For awhile there, I totally forgot about Cafe Gloucester. Hey, with the construction of the Canada Line, I'm sure more than a few people avoided the business along the Cambie corridor. Somewhere down the line (sorry for the pun), Cafe Gloucester experienced an ownership change and for the longest time, I wanted to do a return visit. As one of the original "upscale" Hong Kong-style cafes in town, they have always prided themselves for their good food and equally good service. So to avoid the dreaded "Dim Sum at Tung Sing Chin again" with my in-laws, I suggested we head to Gloucester instead. So to refresh your memory (or if you have no clue what a Hong Kong-style cafe is all about), the food here is a mishmash of Chinese food and a Chinese interpretation of everything else. That's right, when you would normally use tomato sauce, think ketchup. Or where you'd find cream, try starch (or flour) thickened milk. Or better yet, imagine breakfast sausage replaced by a hot dog wiener. Yes, all this can be found at a HK-style cafe...
So when you look the picture of the vegetable soup, it really was Borscht. But... it's not beet red nor is there any sour cream! Not at a HK-style cafe! It was vegetable soup with some worchestershire. That's all. Deal with it. The borscht was actually the starter for the Mini-Mixed Grill which was Viv's choice. It consisted of a pork chop, ham, egg and a skewer of shrimp on a bed of spaghetti (or rice), veggies with a side of sauce (black pepper in this case). This was pretty solid with a large not-too-dry pork chop, a popped sunny side egg and cold-water shrimp. I liked the black pepper sauce as it was rich and flavourful with a good consistency. There seemed to be some black bean in it too which might've explained the full-bodied flavour. In addition to this, we shared the Duck & Preserved Vegetable Vermicelli as well. I found the rice noodles to be a bit too dry, but there was plenty of peppers, onions and sprouts to make up for that. It was flavourful with a nuttiness probably due to the high wok heat.
We also had the classic Pork Chop Baked Rice which, as you can tell, consisted of a large pork chop with lots of sauce. However, we found the sauce far too sweet with very little savoury elements. The pork chop was thick, tender and crispy on the outside, but we felt there was far too much onion underneath. While we were at it, why not have another standard item on any HK-style cafe's menu? Enter the Baked Seafood Rice with an obscene amount of "cream" sauce with seafood and again, far too much onion. I'm not sure if they realized that partially-cooked slivers of onion overpower seafood. It doesn't enhance it. Other than that, the seafood was fine while the sauce was typically thick and not really that creamy. Oh let's not stop there right? How about the Spaghetti Bolognese? Yes, it would make most Italians cry because I'm pretty sure they would not make it like this. However, this one was good though with a meaty, thick sauce that featured a licorice hit from star anise.
Back to something more Chinese or Chinese-style Indian that is... was the Curry Chicken. The sauce was coconut milk based, hence it wasn't starchy. There was enough spices to create an impact and not too much sugar, so it wasn't a sweet curry. This was pretty good. "Not bad" is probably the best description of our re-visit. Most items were prepared properly, except for the overuse of undercooked onions, and service was above average
- Decent eats
- Above-average service
- Comfortable digs
- Slightly more expensive than other HK-style cafes
- Good, but is it better than less costly places?