Tag Archives: Downtown

Photo Visit – MARKET by Jean-Georges – May 2013

26 May

Level 3 – 1115 Alberni Street
Vancouver, BC
V6E 0A8

T: 604 696 1115
www.shangri-la.com

Brief Description: The first Canadian restaurant for well-known chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Located in the Shangri-La MARKET by Jean-Georges offers mid to high-end dining amongst beautiful surroundings.

It was with fond memories of their black truffle pizza and chocolate pudding, that B and I found ourselves at a reliable old haunt, MARKET at the Shangri-La, for lunch today. Considering our late start, it didn’t feel too extravagant to order the three-course $29 prix fixe menu. With a large range of options in both the appetizer and main course, I believe that the prix fixe will cater to almost everyone.

Some of the mains were more brunch-focused, such as the French toast and crispy bacon, yet there were plenty of options for those looking for lunch choices, such as the pasta course (below) or the hanger steak sandwich. I’d recommend weekend brunch here for a special occasion, such as Mother’s Day or a birthday, or simply for a splurge. The service was prompt and friendly and the food was well-executed.

Spring Pea Soup with Parmesan Foam

Frisee and crispy lardon salad

P1070253-001Tagliatelle with asparagus and shiitake

Chocolate pudding with crystallized violets

Selection of sorbets and ice creams

Market by Jean-Georges on Urbanspoon

Photo Visit – Forage – April 2013

7 Apr

1300 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC
V6E 1C5

T: 604 661 1400
www.foragevancouver.com

As a constant bruncher, I am always on the hunt for new brunch spots. I typically tend to visit the same places, week after week, until I hear of a new place that piques my interest. The thing that always surprises me about downtown Vancouver is that there are so few brunch spots – you’d think in a city this size that there would be many options but the sad reality is that, unless you go to a hotel for brunch, you are almost out of luck. I have been hearing some pretty good things about Forage, a sustainable restaurant that has opened in the Listel Hotel on Robson street. Even though Forage is technically a hotel restaurant, it feels removed from the hotel and the price point isn’t as high as other hotel brunch spots (Yew and Hawksworth, for example).

The restaurant interior feels very clean and modern with lots of light wood highlights and natural light from the many windows. The brunch menu has all of the traditional, feel-good breakfast options that you’d expect, such as bacon and eggs, buttermilk pancakes, and a classic benny, but they also have a few meatier options, such as the delicious Rangeland Game Burger, or deep-fried pork cutlet. At $16, the burger is the most expensive item on the menu so brunch here isn’t going to break the bank.

Buttermilk pancakes with blueberries and honey butter – $11

Rangeland Game Burger – $16

We had a very pleasant brunch there yesterday and it hit the spot for a non-fussy, tasty breakfast. I believe it is worth a visit if you are in the West End and looking for an affordable brunch. I’m looking forward to returning to try dinner there.

Forage on Urbanspoon

Thierry – Beignets de Carnaval

28 Feb

1059 Alberni Street
Vancouver, BC
V6E 1A1

T: 604 608 6870
www.thierrychocolates.com

Brief Description: A sophisticated patisserie (and café, and chocolaterie) that comes to us from veteran local pastry chef, Thierry Busset. Prices aren’t cheap but the quality is worth the splurge.

Have you heard of beignets before? Perhaps I have been living under a rock all my life, but I was not familiar with these deep-fried morsels of goodness until just recently. Beignets are essentially deep-fried dough, commonly served with a sprinkling of icing sugar (powdered sugar) as a dessert, although they can also be served as a savory dish. They originated in France and are extremely popular in New Orleans, however, you won’t have to travel that far to sample them. Thierry, the fancy patisserie/café/chocolaterie located Downtown, is currently in the midst of their “Beignets de Carnaval“. Although there are no circus tents, nor balancing trapeze, you will find piles of freshly fried beignets, ready for the munching. They are served with either melted chocolate, or house-made jam, for $7.95. I popped in to Thierry last night to enjoy my first ever beignets and I was happy indeed. They are basically warm, less-sweet versions of donut-holes, with most of the taste coming from the melted chocolate or the jam (I recommend the jam). Get there before the after-dinner rush to nab a seat – it was packed when I was in there! The carnaval only runs until March 16.

Vancouver’s Sweet Side – Part 3 – Bakeries & Patisseries

24 Feb

I have no qualms about putting up my hand and proudly declaring that I love baked goods. I friggin’ love ‘em! Whether it is croissants, cakes, cupcakes, pastries, I love it all – but I do have my standards. If I am going to splurge on calories for baked goods then they better be amazing. I don’t want a shitty, dried-out croissant, no thank you ma’am. Thankfully, I don’t have to settle for anything less than perfect when I have these inspiring bakeries and patisseries making the good stuff!

Beaucoup Bakery (Fairview)
2150 Fir Street
Vancouver, BC

A small, chic bakery located at Fir and West 6th that offers freshly baked, exquisite pastries, including croissants, chocolate éclairs, and chausson aux pommes. Seating inside the small café is limited so if you can’t get a table, get your pastries to-go instead. Pack a few extra pennies (as prices aren’t cheap), forget about the calories, and enjoy what Beaucoup has to offer.

Butter CroissantKouign Amann

Cadeaux Bakery (Gastown)
172 Powell Street
Vancouver, BC

Cadeaux is a diamond in the rough – a beautiful little café in an area that has seen better days (Powell at Main Street). The café is a tribute to everything feminine – think flowery wall paper, tea cups, chandeliers, and pretty cake stands – and the counters are full of tantalizing pastries and danishes, cupcakes, cookies, and cakes. I love the peanut butter and jelly cupcakes, the seasonal fruit danishes, and the bacon twist (below) might just be my new favourite pastry.

Raspberry DanishBacon Twist

Thierry (Downtown)
1059 Alberni Street
Vancouver, BC

A sophisticated patisserie (and café, and chocolaterie) that comes to us from veteran local pastry chef, Thierry Busset. Prices aren’t cheap but the quality is worth the splurge. Everything looks picture-perfect at Thierry and they sell a wide range of macarons, individual or large cakes and tarts, loaves, and viennoise. Chocolates, caramels, or nougats are beautifully packaged and make great gifts. Personal favourites of mine are the macarons (some with real fruit inside) and the warm apple tart.

p1010497Thierry’s Cake SelectionsTrio Cake

Thomas Haas (Kitsilano)
2539 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC

A popular patisserie and chocolate store, owned and operated by renowned pastry chef and all-round nice guy, Thomas Haas. The café’s display cabinets proudly exhibit handmade chocolates and truffles, elegant cakes, colourful macarons, and delicate pastries. Personal favourites of mine are the lemon tart, the salted caramels, and the sandwiches. Prices are above average, but then again, so is the quality.

Thomas Haas Chocolate SelectionsI just gained 5 pounds looking at this pictureLemon Tart

Faubourg (Kerrisdale)
2156 West 41st Ave
Vancouver, BC

This busy bistro/café way up in Kerrisdale has made itself very popular by offering delicious viennoise, loaves of authentic breads, and afternoon tea. Although I found the croissants disappointing on my last visit, I am still thinking about the baguette and the tri-chocolate decadent cake (which unfortunately I ate before I got a picture of it). Coffee was disappointing but make the trip for the breads and the cakes.

Mix the Bakery (Point Grey)
4430 West 10th Ave
Vancouver, BC

At Mix the Bakery, it is all about the breads. I haven’t been to their store a lot but when they have their stand at the Farmer’s Markets, I always stop in for some bread. They bake many varieties of bread, including not-your-average types, such as Three Chili Cheese and Yukon Gold & Scallion Focaccia, as well as sweets and pastries.

Cassia Cupcakery (Commercial)
1706 Commercial Drive
Vancouver, BC

I’m not impressed by the well-known cupcake chain in Vancouver – I find them to be too processed and sweet – so I’d rather bake them myself or hunt for other contenders. Whilst they are not the best cupcakes that I’ve ever had (can anything really beat fresh-out-the-oven?) I found the cupcakes at Cassia, an unassuming, cute cupcakery, to be quite delicious. Flavours include red velvet, peanut butter, vanilla, and banana but they also have gluten-free and vegan cupcakes.

This list will continue to grow as I keep on my search for Vancouver’s best patisseries and bakeries. Please let me know if you have any recommendations!

Also, I recently completed a croissant crusade, where I visited five different pastry stores in search of Vancouver’s best croissants. You can read all about that here.

Vancouver’s Sweet Side – Part 2 – Ice Cream

23 Feb

First up on my Guide to Vancouver’s Sweet Side was donuts. If you have finished digesting those, we are moving on to ice cream, gelati, and sorbetto!

Although I have a weakness for good ice cream, I don’t splurge as often as I’d like as Vancouver’s weather doesn’t typically allow for indulgences of the cold variety. However, when those few hard-earned months of summer finally peek out from behind grey clouds, I find myself heading straight for these local favourites.

Bella Gelateria (Downtown)
1001 W. Cordova Street
Vancouver, BC

Inside the small, stylish gelateria you won’t be greeted with rows of whispy gelati peaks, like the ones you find in Italy. Instead, you will find a large menu and rows of stainless steel tubs covered with lids (this is to keep the temperature exact). It is underneath those lids that lies a variety of authentic, innovative gelati. Personally, what I think makes this gelati so tasty is the quality of the ingredients. Bella Gelateria uses only Avalon organic milk and sources high quality ingredients from BC, California, and some from as far away as Italy. They also use only natural ingredients and do not add any preservatives. Just pure and simple. And the proof is in the taste.

Earnest Ice Cream
No fixed address (see below)

Perhaps you prefer to eat your ice cream in the privacy of your own home? If so, Earnest Ice Cream is for you! Pints of their delicious home-made ice cream are sold direct at the Vancouver farmer’s markets or through select retailers, such as The Dirty Apron (a full list of retailers is on their website). With Earnest, it is all about the ingredients (seems like this is always the case with good ice cream) as they don’t use artificial colours or flavours, preferring to use whole food ingredients, with a focus on seasonal ingredients. New flavours are always popping up but I’m a huge fan of the traditional flavours; chocolate or Tahitian vanilla.

Earnest Blueberry Cheesecake

Gelateria Dolce Amore (Commerical Drive)
1588 Commercial Drive
Vancouver, BC

I hadn’t heard about this place until a friend recommended this impressive, little Commercial Drive hot-spot. It really is hidden away on Commercial but if you venture inside, you will be greeted with tubs of colourful, hand-crafted gelati and sorbetto. As is the case with all of the places I have chosen, there is a focus on seasonal flavours, whilst also keeping the traditional flavours that you’d expect. Don’t go in expecting “over 500 flavours!!” like other places – these guys stick to small batches.

Photo Visit – Diva at the Met – January 2013

12 Feb

645 Howe Street
Vancouver, BC
V6C 2Y9

T: 604 602 7788
www.metropolitan.com/diva

I recently went for lunch at Diva at the Met with a foodie friend of mine. It was my first visit to Diva as I generally don’t give much thought to lunching at hotel restaurants. I was easily persuaded when I saw their menu – any place that does a gourmet corn dog is worth a visit in my books.

Although this was my first visit, Diva at the Met has been around since 1996 – not a bad stint for a local Vancouver restaurant – and is located in The Metropolitan Hotel. With a heavy lean towards seafood, the lunch menu was a little limited for my liking, although there were the usual pasta, pizza, and burger options to choose from. The dining room was a little unusual as it is spread out over a few levels, rather than just one room, and the decor was unmemorable.

I started with their Diva Roll; which was a tempura nori roll with smoked black cod, shiso leaf, and ponzu, for $12. In a city with excellent sushi options, it was satisfactory but certainly not the highlight.

Diva RollDiva corn dog

I was more intrigued by the food truck inspired section of the menu and couldn’t look past the Diva Corn Dog, which was a gourmet sausage made with foie gras, sweet breads, and bone marrow. It was finished with truffle mayo, grainy mustard, home-made sauerkraut, and thrice cooked kenebec fries. I was captivated by the fact that they had a corn dog on the menu because, when I was a kid, these were my favourite carnival treats (although we called them dagwood dogs in Australia).

After only a few bites of Diva’s corn dog, my stomach was revolting at how incredibly rich the deep-fried sausage was so I only managed to finish half of it. But if your stomach can handle rich foods better than mine, then this dish would be worth ordering for the novelty alone. Admit it, you are now thinking “Huh, a gourmet corn dog?! I wonder what that tastes like.”

Diva at the Met on Urbanspoon

Photo Visit – Nook – January 2013

20 Jan

With a strict “no reservations” policy and a small dining room, you have to be quite strategic when attempting to score a seat at Nook, particularly on a Saturday night. My sister and I wanted to go for dinner last night (a Saturday night) at our favourite place in the West End, but first we tallied up the odds: 1/ The Canucks first game of the NHL season was on, and 2/ Dine Out Vancouver was underway and Nook isn’t a participant. With this in mind, the odds seemed stacked in our favour and, as we had hoped, we walked straight in to a seat at the bar.

My sister and I have eaten at Nook a lot and we normally order our favourites but last night we decided to order both the pizza and pasta daily specials, just to mix things up a bit.

Spaghetti with Nduja and Guanciale – $18

Pancetta, rapini, and egg pizza – $18

Normally, I would have suggested ordering the delectable burrata and proscuitto plate to start, but that would be gluttonous with just the two of us so we stuck with these two dishes and could barely finish them. The spaghetti had a nice hint of spice, thanks to the nduja, which is a spicy Italian sausage (never heard of nduja before – you learn something new every day!). The pizza was also very good but I am finding that I’m finding less enjoyment with eating anything that has a runny egg yolk (personal preference). With $8 glasses of prosecco, friendly staff, and affordable, hearty servings of carbs, I continue to strongly recommend a visit to Nook.

Nook on Urbanspoon

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