Archive | Downtown RSS feed for this section

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

Advertisements

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.

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 – Hawksworth – January 2013

13 Jan

801 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, BC
V6C 3L2

T: 604 673 7000
www.hawksworthrestaurant.com

It was my birthday this week (hip hip hooray!) and as has become tradition, B took me for dinner at a restaurant of my choice. Last year we visited West for my birthday and for B’s birthday we dined at Blue Water Cafe. This year I chose a restaurant that has gotten a lot of press but one that we haven’t eaten dinner at before – I chose Hawksworth.

I have had mixed lunch and brunch experiences at Hawksworth so this was a chance to really run them through the gauntlet to see how they compare against the other notable fine dining restaurants in the city. We both ordered the tasting menu with the wine flights for $134 each, as well as some oysters and an appetizer. We wanted to sample as much of the food as we could, and admittedly, the food was actually very good – the only notable criticisms that I had was that the oysters we ordered had a lot of broken shell throughout, the pheasant breast was a bit dry, and the veal confit cheek tasted a bit cool for my liking (it felt like most of the heat was coming from the surrounding gnocchi). However, both foie gras dishes were superb – my favourite dish of the night was easily the foie gras parfait (which we ordered off the appetizer menu). It reminded me of The French Laundry’s foie gras en terrine, which was one of the best things that I ate last year. I would definitely go back just for this dish – the foie gras candy floss was very innovative and I can honestly say that I’ve not eaten anything like that before. I also enjoyed the pheasant ravioli and the tuna tartare.

My only really concern was that the service was a little off. The intent was there – they were very thorough with the “mademoiselles” and the “sirs” (perhaps a little too much?), and they were very helpful and knowledgeable but a few things were forgotten such as a bottle of prosecco that we had ordered, as well as a napkin. These were just small things, and certainly nothing that ruined the meal, but they were noticed.

Price-wise, Hawksworth is not cheap. Entrees start at about $30 and appetizers are around the $20 mark. I would likely go back and order from the entrees menu, heck, I’d go back just for the foie gras parfait, but I wasn’t wowed as much as I have been with the Top Table restaurants, such as West, Araxi, and Blue Water.

Foie Gras Croquetas with Cherry and Hazelnut

Foie Gras Parfait – $20 (from regular menu)

Tuna Tartare

Dorade

Venison Cheek Confit

Pheasant 2 ways

Dark chocolate veloute

Hawksworth (Rosewood Hotel Georgia) on Urbanspoon

Yolk’s Breakfast (Food Cart)

10 Oct

In front of Stadium-Chinatown Skytrain Station
Vancouver, BC
V6B 2L3

www.yolks.ca

Brief Description: A downtown food cart that offers hearty and impressive breakfast/brunch at a decent price.

I love a good, hearty breakfast but it can be a difficult thing to find in Vancouver. I don’t want to have to line-up for a good breakfast, nor do I want to eat my breakfast at a hotel, so I’m happy to tell you about a new place that has popped rolled up to offer a tasty, affordable breakfast. That place is a pastel blue food cart named “Yolk’s Breakfast”. Yolk’s (we are on a first name basis already) has only been open since August and they do amazing things with bacon, eggs, and other breakfast items. You will find them located out the front of Chinatown-Stadium Skytrain station, on Beatty and Dunsmuir.

Menu items that you can expect to find (but check their online menu or Twitter before getting your heart set on a particular item) are Croque Madame “Muffin” (brioche bread, carved ham, béchamel sauce, Gruyere, poached egg), tempura panko avocado sandwiches (also available as tacos for lunch), and honey ham sandwich with egg, Dijon, spinach, and either hollandaise or aged white cheddar. The sandwiches can be made with one or two eggs, and on ciabatta or an English muffin. Prices are extremely affordable with all items under $10.

Steak & Egg Sandwich on Brioche with beer battered onion rings, Stilton and béarnaise sauce.

Double smoked bacon, two poached free-range eggs, fresh arugula and aged white cheddar on ciabatta.

Double smoked bacon, poached free-range egg, fresh arugula and hollandaise on an English muffin.

Roasted organic mushrooms with brie fritters, egg & spinach.

I am absolutely thrilled that I work close to this food cart, meaning that I can get my fill for either breakfast or brunch (they close at 1pm on weekdays). They are open at 7.30am during the week to cater to those heading into the office, but on Saturday they push it out to the more civil time of 10am until 3pm.

Final Thoughts: If you find yourself standing in the ridiculously long line-up for breakfast at Medina Café (just down the street), do yourself a favour and give Yolk’s a try. Be prepared to wait a few minutes for your food, but they will tell you exactly how long you can expect to wait.

Yolk's Breakfast on Urbanspoon

First Glance – Joyeaux Cafe & Restaurant – August 2012

27 Aug

551 Howe Street
Vancouver, BC
V6C 2C2

T: 604 681 9168
www.joyeaux-cafe-restaurant.com

Surprisingly, I had never stepped foot into one of Vancouver’s most well-known lunch establishments, Joyeaux Cafe, until last week. I had heard about it but I’ve never worked close enough to Howe Street to make lunch there a reality. A friend and I decided to take on the crazy crowds at Joyeaux on Friday for lunch (the picture below is from Saturday – much quieter!). Although our experience was chaotic and rushed, my lemongrass chicken on rice with a spring roll was really tasty and at $8 it was really cheap, so I can see the appeal with this place.

After coffee at Revolver on Saturday morning, B and I were doing our usual “where to go for brunch” dance, which basically consists of us suggesting and rejecting places until we both come to an agreement. Because neither of us felt like a ‘traditional’ breakfast I offered up Joyeaux in the hopes that I could try some more of their extensive menu. Seriously, this place has so many different things on the menu that it is a little overwhelming. They do have the regular breakfast, such as pancakes and eggs, but we wanted their Vietnamese food so we both ordered the wonton soup with a Vietnamese sub on the side.

The soup was really good and, based on that, I will definitely be heading back to try more of the multitude of soups they have an offer. The grilled chicken sub was good but I have had better subs in Vancouver. The sub and soup deal was less than $10 each and was very substantial. They also do Vietnamese coffee, which is always a plus in my books.

From my experience, and from what friends have told me, I’d probably only go back to Joyeaux in the evening (open weekdays until 9pm) or on the weekend. I’d just prefer to not have to deal with the throngs of hungry office-workers all doing the lunch rush at the exact same time.

Joyeaux Cafe & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Photo Visit – CinCin – July 2012

20 Jul

1154 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC
V6E 1B2

T: 604 688 7338
www.cincin.net

Located on busy Robson street, CinCin falls under the Top Table Group umbrella, which is also responsible for some of my favourite local eating establishments (Araxi, West, Thierry, and Blue Water Cafe). I have been to CinCin a handful of times but I always seem to forget that it is there, hidden away up a flight of terracotta stairs.

The restaurant recently appointed Andrew Richardson as Executive Chef so I thought I’d head back to see how things have changed under his direction. Their sunny patio was also another reason why I wanted to go back – it is absolutely perfect for this sunny spell we have been having. The lunch menu is focused on pizza, pasta, and a number of main protein dishes (such as chicken, halibut, salmon). Prices are quite high for lunch (mains are mostly above $20) so it would be a good choice for a special occasion or a business lunch, but might be a bit pricey for a regular weekday lunch (well, it is for me).

Gnocchi di ricotta – 15.50

Linguine al granchio (Dungeness crab & chili) – $18.50

Main course of risotto verde – $23.50

Legno di tonno bianco alla griglia – $22.50

Pollo al limone con peperoncino – $22

Chocolate purses (milk chocolate and carmelized apple filled filo pastry, with hazelnut sorbetto) – $12.50

My favourite dish was the gnocchi, the texture of the soft pillow-like gnocchi was balanced with a slight crunch from the bread crumbs and delightfully coated in the creamy sauce. I’d order that again for sure. With their crispy filo and melting chocolate, the chocolate purses were a nice way to end the meal. I will definitely need to return in the evening to sample the dinner menu.

CinCin Ristorante + Bar on Urbanspoon