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Saturday, 21 April 2012

East Side Mario’s

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Yay! I managed to get off work on time at 4pm for once! :) I love getting off work and still see the sun shining nice and bright outside! It puts me in a cheery mood! While driving to Ying’s, the majestic view of the mountains of North Vancouver made me want to pay North Van a visit. So, I decided to go on a date with Ying to Lonsdale Quay using her East Side Mario’s coupon! The string attached is that we cannot eat inside the restaurant and we must do an online order. The online order was straight forward. Even Ying figured it out! :D

It was a nice and pleasant drive to Lonsdale Quay. Although free parking was hard to find, I managed to track one down on 3rd St. within 15 minutes. Finding East Side Mario’s was no difficult task when you arrive at the market, as their huge signs are everywhere. The interior of the restaurant is quite nice! The ambiance is pleasant with antique-like decoration. It was rather packed when we arrived but we were greeted very promptly. We showed the order confirmation to the server on my smartphone and they asked us to wait.
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While waiting, I walked around to check out the place and discovered that they have a huge patio overlooking False Creek! If you come at the right time, you can see the romantic sunset.  Please see the two pictures below of the view from their patio.
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Within 15 minutes, we got our food and we had to find a place to sit down and soak in the beautiful environment of North Van while enjoying our Italian food. So we walked around the market and settle for a table right beside the waterfront. It was sunny and warm. Perfect day for a meal like this! The food we decided on includes Budda Boomers, Firecracker Shrimp Penne (came with Caesar salad as the side) and a small New York pizza. The Budda Boomers were free because it was our first online take out order. It also came with salad dressing, dipping sauce for Budda Boomers and butter (see right lower picture).
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To start, Ying and I had the Caesar salad which came as a side dish when we ordered cracker shrimp penne. The lettuce was fresh and the crouton was crunchy. The bacon and cheese were plentiful. It also came with Caesar salad dressing on the side so you can determine how much of it you want to use. It wasn’t bad but certainly didn’t blow any Caesar salad I had in the past out of the water. Anyhow, it’s necessary to have some veggie as our meal was carb oriented.
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Our other appetizer was the Budda Boomers, which were basically pizza dough deep fried and sprinkled with herbs, garlic, and parmesan cheese. This was probably the best part of the meal. The bread was chewy and crunchy and well-seasoned. I really liked it when dipped into the tomato sauce. However, Ying did not like it as much because it was too greasy for her. Good! I get more! :D
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The first of our two mains for the night was the Firecracker Shrimp Penne ($16.99), with plenty of sauteed shrimp, green chilies, tomatoes, peas, spiced with basil and parmesan, tossed in a primavera sauce. The sauce was creamy and actually quite spicy from the green chilies. The penne noodles were cooked al dente. Unfortunately, the shrimp, though plentiful, was not very fresh. It would have been nicer if they were deveined as well. For the price, I was expecting a bigger portion. Oh well.
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We also got the New Yorker Pizza (small size) for our second main ($9.99). With the large box, we were expecting something a bit larger than we got. In fact, it was pretty disappointing to open the box to find a tiny pizza sitting in the middle of a huge box. Quite frankly, it was pretty average and not very memorable. Ying commented that she wasn’t sure why this was called a New Yorker Pizza  as it really resembled a deluxe pizza from any pizza joint. I suppose the thin crust may be what distinguishes New York-style pizza from your neighbourhood Pizza Hut. From the picture, you can probably tell that the toppings had pepperoni, red/green peppers, mushrooms and mozzarella. I think I’ll stick to the pasta if I visit again. _MG_8907 copy
_MG_8930 copy Each of the entrees also came with a pretty large… garlic bun/bread?? It wasn’t very garlicky and…tasted very doughy. Ying didn’t like it and pretty much left hers untouched. I ate mine with abundance of butter. Maybe it would be better with soup.
Apparently, the market closes at 6pm on weekends, so we were kicked out of our table as they were stacking all the chairs away. No worries, we found a better spot with an even better view of the waterfront. :) And so we continued munching…romantically. 
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All in all, the date went well. We chatted. We giggled. We ate. The food was not mind-blowing, but it was not bad. The best word to describe it is…average. 

The Yummies:
  • Excellent view of the waterfront (especially from the patio)
  • Nice dining ambience
  • Budda Boomers were good!
The Yuckies:
  • No free parking
  • Food is mediocre at best, and pretty pricey for what you get
Bonus photography from me!
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