Sunday, June 1, 2014

Cha Island Tea Co

So I'm going to use this first sentence to admit that I'm pretty behind with my blog posts... it's either that or I just go on way too many food adventures within a short amount of time! In this blog post, I want to talk about a food adventure I had on the last Sunday of May (a week ago!). May 25th was a special day... because my friend did my photo shoot this day! 

However, before the photo shoot, food is a must. The shoot location was the University of Alberta North Campus, so I chose a food place nearby. I decided on Cha Island Tea Co (, a tropical cafe and lounge located just off Whyte Ave. I read a few of the reviews on Urbanspoon about this place, and one person described it as a "hidden gem". 

After stepping out of the car, I got a good look at Cha Island's outer appearance. Even though it was raining this day, their patio definitely had an island feel with the large shade umbrellas and vibrant green plants. The tropical vibes inside the cafe were just as neat as well. This cafe has two levels to it, with the main floor having an area for live music performances and the second floor having some tables with tall stools that overlook the lower floor and kitchen area. They also have a variety of fun entertainment, including board games, card games, and even darts! 

CJ and I decided to take a seat on the upper floor of the cafe, where we had a view of the back sides of some of the buildings lining 104th Street and Whyte Ave out the window. There weren't any menus given to us walking in, instead they were found underneath our glass table! Very interesting. Of course there is also the menu on a large display located near the front of the cafe where you have to go to order and pay for your food. 

Cha Island offers grilled sandwiches and waffles for food, iced and hot drinks as well as alcoholic beverages. I decided to get the Gobble 'n Guac grilled sandwich, while CJ went for Why'd the Chicken?. We also ordered two smoothies for both of us, as well as the He Shoots! He S'mores!!! waffle. CJ ended up having to pay around $40 for everything! Yikes. I noticed that there seemed to be only one person working in the entire cafe - a one man show? He told us that he would bring our food up to us when it was finished. 

Our smoothies.

Our smoothies ($6.50 each) were the first to arrive at our table a few minutes after we paid. CJ and I got the same smoothie consisting of strawberry, banana and pineapple (though I'm not too sure about the last fruit... it might have been mango...). We asked for 1% milk for the base, though there were other options for bases too. When the smoothies were brought over to us, I was actually surprised by how big they were. I guess this size was to be expected considering the price of these drinks. 

I had a sip of my smoothie, and it was decent. With every sip I had, I could initially taste the banana, and later the strawberries. This smoothie definitely had a layered taste to it. The only negative was that the smoothie somewhat had a slight watery texture to it. Hmmm... it's hard to describe. Nevertheless, I knew that I would still enjoy my smoothie. 

While waiting for our sandwiches, CJ and I decided to play a game of chess. I used to be pretty good at this game (if I do say so myself) back in the day, but not anymore. CJ won, so I didn't want to play again (lol). We ended up just talking to each other while waiting. Considering that there was only one person working and that there were more people coming in to eat, it would only make sense for our food to take a little longer. It's a good thing that we were distracted for most of the time, because the wait was actually pretty long. That being said, I don't think Cha Island is a place to go if you're looking for a quick bite. Most people who came in sat down with a book, their laptops, or came in with a group of friends to chat. This is definitely a place for people who are not in a rush. 

The Gobble 'n Guac sandwich.

Yay! The sandwiches finally made it to our table. All of the grilled sandwiches made at Cha Island are served with tomatoes, sweet peppers, and baby kale on a nine grain ciabata bread. Specifically, the Gobble 'n Guac sandwich ($9) also includes turkey, guacamole, and havarti cheese. The first bite into my sandwich was delicious. The vegetables inside were fresh and the entire sandwich itself tasted very healthy. The bread had a soft centre but a nice, crunchy exterior. I thought the melted havarti cheese went well with the turkey, and the guacamole added a special layer of flavour to the sandwich.  

I asked CJ how he liked his sandwich, and he said it was good. He ordered the Why'd the Chicken? sandwich ($9) which consists of chicken breast, pineapple, habanero sauce, red pepper hummus and jack cheese. I didn't try his food (nor did I take an individual picture of it), but considering CJ ate the whole thing I'm pretty sure it was just as tasty as my sandwich. 

It actually took awhile for us to eat our food. I easily became full from the first half of the sandwich, and CJ was just finishing up the whole plate. Our server came back later with the waffle we had ordered earlier. To be honest, I had completely forgotten about the waffle! Oops. Good thing there will always be room for dessert in my stomach! 

The He Shoots! He S'mores!!! waffle.

The waffle that arrived at our table looked beautiful. Very mouthwatering presentation. The He Shoots! He S'mores!!! waffle ($8.50) consists of vanilla, cocoa, chocolate chips, graham crumbs, and mini marshmallows. There were also dollops of whipped cream on the side as well as a chocolate drizzle all over the waffle. This waffle was actually a pretty big size, so using a knife and fork to cut through it was necessary. My favourite part about this waffle would be the fact that the mini marshmallows would melt into it... yummy! The waffle itself was very chocolatey and quite fluffy. Because of this, I was beginning to feel more and more full with every bite. Even though CJ did eat a large portion of the waffle, we still ended up with leftovers. 

By the time we had finished eating lunch, I was left with half of my Gobble 'n Guac sandwich and a few pieces of the waffle to go. Cha Island is a great place to hang out and relax, either by yourself or with a couple friends. I would definitely consider this place to be a hidden gem, since its location isn't really exposed to the more busy Whyte Ave. The main downside about Cha Island is that the food can get a bit pricey. To order a main course, a drink, and a dessert... it gets quite expensive. I probably wouldn't order another smoothie from here again, but I would come back to try another one of their waffles or grilled sandwiches. I think Cha Island is very unique, so I would recommend this place to anyone looking for something exciting and different!

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