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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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The other restaurant that I visited during the Taste of Yaletown media event was La Pentola at the Opus Hotel. La Pentola also offers a 4-course menu for $45.

Food

It’s a big menu, with two salad options for first course:

Beets, Frisee, Pickled Onion, Hazelnuts, Whipped Ricotta

Beet Salad

Duck and Radicchio, Frisee, Grapes, Pecans, Balsamic, Parmesan

Duck Salad

Both salads were tasty. Frankly I was so focused on the hot dishes I only had a small bite of each salad. They looked good, with just the right amount of dressing. I probably would’ve chosen the beet salad because I like beets, but the duck salad sounded more interesting.

Second course is pasta. The Linguine Vongole was quite good. Pasta was al dente, clams tasted fresh. (more…)

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I was invited to the menu preview of the 2017 Taste of Yaletown. Organized by the Yaletown BIA and similar to Dine Out Vancouver, participating restaurants in Yaletown are offering a $25, $35, or $45 menu until Oct 27. At the preview event, I got to sample the menus at two restaurants, one of which was House Special, serving Modern Vietnamese cuisine.

Food

House Special offers a 4-course menu for $45. The first course was Mekong Wonton. Shrimp and monkfish mousse wontons were sitting in a sweet, sour and spicy tamarind seafood broth, which was inspired by a traditional Vietnamese dish Canh Chua Ca. It’s different from other types of Asian sweet and sour, or hot and sour soup. I could taste the sweet and sour combo from the tamarind but I was definitely caught by surprise when the pineapple flavour hit my palate. Being so familiar with the Chinese style wonton soup, this Vietnamese version was almost refreshing to me.

Mekong Wonton

The second course was Caramelized Pork Jowl Banh Hoi, which is their take on a lettuce wrap but with endives. (more…)

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Did you know WildTale’s Dine Out menu is only $30 this year? When my family and I went there for Dine Out last year it was $40! I was invited to a preview of this year’s menu and I was curious to see how it has changed.

Turns out there are a couple repeating items on the menu, which makes this $30 menu a pretty good deal.

Food

One of the repeating items is the WildTale Seafood Chowder. Well, it’s not entirely the same as last year’s, but the idea is there. The chowder was the most memorable appetizer last year, and this year’s chowder was my favourite appetizer on the menu. It was rich, creamy, flavourful – and the corn and crab fritter was nice and crispy, adding some texture to the soup.

WildTale Seafood Chowder

If you look for something lighter in the appetizer, either the Organic Beets & Watercress salad or the Albacore Tuna Carpaccio would make a great option. I love beets, so any beet salad could easily win my heart. These beets were sweet, balanced by the hint of bitterness in watercress. It’s missing some tang and acidity, though – I love me some goat cheese in my beet salad. (more…)

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On the rare occasion that CC and I got to hang out we chose to check out CandyTown in Yaletown, and we decided to first grab a bite at Small Victory Bakery.

Food

While CC opted for a sandwich, my eyes were set on those fluffy croissants in the showcase. I didn’t simply go for a butter croissant, though; I wanted a Breakfast Croissant. Sadly they sold out of it, so I went for the Bacon & Cheese Croissant instead. It’s light, fluffy, buttery. Then, as I got to the middle, there’s melted cheddar cheese with some meaty bacon. Of course, for the meat lover in me, I wish there’s more bacon. But because the cheddar cheese was also salty, too much bacon would’ve shot the salt level through the roof. This was perfectly balanced, and seriously, I could’ve easily had another one of these.

Bacon & Cheese Croissant

Christmas is just around the corner, so obviously I had to order a seasonal item. Cue the Mont Blanc. (more…)

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Taste of Yaletown is back! For the 12th year, 31 restaurants in the Yaletown area are each offering a special menu at $25, $35 or $45. Running from Oct 13 to Oct 27, this event has a “Sharing and Pairing” theme this year. Some menus are created grazing, share-plate style, allowing diners to to share with each other while pairing the food with wine, beer or a cocktail; and with smaller portions it would allow diners to even plan a restaurant hopping experience around the neighbourhood.

As part of the media preview, a number of us were whisked away to one of the participating restaurants. I was lucky enough to sample the menu at Provence Marinaside. It’s been awhile since I last ate there, so I’m glad to go back for a re-visit.

Food

Provence’s Taste of Yaletown menu is $45. To start, you would receive a Provence Tasting Plate. It includes 1) Tomato and Bocconcini Salad; 2) Rustic Country Style Pate; and 3) House Smoked Ruby Red Trout. You can’t go wrong with the classic tomato and bocconcini combination, and the basil added a herbaceous note. The pate was rich and flavourful; the meat had a nice, chunky texture. My favourite, and it’s a close call, was the smoked trout. It was flaky, lightly smoked, and for me it wasn’t fishy at all. I may have a favourite, but honestly I would eat any of the three appies again. And the good news is, you get all three!

Provence Tasting Plate

For entree, you have three options. We were able to try all three – but the pictures below are not actual portion size so I’ll try to help you visualize the actual portion as best as I can.

The Dijon and Fresh Herb Crusted Lois Lake Steelhead had a nice crispy skin, and the meat was moist and flaky. I personally found the dijon mustard to be a bit overpowering. The beurre blanc was creamy, perfect pairing for the salmon; the warm potato salad was pleasant on the eyes, and on the palate. The actual portion should be about two pieces of salmon on our tasting plate.

Dijon and Fresh Herb Crusted Lois Lake Steelhead

The second option is the West Coast Bouillabaisse. (more…)

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The much anticipated Lobster Summer Menu has returned to the Keg. From now till August 28, you can indulge in a number of dishes made from lobsters flown in from Nova Scotia. Mr. and I were invited to sample some dishes from this year’s menu.

Food

For starter we had the Crispy Lobster Tacos. There were two pieces of lobster in each taco (although the size of lobster pieces varied), all of which were nicely fried and cooked perfectly — crispy on the outside, moist and juicy inside. The sauce had some heat to it, it was creamy, and worked very well with the tacos.

The portion of the plate was quite big, actually. It’s more like a shared appy, than an appy to yourself. I would suggest getting this to share.

Crispy Lobster Tacos

For entree, we had the Steak and Half Lobster, a 6oz steak. The sirloin steak was cooked to medium rare, tender, with beautiful grill marks. You would never be disappointed with steaks at The Keg. Our plates came with a baked potato, and it was nice and fluffy. I ordered extra bacon on the side, and yes, you should always order extra bacon if you can.

Check out the size of that lobster! (more…)

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