Tag Archives: review

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

Photo Visit – Blue Water Cafe – February 2013

8 Mar

1095 Hamilton Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 5T4

T: 604 688 8078
www.bluewatercafe.net

Brief Description: As a member of the Top Table family, Blue Water Cafe is known as one of the city’s superior seafood restaurants. The menu is comprised of a raw bar and hot seafood dishes. Price point is high-end.

If you are someone who just loves, loves, loves seafood and you have decided to splurge on a meal out, look no further than Blue Water Cafe. This spot is jumping – even when I visited on a Wednesday night a few weeks ago. The place was packed so be sure to book ahead!

After limiting what I have been eating (kinda) since the new year, I really like to splurge when I go out for dinner now. That is why I had to order the pearl barley risotto because, quite simply, I am a sucker for risotto. I did add some pan seared scallops, which were perfectly cooked, and I started with an assortment of fresh oysters. Dessert was a must-order and with a really strong dessert menu, it was hard to narrow it down but the rich, warm dark Cuban chocolate cake was highly recommended by our server and it didn’t disappoint.

Pearl Barley Risotto with Pan Seared Scallops – $24.50 + $4.50 per scallopsSmiley-faced Warm Dark Cuban Chocolate Cake – $12.50

Overall, Blue Water continues to deliver the same high quality and standards that I’ve come to expect from the Top Table Group (West, Araxi, Thierry). I do have to mention that prices are high. Without any drinks this meal cost me about $80, so depending on your situation, this may be a once-in-a-while splurge or a more frequent treat.

Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar on Urbanspoon

Photo Visit – Maenam – January 2013

4 Feb

1938 West 4th Ave
Vancouver, BC
V6J 1M5

T: 604 730 5579
www.maenam.ca

Brief Description: A popular Kitsilano-based restaurant that offers well-executed, modern Thai food. Maenam is friendly on the wallet, without sacrificing quality or ambiance.

I know that this makes me sound like a HUGE grump but I’m not a fan of Dine Out Vancouver. Yes, I understand that it gives a huge injection of cash to local restaurants when they so desperately need it (just after the Christmas rush) but I think it typically doesn’t portray a restaurant in the best light. When you have that many seats turning over in a night, I think service becomes strained and the kitchen loses its passion when it is cooking the same dishes every night for two weeks straight. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I normally avoid restaurants that are participating in Dine Out until it ends. However, there was a night last week where I just didn’t want to cook. I was feeling a bit blue and the thought of having to go through the whole process of making dinner just seemed too difficult. B was in the same boat so the decision was made to go out for dinner.

It had been a while since we were last at Maenam and as we entered the restaurant we realized that they were participating in Dine Out. Our initial reaction was disappointment but we were able to get a table and, as we love the food so much at Maenam, we decided to see what they could showcase by ordering the Dine Out menu. It was incredible value at $28 per person for one starter, one salad, one curry, and one stir fry to share between two people, followed by a dessert each. Perhaps my mind could be changed about Dine Out…

Our favourite salad, the grilled Thai sausage and crispy rice salad, was unavailable whilst Dine Out was on which pushed us to try something new. We started with the mussels with Thai aromatics and nahm jim sauce, which I didn’t get a photo of, but were steamed mussels with a light broth of lemongrass, bird’s eye chilies, and Thai basil. The nahm jim sauce added even more delicious heat, with a hint of sweetness. It appears that our favourite salad now has some competition. The rest of our meal unfolded like this:

Salad to share: Banana Blossom SaladStir Fry to share: Pork Belly Stir FryCurry to share: Green Curry of Halibut CheeksPassion Fruit TrioDark Chocolate Pot de Crème

All of the dishes were really quite impressive. The banana blossom salad was unlike anything that I’ve eaten before. The banana blossoms themselves were quite husky and crunchy which gave a really interesting texture to the dish, whereas the fresh mint and coriander, gave bold flavours. What can I say about Maenam’s curries? I love the curries here and the halibut green curry packs quite a punch but is one of my favourites. The pork belly salad was a must-order for B – for me, the flavours were good but I’m always a little put off by the obvious fat marbling of the pork belly (yes, shoot me now). Dessert-wise I had heard a lot of good things about the chocolate pot de crème, so I had to try that but I was kicking myself because the tangy passion fruit trio was, in my opinion, a better choice. The chocolate pot was delicious, but I had a hard time enjoying the tangy tamarind ice cream.

Final Thoughts: Overall, we loved the food at Maenam (we always have) and this menu really gave us a chance to try some different dishes. Maybe, just maybe, Dine Out isn’t so bad after all.

Maenam on Urbanspoon

Minami

30 Jan

1118 Mainland Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 2T9

T: 604 685 8080
www.minamirestaurant.com

Brief Description: A high-end, upscale Japanese restaurant in the heart of Yaletown. Prices are quite high but justified because of the excellent quality of food and service.

It is rare for me to rave about a Japanese/sushi restaurant. Yes, I enjoy certain types of sushi but on my scale of favourite foods, it is nowhere near the top. With that said, however, I’ve fallen pretty hard for Minami restaurant which is the sister restaurant of Miku restaurant. Minami opened in the old Goldfish spot in Yaletown early in summer 2012 and since it opened I have returned many times, sometimes for lunch and other times for dinner. Each and every time that I’ve visited, I have left impressed.

Firstly, I should warn you that Minami is quite pricey. This is Yaletown after all, and a cheap eat this is not. The cheapest thing on the menu are some of the specialty rolls at about $10 each, but the majority of dishes are much more than that. Entrees and beef dishes are in the $20 to $30 price range, noodle dishes are around the $18 mark, and appetizers start at around $13. Do I think the food is worth the cost? In my experience, yes. The seafood is incredibly fresh, the flavours of the dishes are clean and unmarked by heavy lashings of soy sauce, and the Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi at $14 is one of the best things I’ve eaten in a long time. The restaurant seems to take a lot of pride in presentation, therefore, dishes are beautifully plated.

The large dining room is decorated quite elegantly and booths line one side of the room for a slightly more intimate experience. Seating options include the bar, the sushi bar, the dining room, and an outdoor patio for warmer months. I have found the service to be very friendly and the servers are more than happy to explain dishes or find alternatives for vegans/vegetarian (a friend of mine who is vegan was well looked after when we went).

Assorted Aburi Sushi

P1050416Chicken Nanban

P1060174Spicy Pork Gyoza

P1060178

Sashimi Lunch

Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi – $14

P1060900King Roll (no masago) – $10

P1050420House made ice cream and fresh fruit

Although I haven’t included many photos of the desserts in this post, the ones that I’ve sampled, and seen, have been quite spectacular. Even a simple dish of homemade ice cream and fresh fruit was delicious. What I’m trying to say is save some room for dessert!

Final Thoughts: Although Minami is on the expensive side, I truly believe it is worth the splurge, particularly if you are into sushi. The aburi sushi is worth a visit alone. A restaurant worthy of visiting for special occasions or first dates.

Minami on Urbanspoon

Photo Visit – Peaceful Restaurant – December 2012

19 Dec

#110-532 W. Broadway (at Cambie)
Vancouver, BC
V5Z 1E9

T: 604 879 9878
www.peacefulrestaurant.com

Brief Description: A small and simple restaurant specializing in tantalizing Mandarin cuisine and hand-made noodles. Extremely affordable yet does not compromise on taste. Service is spotty.

Do you ever go to a restaurant that you know well, and frequent often, and order the same dishes over and over again, regardless of how many times you go there? I do. I do that at Peaceful Restaurant ALL THE TIME! I tend to always order the same dishes; the Beef Roll, the General Tsao’s Chicken, and the Mu Shu Noodles. I have no justification as to why I continually order these same dishes but recently I decided that enough was enough. It was time to mix things up a bit.

My sis and I ordered two new dishes; the Peaceful House Rice ($11.95) and the “Cat Ears” Pork and Vegetable Stir-fried Noodles ($12.95). Both dishes were delicious and are now in danger of being added to the “must order repeatedly” list.

“Cat Ears” Stir-Fried Noodles

Peaceful Special Fried Rice

The “Cat Ear” noodles, which admittedly is not the most appetizing of names, is a soft and chewy noodle, coated in a tasty sauce and finished with a few basic veg and pork. You can also order this dish vegetarian. The Peaceful Fried Rice has a great full flavour, with lots of veggies, assorted meats, eggs, and is finished with a slight spice.

I tend not to provide much criticism on my blog as I prefer to focus on the positives instead. However, I have to be honest and mention that the service has really been slipping at their West Broadway location. One of the servers on my last visit was just down right rude. Disappointingly, I haven’t seen the wonderfully friendly girl that used to work the front counter in quite some time. I’m hoping that she is just on vacation and that the service picks up again. It would be a shame to recommend a place with such delicious food but completely inconsistent service.

And, lastly, I just read a sign that they have displayed in their restaurant window that said that they have sold their Davie street location to focus on their original location. I am glad to hear this as the two times that I did visit the Downtown restaurant, I was awfully disappointed. I felt like the Davie street location was a bad representation of their original restaurant.

Peaceful Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Christmas Lunch at Cioppino’s

18 Dec

133 Hamilton Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 5P6

T: 604 688 7466
www.cioppinos.wordpress.com

Brief Description: Cioppino’s and its sister restaurant next door, Enoteca, serve up classic Mediterranean cuisine, with a sophisticated dining room as the backdrop. Prices reflect the high standard of food and service.

Every year, my team at work goes for a fancy lunch to celebrate Christmas and the end of another year, and this year was no exception. It has become quite the norm for us to splurge and this year we chose to return to Cioppino’s, as we had a memorable lunch there two years ago.

I believe that Cioppino’s is one of the best overall restaurants in the city. That might be because I’m a huge fan of Italian but I do think that the quality, in service and food, is exceptional at Cioppino’s. The decor itself is quite traditional, with terracotta tiling, warm wood features, and a more sophisticated feel. The clientèle also seemed to be more suits and grey hair, than young and hip, but I’d say that is mostly because of the price-range. Cioppino’s is not cheap, in fact with the cheapest main courses of pasta at $25 and meat dishes upwards of $35, I’d put it in the expensive, high-end basket, but it is lovely and worth it for a splurge.

Caprese Tradizionale

Classic Lobster Bisque

Saffron, citrus risotto with seared scallops

Milk Chocolate: Light mousse, Caramelia chantilly and ice-cream

Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon

Photo Visit – Minami Restaurant – October 2012

24 Oct

1118 Mainland Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 2T9

T: 604 685 8080
www.minamirestaurant.com

Those who know me, know that sushi isn’t exactly my favourite type of food, although it has grown on me since I moved to Vancouver. I’d even go as far as to say that this small town gal has gotten slightly more adventurous with what she orders (although you wouldn’t think so from the following post). However, sashimi still makes me green. *shudders* There is just something about eating a big slab of cold fish that turns my stomach. The reason I tell you this is that in spite of not being a big fan of sushi, I am actually excited about a sushi restaurant!

Minami restaurant, sister restaurant to Miku restaurant, opened in the old Goldfish spot in Yaletown earlier in the summer. The reason I am so excited about this particular restaurant is quite simply due to their signature dish, the Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi, which is pressed local salmon, jalapeño, and miku sauce. It is heavenly and has me longing for it well before I get to the restaurant, and re-living every bite long after I’ve left. It is worth every cent of its $14 price tag. Yeah, I think I’m in love…

 Get in my mouth, Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi!

Here are some photos from my most recent visit to Minami. For all of you serious sushi lovers, look away now. This is probably the least adventurous food order that you’ve ever seen at sushi restaurant. Seriously.

I know, I know! Not very exciting but the Spicy Pork Gyoza were excellent.

Chicken Nanban- part of the lunch box.

The beautiful colours of the Sashimi Lunch. (B’s dish, not mine!)

Once again, completely un-adventurous with ice-cream and fresh berries, but it was soooo good!

Minami on Urbanspoon

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