Restaurant review: Los Generales

Good food. Cheap prices. Cheery service. Free wifi. Booze.

It may look humble, with its homemade signage and rather drab, dated decor, but Los Generales at 334 Sixth St.delivers a surprisingly warm, satisfying, authentic Mexican culinary experience. It is well worth a visit.

Chicken enchilada smothered in green tomatillo sauce at Los Generales in New Westminster
Chicken enchilada smothered in green tomatillo sauce at Los Generales in New Westminster

If your experience of Mexican cooking has so far been limited to chain restaurant fajitas, quesadillas and tacos, you may be surprised at the wholesome simplicity of the food. Cast Taco Bell expectations aside, and you’ll soon appreciate the homey fare Los Generales has to offer.

The tortilla chips with homemade green or red salsa are bottomless and the portions are generous. I had the chicken enchiladas with green tomatillo sauce, and it was delicious, filling, and cost only $7! Fellow TTTF crew Will and Jocelyn were with me as well. Jocelyn had the four-taco platter (also $7) and Will chose the Platillo de Carnitas de Puerco (slow-cooked pork served with rice, refried beans and cheese) for $8.50. All satisfying comfort food!

Los Generales on UrbanspoonAs for the booze, the margaritas are pleasantly lime-y and the glasses sport sugared rims. The beer is served in frosted mugs with a twist of lime.

The booze isn’t as good a bargain as the food, though pricing is still within restaurant standards. The margaritas are $7 and $8, and beer ranges from $5-7. A couple at a neighbouring table ordered mojitos that quickly became objects of envy, with the fresh mint leaves tucked in the icy glasses. They assured us the drinks tasted as good as they looked.

Tasty margaritas at Los Generales
Tasty margaritas at Los Generales

Fellow Royal City blogger Dave Marchuk also reports in his review of Los Generales that the Blue Margarita ($7) is ‘exceptional’ and the cheddar cheese and chorizo sausage appetizer ($8) is also excellent. Dave says the chicken burrito was the best he’s ever had – and his date’s chicken enchilada was ‘unbelievably yummy.’ He also sings the praises of the minty mojitos.

All in all, Los Generales is a worthy new addition to the New Westminster restaurant scene, with top-notch food and service, and lots of memorable little touches that deliver a great experience.

Farmers’ Market Set to Kick Off

Admittedly, I’m a little biased. I was recently appointed as the market manager for the Royal City Farmers’ Market, but I am so excited about the market’s reopening coming up!

The second incarnation of the Royal City Farmers’ Market is about to kick off June 25th with a special “Welcome to Summer Vacation” market, featuring kids’ activities including toys and crafts, a magician, face painting, and a special appearance by Mayor Wayne Wright who will start the market season off with a bang! The market runs June 25 to October 8 and is on Thursdays from 3-7pm in Tipperary Park, which has got to be one of the nicest urban parks around.

The market had it’s first year last year after a 25 year hiatus in New Westminster and it was so successful that registered vendors for this year have almost doubled. Farmers’ markets are an essential part of your local economy and by shopping at the market, you are supporting the “little guys” and you know you are getting fresh goods. You’ll also reduce your carbon footprint by buying goods produced / grown / made here in BC (most are from the Lower Mainland).

Aside from the shopping, the Royal City Farmers’ Market encourages you to bring a blanket and hang out in the park. The market isn’t just about shopping, it’s also a great place to meet up and socialize with your friends and family. What better way to spend a summer night?

RC Farmers Market 02

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The long-awaited ‘new’ Orange Room – reviewed

A few days ago, Will and I made our way down to The Orange Room, which recently reopened under new management. It has long been a favourite haunt of ours, so we came with high expectations and a little fear that the elements that made The Orange Room so great (delicious menu, friendly service, live music, stylish atmosphere) might be missing under different management.

Orange Room on Urbanspoon

We came away reassured, though our experience was somewhat marred by new restauranteur growing pains (more on that later). It was exciting to have a whole new menu to try. The standout was the pistachio-encrusted tuna steak skewers, which were rich and savoury. We also enjoyed the ‘Coquille Saint-Orange Room’ – Scallops in garlic butter and white wine sauce with mushrooms, onions and sizzling gruyere cheese. The potato yam pavé was less to my taste. It’s a layered yam and potato cake with cream, garlic and herbs. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t feel it stood up to the unique flavour of the other dishes.

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There were lots of interesting little flourishes that show the new owners have put in a lot of thought about the experience they want to create at The Orange Room. For example, they are passionate about sourcing local suppliers, so the beer on tap is from Surrey’s Central City Brewery. Because it’s a brand many people are unfamiliar with, The Orange Room offers beer tasters served in diminutive drams no bigger than a shot glass. It’s just enough to tell that, for example, the pale ale isn’t to your taste, but the ‘winter ale’, though unexpectedly pale, is pleasantly smooth with a hint of apricots.

Sampling isn’t yet available for wine or other drinks, but our server hinted that a wine tasting concept could be on the horizon. Given the local focus, we put in a good word for adding Pacific Breeze‘s wines to the list – we visited the Stewardson Ave. ‘Garagiste‘ winery recently as well and were very impressed with both the bold taste of the product and the local story behind it.

The changes made to the ‘old’ Orange Room are subtle but worthwhile improvements. Re-envisioning the Orange Room as a tapas restaurant makes the menu feel more cohesive. The lighting seems brighter, and the decoration has been pared back somewhat. The room itself is the same deep reddish-orange, and the the furniture is the same, yet the space has been gently reworked to provide more kitchen space and better traffic flow among the tables.

Now, about those growing pains… although the menu looked delicious, many items were marked as unavailable, whether sold out or pending supplier relationships. The service was pleasant, but slow. When we went, the kitchen was backlogged with orders and so it took a long time to get our food. We spotted one of the new owners, Zoe Watters, zipping around the tables, working behind the bar and then finally donning a chef’s hat and apron to get things moving behind the scenes. Despite the frantic pace, Zoe took a few minutes to chat with us while we paid the bill and told us that they’ve been much busier than they expected. It seems we were not the only ones hungering for the Orange Room’s return.

All in all, we were pleased with our experience. The problems we encountered were unfortunate, but understandable given that the owners are new to the restaurant business. The Orange Room delivered the goods where it counts, in atmosphere, menu and charm. Live music isn’t currently offered, but we were assured that it was coming soon. With a little more time to work out the kinks, the Orange Room will remain a beloved local eatery. In the meantime, it’s well worth the visit.

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The ultimate lemon meringue pie

Lemon Meringue Pie Again
Image by ♥ he@rt ♥ via Flickr

This is a guest post by Mojgan Fay, who waxes rhapsodic about pie, chocolate and all things sweet. You can find her on Twitter posting as @somethinglemon. As you will see from the post below, she’s also a fan of the citrus!

This leading citrus assembly offers more than an appealing colour, odour, and flavour. It is a staple of summertime picnics and intimate wintertime gatherings. The cool brightly yellow lemon filling with the soft sugary meringue goodness is a perfect compliment to your afternoon tea. This lemon meringue pie can be found at Couzie’s Cafe and Catering on 619 Belmont Street in New Westminster.

I must admit that for me nothing compares to the coziness that’s created by sipping tea with friends and savouring a slice of something lemon. Couzie’s not only makes the best lemon pie there is — freshly made from a family recipe — but also provides a warm and welcoming ambiance, with art-covered walls, perfect for that all-important business lunch meeting, the family Sunday morning brunch, or simply for an afternoon dessert and tea/coffee medley.

Couzie's Cafe and Catering on UrbanspoonJoan Couzelis, owner of Couzie’s and resident of New Westminster, had a vision to make “real food for real people”, and this family affair has definitely reached this goal. Couzie’s offers a collection of paninis served on bread that’s baked daily in the cafe, amongst dessert pies, meat pies, cabbage rolls, soups, and salads. But food isn’t the only thing Joan is passionate about. She consistently contributes to her community. The staff save dimes, nickels, and pennies from their tips and donate that money to local charities and causes.

So the next time you have a craving for something lemon, check out Couzie’s and you just might be hooked.

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Huzzah! The Orange Room lives!

It was a dark day in New Westminster when the Orange Room closed. It was one of only a handful of restaurants in New West that one might classify as, well, cool. Amid the plethora of sports bars and diners, The Orange Room was a vital refuge for those among us who enjoyed tapas with a side of live music and local art.

I had given up hope that this favourite restaurant of mine might reopen, but I am happy to report that the Orange Room lives! 

The new owner is Paloma Eguiagaraya, who impulsively offered to buy the restaurant within a week of seeing the note on the door announcing the closure. Another buyer was in the running at the time, aiming to transform The Orange Room into yet another sports bar. 

The New Westminster woman, who has no history in the restaurant business, just couldn’t bear to see the eatery go.

“We’re French and Spanish, so we’re very spontaneous,” said Paloma’s daughter Zoe Watters, who is the new general manager of The Orange Room. 

The new Orange Room will bear the same name and – hopefully – the same community feel. It will also continue the tradition of live music. Regulars should prepare for some big changes, however. The restaurant is currently undergoing renovations, and the menu will be revised to focus on Mediterranean-style tapas.

If the renovations go according to schedule, the Orange Room will reopen in a few weeks.

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4 Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants I Like

Well, the other day our guest poster, New West Gal mentioned that she was thoroughly dissatisfied with the restaurant choices here in the Endub, so I thought I would take a few minutes to relate four of my favourite restaurants. I’m not an expert, by any means, but I have lived here for a while, am a sucker for a to-go menu, and will make a point of eating local if the food is good. Everyone hears about La Spaghetteria and The Keg, but what about the hole-in-the-walls? So in no order in particular:

Pho Maxima on Urbanspoon Pho Maxima: 822 20th Street. This place gets my vote as # 1 Pho restaurant in town. Granted, he might be the ONLY Pho restaurant in town, but beggars can’t be choosers. Pho Maxima is actually a relocation – he used to be on Edmonds, near Canada Way in neighbouring Burnaby, but shut down in the winter of 07 to relocate to 20th Street in New West. It’s a small joint, run by a family, but the food is piping hot, incredibly fresh-tasting, and the menu, while somewhat predictable, covers all the favorites you’d want to see at a Vietnamese place.he gets two thumbs up for remembering my husband and I when we come in when we’ve only actually been there a half dozen times or so. He also delivers (woot!), although how far I am not positive. 604-759-3669.

Hi Dojo Sushi on UrbanspoonHi Dozo Sushi: 702 6th Avenue (on the corner of 7th Street and 6th Avenue). I have yet to figure out what Hi Dozo actually means, and if this place is called Hi Dozo or Hi Dojo. In any event, the food is consistently good, the rolls are a bit more imaginative than your standard Dynamite/California combo, and the staff are incredibly nice. They do have a take out menu. This isn’t the cheapest sushi in town but sushi is one of those things I will pay more for if its quality. I have never been disappointed by Hi Dozo. 604-519-0099

Golphis Steak & Lobster on UrbanspoonGolphi’s Steak and Lobster: 1122 5th Avenue (entrance is actually on 12th Street). I have to confess that I haven’t been here in a while so if you go, and it sucks, let me know. This is one of those places that you walk in and you have to ask if they are open. Horrid decor, and semi-awkward ambience. I’m probably not selling it here, am I? But the food redeems itself. Excellent pizza (they do deliver) and a good selection of typical quasi-Greek items. Service was fabulous and price was good. I ordered a steak once and was delighted and surprised by the quality. 604-524-3677

Ole Ole Mexican Deli on UrbanspoonOle Ole Mexican Deli: at 831 12th Street is also a long time favourite. The man who runs this place is, hands down, one of the most charismatic restauranteurs I have met. I like going in and saying “I’m in the mood for chicken, surprise me” and I get a plate of fresh, authentic food for cheap. I like the tiny little operation that it is, and the warm homey food. I also feel like I can hang out in there for as long as I want. 604-540-7435

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