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Jesstours.com is a travel website that details my adventures from around the world. It’s a mixed bag of travel experiences, stories and insights. It’s also a blog that doesn’t take itself too seriously but will provide my family and friends with an outlet to keep track of my travels as well as hopefully serve as an interesting and entertaining read, with some helpful travel maps and tips for those who simply stumble across this page. Happy reading and happy travelling!

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Jules French Bistro – Vancouver

Apr 2015

Continuing my search for the best brunch spots in Vancouver, a few Sundays ago Nick and I headed over to Jules Casual French Bistro, located in the city’s historic neighbourhood of Gastown, for a deliciously authentic and lingering French-inspired late morning breakfast.

Tucked in between a row of bars on Abbott Street and sporting a rather modest facade, Jules Bistro is fairly easy to pass without a second glance. Yet, while the restaurant’s exterior may not necessarily stand out, the interior most certainly does. Through jet-black painted double doors an enchanting, warmly lit space awaits. A space, I might add, with a distinctly vintage French look and feel.

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Indeed, the entire restaurant oozes with French elegance and old world charm, think exposed brick walls, black and white tiled flooring, weathered wooden furniture, a striking hanging crystal chandelier, gold framed mirrors, a piano, and an array of signage hand written in French.

With such a wonderful and well-crafted display of French style and taste, it’s easy to forget that Jules Bistro is situated in downtown Vancouver and not on some cobbled stoned side street in Paris.

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Although the restaurant’s beautiful décor and delightful ambience are reasons alone to visit, it is the traditional French cooking and delicious food offerings that draws patrons back time and time again.

Naturally, Jules Bistro’s brunch menu follows the restaurant’s French theme, blending traditional French dishes with West Coast flavours and features a range of tantalising plates, which include: two eggs sunny side up with potato rosti and dill marinated salmon carpaccio; country style scrambled eggs with bacon wrapped asparagus, sautéed fingerling potatoes and tomato provencal; a basket of fresh baked mini croissants and breads with butter and preserves, and a breakfast cassoulet made up of coco beans, bacon, chorizo, duck confit, and a perfectly runny poached egg.

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The breakfast cassoulet, which is hearty yet surprisingly light, comes highly recommended (by me). The combination of flavours achieved are truly outstanding, so much so this dish will have you savouring each and every spoonful.

Aside from egg dishes and pastries, Jules Bistro’s mid-morning menu also incorporates a variety of lunch time offerings, offerings which include a quiche of the day, salade nicoise, French onion soup, moules frites steamed in white wine, garlic and parsley, and a ribeye steak served with salad or fries and a herb butter sauce.

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While the main dishes at Jules Bistro are enough to leave you feeling full and satisfied, room MUST be left for dessert, which is comprised of an impressive list of sweet treats, all of which are priced at $8.50. The crème caramel, vanilla crème brûleé and oranges with orange blossom sorbet and mint caramel are recommended.

With superb French cuisine, friendly service and a warm and inviting atmosphere Jules Bistro is a positively lovely spot to enjoy a relaxed brunch where a quintessential French dining experience is most certainly guaranteed.

Bon appetite!

Posted by Jess Fleming

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Brunch – Vancouver

Apr 2015

As a lot of you know, over the past few months I have had the pleasure of writing a weekly brunch series for Vancity Buzz, here in Vancouver. Such an undertaking has allowed me to not only enjoy and indulge in copious amounts of delicious food (all in the name of research) but also discover fabulous must-visit eateries, as well as new and exciting parts of the city. Having now eaten my fair share of weekend brunches, I thought I would spill the beans and share with you what I deem to be the highlights of Vancouver’s brunch scene, so that if one day you find yourself in town, hungry for excellent brunch fare, you’ll know exactly where to find it.

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Tuc Craft Kitchen (Gastown)

Tuc Craft Kitchen serves up a delicious weekend brunch featuring a number of small bites and nibbles, as well as larger more hearty dishes. Expect to find offerings such as lamb and eggs, a vegetable frittata, eggs any style with pork belly crackling, an Irish stew skillet, and the kitchen’s signature plate —  crispy fried chicken and savoury waffles.

Ask for Luigi (Railtown)

Offering a range of tempting Italian-inspired brunch plates, Ask for Luigi is a must-visit brunch destination in Vancouver. Sitting on the edge of Railtown, Ask for Luigi’s non-traditional brunch items make this casual eatery stand out from the rest. The house-made Pappardelle alla Bolognese and the kitchen’s freshly baked banana bread with white chocolate chips and a wickedly good whipped salted caramel butter are highly recommended.

Belgard Kitchen (Railtown)

With a long list of appetising brunch fare, a casual vibe, attentive service and a gorgeous, rustic dining space, brunch at Belgard Kitchen hits all the right spots. Occupying space in the Settlement Building, Belgard Kitchen focuses on sourcing as many local ingredients for their dishes as possible, dishes that include smashed avocado on toast, maple bourbon bacon, coconut quinoa porridge, a meatball skillet, and more.

L’Abattoir (Gastown)

Housed in a refurbished brick and beam building, brunch at L’Abattoir is exactly what brunch should be – leisurely and delicious. The food is excellent, the service top notch and the ambience causal yet refined. The expected brunch essentials are all here (poached eggs with pork belly, three egg omelette, buttermilk pancakes, and a breakfast burger), as well as a range of innovative dishes, irresistible house-baked pastries, and creative morning cocktails.

Catch 122 (Gastown)

Reasonable pricing, quality food, friendly staff and an inviting interior make Catch 122 the perfect spot to enjoy a lingering brunch. The menu features a variety of classic brunch dishes with a standard pricing of $13 and includes house-cured bacon and eggs, duck prosciutto Eggs Benedict, brioche French toast, mushroom omelettes, and more. Brunch is not just limited to the weekend, the restaurant offers brunch until 4pm seven days a week!

Burdock & Co. (Main Street)

Come here for as much the food as for the restaurant’s warmth and charm. Located on Main Street, Burdock and Co. dishes up both traditional and inventive locally-sourced organic meals in a gorgeously lit and tastefully laid out space. The seasonally-inspired menu has been crafted to include unique dishes, bold flavours, and delightful food pairings. A side ordering of the grilled maple fennel bacon is a must!

Posted by Jess Fleming

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Coffee Houses – Vancouver

Mar 2015

Despite the fact that downtown Vancouver is plagued with an absurd amount of coffee shop chains, there are a number of quality independently owned and run coffee houses too. Coffee houses that not only care about how they source their coffee beans but also how they brew it, making sure each pour of espresso is consistently smooth and delicious in taste.

A daily dose of caffeine is just as essential to many local Vancouverites as it is to those who visit the city from afar. Indeed, one of the first questions visiting friends ask is “where can I find good coffee.” As such I thought I would go ahead and compile a handy list of Vancouver’s top coffee houses.

Revolver (Gastown)

Located in the heart of Gastown, Revolver offers its patrons a rotating menu of their favourite coffees from world-class roasters around North America. With a team of passionate baristas, expect superbly made espresso, drip, and filtered coffee drinks. Revolver is the perfect spot to grab a coffee to-go, to purchase a bag of beans, or to sit in and enjoy a hot drink in the cafe’s small but funky surrounds.

49th Parallel (Main Street)

A thriving cafe and roasting business, 49th Parallel runs two shop fronts in Vancouver, offering a drink menu with a variety of South and Central American blends, which boast a range of tastes and textures. Hand picked quality beans, custom roasting, and dedicated baristas ensure a fantastic cup of coffee each and every pour. 49th Parallel also supplies a number of cafes around town.

Timbertrain (Gastown)

The team at Timbertrain are committed to the fundamentals and the science of brewing perfection into each cup of coffee they serve. With an overriding dedication to taste and flavour, baristas who take pride in what they do, carefully roasted beans, mastered brewing methods, and an inviting space, Timbertrain Coffee Roasters is a must try for any coffee lover.

Musette Caffe (Downtown)

Musette Caffe serves a range of carefully crafted espresso drinks and a selection of light snacks. Using coffee beans from Vancouver’s own 49th Parallel roasting company, talented baristas pour a fantastic cup of coffee. Drinks include milky lattes, frothy cappuccinos, and more. (NOTE: Slated to reopen December 2016)

Cafe Medina (Downtown)

Perhaps best known for their delicious food offerings, Cafe Medina also serves a great cup of coffee. From expertly poured cappuccinos to lavender lattes, Cafe Medina offers its patrons a range of caffeinated beverages. If you’re in a hurry be sure to get a coffee to-go as a wait for a table during rush hour can be rather lengthy. Yes, their food and drinks are that good!

East Van Roasters (Gastown)

Located on Carrall Street, East Van Roasters is a tiny yet inviting cafe devoted to making great coffee, as well as wickedly good artisan chocolate (made-on-site). Coffee connoisseurs can pick between a range of caffeinated delights made from organic fair trade beans, while non-coffee drinkers can indulge in the cafe’s delicious signature drinking chocolate.

Small Victory (Yaletown)

Using Canadian roasters Phil and Sebastian and Bows and Arrows‘ beans Small Victory offers a variety of espresso-based drinks. Pouring cappuccinos and drip coffee, Small Victory’s well trained baristas have got you covered. Drop in to Small Victory and grab a take away espresso or if time is not a factor sit-in and enjoy a relaxed cup of coffee and a fresh baked good or two.

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Posted by Jess Fleming

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To Do List – Vancouver

Feb 2015

Like with any move to a new city, one is forced (in the best possible way) to connect quite swiftly with their new surroundings. Connections that usually involve making friends, establishing ties, becoming familiar with the area, and (my favourite thing) discovering new and exciting local hangouts.

Once all the big ticket items like an apartment, a job etc … which are crucial in setting up home, have been secured I am always incredibly keen to formulate a list of things to do, see and eat, and begin scouting neighbourhood hotspots for must try restaurants and bars, as well as areas in general to check out.

No matter how long or short a time Nick and I have lived in a city for I am constantly adding to my to do (and try) list. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that things are no different here in Vancouver and as such, I thought it time that I share my list, so family and friends back home can have a better idea of what we’ve been getting up to, and those who are planning a trip to Vancouver have a bunch of recommendations to refer to.

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CAFES

RESTAURANTS

COFFEE

BRUNCH

  • Chambar
  • Fable
  • Ask for Luigi
  • Catch 122
  • L’Abattoir
  • Belgard Kitchen

LUNCH

BARS & HAPPY HOURS

    • Joe Fortes
    • Prohibition at Rosewood Hotel Georgia
    • The Cascade Room
    • The Flying Pig
    • Craft Beer Market

DOUGHNUTS

ICE CREAMERIES

  • Earnest Ice Cream
  • Rain or Shine
  • Soft Peak Ice Cream
  • Bella Gelateria

FOOD TRUCKS

PIZZA

    • Pizzeria Farina
    • Nicli Antica
    • Straight Outta Brooklyn
    • Bella Gelateria

BAKERIES

MARKETS

NEIGHBOURHOODS

    • Gastown
    • Yaletown
    • West End
    • Kitsilano
    • Main Street
    • Commercial Drive

PARKS & WALKS

Posted by Jess Fleming

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49th Parallel & Lucky’s Doughnuts – Vancouver

Dec 2014

In our continuing search for the best coffee house in Vancouver, Nick and I headed over the Cambie Bridge to Mount Pleasant to try the caffeinated delights and sweet offerings at 49th Parallel.

Recommended to us by numerous Vancouver-based friends and raved about by a number of online sources, the amount of anticipation and expectation riding on our first visit was tremendous.

Fortunately for us, 49th Parallel did not disappoint. Not only did their coffee taste great but their baked-in-house doughnuts were exceptionally good, so much so that I would go as far as saying they’re the BEST doughnuts in the city! Sorry Cartems.

While there are a couple of 49th Parallel cafes around the city, this particular branch located on Main Street operates in conjunction with Lucky’s Doughnuts.

Run by 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters Lucky’s Doughnuts is a donuterie of sorts which bakes fresh throughout the day a variety of handcrafted doughnuts, from traditional French crullers to classic Old Fashioned doughnuts.

Dusted with sugar, oozing with jam, stuffed with coconut cream or covered in chocolate, Lucky’s Doughnuts has something for everyone. My pick is the glazed doughnut. A classic yeast-raised doughnut ring with a vanilla glaze ($3.75). It’s simple, surprisingly light, and the glaze perfectly sweet.

Paired with a mug of coffee (whether it be drip, espresso, or brew), or for non-coffee drinkers a delightfully smooth chai latte, Lucky’s Doughnuts are a satisfyingly delicious treat.

For the coffee connoisseur, 49th Parallel’s drink menu offers a variety of South and Central American blends, which boast a range of tastes and textures. Hand picked beans, custom roasting, and dedicated baristas ensure a fantastic cup of coffee each and every pour.

While the coffee and the doughnuts are enough to bring patrons back time and time again, it is also worth noting what a warm and welcoming space the team at 49th Parallel have created. Under high ceilings and beautiful timer beams, a cluster of individual tables, lounge chairs and a long wooden communal bench with swing out stools provide ample and comfortable seating.

Experiencing first hand the wonderful selection of coffee blends, spectacularly round and fluffy doughnuts and the relaxed atmosphere 49th Parallel offers, I wholeheartedly agree with all the hype that surrounds this place. So do yourself a favour and visit soon!

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Posted by Jess Fleming

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