Monthly Archives: January 2012

Dine Out Vancouver at Dockside


I had an excellent dining experience at the Dockside restaurant at the Granville Island Hotel. The locale can’t be beat, it is literally dockside. Granville Island is a beautiful place, and I think that it actually improves at night-time when the water reflects the lights.

I was there specifically for Dine Out Vancouver, which is an excellent opportunity to try a three course meal at a pricier dining establishment for considerably less. There are formal and informal establishments, ranging in price from $18-$38. Dine Out Vancouver runs now through February 5th, so I’d make a reservation ASAP if you haven’t done so already.

I’m still not terribly confident about taking pictures of food in restaurants, so there are no pictures to accompany this post. I’ll be brave next time. 

I was surprised by the Amuse Bouche plate- a complimentary pre-appetizer that wasn’t listed on the menu. Sliced cured salmon, crème fraiche, capers and fresh dill on a savoury wafer was a pleasant way to begin the meal.

For an appetizer I selected the seared scallop with smokey corn puree, crispy prosciutto and pea shoots. Delicious! I would have gladly eaten an entire meal of this. The corn puree was unique, but very tasty. I personally prefer prosciutto not to be as crispy as it was served, it felt a bit too much like bacon. I’m not really complaining, bacon is good.

At other Dine Out establishments I’ve left feeling hungry, so in addition to the set menu  I ordered the Forno Flatbread. It was huge. In the centre was a panko-crusted, fried ball of goat cheese. As tempting as it was to pop that in my mouth whole, I spread it out on the flatbread. It paired really well with the balsamic and olive oil drizzle, complete with shaved mozzarella and grilled tomatoes. I shared this with two other people, and we all really liked it and felt that this item had a great value.

My entrée consisted of  halibut and a butterflied jumbo prawn, grilled grape tomatoes,  potato, and grilled asparagus. The halibut was flaky and had a great texture and I loved that the potato was somehow crispy on the outside but soft as if it was mashed on the inside. How did they do it?? I’m going to have to do some research and when I figure it out, I’ll write a follow-up post. My only regret was not snagging a bite of my friend’s rabbit, I was genuinely curious about it. He assures me that the halibut was a better choice.

Dessert was so fabulously sweet and decadent. Filo wrapped marzipan cheesecake in a pool of spiced white chocolate, with a small handful of sugared almonds on the side. The amazing part of the desert were the black cherries hidden inside the cheesecake bundles. Mmmmmm it was a small bite of summer-time goodness. I couldn’t finish my dessert because I was full. In fact, I probably could have skipped the flatbread and still have been very satisfied.

I really enjoyed the rich flavours and the different textures of the evening. It’s not the most expensive Dine Out Vancouver option, either. Furthermore, there are wine pairings for each course that are available for an additional cost.

Cheers! – Rochele

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Black and Blue


I finally got the chance to visit the Glowbal Collection’s flagship, Black and Blue, after having attended the grand opening a few months ago. The Room is just as impressive as I remember with the crazy chandelier, the huge bar and the salt walled aging room. The Maitre d’ seemed confused as to why I was carrying 6 packs of beer into this fine establishment but that’s a story for another day. I was greeted by a smiling Josh Wolfe, Assistant Corporate Chef for the Glowbal Collection, and he took me to a seat right near the kitchen. This table, in most peoples eyes, is an undesirable place to sit but to me it’s the best seat in any restaurant. You get to watch the kitchen ebb and flow, watch the expediter work the pass making sure orders go out together, you get to watch the chef and the cooks working as a team, in a well run kitchen it’s like a well choreographed dance. Josh was working the pass and he tells me they were trying a new system with the way the bills are printed and by all accounts it was a success.

I started with Prime Rib stuffed Yorkies with horse radish cream. They were delicious and very similar to the ones that were served at Black and Blue’s grand opening party only they were larger. The beef was tender, the Yorkshire puddings were light and airy and the horse radish cream was not overpowering, just the right amount of horse radish. The second starter I had was an Albacore Carpaccio with beets and Serrano chilies. What an amazing combo, the freshness of the albacore, the earthiness of the beets and the heat of the chilies made for a wonderful mouth full. I could have eaten 4 more of these without skipping a beat.

Just so you know, I didn’t actually order any of this food. Similar to my last visit to Glowbal Grill in Yaletown where Josh was working, he just started bringing me food. Not a bad setup at all. For my main course I had a 16oz P.E.I. Blue Ribbon bone in Ribeye aged 40 days and cooked medium rare. It came with some house made onion rings, a deep fried mac and cheese stick arranged quite provocatively, creamed corn and Lyonnaise Potatoes with caramelized onion. The flavour of the steak was like no steak I’ve ever had, the aging process adds so much character the the meat. Josh was saying something to me about doing a 60 day dry age on some beef he has, I’m going to need to try that. The onion rings were good, nothing out of this world, the mac and cheese stick was different but really good. Somehow the pasta survived the deep frying process and was still moist. The potatoes and the corn were very good as well.

For dessert Josh brought me a “Black and Blue” Butter Cake. It tasted like sweet butter in dough form, which as you can imagine is pretty damned good. It also had Creme chantilly and caramel sauce. After dinner I waited around and enjoyed a few beverages while Josh and Chef de Cuisine Jason Labahn finished up their service and then we got to sit and have a few cold ones and talk about some great things they have planned for the summer. We also talked about the rooftop patio they’re opening up when the weather gets nicer, it sounds like it’s going to be the place to be seen this summer.

Another fantastic meal under the watchful eye of Josh Wolfe this time prepared by the very talented, and super nice, Jason Labahn who happens to share my love of super hoppy IPA’s.

Scott.

Tap Restaurant


You guys all know how much I love Surrey. I grew up here, I still live here and I’m raising a family here and wouldn’t have it any other way. My only real knock against Surrey is the lack of really good local restaurants. Tap Restaurant, located in an out of the way suburban neighborhood in South Surrey has truly blown my mind. After a great conversation with Executive Chef Alistair Veen I am happy to say that Tap is on par with the best of the best downtown restaurants in quality, execution, passion and creativity.

Let’s talk about the food. I sampled 2 appetizers, A day boat giant sea scallop with sake and garlic and Parmesan risotto with white truffle oil. The scallop was cooked very well, not overdone at all and seasoned very nicely. It’s a 3 or 4 bite scallop depending on your oral cavity measurements (probably a 2 biter for me and my huge face hole) and it’s really great. The Risotto was also really good, the saltiness of the Parmesan cheese and the delicious earthiness of the white truffle oil with a little cracked black pepper, so good. It was cooked just right too, no cream added to this one, I guarantee it. Good food done right, what more can you ask for? I also sampled the butternut squash soup and the lobster bisque, both amazing.

For my main I was persuaded, which is quite easy, into trying the Pemberton Meadows 10oz blackened Ribeye. I ordered it medium rare and it was absolutely  perfect, the blacking spices were rich, not overly salty and the beef was almost fork tender. It came with some roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, green beans and roasted golden beets. I love beets, I don’t care if you don’t like them, you probably haven’t tried one in years because you think you don’t like them. Do yourself a favor and eat some beets, you’ll be happy you did.

For dessert I had a Chocolate Crunch bar, it was good but they teased me with creme brule and then told me it hadn’t set properly…heart break. Regular readers will no doubt know of my love of creme brule, there’s always next time.

Tap Restaurant is everything you could want in a restaurant, great atmosphere, awesome service and food to back it up. Chef Alistair Veen totally gets what Surrey is screaming for and he’s giving it to them and he’s a really awesome guy as well! If you’re looking for somewhere different and awesome to watch the Superbowl they’re doing a spit roasted pig and a chili competition, go check it out!! Check out my Twitter feed and you could win a $100 Gift Card to try out Tap for yourself!

Scott.

Strawberry Margarita Mousse, a Boozy Treat


This is the adult version of Strawberry Mousse, complete with tequila and triple sec. The tequila flavour is quite prominent.

You can serve this dessert a couple of ways: frozen over night and cut into cubes, or simply chilled. I’ve used grated lime zest as a pretty garnish, it looks nice against the pale pink colour of the mousse.

Simple ingredients, right?

Ingredients:

Frozen strawberries in light syrup, thawed

2 tsp (one envelope) unflavoured gelatin

1 cup mascarpone cheese, you can substitute soft cream cheese

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup tequila

1/4 triple sec or orange flavoured liqueur

1 cup whipping cream

Optional: grated lime zest for garnish

Construction:

Separate strawberries from the syrup, set strawberries aside. In a small sauce pan, combine reserved syrup and gelatin, and whisk over low heat until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, beat mascarpone, sugar, and 3/4 of the strawberries. You may want to add all of the strawberries, it’ a personal preference. Beat until combined. Whisk in tequila, triple sec, and the strawberry gelatin mixture.

Whip the cream until peaks form. It should be a bit stiff, but not too stiff that it

Cover and let chill in the fridge

turns into butter. Fold into the the mousse mixture.

At this point you can cover it and put it in the fridge to chill for 4-6 hours or an 8 inch glass dish and freeze it over night. Serve with fresh grated lime on top and voila! You’ve got an easy, light, adult dessert.

Winter Cask Festival at Central City Brewing Co


Photo credit - Central City Brewing Co

Surrey’s own Central City Brewing Co is holding a cask festival Saturday January 28th!! Confirmed breweries are listed below. Get your tickets and join me and the rest of the Beerthirst gang as we sample special offerings from some of the best craft beer breweries both locally and from south of the border!

Central City Brewing Company
Parallel 49 Brewing
R & B Brewing
Granville Island Brewing
Mission Springs Brewing
Howe Sound Brewing
Russell Brewing
Dead Frog Brewing
Big Ridge Brewpub
Whistler Brewhouse
Steamworks Brewpub
Storm Brewing
Longwood Brewpub
Vancouver Island Brewing
Canoe Brewpub
Driftwood Brewing
Lighthouse Brewing
Spinnakers Brewpub
Swans Brewpub
Salt Spring Island Brewing
Tofino Brewing
Cannery Brewing
Moon Under Water Brewpub

Port Townsend Brewing (US)
Boundary Bay Brewing (US)
North Coast Brewing (US)
2 Beers Brewing (US)
Elysian Brewing (US)
Big Al Brewing (US)

I’ll see you there!!

Scott.

Dunn’s Famous


There’s a place in Montreal called Dunn’s Famous that’s been serving authentic Montreal Smoked meat since 1927 and they have recently opened up right here in Vancouver! Poutine, Smoked Meat, Cheese Cake, the holy triumvirate of must have Montreal staples are now made in the true Montreal style at 827 Seymour Street (at Robson) and I was recently invited by Cate Simpson of Simpson Public Relations, who handles Dunn’s PR, to come and sample some menu items.

First up was some beer battered deep fried pickles, deep fried pickles are great. I know what you’re thinking if you’ve never tried them, you’re thinking that they sound gross. Well, you are wrong and the fact that every day there are more and more Vancouver restaurants serving them is proof, quit being a sissy!

Next we tried 5 out of Dunn’s 6 Poutines. The Quebecoise (Cheese curds & Dunn’s special gravy), the Italienne (Cheese curds & meat sauce), the Peppercorn (Cheese curds & peppercorn sauce), The Dunn’s (Cheese curds, Dunn’s special gravy & chopped Montreal smoked meat) and the Vegetarian (Cheese curds, vegetarian gravy). My favorite was the Peppercorn followed closely by the Dunn’s, smoked meat on poutine, so good. The Quebecoise is the most traditional poutine and is a little different than I expected. Dunn’s special gravy has a little BBQ seasoning added to it giving it a distinct taste that’s quite nice but it was actually my least favorite.

The smoked meat comes in 3 different cuts, lean, medium fat and fat. I had the medium fat in a Super Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich which has 6 ounces (!) of meat and comes with a choice of sides. I had Mazoh Ball soup which was great. The medium fat cut was nice and juicy with just the right amount of fat for a sandwich. The meat is steamed fresh daily and sliced to order and is very tasty and authentic. I also tried the fat cut which was delicious but probably life shortening.

For dessert we tried the famous Dunn’s cheesecake which I’m told takes 5 days to prepare and uses a special cottage cheese brought here from Quebec. There’s no picture of this masterpiece because I started eating it before I remembered to take a quick shot of it…oh well you’ll just have to go and see it for yourself. It’s creamy and crumbly at the same time, magic.

Go check it out!!

Scott.

Prestons at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel


Having missed the big Tweetup a while back I finally made it to Prestons in Coal Harbour to give them a try and use the gift card I received from local social media and promotion superstars, Popcorn. I was also meeting up with my friend Daniel to talk about the local farmers market scene and some great ideas he has to make Vancouver’s already amazing farmers markets even better. I’ll elaborate on that in the near future but Daniel has some seriously good ideas!

Prestons serves an Asian and Mediterranean influenced menu with simple, fresh dishes that have a west coast feel. You can be sure that if there’s poutine on a menu I am going to try it and Prestons poutine did not disappoint. Rich beef  gravy made with Rickards Red (I’ll let the beer thing go…just this once…they need better beer), cheese curds from Quebec and fresh, crispy fries. It’s pretty hard to screw up poutine and this one is very good.

For my main I had Gnocchi with roasted Mediterranean veggies, shaved Parmesan cheese and a spicy (but not too spicy) tomato sauce. There was an option to add Chorizo sausage to this dish and I think you all know what I did. The Chorizo was awesome (how could it not be?) and the Gnocchi was cooked perfectly. This dish is great value as well, without the Chorizo it’s just $15 and is very filling.

As a special bonus for following Prestons on Twitter you get a free dessert! My choice was a Vanilla Matcha Creme Brule with mini sugared doughnuts. The creme brule was good but I prefer a creme brule that isn’t made in advance as the torched sugar on top is so much better when it’s still warm. The Matcha, aka Green Tea, adds a really interesting and quite nice flavor, if only it weren’t cold this would have been amazing. The mini doughnuts were as good as expected but what I didn’t expect was the drizzle of salted caramel that they came nestled on. Salted caramel + mini doughnut = happy happy joy joy, that’s just science folks.

Prestons also has a location in Chilliwack for all my Fraser Valley readers, I’m sure I have at least one…maybe.

Scott.