Friday, December 31, 2010

Urban Tea Merchant

oOoh those macarons...I just can't get enough...

On this lovely, chilly yet beautiful sunny afternoon, my three dining companions and I decided to embark on a little ...high-tea-kinda-outing.  I mean, who doesn't love a nice, aromatic cup of tea paired with miniature gastronomic delights?  I have frequented the usual high tea suspects and have had incredible experiences (namely, Secret Garden), an 'ok' experience (Adonia) and a not-so-ok experience (Provence Marinaside).  Needless to say, I was excited to try Urban Tea Merchant especially since they were having their Holiday Afternoon Tea Special :)

My Cinderella coach look-a-like teapot :)
Earl Grey Blanc tea


To start off, we each chose a (different) kind of tea off their extensive tea list.  I didn't feel too daring today and thus, opted for the Earl Grey blanc tea.  Though not a regular tea drinker, I thought that my tea was a little on the flavourless, watery side (or maybe that's how it is supposed to be given that it is named a 'blanc' or 'white' tea).  My d.c's enjoyed their tea though with a few semi-minor complaints (tea wasn't hot, no cream available)

bottom tier: assorted tea sandwiches

As for the edible eats...overall, they were quite delicious, especially the savoury and delicately-prepared desserts.  On the bottom tier of the tower of goodness laid assorted sandwiches consisting of egg salad, cucumber and cream cheese a roast turkey breast sandwich with cranberry mayonnaise.  They were all prepared on white bread and though not extraordinarily tasty, they were good.

On the middle tier sat lovely, freshly-baked, warm and perfect-tasting savoury scones accompanied with tea-infused devonshire cream and jelly.  I really enjoyed these scones for it tasted really fresh and perfectly-baked (crunchy on top).  Coupled with devonshire cream and jelly, these were my favourites of the day.

delicious savoury scones with tea-infused
devonshire cream and jelly
Last but not least, the top tier (my most favourite) was comprised of macarons flown in from Paris, sweet confections from Thomas Haas, tea-infused shortbread cookies and chocolate-dipped strawberries.  They were all to-die-for - I seriously loved everything on this plate, especially the immaculate-tasting, chewy yet crunchy and perfectly-sweet Parisian macarons (best I've ever had).

confections of perfection


The teas took quite a long time to arrive although the service itself was very pleasant, genuine, prim and proper :) The tea server individually served and poured us the tea...pouring in a very unique, swirling motion and was able to pleasantly answer any questions that we had.


$19 (regular $25) for Holiday Afternoon Tea Special - pretty good!


This tea room - though quite small (40-50 seater) - was comfy, warm and welcoming with see-through windows facing Alberni Street

Overall: 8/10

Yay: Come here for an extensive tea list and tea pairing delicacies - if Parisian macarons don't tempt you, I don't know what will...

Nay:  Be sure to make reservations as wait times can be long, service can take even longer...

The Urban Tea Merchant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 23, 2010


thee perfect spot to wine and dine...


a taste of heaven:
 Pan Seared Foie Gras with a decadent, fruit jelly

Christmas dinner #2's locale was a solid pick from the very start.  As Vancouver Magazine's 2009 'restaurant of the year', and after seeing and hearing about the divine eats that popular local chef, Pino Posteraro delivers, I feel like I've oughed to try this place eons ago!

Beef Carpaccio
We started off with a wonderful Pan Seared Foie Gras appetizer (on special) as well as the Beef Carpaccio.  I must applaud myself for these two picks as they were both phenomenally appetizing.  I simply could not have passed up the foie gras, as it was pan seared (and only the best way of preparing foie gras).  It was perfectly seared, melt-in-your-mouth delicious, light, buttery tasting and simply delectable. (I wasn't able to take a picture of the Foie Gras appetizer as a whole because the server had separated a portion for us individually).  Paired with a piece of nicely, toasted, buttery-soaked french bread and topped with some kind of decadent jelly - what I would give to just have a taste of this again! Definitely one of the highlights of the night.  The Beef Carpaccio was to-die-for.  Thinly sliced, beautifully-presented with a nice, light mustard dressing and topped with parmigiano-reggiano and arugula.  I couldn't ask for a better start.

with 4-hour braised veal cheeks and porcini mushrooms
 For my main, I had the Pappardelle with the 4-hour braised veal cheeks and porcini mushrooms.  The flavour was bang-on, and the veal cheeks were super tender and flavourful.  The one complaint I had was that the pasta was a little undercooked (not al dente) and tasted quite hard, I must say! The other entrees I sampled were the Garganelli "alla Norcina" with boar sausage and preserved Winter truffles (best entree of the night), the Veal Medallions (yum) and the Potato Gnocchi "alla Napoletana" in tomato sauce and mozarella di bufala (mmm...)

Garganelli "alla Norcina"
(topped with a copious amount of Parmigiano-Regiano goodness)
  To end our lovely meal, we decided on the Warm "soft heart" Chocolate Cake with vanilla custard and ice cream, as well as Pino's version of the Mascarpone made with tiramisu, coffee macaroon and a really dark, rich chocolate sorbet.  The desserts were nicely-presented, very light and satisfying.

A lovely end to a lovely meal

Fine service - Pino also wanders throughout the dining room ensuring patrons are enjoying themselves - seems like a nice man!


Definitely a place for celebrations and what not - although I thought the pricing of the pasta was fair


Nice, elegant looking dining room with red-bricked walls, oiled paintings and an open kitchen, noise level was a big louder than what I expected, which I preferred :)

Overall: 8.3/10

Yay: Fine, wonderfully-executed Italian (and Mediterranean) cuisine, come here for the delicious pasta, their wine encyclopedia (!) and the romantic ambience

Nay: Yaletown - parking, $$$

***Interesting fact: Cioppino's has attracted some big celebrity names, like Jennifer Aniston, Bill Clinton...

Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon

Posted by: J

Sunday, December 19, 2010

La Regalade

La Re...diculously great!!!


'Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la la la, la...LA! With the holiday season come holiday dinners, holiday cheer, and of course, lovely holiday eats (not to mention holiday weight gain)!  First dining destination of the holiday season? Le Regalade, an authentic, cozy little French bistro situated in the semi-boones of West Vancouver (though, it's not as far as it seems! :))

We were served a basket of French bread to start.  As for an appetizer, I started off by sharing the Foie Gras Duo with Black Pepper and Fig.  Yum!  It was served alongside a huge piece of toasted, wheat French bread (?) and a bit of greens.  The foie gras was soft, creamy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  I enjoyed the Foie Gras with the Fig more (vs. the one with black pepper) for its soft, creamy and sweet combination, paired wit a nice, toasty piece of crostini.  A delightful start, indeed!

1/2 Roasted Duck with Sauteed Apples

For my main,  I originally was quite ecstatic (and quite anticipating) to try the Veal Liver (that was listed on their online menu), but only came to a disappointment when I noticed that it wasn't listed on the actual menu.  Instead, the server had recommended the 1/2 Roasted Duck with Sauteed Apples.  Being quite a lover of the French's preparation of how they like to cook their duck, I opted for that instead.

Our mains arrived in huuuge cast iron pots/skillets, piping hot, and bursting with scents of aromatic deliciousness.  My entree was nicely presented in a wide skillet, surrounded by diced apples, and topped with tiny pieces of chopped onions.  It was perfectly roasted, the skin was crispy and I really enjoyed the (unsually) sweet flavours the apples brought to the dish.  The apples were plentiful, sitting in a bed of sweet, tangy apple jus.

Beef Shortribs in Peppercorn Cream Sauce
As for the other mains, my fellow d.c's decided on the (braised) Beef Shortribs in Peppercorn Cream Sauce (soooo good, best of the night, imo).  The sauce was so creamy, so rich and so flavouful.  The shortribs were as tender as you can get, while accompanied by carrots, onions and other delicious veggies.  I also sampled the Beef Cheeks - rich, tender morsels of deliciousness.  The scalloped potatoes and the mac'n'cheese was good (though, not great), but served as good carb fillers to the entrees! (I believe all entrees came with a side) 

Complimentary assorted Macarons
Though we chose not to have dessert (remember the 1/2 roasted duck!?), we were given complimentary Macarons to end our  savoury meal.  There were 3 flavours: Strawberry, Caramel, and Chocolate.  They were to-die-for, especially the Caramel one - sticky, chewy, sweet and light-tasting all in one circular, edible wheel! Mmmm...


Our server wasn't necessarily rude, nor did he exhibit a poor attitude in any respect...BUT he was quite unaware, unknowledgeable, unattentive, uninformative (and ultimately, unhelpful).  By "quite", I meant that he had no knowledge of what types of wine paired well with certain foods (didn't even know what kind of wine the restaurant had), gave a d.c Sprite (when she clearly asked for lemonade), and totally misinformed another dining companion when she asked what "coquillettes" was in English.  He said it was scalloped potatoes, but clearly it arrived to be mac'n'cheese!


Very reasonable and fair - huuuuge entree portion sizes!


Totally bussstlin' in the bistro! We arrived to a mad fullhouse, a semi-loud atmosphere with servers running to and fro, an open prep area/kitchen right when you walk in.  Seating wasn't very comfy (as we had a table situated right in the corner, near the cash machine and bar)

Overall: 8.3/10

Yay:  Come here for some nice, scrumptious, hearty authentic French cooking! Generous portions.

Nay:  Not the ideal scene for a nice, romantic, candle-light, dim, sobre night out.

***Interesting fact:  Their only other location is a recently opened location in Manila, Philipines! Lucky Manilians!

Posted by: J

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cafe Nuba

Aruba aNUBA....oOooh I wanna eat ya!
(think: Beach Boys, lol!)

For the past year (?) or so, Nuba has been quite the talk of the town - boasting authentic Lebanese cuisine in Vancouver (a first?) and quite recently, it has opened up its 4th (!) location at the Waldorf Hotel.  For one, I can't think of anywhere else in Vancouver specializing in Lebanese cuisine and second, not only is their food scrumptious, but they use local, fresh and organic ingredients in their cooking - a win-win situation, n'est ce pas?


Najib's special - Crispy Cauliflower

Najib's Special - crispy cauliflower with lemon & sea salt, served with tahini
                         - great starter, Nuba's speciality (claim to fame?), this must be deep-fried or something to achieve that crispy texture and taste but it sure doesn't taste like it's been (deep-fried!)

Le Petit Feast
Le Petit Feast - hummous, taboulleh, baba ganooj, and homemade pickle
                        - YUM!! Great start, beautifully-presented, everything was so fresh-tasting, hummous and baba ganooj were perfect, not too thick  - just the right smoothness consistency, loaded with lots of lemon juice and garlic flavour, pita bread was good too (though it was packaged from an exterior source)

Chicken Tawook (grilled Mount Lehman chicken breast marinated in paprika, thyme, lemon and garlic confit)
                        - a little dry (although I know how hard it is to make a nice, juicy, moist chicken!)

Beef Sirloin kebab - beef was cooked 'medium' (your choice) and it was tender, wonderfully-seasoned, juicy and succulent!

Lamb kibbeh

Lamb kibbeh - grilled grain-fed halal lamb patty with aromatic spices
                       - mmm though it was a bit gamey, it was a very well-seasoned sort-of lamb meatball! It was served atop a generous amount of nice, creamy tzatziki sauce..yum!


Very friendly and super casual - I liked :)


Fair and reasonable


Semi-funky yet cool interior - geometric wallpapers and retro-looking decor, casual atmosphere

Overall: 8/10

Yay:  If you're feelin' for some nice Middle Eastern, local, fresh and organic fare - think no further than Nuba! 4 great locations to serve you (all in Vancouver, so far)

Nay:  Minimal seating - not ideal for large groups

Posted by: J

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Acme Cafe

An ace for Acme!


Acme Cafe has been on my list of "restaurants to try" for gosh-knows-how-long, and would've continued to stand as a pending restaurant-to-try had it not been for a d.c of mine who recently raved about it.  Without a hesitation, I immediately up-ed Acme on my priority list and was finally able to pay it a visit today :)

Grilled Turkey Panini, Broccoli Slaw, Potato Chips
I arrived to Acme with high hopes of gorgin' on deliciously-crafted panini sandwiches, savoury 'comfort foods', as well as flaky, fresh house-made pies.  Of course, a foodmatik visit to Acme (or any restaurant, for that matter) would not have been complete (or even initiated) without any background information on what to order, what the specialties are, etc.  After much indecisiveness (and quite some spontaneity must I add), I went for their Turkey Sandwich, which was comprised of brie (yum), a cranberry-Grand Marnier sauce (delish), grainy dijon mayo and arugula (fabulous) sandwiched between 2 slices of fresh and nicely-grilled Ciabatta bread.  It was deliciously-timely (hello, 11 days til Christmas!) and tasty.  It was also served with the right amount of plain rippled potato chips (one of my favourites), a very appetizing, unique and nicely-dressed broccoli almond slaw and a pickle.  The chips also tasted like they were made in-house, with a quasi-oilier exterior.

Veggie Sandwich...mmm goat cheese

My d.c immediately gravitated towards the Veggie Sandwich which was comprised of goat cheese, portobello mushroom, peppers, zucchini, sun-dried tomato basil mayo on a grilled Ciabatta panini.  It too, was delicious - with the goat cheese reigning as the stand-out ingredient.  We also ordered a side of Mac and Cheese (my new fave 'comfort food') and boy, did it not disappoint.  There was just the right amount of cream, cheese and perfection, topped with tiny sprinkles of breadcrumbs and a thin layer of cheddar cheese,  I immediately felt like I was in a comfort food utopia.

Happiness in a bowl (Mac and Cheese)

Casual and cool (although the server forgot to ring in my Mac and Cheese order 


Fair and reasonable - $4.25 for the side of Mac and Cheese, sandwiches range from $8-12


Nice, modern-looking diner with very wide and comfortable seating, open-kitchen/prep area

Overall: 8/10

Yay:  Drop in for a nice lunch, brunch or even dinner! Great selection of paninis, classic diner foods, milkshakes, pies....and even peanut butter sandwich cookies!

Nay: Located in an area where Gastown meets Sketch Town, Parking

Acme Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chungdam Ahn

The Korean equivalent of Hapa...

Spicy Rice Cakes...mmm


Started off with the Creamy Garlic Prawns which were quite tasty and more plentiful then expected.  There were about 8-10 plump, nicely-battered, crispy prawns drizzled with a mild mayo-type-based cream and sprinkled with pieces of crispy, roasted garlic.  I like how it wasn't overly dressed like the typical ebi mayo dishes you would normally expect.  This was a nice starter to our meal :)

Bulgogi Beef
 Being immense lovers of carbs (and with my dining companion being a lover of all-things-glutinous especially), we opted for the Spicy Rice Cakes.  It arrived in a huge plate, piping hot, with an assortment of varied ingredients such as mussels, fish cakes and prawns.  It was essentially a pool of seafood, onions, scallions and chewy cylindrical rice cakes swimming in a generous amount of a semi-sweet, semi-thick, spicy, kimchi-based (?) sauce.  It was delicious and overly-filling - so much that we had to pack a third of it home.  We also ordered the Bulgogi beef which was very tasty.  The beef (though more shredded than usual - perhaps a good thing?) was deliciously-seasoned and well-marinated.  It also came alongside a shredded cabbage salad, which was appetizing.




A little pricier than average if you paid regular price.  Luckily, I had bought a couple of online coupons (2 x $20 value vouchers which I paid $10 each) :)


We arrived on a rainy, slow Thursday night to a restaurant that was near a quarter full.  Usually, I have heard that this restaurant is hip hop happening with the ambience and noise level similar to what you would expect at Hapa izakaya.  (One sure sign of this is the multiple notices/reminders that were posted throughout the restaurant to remind customers of the constant noise complaints they've been getting from the nearby residents!)

Overall: 7.4/10

Yay:  Come here for a fun night out with your friends accompanied with drinks (Soju, anyone?) and lovely Korean-fusion fare :)

Nay:  Prices are a little steeper than average, no banchan offered here (complimentary Korean side dishes), parking

Posted by: J

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hub Restaurant and Lounge

a 'hub' of a good deal...


Arrived here on a Saturday afternoon hungry for some nice, runny, savoury egg benedicts! (Okay fine, probably wasn't expecting them to be 'savoury', but rather, 'decent').  Without much hesitation, I opted for the Shrimp and Crab Benny, while my dining companion ordered a (rather naked) Eggs Benny with the Hollandaise sauce on the side.

Shrimp and Crab Benny
When our plates arrived, the first thought that came to my mind was: "Wow! They were quite skimpy on the amount of roasted potatoes!" My d.c had the same initial reaction.  The eggs themselves were well poached, with the yolk being of a darker yellow hue. (Okay, I just googled why this is so - found out that the colour of the yolk is dependent upon a chicken's diet! The more yellow the yolk = the healther the chicken's diet :)). The amount of the shrimp and crab was sufficient and tasty.  The best part of the eggs benedict served here at Hub is that they are served on a (rather atypical) toasted crumpet as opposed to the generic English muffin.  The crumpet was chewy and very reminiscent of a pancake, which I enjoyed.  I also tasted a bit of pesto in my eggs benny, which was nothing but a bonus!  I should also add that in addition to the roasted potatoes there were served alongside the benny, there was also an accompaniment of a small greens salad.  Both sides were good.

(A rather naked) Eggs Benny...
with hollandaise sauce on the side


Ok - nothing to boast nor complain about


Being an avid follower of many of the popular local restaurants in Vancouver, I was able to snatch up and catch a recent tweet by Hub promoting a coupon for $10 off your order (thank you, Twitter! :)).  The promotion was in celebration of their "birthday week" and so, the value I received today was more than pleasant. 

The value of the food itself (sans coupon) was decent ($13 for a Benny).


Very reminiscent of your typical Cactus Club type of restaurant.  It was super dark in there and even seemingly moreso because we arrived on a Saturday morning at about 1 pm (felt a little weird, too).  The booths are comfy and spacious with black leathery seating.  It was very quiet for a Sat morning (about 20% full at most).

Overall:  7.1/10

Yay: Come here for a relaxed and "casual sophisticated" experience - a good alternative to your typical Cactus Club, Joeys, Earls abode. Also, they offer $6 appies offered daily from 4-6 pm!

Nay: Yaletown (parking)

Posted by: J

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

McLean's (CLOSED)

McLean's Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli....that's allll you'll ever need to know


Grilled Humboldt Squid with Chorizo
in a Lime & Sansho Pepper Aioli

On this night, we started off with the Albacore Tuna Tartar as well as the Grilled Humboldt Squid.  Both were excellent choices and very good starters.  The Tuna Tartar was served with avocado, ponzu, cilantro and sesame seeds.  The tartar mix was one of the best i've ever had - the flavour was bang on and the tuna tasted very fresh.  I also liked how it was served with nori chips, which were basically scoop-shaped (think Tostito tortilla scoop chips) dried seaweed chips (though they're not crunchy, but rather chewy).  The Grilled Humboldt Squid was very appetizing - it tasted similar to cuttlefish and was very tender. We also liked the fact that it was grilled, as opposed to being prepared deep-fried calamari-style.

Beef Tenderloin with Tiger Prawns

All our mains were equally as delicious.  The best one was, in my opinion, the Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli.  It was nicely prepared in a white wine cream sauce with sundried tomatoes and Italian parsley.  It was topped with a very generous amount of freshly-shaved pecorino pepato (no idea what kinda of cheese this really is but very similar tasting to parmesiano reggiano (or however you spell it)) This was one of the best ravioli dishes I tasted.  The ravioli itself was cooked to perfection and paired perfectly with the white cream sauce! I love love love stuffed ravioli and order it whenever I get the chance to.  We also had the Duck & Wild Mushroom Risotto (huge portion) and the Beef Tenderloin with Tiger Prawns.  Both of these entrees were marvelously prepared as well - great tastes, good portions, and they were served hot!

Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli - sooo darn delicious


Above par, our server was quite professional - I don't know how many times she responded with "you're very welcome" when we said thanks, lol

** not sure why they made us wait a good 15 mins. prior to seating us (there were several unoccoupied tables) and we even made a reservation!


Ok - quite fair and reasonable :)


McLean's got a more upscale feel to it than I expected - classier, elegant looking decor, and quite intimate making it a good locale for dinner parties of small groups or a romantic date

Overall: 8/10

Yay: 2-level restaurant (top being the dining room/lounge and bottom being a more casual bar!), deeelicious ravioli and generally well-executed West Coast fare!

Nay: Parking (Gastown...)

***Interesting fact:  If you hadn't already guessed, this restaurant is actually named and owned by former Canuck goalie, Kirk McLean!  No, we did not get to see him on our visit here as he is actually, currently, the goalie coach of the Colorado Avalanche!

Posted by: J

Monday, November 8, 2010

Red Wagon

comfort food at a reasonable price...


Three words: Pulled Pork Sandwich. Deeeelicious!  Think: an oozing and generous amount of saucy, tangy, spicy, stringy and tender pieces of pulled pork with a creamy and crunchy coleslaw sandwiched between two halves of a fresh Portugese bun.  It is very messy to eat, so be prepared to have piles of napkins ready (in addition to making sure that what you're wearing is pulled-pork-proof! lol!)  This p.p sandwich stood out from many others that I've tried because of many reasons, one being the the fact that it was served on a nice, toasty, portugese bun and two, I loved that the sauce was a bit spicy.  The sandwich also came with an order of fries which I liked.  They were crispy, tasted like pomme frites (my favourite), and very similar to the fries from NY Fries!

Since my d.c and I had dinner plans later in the evening, we made a very wise and conscious decision to share the p.p sandwich with an order of Perogies, made in-house.  They were good, though nothing extremely out of the ordinary.  Nicely panfried, generous amount (about 6-8 pieces), stuffed to the pocket with pototoes, served with bacon, caramelized onions and sour cream - the perogies were very satisfying.

p.s check out the plating (above) used for the Perogies - nostalgic much!?




Very good - both the p.p sandwich & the perogies were under $10, making the total bill a little under $20. 


It is a diner, afterall so don't expect a pretty sight here.  The floors could use a mop.  A renovation could definitely be in order, but I don't think people come here for the ambience!

Overall: 7.8/10

Yay:  Great value, excellent pulled pork sandwiches, weekend brunch available

Nay:  Minimal to no decor

The Red Wagon on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pink Peppercorn Seafood House

The Cannery version 2.0....resurrected, bigger and better!


When the local legendary 'The Cannery' restaurant closed down less than a year ago, I, like many others, immediately thought of things-to-do-before-the-Cannery-closes.  I, personally, am not that big of a fan of the place - though they do indeed have a wonderful scenic view and a pleasant ambience, I thought the food was just mediocre-tasting and a little pricey.  Needless to say, I did end up purchasing a gift certificate for some friends who love the Cannery and had one of my amigas purchase me a bottle of their ever-so-popular Lobster Oil.

Fast forward a few months later, I find that, to my surprise, the Cannery has not completely died afterall! In fact, one of the chefs from the Cannery decided to make a very wise move and opened up a restaurant of his own where he also brought along some of the Cannery's specialities (I swear, he brought the decor along with him as well!)  After reading several (quite good) reviews of the Pink Peppercorn, I was excited and eager to try it.

To start the night, I ordered their Prawn Caesar to slowly sip and enjoy.  I was expecting a cocktail prawn/shrimp but to my surprise, it was served with 2 very plump and delicious garlic-buttered sauteed prawns - neatly placed on the rim! It was darn amazing.  The Caesar was prepared well, too.  As an appetizer to start, my d.c and I both agreed on ordering the Salmon and Crab Cake.  When it arrived, we were surprised and quite elated to find that there were two crab cakes! Score! The salmon and crab cakes were nicely-battered (though I wish it was a bit crispier), quite plump and generously filled with salmon and crab.  There was also some sort of sweet, tangy, hoisin sauce (?) drizzled atop, and paired with some spring greens.  We were also served warm and toasty french bread with their (once again) famous lobster oil and balsamic vinegar :)

Complimentary French bread served with
Lobster Oil & Balsamic Vinegar

For my main, I opted for their Halibut Special which was a Herb-Crusted Pan-fried Halibut with mashed potatoes, grilled veggies and mushrooms in a creamy terragon sauce.  It was delicious!  The halibut was soft, flaky and cooked to perfection. The portion size was very generous as well.  The mashed potatoes were good as were the grilled veggies (red pepper, broccoli, asparagus).  The creamy tarragon sauce was rich and savoury.  My plate was also nicely dusted and capped off with a touch of pink peppercorn :) 

My d.c opted for the Seared Scallops and Tiger Prawns in a Garlic Butter Sauce, served with rice and grilled veggies as well.  It too, was amazing - rich garlic butter sauce, accompanied by perfectly cooked scallops and tiger prawns, generous portions...everything was quite near perfection.  We both left feeling very satisfied and was so close to ordering dessert until we realized that we seriously could not fit anything else into our system!


Very warm, friendly, polite and attentive


Very good and extremely reasonable


Dimly-light, romantic and quiet

Overall: 8/10

Yay: Excellent value, great service, ideal for a romantic night out

Nay: This place is very quiet - definitely not ideal for parties or large group gatherings

Posted by: J

Friday, October 29, 2010

La Brasserie

                                              a little bit of French...a little bit of German...
and a whole lot of value!


La Brasserie has been on my list of restaurants-to-try for quite some time now.  One, being that it is a "Franco-German" restaurant (you don't have very many of these in Vancouver) and two, I have come across an abundant number of food bloggers who have visited this restaurant and have got nothing but good things to say.  Thirdly,  I've also read that they have a Truffle Poutine on their menu and with a sudden poutine craze -reading, seeing and craving nothing but poutines - it was very fitting to finally pay this little "gem" a visit...

Truffle Poutine...*drool..

On this night, my dining companion and I started off this lovely evening with a nice glass of Villa Wolf Riesling ($8) each.  For our appetizer, I suggested the Mussels and Frites in a Lemon Parsley Cream but asked to substitute the frites for a Truffle Poutine (of course) and pay a little more ($4).  While reading and 'prepping' (lol!) for this visit, I was also aware that they served Lamb Cheeks here. Yes, the idea of eating cheeks from any type of animal may be a little daunting, to say the least, but knowing me - I love the tripe, tongue, liver, stomach, tendon, ear, feet etc. etc. (obviously, I have a limit so don't even think of going on a hypothetical question rampage - e.g, Would you ever eat a ______ of a ______?) Point being is, my friend once had Veal Cheeks from Le Faux Bourgeois Bistro once and said that they were amazing.  Thus, this evening allowed for a great opportunity to pop my cheek-eating cherry (boy, does that ever sound wrong!)

Mussels in a Lemon Parsley Cream
To start, we were served two types of bread: french bread and othe ther being some sort of rye bread with butter and a Pork and Chicken Rillette (similar to pate).  The pork and chicken rillette was more like a pork and chicken spread/salad, with shredded pork and chicken, mayonnaise, seasoning, etc.  I thought it was ok and a nice start to the meal.  The mussels were very plump (always a good thing) and I enjoyed the lemon, parsley cream broth (though no broth can ever compare to Chambar's).  The Truffle Poutine was ah-may-zing - with a plentiful amount of huge mozarella cheese curds and teeny tiney pieces of truffles throughout.  The frites themselves were crispy - no complaints there!

Braised Lamb Cheeks with a Carrot Puree

My entree arrived as Braised Lamb Cheeks in a Carrot Puree with an assorted array of beautifully-presented vegetables: baby carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, brussel sprouts and long green beans.  I don't think I have ever had an entree accompanied in the presence of the recommended amount or an exceeded amount of vegetables!  The lamb cheeks were moist and very tender, though a little salty but they were delicious, overall.  The vegetables were all very fresh and cooked and boiled to perfection.  The portion size was quite generous as well.  My d.c opted for one of the specials: Roasted Quail with Spaetzle (?).  Not sure what her entree was exactly as the server spoke way too fast.  I had a sampling of her quail; it too, was quite tasty, cooked to perfection and I loved the crispy roasty-ness aroma to it.


Ok - not super friendly nor over-the-top and worthy of praise


Quite relatively reasonable - $20 and $22 for our entrees


Nice, romantic, dim-lighted ambience - perfect for a romantic date or a small group dinner outing

Overall: 7.9/10

Yay:  Come here for the truffle poutine! Generously-size portions of generally well-executed Franco-German fare, perfect dining destination for a romantic date

Nay: Not the right place for huge group outings, no reservations taken - first come first served!

Posted by: J

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tropika Malaysian/Thai Cuisine

r-r-r-radish cakes, come to momma!


On this night, I luckily had 3 dining companions, which enabled for a multi-appetizer, multi-entree meal (of course this could not have been accomplished had we not had the 2 entertainment book coupons)! Food was good, as usual, with the appetizers ousting the entrees on a quality scale.  In chronological order, we savoured and feasted on the following:

Stir-Fried Radish Cake (2 orders!) - Best dish of the night, hands down.  Tropika's version of the radish cake is definitely like no other.  It is ridiculously tasty, perfect in texture, more darker in appearance (lots of soy sauce is used), and very flavourful.  I like that is is comprised of little chunks of radish cake, molded into a semi-circle and stir-fried (as opposed to pan-fried or steamed).  Two thumbs waaay up!

Roti Canai (2 orders!) - The roti here is one of the best, imho.  It's not as flaky as one would like, but I like that (very minimal) sweet taste to it, and I love that accompanying sauce!

Chicken Satays - Little morsels of nicely-marinated chicken thighs...already quite good and with the peanut sauce? Ten times more delicious!

Pad Thai - I don't particularly love the Pad Thai here but always end up ordering it.  The portion is actually quite generous, though I'm not quite feeling the ketchup-y sauce.  The noodles are kinda dry, but I do like the tofu, chicken and shrimp that it comes with.

Green Curry Chicken with Coconut Rice (on the side) - The curry here is actually just ok too.  One can tell that it is prepared to cater to the Western palate with a substantially bigger ratio of coconut milk.  I actually prefer my curries to be more spicier, but this one was ok.  The rice was not as coconut-infused as I would've liked but it paired well with the curry!

Sweet & Sour Fish - Perhaps we had ordered the wrong dish, but this dish was the biggest disappointment of the night.  Not sure what kind of fish it was, but it was quite dinky and hardly meaty.  There was, however, a generous amount of veggies - diced peppers, tomatoes, onions...and pineapple.  The server also deboned the fish for us, which was a plus.

Sambal Beans-This was a great choice! Once again, good portion of nicely fried (and then stir-fried) long beans tossed in minced pork, xo sauce, chilies and shrimp paste.  Love, love, love the flavourfulness of it all!


Ok - not praise-worthy nor something to complain about. Though I wonder where the female servers are? :S


Reasonably priced (and even better with an entertainment book coupon! :) )


Arrived here on a Monday night and the restaurant was still about 3/4 full!  This decor is quite minimal, no music, but it's fine. A little loud

Overall: 7.6/10

Yay: Tropika has multiple locations, accepts varied coupons (try looking in the Georgia Straight if you don't own a Ent. book), great for family dinners and serves wonderful food all around.  Come for the radish cakes alone...mmmm

Nay:  Their entrees are good, but not spectacular.  Their drinks, though extensive, are not very good....and where are the female servers when you need one? lol

Posted by: J

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dot. Desserts (CLOSED)

Du wop da Dot!


This place is one of my relatively newly-found (and quite low-key) favourite dessert place! Been here a few times and have quite enjoyed it, really.  Dots is unique in the sense that it offers Japanese style parfaits, (savoury & sweet) crepes, and bubble tea.

On this night, we ordered the amazingly-divine Black Sesame Parfait and the equally as amazingly-divine Caramel Apple Crepe.  For $2.00 more, I had the 'crepe combo' where I added a Honey Green Tea drink with half coconut jelly and half pearls.  Unfortunately, they were out of  pearls that night, and so I opted for the mango stars replacement.  It was a great substitute; the mango stars were basically mango-flavoured coconut jelly! They were cute, chewy and lovely.

This night turned out to be a win-win situation for my dining companion and I as the server working there (owner?) had mistakenly made a Caramel Apple Parfait instead of the Caramel Apple Crepe that we had ordered.  She gave it to us at no charge and we were also given our Caramel Apple Crepe too (which arrived very shortly after).

Caramel Apple Parfait
For those of you who haven't had a Japanese style parfait before, it is essentially a multi-layer parfait filled mainly with ice cream, fruits and whatever 'special ingredient' you desire - served in a tall glass.  The Black Sesame Parfait was comprised of black sesame and vanilla ice cream, sponge cake, mochi, and corn flakes - topped with whipped cream and shaved chocolate flakes with a cute little blackberry on top.  The amalgamation of sweet, crunchy and chewy flavours inherent in this concoction was absolutely orgasmic!

The Caramel Apple Parfait was darn heavenly as well.  Think soft and delicious vanilla ice cream, sliced sweet and tangy cinnaomon-coated caramelized apples, topped with corn flakes, whipped cream and more caramel. Mmmmm....the Caramel Apple Crepe was very similar but was served cold (which I liked).  It too comprised of caramelized apples and whipped cream, with a side of vanilla ice cream.  The crepe itself was a bit more doughy and hence, chewier than the crepes that I was used to, but I still very thoroughly enjoyed it!


Attentive and friendly




This little parfait/dessert bar can only seat about 15 people or so, and the times that I've been here, there have only been about 2 tables occupied.  The white modern decor with the white stools and the high table are reminscent of a bar setting, but with dim lighting, a quite ambience and soothing music - this place is the ideal dessert place to take a date!

Overall: 8/10

Yay:  Late store hours (open til 12 am everyday) to satisfy those with late-night sweet tooths :), come here for meticulously-made Japanese style-parfaits, sweet and savoury crepes, and bubble tea...all admist a nice, cozy sombre yet romantic ambience!

Nay:  This place is quite small (5-6 tables of 2-3 chairs each) and definitely not ideal for large group gatherings!

Posted by: J