Cheap Date Night

Truly Scrumptious invited me to go with her to the Art Gallery of Alberta yesterday for their monthly free admission night. I gladly accepted because I like art and I like free.

We planned to eat at the gallery’s Terrace Café before touring the exhibits. I was envisioning something like the wonderful cafe at the Vancouver Art Gallery, but the reality was otherwise – a little kiosk tucked away in a corner of the third floor with a few sandwiches and some baked goods.

Disappointed, we decided to have a snack to tide us over, then go for a proper meal. We took our sandwiches and orangina onto the terrace to enjoy the summer evening before the looming rains came.

It was nice to be eating outside, but the terrace could use some livening up. We were thinking food carts and strolling musicians. And would it kill them to add a splash of colour?

Glad to say we were not disappointed by the art. We started with the Alberta Biennial exhibition. Entering the gallery, the first work is Danny Singer’s video of the main street of Rockyford, Alberta – Truly’s hometown.

Our favourite piece was Chris Millar’s Bejeweled Double Festooned Plus Skull for Girls, a sculpture depicting a factory that makes and delivers toy sculls to girls, apparently. I wanted to shrink myself down to 2 inches so I could live in this wonderfully detailed, minute, cluttered world. I love that Millar’s statement sounds like it’s been run through a translation program a few times.

We also really liked Lyndal Osborne’s Darwin and the arc of time: Barnacles to Volcanoes which suggests “a laboratory as well as a 19th century cabinet of curiosities.” This resonated for Truly, whose own artwork has similar influences (we’re making plans to document her “cabinet of curious foods” which was, until recently, installed in her kitchen).

The pictures don’t do justice to either of these works. You should go. Go! See for yourself.

We also looked at the Art of Warner Bros. Cartoons (fantastic!), Reframing a Nation, and the Piranesi prints, but skipped the Escher gallery, not wanting to wait in line (there were lots of other fiscally challenged art lovers besides us this night).

Where to go for our meal? Truly made me decide – she seemed to be having a decision making meltdown – so I said let’s go to Chinatown. I was thinking of several places we might end up but Double Greeting Wonton House (10212 96 St.) wasn’t on my mind until we were driving past. Basic, greasy spoon ambiance and inexpensive Chinese food – perfect.

I’ve been going to Double Greeting (infrequently) for 20 years or more, but I haven’t been for some time. I think they’ve freshened it up with new paint and maybe some new upholstery. It seemed considerably less dingy than I remembered.

We perused the massive menu.

It looks like there are no English words for items 250 and 251.

We were on the same wavelength about food – we were both thinking soup, and also brisket. We ordered #13, Wontons, Beef Brisket and Noodles in Soup ($6.50).

The steaming bowl our server brought to the table had a wonderful, pungent aroma with star anise predominating. The first chunk of meat I bit into was inedible gristle which I thought boded poorly, but the rest of the meat was perfectly tender and lean (and meaty), so no worries.

Truly bit into a big chunk of fresh ginger at about the same time as I was chomping down on a piece of star anise – initially disconcerting but not at all unpleasant. This is a substantial bowl of soup, chock full of delicious meat, wontons, greens and noodles in a rich, flavourful broth.

Pan-fried onion cake

We also ordered a hot pot, #312, Bean Curd with Mixed Meat ($9.95). Not wanting any unpleasant surprises (neither of us like tripe), I asked the server about the meat. She mentioned barbecued pork and Chinese sausage but there was much more – shrimp, squid and chicken as well as bok choy, baby corn and mushrooms. This dish is a winner. I’ll be having it again.

aftermath

The total bill including tea, rice, and leftovers for Mr. Scrumptious came to less than $22.

full

Posted by Jean Poutine

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2 thoughts on “Cheap Date Night

  1. I went to the TimeLand exhibit a few months ago and I totally agree with your choices. Although I talked to TS today and she said she liked the crane exhibit at the end, but I want not such a big fan of it. I also was totally disappointed by the food kiosk, I mean cafe, so I ate at the Kids in the Hall bistro. It looks like I should have gone to Double Greeting instead.

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