#FEFsNightOut: Drunken Gastown Crawl feat. Orchard & The Sea, Darby’s Gastown, & Dixie’s BBQ

So what the heck is a “FEFs Night Out”? It’s our foodie-centric take on the infamous Munchies web series Chef’s Night Out, where they follow a group of chefs going on a food and booze crawl, getting various degrees of shit-faced. We thought the Vancouver episode (with Tannis and Joël from Bao Bei/Kissa Tanto, with cameo by Ken Tsui) was way too tame and responsible, so a bunch of us booze-friendly food bloggers tried to do own unhinged version one Saturday night. In attendance were Meaghan (Grub is Love) and Kevin (604 Foodtography), with Wicca and few others. The Instagram tag was #fefsnightout (click if you want to see some triplet fashion porn) and the writeup is below. I didn’t take notes during this outing, so I don’t really get into my usual level of detail and analysis. So enjoy the more relaxed me below!

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We started things off at Orchard &The Sea (previous review here) and it happened to also be the launch of the Dominion Cider Co. and Dickie’s Ginger collaboration Ginger Cider:

 

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As far as I know, Orchard & The Sea is operating until end of September, so check it out to get your cider fix before this pop-up ends! 

I’ve been informed by Txotx Basque Imports (the people behind Orchard & The Sea) that they’ll be operating into the Fall with no set end date!

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It was an Okanagan/Summerland lovefest with cider/ginger beer flights and an apple dish.

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Chef Jefferson Alvarez is busy setting up his new Kits restaurant Cacao, so Chef Daniela Randle has taken over the food with a new menu.

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The ever-changing cider menu.

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The backside of the ever-changing cider menu.

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The Dominion Cider and Dickie’s Ginger bottles.

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Click to read the label.

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Orchard & The Sea also do cider flights now. This week’s flight featured Sunday Cider’s hopped cider (6%), Tod Creek Coastal Blue cider with blueberries (6%), and Finnriver Honey Meadow (6.5%).

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I got the Dominion & Dickie’s flight ($7) which contained (L-R) Dickie’s Ginger Beer (0%), Dominion Dry Cider (6.5%), and Dominion/Dickie’s Ginger Cider (6.7%). I’ve had the ginger beer before at various events and it’s really fresh, zingy, and not too sweet. (In case you didn’t know, “ginger beer” is not alcoholic.) The Dominion cider was quite clean, straightforward, and dry. The ginger cider is a great combination of the two. I don’t know why you don’t see ciders with ginger more often because the combination works so well.

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Chorizo & Patatas Bravas ($8). I’m still trying to figure out what patatas bravas is and should be. As a dish, this tasted good with its spiced roasted potatoes, firm and salty/spicy slices of chorizo, and caramelized tomatoes. But as patatas bravas…

Since The Birds & The Beets operates as a cafe during the day, they actually don’t have a stovetop or deep fryer here. They have to get by using only an oven, so this is probably the best iteration of this dish they could do with their setup. The chorizo reminded me of the Save On Meats pepperoni that they serve at The Diamond.

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White Anchovies with Olives, Peppers, & Beans ($8). Great combination of fresh, pickled, and cured elements. I love white anchovies. They’re like the white chicken meat version of the heavier, richer, oilier, saltier anchovies.

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Mojo Picon Pork Skewers ($8). Mojo picon is a mildly spicy garlic sauce from the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa (says Google). The pork was very juicy and flavourful, and was served with a contrasting green salsa. My favourite dish at Orchard & The Sea that night.

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Wild Mushroom Crostini with Gorgonzola & Truffle Honey ($8). Earthy, mushroomy goodness. The perfect tapas. (This plate actually full before I could get a shot of it.)

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After finishing my cider flight, I got a Shacksbury – The Basque (6.2%). The funky, farmhousey complexity pleases my nose and palate so much.

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One last bottle of the (non-alcoholic) Dickie’s Ginger Beer before we go to the next place.

We attempted to get into Alibi Room but of course they were full with a 30 minute wait time, so we headed to Darby’s Gastown instead. After Alibi Room, Darby’s has the best taplist in Gastown.

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This place was the old Bitter (Heather Hospitality Group), but Darby’s took over last year and officially changed the name earlier this year. Exactly the same layout as Bitter. HHG’s presence in Gastown has been slowly shrinking over the past few years. I wonder what’s happening to the once-proclaimed “King of Gastown”? Ooooo, Upright is on tap!

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If you look closely, you’ll notice a NITRO IPA on tap. I had to try it.

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Brasserie Dunham Raspberry Saison (6.5%). Raspberry beers tend to be sours or boring or juice. This one’s unique in that it’s a saison. Great stuff.

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L-R: Le Trou du Diable Les 4 Surfeurs De L’Apocalypso White IPA (6.5%), Boneyard Hop Venom  Double IPA (9%), and Ballast Point Watermelon Dorado Imperial IPA (10%). The Hop Venom is dangerously pleasurable. A big yet balanced DIPA that drinks way too easy for 9%. The Ballast Point Watermelon was a Jolly Rancher-scented joke in a glass. Didn’t have the weight or presence of a 10% IPA, and the candylike aroma makes you think, “Is this a joke?” Then you take another sip and you think, “This is a joke, right?”

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Foamers’ Folly Hotbox Nitro IPA (6.6%) and Upright Brewing Five Hoppy Saison (5.5%). You don’t see Upright Brewing beers on tap very often, so this is a reason to celebrate. It’s arguably better in the bottle (as most saisons tend to be because of the quality of the bottle carbonation versus forced CO2 on tap), but this was no slouch. Even with the plethora of saisons available nowadays, I still think Upright does the best saisons. They have this certain balance, depth, and complexity that’s just a pleasure to drink.

The Foamer’s Folly Nitro IPA was an eye-opener. It’s much more common to see stouts served on nitro (eg. Guiness), and that nitro carbonation is what gives beer that creamy mouthfeel and whipped cream-like head. The bar manager Alex said that they dry-hopped the shit out of this because it was expressly brewed to be served on nitro, and it was amazing. Huge fruity hop aroma with a fair amount of dank weediness in there too. Flavour was a touch sweet which complemented the juicy hops nicely. A bittersweet dream and my favourite drink of the night.

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The view of East Hastings is a combination of funny, sad, and heartbreaking. You have constant reminders that you’re drinking in the downtown eastside.

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Someone ordered Roasted Potato Wedges ($5.95) with garlic dill mayo.

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I like cuteness with a side of dagger to the heart.

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Parkside White ISA (4.5%). As an ISA (India Session Ale), it’s an interesting take on the whole session ale thing in that they’ve put a witbier spin on it, which works in its favour by adding another level of complexity to otherwise thin-tasting beers. However, after drinking much bigger beers, this one tasted less appealing and was probably more suited as a first beer rather than a last beer.

After Darby’s, we went on a sobering late nite tour of East Hastings, walked past the Insite safe injection site, and arrived at Dixie’s BBQ. Yeah, technically this place is in Chinatown/Downtown Eastside, not Gastown proper.

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I wrote about these guys on their very first day of business. I broke all sorts of food reviewing rules by talking about their food so damn early. But even back then I saw promise and now I wanted to see how they were doing six months later.

Unfortunately we got there too late to sample their actual barbecue meats because they switched over to their late nite menu:

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So no actual slices of brisket, piles of ribs, or sausages. 🙁 We’d have to make do with sandwiches and tater tots. Turns out it wasn’t so bad of a development at all!

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Fun, unpretentious eats.

We had a lengthy discussion with the owner and were impressed by his commitment and integrity. He really seems to respect the process, technique, and tradition of Texas barbecue. That’s why they only serve their bbq meats between 5-10pm. When you think about it, there’s a narrow window of time when stuff like brisket is at its optimum state for being sliced and served. Outside of that window, the brisket can get dried out and lose its juices. There aren’t any big secrets to barbecue. I mean, Aaron Franklin puts it all out there in his PBS series BBQ with Franklin and his book Franklin Barbecue. Sites like amazingribs.com are a great free resource as well. So what it takes really is time, effort, patience, and adherence to process and quality. We’ll return to try the actual barbecue and see if it matches up to these lofty ideals that I imagine barbecue to be an expression of. 😉

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Someone ordered a giant jug of Gringo Margarita. (Dixie’s BBQ is owned by the same people as Gringo’s in Gastown.)

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Fried Chicken Sammie ($13). Amazing. Coated with cornmeal and potato starch — very crunchy and satisfying!

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I think they said that the chicken is brined in buttermilk for five(!) days, so the chicken is incredibly juicy and tender. Complemented with housemade ranch dressing, lettuce, and tomatoes. A great end to our crawl.

NOTE: All of our sandwiches came on Texas toast (thick white bread) because the kitchen was out of their regular buns (which I think are challah bread). But we enjoyed the more neutral flavour of the white bread anyways, so not a big loss.

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The fried chicken sandwich comes with a side of tater tots. You really can’t mess up tater tots. And it’s not worth the effort to make them in-house from scratch because this is the one case of industrially-made food that works.

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Pig Nuggets ($6), which is pulled pork that’s been breaded and deep fried. Served with bacon ranch, pickles, and bbq sauce on the side. These were everything you’d imagine them to be.

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Sweet Tea (complimentary). We liked how it wasn’t too sweet. The slight drying astringency of the tea works well to cleanse the palate between bites of fried food.

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Pecan Pie (complimentary). They smoked the pecans in-house using old Jack Daniels barrels that were turned into wood chips for smoking.

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Hahaha, shotgun shell. We’ll be back again to try their actual barbecue.


It was well past midnight, and we were all getting tired and ready to call it quits. We actually did not get shitfaced. How disappointingly responsible! We’ll try again…

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