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Archive for the ‘West Coast’ Category

For those of you who follow me on social media, you would know that we took a trip to Vancouver Island. It was a pretty epic trip — travelled from Nanaimo to Port Hardy and San Josef Bay in the northwest corner, and everywhere in between — 2,300km in 9 days.

First stop, Nanaimo. It was brunch time when we arrived in Nanaimo. Downtown Nanaimo has no shortage of brunch options, and Gabriel’s Cafe caught my eyes. Gabriel’s is about eat local, farm to table.

Gabriel's Cafe, Nanaimo

Food

Ordering wasn’t an easy task for me, because I was just recovering from a bad stomach flu. I had to pick something light so I avoided pulled pork, braised beef, or anything rich and heavy. I opted for the Breakfast #11 — Coconut Milk Pancakes with Roasted Apples, Seasonal Fruit and Yogurt. I thought coconut milk pancakes wouldn’t be too heavy and there would be a good dose of fruit on the plate. Haha the portion size was not for the faint of heart. (more…)

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Since the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver renovated the ground floor restaurant space, naming it Notch8 Restaurant, I’ve been wanting to eat there. I really like the big light fixture in the middle of the restaurant (in case you forgot, I’m often fascinated by lights!) and it just looks like a huge upgrade/improvement from what it was before. Then, without much hesitation, I made a reservation there for Dine Out.

Notch8 Restaurant & Bar

Priced at $40, Notch8’s menu was intriguing and interesting. The menu has items or ingredient combinations that you don’t often see on a Dine Out menu, or they have some unique way of preparing the usual ingredients, so I was quite excited going into it.

Food

The dinner was off to a good start. I was immediately blown away by how pretty my appetizer was. Look at this Savoury Macaron! Caviar, smoked salmon, scallop mousse, roe…all sitting on a piece of slightly sweet, slightly chewy macaron cookie. There was a good balance of sweet and savoury, and umami flavours from the seafood. It’s so pretty!!

Savory Macaron

It was a bit puzzling to us why they would serve the Forest Mushroom Tart on such a big plate, but I guess having negative space on a plate is also a thing. (more…)

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When Mr. and I planned a dinner out with my colleague SM and fiance CD, we were looking at a number of restaurants in Gastown. In the end, we decided on Wildebeest because its menu was quite intriguing.

Intriguing, how? There’s a lot of game meat on the menu. And we ordered a lot of them.

Food

I don’t think I’ve seen duck hearts on a menu before. These Popcorn Duck Hearts were addictive – they’re crispy outside, meaty inside. Slightly bigger than chicken hearts, and not gamey (to me). The batter was thin, and it wasn’t greasy. The yogurt sauce was like a dipping sauce, bringing freshness and creaminess to the dish. You really could keep popping them in your mouth like popcorn.

Popcorn Duck Hearts

This Bison Carpaccio looks like a typical carpaccio, except with the use of bison instead of beef. The bison was lightly seared on the outside so it’s practically rare. Even though it’s leaner, it’s still tender, buttery. The sorghum “popcorn” added some crunch. The highlight of the dish was the sous vide egg yolk.

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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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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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While we were in the Okanagan, of course Hester Creek wasn’t the only winery we visited. On this trip, we ventured out to Summerland, specifically the Bottleneck Drive area, and we discovered Evolve Cellars.

Evolve Cellars was open in 2015 and above the tasting room is e, its dining room. Simple decor – white wall, white table cloth, with big window panes overlooking a gorgeous view of its vineyard and Lake Okanagan. Bryan, Kathryn, Mr. and I made a lunch reservation prior to getting there, and we’re patting our back for making a good choice.

View of Evolve Cellars

Food

e’s lunch menu is quite interesting. I like that they incorporate their wine into many of the dishes. We shared a few appies, including the Seared Scallops. There was nice caramelization on one side of the scallops, the scallops were cooked to the right temperature, tender and sweet. The roasted corn salsa gave it some smokey flavours and crunch. For us, they were served on a spoon and it made a perfect bite (Mr. really liked it, because he always wants “a bit of everything in each bite”).

Seared Scallops

The Bruschetta was probably my least favourite appetizer. Don’t get me wrong, it was quite good.

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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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