The Soft Opening of Pepper Lunch Canada

I saw a note on Instagram about a new location of the Pepper Lunch restaurant having a “soft opening” event on Saturday and knowing that I was going to be dropping my family off at YVR that morning, I added a comment to say that I would attend the soft opening.

When I walked in, the woman behind the till (one of the owners) recognized me from my Instagram account on her feed and thanked me for commenting on her Instagram post and for coming to visit their new restaurant location.

Pepper Lunch

The concept behind Pepper Lunch is pretty cool. Or rather, it is pretty hot because what they do is bring you a tray with a smoking hot cast iron dish on it with your food – almost raw. And then you let it cook as long, or as short as you like. I ordered the Kobe burger and sliced Angus steak so I didn’t want it over done.

Pepper Lunch

I like beef on the rare side of medium rare so I barely had to turn over the slices of Angus steak and they were done. Once they are cooked to the level you want, you take the tongs that come on the tray and move the beef off the heat by placing it on the side of sprouts and veggies on the cast iron dish.

Pepper Lunch

I chose to add an egg to my lunch – you know steak and eggs. But back to the ordering procedure. When you come in, you go up to the cashier and tell them what you want. Then you pay, they give you a receipt, and on the receipt is your table number where you go and wait. On the day of my visit they were bringing out trays very quickly. I don’t think I waited more than 5 minutes before my tray was on my table. Admittedly, they don’t have to cook the food –  that’s the customer’s job!

As for taste, the Kobe burger was outrageous. Such a flavour explosion; a perfect balance of salty and fatty beef. I would definitely return to have their Kobe beef again. The slices of Angus steak were also very tasty, and I might add, cooked perfectly.

My only complaint was that I paid for green tea and I got a mug of hot water and a green tea bag. I would prefer if they had a pot of tea to fill my mug from. Also, for the soft opening they didn’t yet have their fountain drink or coffee machine installed. That’ll be done very soon. Same as the sign for out front – hopefully before their official grand opening this Tuesday.

  • My lunch order of Kobe beef and sliced Angus steak with an egg, miso soup, and a green tea was just under $20
  • The bottom line, I have no hesitation recommending Pepper Lunch and I will definitely be returning. 
  • The newest location of Pepper Lunch is located in unit 1625-4791 McClelland Rd in Richmond – right near the massive new Walmart located on Alderbridge.

Lunch; Steak and Potatoes

Good old lunch of steak and potatoes with a little sautéed broccolini to make it even more healthy.

Steak and potatoes

The potatoes are fingerlings. Steamed. Best eaten dipped in a creamy dip. The broccolini is cooked by adding it to a large pan that is already hot. Let it cook until it gets dark green and then remove from heat. It is best served right out of the sauté pan – spooned up on to the plate.

To prepare the bacon wrapped steak we put it in a pan under the broiler for five minutes. Pull it out, flip it over, another five minutes and then remove from the oven. Let it rest for a few minutes. Then eat. That’s it.

Steak and potatoes.


Cabin-Cooking; Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

On the long weekend just passed, I decided to head out of town to the cabin. As well as making bread at the cabin, I also needed something substantial for my dinner so of course I visited Meat Craft, my local butcher in Port Moody.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak
Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

Greg the Butcher set me up with a beauty of Bone-in Prime Rib Steak. At 22 ounces, it was a relatively large steak but, it was my intention to share the steak with my daughter. I do find it quite funny that the cow that the steak came from lived its life in the Nicola Valley and I go to Meat Craft in Port Moody to purchase it and then take it back to the Southern Interior to cook and eat it.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

As I like to do, I sprinkled both sides of the steak with a dry rub and let it rest on the paper while I let the cast iron pan warm up in the oven under the broiler.
Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

Then, once the pan was hot enough to make a dollop of butter sizzle and begin to brown, I set the steak into the pan.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

I set my timer for 5 minutes and then slid the pan with the steak into the oven under the broiler.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

The moment the timer sounded I pulled the pan out of the oven and flipped the steak over.

Back into the oven for another 5 minutes.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

And then, as nearly everyone has said in the comments on my YouTube videos of me cooking a steak – I let the meat rest for about 5 minutes before cutting into it. Yes, I let it rest!!

When I did cut into the steak, it was cooked just the way I like it – on the rare side of medium rare.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

Of course as I said, at 22 ounces that’s a large steak. So as you can see in the picture above, I did share the steak with my daughter.

Bottom line, at nearly $30, this was an expensive steak. But really, I only buy a steak like this once every couple of months and I enjoy the process of choosing it, watching Greg cut the steak, and then preparing the steak. It is a treat for myself.




Cabin Cooking; the Porterhouse Steak

I snuck out of town to my cabin again, this time to measure the cabin roof and prep it for a replacement. And of course a trip to the cabin means I’m going to cook meat.

As usual, I headed down to see my local butcher – Greg the Butcher at Meatcraft Urban Butchery in Port Moody on Moody Street just off of St Johns.

Okay, I admit. At just under 22 ounces* this is a pretty massive steak. Enough for three or four people. Or enough for me.

The steak I bought is a new to-me “brand” of beef known as 1846 – a brand that signifies that it is grass-fed beef from a BC ranch, kept out on the range, not fed growth hormones or unnecessary antibiotics, and treated ethically by ranchers who care about the animals.

The bottom line – the steak had wonderful marbling of fat throughout making it extraordinarily tender and flavourful, because as more and more people are realizing, fat equals flavour.

To cook this exquisite piece of meat I did my castiron cooking routine – I put the pan in the oven for about ten minutes so that it was smoking hot. I added a dollop of butter and then lay the steak in the pan, on the melted butter.

I set my timer for 5 minutes and then put the steak, in the pan under the broiler.

As soon as the timer sounded I pulled the pan with the steak out from under the broiler, turned the steak over and put it back under the broiler.

That’s it. I paired it with a handful of heirloom tomatoes and green beans I picked up from a nearby farm, and lunch was ready. An incredibly tender and flavourful steak, cooked to medium rare with a couple vegetables on the side. Life is good.

* At 22 ounces and $27, this steak was more expensive than I typically purchase but WOW it was well worth it!!

Meat Craft Urban Butchery Grand Opening Event

I have written a couple blog posts now about the Meat Craft Urban Butchery located in Port Moody. And, although they have been open for business for a couple of weeks now, they are going to have a grand opening celebration on Sunday November 22nd between noon and 4 PM.

Meat Craft Urban Butchery
Meat Craft Urban Butchery

At their grand opening event Meat Craft will have a pig roast. Yes, they will be roasting an entire pig!! Once the pig is roasted they will be breaking it down and making sandwiches for all who stop by to visit them. The cost for a sandwich? A donation to the Share Food Bank in Port Moody.

However, this is more than an opportunity to have a roast pork sandwich, it is also an opportunity to meet the farmers from Shaw Farms and Gelderman Farms and discuss their products and farm philosophy.

There will also be representatives from Johnston Pork, Hills Foods, Vancouver Pie Hole, House of Q, Moccia Urbani, and Sweet Thing at the Meat Craft Urban Butchery grand opening event to discuss their products and, most importantly,  offering samples.

Meat Craft Urban Butchery will be open for business at 9 am on Sunday November 22nd with the pig roast ready to go around noon and until they run out of roast pork.

Meat Craft Urban Butchery is located at 114 Moody Street in Port Moody, BC.

Disclosure: Meat Craft Urban Butchery provided no financial or other incentive for my writing of this blog post. And as always, editorial control remains with me.

Argo Cafe At Night

Typically you would think that an accountant would know better than to open a restaurant. But when an accountant grows up in a home with parents who are very accomplished chefs, it sort of becomes a foregone conclusion that they will all end up in the kitchen of the family restaurant.

That is sort of what happened with Monica, the chef behind Argo At Night, the Thursday and Friday evening opening of what most people know as the Argo Cafe.

Chef Monica, an accountant by day, looks at what is available and then creates a daily menu based on the supplies her parents hand over to her Thursday and Friday afternoons. Most evenings there are inspired and unique specials.

This evening there was sirloin steak and lobster, pork tenderloin with bacon wrapped scallops, Louisiana seafood pasta and more (I know you can see the picture of the menu).

When you walk in the door of the Argo café, you will feel like you are walking into a 1940s era diner. Booths with tables covered in arborite and seats with vinyl fabric on them all harken back to the golden age of diners.

This place looks like the set of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and I kept expecting to see Guy Fieri pop up in the kitchen. While Guy Fieri didn’t show up to do his clown act in the kitchen, John Catucci of You Gotta Eat Here has visited the Argo Cafe.

Tonight I started with a couple duck spring rolls. Each of the small spring rolls had a serious amount of duck inside it!

Very crispy and tasty and not greasy whatsoever. The duck tasted so good I didn’t even bother dipping them in the included apricot sauce that came with the rolls.

Next was a small cup of fish chowder that was included with my main course. Not outstanding, but good. One thing I really liked about it was that it was not overly thickened.  
For my main course I chose the sirloin steak and lobster. The steak was served with a peppercorn sauce and had a generous portion of frites, a couple pieces of broccoli and carrots. Yep, steak and lobster for $19.95!

The steak was very flavourful and didn’t need a even shake of salt. Tender meat with a nice seared crust. I like my steak cooked on the rare side of medium rare and this one was cooked just a shade past medium rare. It was still a beautiful and very flavourful little steak which I enjoyed immensely.

The small lobster was very falvourful. It had a strong flavour of lobster that pleased my taste buds and didn’t need to be dunked in the standard side of butter.

The frites were also a hit. They are cut in house with a mandolin and then double fried making for wonderful thin fries with a nice crisp mouth feel.

Knowing that I had to do so for my readers, I sampled two of their desserts. The first was a Nanaimo Bar. Good stuff.

Then the wonder-dessert – a creme caramel with a lovely and delicate caramelized sugar syrup poured over top. The perfect dessert to follow a steak and lobster dinner.

I am really surprised that the Argo At Night is not packed for every dinner service. It really reminds me of other hipster havens like the Red Wagon Cafe on East Hastings and once the hipsters discover this place, you can forget about getting a table.

For now, the regulars are able to walk in and be greeted by name and made to feel very welcome. The Argo Cafe is a little gem serving up very creative and thoughtful dishes.

Highly recommended and I will definitely return!

The Argo Cafe is located in a very non-descript building at 1836 Ontario Street, just across from the Olympic Village.

Cooking a Strip Loin Steak

Yesterday in my blog post about the Gammon bacon I mentioned the other piece of meat that I took along on my weekend trip to my cabin – the boneless strip loin steak from Meat Craft Urban Butchery

The strip loin was just over 13 ounces and honestly, it was enough to easily feed two people.

I like steaks cut thick and one of the best things about having a real butcher in the neighborhood is that you can ask for and typically get meat cut the way that you want it cut.

So this beast of a steak was more than an inch and a quarter thick and 8″ in length. It was magnificent.

To cook it, seeing as I do not have a grill or a barbecue at my cabin (what’s up with that, right?) I decided to cook the steak under the broiler in the electric stove.

As an aside, the stove that I cook with at my cabin is the electric stove my grandparents bought when they switched from a wood cookstove in their Burnaby house to an electric stove way back when. And you know, the stove still works really well!!

Seeing as I did not have a barbecue or grill, I cooked the steak in a cast iron frying pan under the broiler of the stove. To do this I put the pan in the oven under the broiler and turned the broiler on.

Once the broiler had the pan and the oven molten hot, I took the pan out, set the strip loin in it and put it back under the broiler. I also had my iPhone timer set for 5 minutes and as soon as I had the steak under the broiler I touched the timer to give me 5 minutes.

After the 5 minutes was up I took the pan and steak out of the oven, flipped the steak over (using my uber-useful tongs) and put it back in the oven and touched the timer for another 5 minutes.


After the second 5 minutes was up, I took the pan with the steak out of the oven and set it on the stove top to let the meat rest before cutting into it.

As I said before, the steak was big enough to feed two people so the fact that it cost me $19 is not such a big deal. The beef from Meat Craft Urban Butchery is from grass fed cattle raised on farms or ranches where the owners care about the welfare of their animals.

Another consideration is that I can get the steak cut to my exact specifications which makes me a very happy customer.

And the fact is, with just a grind of pepper and a generous sprinkle of kosher salt, the strip loin was one of the most incredible tasting and tenderest steaks that I have ever eaten.

I bought this steak and the Gammon bacon from Meat Craft Urban Butchery but the reality is, there are other butchers like Windsor Meats or Hopcott Farms around the city.

When you want a special meal, splurge and go to a butcher. Have them help you pick a quality cut of meat to cook and share with your loved ones. I understand that not everyone can do this every day but for that special occasion, treat yourself right! Enjoy!!

Bison Steak

On a recent trip to the cabin I decided to do something a little different. So I stopped at my local Theifty Foods and bought a bison strip loin steak. 

I laid it in one of my cast iron frying pans and cooked it under the broiler on the stove for five minutes each side.


As it turns out the steak was a little thinner than I realized and I should have gone four minutes a side. It was still delicious and I enjoyed it immensely. Next time a minute less and it will be perfect. 


Cactus Club Serves Up a Winner Dinner

Last week I wanted to go out for a family celebration with my mother and sister and we agreed upon the Cactus Club restaurant on Kingsway across from Metrotown. As it turned out, our choice was a good choice.

I have not been in a Cactus Club restaurant for quite some time and I was pleased to see the influence that Rob Feenie, Canada’s first Iron Chef and current Executive Chef of the Cactus Club chain of restaurants has had on the Cactus Club restaurants.

The menu items created by Chef Feenie all have an RF listed on the the menu – and that is what influenced my choices. That, and the information that our very informed server brought to our table.

For starters we ordered four items from the Cactus Club Happy Hour menu: Szechuan Green Beans, Crispy Dry Ribs, Sea Salted French Fries and Crispy Yam Fries.

Schezuan Green Beans
Schezuan Green Beans
The Szechuan Green Beans are flash fried so they are cooked until crispy and then drizzled with a wickedly delicious balsamic-hoisin-sesame oil glaze. The super thin slices of jalapeno, fresh cilantro and sesame seeds are an added flavour bonus.

Crispy Dry Ribs
Crispy Dry Ribs
I’m not usually a fan of Crispy Dry Ribs but my sister loves them so we ordered them in spite of my voiced concern. Each rib had a generous piece of meat that was nicely seasoned with sea salt and black pepper. I would actually order these again.

Yam Fries
Yam Fries
The Sea Salted French Fries and Yam Fries were good but a little boring. The little side dishes of aioli with a hint of chipotle seasoning were the awesome part of these appies.

For mains we ordered the Rob’s Hunter Chicken, the Peppercorn Sirloin, and a Cheddar Bacon Burger.

Rob's Hunter Chicken
Rob’s Hunter Chicken
Rob’s Hunter Chicken has shiitake, portabello, button and crimini mushrooms with a demi-glace drizzled over and around the entire meal. The chicken is grilled skin-on making it just that little bit more sinfully delicious. Under the grilled chicken breast were more crispy green beans and Yukon Gold potatoes.

This was the meal that our server told us is her favourite and I now understand why.

Peppercorn Sirloin
Peppercorn Sirloin
We asked for the 9 oz Peppercorn Sirloin cooked medium rare and I was impressed to see it was cooked perfectly medium rare. It was a bit tougher than I was expecting but the pernod peppercorn demi-glace, buttered mashed potatoes, and roasted asparagus were all lovely. The asparagus spears, like the green beans on my plate were cooked so that they were a bright green but no further. My favourite.

Cheddar Bacon Burger
Cheddar Bacon Burger
My sister’s Cheddar Bacon Burger on a gluten-free bun looked amazing. Unfortunately I only had a little taste of the burger patty and not enough to say anything from an informed point of view. I can say that the gluten-free bun was light and crispy. You wouldn’t know that you were eating gluten-free buns if you didn’t know it.

Honestly, my favourite part of the burger was the massive slice of a dill pickle that came with it. Super crisp.

Overall, the meal was beautifully presented, perfectly cooked, and a wonderful celebration for our family. We will definitely return to the Cactus Club restaurant.