Sherman's Food Adventures: Stella's Tap & Tapas Bar

Stella's Tap & Tapas Bar

*Now Biercraft*

The last softball game of the regular season, it is a time of mourning. Do you know what this means??? No more eating out as a team until next summer! The horror! Since it was the last game, many teammates that usually do not join us for grub did so tonight. Joining the usual crew were Ranger, Ketchup and Inspector Gadget. You might be wondering why somebody would be named after a condiment. Well, Ketchup is named as such because she eats practically everything with ketchup. She even eats carrot tempura with... you guessed it - ketchup. I can imagine the horrified faces when she squirts ketchup as a topping for her desserts. So after another victorious game in the blazing heat, we were really looking for a wonderfully air conditioned place to eat. Not knowing that they did not have A/C, we chose Stella's Tap and Tapas. Imagine the shock on everyones' face when all that separated us from the heat were a couple of rotating fans.

While we were already seated, Miss Y and Judes wandered in with a creepy story. They had parked a couple of blocks away. When they got out of the car, a pot-bellied shirtless man approached them and expressed his admiration of their beauty. Um... what's next? A trenchcoat? They were seriously creeped out by the guy. Luckily he didn't know Miss Y was a screamer. On that note, the whole table got into a discussion whether I should permanently change her nickname to screamer. We picked a dish in her honour - Charcuterie & Cheese plate. It was a pretty standard dish (prosciutto, ham, cheese, bread, cornichons, olives & pickled pearl onions), nothing to "scream" about; but there was a good amount of food.

There were a wide range of tapas available at Stella's; but the prices seemed a bit high. The average price for each dish was roughly $13.00, which is an actual meal at other establishments. In addition to the Charcuterie & Cheese plate, we each picked a dish. Miss Y opted for the Black Sesame Crusted Yellowfin Tuna. The tuna was beautifully cooked and painted with a wasabi aioli. However, the wasabi aioli was too weak and didn't compliment the natural sweetness of the tuna. Predictably, Bear ordered the Short Ribs; in fact we doubled up on the order. The guy can live on short ribs alone! Bathed in sweet Korean BBQ marinade, the ribs were pretty good. It probably could have used a bit less marinade. Inspector Gadget selected the Stella Mussels (Stella Artois, cilantro, lime butter) with Frites and I went for the Normandie Mussels (Granny smith apples, mushrooms, bacon, shallots, Calvados, cream) with Bread. Unfortunately, we got it mixed up. I should have clued in when there were no apples in my broth; but I was really too busy taking pictures. I really liked the many different variations available for preparing the mussels. Moreover, it could be had in 1/2 pound and 1 pound servings. Despite hijacking Inspector Gadget's mussels, I personally preferred my original choice (Normandie) because how can you not like bacon?

Milhouse selected the Belgian Poutine and it was disappointing. The frites themselves were very good since we had mooched off of Hot Chocolate's order of Belgian Frites. They were served hot and crispy with a side of citrus aioli. However, when doused with an inordinate amount of watery Blanche de Chambly & Miso gravy on the bottom, it became a soggy mess. Boss Woman really didn't know what to order, so I suggested the Piquin chili & Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Chicken Wings. The wings were fried perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Too bad the glaze was a bit uneven because some pieces were quite flavourful and some others were bland.

Impressively presented, the Achiote Rubbed Flat Iron Yucatan Steak Tacos chosen by Ranger appeared to be delicious. I didn't get a chance to sample it; but Ranger seemed really happy. Well, either it was the tacos or the beer. Ketchup went with the Soy Kissed Sambal Green Beans. I was utterly shocked that she didn't bathe the whole thing in ketchup. I did get to sample this dish and personally, I thought the beans could have used a bit more cooking. They were essentially raw and did not absorb much of the seasoning. It would have been a much more successful dish if they had deep-fried the beans first, then quickly stir-fry with the soy and sambal.

Arriving quite a long time after everything else was Judes selection - the Sea salt & Sarawak pepper Dusted Pork Riblettes. The ribs themselves were a bit flavourless; hence the 3 dipping sauces (sweet chili sauce, cucumber raita and cilantro crème fraiche). The sweet chili was the consensus choice; yet the other 2 sauces confused us a bit. They were so light and bland, it did not add anything to the flavourless ribs. As you can see, the food at Stella's was hit and miss. Nothing was really terrible; but it wasn't memorable either. The prices weren't necessarily unreasonable, after all some of the portions were quite good. However, being that it was tapas, we weren't full and had paid close to $20.00 each. With that being said, if you are not intending to get stuffed; Stella's is a pretty cool venue to grab a cool beverage. I'm just not sure if it's the best place to actually go eat a meal.

The Good:
- Solid service
- Great selection of drinks
- A wide variety of tapas

The Bad:
- Food is hit and miss
- No A/C?!?!?

Stella's Tap & Tapas Bar on Urbanspoon


Anson said...

Hey Sherman,

I've passed by Stella's a lot of times. Isn't this restaurant located next to a barber shop with a big sign saying, "Belgian Beer" or something?

Did you guys have any beer?

Sherman Chan said...

Oh yes, we had beer. Can't go to Stella's w/o having beer! Great place for drinks really. Food is... not as good as I would have hoped. But it wasn't terrible.

Anonymous said...

Anson, there are two Stella's as far as I know. The one next to the barber shop is the newer one on Cambie. Sherman, I believe, went to the one on the Drive.

As for the food there, I've had some appies there but I see the place mainly as a bar and what you'll get is bar food. Popular place to go for drinks.

Anonymous said...

A couple of more things about Stella lots of interesting beers. More known for beers than food.

One bad thing about Stella's and probably true of most places on the Drive is the hours. Last calls comes terribly early and the patio is also closed early too.

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