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Archive for the ‘Fine dining’ Category

Mr. and I recently went on a 10-day road trip to the States. Kicking it off was a celebration of our 4th wedding anniversary and we spent a night at the quaint Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Washington. Lummi Island is a small island just a 10-minute ferry ride southwest of Bellingham.

The upscale inn deserves a separate post but the highlight of the evening was definitely our dinner at the restaurant. It serves up a 21-course tasting menu every evening, yes 21 courses, that changes regularly and seasonally. It features locally grown produce and other locally fished, foraged and farmed products. And in addition to their kitchen, they also have an outdoor wood-fired BBQ and smoker.

Obviously, with 21 courses this is not your everyday dinner out. The menu costs $225 per person with optional wine pairing for an additional $150 per person. You also don’t know what’s on the menu as they rotate it often. You only receive a copy of the menu at the end of your meal. So you ask, was it worth it?

Without further ado, let us indulge you with a feast for your eyes.

Food

Toasted kale leave, local black truffle, crumbled rye on top — elevated kale chip with the fragrance of truffle and extra crunch from the rye crumble

Wild rainier cherry in nasturtium leaf, wild chamomile, elderflower essence — what an interesting bite. Enjoyed the crisp sweetness of rainier cherry against the herbaceous chamomile and nasturtium. The elderflower essence was made into a little dollop of jelly that combined everything.

Sugar snap peas from their garden, pureed and combined with cream then it’s piped back in the pod — It’s like crudites in a fancy bite. You can taste the freshness of the sugar snap peas. (more…)

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For Mother’s Day, I took Mama Lam to afternoon tea at Origo Club. They offered a special menu for the weekend, but surprisingly, it was at its regular price of $45 per person. Good on them for not raising the price on this special day because many places do. The number of items was the same as usual but with a different line-up of desserts.

Afternoon Tea at Origo Club

Food

Here is what we had for savoury items (starting from the left):

Savoury Items, Afternoon Tea at Origo Club

Tarte aux Épinards – tart shell, spinach, coppa, gruyère, egg. One of my favourite items in the line-up. The tart shell was buttery and there was a lot of spinach in the filling. The filling was well-seasoned too.

Canard à l’Orange – seared duck breast, orange coulis & segments. Another fave of mine. The duck breast was tender, smokey. I wish there were more pieces of this.

Chou au Foie Gras et à la Truffe – choux pastry, duck foie gras & truffle mousse. (more…)

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West Oak recently celebrated its 5th anniversary in the Yaletown neighbourhood. As a follow-up, Areta, Alice (Double A!) and I were invited to a hosted dinner at the restaurant. I’ve been here a couple of times beforehand, one of which was an evening out with a few of my girlfriends a few years ago.

Disclosure: This meal was provided to me complimentary of the restaurant. However, the views and opinions are my own.

Food

We got a sneak peek of some of their new cocktails (from left):

New Cocktails at West Oak

The Aperol Spritzer Mimosa is their new take on the classic brunch cocktail. This is available only during brunch, but the restaurant made one for us to try. Aperol, prosecco, fresh juice (orange, grapefruit, etc.) — it was juicy, citrusy, fizzy, refreshing. Great for a patio brunch. There’s no reason a mimosa fan wouldn’t enjoy this.

Tiffany Blue could become a local IG sensation. The Ciroc Apple came through and gave it some tartness, almost face puckering. You can really taste the apple here. The addition of edible silver makes it sparkle like a precious piece of jewelry.

Tiffany Blue

The last cocktail, at the time this was written, hasn’t been named. It just had a nickname “Green Thumb“. It had gin, elderflower liquer, basil, cucumber. It reminded me a bit of mojito – it’s light and crisp, and herbaceous.

Then, we dove into dinner, with a couple of appies to share. (more…)

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Have you checked out the Dine Out Vancouver website yet? Are you doing any prix fixe dinner? I was invited to a tour on the Granville Island to visit some restaurants for their menu preview. First up, Dockside Restaurant at the Granville Island Hotel.

Dockside has been around for a long time. I remember going there for the first time for Dine Out back in 2008, then Christmas brunch with family in 2013, my bridal shower in 2015, then here we are again for Dine Out. Food quality was always solid and we always had a good time.

Food

There are three options for appetizer. First, the Winter Green Salad was so pleasing on the eyes. It’s colourful, with a good variety of vegetables. I like that it uses polenta as croutons; not only does it give a crispy texture, but also creamy, cheesy flavours.

Winter Green Salad

My friend JX loves her crab cakes, and I think she’ll enjoy these Dockside Crab and Shrimp Cakes. Perfect two-bite size, crispy on the outside and meaty inside. Not much filler there. The sweetness of mango salsa and creamy aioli balanced it really nicely.

Dockside Crab & Shrimp Cakes

My favourite appetizer was the Duck Prosciutto Tart. (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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CC bought a Travelzoo voucher to a 6-course tasting menu at Bauhaus Restaurant and invited me to join her. Since its opening I’ve been wanting to try Bauhaus, and find out what German fine dining could be like, and now is my chance.

Food

The Chef’s Tasting Menu changes seasonally, and when we went, they just launched a new one.

Before we got into the six courses. We were first greeted with some Bread, served with whipped butter with sea salt or butter with paprika.

bread

We also received an amuse bouche, which was a White Bean Veloute. It was light, with a hint of smokiness from the drizzle of paprika oil. There’s some horseradish foam at the top but I didn’t get the pungent peppery flavour of horseradish. It was just the right few spoonfuls of veloute to whet the appetite.

white bean veloute

First course was Tuna, soy marinated Yellowfin tuna. It’s an Asian-inspired flavour profile. The fish was lightly seared on the outside; the flesh texture was nice and firm, and the marinate wasn’t too overpowering. The salt in soy was balanced by the sweet orange carrot meringue and slightly tart orange gel. The presentation of this plate was stunning, loved the colour, but there were a lot of components on the plate and I wasn’t too sure how to approach it.

tuna

Next, Cod. The little piece of cod was sous vide; because the cooking temperature was well-controlled, the meat texture turned out very nice. (more…)

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Our friends at ChineseBites invited me to a Chinese fine dining experience at Chang’An Restaurant. It’s located right under the Granville Bridge, where Nu and Stonegrill used to be, with the gorgeous view of the False Creek.

Chang'An Restaurant

It turned out to be an elaborate 17-course dinner. Hold the drool! This is going to be a long and delicious post!

Food

As each table of guests is seated, they would be greeted with Guo Kui Pita 鍋盔. This was like complimentary bread served at western restaurants. The pita bread was served warm, crispy on the outside, and soft inside. I really liked the fermented bean sauce that came with it; it’s nutty and spicy, kinda like XO sauce too.

Guo Kui Pita 鍋盔

But we were all distracted by what’s happening on the table-side. It’s the Chang’an Roasted Duck 長安炙鴨! This was what we came here for. It’s the restaurant’s signature dish, and you must pre-order ahead of time. Why? Because it takes 72 hours to prepare the duck, then it’s roasted in-house for over an hour. According to the restaurant, they actually schedule the cooking time based on your dinner reservation, so it would be served roughly 15 minutes after you are seated, ensuring the optimal tenderness of the meat and crispiness of the skin.

Chang’an Roasted Duck 長安炙鴨

Usually for Peking Ducks, restaurants would just skin the duck and serve it with crepes, etc. Here they actually serve the skin two ways: first of all, they serve the crispiest part of the skin, and skin only with just a thin layer of fat, and you dip it in brown sugar. (more…)

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