Posts Tagged ‘Bar’

GRAPES AND SODA

grapes and soda main

1541 W 6th Ave, Vancouver

Tel: 604-336-2456

Web: http://www.grapesandsoda.ca

Twitter: @grapesandsoda

Advice: No reservations. Open Wednesday – Sunday.

Continuing the journey that Chef David Gunawan and Dara Young started with their next door eatery, The Farmers Apprentice. The progression here is for Natural wine, artisanal cocktails and seasonal small plates. Bar Manager Satoshi Yonemori has created multi-faceted cocktails with unique ingredients and spirits. My friend and fellow writer Tara Lee joined me for some cocktails, Natural wines and dishes.

The Green Collins

The Green Collins

Bread and Cultured Butter

Bread and Cultured Butter

We began with The Green Collins ($12) made of G’Vine Gin, fresh sorrel, lemon juice and soda. Housemade cultured butter with bread to start us off.

Asparagus

Asparagus

Clos Roche Blanche.'No. 5' Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Clos Roche Blanche.’No. 5′ Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Burrata

Burrata

We enjoyed a selection of mostly French and Italian Natural wines to accompany our dishes. Starting off with the Asparagus ($10) with whipped goat cheese, sprouted wheat berries, lemon zest; paired with the Clos Roche Blanche.’No. 5′ Sauvignon Blanc 2012 from the region of Touraine in Loire Valley, France. The next dish was the delicious Burrata ($12) fava tips and shaved asparagus salad, asparagus juice. This was paired with Angiolino Maule’s ‘Masieri’ Bianco 2012 (grapes are Garganega 80%, and Trebbiano 20%), from the region of Veneto, Italy.

Sockeye

Sockeye

Sparkling Puzelat-Bonhomme Cabernet Franc,

Sparkling Puzelat-Bonhomme Cabernet Franc

Anchovies

Anchovies

Verdicchio (the grape) di Matalica,

Verdicchio (the grape) di Matalica,

Chicken Balantine

Chicken Balantine

Roagna Bianco 2012

Roagna Bianco 2012

Stunning citrus cured and smoked Sockeye ($10) with mizuna greens, ikura, poached rhubarb, and wild strawberries, was well paired with the sparkling Puzelat-Bonhomme Cabernet Franc, from Loire Valley. Next was the outstanding marinated Anchovies ($10) , fennel and celery salad, olive oil croutons; well paired with the Verdicchio (the grape) di Matalica, from the region Marche, Italy. The last savoury dish was the delicious Chicken Balantine ($12) a rolled chicken breast stuffed with confit cooked leg and morel mushrooms, aerated Anson Mill grits, crumbed hazelnuts, wild onion emulsion, and sautéed morel mushrooms; paired with Roagna Bianco 2012, from Piedmont, Italy.

Olive Oil Cake

Olive Oil Cake

Stormy Flip

Stormy Flip

For dessert, the delicious Olive Oil Cake ($7) lightly soaked with rum, house made grapefruit sorbet, lemon curd, and grand fir. This dessert was designed around Satoshi’s drink called the Stormy Flip, which is made with rum, citrus marmalade curd, house made falernum, grapefruit juice and ginger beer.

Looking forward to more evenings at this one of a kind wine bar.

Review by: Richard Wolak

CHILL WINSTON

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3 Alexander Street, Vancouver

Tel: 604 288 9575

Web: http://www.chillwinston.com/

Twitter: @chillwinston

Advice: Reservations suggested, walk-ins welcome.

Turning it up a notch, Chef Derek Bothwell has put a creative spin on the menu; while bartender Matt Hassen has elevated the cocktail offerings. Known for their popular and the nicest patio in Gastown, this is foodie heaven whether you dine outside or inside.

 Anthea cocktail

Anthea cocktail

Ahi Tuna Tartare

Ahi Tuna Tartare

I began my evening with one of Matt’s new Tea Cocktail offerings, the Anthea cocktail ($12.50) with TeaLeaves Flowery Earl Grey and Hendricks gin; this was a great pairing to go with the Ahi Tuna Tartare ($18) with corn chips, which was bright and refreshing! My friend David Arias shared this wonderful tuna dish with me along with several others that followed.

Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and Waffles

Tri-tips Salad

Tri-tips Salad

Sturgeon

Sturgeon

Chilean Sea Bass

Chilean Sea Bass

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash

I enjoyed the delicious savoury, Chicken and Waffles ($16.25) with farm greens, chicken liver pate, waffles, bourbon maple syrup ; followed by the tasty Tri-tips Salad ($17) bison and greens. Had a chance to have a side of the Sturgeon with a caper beiur blanc that was bright and flavourful! The Chilean Sea Bass ($29) with ponzu, seafood risotto was a delicious standout; it was a perfect match to the Spaghetti Squash ($14) with sunflower seed butter.

Chocolate Terrine

Chocolate Terrine

 Peanut Butter Custard

Peanut Butter Custard

After such a delicious meal, desserts were in order and my two favourites were the Chocolate Terrine ($9), coconut meringue, coconut custard, white chocolate crumble, mint coulis, mint; and the Peanut Butter Custard ($9) with raspberry mousse and white chocolate crumble served in a glass jar.

I’m looking forward to returning soon for another round of tea cocktails, chicken & waffles and to try more of their dishes including brunch.

Review by: Richard Wolak

LITTLE MEXICO CANTINA

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#150 – 3131 Chatham St., Richmond

Tel: 604-272-5123

Web: http://www.littlemexicocantina.com/index.html

Twitter: @MexicoCarol

Advice: Reservations suggested.

After almost 20 years, the restaurant changed hands last summer and is now run by passionate owner, Carol Janeczko with Chef Roberto Lopez Lara running the kitchen. The room is brighter, open and the patio is as happening as ever. The focus here is Mexican cuisine with dishes that you may be familiar with and others that may surprise you from regions all over Mexico.

Tacos Cantineros

Tacos Cantineros

Volcanes

Volcanes

Vanilla ice cream with house-made caramel cajeta

Vanilla ice cream with house-made caramel cajeta

I dined solo having the Tacos Cantineros ($15.95) on the wooden board, 3 very unique tacos including the: Taco Don Pedro topped with Edam cheese chicharron, chorizo sofrito, prawns and braised short ribs glazed with Pedro Ximenez reduction topped with julienned pear; then the Ensenada Stye Fish Taco topped with Red Snapper dusted with Little Mexico seasoning, topped with house dressing, guacamole sauce, white and purple cabbage slaw and pineapple pico de gallo; and the Lobster Cazadores Taco topped with Sautéed lobster, shallots, garlic, thai chile, lime juice, Little Mexico seasoning and Tequila Cazadores Reposado served over a bed of refried black beans topped with papaya, pickled red onions and cilantro served on double 4” corn tortillas. Next I had the Volcanes ($13.95) with corn tortillas topped with Oaxaca cheese, steak, chipotle, guacamole, grilled onions – Delish! For dessert, I had the Vanilla ice cream with house-made caramel cajeta ($3.50) which was sinfully delicious!

You will find a wide assortment of tacos, many other dishes such as the tortas, tostadas, enchiladas, or the chimichangas, salads, desserts along with a kids menu, this is a great spot to take the family.

Review By: Richard Wolak

BAUHAUS RESTAURANT

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1 West Cordova Street, Vancouver

Tel: 604-974-1147

Web: http://bauhaus-restaurant.com/

Twitter: @BauhausRest

Advice: Advance reservations a must.

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With it’s contemporary German focus, the kitchen is run by Michelin star Chef Stefan Hartmann who came from Berlin, he is not only a perfectionist he is also so passionate about the ingredients he uses in his cooking. Owned by Film Director, Uwe Boll he is as passionate as his chef in offering a high-end modern German dining experience. The restaurant’s high ceilings and openness along with the large open kitchen is welcoming as is the large ‘Art’ Painting that adorns one of the walls. The washrooms were designed by Artist Olliemoonsta who decorated them with Berlin inspired graffiti freestyle. Not only is this unique and very different it adds an edginess to a high end dining experience with colour and vibrancy, making for a creative talking point.

My friend and fellow food writer Lawrence Ferber joined me while he was visiting Vancouver recently for the degustation tasting menu ($110 without wine or cocktail pairings). I had the suggested wine pairings while Lawrence had the bar manager match up each of the courses to the best cocktails. We both were eager to try their Weiner Schnitzel and each did a half order as a mid course in the middle of our tasting menu.

amuse bouche

amuse bouche

To tempt our palates we enjoyed an amuse bouche of Duck liver pate, Pumpkin seed, brioche

Poached trout,

Poached trout,

Spot Prawn

Spot Prawn

Quail done 2 ways

Quail done 2 ways

The degustation menu is comprised of 6 courses, for the first course we were served the stunning Poached trout, with a trout roe, lyonnaise sausage and white wine foam which was paired with the Rustico Gewürztraminer BC 2012. The next course was the delicious Spot Prawn with white and green asparagus, tarragon and housemade hollandaise, paired with the Villa Wolf, Pfalz Riesling 2013. For my third course I had the Quail done 2 ways with poached pear, green beans, in a quail jus, paired with the Produttori del Barbaresco Piedmont 2009.

Wiener Schnitzel

Wiener Schnitzel

Our Mid-course addition was the outstanding Wiener Schnitzel with white asparagus with hollaindaise and a lemon squeeze, paired with Breca” Garnacha Calatayud 2011.

Sous Vide Veal with corn

Sous Vide Veal with corn

Veal cheeks

Veal cheeks

Chocolate Bar with salted caramel ice cream with caramel sauce and blueberries

Chocolate Bar with salted caramel ice cream with caramel sauce and blueberries

Continuing on with the tasting menu, the fourth course the flavourful Sous Vide Veal with corn, on a bed of polenta was delicious, paired with the Valduero Ribera del Duero Reserva 2007; next course was the rich and delicious Veal cheeks with morels, salad hearts and brioche dumpling, paired with Petit Haut Lafitte’, Pessac-Leognan, France, 2010,. On to dessert which was the last course, I was served the outstanding Chocolate Bar with salted caramel ice cream with caramel sauce and blueberries that was paired with Port Fonseca Bin No. 27.

I was quite impressed with the tasting menu as well as the wine pairings that were paired spot on. You’ll find the wine list is a fine match to the food, as well, their cocktail line-up is top notch putting them in the ranks with the best cocktail lists in the city. This is a culinary gem worth your discovery and I can’t wait to return.

Review by: Richard Wolak

VANCOUVER FISH COMPANY

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1517 Anderson Street, Vancouver

Tel: (604 559 3474

Web: http://www.vanfish.com/

Twitter: @VanFishCo

Advice: Reservations suggested, try to snag a spot on the patio.

Maple Walnut Spot Prawn

Maple Walnut Spot Prawn

With it’s seafood focus and beautiful location overlooking the marina in False Creek, Chef John McManus has created a wonderful menu of dishes inspired by the sea. My friend Marco joined me to share some dishes many of which were spot prawn related as the spot prawn season was in full swing. With an amuse of a Maple Walnut Spot Prawn to start, this was the perfect beginning.

Salmon done 4 Ways

Salmon done 4 Ways

BC Spot Prawn Flatbread

BC Spot Prawn Flatbread

BC Spot Prawn Salad

BC Spot Prawn Salad

BC Spot Prawns and Trio of fresh fish

BC Spot Prawns and Trio of fresh fish

The Salmon done 4 Ways was perfect for sharing with salmon mousse, tartare, smoked salmon gravlax and pickled vegetables! I loved the BC Spot Prawn Flatbread that was forno baked with mascarpone, corn and red peppers and spot prawns. The BC Spot Prawn Salad with greens, mangos and goddess dressing, was flavourful and very good. We then shared the outstanding BC Spot Prawns and Trio of fresh fish served on a platter with sockeye salmon, ling cod and smoked sablefish with kale, nettles, asparagus, potatoes and preserved lemon.

Maple Creme Brûlée;

Maple Creme Brûlée;

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake

For dessert, my favourite of the two that we tried was the delicious Maple Creme Brûlée; followed by the Flourless Chocolate Cake with vanilla ice cream, for the perfect ending to a wonderful meal.

You’ll find many great dishes for either sharing or indulging on your own many of which are served platter style. You will find an extensive selection of appetizers, oysters, salads, forno flatbreads, market fish and signature dishes along with a few changing desserts to round out the menu. I am looking forward to giving their brunch menu ago one weekend soon on the patio.

Review by: Richard Wolak

THE GREEK BY ANATOLI

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1043 Mainland Street, Vancouver

Tel: (604) 985 9853

Web: http://thegreekbyanatoli.com/

Twitter: @TheGreekYT

Advice: Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Papou cocktail

Papou cocktail

Syko Cocktail

Syko Cocktail

Taking Greek cuisine to another level. brothers Alexi and Iani Makris and their friend Daniel Bergman, have created a room that’s filled with delicious eats, drinks and exuberance. My friend Ajay Puri joined me for a catch-up over some cocktails and multiple sharing dishes. Starting off our Greek culinary adventure, I enjoyed the smooth Papou cocktail ($12) a white negroni and a Campari dust rim in a very cool glass; while Ajay had the Syko Cocktail ($12) with vanilla, cardamom, fig Martini finished with a chili pepper.

Haloumi Caprese

Haloumi Caprese

Pita

Pita

Saganaki

Saganaki

Ianis Prawns

Ianis Prawns

I loved the grilled Haloumi Caprese ($13.50) with grilled Cypriot cheese, heirloom tomatoes, mint and olive oil served with house-made warmed pita in metal dish. Next was my favourite Saganaki ($13) here it was breaded and pan fried mountain sheep cheese, also with pita, outstanding flavours! An order of Ianis Prawns ($16.50) were a must, sautéed mushrooms and prawns in a delicious tomato feta ouzo sauce.

Pidakia

Pidakia

Grilled Octopus

Grilled Octopus

Rabbit Kalamakia ‘popsicles’

Rabbit Kalamakia ‘popsicles’

The Country Lamb

The Country Lamb

Next was the outstanding and flavourful, Pidakia ($6 per lamb chop, min 2 per order); followed by the stunning Grilled Octopus ($15) olive oil, lemon caper dressing, crispy potatoes. The Rabbit Kalamakia ‘popsicles’ ($16) were a standout, rabbit loin with lamb sausage wrapped in bacon in an amazing sauce! The Country Lamb ($26) was quite the presentation, served in a large rectangle pan, tender, flavourful fall of the bone lamb, with lemon potatoes, rainbow carrots, and rice.

Pistachio and Honey un-Baclava

Pistachio and Honey un-Baclava

Chocolate Mousse in phyllo

Chocolate Mousse in phyllo

For dessert, we shared both offerings, the sinfully delicious Pistachio and Honey un-Baclava ($7) with house-made Dark chocolate almond ice cream; and the Chocolate Mousse in phyllo pastry ($7) rich and delicious.

With a very unique cocktail menu, an exciting menu of Greek inspired dishes, and wonderful hospitality, I for one can’t wait to try the rest of the dishes on the menu and hope they add weekend brunch soon.

Review by: Richard Wolak

MALT & MARROW

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1269 Hamilton Street, Vancouver

Tel: (778) 379-6678

Web: http://www.maltandmarrow.com/

Twitter @MaltandMarrow

Advice: Takes reservations.

With it’s refined gastro lounge feel, Chef Kai Leitner has created a wonderful menu of intriguing dishes that are euro inspired with west coast enhancements. A black and white collection of art adorns one of the walls, there is a center bar for those that want to enjoy a cocktail and a bite, seating throughout the restaurant and on the nice outside patio.

Ballantine's Bash

Ballantine’s Bash

Preserved Caesar Salad

Preserved Caesar Salad

Soft Baked Pretzel

Soft Baked Pretzel

The Beef Jerky

The Beef Jerky

To begin my dinner, I had one of bartender Jose’s cocktails, the refreshing Ballantine’s Bash ($12) made with muddled mint, orange wheel, brown sugar sprinkle and soda. I then had the Preserved Caesar Salad ($11) with a refreshing citrus dressing served on a wooden board as such are many of the other shareables. The house made Soft Baked Pretzel ($9) is delicious in-house smoked cheddar dip! The Beef Jerky ($7) house smoked and cured barbecue brisket is outstanding with a delicious tangy Barbq sauce and a refreshing carrot pickled onion slaw!

BC Cod

BC Cod

Chocolate Almond Sundae

Chocolate Almond Sundae

For my main dish, I had the BC Cod ($23) roasted fillet, wilted Swiss chard, mussels and a mussel broth, delicious! For dessert, Chef Kai has created the perfect ending with the Chocolate Almond Sundae ($9) house-made roasted almond ice cream, vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, brownie chunks, chopped nuts and fresh mint.

You’ll find many great dishes for either sharing or indulging on your own, along with an array of creative desserts keeping you coming back for more and I will be back again and again.

Review by: Richard Wolak

BLACK RICE IZAKAYA

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782 Cambie Street, Vancouver

Tel:  (778) 379-0416

Web: http://www.blackrice.ca/

Twitter: n/a

Advice: Reservations suggested.

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Specializing in Japanese Izakaya you will find a menu that is filled with sashimi, sushi, nigiri, small cold and hot plates, tapas and Kushi-Yaki.

Agedashi Tofu

Agedashi Tofu

Spicy Salmon Aburi Hako Sushi

Spicy Salmon Aburi Hako Sushi

I visited for dinner recently having the delicious Agedashi Tofu ($5.20) along with the Spicy Salmon Aburi Hako Sushi ($11.95) with torched asparagus, spicy tuna, sockeye, spicy mayo, Jalapeno; served on a warm stone plate!

With precision and beautiful plating this a great spot for enjoying some plates whether on your own or with friends or business associates. You may want to try the Black Rice Sukiyaki or the Beef & Assorted Mushroom Ishiyaki both dishes are available to dine-in only and look intriguing.

Review by: Richard Wolak

BIG ROCK URBAN EATERY

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310 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver

Tel: 604-708-8311

Web: http://bigrockurban.com/

Twitter @BRUeateryYVR

Advice: Takes reservations, walk-ins welcome.

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Located on the Western edge of Olympic Village, close to the Canada-line station, it’s a large brewpub dining hall with seating for 160 and a bar that seats 30, you will also find a band stage featuring live music most nights, that can be seen from both the bar and restaurant. Executive Chef Alex Newton has created a great menu of tempting dishes and many are accented using their own beer. Take a look through the windows from the bar which over looks their expansive brewery.

Paddle of Beers

Paddle of Big Rock Beers

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Between the Ferns Capellini

Between the Ferns Capellini

Asian Poutine

Asian Poutine

Smores in the Skillet

Smores in the Skillet

I enjoyed a Paddle of Beers giving me a chance to try some of their Big Rock beers, on the paddle the Rauchbier, Red Ale, Single Hopped IPA, and the Chocolate Malt Stout. I then had the tasty Caprese Salad ($16) to start with Natural Pastures Fior Di latte, green and red tomatoes, pistou. Next was the Between the Ferns Capellini ($15) with pan fried fiddleheads, lardons, leeks, garlic and herbs in an IPA compound butter, capellini pasta, light cream, finished with beet chips, roasted pistachios, and fresh goat cheese, I loved the Asian spin in this delicious pasta dish. I then had the Asian Poutine ($7) with shoestring fries,demi glacé, IPA kimchi, smoked mozzarella and aged cheddar! Lastly for dessert, I loved the Smores in the Skillet ($7) smokey pretzel crumb, Rauchbier ganache, bourbon vanilla marshmallow, topped with Big Rock stout gelato.

You will find an extensive menu that is well mapped out featuring share a little and share a lot menu offerings, there are forno oven baked pizzas, and a selection of gluten dishes and big plates, alongside a beverage menu that includes on tap beers, cocktails and wine.

I am looking forward to visiting again as well the next visit will be to try their brunch.

Review by: Richard Wolak

SAI WOO

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160 East Pender Street, Vancouver

Tel: 604-568-1117

Web: http://www.saiwoo.ca/

Twitter: @doyousaiwoo

Advice: Reservations suggested.

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With a nod to the history of its 1930’s predecessor, Sai Woo Chop Suey, occupied the same footprint, and the contemporary version is poised to become a hub of the reinvigorated neighbourhood. The restaurant is stunning in its interior design, boasting two levels: the 113-seat upper floor is home to a dining area, bar and Chef’s Table; the 75-seat lower floor features its own bar and smaller menu, inviting guests to linger long into the evening. Owned by restaurateur Salli Pateman she has created a foundation with a stellar team. The menu mixes influences from Executive Chef Douglas Chang upbringing of his Canadian, Chinese and Jamaican roots.

Kom Collins

Kom Collins

Cola Wings

Cola Wings

Beef Carpaccio Salad

Beef Carpaccio Salad

Salt Cod Fritters

Salt Cod Fritters

Bar Manager Justin Anello has created an inventive cocktail list, I enjoyed the Kom Collins ($12) with Bombay Saphire east, O5 Tea Kombucha, cucumber, lemon and mint. Sitting at the bar I then indulged trying several dishes including the unique and delicious Cola Wings ($14) marinated overnight in coca cola served on a bed of shredded lettuce. Next was the Beef Carpaccio Salad ($14), Mustard Greens, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Cress and Fried Shallots. Loved the Salt Cod Fritters ($9) with Meyer lemon cream, with great flavours.

Black Cod

Black Cod

Fried Rice

Fried Rice

Next was the outstanding Black Cod ($25) Baked Sablefish, Lotus Root, Bamboo Shoots, Radish, Burdock in a delicious Kombu Broth; followed by the outstanding Fried Rice ($12) with pearl rice, egg and preserved vegetables.

Sweet Tofu

Sweet Tofu

Steamed Molasses Rum Cake

Steamed Molasses Rum Cake

The Smoking Gun

The Smoking Gun

For dessert I had both of their offerings, the unique and sensational, Sweet Tofu ($8) almond tofu, ginger syrup, toasted almond shiso; along with the Steamed Molasses Rum Cake ($10) served with butter and preserves, baked to order in 20 minutes, an outstanding dessert. Dinner came to an end with another one of Justin’s cocktails, his signature which is a show unto itself, The Smoking Gun!

With an equally matched chef and bar manager at the helm, look for exciting cocktails and dishes as you dine their often.

Review by: Richard Wolak

PATRON TACOS & CANTINA

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265 Robson Street, Vancouver

Tel: 604-558-3368

Web: http://www.patrontc.com/

Twitter: @patrontc

Advice: Reservations suggested for larger parties, walkins welcome.

Tortilla Chips and Salsa

Tortilla Chips and Salsa

Mole Chicken Enchiladas

Mole Chicken Enchiladas

Three Milk Cake

Three Milk Cake

A true cantina, this Mexican eatery has been turning out stellar favourites since opening a couple of years ago. Chef Enrique Menendez leads the kitchen, and his menu is filled with traditional dishes from Mexico. The bar features an extensive lineup of Tequilas, and cocktails such as the popular margaritas. Complimentary chips and salsa are served after ordering, and you can refill the chips for a nominal charge. I have dined on a few occasions in the past, enjoying a variety of tacos and the Huaraches, most recently I had the Enchiladas ($13.50) with chicken and mole sauce, topped with feta cheese, sour cream, with rice and beans, one of my favourite Mexican dishes! For dessert I had the delicious Three Milk Cake ($7) love this traditional Mexican dessert!

This is a great spot for dining solo or with friends.

Review by: Richard Wolak

ARGAN BISTRO

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795 Jervis Street, Vancouver

Tel: 604-563-8466

Web: http://arganbistro.com/

Twitter: @ArganBistro

Advice: Reservations suggested.

Ever evolving this is a hidden gem and the latest eatery from Chef Nourdine Majdoubi and his partner Kevin Lin, both who are passionate about cuisine from Morocco and the area outside. Chef Nourdine is known for creating flavourful and unique dishes, he has the flair and experience from his background in cooking French cuisine.

Sweet and Spicy Wings

Sweet and Spicy Wings

Cod Croquette

Cod Croquette

I visited for dinner, starting off with the Sweet and Spicy Wings ($9) Marrakesh style with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce made with Thai chillis, and I loved this dish, both with and without the dipping sauce! Next was the Cod Croquette ($11) which is perfect for sharing, 4 pieces with a harissa dip.

Meatball Pappardelle

Meatball Pappardelle

Moroccan-style Chicken Fricassee

Moroccan-style Chicken Fricassee

I indulged in a couple of mains, the outstanding Meatball Pappardelle ($19) with a Moroccan rose sauce made with a Moroccan spice blend, and grana Padano on top with cubed tomatoes to cut the richness of the dish; this was followed by the delicious Moroccan-style Chicken Fricassee ($20) Gluten Free with flavourful Sauteed mushrooms, carrots and cumin-fennel rice on the side.

Sweet Rice Bastilla

Sweet Rice Bastilla

Cinnamon Churros

Cinnamon Churros

For dessert, I tried two from the selection, my favourite of the two was the Sweet Rice Bastilla ($7) with rosewater, cinnamon, raisins, and almonds; I also had the Homemade Cinnamon Churros with chocolate orange blossom dip ($6).

I am looking forward to returning soon to try more dishes, especially the Chicken & Fries wrap at lunch as well as their brunch menu, and I could even go for some more tapas on their beautiful outside patio.

Review by: Richard Wolak

MOSQUITO

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32 Water Street, Vancouver

Tel: 604-398-3188

Web: www.mosquitodessert.com

Twitter: @mosquitodessert

Advice: Open Wed – Sun night. No reservations.

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It’s dark, mysterious and full of character, the space was designed by Craig Stanghetta; there are many elements to this spot including the very cool light fixtures by Good Animals, it’s owned by Alice Wu and Johan Friedrich who are both so passionate. It’s a destination elegant dessert and champagne bar where you will want to go to satisfy the sweet tooth or a catchup with a friend over a drink. As much as I have a sweet tooth, not everyone does, for that reason they have the ‘not dessert’ plates that feature cheese and crackers, popcorn, nuts and such. On the drinks side of the menu there are champagne cocktails, sweet wines along with some spirits and such.

Matcha Green Tea Opera

Matcha Green Tea Opera

Chestnut

Chestnut

M. Chapoutier Banyuls 2012, France.

M. Chapoutier Banyuls 2012, France.

I visited late night, having the delicious Matcha Green Tea Opera ($12) with yuzu cremeux, coconut matcha mousse, candied citrus zest, coconut and pandan leaf sorbet; while my friend had the Chestnut ($11), we each had a glass of the M. Chapoutier Banyuls 2012, France. 

I have been waiting years for a place like this to open, finally it’s here, go!

Review by: Richard Wolak

TACOFINO GASTOWN

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15 West Cordova, Vancouver

Tel: (604) 899-7907

Web: http://tacofino.com/

Twitter: @TacofinoVAN

Advice: No reservations. Taco bar open nightly, the Burrito bar open for lunch thru late night.

My love for Tacofino began a few years ago when their first food truck was on the streets serving up their delicious fish tacos and the addictive spicy diablo cookies. As they evolved in the city with the addition of their East Village commissary, their boldest statement of all was the recent opening of their flagship abode in Gastown. With their Burrito Bar on the Cordova Street side and their Tacofino dining room (entrance off of Blood Alley in the rear) they have pretty much come full circle and have enticed my palate further. The space is beautiful, designed by local designer Shiloh Sukkau, there are many handmade details and local artists take pride of place.

Oaxacan Corn Fritters

Oaxacan Corn Fritters

 Glazed Beef Ribs

Glazed Beef Ribs

Churros

Churros

I have dined at both sides of this eatery, over dinner sitting at the bar, I had the delicious and flavourful Oaxacan Corn Fritters ($6) with chili lime, Cotija, probably the most addicting appetizer that we have seen in a long time! I also had the Glazed Beef Ribs ($17) with chilaquiles an amazing plate of merging flavours with lemongrass, habanero, kale and peanuts. The dessert front could use some work, since I love Churros and would order them in a heartbeat, these didn’t come close to winning my heart, served in a cute paper bag, the Churros ($6) were pillowy bite size, deep-fried agave coated morsels.

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Crispy Chicken Burito

Crispy Chicken Burito

On the other side of this eatery is the exciting Burrito Bar and this they have nailed, finally an eatery that reinvents the burrito in our city. It is a small eatery with about 10 seats, and a take-out option which is really the way to go here. A simple menu with a selection of inventive filled burritos, I had the delicious and outstanding Crispy Chicken Burito ($11) with chicken karaage, rice, black chili mayo, sriracha, cabbage, cilantro, guacamole, filled in a flour tortilla.  This is a spot that is going to become one of my frequenting takeout locales!

Review by: Richard Wolak

JACKALOPE’S NEIGHBOURHOOD DIVE

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2257 East Hastings Street, Vancouver

Tel: (604) 568-6674

Web: http://jackalopesdive.com/

Twitter: @JackalopesDive

Advice: No reservations.

Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and Waffles

Veggie Skillet Hash

Veggie Skillet Hash

Meat and Eggs Skillet

Meat and Eggs Skillet

Cornbread Skilled

Cornbread Skilled

I have always had a love for American Southern comfort food, memories of travels across the Southern parts of the USA, with restaurants serving up their Southern dishes. This East Village neighborhood dive is filling that void, serving up skillets of Southern inspired comfort food at great prices. This past weekend a couple of my friends Sheryl and Larry joined me for some brunch eats, I had the Chicken and Waffles ($9.99) which came with one piece of tender chicken served overtop of two of their delicious home-made waffles, served with bacon gravy, maple syrup with a squeeze of orange, Sheryl had the Veggie Skillet Hash ($8.99) poached eggs, sautéed onions, and mushrooms tossed together with roasted parsnip, potatoes with cheese and fresh herbs. Larry had the Meat and Eggs Skillet ($13.99) which was filled with all sorts of goodness topped with baby back ribs. We then all shared the Cornbread Skilled ($6.99) served with butter and pimento cream cheese on the side. This dish was on their dinner menu which I had been eyeing for weeks, note that it does take at least 15 minutes to make as it is made fresh to order.

They offer a list of southern inspired cocktails as well as local craft brew to go along with their down home eats. I’m looking forward to a future visit to try some of their dinner favourites including the slow cooked beef brisket.

Review by: Richard Wolak

NICLI’S NEXT DOOR

nicli opener

68 West Cordova, Vancouver

Tel: 604-669-6985

Web: http://www.niclisnextdoor.com/

Twitter: @niclisnextdoor

Advice: Walk-ins welcome.

This is a place that I enjoyed after my first visit last summer, my draw for another visit was to try some dishes off of Chef Josh Gale’s new menu. Italian small plates is the name of the game and Josh’s menu is simple in it’s offerings with the emphasis on flavour, using as much local ingredients as available.

Polenta Fries

Polenta Fries

Crostini

Crostini

Pitchfork Farm Beets

Pitchfork Farm Beets

Housemade Vanilla Bean Gelato

Housemade Vanilla Bean Gelato

I had the Polenta Fries ($7) fontina fonduta to start, followed by the outstanding and flavourful, Crostini ($9) topped with housemade ricotta, mostarda preserves and aged balsamic. I then had the Pitchfork Farm Beets ($11) which tasted way better than it looked with stracciatela cheese and hazelnut vinaigrette. Lastly for a sweet simple finish I had the only dessert on the menu which was the Housemade Vanilla Bean Gelato ($6) fennel pecan biscotti with gianduja, a perfect combo.

I sat at the reclaimed wood bar which is the perfect spot to watch all the bar action while glimpsing into the kitchen. There is a full on wine list, along with some beer and a cocktail line-up. I am looking forward to seeing how the menu further develops as Chef Josh adds his flair and ideas in this Italian eatery.

Review by: Richard Wolak

INVITRO RESTAURANT

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2211 Manitoba Street, Vancouver

Tel: (604) 992-6224

Web: http://invitrorestaurant.com

Twitter @invitrofoodlabs

Advice: Advance reservations suggested, open nightly.

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Every so often you find a hidden gem where all the key ingredients come in to play. Hidden off the grid so to speak is a charming character home that has been converted into a wonderful restaurant, run by Sarah Kashani who is the Head Chef, owner and sometimes server often on Mondays from 5-7pm. I was fortunate to have her as my server and chef when I dined on a Monday night, to celebrate my friend Ivan’s birthday. Seated at the round table in the l’iving room’ under a beautiful antique chandelier the utensils caught my eye, noted they are from Restoration Hardware, this is unique spot begins to shine.

The Payoff

The Payoff

The Typical Caprese

The Typical Caprese

The menu is as unique and playful as the cutlery and dining room notches, I had The Payoff ($17) an indulgent Baked Brie with roasted garlic, olive oil, and crostini served with local fruit preserves, a dish perfect for sharing; Ivan had The Typical Caprese ($12) Buffalo Bocconcini, pesto, smoked prosciutto, oven-dried tomato, balsamic reduction, olive oil and basil; we both had a glass of Malbec which paired perfectly with the appetizers.

Pan Seared Coho Salmon

Pan Seared Coho Salmon

Chicken

Chicken

For our mains, I had the special of the day, Pan Seared Coho Salmon with spinach salad; while Ivan had the Chicken ($18) Chicken leg and thigh rubbed with Tuscan herbs & butter, both dishes were delicious.

Chocolate & Whiskey Flight

Chocolate & Whiskey Flight

Pavlova

Pavlova

Dessert is as unique as the rest of the dishes, Ivan had the Chocolate & Whiskey Flight ($20) that featured 3 different whiskey’s paired with 3 different types of chocolate; we then shared the house-baked (takes 15 minutes) Pavlova ($9) Meringue with whipped vanilla cream and fresh fruit that came along with a birthday candle in his honour.

This is a wonderful restaurant not only with character, it exudes passion from the owner/chef throughout, it is a hidden gem on the edge of the Mount Pleasant neighborhood worthy of your discovery and I cannot wait to return to try some of their pasta dishes which are made with handcrafted pasta.

Review by: Richard Wolak

THE FAT BADGER

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1616 Alberni Street, Vancouver

Tel: 604 336 5577

Web: http://www.fatbadger.ca/

Twitter: @the_fat_badger

Advice: Walkins welcome, reservations for 8 or more, communal tables for sharing.

The Chip Buttie

The Chip Buttie

Wild Mushrooms, Leek and Cheese Tart

Wild Mushrooms, Leek and Cheese Tart

Taking British pub fare to the next level is what restaurateurs Ed Perrow and Chef Neil Taylor have achieved with their latest eatery in the WestEnd. I waited months before visiting, perhaps too many as I discovered a true neighborhood gem, where it’s dark inside, has beautiful wooden communal sharing tables along with a fireplace. It’s ambience is as perfect as the setting and it’s food is outstanding. I started off my meal with the The Chip Buttie ($5) which is basically a French fries sandwich, the fries are hand cut, sprinkled with salt & lashings of malt vinegar, the bread is white wonderbread and it is thickly spread with unsalted butter, just as the Brits would eat it back home. I then had the delicious vegetarian Wild Mushrooms, Leek and Cheese Tart ($16) with winter beans, lentils, goats cheese & walnuts that was outstanding and flavourful!

Banana & Fudge Eton Mess

Banana & Fudge Eton Mess

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding

For dessert, why have one when you can have two, well my mission was to try the desserts, specifically to try the Eton Mess as I wanted to learn more about this British dessert. Eton mess is a traditional English dessert often consisting of a mixture of strawberries, pieces of meringue, and cream. The dish has been known by this name since the 19th century. They offer different variations of the Eton Mess daily, on offer the night I visited was the Banana & Fudge Eton Mess ($8) with meringue and caramel. The other dessert that I tried was the outstanding Sticky Toffee Pudding ($8), a delicious rich butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream on top, a heavenly ending to a fine meal.

The menu is filled with notable British fare, with specials often featuring curries, fish & chips, pot pies along with various puddings for dessert. This is one spot I look forward to visiting again.

Review by: Richard Wolak

LINH CAFÉ

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2836 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver

Tel: 604-559-4668

Web: http://linhcafe.com/

Twitter: @LinhCafeVan

Advice: Reservations suggested.

Banh Mi Cay Hai Phong

Banh Mi Cay Hai Phong

Sable Breton

Sable Breton

Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnamese Coffee

The bright room with red banquette seating and red table tops is a showcase for modern French Vietnamese bistro fare with a hint of flavours of the French colonies. Proprietor/Executive Chef Tai Luong Nguyen is creating wonderful dishes from his home country using French techniques. I’ve dined on a few occasions, first for an afternoon snack having the Banh Mi Cay Hai Phong ($6.95) spicy baguette Sticks with Chicken & pork liver pate, hot sauce, fried shallot, some Sable Breton ($1 each) cookies and a warm Vietnamese Coffee.

Nem - Cha Gio - Spring Rolls

Nem – Cha Gio – Spring Rolls

Goi Cuon - Salad Rolls

Goi Cuon – Salad Rolls

Duck Roti

Duck Roti

Whipped Potato

Whipped Potato

Chicken Fricassee

Chicken Fricassee

French bread slices and couscous

French bread slices and Couscous

Triple Chocolate Mousse

Triple Chocolate Mousse

My last visit was for dinner with my friend Ivan joining, we shared the delicious Nem – Cha Gio – Spring Rolls ($12); filled with shrimp, pork, wood-ear mushroom, glass noodles. We also shared the Goi Cuon – Salad Rolls ($12) filled with preserved pork, vermicelli, lettuce, fresh herbs and a delicious house-made peanut sauce for dipping. I then had the outstanding Duck Roti ($23.95) Roasted duck, glazed grapes & apples, duck sauce in a cast iron pan that was served with whipped potato topped with bacon bits. Ivan enjoyed the Chicken Fricassee ($22.95) a Moroccan dish with chicken legs, tomato confit, and preserved lemon that was served with house baked French bread slices and Couscous. Lastly we shared the heavenly Triple Chocolate Mousse ($6.95) made with dark, milk and white chocolate for dessert.

Attentive service and a passionate creative chef rounds out the dining experiences at this gem in the heart of Kitsilano.

Review by: Richard Wolak

LEFT BANK

Dining room

751 Denman Street, Vancouver

Phone: (604) 687-1418

Web: http://www.leftbankvancouver.com/

Twitter: @LeftBankVan

Advice: Reservations suggested

Crispy Crab Roll

Crispy Crab Roll

Sockeye Salmon

Sockeye Salmon

5-spiced Duck Confit Tempura

5-spiced Duck Confit Tempura

Roasted Lamb Tagine

Roasted Lamb Tagine

Tempura Green Beens

Tempura Green Beens

Truffle Frites

Truffle Frites

Raspberry & Goat Cheesecake

Raspberry & Goat Cheesecake

Chocolate Marquis with green tea ice cream

Chocolate Marquis with green tea ice cream

The bright room with red banquette seating and a marble top bar is a showcase for modern French bistro fare with a hint of North African flavours. Proprietor John Blakely and his creative Executive Chef Spencer Watts has turned this room into a charmer. I’ve dined a few times having tried many dishes including the Crispy Crab Roll, a beautiful presentation! Loved the Sockeye Salmon with summer peas, lyonnaise potto, and lemongrass cream an outstanding dish; also loved the 5-spiced Duck Confit Tempura du puy lentil cassoulet, wilted green and orange vinaigrette; followed by the delicious Roasted Lamb Tagine with date couscous, tomato ragù, raita, a melding of Moroccan and Indian flavours! A couple snacks served during the meal were the tasty Black Sesame Pomme Frites with Lemongrass mayo and the Tempura Haricot Vert with fireweed honey & grain mustard emulsion. For dessert after dinner, the Raspberry & Goat Cheesecake and the Chocolate Marquis with green tea ice cream were both divine.

Duck Confit Crepe

Duck Confit Crepe

Maple Custard

Maple Custard

On another visit for brunch, I had the delicious and unique Duck Confit Crepe, along with the outstanding Maple Custard with cinnamon puffs, apple sorbet, almond praline.

This is a great spot for eats, drinks and a wonderful ambience.

Review by: Richard Wolak

CAFÉ MEDINA

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780 Richards Street, Vancouver

Tel: 604 879 3114

Web: www.medinacafe.com

Twitter: @CafeMedina

Advice: No reservations.Expect long line-ups on weekends.

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Known as the breakfast spot for years, Medina moved a few blocks over to a larger space, adding known Executive Chef Jonathan Chovancek. His menu focus is southeastern Mediterranean and North African flavours with a bit of Spanish influence. The room features high ceilings and large, street-facing windows that allow for plenty of natural light. On my first visit I sat at the cocktail bar and on the second visit at the coffee bar, both great spots for the solo diner.

Blistered wood stone Flatbread and Mascarpone & black pepper honey

Blistered wood stone Flatbread and Mascarpone & black pepper honey

Poisson Lem Marrakech

Poisson Lem Marrakech

Harissa Pain Plat

Harissa Pain Plat

Espresso

Espresso

I have fallen in love with his menu, as most of the menu boasts the egg, those people who aren’t egg lovers like me are well taken care of here as the avocado can often be a great substitute. I have visited a couple of times during lunch, had the delicious Blistered wood stone Flatbread ($4) with the yummy Mascarpone & black pepper honey ($5) that is the perfect combo. I have also had the Poisson Lem Marrakech ($17) Lem Marrakech-cured wild salmon, sesame yoghurt, sprouted farro, greens and pisachios with avocado instead of the egg. On another visit I had the outstanding and unique Harissa Pain Plat ($17) a layered beef ‘burger’, grilled pita, Manchego, tomato salsa, spiced hummus & summer greens along with an Espresso.

The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch thru to mid-afternoon daily, you will find a creative cocktail list, beer and wine rounding up the menu along with the full espresso beverage line-up with delicious coffee.

Review by: Richard Wolak

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