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Archive for the ‘Latin American’ Category

Cuban inspired restaurant in Vancouver? You don’t see many of them around, but there’s one right in Mount Pleasant. Tocador opened just last year and it’s all about the cocktail menu and share plates. I actually had the pleasure to interview one of its co-owners, Guy, a few years ago. This time, I was invited to sample the menu at Tocador.

Cocktails

First of all, let’s talk about its cocktail menu. It’s two pages long! One page is full of the classics, such as Negroni, Mojito, Hot Buttered Rum, Manhattan and Mai Tai. The other, is a list of original cocktails created by the team at Tocador. The two owners both started out as a bartender so it only makes sense that they pay a lot of attention to the cocktail menu. They infuse a lot of their liquors so you would see something like mango butter infused rum, red bell pepper infused mezcal and paprika infused tequila.

The Escocesa, for example, uses beet infused Dewars scotch.

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This year’s Dine Out brought us back to some restaurants that we’ve been to in the past. Baru Latino was one of them. We checked it out for Dine Out 2010 (when it was held in April to not get in the way of the Winter Games), and six years later we’re intrigued to give it another shot.

Food

The Beef Tiradito was like beef carpaccio; instead of the usual vinegar-based sauce that we are used to, it came with a chimichurri sauce. The beef itself didn’t have much flavour, but the chimichurri was seasoned well with herbaceous notes. There was a lot of flatbread to go with just a few pieces of beef slices.

Beef Tiradito

Between the two appetizers we ordered, I liked the Baru Ceviche more. There was a decent amount of ceviche, with a good mix of seafood, tomatoes and avocado. It tasted fresh, and creamy, but it could use a bit more acid to brighten it up even more, so make sure to use that lemon wedge on your plate.

Baru Ceviche

Mr. opted for the Chicken Mole Stew. (more…)

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For a triple-date night, we went for Dine Out at Chicha, a Peruvian-inspired eatery in the Mount Pleasant area. There were lots of options on the $28 menu, with some interesting combination of ingredients. I was intrigued.

Food

Because of its “tapa-style” menu, instead of 3 courses, you actually get 4 plates at Chicha. Definitely a bonus, I’d say. To start, I ordered myself a Chilcano (left), a ginger-beer based cocktail. It had some nice acidity to it, with a bit of heat from the ginger root. Mr. ordered the Inka Cola, a Peruvian soda which we were told “taste like cream soda.” And it did taste just like cream soda, not much fizz, and a bit sweeter than the actual cream soda we’re used to.

ChilcanoInka Kola

And then the feast began! First, my Aji Amarillo Local Seafood Chowder was pretty good. I was expecting a bit of heat with the aji amarillo chili pepper, but rather on the mild side for me. In addition to fish pieces, there were squid in the chowder, tender and not like chewing bubble gum, which I thought was different from most other ones.

Aji Amarillo Local Seafood Chowder

Mr. had the Palitos de Yuca, which was basically cassava root fries. They were a lot starchier than potato fries, and had a harder exterior too. The Peruvian Huancaina sauce was spicy, creamy, reminded me of a curry mayo. This was quite filling as an appy. While it’s good, I think we prefer regular potato fries.

Palitas de Yuca

Each of us received two entrees, i.e. 4 for us! Each of the Pan Con Chicharron Sliders had a hearty slice of pork belly, and the fatty part just melts in your mouth!
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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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Mr. and I often eat out at West Coast restaurants and French bistros. To diversify our culinary experience, we took the opportunity to look for something different for Dine Out Vancouver. We decided on Latin American; we chose Baru Latino as per Frank’s recommendation list.

Food

Honestly, I have limited knowledge about Latin American cuisine, so I went to the restaurant with an open mind and hoped for a great meal. First I noticed that its actual Dine Out menu is different from what’s on the Tourism Vancouver website: Tuna Caribe is replaced by Baru Ceviche; and only 2 Empenadas will be served, instead of 3 as stated online. Second, I concluded that they have 3 main ingredients in their dishes: tomatoes, lime and cilantro.

In addition to the Dine Out menu, we ordered some Latin Empenadas, because we (read: Joyce) like food so much. Because it’s off the regular menu, we got 3 empenadas and we chose a mix of 2 beef and 1 cheese. They came with a smoke salsa, which was roasted tomatoes with chipotle seasoning. I personally found the flavour of the stuffing a bit too mild. I could taste it, but it’s not quite there. To Mr., they were “artery clogging goodness with simple flavours”. (more…)

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