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Dine Out Vancouver is back! Running from January 19 to February 4, more than 300 restaurants are offering prix fixe menus and more than 35 special events are planned over this 2-week period.

Ocean Wise Pop-up Cafe 2017 Dine Out

Vancouver Aquarium Pop-up Restaurant 2017 Dine Out

The 3-course dinner are priced at $20, $30 or $40. Some restaurants may charge extra for special menu items. Some restaurants are also offering a lunch menu, which could be at a cheaper price point. The menus are now live and reservations are open. Pretty excited about some of the participating restaurants this year. After perusing the menus, here are our suggestions, based on past experience (Dine Out or not) as well as menu attractiveness. I’ve included links to the menu to make it easier for you:

$20 Suggestions

$30 Suggestions

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Traditionally, Valentine’s Day is celebrated with the gifting of cards, flowers and chocolates. This year’s Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Are you still looking for gift ideas? You don’t have to break the bank to impress your valentine – check out the following chocolatiers and patisseries. They offer some beautifully crafted, delicious treats that I would be excited to receive this Valentine’s Day:

Bon Macaron Patisserie

Their 2016 Valentine’s Collection consists of 5 specialty flavours with unique designs. They are available in a beautiful gift box that fits not only all five specialty macarons, but also two extra macarons in your choice of flavours.

Bon Macaron Valentines Day 2016 Collection

Bon Macaron Valentines Day 2016 Collection

The five specialty macarons are:

  • Cinnamon Heart – A white macaron decorated with tiny candy hearts.
  • Kir Royal – A deep pink macaron flecked with gold.
  • Mon Cheri (Chocolate and Cherry) – An adorable macaron based on the “heart eyes” emoji.
  • Rose – A bright red macaron sculpted to look like a rose.
  • Passion Fruit – Mini-macarons in the shape of hearts, X’s and O’s

On a regular basis, Bon Macaron produces some really interesting flavours, including Curry Mango Chutney, Goat Cheese & Fig, and White Truffle & Sea Salt. I’ve tried these flavours and thought they were quite spot on. Depending on your taste buds, you may taste the sweet first, or if you’re like me, I tasted the savoury flavours first. Either way, they were interesting, intriguing, and inspiring.

Bon Macaron Patisserie (3 locations)
2823 West Broadway, Vancouver
545-1689 Johnston Street, Vancouver (Granville Island)
1012 Broad Street, Victoria
www.bonmacaronpatisserie.com

Cartems Donuterie

You remember how much I enjoyed Cartems’ Christmas donut flavours. For Valentine’s Day, they have 4 special offerings:
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I usually use Dine Out Vancouver as the opportunity to try restaurants that I’ve never been before. Even some of the institutions that have been around for a long time. One of which was Salmon House in West Vancouver. This year, they had a pretty appealing menu for DOV, and so Mr. and I invited Mama and Papa Lam to join us for dinner.

Food

The first appetizer was the Lobster Bisque. It was rich and creamy, and you can taste the lobster essence. Mr. found it borderline salty, but to me it’s normal for most lobster bisque. What made this better was the addition of candied salmon; it added some sweetness to the savouriness, as well as accentuated the seafood flavours in the bisque.

Lobster Bisque

We ordered some House Made Bread to go with our appetizers. For $3, 4 dinner rolls may seem pricey. But fresh, warm, house-made bread is always good and worth more. This was even better because two were regular bread, and two were cheesy bread. They were served with smoked salmon butter, and the salmon flavour was very prominent. If we were not conscious of the fact that it’s butter, we could probably keep eating it.

House Made Bread with Smoked Wild Salmon Butter

The Salmon House Sampler was a generous sized appy. (more…)

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Dine Out Vancouver is coming back for another 2 weeks of deliciousness. In addition to the traditional 3-course lunch or dinner menu, you can also participate in a number of foodie events between Jan 17 and Feb 2.

You can view the menus and other DOV events here: Dine Out Vancouver website

And here is a list of our recent reviews of some of the participating restaurants. They are not necessarily Dine Out experience, but hopefully they will give you some ideas on what to expect from each restaurant.

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Returning for its 12th year, Dine Out Vancouver 2013 will run from Jan 18 to Feb 3. During this two-week period, participating restaurants will offer prix fixe menus at $18, $28 or $38. The menus are now open for public to view, and restaurants have begun taking reservations.

This year, Tourism Vancouver has created a new website www.dineoutvancouver.com to provide a one-stop shop for all DOV-related activities. In addition to restaurant menus, there is also a schedule of events taking place concurrently, offering you multiple dimensions of culinary experience. Tickets are sold separately for these events. Be sure to check out Street Food City where food carts are gathered together to throw you a big food cart party!

Crowd @ Street Food City 2012

Crowd @ Street Food City 2012

We have done some DOV coverage in the past, so I suggest you to check out our collection of DOV tastings (unfortunately, some restaurants have closed since DOV 2012 or are not participating this year). In addition, use the Search function to look up other restaurant reviews that we’ve done outside of Dine Out Vancouver.

Angus Tenderloin at Black + Blue, DOV 2012

Angus Tenderloin at Black + Blue, DOV 2012

Based on our past experience, please keep in mind that what you experience during Dine Out Vancouver isn’t necessarily the true reflection of the food & service quality of the restaurant. Why that is the case still bothers me, as I see this as a marketing opportunity for restaurants to expand their customer base or at least get some word of mouth promotion through diners. Yet some restaurants that we visited in the past didn’t take advantage of this opportunity and failed to live up to the expectation that they establish through non-DOV time.

All in all, this is still a good opportunity to check out some of the restaurants at a more affordable price. Happy eating!

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Dine Out Vancouver 2012 is set for Jan 20-Feb 5, 2012 and is now open for reservations. In its 10th year, 230 restaurants are participating in this event, offering prix fixe menus at $18, $28 or $38.

While I understand this event is meant to be a filler to help restaurants through its down time (January is usually the slowest month due to post-Christmas blues), I have always hoped and expected restaurants to treat this as an opportunity to showcase and market themselves and bring their A-game. Not usually the case. In fact, I’ve heard many stories where restaurants completely flopped during Dine Out, but redeemed themselves afterwards on a separate visit. I don’t quite get why restaurants would want to ruin customers’ first impression on them if Dine Out were their first point of contact. Perhaps thinking people are being cheap to go the Dine Out route?

Grilled Alberta AAA Beef Striploin from La Terrazza

Grilled Alberta AAA Beef Striploin from La Terrazza

Anyway, I thought I’d round up some past Dine Out experience that we have had in recent years (2009-2011), good and bad. Maybe this will help your research as you try to determine which ones to try. Here’s the list in alphabetically order, but I also included its menu price: (more…)

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Update: Chef Bell is now the executive chef of Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver.

Mr. and I received an invitation to attend one of the Arts Club Theatre’s Celebrity Chef Cooking Classes, and it turned out to be one featuring Chef Ned Bell. What a privilege it was! Chef Bell is the Head Chef of the new Rosewood Hotel Georgia, which is due to open in June. It was amazing that he took the time to cook for us at this event. I’m sure he’s quite busy preparing for the opening of the hotel.

Chef Ned Bell and Sous Chef Tyler

Chef Ned Bell (left) and Sous Chef Tyler

When I first learned of this event, I thought it would be similar to the Edible BC event on Granville Island. I was wrong. The event actually took place at a “secret location”, as we weren’t told the exact location until a few days prior to the event date. On the event day, we arrived at the beautiful home of one of the Arts Club Theatre’s director in West Vancouver. You just know there would be some really delicious food to go with the fabulous view from atop West Van.

Another component that’s out of the norm is that the dinner was not your regular sit-down dinner around a long dining table. The 30 of us were free to roam around over the course of dinner and we could sit anywhere from dining room to living room to kitchen. Patio would’ve been another option, but it was raining outside so we couldn’t take advantage of it.

Wine glasses

Wine glasses

Before we go into talking about the dinner, I must tell you that Chef Bell cooks with the motto “Globally inspired, locally sourced”, and we witnessed it throughout the dinner. And now, here’s Mr.s take on our dinner (along with extra commentary by me): (more…)

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