I was greeted with a super kind surprise when I walked through the door and saw Natalie behind the bar. Maaan, that's the kind of welcoming you're lookin' for when you walk into any room. She's such a wonderful person, and she has that job dialed. Because I don't feel like I worded that right, I'm gonna share the message I sent to her when I got home...
"Maaan, shiiiit...It was so good to see you. You made me realize something I really miss...
Seeing you work a bar!
You're so freakin' good at it. There's just a naturalness to the way you move and interact with people. I had come to love watching it just from paying attention.
Do you remember when I used to come into The Falls after shift, grab a ginger ale, and then lean against the wall at the entrance to the washroom hallway? I'd chill out for a bit watching the music, but in doing that repeatedly, I inevitably saw you do what you do. I like watching people do things they're good at, and you're good at being a human, and that translates into the way you interact with people at your work...or anywhere, but I'm not talkin' about anywhere right now. 🙂 You're somethin' alright. Pretty good stuff Natalie."
Greeted by some wonderful
The reason why I say this about Natalie is because that's who you're dealing with as a customer at Yum Son...just this fantastic person who crushes at her job because of her awesomeness.
Me to myself: "Alright, off to a great start!"
Then I look to the left of her to see Brian leaning against the other side of the bar!
Also, me to myself: "Shiiit, lookkit this!"
So my dining experience started at great, and then immediately added in some more awesome, which brought the whole situation to totally stylin'!
Because I am a deadbeat without a phone, I had to get a real menu 'cause I couldn't do the scan thing for an internet menu.
Natalie knows alcohol isn't really my thing, but asked me if I wanted some other kind of fancy drink. I said, "sure." When she asked me what kind I wanted, I said that I didn't care, and that she can just surprise me.
Bring on the awesome! She gets to work, and starts breezing through the drink with her kind summery finesse. (That's when I realized I missed watching her in action.)
Natalie having some fun while whipping up a fancy drink surprise
Dalat Market Soda
Natalie whipped me up a Dalat Market Soda, and when she brought it to me, Brian was up on his little stage perch getting ready to play some tunes. Perfect timing!
He is a musical monument around our community. Brain is always in the thick of things to bring kind melodies to our ears and hearts with his ukulele. Whether solo, duo, trio, or whatever, Brian pops up everywhere...at weddings, festivals, markets, restaurants and pubs, and he even books music for places too. He starts to feel like a piece of home for the amount you see him at all these things you do in the area. It just so happens that he's an excellent guy too, so that's pretty good.
Of course he had to bust into a Ripple by the Grateful Dead for his second tune of the night. Not sure if that was for me, but I was more than happy to be self centred and selfish for a moment and say that he totally played that for me, even though he didn't!
There are a few things that have my number in the food world, and Lemongrass is one of them, so I ordered the Yum Son Noodle Bowl with a Spring Roll (Plant Based) add on. While I was waiting for that, I dove into my fancy-pants Natalie drink, and watched Brian lay down some tunes.
I like that they serve their drinks with a reusable metal straw rather than a disposable plastic one. Nice touch! (The little things, you know?!) The Dalat Market Soda gives a push and pull flavour. I can only describe it as though a tropical rainforest was in unison with a temperate forest in our local BC mountains...the sharp bitterness of the temperate coniferous crossed with the sweet fruitiness of the tropical. (From the forest scent point of view.)
I described the only sip of a mojito I ever had as, "this tastes like what it smells like in a cedar forest immediately after a rainfall." When I said that, the girls I was with were kinda surprised by that reaction, and then all said together that that was an amazing analogy. I don't know if it is, but that is how I described it. This Dalat Market Soda was similar in that context to me, as I could only define it to myself in terms like that of the different rainforests.
The diversity in flavouring came from the sweetness of pureed strawberry combined with the bitterness of grapefruit, and then add in some mint layered throughout. It was yummy and very refreshing!
I saw some of my guests from my hotel who I recommended to come here to see Brian play some music, and eat some good food. They were a real sweet couple. It was nice to see them.
**A side note is that it was so kind to have some live music during this bizarre time of inching our way through post-quarantine while still in the midst of this whole COVID craziness. A little slice of what was once normal...I dig it! (There's those little things again.)
Yum Son Noodle Bowl
The food came in on a vibrant wave. Enticing to the eyes. A nice light looking meal. I find Yum Son to be that way overall though. Their food tends to be light and not overbearing, but also plays to the theatre of one's eyes.
The Yum Son Noodle Bowl is pretty simple in the ingredients offered, but comes together to be completely satisfying. The bed of rice noodles lay that foundational canvass that allows the rest of the colours to come to life. I like the way it sang its own song in front of me before I got into it. It foretold to me of something wonderful about to come while also conveying to my belly not to worry about a heavy load because it was a dish not of that nature.
Lemongrass Grilled Pork Loin...yup, I'm into that! Chicken too?! Alright, that's not bad! For a seemingly simple dish, there was a nice mix of textures on the plate. From the soft rice noodles that melt away quite effortlessly, and the moist pork and chicken, to the differing crunches that the carrot and lettuce offered in comparison to the subtly creamy sweet crunch of the peanuts, you get taken for a nice stroll down Textural Avenue. (Why did I suddenly say that to myself in the beat of Electric Avenue by Eddie Grant?!) I must say, I rather liked the way it came together. I also liked the way the cilantro snuck up from behind like a beautiful little whisper that spoke to the metaphorical listening ear of my tasting senses.
Spring Roll (Plant Based) add on
I admit it, I drizzled the remaining garlic and chili vinaigrette from the spring rolls all over my food upon finishing those little beauties. I really liked the way the spring rolls were done. They had a different interpretation of crunch while not to compromise the freshness of their ingredients inside. Not bad Yum Son, not too bad at all.
Garlic & Chili Vinaigrette
I went back about a week later to get some wings. How could I not do that?! They are known to have the best wings in town by many a local, so it just had to be done. To tell you the truth though, I barely paid attention to them. They were just so good that I shoved them into my face one after another with kind of a reckless abandon. I was quite shameless about it, and was vividly aware of such, but I think it's more than OK to every-so-often completely dive into something eyeballs deep when it is as kind as those wings are that they bring out of their kitchen.
Sweet Soy Chili Pepper Lime Crispy Chicken Wings
Shameless bliss?! I'm totally into that for sure!
Understanding why Yum Son has positioned itself among the top food in Nelson is not a hard proposition to grasp. Next on my list from there are their Bao Buns that I have heard so much about. Sounds yummy!
522 Victoria Street
Hours: 11:30am til late (usually 9:00pm) Daily
Phone: (778) 463-2234
Quite simply, Pitchfork has cemented itself as the top restaurant in Nelson. It isn't even close. This has been an easy conclusion to reach after having very in depth conversations about food in our town with hundreds of people this summer.
They have over half of the vote from all the guests at my hotel. It's to the point where I have started finding it quite fascinating listening to stories of the food and service upon my guests' return. Personally, I've never had anything but absolutely fantastic food when I have eaten there myself, so I already know what they're trying to convey of their experience, but it enables us to go really deep into the conversation. Those conversations unanimously lean heavily in one direction, that Pitchfork is absolutely crushing it!
Whether I have a reservation, or just drop-in, after I get settled at my table, inside or out on the patio, I will usually go stand just inside the entrance door, lean against the wall, and watch executive chef, Josh (Mateschitz), at the pass. His pass is inside an open doorway just off of the front entrance to the restaurant.
Watching Josh is great. I love it! He has full command of his kitchen, while simultaneously plating up exquisite food. It is easy to see why he is the three time defending champ of our town's annual burger competition.
He has a very high integrity, and that can easily be seen through the words of the overly impressive feedback from so many of my guests. It is impossible to get that kind of continuous high praise if the integrity is not there, so it's just implied!
Laser focus from the three time defending Nelson Burger Month champion, but that's only the beginning of what executive chef Josh Mateschitz has to offer at Pitchfork Eatery
I must say, I love the intensity in his eyes while moving through a dinner rush. He just oozes focus, and the results of that speak for themselves. As much as I enjoy watching him at his craft, I can't stand there forever being a total creepshow, so I go back to my nice little peaceful table to sit down and wait for my food.
I just went to Pitchfork twice recently...once on the patio, and once inside. On the first occasion, I had the Braised Duck Leg. That was inside. One of the first things I noticed while I was waiting was the music, and how it seemed to hold the perfect rhythmic flow to go with everything within the restaurant. For some reason, I notice little things like that too...how the music fits in with everything. After all, it is the soundtrack that narrates the journey into the food experience that a restaurant delivers.
Pitchfork music = Check!
The duck might as well have been a club that Josh slapped me upside the head with, because when it was delivered to my table it knocked me right in the senses.
The duck wasn't the first thing I went for though, that was the Yam Puree. I didn't even think about anything else when my eye caught that. It had tractor beam-like powers the way it grabbed me and drew me in. I've become very selective of my first bite at a restaurant because that's when the palate is a clean canvass to explore the highs and lows of flavour.
The easy thing to say is, maaaan, did that puree ever not disappoint, but that's just short changing the truth. Its texture was so velvety smooth, and flawlessly harmonious in the flavour, that it literally made me gasp aloud as soon as it touched my tongue. I've never done that before, and truthfully, I never knew that could even be a thing, but I didn't hesitate to embrace the reaction that puree evoked! It was insanely good.
Braised Duck Leg with Yam Puree
I feel like art is meant to draw out emotion, and the art of food does that in a way unlike all other art because of the way it engages the senses. This yam puree was an artistic masterpiece, and it set the tone for the entire dish. Holy smokes! It forced me into some quick pondering...
"Do I even need to eat anything else on my plate here? Perfection has already been attained!"
Of course the answer was yes, but I went back for more of the puree before tasting anything else. I savoured that second round before I went into the duck. Mmmmmmmmm!!!
I wondered to myself some more, "did the puree just steal the show before the headlining star even got a chance to perform?"
A valid question!
The duck had something pretty strong to say about that though! It was beautifully tender and rich inside. It had a nice crunch on the skin from the perfect char. I have no choice, I have to say it again...
It was cooked perfectly!
The meat was moist, and it just slid off the bone so effortlessly. That's the moment when you see the skill in technique where you can take a meat and cook it so perfectly that it just melts. (There's that word again.)
So, it would appear that in the challenge of perfection, where the puree laid the benchmark on the dish, the duck refused to be upstaged, and announced loud and clear why it was the star of the show, and left me sitting in the audience with only one word to say,
The dish as a whole was a subtle hearty, but richly elegant knockout. Absolutely spectacular! That was the kind of dish that all backyard BBQ'r's strive to achieve, but never reach. It also shows exactly the merit in why one would go out for dinner, whether as a traveling tourist, or a local looking to embark into a finely executed culinary experience.
Dynamite patio that is backed onto park space and away from traffic
The next time I went to Pitchfork, I sat out on the patio with a friend. I took a total different direction for my order. Instead of the heartiness that is delivered through the duck, I went for the lighter Ahi Tuna Poke Salad.
Celline... I actually do have the odd friend.
Ahi Tuna Poke Salad
It was a nice refreshing style dish. I felt that the visual contrast from the tuna against the greens was something I needed to see because an inner whatever told me that it would be visually stunning. I'm also a sucker for avocado, so my intrigue was peaked from the allure of how the crispy avocado would present itself with the greens.
The result?! I mean, what can I really say?! The only way it need be expressed is that it was on par with the Braised Duck Leg from my first visit, and that left me with one word...
Onto the dessert. I wasn't really listening to what our server said they had, I just went with whatever the chocolate one was. I heard, 'chocolate,' and I said, "OK!" As simple as that.
Josh, you silly bastard!
Maaan, when it was plopped in front of me, and I saw that raspberry coulis like an almost motionless thick waterfall exploding in vibrancy against the contrasting chocolate torte, my taste buds kinda forced their will upon me to immediately start salivating.
Raw Vegan Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Torte
Sometimes the most complex thing can draw the simplest explanation. Digging into that dessert...
I actually didn't look at what it was til several days later...
"Raw Vegan Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Torte."
Celline chose the Hibiscus Creme Brulee for her dessert.
Hibiscus Creme Brulee
There's nothing else to say about the food at Pitchfork. There is, however, one thing left to address: The Homemade Ginger Ale!
Oh my freakin' goodness! It is like nectar from the gods! I had that at my first ever trip to Pitchfork, and it's the first thing I order before even looking at what food to get each time I have returned. Their ginger ale is completely out of this world! (Yes, they will gladly put rum in it for you.)
The quality of food I have had at Pitchfork Eatery, the consistency within it, add in the fact that Josh is the three time defending champ of the annual Nelson Burger Month, despite everyone gunning for him, and then take into account that over half of my guests all have it as the best joint in town leaves me with a full rounded understanding of its prominence.
I really shouldn't say anything other than that executive chef Josh Mateschitz and Pitchfork Eatery have lit this town ablaze in its magnificence!
Reservations recommended (for inside)
518 Hall Street
Hours: 11:00am - 9:00pm Daily (closed from 3:00pm - 4:30pm most days)
Brunch: 11:00am - 2:00pm Daily
Phone: (250) 352-2744
Set into an old downtown heritage building right on Baker Street, the Dominion Cafe oozes of a rustic history.
When you walk into a place that is filled with plants and the overflowing scents of a variety of fresh baked muffins, you can't help but to feel an intrinsic sense of hominess. It permeates within you, and sets you at ease while immediately instilling a depth of natural relaxation.
I arrived right before they unlocked their door at opening in the morning. It was before any muffins had yet to be put out. Sitting down, it sure didn't take long for me to want to start eating the air though. It smelled so good that it wound my senses into a frenzied overload. I felt similar to being a kid trying to sleep on Christmas Eve because the anticipation was almost unbearable. It smelled so good that it was torturous.
I couldn't take the wait, so I had to get something else to keep me occupied til the muffins came out. I went with a Chai with almond milk. I don't have those too often, but I really like 'em. They're super sweet with a tiny little subtle bite that kinda sneaks up on you. Man, are they ever good! Chai Latte for the win!
A chai was the perfect thing to keep my mind off the muffins, and it almost worked...almost! You see, the problem was that the muffins' Kung Fu was strong, and they whupped my chai's ass all up over the place...and then put a death grip on my senses! Neither me nor my hot drink stood a chance!
Straight back to torturous!
It was a rough couple minutes at that point as time was standing still in my moment of suffering. When you walk into a place and you wanna eat the air, it's like walking into a wall of anticipation. The payoff in the moment of truth though is so worth it! Sooo worth it!
As soon as the muffins were put out, I rolled right up to the front. Looking at them in the display was like watching an angelic choir sing angelic harmonies! I was instantly drifting away!
I picked the raspberry pecan muffin as well as the vegan muffin of the day. I also got the their Chunky Monkey smoothie to wash 'em down with. It's not your typical sweet fruit smoothie, so I had to try it.
I went for the Raspberry Pecan muffin first because I have kinda been into the sharp tartness that is laced with such sweetness within those berries lately. It was a sensuous pleasure to sink my teeth into that thing. Did it ever not disappoint!
Raspberry Pecan Muffin
The little saucer plates the muffins were served on made me think of being at my great grandma's cottage in the Ontario Muskoka's when I was a little kid. I was taken right back to little grandma's age old cottage with all my cousins...swimming, fishing off the dock, row boating, cooking Jiffy Pop on the little wood cook stove. I could see it all crystal clear. It was a fascinating feeling that was quite unexpected, and I rather enjoyed that. It really added another level of that hominess that I eluded to that was so prevalent as soon as I walked in the place.
Chunky Monkey garnished just right
That smoothie was packed with so much goodness. It was even garnished with chocolate chips & finely chopped walnuts. The Chunky Monkey is a very visually pleasing drink on top of how kick-ass it was to drink down. Its flavour was not overbearing, and in its way, was somewhat odd in how it was packed with so much flavour, but delivered itself in such a subtle way that was refreshing personified. Maaan, did it ever hit the spot!
Unbeknownst to me, I found myself in a beautiful grudge match between the muffin and the smoothie. They were fighting furiously for my attention because of their equally impressive goodness. Each time I looked at both, I couldn't decide which to indulge in, so I enjoyed the little fight they caused within me between my taste buds, belly and my mind.
I wasn't having either though. I was just staring at them waiting for the grudge match to play itself out. I was totally zoned out on how awesome both the muffin and the drink were. Then I'd snap out of it and realize I wasn't eating either, so I'd frantically grab both and shove them in my face at the same time. Caveman the crap outta them!
It was a scenario that played itself on loop a few times. When I realized that, I really saw how good they each were. If there is a food something that draws you into pause while staring at its beauty, and then snaps you out of it to cram it in your face, that's nothing less than every indication of its quality.
I was fully conscious of that, and it led me to sum it up to myself like this...
So, I'm instinctively adding it all up in my head...plants, dishes, the thickness of muffin scents in the air with the slowed down old-time atmospheric feel in this fast paced modern world, and add to it this unreal muffin and smoothie, I can't help but feeling relaxingly rejuvenated from my visit here.
Definitely the best muffins in town! No place else is even close!
There's also the notion that so many of the other places in town are all doing renovations and trying to fancily modernize themselves, but The Dominion Cafe is the place where you feel an embracing sense of home. It is humble alongside its heritage, and welcomes you with open arms. If you're lucky, you might even see a funky skateboard reminiscent of Van Gogh's, Starry Night, come through the door, or even find a piece of vintage clothing.
Good things await at The Dominion Cafe!
From here I am going to leave you with part of a message Daylen (Hotte), the owner, sent me about the ingredients and suppliers she uses. It well represents the love she puts into what she offers to her customers.
We are passionate about everything local, coffee from 3 different Kootenay roasters, Rooftop, Trail Coffee Co. and Juggernaut Roastery. We serve organic ethically sourced teas from New Moon tea co. out of Nakusp. Our hot chocolate is created by Viva Cacao, a local chocolate company in the (Slocan) Valley. Our chai is made in-house and is the perfect blend of sweet and spicy. We have made an effort to ethically source as many ingredients as possible. Our eggs are delivered from an organic farm in Blewett and our tempeh is from a small Okanagan company called Vigilante.
We also make all alternative mylks in house, such as pumpkin seed, almond, macadamia coconut, hemp & oat, and pistachio coconut. All mylks are organic and made fresh daily.
We're famous for baking up giant decadent muffins. We bake over 14 kinds fresh daily such as BlackBerry pecan white chocolate, orange espresso dark chocolate and strawberry rhubarb, and have a wide selection in vegan and gluten free muffins and baked goods as well.
The Dominion Cafe
334 Baker Street (one block away)
Hours: Tues-Sat 8:00am - 5:00pm | Sun 10:00am - 4:00pm
Phone: (250) 352-1904
The only way to truly tell the story of the food at El Taco is to tell the story of the people behind it.
Twenty one years ago, I moved to the West Kootenay from Salt Spring Island on the coast. My first three years were spent in this magikal little place called, Queens Bay. I found the tiniest cabin ever, and dug myself in right away.
Upon moving there, I was immediately told that I should go to the ferry landing and meet Justine 'cause we would get along awesomely. She was rocking a coffee cart there during the summer back then. (Those were simpler times.) So, I went to the ferry landing, walked right up to the coffee cart, and said to the girl standing there, "You must be Justine. I'm supposed to meet you because we're gonna get along awesomely!" She laughed at me and said, "No, I'm Andrea!"
That turned out to be a total score though because Andrea and I got along awesomely from that very moment. (I thought to myself, "This place is great! So far, awesome people everywhere!") Turns out that there were three girls doin' the coffee cart at the ferry, Justine, Andrea and Caroline. They were all living at Justine's mom's place down the road from where I lived that summer.
Just like with Andrea, Justine and I hit it off perfectly. Maaan, is she ever a fantastic person! Back then, her and her whole crew of friends used to go to Mexico each winter. It was either the following spring or the one after that, that Justine came home with Ruben. He is an amazing guy. I liked him a lot right off the bat too.
Justine and Ruben have been together ever since...married with two beautiful children!
(Photos with permission from Justine)
Every winter they go back to Ruben's home in Mexico to be with family...parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents...the whole shebang! In the coming years, armed with family recipes, they opened El Taco with Justine's dad, Gil. They have been open for around 16 years I believe.
The food you get from El Taco is genuine Mexican cuisine. It is the only truly authentic Mexican eats that you will find in our region. Coming from family recipes that have been passed down through generations, their food tells a story of family, of love, of kindness and togetherness, and man, oh maaaan...is it ever good!
Chorizo Burrito - Lookkit that beauty!
Unless you have super human skills, which clearly I do not possess, there's a good chance you might just get some on you. They pack so much lovin' into that food that it kind of knocks you aback, and it takes no prisoners on your senses, especially the full-tilt assault on your taste buds!
In the battle of me vs El Taco...El Taco is the undefeated champ!
It's a funky little place that transports you through its food. I love El Taco! I know the people behind it, and I know what they put into it. I know the general linage of its history, and ultimately that it was born from love, and that's exactly what their food delivers. If you want a true Mexican food experience, there is only one place to go.
306 Victoria Street (block and a bit away)
Closes 8 p.m.
Hours: Mon-Sat 11:00am - 8:00pm | Sun 12:00pm - 7:00pm
Phone: (250) 352-2060
I like food. I've come to like writing about food. I'll eat anything if I have confidence that it was prepared well. Even if there are ingredients that I truly dislike on their own, I know that with a proper chef, who understands balancing of flavours and has the knowledge and skillful precision to bring them together, can make any ingredient truly sing. Through this little hobby of mine, I've become pretty dialed into the food in this town.
Most all of my guests at my hotel were asking me about where to get good meals in Nelson. They asked me so often that I just made it a part of my check-in pitch to each room I checked in. I'd always do the business end first for the check-in, and then I'd ask them if they'd like to know about where to go for food.
The number one thing that all my guests want? They don't want to drive! They just want to walk from the hotel. So, I start with the closest two, and then work my way out from there. (...although I do tell them that Nelson's downtown is like 6 silly-sized blocks, so it doesn't really make a difference.) I know when my guests are on their way out for dinner, and when I see them walking out, I tell them to have fun. When they get back to the hotel, I ask them which place the chose, and how it was. That is what shaped this guide.
I've had very in depth conversations about the food in Nelson with hundreds of people. What is on this summary page is from the feedback from those people...my guests. The rankings I put in for the top five are not my opinion, but rather 100% observation from what my guests say upon returning from dinner. I took all that feedback, and then went to each place to take some current photos, and write about being there. (I write about more than just the food, but also the experience of being there too.)
We are truly spoiled for food quality in our remote little town in the middle of the British Columbia mountains!
**I will have links posted on each of these summaries that take you to in depth articles I have written about each place when I went there.
Busaba Thai Cafe
It's hard to not eat a Pad Thai every day. I'm trying, but I'm not doing very well. I'm pretty sure I've quickly become their number one customer.
It is very exciting to have the Busaba Thai Cafe as our house restaurant here at The Savoy Hotel. They are a well established, and long loved Thai restaurant in Nelson. It was only months ago (June, 2020) that they lost their place to a very unfortunate fire that had destroyed several businesses. It's a big thing for them to be here in our building, and we couldn't be happier about it. Rungnapha & Yasuaki Uehara (Yasu) are the nicest people ever, and they worked really hard to re-open Busaba on August 19.
Busaba Thai Cafe
198 Baker Street
(At the Savoy Hotel)
Hours: 11:30am - 8:30pm (Closed Mondays)
Phone: (250) 352-2185
Nelson's Top 5 Restaurants
#1 - Pitchfork Eatery
Ahi Tuna Poke Salad
It has been crazy watching my guests talk about this place. I'm kinda fascinated by it. I've had in depth conversations with hundreds of people about food in our town, and my guests have made it clear to see that Pitchfork has an absolute stranglehold on the top spot in Nelson. It has about 55% of my guests' vote, which means the entire rest of the town is fighting for the remaining 45%. Those numbers speak for themselves!
Pitchfork definitely has the best patio in town as it is backed onto park space, and is off the main street. They have a brunch that is excellent as well. Their restaurant does not do reservations on the patio though, so there could be a wait as Josh (Mateschitz - executive chef) is crushing it, and Thursday night there is live acoustic music. Dinner service starts at 5:00pm, so if you want a spot on their sweet patio, the earlier the better.
More on the Pitchfork Eatery
Reservations recommended (for inside)
518 Hall Street
Hours: 11:00am - 9:00pm Daily (closed from 3:00pm - 4:30pm most days)
Brunch: 11:00am - 2:00pm Daily
Phone: (250) 352-2744
#2 - Yum Son
Yum Son Noodle Bowl with a Spring Roll (Plant Based) add on
This is the stand alone number 2 spot in town. Yum Son is modern Vietnamese food. Oddly enough, it has the best chicken wings in town. (I think that's the modern part.) They present visually stunning food that hits the spot nicely.
More on Yum Son...
522 Victoria Street
Hours: 11:30am til late (usually 9:00pm) Daily
Phone: (778) 463-2234
#3 (Tie) - Rel-ish
Butternut Squash Ravioli
I have a ton of respect for Trevor (Ditzel - owner and executive chef). He's kind of a visionary for how he looks at and goes about his business. His food is fantastic. When you watch him, it's plate after plate of gorgeous food that he puts out, and he does it in the calmest, most mellow fashion. He has an open kitchen, so I have watched him many times. I came up with the term, "Cooking with courage and confidence," from watching Trevor do what he does. Open kitchens are scrutiny under fire that force accountability. I really admire those who are willing to work in one.
Rel-ish has an all day breakfast. A lotta my guests really perk up when I tell them that. It's my favourite breakfast in town - try The Server's Choice. Holy smokes is it ever good! There are many vegetarian and gluten free options on his menu as well to accommodate all. Modern cuisine.
Trevor also just took over the restaurant at the Balfour Golf Course to bring us his second location: rel-ish at The Osprey.
ABSOLUTELY HAVE THE GOAT CHEESE CRUSTED PORK TENDERLOIN!!
301 Baker Street (One block away)
Hours: 10:00am - 10:00pm Daily
rel-ish at the Osprey
602 Queens Bay Road
#3 (Tie) - Marzano
Spicy Salami Pizza to eat in or take back to our rooftop patio at The Savoy Hotel
Ryan (Martin) did a massive, massive renovation on his restaurant to bring Marzano to Nelson two years ago. He actually went to Italy for proper training and brought staff with him...and he brought back an authenticly bad-ass Italian wood-fired pizza oven. I gained so much respect for him when I saw a video he put up of himself pulling a pizza from the oven while in Italy. (I actually asked him to put it onto youtube for me so I could share the link.) That showed his commitment to going all in to bringing the best food to town that he possibly could. It says something...and so do my guests after they return from there.
When I show my guests this video, I do an animated commentary play-by-play to draw their attention to the expression on Ryan's face. He's so psyched. It's amazing! That has literally sold people on going to Marzano. Fantastic stuff!
Ryan in Italy...
153 Baker Street (Right across the street)
Hours: 7:00am - 10:00pm Daily
Breakfast until 11:00am weekdays | 12:00pm on weekends
Pizza starts at 11:00am!
Phone: (250) 352-9205
#5 - Broken Hill
The Broken Clubhouse with House Made Bacon and Sweet Corn Succotash
If chasing down great beer with great food is your thing, then Broken Hill is the place for you! The owner, Chad (Hansen), is a true, true connoisseur of good, quality beer, and he will actively seek it out. It is one of two essential aspects of his restaurant. There are 24 local BC craft beers on tap at all times! He keeps the selection always changing so as to keep fresh everyone's thirst quest. The second crucial aspect of Broken Hill is their smoker! The flavouring they smoke into their food is insanely good. It is balanced. It is not overpowering. Totally dynamite!
479 Baker Street
Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:00am to 10:0pm | Fri-Sat 11:00am - 12:00am
Phone: (778) 463-2244
Three Special Locations
The best way to explain this food is through its story. Justine (Langevin) has been with Ruben for 20 years. They are married and have two beautiful children. Every winter, for every one of those 20 years, they go back to Mexico to be with his family. Around 16 years ago, armed with generational family recipes, El Taco was born. It is the only truly authentic Mexican cuisine you will find in the region. It is fantastic, solid food that boasts the lineage of having been passed down through generations worth of time.
(It is great for bringing back to our rooftop patio at The Savoy Hotel.)
More on El Taco...
306 Victoria Street (block and a bit away)
Hours: Mon-Sat 11:00am - 8:00pm | Sun 12:00pm - 7:00pm
Phone: (250) 352-2060
Sage Tapas and Wine Bar
This is like Nelson's little secret weapon! It is definitely the first place to go if you love wine. Sage Tapas is only open for three days a week from 4:00pm onward, but if you are here during those nights, and can get a reservation, you will not be disappointed! It is in an intimate setting with a sprawling view from their deck. One could make a definite case for it being the pound-for-pound king in town when considering its short hours coupled with the punch that it delivers.
Sage Tapas and Wine Bar
(Reservations are highly recommended!)
705 Vernon Street
Hours: Thurs-Sat 4:00pm til Late
Phone: (250) 352-5140
The Dominion Cafe
Raspberry Pecan Muffin with a Chunky Monkey Smoothie in the background
Well, the easy part is that the Dominion Cafe not only has the best muffins in town by far, it also has the best selection in town. Those awesome folk offer 14 different fresh baked varieties each day. Oh man, are they ever good too!
Daylen (Hotte - owner) is very diligent with healthiness, and brings that passion into what she offers at the Dominion. She doesn't stop at just the high quality of ingredients, because she is adamant about sourcing local for everything she uses. There's something about that place that makes you feel an intrinsic comfort of home. It's a special little place, that is for sure!
More on The Dominion Cafe...
The Dominion Cafe
334 Baker Street (one block away)
Hours: Tues-Sat 8:00am - 5:00pm | Sun 10:00am - 4:00pm
Phone: (250) 352-1904
Nelson Brewing Company Tasting Room (Not a food place)
512 Latimer Street
Phone: (250) 352-3582
Backroads Brewing Company (Not a food place)
460 Baker St (2 1/2 blocks away)
Hours: Mon-Thurs 12:00pm - 10:00pm | Fri-Sat 12:00pm - 11:00pm | Sun 12:00pm - 8:00pm
Phone: (778) 463-3361
Torchlight Brewing Company (They do have food that goes well with beers)
125 Hall Street
Hours: Sun-Wed 12:00pm - 8:00pm | Thurs-Sat 12:00pm - 9:00pm
Phone: (250) 352-0094
Not restaurants, but handy places my traveling guests ask me about that are within walking distance downtown...
Kootenay Co-Op (a huge natural foods grocery, etc. store)
777 Baker Street
Phone: (250) 354-4077
Pharmasave Drug Store
685 Baker Street
Phone: (250) 352-2316
Wings Variety Convenience Store
371 Baker Street
Phone: (250) 352-3848
The Hume Liquor Boutique (at the Hume Hotel)
422 Vernon Street
Hours: 9:00am - 11:00pm Daily | Delivery available
Phone: (250) 352-5154
Hipperson Hardware Company
395 Baker Street
Hours: Mon-Sat 8:30am - 5:00pm | Sun 10:00am - 4:00pm
Phone: (250) 352-5517
The Dollar Store
644 Baker Street
Phone: (250) 352-4644
**I left their names out of it, and just went with 'he' (the groom) and 'she' (the bride).
In something like September or October in 2003, I spent the night in my friend's house the day before they moved in. I had been helping them paint their entire house after they bought it and were doing pre-moving renovations. It was an old group home. It was a sad place. All the bedrooms had locks on the outside of the doors, so they could lock the kids in. There was even an anger room down in the basement with, you guessed it, a lock on the outside of the door. The walls in that room had holes all over them from the kids hitting them. It was terrible. It broke our hearts being in there a bunch of the time. It didn't feel right, and felt very off, because it was thick with connotations of pain, hurt, sadness, anger and, when considering the locks on the outsides of the doors and an anger room filled with holes in the walls, there were also all the implications of abuse. Apparently there was suicide in the house too.
I spent so much time in there working during the day and overnight. At least half of the time I was by myself, so, while I was lost in my own mind when I'd be deep into the abyss of monotonous painting, I'd get really sad for what must have gone on there...whatever it was. My friends and their family were good people though (They still are...giggle), and I started feeling like I wanted to do something nice for them before they moved in. I just wanted to pour a little love into the place. I spent the night by myself. I had the idea to bring all my driftwood, feathers and other wild-crafting things so I could put something like this together in the front room and try to spread a little love throughout the night.
In the morning I told them to first come down without the kids 'cause I wanted to talk to them alone. I just wanted to show them first...before the chaos of five teenagers rolled in. Needless to say, they were pretty blown away by it, and possibly somewhat overwhelmed too.
I'm not too sure when it was now that they were getting married, probably a couple years later, but they asked me if I could do something similar for their wedding. I was a bit surprised by that, that someone would want me to decorate their wedding ceremony space. Aside from the bit of surprise, I was also touched by them wanting me to be a part of their day in that way. I only had one condition: once I had all my stuff unloaded and in the space, they had to get out...get the fuck out...and not come back until it was time for the ceremony. I wanted it to be a surprise.
They had a few personal things they wanted me to incorporate into what I was gonna put together for them that were to be a part of their ceremony. Aside from that, it was free reign for me to go for it however I wanted. They trusted me in whatever I came up with.
I was putting it together right up until people started trickling in for ceremony time. As is the case with the groom, he came in there first, so he got a good look at things, and we talked for a moment before things got started and I finished the last second finishing touches. He was pretty psyched. I then went and took a seat right at the back because everyone else was already in and seated. (I cut it right under the wire.)
She came in shortly after I sat down. Even though I was on the aisle, she didn't see me as she walked by. I had serious butterflies swirling in my belly. I desperately wanted to do a good job for her. When she got to the altar area, you could see her pause as she scanned over it. She then immediately turned around with a couple of trickling tears and started looking for me. Being on the aisle, I was an easy find. I shot her a big smile when we made eye contact. Then the ceremony began. It was an excellent day.
Unlike the creation (I never know what else to call it.) I did in their house that I took apart right away, I left this overnight for them to enjoy. When I came back the next afternoon, I snapped a few photos and then packed 'er all up to take home.
**The windows weren't in the new building yet, and it rained that night with some wind, so that's why there are some water spots on the floor.
**The windows weren't in the new building yet, and it rained that night with some wind, so that's why there are some water spots on the floor. Also, I put the full view photo here at the bottom rather than the beginning because the light is kind of darker.
This weekend was the 17th annual Nelson Road Kings car show. It is a two day event on the second weekend in September every year. It starts with a parade on the Friday night, and the main event of the show on Saturday afternoon. The cars that line downtown are pretty spectacular. There are bands playing, lots of prizes, and of course, the air is filled with the smell of food being sold. The patios of local restaurants are packed as well, and the weekend is closed off with a big dance on Saturday night.
The car show is a widely attended event that draws out tons of people from all different ages, and walks of life. It has become one of Nelson's highly anticipated premiere events every year. For any information on future events, becoming a member, or photo galleries from years of past, you can find it all on their web-page.
Nelson Road Kings
P.O. Box 1130, Nelson, BC V1L 6H3
Phone: (250) 551-5848
Nelson Visitor Centre: +1 250-352-3433
'73 VW Beach Bus
'61 Chevy Impala
'68 Chevelle Malibu
'69 Pontiac Trans AM
'67 Pontiac GTO
'65 Chevrolet Corvette
'67 Chevy Impala
'67 Camaro SS RS 496
'42 Ford Cabover
'73 Ford Mach 1 Mustang (For Tiffany)
'34 Ford 3 Window Coupe
'36 Ford Woody Wagon
'66 Shelby Cobra
The Brian Kalbfleisch Trio
A couple video clips I took of the boys playing some Neil Young songs.
"For the Turnstiles" www.youtube.com/watch?v=DucCvf5YJg0
"Losing End" www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qYrLtjgCTs
'64 VW Bug
'66 Ford Mustang
'56 Ford T-Bird
'30 U Plymouth
50's Cadillac 2Dr HT
'23 T Bucket
'62 Chevy Nova SS Convertable
'57 Chevy 150 2Dr Sd
'71 Chev Pick Up
'55 Chev 150 Sedan
I am writing this holed up in a dive hotel in southern Wyoming in the midst of a three week road trip with my doggie. It is basically an agenda of simply being on the road to wherever, whenever. The only thing on the agenda was to go to Colorado to see an old friend I haven't seen since July 9, 1995. The date is easy to remember as it is the day of the final Grateful Dead show in Chicago.
Since I was going to be in the area, I got tickets to the final two shows of the Dead & Company tour that was finishing in Boulder, Colorado. In quite often typical road trip fashion though, I have had some crazy break down stories on the mountain passes east of Vail. They definitely put a huge fork in the road for the journey I have been on. There is no doubt about that.
I missed the first of the two shows because of it all, but was able to get in for the final one last night. It was an incredible concert, but that is a story all of its own. What I will say about it is that while I was swimming through the height of bliss for that string of hours in that stadium, thoughts of seeing The Wild Turkeys at Starbelly Jam!
Dead & Company - Boulder, Colorado - July 6, 2019
Starbelly is a festival back home in Crawford Bay on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake, BC on July 19. This is their 20th year!
Last night, the festival, and The Wild Turkeys, had both found their way into the stream of all my thoughts of what The Grateful Dead has meant to my life: Everything it has given me, and especially all the people it has brought my way!
(The vast, vast majority of people in my life are due to the trickling effect of that band. It is doubtful I would even be living out in BC without it.)
It made me smile when the Turkeys came into mind while I was gruuuvin' in that stadium. I love the Wild Turkeys! I haven't seen them too many times, but that's mostly because I don't get out much. It is a band of local guys who all share a passion for the band I love so much, The Grateful Dead. They just have fun covering their tunes, and only play shows around our area.
**I wrote something about them last year.
As far as I am concerned, The Wild Turkeys are quite synonymous with the Starbelly Jam festival as they have played there many times over the years, dating back to the first year the festival was held. That was in July of 1999...the same year I had moved to the area.
I moved to the West Kootenay on May 1, 1999. It is no secret that I live and breathe all things Grateful Dead related, so my impending collision with the Turkeys was inevitable, and the first time I saw them was only weeks after my arrival to the area. They were playing at The Royal on Baker Street in Nelson. It was the simple 'Steal Your Face' image on their poster that grabbed my attention, and drove me to going to their show, of which my mind had been to before it had even happened.
Timmy was the first one of the boys I met in the band. That was when a bunch of us were all crammed into the little band room downstairs after the Fat Cats show at The Civic on Vernon Street in town. (Renamed, "Finley's Bar & Grill" by great new owners since around 2003.) He and I were sitting at the same tiny table, and were immersed in all the fun with everyone else.
**It turns out that some of the guys are tied heavily with the Fat Cats, which naturally extended a further branch towards them as The Fatties are really good friends of mine.
The Wild Turkeys - Some fantastic West Kootenay boys!
As for Starbelly Jam itself...
Phot0 by Louis Bockner - www.facebook.com/lbockner
I have very vivid memories of Starbelly, but they are not from me being there as I have never been!
I lived with Christa in Queens Bay for the first three years I lived here: July 99 to April 2002. (Q.B. is five minutes from the ferry to the festival, but on the opposite side of Kootenay Lake.)
My tiny little 14 foot cabin on Christa's property in Queens Bay, BC
Back then, Christa had an ice cream truck, and she hit the festival circuit hard! Her traveling partner was her daughter, Hazel, was only 7 months old then. I'd always see them preparing for, or returning from, whatever festival.
It could get quite comical looking out the window of my little cabin to see Christa up and down the ramp carrying all her stuff in and out of the truck because Hazel would be at her feet the whole time. Mostly she just wanted to help her mama, but she was a baby, so it was like walking through a moving mine field for Christa.
Her arriving home from festivals was one of my favourite ways to hang out with Christa. I would come and play with Hazel, and kinda run some interference so Christa could get stuff done. I'd just be hangin' out talking to both of them...mama and baby. It was fantastic. I love those two so, so much!
Top: Christa and Hazel during 1999/2000.
Bottom: Christa, Hazel and I skating on the pond at the Balfour Golf Course - December 31, 1999
(These are the only photos I have of the two of them.)
I had heard great things about Starbelly right from the beginning. Each year I lived in Queens Bay, I house sat for Christa while the festival was on, so I did not attend. Her stories of it, upon coming home from the first one, added to the whole picture of the West Kootenay region for me.
In the years since the beginning days of the festival, other things have also kept me away as well. After I left Queens Bay, I moved deep in the bush, up the mountain, west of Nelson. All told, it was about an hour and fifteen minutes away (When factoring my gnarly driveway.), so it was no longer just a short pop down to the ferry kinda thing to get to.
Even back then, I had many friends who had Starbelly marked on their calendar as an annual event they were not missing. There was always great music, and lots of other things to do for everyone. It was equally great for the individual, as well as families and their kids. The tales coming out of that festival every year grew and grew.
Above three photos by Louis Bockner - www.facebook.com/lbockner
Aside from the housesitting for those who would be attending, my body's epic journey of pain was a big contributing factor on my missing out on Starbelly!
My body first fell apart in 1993, but in June of 2002 stuff happened that I could never express into words...the worst it has ever been. (I'm not getting into the depth of that here.) I have never been the same since.
Despite all the craziness in my body, I dug into dragging my banged up self through triathlons. I was hooked right away from the first race I did! I didn't care how much it hurt to do them, I just found them liberating and invigorating. (Just as with my body, my triathlon life is a massive story of its own for another time as well.
Fundraiser at Save-On-Foods with Tiyenna (She totally bailed me out to help me pull this off.)
I got so much from the triathlon world, that I wanted to start giving back to it somehow, so in 2007 I did my first ever fundraiser at Save-On-Foods. I wanted to raise some bucks to buy a trophy to donate to our local triathlon. (It was for the athlete who overcomes adversity to race.) The date given to me by the grocery store was the Saturday of the weekend of Starbelly Jam. I missed another one!
Even though they beat the living hell out of me, triathlon had taken over my life during my summers for some years, so festivals were not a thing on my radar. There was also another massive life turn that came when I got beat down by an animal on June 30, 2009. That set off a chain of events where I ended up losing about five and a half of the next six years of my life. It also left me with more permanent changes within my body as with my 2002 breakdown.
It just seemed to be that something was always keeping me away from the festival, but the stories from those who went never ceased to keep rolling in!
I have always been intrigued by Starbelly, and even with never having been, I have grown an attachment to it in my own way. This will be their 20th anniversary of the event, so it seems like the perfect year for me to attend for my first time.
(It was on hiatus for one summer a few years ago, and even never having been, it left me a bit sad to know it would not be happening. I was delighted to hear it would be returning when it did.)
Timmy showing me his new amplifier last month.
I went to Timmy's house a couple weeks before I left on this road trip down to Colorado (and the ensuing wandering). He's such a great guy. He was showing me his new amplifier he had just gotten, and was super psyched on. He invited me to come to their jam sessions leading up to the festival, but unfortunately I'm unable to attend because of my road trip in the States. (There could be a likelihood that I roll into the festival straight from the USA.)
This road trip I am on has seemed to add to the nature of attending Starbelly Jam to see the Wild Turkeys. I have been some gorgeous places on my trip, but back home in the West Kootenay is really a special place! It is so damned beautiful and full of so many incredible people...and it's home!
When I was riding that train of bliss in the Dead & Company show last night, and having the image float into my mind of being at Starbelly watching the Turkeys play gave me a nice feeling of my home...one of rippling warmth. It made me smile more, and painted more happiness into being there gruuuvin' hard in Boulder last night!
The Wild Turkeys at Starbelly Jam is in eleven days, and I can't wait!
Starbelly Jam Society
Box 15 Crawford Bay, BC
10 – rel-ish bistro – August 16, 2017
$18.90 After tax, before tip
I was having another one of those super sleepy feelin’ nights at work, so it was pretty stylin’ to walk outta there into a bright sunny day. It was so bright that it took me a couple moments for my eyes to adjust, and I was diggin’ it! "Sweeeeet!" I had only one thing on my mind...to get home and get in the water for a swim.
As I was rubbing my eyes from the bright sun the thought of how starving I was came along and punched me in the face. My starvingness knocked out any thought of swimming in that moment which left me in a short conversation with myself.
"Daaaamn maaan! I gotta sort this shit out right here and now!" The light bulb clicked on in my head instantly, and said to me:
"It's burger time again, go to rel-ish mutha-fucka!"
I promptly answered myself,
"Ooooh shiiit, that's a freakin' great idea!"
That was it, rel-ish's tractor beam grabbed a hold of me and didn't let go. I could resist no longer. That shit was pullin' me in right then and there! I couldn't wait!
The location of rel-ish has always had a special draw for me because of my love affair with the Rice Bowl stemming from the first summer I lived here in 1999. (I’ll write about that - and my introduction to wasabi, sushi, and Pad Thai – at another time.) I’d go eat there and then stroll over to the Co-Op and grab some food as a routine 2-3 times a week.
I was sad to see the Rice Bowl go. With the Co-Op recently moving as well the dynamic of that end of Baker Street has changed from a time that was. No place has changed more than where rel-ish is it seems. It is nice to see them holding things down nicely.
I don’t eat out too often, and I have my certain places for certain things. For rel-ish, that has been their Baked Cheese Bread appetizer. H-O-L-Y FUUUCK is it ever good! Daaaamn… It’s like a quick junkie fix of pure awesomeness! If it was liquid I would swim in it all day long, laughin' and gigglin' all the while.
I’ve never had their burger at rel-ish, but I’ve definitely heard a lot about it. I was one hungry, super starving bastard too, so I couldn’t freakin’ wait to get at it. Shiiit maaan!
The patio was full, so I went inside. I didn’t care that it was such a nice sunny day, inside was good for me. I'm not much of a big crowds kinda guy anymore anyway.
I got myself really, really psyched up because of how hungry I was. That resulted in me walking in there with very high expectations.
I went to the back to find a seat. There was a little triangle-like booth that seemed a bit around a corner, but really wasn’t. Perfect, I’ll sit there. It was my own little world.
The hostess came to give me some water and bring me a menu. I smiled and told her I didn’t need a menu because I knew what I wanted. She smiled back, said some kinda somethin’, and then went to get my server.
In the time between the hostess leaving and, my server returning, I took pause to enjoy the simplicity of the plain water in my glass.
"Water, the nectar of the gods!"
I always prefer plain water to water with fruit, and would rather it come that way 100% of the time. Fruit, or vegetables in the case of cucumbers, should be offered as a choice, not given with no choice.
Plain water at a meal is important for pallet cleansing. Adding fruit to the water leaves a slight flavour residue that may, or more importantly, may not go with the food being eaten. Plain water every time for me please!
When my server arrived I ordered my usual: A burger with cheese, bacon and hopefully jalapenos…and a ginger ale that comes with the food.
She said they have one called “The Uncle Buck,” which came with Sriracha Mayo, Swiss Cheese, Capicola, Tomato, Red Onion, Lettuce, Hot Peppers, and Crisp Sweet Potato. I didn’t hear anything she said past “Uncle Buck” though, because I instinctively started thinkin’ of John Candy and started gigglin’.
I had to get her to repeat it to me, so she grabbed a menu as they were only about two steps away. She opened it up to show me the Uncle Buck, and also so I could also see the option of Building My Own. She did tell me that it could get expensive that way though with the add-ons I wanted.
As I scrolled through what was in The Uncle Buck I thought about it. It looked good, but even though it might cost more, I was going with the usual so I could keep things consistent and a fair with the rest of the restaurants.
Since I had the menu in front of me I could actually see what was in the Build Your Own, but I didn't bother reading it as the foundational toppings were irrelevant to me. It just had to have bacon, cheese, jalapenos, and come however else it comes.
She did explain to me that the fries had to be baked as their fryer was down at the moment. I didn’t care ‘cause I felt baked might be a nice break from fried.
I didn’t think too much about anything at all, and reading the ingredients of the Uncle Buck was kind of a waste of time because there wasn't any real doubt that Build Your Own with Bacon, Cheese, and Jalapenos is what I was goin' after.
A few stops ago on my burger tour I started taking notes during the experience. One of the reasons for that is that it gives me something to do while waiting for my food to be prepared. I pulled out my paper and pen to start scribbling down as soon as my server left my table.
The hostess showed up with some ketchup, a water fill up, and everything else I might have needed. Sweet. After a couple places lacking in that simple area, it has now been something I pick up on more…the littlest things as simple as S&P, and ketchup when serving a burger and fries. It seems odd that plain normal shit has at times become a luxury.
Part of the reason I didn’t bat an eye at the thought of baked fries was because they made me think of Hoanie from when we were roommates on Saltspring Island. She cooked baked potato wedges all the time. She cut them a bit bigger than thick fries and always seasoned them nicely.
Even all these years later she’s still rockin’ ‘em to the point where it makes me smile to see them if I have randomly stopped in. (I don’t see her enough anymore and it makes me a bit sad at times. Hoanie is a really special person.)
(Savanah on her way to Texas)
The thing that I thought about most while I was waiting for my food was another person who randomly appeared in my mind. Savannah!
For those who know me really well…Savannah is Sierra’s younger cousin. I’ve known both their mom’s virtually their whole lives. Totally kick-ass sisters raising totally kick-ass kids!
Savannah is 13 years old and already a very accomplished gymnast. Watching her and her progression over the past bunch of years has been quite incredible. The photos and videos her mom (Shannon) puts up are insane. I’m not shy about telling both of them how seriously bad ass Savannah is.
The reason she came into mind from outta the blue is because she was down in Texas on her own for a bit for some gymnastics stuff. I thought it was for a week or two for a camp, but it turns out it was way crazier than that. Savannah will be staying in Texas for a year for intensive gymnastics training and competing while she’s in school.
I’m so excited for her ‘cause I know how much she loves it, how hard she has worked, and what it means to her. Go Savannah Go!
I was gruuuvin’ on that thought when my food arrived.
When my food came I looked up to thank my server. I also asked for a steak knife, which made me feel like, by now, I should just be asking for it when I first order my food.
This was definitely the hungriest I have been on this burger tour yet! I’d been awake for about 18 hours and hadn’t eaten anything, so it felt like my insides were starting to eat my insides.
Because of how much I had heard about this burger and how freakin’ hungry I was I really couldn’t wait to get at this fucker!
It was served open faced. I never really thought too much about an open faced burger other than it’s like a build-your-own. Sometimes I’m into that and sometimes I’m not.
Looking at this burger, and then getting into it, I really liked that it was served that way. Being able to really see the extent of the bacon smothered in cheese was nice.
Having the perfectly cooked bacon right on top of the patty and sealed in by melted cheese was a thing of beauty. It definitely was a burger’s version of gorgeous looking. I mean, shit maaan…it was one sexy mutha-fucka!
I also liked that the peppers were staring me right in the face. Knowing that they were gonna get merged in with the cheese when I put the burger together, it led me to say to myself, “Lookkit you, you lil’ fucks! I hope you bring the heat ‘cause I’m gonna eat the shit outta you!"
The salad-y side was very vibrant with the way the variety of colours stood out. I was definitely eating with my eyes before my meal started. I took a couple photos, then put it together, and took a couple more.
I started thinking about how much I can’t stand cutting open my burgers. Absorbed in that thought for a moment made me want this tour to come to a close so I could eat a burger like it was meant to be eaten...grab the whole thing and shove it in my face!
Somehow, thinking about the end of the tour made me anxious to get back to the Best Western…my burger home court! Eating at all these other places made me feel like I was cheating on the BW…whoring myself out to all the burgers in town. I really miss having a shake with my burgers. Shakes’r the perfect touch, and they barely exist in this town!
(As I typically only go for a burger once every 3-4 months, all the ones I have been eating made me start thinkin’ about doing a vegetarian dish tour of Nelson. Once I had that in my mind, I thought about a chicken dish tour and a curry dish tour as well. I think I’m gonna keep going with this food touring thing of Nelson.)
As much as I am fed up with cutting these burgers in half before I eat them, an aspect of that has become one of my favourite parts of the burger tour experience that I never saw coming. After I cut it in half there is always a little coat of the juice from the patty on my right thumb because of the way I open it up.
When I lick my thumb I get a first faint preview of what the patty is going to taste like. It gives an advance on the level of moisture as well as how the spicing is. (How much or how little there is, and a good sense of the flavour.) It builds the anticipation even more. It makes the next few photos a pain in the ass to get done ‘cause I just wanna get on with it. It has become like the first test to pass, and rel-ish crushed it!
The first bite is never the best one, but it is my favourite one. I’d say the third bite is the best one ‘cause that’s the first real bite when you’re hitting the middle of the burger where the main event of the party is.
The first bite is my favourite though because of all the anticipation finally manifesting in a single moment. From the time I decide to go for another burger, picking a place, ordering, having the food hit my table, and then the whole photos and opening it up thing…shit…it just seems like forever! Add in the little tease with the juice on my thumb…fuck maaaan!
I did admire this one opened more than the rest for sure. The way the bacon was done under the blanket of melted cheese…it was captivating to me. Also, the peppers standing out and sayin’, “Hey mutha-fucka…let’s do it!” had my full attention! I was ready to destroy this sexy lookin’ bastid!
Even being my favourite one, the first bite doesn’t really count ‘cause it holds the initial rush of endorphins or whatever from magik in your mouth. It wakes up and kick-starts your taste senses. I always like to take a little drink after the first bite to somewhat cleanse my palate now that my taste buds are awake and ready to party.
As I was about to take a sip of my water I was put on notice that the peppers were comin’ out swingin’. They were making their presence known ‘cause I could feel the heat from the peppers emerging and sayin’ they were here to mess me up! “Sweeeeet…I love a good battle you lil’ bastids!”
Two bites in was very validating and the difference maker right off the bat! The second bite confirmed my anticipation was as I suspected it, that the way the bacon was served was the best by far.
I embraced my captivation even further. I just couldn't get over having the bacon served under that thick blanket of melted cheese like that. It is way better than having the bacon sitting on top of the cheese on the patty, or on top of the salad toppings.
The cheese holds the bacon in place, even pulling it down a bit into the patty. The juices from the bacon start seeping into the patty and mixing with the juices of the beef. It seems to have added this sense of potency to both of the flavours, so that when you bite into it, the juiciness of the two mixed together washes over all your taste buds in a pretty wonderful way. It’s a profound flavour explosion with a euphoric rush.
The patty itself had a great texture to it. It was perfectly moist and so nicely cooked. The sear lines were beautiful. The spicing was great, and it held amazing flavour. The star of the meal lived up to its purpose.
The addition of the way the bacon juices mixed with the beef, and what happens when you bite into it all, seemed to have the same effect as what happens when Popeye scarfs down his spinach. It just turned it into this ultra ass whuppin' burger that was ready to punch out anything in its way.
Rel-Ish is by far my favourite place for the way the bacon and cheese aspects of the burger were approached and served. No other place comes remotely close.
The salad part of the toppings was fresh and quite enjoyable. The peppers held their heat true with every bite from start to finish. I don't care much for caramelized onion and would choose raw ones every time. That raw crunch and the sweet juicy pop with bite is such a natural accent to a burger.
The balance of the fresh toppings vs patty (with cheese and bacon) was perfect. As I have stated before, I can’t stand when places put this mountain of salad between the patty and top bun. It doesn’t make any sense. It makes it harder to eat, and buries the patty in the process…which is a total shame
(*I did a shitty job at holding this and taking a photo at the same time.)
Each bite of the rel-ish burger brought such a variety of flavours, textures, and sensations washing over my taste buds. It was a great size of a burger, and it was easy to eat. As a burger is meant to be, every bite had a bit of everything in it.
The bun was great too. Fresh, soft, and the perfect size for the balance of the patty and toppings! It wasn’t soggy or greasy either. It was just right.
Before I had finished my first half I understood why I had heard so much about this burger. It was fuckin’ good!
One thing that drove me a bit nuts was a particular spice that really stood out and was amazing, but I couldn't place it. I know it, and I love it, but I was drawing a blank, so I couldn’t identify it. I likened it to seeing one of your good friends who you have known for years but totally blank on their name like a dumb-ass when you randomly run into them. (I have no chance on identifying that spice now as I am at home writing this. Bummer!)
The baked fries asserted themselves right from the start. Their aroma stood out in a very familiar way. They were nice cut fries, but as I never deep-fry foods at home, the smell of them being baked felt surprisingly comforting to me.
I enjoyed the difference of baked vs deep fried. I liked the texture. I also simply liked that it was different from regular routine of a burger served with deep fried fries. By a surprise default, the fries really spoke their piece and I dug it!
The ginger ale?? Nice and crispy…no fruit!
The burger was so good that I made a point of it to finish my fries before I started into my second half. I didn’t want them disrupting the flavour flow of the burger, and did not want them to be the last thing my taste buds that I walked out of there with.
There was a moment I really took pause as I was going through the second half. It was one of those moments of perfect content-ness. It was like everything around me went silent as I got filled with a peaceful sensation and all was calm and right. The burger was a great size, but I didn’t want it to end.
I didn’t realize how busy the restaurant had gotten til I got up from my table. It was virtually full. All but one table and a little back bench table were gone. It half blew my mind that it was that busy at that time of day in the middle of the week. Totally crushing it! It’s easy to understand why though.
This was a great experience for something as simple as a hamburger, fries and soda. This burger at rel-ish is a great example of how to do a traditional burger with your own take, but staying true to the simplicity. It was beautiful. I loved it! I loved it! I loved it!
I was curious what this one would cost after my server telling me it could get expensive when I ordered it. When I got my bill I was happy. It was a full $3.00 cheaper than the most expensive one, was on the low end of the average pricing. Score another point!
I just wrote this long-ass thing about rel-ish, but here’s the four worded version:
Rel-Ish?? Fuck yeah maaaannn!
Stuff Writin' About Kinda Guy
I am a simple guy who likes to dream of the impossible and go after it. I have found fun in writing about my journey as well as other things that inspire me too.