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Archive for the ‘Fine dining’ Category

Being on the judging panel for the Chinese Restaurant Awards’ Food Bloggers Choice Awards has made me spend most of my time on eating out at Chinese restaurants these days. All of a sudden, it becomes a luxury to eat at a Western style restaurant. So for Papa Lam’s birthday, I took a break and went for French food instead. And we went to Bistro Pastis for a traditional take on this cuisine.

Food

Oh French food, how I miss thee! The four of us didn’t hold back with our orders at all. For appy, Mr. opted for the Steak Tartare, something we don’t see or order often. There was plenty of tartare to go around the table, and it was very well balanced with creaminess, acidity and meat flavours. The accompanying fries were nice and fluffy. I had to laugh at the fact that we were offered mayo for the fries, not ketchup; that’s the French/Belgian way of eating fries. Mr. didn’t dare asking for ketchup thinking it might offend them haha.

le tartare et les frites

Both Papa Lam and I went for my favourite, escargots. The Escargots were done slightly differently here. Each escargot was covered with a mushroom cap (haha get it?!). The garlic and herb were so finely chopped, the flavours were on the light side and not as garlicky and herbaceous as most other ones. It’s mostly oil on my plate so there wasn’t much to dip our bread with.

les escargots et les champignons

Mama Lam’s one big Crab Cake was nicely done.
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In Vancouver, there is no shortage of fine dining options to celebrate your special occasions. The suburb, is a different story. Last year, Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam revamped its restaurants and introduced Stake, a fine dining establishment focused on sourcing local products. I was there when it launched its menu in the Fall (here’s the proof – check out 0:45 and the hand model at 1:17 – I could be a YouTube sensation one day!) and was quite impressed. So to celebrate CC’s birthday, a few of us girls went there for dinner.

Food

The menu isn’t very big, but there are a few good options. We shared a few appetizers to start. The Signature Smoked Crispy Pork Belly was our favourite appy. The meat was tender, the fatty bits were rendered nicely. Perhaps the edges were a bit too charred but it didn’t have any burned taste.

Stake’s Signature Smoked Crispy Pork Belly

Even though the Albacore Tuna Tataki was a standard affair, I had to commend on the nice sear they’ve had on the fish. I liked the thick cut on the fish, so it gave you a bit of a bite. They could probably up the acidity in the sauce to help cut through the rich tuna.

Albacore Tuna Tataki

The Pan Seared Scallops were nicely caramelized on the outside, and just slightly rare inside. (more…)

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Last weekend I went for a girls’ dinner with CC and LW. It’s Taste of Yaletown time, which means we were able to order a prix fixe menu for an affordable $25, $35 or $45. We initially wanted to try Brix because it had a more appealing menu; unfortunately they were closed for a private event so we were offered a table at the sister operation, George Ultra Lounge.

Food

Turns out both Brix and George offer the same menu, which is a combination of what was posted on the Taste of Yaletown website. They kept the best part of both menus, i.e. lots of appealing meat options, so we could order a few different things to try. And they operate out of the same kitchen, so it didn’t make a difference whether we dined at Brix or George in this case.

Bread

For appetizers, I ordered the Lamb Bacon Salad. I don’t think I’ve ever had lamb bacon before so that was quite intriguing. It was similar to pork belly; it had equal distribution of meat and fat, fried to a crispy yet meaty texture. It wasn’t overly fatty or greasy either. It had a bit of gamey taste but that’s partly why I enjoy eating lamb. The salad was well balanced with soft and crunchy elements, and hint of bitterness from the endives and radish; they used a pungent, blue-cheese like cheese, which I wasn’t a fan of.

Lamb Bacon Salad

CC and LW both ordered the AAA Beef Carpaccio. (more…)

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As mentioned in my earlier post, we were invited to attend the private Amex Platinum Cardmember Dinner at Hawksworth Restaurant, joining roughly 60 Amex Platinum Cardmembers at the York Room.

champagne to greet each guest

#DineWithAmex at Hawksworth Restaurantwarm bread

As soon as we arrived, we were greeted with a glass of champagne. Chef David Hawksworth made an appearance and walked us through the menu that was designed to celebrate the kickoff of the fall season. Each course was paired with wines provided by WineOnline.ca. Let me tempt you with some delicious photos!

Chef David Hawksworth made an appearance

Food

Our dinner started with a Roasted Acorn Squash and Pear Salad. It’s finished with chèvre (goat cheese) and a walnut vinaigrette. What a perfect combination to represent the fall. Wine Pairing: Nicolas Maillart Rose Champagne.

roasted acorn squash and pear salad

Then our server brought over this plate of seared scallop with crispy cauliflower and capers. It was difficult to stop ourselves from digging into the perfectly seared scallop, but we had to wait till they poured the silky Cauliflower Veloute into the dish. The surprise was in the lemon supremes (the naked flesh of the lemon — no rind, pith, or seeds), as well as the fried capers; they helped cut through the richness in the creamy veloute. Wine Pairing: Vinos Sanz’s Sanz Rueda Clasico.

pouring the veloutecauliflower velouté

Next, the Duck Conft Raviolo was definitely encore-worthy!

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For her birthday, I took MaMa Lam out for a fancy dinner. Market has been on her list for quite some time now, so that naturally became our destination. It was a very nice restaurant, lots of natural sunlight from the windows, modern and spacious.

Market by Jean-GeorgesMarket by Jean-Georges

Food

These days you don’t get Bread Basket at a lot of places now, so it was a welcomed addition to our table. It was warm, with a nice crust while not breaking your teeth. And there was plenty to share between the two of us.

Warm Bread

For appetizers we decided to share half a dozen of Fresh Oysters on the Half Shell. Initially we were told that Kusshi, our favourite, was on the list, but turns out it was a mistake so our server suggested another one similar to kusshi, Malpeque from PEI. Haha the name reminds me of the Malbec wine. It was quite good; creamy like kusshi, but missing the natural sweetness. Still prefer kusshi overall.

Oysters on the Half Shell

As for entrees, Mama Lam ordered one of her favourite fish, Roasted Sablefish. It was flaky, nicely seared with a crispy exterior, with a chili scallion sauce that had a bit of heat. (more…)

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The dining scene in Vancouver has changed. There is a higher appreciation and demand for mid-range, casual to casual-fine dining restaurants. I liked C Restaurant a lot when I visited a few times but it’s just too expensive for frequent visits. Same for its sister restaurant, Raincity Grill located by English Bay. Fine dining calls for special occasions so for Mr.‘s birthday, I chose to go to Raincity Grill for dinner. Raincity Grill is famous for its 100-mile approach so I was quite excited to see what they would offer using fresh local ingredients.

Food

Even so I didn’t pay for the full price. I bought a deal voucher for a 7-course tasting menu. First course, Surf & Turf, included a seared scallop and confit pork belly. Scallop was cooked right with a nice crust; pork belly was tender although not having a crispy skin. We thought it was off to a good start.

Surf & Turf

Next, the North Arm Farm Beetroots was a fancy beet salad. Instead of serving the beets fresh with its natural sweetness, it’s lightly pickled so it’s a bit acidic. The different preparations of beets — raw, pickled and fried — added different textures to the dish. (more…)

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It was Mr.‘s birthday and I thought a few of us were meeting up at the Teahouse in Stanley Park for brunch. Little did I know, it turned into a surprise wedding proposal and yes, I’m pleased and excited to tell you that Mr. will officially become Mr. soon (you will have to ask me in person for the full story hehe)! 🙂

Food

I have been to the Teahouse a couple of times before and it didn’t disappoint; this was no exception. And in this joyous moment, everything just tasted good. I ordered the Steak and Eggs. The meat was flavourful and tender. Even though striploin isn’t the best cut of meat, and we found a tendon in the meat, it was not chewy at all! I only wished it was more than 5oz so there were a few more pieces to go around. The scrambled eggs were nice and fluffy; overall a good pairing. I do think Edible Canada makes the best Steak & Eggs but this was up there with them.

Steak and Eggs

Mr. (hehe) picked Smoked Salmon Raft. It’s a unique take on the classic eggs benny. Instead of English muffin, it used roasted potato cakes. The potato cakes were rich and nicely seasoned, but it was missing the crunch from the toasted English muffin. The surprise was in the fried capers – I’m not a huge fan of capers but frying them takes away the strong pungent taste and they became much easier on the palate.

Smoked Salmon Raft

I also tried a bite of LW’s Montreal Smoked Meat Hash. (more…)

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