It was Friday night and I wanted to go out. Despite that night being the start of The Big Taste festival, a nine-day event of restaurant specials, I opted out. Though the reputable restaurants that participate in The Big Taste offer wicked value – a three-course meal for $20.00 and up, I don’t like the crowd and how crazy it gets. Having said that, I do have my eye on Model Milk and Workshop Kitchen and Culture. I’ll be heading to Workshop for lunch this week but I also want to try their dinner menu. Perhaps I can convince my friend Legal to skip lunch and go for dinner after work instead?
I picked Ricardo’s Hideaway, as I visited previously with my friend Blondie and the food looked fantastic. L bumped into someone he knew from work – Roman. Kudos to Roman for the warm welcome and suggesting a delicious rum – Ron Abuelo (seven-year|Panama|$5.5). I love rum even more than tequila.
The seven-year rum was smooth and sweet and reminded me of whisky. A nice way to toast to the night. We both opted for beers, as I spotted Banded Peak Chinook Saison and L wanted the Driftwood Fat Tug IPA. The Driftwood was really tasty – bright with notes of grapefruit and not too hoppy. I like that glasses are smaller, so the beer stays colder and fresher for longer.
For food, we ordered cashews ($5), crab legs ($14) with melted butter, jerk chicken ($16), roti ($5) and rice and beans ($5). I noticed enough vegetarian items on the menu for my buddy Jaime.
The cashews were warm and reminded me of Christmas. The seasoning had either cinnamon or nutmeg in it.
The jerk marinaded crab legs were a delight to eat. We were provided with all the proper utensils to crack and pick the meat out. The crab was grilled and blackened, spicy and full of chunks of goodness.
The highlight of our meal was the jerk chicken, which incidentally is my worst photo of the night. Next time my husband and I are going to order a full portion. The half order contained four succulent pieces of chicken.
The chicken was garnished with cilantro, which I detest, but even that noxious herb couldn’t hide the fact this was an amazing bird. The skin was crunchy, the sticky sauce was spicy and sweet. The meat was top quality, juicy and white. If you go out for cheap wings, you’ll appreciate this bird. There’s no blueish veins or bruised meat. I’m willing to bet that before this chicken crossed the road to Ricardo, it led a happy life.
The rice and beans tasted clean, a refreshing contrast to the flavour explosion from the chicken and crab. The beans didn’t have that nasty metallic taste and mushy texture you get from canned beans.
The roti was fabulous. Flaky, light and buttery, it was the perfect vessel to wrap around the chicken. The roti came with herbed butter.
I’ve been cutting down on my alcoholic intake, but the pina colada ($10) might undo all my healthy intentions. This drink brought me back to when I was 20 at my first all-inclusive resort in Mexico. Except Ricardo’s version is far superior – sweet from pineapple juice, creamy from coconut milk and boozy from rum. I remember why I avoid pina coladas. It goes down way too easy. And I’m better this little cocktail was packed with at least 450 calories.
L and I enjoyed ourselves immensely. The music was fun and tropical. The crowd wasn’t douchy. The environment was unlike the other bars and pubs along 17th Ave, it felt like I was transported to an island. Ricardo’s Hideaway gets two fat thumbs up from me and makes it as my top pick as Flavour of the Month. Yeah Boyyy!