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Photo Visit – L’Abattoir – May 2014

1 May

217 Carrall Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 2J2

T: 604 568 1701
www.labattoir.ca

Brief Description: A chic, unpretentious Gastown restaurant that dishes up French-meets-West Coast cuisine.

I have just gotten back from another wonderful dinner at L’Abattoir and I felt I had to share what a remarkable experience it was…again. Is it just me, or is this place underrated? Although there is a slight buzz about it, I expect to hear a lot more about a restaurant that is producing such impressive food and cocktails. For all the details on L’Abattoir you can read my post from a few years ago. This post is more to show you the beauty of the food (look at that presentation!) and to mention (again) how truly great it was.

Gastown Swizzle – $11

Complimentary bread basket

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Ceps (porcini) with pork belly and jus gras – $30

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Roast filet of Pacific Halibut with pasta of Dungeness crab and pork, asparagus – $33

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Steak Diane with charred onions, potato fondant, peppercorn – $33

Brown butter clafoutis with poached rhubarb and rhubarb sorbet – $9

The appetizer special was unbelievably good, with succulent, firm ceps (porcini mushrooms) and tender pork belly finished with a luscious foie gras jus. Both mains were plated beautifully with flavours that were perfectly balanced. The dessert was also a treat, although by this stage, we were too full to fully appreciate (but my god, is it beautiful!).

I have to ask myself why I don’t go there more often and the only valid reason I could think of is the cost. The prices are on the high-side (although, the value is there) so it is more of a once-in-awhile kinda place, or a special occasion place for me and my budget.

Photo Visit – Ask For Luigi – April 2014

26 Apr

305 Alexander Street
Vancouver, BC
V6A 1C4

T: 604 428 2544
www.askforluigi.com

I have only been to Ask for Luigi twice but it is fast climbing up my list of favourite restaurants in the city. Ask For Luigi is brought to us by the same folks that run Pourhouse and Pizzeria Farina (another favourite of mine). Ask for Luigi is Italian all the way, with a focus on house-made, fresh pasta dishes. Sharing is recommended and the atmosphere is casual and relaxed. The space is a cute one with an open concept kitchen and a small and intimate dining room.

In the same way that my other local favourite Nook impresses, Luigi delivers simple, well-prepared food at a reasonable price. Dishes on the dinner menu are all under $20 and for lunch and brunch, all dishes are under $16. The coffee is impressive too, which makes it a rarity (good food paired with good coffee). If you’d prefer alcohol beer, wine, and prosecco (yes!) is offered by the glass for $6, or choose wine by the bottle.

With good food and limited seating, Ask for Luigi is busy. Be aware that it is unlikely that you will be seated immediately. On the two occasions that we’ve been during the day we have been fortunate to get a table immediately but that doesn’t seem to be the norm. I’ve been on a Wednesday night at 8pm and have been told the wait is over 45 minutes, so be prepared. But once you are in, sit back, and enjoy the experience.

Exterior
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Pork belly with a fried egg, salsa verde and creamy polenta - $15

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Tagliatelle alla carbonara with a poached egg - $16

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Fingerling potatoes cooked in duck fat – $4

Risotto with pancetta, peas, and asparagus – $15

Ask for Luigi on Urbanspoon

Photo Visit – Nicli Antica Pizzeria – March 2014

2 Apr

62 East Cordova
Vancouver, BC
V6A 1K3

T: 604 669 6985
www.nicli-antica-pizzeria.ca

For some reason I’ve been having major pizza cravings lately (perhaps stemming from our Italian trip in October) and, with Nicli being one of my favourite pizza places in the city, I made it a point to return twice in March to get my much-needed fix. My sister and I were able to get a table on a Wednesday evening at about 8pm without any hassle but if you want to be assured that you won’t have to wait in-line at all, try a lunch time on the weekend – I was recently back for lunch with B on a Saturday and we walked straight in. Alternatively, you can join their wait-list by using the no-wait app.

Although I hadn’t been to Nicli in a while, they are still turning out great food in a modern space. My only complaint is that they won’t cut the pizza for you (I asked) and so it can be a bit of a struggle to cut your pizza on the slippery white plates.

Daily Special: Prosciutto, jalapenos, arugula

P1080524Pesto BBT

Afternoon Tea with Beta 5 Chocolates

22 Mar

413 Industrial Ave
Vancouver, BC
V6A 2P8

T: 604 669 3336
www.beta5chocolates.com

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from Beta 5 Chocolates announcing that they would be hosting a limited-seating afternoon tea. I jumped at the chance to attend because, if you didn’t already know, Beta 5 is one of the top chocolatiers in the city and they don’t host afternoon tea regularly (I was told the last time they held one was Mother’s Day 2013). I made it my mission to secure tickets to the event, which was held today, so that I could see how a chocolatier approaches afternoon tea.

Beta 5’s space is an industrial, yet contemporary, warehouse in a somewhat secluded part of town. After a quick walk-through their working kitchens, we were taken upstairs to a space that was elegantly decorated with ambient lighting, beautiful flowers, and stacks of cook books.

The setting for afternoon tea.

P1080555Who doesn’t love a beautiful bouquet of flowers?

Beta 5 showcased their modern approach to afternoon tea with an absence of traditional scones and mini-sandwiches, and instead we were given “An Afternoon in New Orleans”. On the menu was brioche with yuzu marmalade, a pecan pie cream puff, a café au lait beignet, bananas foster ice cream sandwich, and two tiny lemon tea cakes, all served with your choice of tea from a selection of four different teas. After we had finished this part of the tea, we were served a small tray of chocolates (some praline pecans and a cocoa nib truffle), although we were so full by this stage we took them home with us.

Tea and flowers…how delightful.

The selection for afternoon tea.

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Chocolates to finish.

I thoroughly enjoyed our experience and, although the menu wasn’t what I would associate with traditional afternoon tea, I liked it. I prefer when the choice is taken away and you are able to experience different tastes and flavours that you might not typically order (I have a tendency to stick with what I know). I had been told that the afternoon teas were likely to be happening more regularly so I’m looking forward to returning and sampling their other afternoon tea menus. Tickets were $25 and I booked them through the store.

Photo Visit – Nook Kitsilano – March 2014

16 Mar

1525 Yew Street
Vancouver, BC
V6K 3E4

T: 604 734 3381
www.nookrestaurant.ca

Since becoming home-owners late last year, we have been trying to save a few pennies by foregoing our usual weekend brunches out. Unfortunately, habits are hard to break and we’ve found ourselves returning to our brunching ways. I have found myself brunching at Nook Kitsilano the past three weekends in a row. I could pretend to be shameful right now but the brunch is so good that I hold my head high. Nook is, without a doubt, the restaurant that I find myself at the most. I’ve talked about my love for Nook on this blog numerous times and so it comes as no surprise that I would also enjoy their brunch offerings.

A typical breakfast diner this is not (head up the street to Abigail’s if that is what you are after) but you will find Italian-influenced skillet dishes, pizza, and these two dishes; the baby Dutch pancake (almost like a sweet Yorkshire pudding) and the Italian breakfast (a plate of Italian meats and cheeses). Be warned: the Italian breakfast is like a hot girl that walked into a room – heads turn when this dish gets delivered to your table. I’ve had other diners stare at my ordered brunch of Italian breakfast and ask “What is that?!” and then proceed to order it. It is a meaty start to the day and only $14.

Besides hearty breakfast dishes, the coffee is also quite good meaning that this is a one-stop shop – no need to get a caffeine hit before, or after, brunch.

The Baby Dutch Pancake

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The Italian Breakfast

Brunch special: lentils with lamb sausage ragu and poached eggs

Brunch special: guanciale, spinach, egg, and parmesan pizza

Photo Visit – Tableau Brunch

19 Feb

1181 Melville Street
Vancouver, BC
V6E 0A3

T: 604 639 8692
www.tableaubarbistro.com

B and I had a pretty incredible (and busy) 2013; we both got new jobs, we spent the summer exploring and having fun, I (finally) became a Permanent Resident of Canada, we travelled to Italy and Paris, and we became home-owners and embarked on some minor renovations/major home improvements. The second half of 2013 was exciting, fun, and damn chaotic. By the time the new year came around, I was simply exhausted which is why I’ve not been very active on this blog. I just needed time to chill. I just wanted to enjoy a meal without feeling like I should be photographing the dish and writing about it. I wanted to take some time to lay on the couch and read. Watch some Homeland. Decorate my place. Do a whole lotta nothing. And that is what I did.

I’m now only starting to feel like coming up for air and so I have a lot of blog posts to catch up on…like this post from a visit we had to Tableau Bar & Bistro in November. You know how much I enjoy going out for brunch (I’ve mentioned it a gazillion times) so one of the things that we missed whilst travelling was a long, lazy brunch.

Tableau is a cute French-inspired restaurant in the Loden Hotel in Coal Harbour. Overall, the food is good and they have a brunch menu that has some less-common brunch options, which is refreshing. Most of the dishes below are from their changing daily brunch menu and most of the times that I’ve visited, I’ve typically ordered only from the daily specials as they always sound so tempting. Leave the diet at the door; a place that serves breakfast poutine, buttermilk French toast, or chicken and waffles for brunch is not somewhere for those with limited will-power. The one complaint that I have about Tableau is that they are only open for weekend brunch on Sundays, so don’t plan on brunch at Tableau on Saturdays.

Brunch Special: Breakfast Poutine

Brunch Special: Veal Scallopine and Fried Egg

Shaved Brisket Eggs Benedict

Tableau Bar Bistro on Urbanspoon

Photo Visit – Peaceful Restaurant, Kitsilano – September 2013

30 Sep

2397 West 4th (at Balsam)
Vancouver, BC
V6K 1P2

T: 604 5599 533
www.peacefulrestaurant.com

Brief Description: One of the three locations of the well-known chain that specializes in Northern Chinese cuisine and hand-made noodles. Extremely affordable yet does not compromise on taste. Service is spotty.

Over the summer, Kitsilano has seen an influx of established Vancouver restaurants opening in the neighbourhood. SaltNook, Lucky’s Doughnuts, and Peaceful Restaurant now call Kits home. As a Kitsilano resident myself, I say bring it on!

I have been going to Peaceful Restaurant on West Broadway for years; long before the incredibly annoying Guy Fieri made his visit which resulted in this already popular place becoming even more difficult to get into. Although the service can be abrupt, the food is generally consistently very good. I was pretty happy to find out that they would be opening a Kits location and made my first visit within a few days of it opening (back in June) and have been back many times since then.

The Kits location is definitely much more appealing from an aesthetic view – it is much bigger, brighter, and obviously, newer than their West Broadway location. Besides that difference everything else is exactly the same, including the menu, so you can get all your Peaceful favourites.

P1070784Xiao-Long Bao Steamed Buns – $7.95

General Tsao’s Chicken – $12.95
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Vegetable and tofu stir-fried noodles – $11.95

Well, that is if they have what you are after. I went for dim sum two Sundays ago and they were, disappointingly, out of quite a few dishes. It wasn’t clear if they just aren’t making these particular dishes at the Kits location, or if they were just out of a few ingredients.

When it comes to ordering at Peaceful, I’m pretty boring, but I highly recommend their noodle dishes and items from the dim sum menu, such as the steamed buns and the beef roll. If you can get a group of friends together, do so – you can order a lot of dishes to share and the prices are very reasonable. We went for dim sum with 5 people and we waddled out full, having only spent $12 each. What a delicious bargain!

Peaceful Restaurant 和平飯店 (Kitsilano) on Urbanspoon

Photo Visit – Burdock & Co – September 2013

8 Sep

2702 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
V5T 3E8

T: 604 879 0077
www.burdockandco.com

If you are familiar with the Vancouver food-scene then the name Andrea Carlson will likely conjure up thoughts of “Bishop’s“. Chef Carlson was the Executive Chef at the acclaimed “Bishop’s” restaurant for years before she branched out to “Harvest Community Foods” and recently opened “Burdock & Co” on Main Street. Burdock & Co opened in the old “Cafeteria” spot on E 11th Ave and has been on my list of places to visit since they opened in the Spring. On Friday night, B & I went for dinner with friends and happily lingered for hours over wine, numerous shared dishes, and dessert.

The space is small and feels intimate, particularly once the sun sets (an ideal spot for a romantic date?). The menu is focused on farm-to-table and organic, local ingredients which allows the menu to reflect the season. The friendly servers encouraged us to share plates and, whilst in theory this was a great idea, the serving sizes meant that we only got a few bites of each dish. I think the sharing of plates would work better with a table of two or three people.

The dishes were well-executed and enjoyed by all, although the fried chicken, oxtail ramen, and the corn, chanterelle and bean ragout, were stand-outs. The chicken so much so that we ordered it twice. Some people may balk at the portion size, especially for the price, but when you take into consideration that the products are local or organic, that may help justify the cost.

Roasted corn, chanterelle mushroom, and Romano bean ragout with crispy wheatberries – $12

P1070756Fried chicken and pickles, charred chili vinegar – $14

P1070758Rosemary smoked mussels, pickled garlic, fennel, and buckwheat shoots – $12

P1070762Slow Roasted Bison Ribs, Spicy Tomato Glazed and Charred Green Onion – $18

P1070765Heritage pork and burdock sausage, dandelion and potato salad – $12

P1070770Harvest Oxtail Ramen, Beet Green Kimchi – $13

Burdock & Co is another restaurant that doesn’t accept reservations and it was extremely busy when we were there (I can’t vouch whether this is always the case). Certainly worth a visit if you are in the area as there really isn’t anywhere else on Main street, besides The Acorn, offering the same innovative, polished menu.

Burdock & Co. on Urbanspoon

Nook Kitsilano

30 Aug

1525 Yew Street
Vancouver, BC
V6K 3E4

T: 604 734 3381
www.nookrestaurant.ca

So if I’ve not been in the kitchen this summer (see previous post), then what have I been eating? Well, I’ve been spending a lot of time at the recently opened Nook Kitsilano. Perhaps I have even been spending too much time there, who knows? All I can say is that it is dangerous for my wallet and my waistline that my favourite restaurant opened their second location only blocks from my place.

Nook’s original location is in the West End and has long been a favourite of mine. Some might wonder why this casual, small restaurant with a fairly simple menu is one of my favourites and I would respond with exactly that…it is casual, small (read: intimate), with an uncomplicated menu of Italian favourites. Oh, and the price-point is just right. So, long story short, they opened their location at Yew and Cornwall in mid-July and I’ve been there a lot. The new space is quite different from their cozy, intimate spot on Denman Street. The Kits restaurant is bigger and brighter and it definitely seats more people (not so much a “nook”), which is good because they have been busy every single time I’ve been there.

Besides some slight differences, the menu basically mirrors their West End menu and you will find the usual Nook offerings of excellent pasta, pizza, and antipasto. In addition to the menu, there are always daily pizza and pasta specials. Most menu items are well under $20 and I highly recommend ordering dishes to share amongst the table.

Nook

Daily pizza special: sopressata and egg.

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Daily Pasta Special

Nook KitsDaily Pizza Special: Bianco, zucchini, and pancetta

If you are wanting to try Nook Kitsilano but don’t want to forgo a sunny evening, you are in luck. You can take-away and with the beach only a block away, it is the perfect storm for a delicious picnic dinner at the beach. FYI, if you aren’t too full after dinner, try one of their cappuccinos – the foam is incredible.

So whilst I believe that the Denman location is slightly better than the Kits one (ambience, space, and service is better at West End), you still can’t really go wrong with the new Nook either. The food is still excellent and the price-point is the same – I’m just a sucker for the original.

Nook Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Photo Visit – The Acorn – August 2013

21 Aug

3995 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
V5V 3P3

T: 604 566 9001
www.theacornrestaurant.ca

I am extremely grateful that summer in Vancouver this year has been epic! We broke the record for the driest July EVER and we have had vast amounts of sunshine. Needless to say, I’ve been out enjoying the great outdoors, as well as indulging in the bounties that the season brings (fresh berries, anyone?).

The Acorn is quite easily one of my favourite places in Vancouver for a meal. The menu is unique, seasonal, and vegetarian (no, I’m not vegetarian but it’s nice to get some well-prepared veggies into my diet every so often). I try to visit each season to sample what is new on the menu and, with an abundance of tasty and interesting vegetables, summer would have to be my favourite season. I popped in recently for dinner with my sister and was pleasantly surprised that we got a table almost immediately (at about 8pm on a Wednesday). You may remember from my other reviews that The Acorn doesn’t accept reservations, so plan accordingly.

The Acorn Summer Harvest (tempura zucchini blossoms, potatoes, corn, in a chanterelle butter sauce) – $19

P1070661Chanterelle Summer Salad (marinated chanterelles, green beens, Camembert, walnuts, roasted garlic vinaigrette) – $9 for half-serve

Dessert special: Sage roasted Okanagan apricots, spritzed with bourbon, with white chocolate frozen yogurt – $8 (?)

The summer harvest plate, which changes daily, was out-standing! I’m a complete sucker for zucchini blossoms so these, paired with the freshness of mixed local produce and a delightful chanterelle sauce, pushed me over the edge! It is dishes like this that make The Acorn a must-visit because although the ingredients are fairly simple, when mixed together and finished with a quality sauce, they become anything but simple.

The chanterelle summer salad was good, but I’d likely order the tomato salad next time over this salad, as I have very fond memories of the tomato salad from last summer. Finally, the dessert, which was bourbon-spritzed roasted Okanagan apricots, was a light and simple ending to the meal. It satisfied the craving for dessert without being heavy or sickly sweet.

I highly recommend a visit to The Acorn before they make the switch to their fall menu, particularly if you’ve not been before. The chefs are masters in showcasing the seasons best produce.

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