Zawa (Bar & Restaurant)

Restaurant: Zawa Restaurant
Cuisine: American/Pub Food/Burgers/Greek/International
Last visited: May 16, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Commercial Drive/Grandview)
Address: 920 Commercial Dr
Price Range: $10-20

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 2-2.5 (based on items I tried)
Service: 2
Ambiance: 2.5
Overall: 2
Additional comments:

  • American pub food
  • Some Greek options
  • Spacious/very casual
  • Affordable
  • Good portions
  • Thurs. 9:30pm comedy shows
  • Patio seating
  • Sun – Thu: 8am to 11pm
  • Fri & Sat: 8am to 12am
  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

**Recommendations: Nothing really, but if you’re coming then maybe the Roast Lamb or Zawa Vegan Burger and Cream of Broccoli & Cheese soup was good.

This was not the first choice for dinner. It was a series of failed attempts at closed restaurants before we landed here. It was one of those “just pick a place” times and desperate times called for a desperate shake of an iphone for a “nearby” restaurant. When I heard the decision was made by an iphone to go to Zawa, I was a bit underwhelmed and wanted to request another shake. I had been here before for a comedy show, and I don’t remember being inspired by the menu, but on this occasion it was a large group and we were getting restless.

I guess first off I should mention I’m not really a “pub” diner. I don’t mind pubs, but I find myself rarely “wow’d” by the food they offer. On the other hand I have met pubs that I enjoy like BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery and Falconetti’s East Side Grill just to name a couple. I’m just not really the market for them, but I have to appreciate them for what they are. If I go to a pub it’ll either be a “fancy” pub or a total dive where the portions are massive, the food is dirt cheap, and their famous for something special, or even someone special – see Harold’s Bistro & Bar.

The food was better than expected at Zawa, but I didn’t come expecting much at all. I have a feeling the owner or chef there is Greek because they offered a decent selection of Greek food and it really reminded me of Martini’s Restaurant, but without pizzas. There were also some Italian options, but being that it was on Commercial Drive I wouldn’t come to Zawa for Greek or Italian food in particular. I’d come here under the “hey I want something cheap and I’m too hungry to walk or explore any further” circumstances.

So why was I here? Well, I was actually joining one of Sherman’s weekly dine outs with his soft ball team, and oh my god… together we can make dining out so not fun! Lol! We were food blogger natzis! “Everyone order something different!” “Nobody touch your plates until photos are done!”… holy crap… his team is patient! I can’t imagine how they possibly like us being there. But I guess my friends are used to this behaviour, so I guess so are his… ? Wow! We’re so lucky.

Anyways I had only met about half of them very briefly before so I wasn’t too comfortable planting my fork in all of their plates. Actually let me rephrase. I was very prepared to try all the dishes and I was planning to follow Sherman’s lead since they’re his friends. However when he didn’t do it, I had no choice but to follow suit and hold back a bit. I mean I don’t want to be banned from any future dine outs with them! First impressions matter. For this reason I wasn’t able to comment on very many dishes so I have rated a lot of them “n/a”. Sorry guys!

PS: Is it bad that I’m partly hoping they’ll read this post, so they know what to expect from me next time? My fork likes to dance around the table, but I promise I won’t eat ALL of it ;).

Photos are courtesy of Sherman.

On the table:

Deluxe Burger – n/a

  • For the really hungry! Mixed cheese, double smoked bacon, grilled onions and mushrooms $ 10.99
  • Our awesome burgers are ½ pound of extra lean ground beef chuck charbroiled to perfection and served on whole wheat Kaisers with lettuce, tomato, pickles & our house sauce, served with home made fries. Substitute soup or salad (caesar / garden) for $0.99 or onion rings / spuds for $2.99.
  • It looks like Edam and/or Swiss cheese and the house sauce looks like that In-N-Out Burger Thousand Island sauce.
  • I watched this diner pour ketchup all over the burger and apparently it was to mask the unbearable dryness and she thought the fries were hard too.

Z.Burger – n/a

  • 8 oz. charbroiled lean beef chuck burger $8.49
  • Our awesome burgers are ½ pound of extra lean ground beef chuck charbroiled to perfection and served on whole wheat Kaisers with lettuce, tomato, pickles & our house sauce, served with home made fries. Substitute soup or salad (caesar / garden) for $0.99 or onion rings / spuds for $2.99.
  • Sherman missed the photo *gasp*, but it looked similar to the Deluxe Burger.
  • The feedback was “my burger was terrible and the patty was way overdone to the point it was dry and crunchy in parts.”

  • Poutine3/6
    • Our homemade fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy (+$2.99 if ordered with the burger)
    • This was your classic pub poutine. It’s not a traditional poutine, nor was that expected, but it was still pretty good and saucy.
    • It was smothered with a thick gravy that I personally think was mixed with the powdered kind. It definitely had that floury texture, but it wasn’t bad.
    • It was topped with ooey gooey melted cheese “curds” and it was greasy, late night, “comfort food”.
    • The fries were crispy, made with Russet potatoes, and they were quite good.

  • The cheese curds weren’t the authentic cheese curds that squeak when you bite into them.
  • Despite it not being the “real deal” it was passable and good for late night munchies.
  • For a real poutine I recommend La Belle Patate.

Santa Fe Chicken Burger –  n/a

  • Flame broiled chicken breast loaded mixed mozzarella & cheddar cheese, double smoked bacon and guacamole $10.99
  • The comment for this was that the chicken was a tad dry, but it didn’t bother the diner.
  • The chicken almost looks frozen to me, but the guacamole looks good.
  • Onion Rings 2/6
    • They were pretty much rings of fried batter.
    • They were nice and crunchy, but the onions were so thin you couldn’t even taste them.

Garden Burgern/a

  • Our gourmet veggie patty topped with sauteed mushrooms melted edam with basil pesto mayo or Dijon mustard on the side $9.49
  • Our awesome burgers are ½ pound of extra lean ground beef chuck charbroiled to perfection and served on whole wheat Kaisers with lettuce, tomato, pickles & our house sauce, served with home made fries. Substitute soup or salad (caesar / garden) for $0.99 or onion rings / spuds for $2.99.
  • This diner liked her burger, but found the edges of the bun really hard and had to pick bits of it off.

**Zawa Vegan Burger3.5/6

  • Our home made veggies burger (chick pea, green onion, parsley, fresh dill, fresh basil, garlic four, spices. Served on kaiser bun with home made hummus $9.99
  • Our awesome burgers are ½ pound of extra lean ground beef chuck charbroiled to perfection and served on whole wheat Kaisers with lettuce, tomato, pickles & our house sauce, served with home made fries. Substitute soup or salad (caesar / garden) for $0.99 or onion rings / spuds for $2.99.
  • Now this was my order! So why vegan? We’ll given the area I assumed that this vegan burger would be a hit. The description also sounded like something different and unique to the restaurant, so I had a good feeling.
  • It doesn’t look appetizing, but the patty was huge and upon cutting it I thought it was over fried and going to be really dry. Luckily I was wrong.

  • It was actually quite good! It tasted exactly like a falafel. I’ve had better falafel, but this was still quite impressive.
  • I could taste coarsely ground chick peas and lots of herbs, but no particular herb stood out and I got a good amount of curry powder flavour and a hint of spice too.
  • The spice just killed the flavours of the dill, basil and parsley so I found that kind of a waste.
  • It was very crunchy on the outside and decently creamy on the inside, but eaten as a burger it was all a little dry.
  • The hummus was really thick and pasty and it was missing that lemony tang and there wasn’t enough of it either. It was a pretty thick sauce for this burger so it didn’t add moisture and it needed a stronger presence.
  • There was just a lot of starches going on and it just got really “beany” in flavours and textures.
  • I know this defeats the “vegan” purpose, but I actually ended up eating this with tzatziki sauce from Sherman’s lamb and that worked well!

  • **Cream of Broccoli & Cheese Soup – 3.5/6
    • The soup was good!
    • It was ultra creamy, well seasoned and had tons of minced broccoli and onions in it, although it was thickened with a decent amount of flour and pureed potatoes.
    • It was creamy, cheesy, chunky, rich and smoky and it tasted fresh with stewed broccoli flavour. It was a very homestyle diner version, but it was good!
    • It was actually better than the broccoli soup I had at Crave On Main.

Z’S Lasagna2.5/6

  • Our homemade lasagna featuring layer upon layers of ground beef, sauteed onions and fresh Parmesan in our zesty red sauce topped with plenty of melted mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Served with salad and garlic bread $12.99
  • This was your traditional old fashioned lasagna that you had growing up. It was made in house, but I’m pretty sure frozen.
  • It was very hearty, rich, saucy and cheesy, and the fresh Parmesan didn’t seem very fresh.

  • The noodles were overcooked and there was no sign of any spinach or ricotta so it was really a “pub style lasagna”.
  • There was lots of coarsely ground beef and it was quite meaty which was nice.
  • The sauce had a strong bell pepper flavour and there were also carrots, celery and onions in it. It was a very classic spaghetti bolognese meat sauce and it reminded me of hamburger helper.
  • It’s good, but just because any pasta covered with meat sauce and greasy cheese is usually pretty good.

Lemon and Garlic Chickenn/a

  • Charbroiled marinated chicken breast and a light seasoning of lemon, garlic and white wine. Served with roasted potatoes , steamed vegetables and garlic bread $13.99
  • The chicken was small and that’s the first thing I noticed.
  • The plate was filled with a lot of sides though and the prawns came out of nowhere.
  • The vegetables are frozen, and yes that bothers me, even if it is a pub.
  • The roast potatoes are their roasted Greek potatoes. They’re tender and well flavoured with Rosemary, but they lack that lemony tang.
  • I didn’t try the chicken, but this diner thought “my chicken was a little dry and a bit tough to cut without tearing the meat.”
  • Apparently the sauce on the chicken and veggies was good though, but how hard is a lemon, garlic and white wine sauce… as long as the wine isn’t crappy.

Prawns Souvlakin/a

  • Served with rice, Greek salad, roast potatoes, tzatziki and whole wheat naan bread. Small $14.99 Large $18.99
  • The prawns looked like those premade frozen prawn skewers, but I’m not sure.
  • The rice wasn’t Greek rice, but regular white rice which was very unexpected.
  • The diner said the Greek Salad was quite “blah” with barely any olive oil or spices.
  • The first prawn was a little overcooked almost rubbery and the rest was okay.
  • Basically it was an overpriced dish and not event decent quality enough to justify the price.

**Roast Lamb – 3.5/6

  • Tender lamb marinated in our tomato sauce and slowly roasted served with rice, Greek salad roasted potatoes, tzatziki and whole wheat naan bread $16.99
  • This was Sherman’s order and he requested Caesar salad instead of Greek salad.
  • The Caesar dressing is made in house here and it was quite good. Nothing noticeably different, but I appreciate the home made factor.
  • The plain white rice really bothered me, as a Greek dish I’d expect Greek rice considering the menu seems quite Greek focused.
  • The pita was fine and the tzatziki was almost just all Greek yogurt, but still thick, creamy and not bad.
  • The roasted Greek potatoes were tender and okay in flavour with some Rosemary, but lacked that lemony tang again.

  • The lamb was falling off the bone tender and this is what convinced me that there was a Greek chef in the house. Either that or it’s one of the favourites on the menu where the recipe is tried, tested and true.
  • It didn’t even require a knife and it shred away so easily. The meat was tender and the outside a bit crispy from the roasting and there was a good amount of fat to keep it juicy.
  • It was a bit too fatty for my liking, but any less it wouldn’t have been as good.
  • The only downside to this lamb was that it was bland, but at least it had some meat juice to make up for it.
  • I topped some lamb on top of  my Vegan Burger and that wasn’t bad too. 😉

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Zawa on Urbanspoon

4 Comments

  • Jane says:

    humm.. i guess their burgers (beef) tend to be dry bcz they use extra lean beef. and btw the lamb does look too fatty to the point that it looks a bit gross. lol..

  • Linda says:

    wow this place used to be called something else when i went to britannia for highschool – the food was much better also – i have to wonder if its the same owners? mmmm

    wow, i din’t really think ppl could mess up burgers but wow – i guess alot of these places don’t grind their own cuts of beef so the dryness factor here is no surprise – you need to have a good mix of fat in the beef so it keeps it nice and moist and by grinding up the meat fresh, burgers can be cooked medium instead of well done

    haha reading your description of the squeeky cheese for the poutine totally reminds me of your best of poutine on davie street video series! hahaha i still remember you saying something like ‘yup, there’s the squeeky cheese curds!’ lol

    wow this pub place has a variety of different cuisines – american, greek, italian.. nuts! i’m glad the veggie burger was good! most of them are usually pretty bad but seeing as how this place is right on commercial drive, i’m glad your instincts were correct 🙂 the shrimp for the souvlaki looks horribly dry but i’m really happy to hear that the lamb was nice and tender 🙂

  • Bow says:

    Remember neophyte beerhead, food tastes better after much beer !!! Start pounding back some submarinos(shot of tequila inside a sleeve of beer), after a few, the greasy food just tastes better ! !! Zawa didnt make mousaka ? or calamari ?^Well I`ll settle for the lamb shoulder, greasy but good. There seems to be a lot of flour in that soup…it looks pretty thick. Of course the chicken breast is frozen, restaurants buy these in bulk, to get a good margin; as well as frozen burgers. A pub that makes those fresh is looking at big labour costs as well as meat costs. Some of these places buy from Costco.

  • Mijune says:

    @Jane – Possibly! I don’t even want to try the burgers here to confirm which meat they’re using… but yeah really fatty lamb is just too much for me.

    @Linda – hmm if you haven’t been here since high school… then you may remember the food differently even if it’s changed but kept the same owners.

    Oh yeah! People can certainly mess up burgers! Dry dry dry :(… you’re right about the fat content!

    lol ohhh the first videos I had even make me laugh!! A bit embarrassing lol

    I’m curious what this place was like before now!

    @Bow – lol yes, beer drinkers place for sure! No moussaka, but yes they had calamari! There was lots of flour in the soup, but it was still very flavourful and it did taste good. I could taste a lot of broccoli so it was okay. Yeah if the veggies are frozen.. the meat is likely frozen huh?

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