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Stella's on Cambie – Vancouver, BC

November 13th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Ahhh – beer. For those evenings when you’ve just come in the door from work – and that first sip of beer touches your lips, the cold bubbles run over your tongue, and your brain just goes “it’s over – you’re home”.
Stella's on Cambie - Vancouver, BC
That’s my favourite part about beer.
Stella's on Cambie - Vancouver, BC
And Belgians make fabulous beer. There are a few places in town that have a reasonable selection of Belgian beers – Chambar is one of them, and Stella’s on Commercial Drive is another. But the last time I was at Stellas on Commercial – I wasn’t feeling the love. I thought the food we had was uninspired, and I didn’t get a good vibe from the restaurant itself, although indeed they did have a decent selection of Belgian beer.

So now that the Canada Line is in the ground and Cambie has been put back together, Stella’s has opened a Cambie street branch in what was the Tomato (years ago). The result? Definitely an improvement.

Weekday night – out with M, in search of good beer and some good food, if it will come our way.

We decide to hit up Stella’s as we know the beer is pretty much guaranteed to be decent, and thinking we’ll take a chance on the food.

And the result? Not bad at all. We go in, are seated almost immediately – and the interior isn’t bad. It’s a little “high-class kitschy” in that Earl’s/joey’s/Cactus Club kind of way, but not so shiny as to not be uncomfortable. It’s actually not bad. There’s a dining room that is connected through a wide doorway to the large bar, but it still feels separate enough that you could probably have a meal in the dining room and if there was a rowdy crowd in the bar you wouldn’t really notice.

Our server brings us some menus, and a bowl of complimentary, sweet-but-salty, thickly-cut potato chips that are *delicious*. I am a sucker for free, salty snacks, even if it means I’ll just end up ordering more to drink. M orders an Orval, and I have a Celis white – the Celis is perfect – I love a good weissbier and this indeed hits the spot. Served in a proper glass, perfectly cold – what more could I ask for? We order some food – M is veg, so he starts with the local fresh mozzarella and tomato salad, with pickled onions in a balsamic reduction – I don’t know if the heirlooms are still in season, but he claims it’s decent enough – fresh food, served fresh, and it looks ok.
Stella's on Cambie - Vancouver, BC Stella's on Cambie - Vancouver, BC

I go with the Bangers and Mash, and M orders the fries (he just ran the NYC marathon and he’s whippet-thin – he can have all the fries he wants). The bangers and mash are actually pretty tasty – the mash is a bit lumpy (a good thing), and the bangers are full of flavour. My only complaint about this dish is that it was served kind of cold. Not cold as in gazpacho cold, like it was on purpose, but cold as in it wasn’t heated up enough kind of cold – it had parts that were kind of cold, and some that were serving temperature – making me wonder – did this come out of a fridge and get re-heated? Because it didn’t taste old, it didn’t have a dried crust on the potatoes – it was just kind of…odd, I guess. M’s fries were perfectly crisp, and came with mayo – and he was a happy customer. I have to say that the bangers and mash were basically delicious – I was just found the temperature thing a bit strange is all.
Stella's on Cambie - Vancouver, BC Stella's on Cambie - Vancouver, BC

Oh well – I have to say it didn’t stop me from finishing it, so it can’t be that bad, right? Anyway – we finished the meal with a beer. M had a koningshoeven and I tried a flight – which included 4 beers, ending in a sweet, strawberry-flavoured (lambic? I know so little about beer) beer, Früli – which was as close to dessert as I dared getting after the sausages and potatoes which I have done nothing to earn lately.
Stella's on Cambie - Vancouver, BC

Service was efficient, but not terribly friendly – I don’t expect servers to be super-friendly – hey – it’s just a job – but at least a generally welcoming demeanour is encouraged. Unfortunately our server was just generally glum – and not just to us – perhaps it was just a bad night. The other servers and bartender seemed quite friendly with their customers and so I’ll just chalk this up to a one-off.

So – the overall experience at Stella’s was a good one. It isn’t a place that tries too hard – it knows it sells great beer, it’s definitely comfortable inside, and the food was entirely decent – definitely a grade above normal bar food, and I thought definitely better than the limited menu options that we had tried at Stella’s on Commercial Drive. Service could step it up a little – but hey – it’s a minor complaint and if we were at a different table, I wouldn’t be complaining at all. The patio is in a great location, and this definitely looks like a fabulous place to go on some warm summer’s evening – that here in November, in cold, wet Vancouver, seems a million miles away right now.

But – in wintertime or springtime, you can probably head to Stella’s on Cambie and drink some delicious beer, forget about your cares for a bit, and have some tasty food to snack on – and definitely, enjoy those free chips. Dinner for two including 3 beer and a flight, ~$50. Stella's on Cambie - Vancouver, BC Stella's on Cambie - Vancouver, BC Stella's on Cambie - Vancouver, BC

Stella’s on Cambie
3305 Cambie Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 2W6, Canada
Tel: (604) 874-6900

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Stella’s on Cambie on Urbanspoon

Tags: Beer · Vancouver · Western Food

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