again.  I was…surprised, especially given the fact that they know me.  Granted, I didn’t expect them to go through the trouble of eating the $3 cost of the plate and making me a fresh serving, but it would have been nice to have been comped a dessert. Anyway, we left and I vowed it would be a long time before we made a return visit.

May 20, 2012: Disappointing Dinners!
All three of us enjoyed the spaghetti – Akemi, myself, and the trash bin.

And those were just our last three dinner outings.  Equally underwhelming were past visits to other restaurants, a few of which had always consistently in the past: three Italian, one Vietnamese, and Caribbean place (What was I thinking?  This is Vancouver!).  The only luck I’ve had in the past month has been with lunches.  The porchetta sandwich at Meat & Bread and the tacos at Tacqueria never fail to impress.

Ultimately, a disappointing dinner outing stings on many levels. There’s the waste of time, the waste of money and, perhaps most maddening, the waste of calories.  I could’ve just stayed home and braised a lamb shank.

29 thoughts on “May 20, 2012: Disappointing Dinners!

  1. Sorry about your dinner slump. Where is Refuel when you need them? I can’t believe that restaurant threw away your doggie bag. And how rude not to replace it with something else. Probably a rookie server.

    There is a guy on The Bachlorette that could be Ivon’s little brother. He’s got that hair style going on just like Ivon. I beleive his name is Jef. He’s cute – just like Ivon!

  2. Hmmm maybe this is some intervention meant to get you into cooking more at home. 🙂 I hate wasting time and money (and calories) on bad food too, though so I am still sending ample sympathy!

    Shanks’ new series starts the 10, True Blood returns the 10th, which is nice. People in some areas got to see a solar eclipse today, sadly my area isn’t one of them. The last solar eclipse for me was when I was a youngun’ and rode the horses out with my friend to the lake to watch it. If I were rich, I’d have flown to Calif today so I could see it!

  3. @Joe:

    Funny timing on your eating out reviews… It looks like I may have a customer visit to Vancouver in June (it’s not firmed up yet, but it’s probable), so I was going to ask you and your fellow Vancouverites for restaurant recommendations near Water Street downtown. But maybe with the closing of Refuel, the restaurant industry been a little off in Vancouver this spring? Your account above seems less than glowing. Still, recommendations would be very welcome.

    Depending on my travel arrangements and spare time, I may try to do a little sightseeing as well. Perhaps I could get some recommendations from the Stargate fanbase here for a first time visitor to Vancouver?

    I should know the timing of my trip in next week or so.

    @paloosa (yesterday) on writing a book:

    I think other than the occasional quick story, I would quickly run out of material, and then I would bore my readers to death 😉 I also tend to use technical jargon without background or explanation (which is one of the pitfalls of being an engineer)…and that tends to confuse non-technical audiences. You ought to see me at parties:

    [Person making smalltalk]: “So what do you do?”

    [Jeff]: I design GPS Reference Design Hardware and help customers design their own GPS units for production”

    A pregnant pause ensues as the person’s interest shrivels and they desperately look for a way to segue that into something that won’t turn into a half hour of techno-babble. I usually give them a life-line at this point and say something like:

    “Say, how about those Orioles; who would’ve thought they’d be in 1st place?”

    Or if I’m not particularly interested in talking, I’ll just let the silence build. 🙂

    Actually, I have written and had published a half a score of professional papers, magazine articles, and training materials over the years, (almost all on engineering matters), but I think I need to leave the true writing to the professionals, such as Joe. We’re all safer that way 😉

  4. @Ponytail Anybody calling themselves Jef with 1 “f” is someone worth slapping. Speaking of Jeff’s.

    @JeffW You know what would be a really excellent marketable business? Making GPS locator chips for our kiddos with autism that didn’t have to be injected under the skin like they do with microchips in dogs. Then an APP that can locate your kid with autism when they run out or run away the split second you turn around for less than a second. Make it durable enough and portable enough to loop onto their jeans in the morning, or intertwine in their shoelaces. Maybe they make something like that already. I know they were working on something for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s who were at-risk wandering away.

  5. “I’ve taken the occasional break to head out with the dogs, do some readings,..” I know it’s a typo, but having you do readings would be so cool…can you tell me with your pack of cards, what my future holds? 🙂

  6. @JeffW: Husband & I are going to Vancouver next Sun.–Sat. My fifth trip, but those visits were mostly for fandom events. I’ll sleep on your request for sightseeing recommendations. You can contact me privately via Twitter (baterista9) or Facebook (Gilder Anne McCarroll).

    Meanwhile, this will give you an idea of the major attractions:

    Oh, and Jeff? You know of Trimble Navigation and its history with civilian GPS development? Classmate of mine was (may still be) engineer for those products.

    @ Joe: Sounds like Mr. M & I are taking you & Akemi to lunch next week…

    @ pbmom: I thought I’d already heard of something similar. My nephew did well with a cell phone at Disney World last year.

    1. @Baterista9 Have a great time on your trip. Can’t wait to read the details & see your FB photos. Cell phone for Patrick is a bit too advanced.

  7. Great news that you took a break! So sorry that you are grieving for Refuel. 🙁 While JeffW is in town, you might invite him over. While he is enjoying a nice home cooked meal, he can …install deadbolts and maybe some motion detection lights? 😉 You can thank me later Jeff. 🙂

    JeffW: You sound like my hubby. He does development support for developers. I’m used to tech talk because I’m his sounding board. I would have been more interested in the GPS tech than the Orioles (baseball?). Have a good trip!

  8. @PBMom:

    Here you go:

    It’s basically a cellphone in a bracelet or pendant, and (with all that implies) it has a $14.99/month contract, needs to be recharged every day, and needs another smartphone (or tablet/home computer) and app to do the tracking (you can also call an operator).

    The drawbacks are the same as cellphones: network coverage depends on where you live, signals can be blocked by local buildings and terrain (mountains for instance), and if you forget to charge it then you may not have it when you need it.

    By the way, you can do the same thing with an Android cellphone using Mobiflock:

    The drawback in this case is that most cellphone GPS’s don’t work well in pockets. We use Mobiflock to keep track of my son’s phone (he would leave it at friend’s houses and so on) and in his case it would show a position a couple of blocks away when in his pocket, so I wouldn’t use this method for safety critical tracking.

    If you have have any questions on this, feel free to email me…I’d be glad to help interpret the techno-jargon.

    1. @JeffW Wow. That looks like it could work with Patrick right now. One of the goals for next year is for him to differentiate between emergency medical personnel and people who are not — i.e., stranger danger — in the limited capacity he knows how. He can push a button (mine buttons too), so I may try this or something. Thank YOU SO MUCh.

      Wow, guys, I guess I could just have Googled it, but it’s cool that people cared enough to take another thing off my to-do list and just give me the links. Life is a big overwhelming right now with all I have to get do by June 16.

  9. Joe, I just have a moment, but wanted to say that I would have made a bigger stink about the tossed pasta. That’s just totally unsatisfactory. And yes, the very least they could have done was comp a dessert. This happened to us years ago when hubby wanted his meal wrapped, and they only wrapped the meat and threw out everything else (I suspect they threw out the meat, too, but were able to pick that out of the trash). Ever since, I insist on wrapping my own leftovers, or at the very least have the waitperson wrapped them at the table. I will not let them out of my sight, even in a fine restaurant, etiquette be damned. Restaurant dining cost way too much to waste leftovers that can be enjoyed as a second meal.

    @ Deni – Love Riley’s picture! She looks so innocent, but I know she’s not. 😉 Also, you stutter, and have a split personality. 😉 😀


  10. I do enjoy eating out, but I think overall, home-cooked is best. I was going to suggest if you and Akemi are great cooks, you could open your own place, but the kitchens in those places look like a whole new world of craziness! And loooong hours!!!

  11. @Das: Oh, hush. NOBODY gets to make a mistake around Das, do they? NOBODY gets to be a Teamster, either! 🙂 Miss Innocent just got back from the vet’s, got all her shots, including her “big girl shot” (rabies), so she’s done for the year, other than her spay which will be next month. That said, all of a sudden, she’s really catching on to lots of things, including…TAADAAAAAA, the house training. 🙂 Probably helps that I have a lot more time to devote to her now. That said, my vet was still in tears over Elway, and I was trying to hold it together. Ha. Off to house-hunt, split personality and all. xoxo, Roxy 🙂

  12. Too bad about the dinners… at least you have a nice variety of disappointments. And I’m still hungry for takoyaki.

    @PBMom … they make shoes with GPS trackers for Alzheimers patients. Not very stylish, but the technology exists, just have to make the company aware of the potential market for kids/young adults.

    Pricey though.

    1. @Maggiemayday Yikes, Pricey indeed. And with a growing boy’s foot, I can understand why I would want to wait for something like this until I know his feet are done growing. Be worth the investment. He’s not a runner (like other kids with autism) but I did lose him at the funeral home in February and was panicked he walked out with other people visiting or something. I was sobbing. It was a small house and I had searched from top to bottom and could not find him. A moment that brings up still panic for me. But they are very stylish for a shoe that serves a medical purpose. I’ll bookmark that one. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

  13. I agree about the incident with the tossed pasta – that’s just beyond the pale. Not that they tossed it, that’s just human error, but not compensating you in some way is hard to imagine. It’s your food, that YOU paid for. For me anyway, good service can do a lot to compensate for food that’s not that great, but good food seldom compensates for bad service.

    @JeffW: Being a tech guy myself, I’d be right there along with you on the GPS talk. As far as stuff to do in Vancouver, there’s certainly lots there – I’ve only scratched the surface and can’t wait to get back. It really depends on what you’re interested in. The drive up the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Whistler is beautiful. Stanley Park and the Vancouver Aquarium are very nice. When I was there recently I went to the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, which has a fine (and extensive!) collection of West Coast aboriginal totems and art. Definitely take the hourly tour if you go there. The short drive to North Vancouver and a walk in Lynn Canyon park is a nice sample of coastal rain forest. If I remember right, I even think some Stargate was shot around there. It certainly looked familiar!

  14. Am I the only one that is surprised that Das didn’t jump on that Taiwanese sausage picture?

  15. @ Deni – If I point out everyone’s little boo-boos, then my giahugic blunders don’t look so bad. 🙂

    @ Tam Dixon – I was thinkin’ it, yer just sayin’ it. 😀 (I decided to behave in hopes that it would put me in Joe’s good graces for the next mailbag. 😉 )


  16. @PBMom – I’m not sure if they do that here with our pharmacies for medicine…probably…. however this was just nail polish remover bought from a supermarket.

    @Deni – always….loved the cute puppy pic


  17. @JeffW: Seconding gforce on the UBC Museum of Anthropology. I was intrigued by the First Nations exhibits. BTW, the Institute of Texan Cultures here in San Antonio is also a must-see museum.

  18. Hey, instead of one big bad meal, you had a bunch of small disappointing meals. That seems more satisfying than the former to me for some reason.

    Out of curiosity, any chance of Brad Wright or anyone letting fans see the Stargate: Revolution script? Not going to lie, a Netflix rewatch of the show has really piqued my interest.

  19. Sorry that was to PBMom…I was trying out the WordPress comment reply and thought it would inline it. Apparently not.

  20. Hi Joe, I don’t eat out often but recently had two dinners out for birthday celebrations. The first was to my fav cafe/restaurant. Usually I have light meals of coffees there but early April saw a friend’s birthday dinner. Mostly the meals (there were 10 diners) were great and service excellent, however, myself & a fellow diner had a problem with our Thai fish cakes. There were 2 little rum ball-sized things on our plate. Cutting them open we discovered they were similar in texture to a deep fried dumpling with no fish & nothing to distinguish it as Thai. The dipping sauce was just a fish-flavoured oil with a very lingering after-taste. Very, very disappointing, so we both ordered Tiramisu to makes up feel happier 😀

    The second, was a month later in a different establishment which is classified as cafe/restaurant/bar and while the food & service were excellent, the noisy after-work/pre-nightclub crowd were very, very noisy.

    But the object of the exercise on both occasions was to see my favourite cafe places in a different light and on that score, expectations were certainly exceeded.

    I guess you win some, you lose some!!

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