I recently spent a week test driving the Acura ILX 2020 car around the city while I was out and about trying some new dishes and coffees at restaurants and cafes in and around Vancouver.
I visited Kozak Ukrainian Eatery for some Ukrainian comfort food at their newest location on Victoria Drive, their focus here is on Ukrainian dishes and baking, loved the delicious hearty Goulash (beef and carrot stew) that’s served with a slice of bread; I also enjoyed their Lunch combo plate which included a small bowl of borsch, two pieces of varenyky, two cabbage rolls, and one nalysnyky. I also loved the savoury Varenyky (perogies), these were filled with potato and onion and topped with caramelized onions served with sour cream.
Later in the day I took a drive to New Westminster to visit Artusi Restaurant in the Uptown neighborhood, a wonderful restaurant specializing in contemporary rustic Italian food, Chef Delbert Cirfera, and his partners are family and friends who have created this spot together. I had their Grilled Peppers along my favourite Gnocchi Cipolla with caramelized sweet onion, guangiale, balsamic reduction & rosemary.
I found the latest model to be quite similar to their 2019 model where the Acura’s ILX comes from a 2.4L four-cylinder engine making 201 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque, and an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic is tasked with putting that power to the front wheels.
The next day I visited Passione Gelato for some of their delicious creamy mango sorbetto in a cup paired with their decadent dark shock (dark chocolate sorbetto).
For dinner I stopped by Manoush’eh on the edge of Yaletown for their delicious Cheese Pie (Damascus style flatbread), along with their delicious Hummus and Baba Ganoush some of my favourites there.
Over in the Westend close to English Bay is where Café Portrait opened recently. A beautiful café that is filled with art in the form of portraits adorns the café walls at this family run gem in the heart of the Westend. I visited for their house-made Turkish Coffee which is made in the traditional Turkish way along with their Carrot Walnut Loaf.
The next morning, I visited Douce Diner in North Vancouver as they were one of the participants in my Chicken and Waffle challenge that was happening earlier in the month. Here I indulged in their Buttermilk Chicken & Waffles, the dish featured an organic chicken breast marinated in buttermilk & in house hot sauce lightly breaded in panko and spices is tender and flavourful, with a fluffy made to order waffle, that is served with their house-made sausage pan gravy, house hot sauce and organic maple syrup; and it was all very good.
After some meetings on the North Shore, I headed over to West Vancouver for an early dinner at Pastameli Restaurant. They are located in the Caufield neighborhood and have been specializing in a wide selection of pizzas and other dishes for many years. Here I had a half/half of their Bbq Chicken Pizza from their Old School menu and their Tropical Veggie from their New School menu; as I was dining solo getting a half/half was the way to go to try a couple different varieties.
The Acura ILX has a good amount of trunk space for storing personal belongings during drives and outings in and around the city.
On Saturday morning we had brunch at VV Tapas Lounge in the Strathcona neighborhood of East Van. Here I enjoyed my Cappuccino along with their Pan-fried Zucchini Bread and Kederee which was their amazing dish with Smoked sablefish risotto, andouille sausage, rapini, poached eggs, hollandaise; and one that I would order again.
Over in the Morgan Crossing area of South Surrey, a popular new Indian restaurant had opened last fall; took the Acura for a ride on highway 99 and after 25 minutes or so arrived at Curry Lounge. Here we enjoyed several tasty dishes, some of my favourites included the Salmon Tikka served with mint chutney; along with the outstanding Tandoori Lamb Chaap with a tasty sauce; and the Aloo Nazakati, a unique dish that I never had before until now, Crispy potato shells stuffed with cottage cheese, marinated with spices and cooked in the clay oven and I loved it; next was the equally delicious Shabnam Ke Moti, stuffed mushrooms marinated in yogurt, garlic and indian spices and cooked in the clay oven. Also, loved the the delicious Okra Masala with fresh okra stir-fried with onion, garlic, ginger and indian spices. The Mughlai Chicken Sensation was a feature curry on for a limited time though I believe it should be added to their permanent menu; chicken breast stuffed with mince lamb and dried fruits like cashews, almonds, raisins cooked in the tandoor clay oven and sauce made with a delicious rich creamy sauce with brown fried onion and cashew paste. My favourite dessert was the Faluda Ice-cream which is made with ice cream, rose syrup and shredded coconut.
We have so many great pizzerias around the city, over in East Van Ragazzi Pizza has been making old school New York style pizzas for many years. I dropped by in the late afternoon for some pizza, my idea of pizza delivery, picking up my own ‘create your own pizza’ with a pesto base, topped with ricotta, olives and red peppers.
There are some great tech features in this car such as the dual-screen infotainment system called “On Demand Multi-Use Display” that promises a more intuitive user experience. The ILX’s A-Spec sport-oriented trim still makes do without any actual performance upgrades over the rest of the line, but it does enjoy a new wheel design, new sport seats, LED fog lights, darkened head- and taillight assemblies and piano black and chrome interior trim.
I really enjoyed the Acura ILX it was a great car to drive in and around Vancouver in the to try some great eateries.
By: Richard Wolak
Disclosure: Honda Canada provided me with the 2020 Acura ILX for a week to test drive, and photograph.