gracecheung604 | write on time: February 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Checking out The Drive

On a Saturday night, we decided to check out the's close to my house, but for some reason, we rarely venture over there, preferring downtown or yaletown. As such, I had no idea of where to go eat, and decided to let twitterverse suggest something for me. Of all the places on the drive, BierCraft was the only one who actually replied to me and suggested that I come check them out. Well, great use of Twitter on their part!
There was a Canucks game on that night, and we made sure we arrived nice and early so that we could snag a table. We showed up at 6 and were seated in the bar area, at a hightop table. The only downside was that ione stool backed onto the incoming/outgoing door of the kitchen. We sat down, but asked our server if we could move to a less dangerous table should one arrive. She was most gracious and accommodated us when another finally left.
The first thing that arrived at the table, was a complimentary bowl of homemade potato chips. Lightly salted and super crispy. Although just a touch greasy for me, B devoured the bowl in record time. 
We were aiming to eat light tonight, so we started off with some oysters...this is a steal at just $8 for a half dozen. Served simply with lemon and  a mignonette, the flavour of the oysters really stood out, very fresh indeed. Perhaps the only thing I missed was a bit of horseradish. 
In line with the "eating light" mandate of the night, we ordered the tomato and boccocini salad. I was delighted by the appearance of the dish, nicely plated and exceeded my expectations for a place called "bistro". The salad was so fresh, with a few sprigs of basil. The standout here is definitely the balsamic vinegar reduction...aged and very sweet, heightened even more so by the pickled cabbage. It was a very generous portion too for just $8. 
When we were done with the salad, all that was left was the extra virgin olive oil and the balsamic reduction. Four, yes, four servers came by and asked if they could clear the plate for us. And each time, we politely declined since we know we had bread coming to go along with our next dish, perfect for mopping up all this oil and vinegar goodness. I guess it was because we were at a high-top bar table and space was at a premium. One thing I really liked about the service here is how the staff don't cover the restaurant by sections, instead they really seem to keep customer service being top-of-mind.
Fresh bread from the oven...nice and warm with a healthy serving of butter on the side, but really, we just used the bread to clean up the yummy balsamic from the salad. And their bread is really good on its own too, whole cloves of garlic baked right in. Amazing.
Here is the serving of Madrid mussels that we ordered to complete the meal. Tons of mussels and every single one had a mussel in it. None of that all-too-common "all mussels to the bottom and loads of empty shells on top" syndrome here! 
Loaded with chorizo and jalepenos, this dish was spicy and hearty. The menu said that this was supposed to come with serrano chilies, but we didn't mind the substitution. The white wine used to steam these was a good choice adding a subtle lightness to the spice of the chorizo.
Although this was my first visit here, the excellent service and food ensures a return visit. I've heard some great things about their brunch... 

BierCraft Tap and Tapas Bar (formerly Stella's) on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Keg - French Onion Soup and something about Steak?

Keg Steakhouse and Bar - Thurlow on Urbanspoon
As seen on...
Looking for a warm-up during your lunch hour and don't another bowl of noodles, ramen or pho?
How about French Onion Soup? The Keg's is the best in the city, in my opion.

To me, the soup is the reason to visit. But the other thing they are know for is their steaks. Considering this was lunch, we decided to go with the less extravagant Open-Faced Steak Sandwich instead. Oh, with lots of gravy goodness!
We also split the Caesar Salad that came along with it, so yes, there was some healthiness there!
Like the photos? Read the rest The Keg review from VancityBuzz.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gastown Eats - Meat and Bread

Meat & Bread on Urbanspoon
Years ago, I recall going to something called The Sandwich Tree. Goodness, how far have I come since those days. I reviewed Meat and Bread for Vancity Buzz and here is my short post of the visit there, but on my own blog, I can get a bit more in depth!

When we arrived, we were herded quickly into the growing lineup, and the menu and "order-pay-sit" system was explained to us. We saw the giant porchetta and could not stop staring...we were clearly going to have one of those.
This is what you get when you ask for the Meatball Sandwich. It's not really meatballs, more like meat blobs, large meaty pieces. Topped with marinara sauce and healthy squirts of sambal sauce. 
They're ready! Love the casual serving style with some kitchen paper and a wooden cutting board. They have a large selection of knives in the back and if you're going to share your sammies, as for one to slice them up yourself.
The meatball sammy is served simply with a dollop of mustard. The flakes of parmesan are added right at the end...just wish there were a few more of those slices. 
Okay - take a close look at the bad boy...the cheese is just starting to melt and you can see, the meat is not really ball-shaped...more like a messy meatloaf. The heat from the sambal is a good complement to the marinara sauce. Served slightly warm, we devoured this one first. Soft untoasted ciabatta bread make this sandwich squishable enough to get it all into your mouth. 
Here is a bird's eye view of the porchetta sandwich, open-faced. Generous slices of porchetta, sprinkled with herbs and salsa verde. The taste of this is definitely milder than the meatball sub. But then again, that one had sambal chili sauce in it. Had I thought about it, I probably would have eaten this one first, but then again the meatball sammy was warm and just begged to be eaten that way. 
Okay - here is the thing  that really won me over on the sandwich...slices of crackling. Oh baby, crispy pork skin. I think any sandwich would benefit with a few crackling bits...they should bottle this stuff and sell it along with their other sauces.
I would like to return and try their dessert ice cream sandwich and any other sandwich of the day. If you're a vegetarian and want to check out this place...they do have Grilled Cheese (I think it's made with gruyere) but served panini style.

A shorter review of Meat and Bread can also be found on...

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Ocean Wise Faves!

Looking to eat more "ethically"?
I'm a huge fan of the Ocean Wise program and fully support restaurants that are part of this initiative to teach us more about using sustainable seafood. Learn more here.
One of my favourites is Glowbal Group's Coast. It's close to my work and has amazing lunch specials. All items in their Wrap Box are Ocean  Wise...the Manhattan Chowder, the Tuna Sashimi salad, and the yummy Shrimp Wrap. Below is a shot of the Tuna Sashimi.
Another big supporter of Ocean Wise is Hapa Izakaya. Lots of variety in the menu at all three locations, with Fresh Sheet changing frequently. They also won the Chowder Chowdown recently. Below is the Aburi Saba - done tableside.
Oh, and one more...100 Days, Vancouver's pop-up restaurant. Their Lobster and Crab bites as well as the Lobster Mac and Cheese are amazing...I have yet to try the shrimp cocktail, but would like to soon! I had the Seafood Paella recently and it was amazing too! Oh, and if you're in the neighbourhood early, they serve brunch too. Here's their Lobster and Crab Cake Benny!

Some of my faves for Valentine's Day...

Trying to decide on a favourite restaurant is like trying to decide on a favourite dress...truly depends on the occasion, right? However, many of my friends have been asking me where to take their special someone for tonight, so here are a few places that have delighted me in recent months. I'd highly recommend them for dinner...and not just tonight either, I believe that everyday should be Valentine's Day.
Cioppinos <-- My review
Decandent, but if it's a special occasion, splurge. Get the zucchini blossoms!

The gigantic veal chop.

Campagnolo <-- My review
Truly amazing pastas and risottos, you can't go wrong.

Garganelli Ragu...tastes as though it has been stewing for hours.
Au Petit Chavignol <-- My Review
Cozy little place with yummy salumi and macaroni and cheese

And this was part of Dine Out Vancouver!
Octopus Garden <-- My Review
Eclectic and distintive Japanese fare in a small room, cozy and traditional

One of the prettiest presentation you will find.
L'artista <-- My Review
Wholesome Italian fare in Burnaby...none of the pretentiousness and all the deliciousness.

A simple rustic seafood linguine, just the way you'd expect it to be.
Miku -<-- My Review
Aburi sushi, and Wagyu beef sushi, and if you're going to splurge on it, you should get it aburi-ed

Amazing and unique rolls, but a bit pricey.
Market <-- My Review
Part of Jean-Georges empire, this place is elegant and serves up laarger portions than expected.

The steamed prawn salad is an amazing appetizer!


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