gracecheung604 | write on time: March 2013

Monday, March 18, 2013

Society Sundays - kids eat free!

Black and Blue as part of the Glowbal Passport Quest. As part of the promotion that Glowbal Group ran in February - March 2013, I visited all seven of the restaurants. Here is my post of Society in Yaletown.
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One of the cool things about coming here is that Kids Eat Free on Sundays. They have to order off the kids menu, but that's normal. grilled cheese To make the Grilled Cheese and Fries a bit healthier, we asked for some carrot sticks on the side. And this is what came...hmmm...we wanted carrot sticks AND fries. Not to worry, we mentioned it to the staff and they said they would bring out some fries in a bit. The grilled cheese was better and bigger than I expected. They don't use processed cheese here, not even for the kiddies. This gooey factor from the aged cheddar was high here. And yes, this is available on the adult menu too. grilled cheese 3 Here we go, some freshly made fries, served along with their housemade ketchup. They were very lightly salted with just enough grease to give the outer edge a crunch. More than enough food for most kids.  root nachos 3 We decided to get an appetizer to share, but something on the healthier side. We ordered the Root Vegetable “Nachos”. Essentially, this was like a nachos made with Terra Chips, instead of corn tortilla chips. Drenched in mozzarella cheese and topped with sour cream and guacamole, the root vegetables were just a touch too greasy for my liking but I did like how the slices were very thin and delicate. fish and chip 2 One of our entrees was The Fishermen’s Fry with a combination of salmon and cod, as well as some shellfish. All were battered and fried, looking like little fritters. On the bottom are some more fries and there is plenty of tartar sauce too. These had a really good crunch but again, just a touch on the oily side. meat sweats 2 For our other entree, we went for the Meat Sweats Burger. Why is it called meat sweats? Well, in addition to the burger patty itself, the toppings include bacon, and pulled pork. Add some cheddar, onion rings, and a fried egg, and you've pretty much set yourself up for the messiest burger in town. I asked for the pulled pork on the side, because I couldn't imagine how high this meat tower could be. meat sweats 5 In the end, I chickened out of eating the "proper" way and deconstructed it even further. I took out the onion rings and just ate it like a bacon cheeseburger, with a fried egg. The pulled pork had a nice smokey flavour when I did get around to it, it actually went really well with the fries. The patty was juicy and the bacon nice and crispy. I don't know if it's possible to eat this thing stacked as they planned, but even the way I did it, juices are running down your arms. You can actually add a fried egg to any of the burgers and I highly recommend it, the yolk gives the burger a juiciness that is totally unique.

Take Note:

  • Even though there is a deal for kids on Sunday, it's not too crazy or noisy
  • Entire food menu is 50% on  Tuesdays
  • The appetizer platter is a great way to try a bit of everything

Society Dining Lounge on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lotus - Bun Bo Hue time!

I don't often write one-dish posts, but forgive me for this one. I was by myself on a course for Sage accounting software out in Richmond (because no one else would come with me) and I had to eat.
2013-02-25 12.01.23 
I ordered a Bun Bo Hue even though the menu description left no doubt that there wouldn't be any pork hock inslde. The bowl was large, the meats were a plenty and the broth looked spicy as heck. Before the waitress placed the obligatory dish of bean sprouts and mint at the table, she asked if I wanted the sprouts blanched or not. I wish more places would do this. I like mine raw usually, but with Bun Bo Hue, I actually prefer my bean sprouts cooked. .
2013-02-25 12.21.56
After dunking in the aforementioned cooked bean sprouts (and the jalapenos), I gave the bowl a stir and this is what we have. The noodles are spaghetti like and super slippery. If you are having this dish, make sure you wear dark colours. The potential splashing is inevitable and unavoidable. The ham was really lean, and the thin slices of beef cooked quickly in the hot broth. 

Take Note:

  • This place gets crazy busy by noon, so show up early
  • They take Visa, Mastercard, a rarity in some pho places
  • Service is quick, friendly and you don't feel weird dining alone (something I have always feared)
Lotus, the Place For Pho Lovers on Urbanspoon

Bits and Bites at Cavino

The first time I saw Cavino was when I attended the grand opening of Residence Inn. This is a great concept, coffee bar by day, and wine bar by night. The common! 
IMG_2430 One of things that has been raved about is their Truffle Popcorn. Well, I had to see what the fuss was all about. The plate of popcorn arrived warm and the scent of truffle was unmistakeable. Thankfully, the oil didn't make the popcorn soggy, but the taste was much milder than the smell. All the kernels were popped but some seemed on the wrong side of stale.
IMG_2439 True to the carnivores we are, we went straight for the Butchers Plate. This is a selection of three meats for $18. All the meats are from The Oyama Sausage Company, one of my favourites purveyors of meat in the city. We chose Jambon Blanc with the stoneground mustard, the Smoked Bison with the chutney and the Wild Boar Salami which came with pickles and olives. The bread and crostini that accompanied it rounded out the platter. The best was the smoked bison, lean and smokey, I couldn't get enough of it. The chutney was a bit too sweet for me, but the pickles and olives accompanying the Boar Salami made up for it.
The crostini was a bit stale but when we mentioned it to our waitress, she promptly took it away and gave us more of the fresh baguette, which I appreciated.
IMG_2441 To finish off, we also got the Gamberoni Flatbread. The prawns on these were pretty large and had a nice bouncy chew to them. I also really liked the pesto they used, no heavy handed tomato sauce here. Making the dish perfect was the freshly melted mozzarella, and you can see the little pillows of them quite clearly in the picture. 

Take note:

  • Certain tables have their own TVs
  • Service is pretty good since the restaurant was quiet when we went
  • Roast Beef Tenderloin available after 5pm for just $20 as well as Daily Features 

Cavino on Urbanspoon

James Street Cafe and Grill

I've been trying to have brunch with my parents more frequently and this time they chose James Street Cafe and Grill. It's a little place tucked on Canada Way, but I've never actually wandered in. 
IMG_2451 The menu is completely unexpected and eclectic. They have burgers and curry, yes, curries. It's an interesting mix to be sure. I've often found that places that try to do two different cuisines usually only excel at one. With all the choices available to us, we decided to go for the ethnic choices instead of your usual Eggs Benny. 
IMG_2444 Our appetizer was the Chicken Samosas. These were light and not at all oily. The filling was a bit dry and you couldn't really tell that it was chicken (because it was ground chicken and rather dry) but a decent version of the real thing.
IMG_2446 My mom, the lightest eater of us all, opted for a simple Dal, a simple lentil soup. It was very rich and smooth, but felt very healthy. The cumin wasn't overpowering and complemented the soup very well. Hot with a very creamy texture, this is perfect for a cool spring day. 
IMG_2447 My stepdad, who is trying to eat healthier lately decided on the Weekend Breakfast Special. This features a Vegetable Omelet, some Masala potatoes and their delicious Naan Bread. I miss the tri-fold omelette. I think the half moon (seen at Rocky Mountain) seems to be the norm now, and I was surprised to see the presentation here. He really enjoyed it and you can clearly see the abundance of vegetables here. The naan was a bit oil and flat in my opinion, but he seemed to enjoy it. But the best part of the dish was the masala potatoes. This ain't your average hash, the spices permeated throughout the potatoes and really livened up the dish.   
IMG_2450 Oh, and what did I get? Well, 11:30am seemed like a perfect time for Goat Biriyani, wouldn't you say? My parents were in shock when this huge rice platter was placed in front of me. The fluffy saffron rice pilaf was perfectly cooked and not a clump could be found. The goat was tender and there were lots of pieces with the bones still attached, my favourite. The spice was a bit mild but then again, this was early, so I'm sure that as the day went on and the flavours developed, it would have gotten better. And it did, because I ended up taking half of this home and can attest that it was better the second time around!

Take Note:

  • Very eclectic menu but go for the ethnic items
  • They pour their wine very generously (yes, I had wine at brunch, don't judge)
  • Daily specials available for dine-in or takeout. Just $11 and can feed 2 easily.

James Street Café & Grill on Urbanspoon

Falconetti's Fix via VANEATSca

Here we go again, another VANEATSca Package! This time, we were going to check out Falconetti's on Commercial Drive for their latest Dining Pass "Falconetti's Fix" for just $16. The deal is three items and includes two drinks. 

Specifically, you get: 
  • Mini Poutine, freshly made pepper gravy drizzled over real Quebec cheese curds 
  • Slow Smoked Pork Ribs, smoked in-house with our special rub then slathered in our Tequila BBQ sauce
  • Falconetti's Famous Sausages, choose 1 of any of their gourmet, home made sausages 
  • Phillips Beer's Blue Buck, two 4oz glasses of a deep amber coloured beer with a crisp finish featuring a delicate hop aroma
poutine Now, onto the food...Here we have the Mini Poutine, which isn't really that small. As my readers will know, I am a recent convert to the church of poutine via an experience at Ferris' Oyster Bar in Victoria. I never really understood the point of making crispy fries only to make them all soggy with gravy? Well, this version I really loved. Instead of potato wedges some places use, they use skinny fries here, and that made such a difference. It elevated the dish for me and make it just a bit more delicate. Make sure you eat this while it's hot, because the Quebec cheese curds are best enjoyed that way.  ribs 2 And here are the Slow Smoked Tequila BBQ Pork Ribs. These are slow smoked for 6 hours and the meat is super tender. It does fall off the bones, but it's not overcooked by any means. The BBQ sauce makes for a messy affair, but it's worth getting a little dirty for these babies.  poutine and ribs 2 To be honest, just these two things probably would have been enough for me. I'm just a meat and potatoes kind of girl and you have it all here on one plate!  hot italian 5 But wait, for the $16 VANEATSca package, you also get a one of Falconetti's famous sausages. Jesse, the super friendly host picked the Hot Italian for me. The sausage was topped simply with a bit of diced tomatoes and red onions and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. The sausage itself was amazing and the spice factor was intense enough for me, but according to Jesse, not as spicy as the Yucatan Chicken sausage, which I have to return to try. 
The sausage has a nice snap when you bite it into it, almost a crunch! The toppings are added on afterwards and not heated through, so they do fall off the bun quite easily and things can get messy. Oh, and you can't tell from this shot since they sliced the bun in half, but these buns are specialty items made to fit the curvature of the sausage. That's cool.  duck 3 We also got to try an amazing Duck Breast served with a Fennel and Yellow Beet salad. They use Parallel 49 beer to marinate the duck and although you don't taste the beer at all, it does impart a nice smokiness to the duck fat. And yes, I ate duck fat after Jesse insisted that it was worth a try. And I loved the medium rare on the duck, it makes it much juicier and super tender.  pulled pork 2 Silly us...we thought that the package wouldn't be enough for two people (which it really is) but we asked Jesse to bring us one more highlight from their menu, anything of his choosing. He presented us with a Pulled Pork Sandwich with their slow smoked pork slathered in the same Tequila BBQ sauce that comes with the ribs. It is served with melted cheddar & fried onions. 
They grill the bun, which I love, but the star here is clearly the pork, this is cooked for 17 hours and marinated in their house dry rub. This was again messy but worth it. The pork and onions are super tender and the whole thing can barely contained in their custom bun. See the one piece of pork that tried to run away? It didn't get far (from my mouth).
This package is available for sale now from VANEATSca. See the VANEATSca video of this offer above:

Other things you should know:

  • Purchase Limit: 2 passes per person, plus 1 additional as gift 
  • Redeem limit: 2 passes per person, 1 pass for every 2 people per visit 
  • Not valid for cash back (unless required by law) 
  • Must use in one visit, dine-in only 
  • Does not cover tax or gratuity 
  • Cannot be combined with other offers 
  • Tip: Tuesday, Friday & Saturday after 6pm + Canucks Playoffs are busy
Falconetti's East Side Grill on Urbanspoon
**VANEATs gave me a complimentary pass for the offer, but the extras graciously gifted to me by the host, Jesse. It did not influence my review.**

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pre-Game Eats at George

Before heading to a Canucks game last month, we checked out George in Yaletown for some pre-game bites. Although better known for their club/lounge scene, I figured their association with Brix upstairs should bode well in terms of food. Neither of us were overly hungry, so we opted for just an dish each. Both were seafood, but that wasn't planned.
2013-03-05 17.53.00
Purely gratuitous shot of Complimentary Bread. What was interesting is the butter, rather the location of the butter. On one side of the dish is oil and vinegar, okay, I get that. On the other side of the dish is oil and vinegar again, but with a dollop of butter. I can't help but think that it should have been just butter, or am I wrong, is this a new phenomenon that I've completely missed? 
2013-03-05 18.06.27 For a starter, we started with the PEI Mussels, steamed in an Okanagan pinot blanc broth. They also had some shallots, bacon, cherry tomatoes. Rounding out the flavours were some roasted garlic and fresh & basil. The deep-fried potato string was a fun touch. I would have liked this to be served in a deeper bowl but that is purely a presentation preference and nothing to do with the flavours. It was surprisingly good. The flavours were well developed, the mussels were juicy and plump, and the broth was great with the slightly sweetened bread. 2013-03-05 18.06.06 For more of a main course, this is the Seared Yukon Arctic Char. This is a lightly flavoured fish, a cross between the richer salmon and the milder trout. The texture is very delicate and when cooked perfectly, which this was, flakes off nicely. Also, there isn't any fish aftertaste. The skin was very crispy and was a wonderful contrast to the fish. The fish was served with a love risotto, complete with some chopped prawns and snap peas. The flavours and textures really blended well together. The sauce was nice and tart and gave the dish a further unexpected dimension.

Take Note:

  • The place is really quiet before the witching hour, so service is attentive
  • The food is better than you would expect from a "lounge"
  • Great option for pre-event bites if you're in the Yaletown area

George: Ultra Lounge & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Quick Dinner at Black + Blue

Black and Blue as part of the Glowbal Passport Quest. As part of the promotion that Glowbal Group ran in February - March 2013, I visited all seven of the restaurants. Here is my post of Black and Blue on Alberni.
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With a friend from out of town, I thought it would be a good idea to take him to Black and Blue for some good beef. We stepped up to the bar and decided on a few appetizers and one entree. 
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One interesting thing that we spotted on the menu was the Hot Rock. No silly, you don't eat the rock, you get to cook on it! We were served the oven roasted rock along with some beef brochettes. That rock is piping hot and the brochettes are simply skewered. You place the brochettes onto the rock and the sizzle indicates that good things are happening. 2013-02-06 18.41.30 2
The meat is topped with some green onions which we added onto the rock too. We were also given a Worcestershire Ponzu to pour onto the rock. The sauce gave the beef a wonderful tangy flavour. After about 3 minutes on the first side, flip the beef onto the other side and pour more of the sauce on. The cubes of meat are super tender and juicy. And what could better than being able to take credit for cooking a perfect skewer of meat, and at a bar,  no less. This is a "must-do" if you like playing with your food.
2013-02-06 18.40.55b Our second appetizer was the Tuna Screamer. Essentially, it's a bowlful of shredded daikon topped with some lightly cooked ahi tuna. The dressing for this is serrano chili based and there's a bit of tobiko on top too. And if that heat isn't enough for you, check out the little chillies throughout the dish. Yowza!
2013-02-06 19.12.04 And when you're at Black and Blue, the one thing you have to try is their beef. So we got the Prime Rib. I liked how they marked how we wanted the meat cooked, and I have to say, to me, this was a good example of medium rare. The beef had a sufficient amount of marbling and was juicy and tender, and there sure was lots of it. Underneath was a bit of steamed vegetables, and below that were some mashed potatoes, both were okay and complemented the beef quite well. But the best part was Yorkshire pudding, with a slight crisp on the outside and a chewy centre, I could have had another three of these. Oh, and when they say that the horseradish is hot...believe them. Everything came together nicely and it was better than we had expected. 

Take note: 

  • The meats aren't cheap but the $32 Prime  Rib (10oz) is worth it
  • Tuna Screamer is fun but you can cut the heat but omitting the chillies
  • French Onion Soup is pretty good, skip the Steak House Nachos

Black + Blue on Urbanspoon

Birthday Celebrations at Fish Shack

Fish Shack as part of the Glowbal Passport Quest. As part of the promotion that Glowbal Group ran in February - March 2013, I visited all seven of the restaurants. Here is my post of The Fish Shack on Granville.
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Last year, this was Sanafir, and now the place has completely transformed and it's now The Fish Shack. We went there on a Sunday to celebrate a friend's birthday and to score some more stamps! 
clam chowder To start, we were treated to an amuse bouche of mini Clam Chowders in a sour dough bread bowl. These babies are piping hot and super tasty, very much like the one served at Coast, but maybe a smidgeon better due to the bread bowl effect. 
spag and balls We started off with a Spaghetti and Meatballs, the only non-seafood item of the night. The sauce was a little thinner than usual but the pasta and meatballs were bang on. The bread is there for those who don't think a plate of pasta is carb-heavy enough. The sauce was also a bit tangier than usual, but the pasta was al dente and the meatballs had a good dense mouth feel. 
hookitandcookit2 For me, the best thing about The Fish Shack is the Fisherman's Catch. Available in two options (with or without lobster), we went all in and got the one that is was $30 but comes with a lobster. There is a $20 version available, sans lobster. There are 10 items in total with the $30 one, your basic corn and potatoes, but then add chorizo sausage, crayfish, shrimp, dungeness crab and snow crab, throw in some mussels and clams (not on the menu but we got some) and then calamari too, then top it all with lobster. This is simple, but so much fun, did I tell you they give you a mallet?? 
lobster Because it was Sunday, our birthday girl got herself a whole Lobster, for just $19.95. If you are a seafood lover and love a good deal too, then this is the place to be on a Sunday night. Just know that you're going to get dirty, but I think it's worth it. 

Take Note:

  • Buck a Shuck available from open until 5pm daily
  • Four types of Caesars available, but try the Shark Bite if you want something different
  • All Eggs Benny (and all other brunch items) are just $9.50 on weekends 
The Fish Shack on Urbanspoon

Passport Quest Italian Kitchen

Italian Kitchen as part of the Glowbal Passport Quest. As part of the promotion that Glowbal Group ran in February - March 2013, I visited all seven of the restaurants. Here is my post of Italian Kitchen on Alberni.
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This time, I met up with Stephanie whom I met at last year's passport quest at Glowbal. Funny how food and twitter is what brought us together again! This time we decided to hit up Italian Kitchen, since I already had the Glowbal stamp. 
2013-03-07 13.12.51 
Our meal started off with an amuse bouche similar to a Caprese, with tomatoes and burrata. This was light and the burrata was melt in your mouth creamy. The colours were lovely and vibrant too, but what really made the dish great was the fresh and meaty tomatoes. 
2013-03-07 13.37.44 
For my lunch, I opted for the Prosciutto Pizza. It was a bit of a tough call, because I was also in the mood for the Garganelli too. Oh well, I think I made the right choice going for something a bit fresher. The prosciutto was really lean, which I liked. And the fresh and slightly bitter arugula gave the dish the bite it needed. Although there is some burrata in the pizza already, a bit of extra parmesan never hurt anyone, right? Oh, and if you like it spicy, get the chilli flakes on the side, but instead of just spooning them over the pie, crush them up in your hand first to really release the heat. 
2013-03-07 13.38.31 I rarely, very rarely, will order a vegetarian dish, but man, I would order this one! This is the Vegetarian Lasagna (yes, there is a traditional meaty one too, and that's probably what I would end up getting to be honest), with a ton of vegetables. There are zucchini, spinach, slices of eggplant, peppers, ricotta and it all comes with a light green salad with a touch of fennel. This smelled amazing. The meat one is next on my to-eat list.
2013-02-19 12.11.57 
Bonus! The week before, I had lunch here and decided to try the Hero Panini. Yes, another dish with prosciutto, but this time accompanied by even more meat, such as mortadella and pepperoni. They lightened things up with some arugula and then made it even better with provolone and some pepperoncini. Served with a nice light salad, this is great for a quick lunch if you're not in the mood for hearty Italian fare. BTW, I know you are staring at the Spaghetti & Wagyu Meatballs across the table from me. I don't blame you. 

Take Note: 

  • Pizzas, Paninis and Pastas are what they do best here 
  • Lots of platters for sharing, great for family style meals 
  • Gluten-free pastas available.
Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Passport Quest at Coast

Coast as part of the Glowbal Passport Quest. As part of the promotion that Glowbal Group ran in February - March 2013, I visited all seven of the restaurants. Here is my post of Coast on Alberni.
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We decided to try some appetizers as well as their lunch items. Normally, I would get oysters to start, but in an effort to sample more of their menu, we broke new ground instead.
  salmon somen 
From their Ippin Ryori (Japanese Tapas) section, we tried their Salmon Somen. The base of the dish is this Japanese vermicelli, almost as thin as angelhair. The sauce is a mixture of soy and some ponzu sauce, with some thinly chopped green onions, grated daikon and a fragrant shiso leaf. The noodles are very light and almost slithers into your mouth. Top all that with some sliced sockeye salmon and this is a great starter. The fish was slightly cooked by the acidity in the ponzu and was really refreshing. 
The angle and lack of reference does not do justice to this bowl of New England Chowder. It was huge! Loaded with bacon, clams, mussels, and tender chunks of celery, carrots and potato. This is a rich soup and jampacked with flavours. You could easily share this with a friend and you'll both have enough for a starter.
pedroll They also have a large selection of sushi rolls, and this was a blend of two rolls. It's like a Dynamite Roll, slipped under a Negihama Roll. The Dynamite part comes from the Tempura Prawn, and the slightly spicy chili mayonnaise. The Negihama topped with finely diced hamachi mixed with scallions. So good, a bit of crunch from the prawn, a bit of heat from the mayo and a mouthful of fresh scallions with the fish. There's enough going on here that you really don't need the wasabi.
Lunch Box Shrimp Wrap 2 b This Shrimp Wrap Box is my favourite lunch box here, but they also have a sushi one, as well as a fish & chip and oyster po boy version. The New England Chowder is really good and is loaded with bacon, clams, mussels, and tender chunks of celery, carrots and potato. This is a rich soup and jampacked with flavours. Have this first while it's hot! Next, move onto the Tuna Sashimi, served on a bed of microgreens. There is very little dressing so you can really taste the sweetness of the fish. I guess you would say that the Shrimp Wrap is the star of the show, but they all come together really nicely. I asked for easy dressing and comparing mine with my friend's, I can tell they actually listened. The shrimp are diced but you can still see large chunks of them throughout the wrap. This is a lot of food and I ended up taking the wrap home. 

Take Note: 

  • All lunch boxes are just $13.95 
  • A regular order of the New England Chowder is enough for a meal
  • The Fish & Chip cone is great for people who aren't into raw fish
Coast Restaurant on Urbanspoon


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