Eats and entertainment on the cheap all over the Lower Mainland

January 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Finding good inexpensive meals isn’t as easy as reading the McDonald’s dollar menu, but there are restaurants in the Lower Mainland with live music and affordable entrées that won’t wallop your wallet.

The duo of Blue Voodoo, made up of Rick Dalgarno and Ted Tosoff, play at the Landing Pub & Grill in Ladner every Thursday night. (Jacob Zinn photo)

The duo of Blue Voodoo, made up of Rick Dalgarno and Ted Tosoff, play at the Landing Pub & Grill in Ladner every Thursday night. (Jacob Zinn photo)

The Cellar – 3611 West Broadway, Vancouver Price: 2/5; Service: 4/5; Food: 3/5; Atmosphere: 5/5; Music: 5/5.

The Cellar offers live jazz Tuesdays through Sundays. The music lineup changes, with some acts playing on a frequent basis. All acts include quality jazz musicians, such as Doug Towle, performing Oct. 29, and the Matthew Smith Quartet, performing Nov. 1.

The bar’s design is classy, with elegant paintings on maroon walls complementing the dark booths. The dim lighting sets the mood for a relaxing night of jazz and drinks. Depending on the day of the week, talking during performances is often discouraged, but the atmosphere on Tuesdays is more easygoing and quiet chatter is permitted.

The food is a bit pricey (appetizers such as edamame and yam fries start at $9), but according to staff, students do frequent the below-ground bar.

“A lot of UBC students come here,” said waitress Sarah Hawkins, adding that students tend to buy appetizers and alcohol.

There’s no cover charge on Tuesdays, but there is a $10 minimum charge for food or drinks. If you go with friends, you can share a plate of nachos for $14.56.

Carman J. Price and company play Oct. 25 and Zapata Negro, an AfroCuban jazz group, plays Oct. 28.

The Landing Pub & Grill – 5449 Ladner Trunk Rd., Ladner
Price: 4/5; Service: 3/5; Food: 4/5; Atmosphere: 3/5; Music: 4/5.

For a less expensive musical experience, the Landing Pub & Grill has a blues band and $3 off appetizers every Thursday night. With the discount, you can get bruschetta for $4.99 or steak bites for $6.49.

Rick Dalgarno and Ted Tosoff of Blue Voodoo pick their guitar strings every Thursday beneath multicoloured lights. They play original and cover songs for the audience, which they say is getting younger.
“College crowds seem to be catching on more to blues and how blues used to be,” said Dalgarno.

“The future of music anyways is the next generation,” added Tosoff.

At times, the music is hard to hear, but there’s plenty of seating to find a good view with better sound. The pub has two pool tables and free Wi-Fi.

Dishes such as fish tacos and potato skins are basic bar food, but surprisingly tasty. An order of three cheeseburger sliders, after taxes and with the $3 discount, totals at $6.29.

Dublin’s Crossing – 18789 Fraser Hwy., Surrey
Price: 2/5; Service: 3/5; Food: 4/5; Atmosphere: 4/5; Music: 4/5.

The Irish-themed Dublin’s Crossing pub in Surrey offers live music Tuesday through Sunday nights, and occasionally on Mondays.

On the first Monday of October, guitarist Jason Bonnell covered a blend of modern rock (“Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon), Top 40 (“Umbrella” by Rihanna) and bar favourites (“Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash).

There’s a lot of seating, including tables on a mezzanine. But the music tends to get stuck in the background while patrons socialize at the bar or eat dinner, hardly noticing the person on stage.

The service is a bit spotty, but the food at Dublin’s Crossing is better than average bar food. The best deal for Monday nights is 35cent chicken wings, which comes to $3.91 with taxes if you order the minimum of 10 wings.

Dublin’s Crossing also hosts Geoff Gibbons on Oct. 27, James Moore on Oct. 28 and the Pat Chessell Band on Oct. 30 and 31.

The Foggy Dew Irish Pub – 7331 Westminster Hwy., Richmond
Price: 4/5; Service: 3/5; Food: 4/5; Atmosphere: 4/5; Music: 3/5.

The Foggy Dew Irish Pub in Richmond has live rock and R&B on Friday and Saturday nights, starting at 10 p.m.

Though the restaurant is small, it’s a comfortable place to dine out on a budget. You can share a basket of onion rings with friends for $5.59 after taxes.

Other menu items are moderately priced and of good quality; the priciest entree is a New York steak at $17.99. Hamburgers are a deal, priced from $8.99 to $11.99.

There’s something on the menu to fit everyone’s tastes, but the entertainment may not fit everyone’s musical tastes.

The bands and DJs change weekly, playing a variety of genres, but often sticking with modern hits and memorable songs.

There’s no entertainment on Halloween weekend, but DJ Jeff plays the following weekend and the Undercovers play Nov. 13 and 14.

Washington Avenue Grill – 15782 Marine Dr., White Rock
Price: 2/5; Service: 3/5; Food: 5/5; Atmosphere: 4/5; Music: 4/5.

The Washington Avenue Grill isn’t a place for inexpensive dishes, but that’s the price you pay for good live music, free parking and no cover charge.

Parking is limited, but once you’ve found a spot, you can walk up the stairs to a candlelit table near the band.

Outside is a Statue of Liberty wearing a Canucks jersey, but this is not a sports bar. There’s talented live entertainment Wednesday to Sunday, and the line-up changes regularly.

The prices are a little steep, but the desserts are worth your money. For the price of the cheapest appetizer (yam fries), you can get homemade tiramisu or New York cheesecake at $7.34 a slice.

Phil Dixon plays guitar on Oct. 25 and Jani Jakovac plays piano on Oct. 28.

Eighteen 27 – 9185 Glover Rd., Fort Langley
Price: 2/5; Service: 5/5; Food: 5/5; Atmosphere: 4/5; Music: 4/5.

If you’d like to spend $7.34 somewhere else, you can get triple chocolate paté at Eighteen 27 in Fort Langley while listening to Kurt Thys, the restaurant’s personal piano man. Thys bears some resemblance to Billy Joel, but counters that with a pair of white Elton John–style glasses, making his piano playing that much more entertaining.

The restaurant’s a bit dark, but it’s supposed to be, for this swanky joint. Expect to spend a bit more for a bit less. The portions are small and the prices are big, but the food is amazing and items such as fondue aren’t readily available elsewhere.

Entree’s go from $12.99 (sirloin burger) to $23.99 (12-ounce steak), but you can’t put a price on quality. Just try to save a nice tip for Thys, which he collects in a brandy glass at the end of the piano.

The Wired Monk – 12219 Beecher St., Crescent Beach
Price: 4/5; Service: 5/5; Food: 2/5; Atmosphere: 4/5; Music: 3/5.

If you enjoy a walk on the beach before seeing live entertainment, try the Wired Monk at Crescent Beach, which has an open-mic night on Wednesdays.

It’s a small coffee shop where an variety of local talent perform easy listening, blues and soft rock. The performances draw some local regulars, so seating is limited, but there are often enough chairs for everybody and parking is free.

The shop has a very organic, earthy feel to it with shades of brown and green on the walls. It’s a comfortable place to sit down and relax with a cup of coffee. For $5.61, you can get a blended coffee (mocha, espresso, etc.) and a cookie. Their coffee is considerably better than their baked goods.