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Category: Yaletown Page 1 of 9

O.E.B. Breakfast Company

My guest is a fan of this newer breakfast spot, so when looking for a place to meet up for a meal, she suggested “O.E.B.” Her first visit of the chain was in Calgary, 8 years ago, and it left a lasting impression. Apparently back then they severed their food in Chinese take out containers with chopsticks.

Be warned, if you decide to visit yourself, you will want to call in and/or go online to leave your name on their wait list. This place gets busy. A large space with so many bodies inside and out. I was surprised by the traffic given that this was a random Tuesday, mid afternoon. But the sun was out, the summer weather was upon us, and their waterside patio is a popular destination because of it.

Given the patio was full we sat inside and it was just as nice. A modern diner with many corners and crevices to create private dining areas, with enough space to also seat whole families. The restaurant is themed in eggs, much like their logo. Cracked shells inverted become lamp shades with jagged edges. A cluster of oval lights are gathered together to look like a bouquet of eggs. And the host booth stands in front of a sculpture that like looks like an egg sliced in half, with a fluorescent orange centre.

We grabbed a seat by their impressive looking bar. Despite the fun and whimsical setting, this is a counter you would post up in front of for a late night glass of veuve clicquot, as suggested by their bar display.

The menu is as overwhelming as the restaurant, there is so much to see and go through. Both spoke to the volume they were expecting and the following they already garnered. It was a full page in tiny print listing egg platters, bennies, breakfast poutines, their “blue plate specials”, three egg “scram-blotted”, “grown up sandwiches”, and sweeter breakfast options they categorized as “fully worth the calories”.

My guest got her favourite dish, one of their signature breakfast poutines. “Chasing Chickens” with poached eggs, duck fried herb potatoes, Saint cyrille curds, smoked pulled chicken, and a brown butter hollandaise. She doesn’t like a runny yolk, but ordered her’s medium in order to be able to break into it and stir in some additional creaminess to the poutine gravy. This is a decadent serving, I don’t know how she was able to finish it herself. It is also a little rich as the first meal of your day. Best as a snack or a side to share. The smokiness of the chicken was very prominent, lean white meat that tasted like smokey bacon without all the grease. The potato base was just as flavourful, more herb than the lard used to cook it to a crisp.

Looking for something more light I went for one of their farm fresh classics, choosing the side of fingerling potatoes over the same duck fat fried herb potatoes with wild arugula as my guest had in her poutine. As a side, the fingerling potatoes offered a nice break in taste and freshness with the green onion and more tomatoey ketchup dip.

The idea of an “Artisanal bagel Sammy” peaked my interest and the addition of white truffle mayo sealed the deal. Two free run eggs, white truffle mayo, hass avocado, micro watercress, and semi fried cherry tomatoes; sandwiched between two bagel slices made with the texture of a croissant and white bread combined. Served with a side of market fresh fruit, this was a full meal. But to add on more salt and protein, bacon or a series of hams are available for $3 more. Here, I opted for the hog & rabbit mortadella for $4 because I thought it would be interesting to try.

Little did I know, adding on the processed meat product didn’t have it coming as part of the bagel sandwich. Instead it came on the side as 4 slices, fried. And although I was appreciative of how much I got here, I wish I had the option of having only one slice for $1. This was too much for one person, in one sitting. The mortadella was zesty and salty, like a more seasoned spam, it overpowers anything you eat with it.

As for the bagel sandwich, the bread was so chewy that you couldn’t cut it with a regular butter knife and fork. Yet it was far too messy to eat with your hands; with all that luscious cream, in just the right amount of truffle flavour. The fresh ingredients over flowed and the chunks of avocado slid out. The latter would have been better as a mash. And if it weren’t for the bagel hole, the former would have stayed better in place. The remedy, a carving knife with a segregated age. Delicious as a whole.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A great spot for breakfast with a view, offering a fulsome menu that can keep you trying new things for months to come. They are definitely bringing something different to Vancouver’s brunch scene. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

OEB
1137 Marinaside Crescent, Vancouver BC, V6Z 2Y3
604-423-3447
eatoeb.com

Black Rice Izakaya, summer menu 2019

Summer is in full swing, it is hot, you are sweating, and “Black Rice” is here to help. They are offering up another creative menu for this summer season, a few heat reducing dishes, served with Rosé.

The Rosé was great with our meal, but we had some soju to get us there. “Kashidaru” is Japanese soju aged in a whiskey barrel, exclusive to “Black Rice”. It is from one of Japan’s oldest sake breweries and comes with an interesting story. Their President passed away and they discovered this batch in his personal barrel room. And without any records they had to do some sleuthing to discover its vintage. This soju was aged for minimum of 13-15 years old. And after “Black Rice’s” four cases are done, and the other 10 left are gone, there won’t be any more, ever. And for $11 for 2oz or $120 for a bottle, I can see that happening soon.

As promised the menu served up temperature appropriate dishes, like chilled soup and cold fish to cool you down. And I can attest that this it did just that. I came in to the restaurant from under the sweaty sun, and left cool inside and out.

The “Spicy cold sashimi soup” is a common dish in Korea, and a nice way to start our meal. Cold spicy broth, seabass sashimi with salad. The lovely white fish was a nice compliment to the zing of the hot spice. There were perfect together, without overpowering one another. It would have been nice to have a bowl of rice or a handful of noodles to enjoy the rest of the broth with though, after all the fish is gone.

“Miso ceviche” in a miso broth with truffle oil, onion, peppers, and seabass. Served with taro chips that make for good scoops. It didn’t taste much like miso, but I appreciated the twist with the use of yuzu citrus instead of lemon or lime. I also made out the strong flavour of shiso leaves, which I didn’t prefer. This was another refreshing summer offering, but you were left with so much ceviche, and not enough chips to eat them with; and especially not enough fish roe to top each bite with. Without the chip it was just soggy fish salad.

“Teishoku D” is their cold noodle box option. Plain soda noodles, 3 assorted tempura, 2 pieces inari sushi, a side of tempura crumb, agedashi tofu, assorted oshinko, and green salad. You dip the noodles into the sweet sauce and slurp as you like. With a variety of sides, this makes for a fulsome lunch box.

Their “Pad Thai Yaki Soba” was another creative fusion dish. You take the idea and flavours of a shrimp pad Thai, including the tamarind; but instead of flat rice noodles you use buckwheat soba noodles. And the result is an extra tasty dish that has a great heavy starch chew from the noodles, and an extra kick from the korean bbq sauce, gochujang. Delicious, but a little watery.

The “Ika feast” was one squid two ways. Squid tubes sous-vide in butter and finished on grill, and its tentacles battered and fried in tempura. We were given a choice between two presentations and we all agreed that although the grill was a nice visual, the one without it would be more practical when serving. The hay set on fire in the grill creates smoke and a distinct fragrance that could effect everything else you eat to follow it.

As for the squid, I preferred it grilled, especially with the creamy and tangy sauce you dip it into to. The fried version was more like Greek-style calamari, especially with the cooling tzaziki it was served with. The sauces were definitely the highlight and what gave everything its flavour.

The “Soy chicken karaage” was classic Korean style street food, double fried. Juicy dark meat karaage, battered, powdered, deep fried, and then glazed in their house soy sauce. It had a medium level of spice to it, with the ability to adjust it more or less to your taste. A great tapas option, best enjoyed with one of their many specialty beers.

And since we were already there, we had to try some of our and their customer favourites. Like the “Unagi” roll, which always makes for a great show. A prawn tempura and cucumber black rice roll topped with eel, and drizzled with a sweet brown sauce. It is torched table side for some extra caramelization.

Their “Lollipops” are a great way to enjoy sushi, gluten-free with no rice. Thinly slices of radish are wrapped around sockeye salmon, bell pepper, tamago, oshinko, cucumber, asparagus, avocado, and spinach. I liked the novelty of holding it by the stick, but would have liked to dunk it into something. Some sauce to flavour, before I took a bite that had it crumbling. As is it was bland, yet was too much like a salad roll to dip into soy and enjoy.

My favourite and the must have, anytime you are here is either of their “Aburi platters”. 6 piece aburi salmon hako, 8 piece black mentaiko roll, and 4 piece chef’s choice aburi nigiri. You are asked to allow them 20 mins to prepare it all, and I can tell you it is worth the wait.

Their “Aburi Hakozushi platter” was a complete set of their 4 signature aburi rolls. Aburi salmon, aburi saba, aburi negitoro, and aburi scallop. A great one for sharing. A collection of textures and flavours for any sushi lover who likes their raw fish a little cooked, and their sauces creamy and warm.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
“Black Rice” continues to be one of my go-to’s for creative Asian fusion. They are so very thoughtful in their food offerings. Trying new things and catering to the season and their explorative clientele. If they keep this up, I will most definitely be back time and time again. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BLACK RICE
782 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2R5
7781379-0416
blackrice.ca

Jasci & Marchesani wine tasting at Homer St. Cafe

Today I was at “Homer Street Cafe” for a intimate lunch, featuring Italian wine brand, “Jasci & Marchesani”. Our time would begin with a wine tasting and the meeting of our two hosts, who only just arrived a mere 2 hours prior, straight from Italy.

We were introduced to the second generation owner of “Jasci & Marchesani”, and their brand ambassador who spoke English with a thick Italian accent. The brand ambassador would do the translating as he walked us through the 5 bottles presented today. He commanded the room like a Quintin Tarantino character, with a thick collar on his neon shirt and a large belt buckle drawing your attention to the word “energie”. Together, the two men took us to trip to Italy with wine.

“Jasci & Marchesani” is produced off the East coast of Italy, on the same latitudinal line as Rome. What sets them apart is the fact that they are the first organic vineyard certified in Italy, in 1978. This and their strong focus on sustainability. This focus was first introduced when the original owner noticed a lack of birds chirping on his property, and a dip in crop production. The solution, going organic and giving back to the land in order to yield from it for years to come.

No animal products go into their wine making, where as some other wine makes filter their wines using egg whites or add a fish substance for colour. Whereas “Jasci & Marchesani” uses minerals for its colouring; a pricer solution but one that gives their wines a unique lustre and sheen.

The winery specializes in montepulciano grapes and therefore the wine. But many of their grapes originate from all over Italy, replanted in the South, with the sun’s position in mind. Their agricultural planning goes so far as to considering which direction their grapes are facing, knowing that this changes the taste and production of them. And no sugar is added to their wine for a focus on fresh and crisp vintages.

Sustainably doesn’t just stop at what’s in the bottle. Each and everyone of their glass bottles are made from recyclable bottles. And the caps, cork, and labels are made from sugarcane and corn to easily biodegrade. The bottle is also as light as they can make it, making them not only easier to carry, but when they are shipped, they produce a smaller carbon footprint. Although, their production is already very green, being powered by renewable energy for the last 2 years.

As for our tasting, each place setting had a labelled map with 5 wine glasses. They were filled as we went through each, from 2 whites, on to 1 rose, ending with 2 reds.

The “Trebbiano D’Abruzzo Doc 2017” was a sweeter white with notes of apricot, pineapple, and yellow pear. A great refreshing wine, perfect for patio sipping.

The “Pecorino 2016” was a favourite amongst our group. It had great body to it, allowing you to feel the texture and levels as you drink. It is refined, spending 6 months in steel and the following it with the bottle. This process gave the wine a lifespan of 5 years versus the typical 2 years for a white.

The “Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo Doc 2016” was a rose named after the cherries used to make it. A lot of effort was put into manipulating these grapes, which is even more so when dealing with an organic vineyard. The fruit was hand picked with the belief that, this loving step makes a difference. The result, a lovely light rose with a great balance between sweet and tart. It isn’t as bitter as some roses, and not as sweet as others, it teeters at a good place in between.

The “Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Doc 2016” is made with grapes from their Northern vineyards. Here, our host brought our attention to the ability to taste the difference between grapes, based on the techniques used to farm them. Traditional methods yield a smaller bounty, but at a better quality. Whereas new ways increase production, but less time and resources are put into their cultivation.

This particular wine has never seen wood. The grapes are crushed and bottled without any external factors flavouring it. And an interesting property of it is that the way it hits the inside of our mouth and cheek causes you to salivate. Almost like watering it down.

Our last glass was a deep red with plenty of bite, the “Nerube Montepulcino D’Abruzzo Riserva 2016.” It was on the bitter side, a more concentrated batch due to a smaller yield. Great as a sipping wine to enjoy as is.

After tasting our way through today’s offerings we were then given the ability to have a full glass of our favourites, revisiting them with a 3 course family style meal, courtesy of the “Homer St. Cafe” team. Majority of the offerings below were served in larger portions than they normally are, in order to better share between 5-6 people.

The collection of pickled vegetables served as a great way to get our appetite going. Cucumber, red peppers, leek, and carrot. I liked the olives the best, finding the green ones not overly pickled or too salty.

“Duck liver parfait” with a morello cherry preserve, served with thick slices of chewy and oiled chunks of crusty bread. This was a delicious meat product, and luscious to spread. Smoky and rich with notes of sweetness, thanks to the preserve.

A favourite amongst our table was the collection of dips eaten with crispy taro and plantain chips. Chick pea, scallions, and za’atar. Each dip had its own flavour, which easily mixed together for one homogeneous spread.

The “House salad” was a fresh serving of greens with roasted beets and radish.

They are known for heir rotisserie chicken and this serving of sweet and sticky chicken drums did not disappoint. Tender dark meat coated in a harissa honey glaze, best enjoyed with hands and fingers you lick clean after.

The platter of porchetta was an impressive serving, ordered up feasting style. Not on the menu, this was the feature roast for the day; served with asparagus, green beans, and peas in jus. One slice was plenty, full of meat and enough fat to make bites soft and chewy. But the highlight was definitely the crispy crackling. To help balance all this pork we enjoyed it with the sides below.

These pickled horseradish turnips are also not on the menu, just something creative whipped up for us. They were hard to pick up, and even harder to chew through. Jawbreaker-like bulbs that you crunch through for some freshness.

I preferred the heirloom carrot side with its cream sauce more. A more traditional accompaniment that goes well with any protein.

And the only vegetarian of the group had a specialty made pesto pasta dish with spinach and cheese made for her. It was delightful, but compared to everything else a little bland.

And for dessert we ended on a silky smooth chocolate mousse topped with fresh strawberry. The mousse was so full bodied that it reminded me of ice cream. Rich and decant, a delight for any chocolate lover.

In short, a great meal and a great way to learn more about “Jasci & Marchesani”; how their organic and sustainable wines are a great additional to any one’s wine rack. For more details visit the link below. https://www.jasciemarchesani.it/

 

HOMER ST. CAFE + BAR
898 Homer Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2W5
604-428-4299
homerstreetcafebar.com

On Yogurt, new February menu

Today I was at “On Yogurt” to try out their latest seasonal offerings. For the month of February they have five new specialty items launching.

To celebrate their 3rd year anniversary they are jumping on the brown sugar pearl trend. They have found a clever way to incorporate the sticky pearl’s popularity into their line of ice fried yogurts, shaken teas, and pressed waffles. These “dirty” treats are available from now to the end of February.

The “Bubble waffle dirty cup” is at its essence a dressed bubble waffle, but made into a parfait. Served in a plastic cup with a spoon, this rendition is easier to travel with and to eat. It is their original bubble waffle ripped apart and top with a yogurt cheese foam, black sugar pearls, and cocoa powder. “Dirty” is definitely the right work to describe this. Fun to eat and tasty with the classic salty and sweet pairing. Chewy with pearls, creamy with cheese foam, and crispy with baked waffle. I enjoyed the pearls like this more than at the bottom of any bubble tea.

However if I was to choose between the two, I would get the “Taiyaki dirty fish”. Same yogurt cheese foam, black sugar pearls, and cocoa powder; but in a crispy pressed Taiyaki shell instead. Half croissant and half bubble waffle, the flaky pastry is further filled with a black sugar spread. The crispiness of the taiyaki held up, even after it cooled, but the middle is the best part, with its phyllo dough core.

And starting on February 14, they have 3 Valentine’s Day themed drinks and a dessert that will also be available until February 28th.

The “Rose Ferrero Rocher” ice fried yogurt gelato with strawberry and edible gold flake was very photogenic. The ice cream is beautiful with the bits of brown chocolate and shredded pink rose petals. And everything is always made better with a sheet of gold topping it. The chocolate in the ice cream was great for texture and crunch. Whereas the flavour of the rose water was what you tasted. It was good, but not a flavour I couldn’t see myself finishing, due to its specific nature, therefore this would be best shared.

The “Fresh taro milk with white pearls and Ferraro rocher” was as interesting idea and it gave me a few firsts. I have never had a taro drink that used mashed, steamed taro before. And this was my first time trying agar pearls. Together with warm milk and cold ice cubes, the result was a murky cup that tasted a lot better that it looked.

Originally I wasn’t too keen on the white agar pearls above, but grew to like them more in the “Rose tea with cheese milk foam”. It has a texture similar to cartilage, but chewier. They offered something to grind through as you avoided the rose petals floating up. They petals are edible, but I wasn’t keen on their texture and how much they dominated when you got one between your tongue and teeth. Although as annoying as fishing out petals and spitting leaves was, I would still go back for more. Overall this was a super tasty drink, and I have never had anything like it in my life. I suggest trying each layer when you first get it, then mixing it all together: juice and cream for a completely new drink.

In short, I suggest heading down to “On Yogurt”, and trying out each of these for yourself. And from Feb 19-24, the first 5 dirty fish or dirty cup orders for the day, will be free. And after that, 10% off for everyone else.

 

ON YOGURT
95 Smithe Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 1C2
778-788-8691
onyogurt.com

Elisa Steakhouse

There has been much buzz surrounding Vancouver’s newest steakhouse. Located in the old home of Milestone Yaletown, “Elisa” has found itself well welcomed to the neighbourhood.

So when my girl friend was craving steak we decided to check out their offerings. They are a very chic and modern steakhouse, no fuss, just classic lines and a wine wall that travels. When we sat down our server gave us a run down of the menu, while pointing out stations around the restaurant. There is a raw bar where they whip up tartare, and shuck oysters. Their wood fire oven in the back is what gives their meat its char. And they even have a table where prosciutto is carved off the leg of a pig.

However we came in with a game plan, so knew what we wanted. We would start off with their “Elisa seafood tower” prepared with kusshi + irish point oysters, cured hamachi, cured golden eagle coho salmon, tuna tartare, shrimp cocktail, and whole nova scotia lobster. And it wasn’t cheap. At $159 I wanted a greater collection of seafood gathered on this towering monument of marble, cast iron, and ice. It was so heavy that the strongest one in the kitchen had to bring it out with two hands. Impressive to look at with the lobster crowning the tower, but there was a lot more ice showing through. As for practicality: it isn’t. It is hard to pick through when it is 5 feet taller than you, when seated. Great for show, but we were quick to eat through our plates, so that we could shuffle them down to our face level; and move the obstruction from the table that was blocking our view of one another.

Taste wise, everything was good, but nothing that had me pausing on it. Juicy oysters with a wonderful tangy vinaigrette and fresh horseradish.

Cold lobster that I dipped into the leftover butter from the bread below. It gave the sweet lobster meat some needed flavour. And there is plenty of it when you get a half of the crustacean for yourself, and half an exoskeleton to pick through.

The hamachi was tender and seasoned salty. The salmon standard, but the orange brought out some flavour in it. The jumbo shrimp was great, I wanted the four for myself, each heavily dipped in cream. And the tuna mix with avocado had me craving some chips, a base to scoop and round out bites with.

While we nibbled our way through this barrier we sipped on wine and cocktails. I focused on the latter, and have the following to show for it.

The “empress” is a $17 cocktail made with mount gay xo rum, turmeric honey, lemon, aquafaba, and arabica coffee bitters. The flavour reminded us of cola, with a coffee pop.

“Divine rabbits” is a savoury drink. The black pepper and foamy egg white topping had me chewing this cocktail. I didn’t taste the listed strawberry, but really wanted to for the sake of this drink. Mezcal, blanco tequila, campari, strawberry, citrus, egg white, and black pepper.

The “corpse reviver no. blue” was a punchier cocktail thanks to the abinthe rinse that coated the glass, and lucky me I didn’t get much of that flavour that I don’t actually like. Tanqueray london dry gin, blue curacao, carpano bianco, lemon, and absinthe. It was easy to drink and the soaked cherry, a nice note to end on.

The “dothraki for delicious” was as strong of a drink as I think the fiercest tribe in “Game of Thrones” would order. Made with tra kal patagonian spirit, white vermouth, green chartreuse, and chocolate bitters for $17. This is definitely one of those beverages that taste so strong that it makes you see double. This too had a liquorice-y finish. With the briny olive garnish helping to balance out the strong spirit.

I was secretly hoping that the “wax poetic” used the beeswax it listed as an ingredient for garnish as well. No such luck. Tanqueray no. ten gin, white vermouth, beeswax, and grapefruit for $17. This was a clean and sharp beverage, great for sipping on.

And for my last cocktail of the night I ended in something sweet. “don’t call me shirley!” Made with cachaca, dry curacao, lime, grapefruit, and carbonation for $16. It was a fizzy, a pretty drink with flirty bubbles for a great girly girl cocktail.

Now to rewind a bit, our meal actually began with bread. Slices of their Country loaf and sourdough served with a healthy amount of butter. I liked its flavour alright, but found it too hard and crusty. It was also very messy, with coarse crumbs falling everywhere on the white table cloth. These crumbs would later scatter across the table top, and in between courses our server swept them all off the table with a long metal scoop-tool.

After we made our way through the tower, my guest still wanted to eat. So we thought it best if we rounded out the night with a steak from the steakhouse, seeing as it as one of their staples.

We got her favourite cut, bone in, and sliced by the kitchen for our convenience. 20oz of “Blue dot, Prince Edward Island rib-eye”, that is potato and grass fed meat. It doesn’t come with any real sides, a small mix of stewed vegetables and one stalk of broccolini, so we ordered two of our choosing below. As for the steak, it was delicious. Well seasoned and grilled for a nice distribution of char. And fatty by the bone and at the ends. Deliciously worth the $69 price tag, when compared with other steakhouse prices and their quality of meat and preparation. For 10oz more to your steak you can add $26 to your cost.

For sides we ordered the “roasted potato”, but got their “fries – 3 times cooked” instead. Braised, blanched, and fried sticks of potato; served with a thick and creamy mayo and butter-like dip. It was so good that we didn’t bother to correct them, and kept the fries.

We also had a side of “onion rings”, which like the side above and all the other sides was $12 each. As for the onion rings, each was crispy, and fried heavily enough so that I couldn’t make out the thick slab of raw onion hidden at the core. A good thing. They were the best when dipped into the pool of buttermilk Ranch dressing served on the side.

We didn’t have room for dessert, so when it was time to settle up, it was nice that our bill came with a treat. Served with the billfold was a small dish with two pecan sable rounds. They were a nice sweet and cheesy cookie that made the price we had to pay next palatable.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Not a destination for every day dining, but definitely a great option for those looking to celebrate in an opulent setting. With a menu that speaks to luxury, and an impressive spread that will cost you for the quality you get. Fine steak and seafood lovers rejoice, you have a new restaurant to add to your list. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ELISA STEAKHOUSE
1109 Hamilton Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 5P6
604-362-5443
elisasteak.com

New Oxford, Dine Out 2019 menu

I have been saying it for a while now, but here it is again, ever since Chef Sarah Stewart and Chef Chris Stewart (unrelated), have joined The Donnelly Group’s development and culinary team, the caliber coming out of their kitchens (within all their public houses), has taken a 360. Chef Sarah has taken on the mantle of “Development & Training Chef”. “Coming from rural Ontario and attending OCAD in Toronto, Sarah has cooked across Canada in eco lodges, rustic camps, mountain escapes and bustling city-centers.” She was hired to work on developing both people and tasty food. And Chef Chris is currently the Director of Culinary Development, having first worked at “some of the best kitchens in the world: Michelin-Star winning “Fat Duck” in London, California’s “French Laundry”, and Vancouver’s own “Hawksworth”! Their focus on quality, presentation, and taste shows through. And the result is, not only are Donnelly Public Houses the spot for a great night life vibe with plenty of drinks, but now you can sit down and enjoy the food they are served with as well.

And today we would do just that at one of their 3 locations participating in Dine Out Vancouver. I choose our destination based on the menu, and found myself at the “New Oxford” in Yaletown, wanting chicken wings, fried chicken, and brisket. A three course meal for $25! And trust me what I say for the quality of food and the amount on each place this was a deal! Most places would charge you $20 for a pasta dish and here we got that and two more courses to boot. So naturally it is easy to funnel those saving to some wine pairings. Perfectly chosen wines to highlight flavours plate to plate.

To begin, you have your choice between 3 appetizers. We passed on the “Currywurst, charred bratwurst, fenugreek, and cumin” with the Tantalus vineyards pinot noir wine pairing.

And instead started on the “Heirloom carrot soup” with jalapeño yogurt, sumac, and pistachio. It was a creamy start, hearty and warming, but I wanted it more tangy like a tomato soup to pair with those buttery toast points.

With it we had 3oz of their Road 13 honest john’s red as a pairing. This was the perfect amount of vino to sip and eat to. The red here had more bite to it, a snap back to offset the rich texture of the soup.

And we also shared the Red chili wings”. And what you assume would be a smaller appie for one, was a dish you could share with another, with 5 wings a piece. A pub with poor wings is a crying shame, so I am happy to report that these were amazingly juicy. Not dry and shriveled up Wednesday night special wings, but great meaty bones. They reminded me of and tasted similar to buffalo wings, they even gave off the same nose tingling sensation. Although, despite its name and the jalapeño, it really isn’t all that spicy. The distilled vinegar balances most of it out, and the parmesan aioli covers it completely. So what you are left with is a slow to rise burn.

With it we had the Evolve shiraz, a sweeter red that helped to transform the heat of the wings, and balanced it out.

For your next course, you also have your choice between three entrees. Here we passed on the “Quinoa & avocado salad”, with charred chicken, feta, pickled shallot, citrus, and thyme. Along with its BC VQA Wine Pairing: Summer Hill Alive White.

Instead we enjoyed the “Brisket cavatappi” with basil pesto, roasted garlic, and grana padano. The sauce was more like a salsa, summer fresh with its raw ingredients: cherry tomatoes and sprouts. And with the noodles, it felt like a pasta salad. I liked how light and refined this take tasted. It was more tomato than beef brisket though. Not that I needed any in the first place. But what I could use more of were the Parmesan cheese chips, the cheesy shards added some crunch and interest.

With it we enjoyed the Adega malbec, a wine so smooth that it blended in well with the light pasta.

Whereas we had a nice white Lock & Worth Sauvignon Blanc with our chicken sandwich below. The clean white gave the sandwich some a tang, it offered itself as a nice palate cleanser in between bites.

The “Golden chicken sandwich” with panko crusted white chicken breast meat, iceberg lettuce, pickle, bay leaf, and hot sauce. The chicken patty is amazing. And it is not just one breast, but two overlapping pieces of breaded chicken go into this. Lean and juicy on a fluffy butter bun, with luscious mayo and crisp lettuce for freshness. The nice thin fries compliment the sentiment.

Dessert was offered with a beverage pairing of coffee, but it was a little too late for some. “Cherry cheesecake” in a jar with vanilla, brown butter, and a crushed tim tams crust. This is if cheese cake were a mousse, slightly chilled and foam-like. The cookie crunch offered a good base, the chocolate shards a good chew. The cherry gel was a nice surprise, along with the one maraschino cherry hidden within.

The “Dark chocolate praline bar” was a more dense dessert. It was hard to cut through and most of it shattered across the table. I should have just picked it up and ate it with my hands. There were plenty of bits to chew through and even more nuts to get stuck in your teeth. It tasted like a crumbly peanut butter bar, but more buttery. Given how sweet and decadent it is, I am glad that they made the serving smaller for this Dine Out service. I can’t imagine anyone finishing a whole version of this, which is double the side of it in my photo.

In short the “New Oxford” makes for a great place to take advantage of a $25, limited time only Dine Out menu. The taste and service will surprise you. Great comfort plates that both look good and satisfies, served by staff who are friendly and attentive. Gone are my preconceived notions of them as being nothing more than a rowdy bar.

 

OXFORD TAVERN
1144 Homer Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2G2
604-609-0901
donnellygroup.ca/new-oxford
The New Oxford Public House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Minami, revisit while on the Keto Diet

It has been a while since I visited “Minami”. I enjoy the food, but don’t always feel like I am getting the most out of my meals with them. Considering the money I spend, and the smaller portion sizes I receive. Although always delicious and fresh, I often leave wanting more for cheaper, else where.

But today I was dining with @MaryinVancity, who has started and is adhering to a ketogenic diet. The “Keto diet” is a low-carb, high-fat diet, in which she has already seen some success in. “It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis”, (according to Wikipedia). So today, Japanese cuisine offered a menu with many dishes she could enjoy or easily modify to be without carbs.

But before we get into it, for my first visit to “Minami” and my thoughts on the vibe and the decor, visit the link below.

Minami

Mary was able to enjoy the kale salad and salmon sashimi, still meeting her diet’s requirements.

Instead of the traditional spinach version, “Minami” offers the Yaletown crowd a familiar kale twist. Though the “Kale goma-ae” is seasoned in sesame soy, just as the spinach would have been. The leaves of the kale offers a nice crisp texture that holds up. I typically avoid the regular version for its wilted greens, so being able to chew through the firm kale now was nice. This was easy to eat and tasty in its sauces.

The “Salmon sashimi” was beautifully plated and incredibly fresh. No complaints.

We also shared the “Aburi beef carpaccio”. AAA sterling silver short rib, 63 degree sous vide egg, shaved grana padano, wasabi creme fraiche, caper crisps, organic baby greens, and a wasabi chimichurri ponzu. We were advised to break the yolk and mix the lot together. The outcome, thin cuts of meat made gummy by the saucy egg. This was a nice contrast to the fresh sprigs of green and the firm and salty shards of cheese. An amazing plate for $22.

Thanks to Mary, I learned about the keto diet, what you can and can’t eat, and how so many have found success in losing weight with it. However I don’t think I could give up carbs, they are the foundation of what I like about eating. Like sushi with its chewy rice so I had to order myself some below.

Working on the assumption that dinner wouldn’t be more than $30 I rounded out my meal with the “Champagne roll”. A sushi roll Mary could only try one of, as the rice that coated the sushi roll is a carb. A Hokkaido scallop, sockeye salmon and cucumber roll, coated in golden tobiko. The latter gives it its name in colour and the fact that eating these tiny fish eggs gives this roll a popping sensation. Pops like those from a bottle of champagne with its fizzy bubbles, and they lingered well after. I continue to find bits of tobiko in my teeth and on my tongue, and continue to bit down and pop them all in relish. The roll was prepared and served sans soy, flavoured intentionally for a salty and sweet combination. It was a lighter roll, allowing you to make out the natural flavour of the shellfish and fresh fish. Tasty but at $18 a little much for every day dining.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This continues to be a Yaletown hot spot. A great place for small plates and light banter. I advise visiting with a group, to be able to try everything and afford it. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MINAMI
1118 Mainland Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2T9
604-685-8080
minamirestaurant.com
Minami Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Black Rice revisit

I appreciate a restaurant that continues to evolve and grow. One that offers menus to entice people to come back and often. And this is the main reason why I am not a fan of chain restaurants and their stable staples. Whereas smaller restaurants and one of’s, like “Black Rice” continues to put out dynamic and playful plates that are as delicious as they are photogenic. And today I was invited to try the newest round to hit their tables, as well as being treated to a few fan favourites.

Black Rice Izakaya

For the original visit review, and more detail on the decor and setting check out the link above.

 

But first, we celebrated the occasion with some sparkling sake. And all I can say is, how have I not explored this subsection of sake sooner? You get the fragrance of sake all coated in bubbles for a nice fizz. Our bottle to share was served with shot glasses placed within a branded wooden box. The use of the box signifies the intention to over pour. Basically when you see this, you know you are getting a fat shot. The glass is filled to the brim, and whatever runs over becomes available to sip right from the squared cup under it.

“Salmon Candy” is a salad that I would order. Bite size chunks tossed together for a choose your own adventure of beet cured salmon, pickled pearl onion, and feta cheese. Served with an herbed avocado puree. Together, this made for a nice and breezy start to the rich meal to come.

I liked how the “Menchi Katsu” looked visually and even more how it tasted. Minced Prime Angus beef patty and Mozzarella, deep fried inside a panko crusted shell. Crunchy and gooey, one of my favourite texture pairings. The ability to stretch and pull the cheese into lengthy strands spoke to the quality. Delicious.

I loved how saucy the “Spicy Grilled Chicken” was. Sous vide spicy marinated chicken thigh finished on a charcoal grill for nice crispy edges. I only wished for some rice to enjoy it with.

The “Beef tongue carpaccio” was sliced sous vide beef tongue with fried onion, ponzu and mushroom puree. The meat was buttery smooth and extremely tender, a nice chew with salty and saucy undertones. And the fried topping gave things some needed crunch.

They also showcased two new vegan rolls. One with avocado and cabbage over rice, the other pico de gallo over rice. They were simply guacamole rolls that lacked the pizazz of the other dishes before and after. They were as simple as it sounds, and in much need of some seasonings. I don’t know why I like avocado rolls, which are pretty much the same, much better.

They had two different table side cooking apparatuses to serve their “Prime Angus tenderloin steak”. Sous vide then grilled to finish, served with asparagus and shiitake mushroom, topped with a house-made black truffle butter. One was heated stone, the other a burner under a grill rack. Sadly our photo shoot and the time we took cost us the meat, as the beef ended up being over cooked, forced to sit and sizzle. So be sure if and when you order this one, you eat it as soon as you get it, when it is still pink in the middle. The truffle flavour was prominent thanks to the butter; although I would have preferred it on the crisp grilled vegetables for an extra pop instead. As to not take away from the natural savouriness of the beef cubes, that were flavourful on their own.

The “Aburi platter for 2 was a delectable serving of 6 spicy salmon halo pieces, 8 black mentaiko roll, and four of the chef’s choice aburi nigiri. I liked the sauciness of the lightly torched sushi pieces. I found the fish tender and the flavours fulsome. No need from a side of soy when you have spicy jalapeño and chilli cream.

The “Aburi Hakozushi platter” is their original and most popular Aburi assembly. A complete and shareable serving of their four signature Aburi sushi rolls: Aburi salmon, Aburi Saba, Aburi negitoro, and Aburi scallop. There is a warning that an order may take 20 minutes to roll and torch for that semi cooked, slightly charred flavour that is indicative of a good Aburi. Creamy and saucy like the 2.0 version above. A cohesive assembly with similar flavours that went well together. The stand out for me were the sprouts, adding a new element and some textural depth.

I really liked the “Mentaiko udon” for its creamy and chewy texture. Fully coated in the unique flavour of cod roe, it was rich and full bodied. The fishy after-notes were balanced by the saltiness of the bacon pieces. This was a flavour you couldn’t put your finger on, but at the same time managed to grow on you.

“Beef and enkoi stone bowl”. A mix of tender beef, chewy mushrooms, and fresh vegetable over steamed rice. It is served sizzling in the headed stone bowl, and continues to cook as you toss them all together. The result, a crispy fried rice that is still moist with sauce. It was savoury with the meatiness of the mushrooms really coming through.

By comparison, the “Bacon and shrimp stone bowl” was a lot sweeter, much like a toned down teriyaki sauce. Both offered a nice base for a few of the small plates, as well as giving you heartier morsels to share.

Another customer favourite is “Black Angus Nigiri”. Served gently sous vide with further cooking from a handheld torch. They were luscious slices of beef that were well highlighted by the beds of rice each sat on. A must try.

And the showstopper of our meal was definitely their sashimi seafood platter. It was like a Japanese seafood tower served raw over crushed ice. Horse mackerel, Sea urchin, Button shrimp, Golden eye sea bream, Red sea bream, Halibut, Yellow tale Amberjack, Greater Amberjack, and Seared sockeye salmon. This one went quick within our group, and I wasn’t able to try all of it. But what I did have was fresh and fragrant, and enough to recommend this for presentation and taste, just make sure you share it between 2 individuals and not 10.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Delicious and fun dishes that feed your eyes as well as your belly, and all at reasonable prices. Worth checking out for some of the creative stuff that they do and their menu that keeps evolving and delivering. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BLACK RICE
782 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2R5
7781379-0416
blackrice.ca

“Date Night” with Robba Da Matti

My anniversary with my partner is coming up, and I wanted to mark the occasion with a nice dinner. This desire to impress had me looking into nicer restaurants and what they could offer a pair celebrating a landmark.

My search brought me to “Robba Da Matti”, I am already familiar with them as a nice cozy spot for Italian cuisine in Yaletown, but now they have a “date night” special giving myself and others a reason to look their way.

This was a $122 three course meal for two with a bottle of wine to enjoy through out. Either a bottle of Nespolino, Sangiovese, Merlot, or Tolloy pinot Grigio. Which is a great deal, so continue reading to see how I broke it down, and how you can enjoy date night with “Robba Da Matti”.

Besides taking the guess work out of planning a successful evening, what I like best about this dinner special is that it isn’t just a set listing of dishes. Here, you can actually pick what you want from their entire regular menu. 2 antipasti plates, or the “yaletown antipasti” or prosciutto and burrata to share”. The latter two serve as larger portions equivalent to two plates. Next you pick any of their 2 pastas as your entree or to share. And this listing includes gnocchi, risotto, and lobster ravioli. To conclude there is dessert. Maybe their popular tiramisu, their lavender creme brûlée, or a chocolate mousse? The choice is all yours. The following is what we enjoyed betwixt two.

We were seated on their heated and covered patio. Visiting earlier in the evening had the natural day light illuminating our meal. Although once the sun sets it is definitely a more romantic scene. Flickering the lights on each table and repurposed wine bottles crafted into lighting fixtures hanging above. The latter certainty set the tone, they also offered a great conversation starter for those first date jitters.

Our host was very pleasant. She was passionate about the restaurant and was able to walk us through their menu with ease. She mentioned there being a new cook in the kitchen, and how they and the entire kitchen staff are great at churning out delicious plates. She also engaged us in conversation, like you would a friend visiting your home.

Before our dishes came out we got some salty and briny olives for the table. They paired well with our bottle of red. They were out of the “date night” red during our visit so kindly upgraded our bottle at no extra charge.

The complimentary crispy bread served as a nice base for the “Burrata caprese”. A crispy and chewy bread to spread the smooth cheese over, to drench in the fragrant olive oil, and to top with the pesto sauced tomatoes. The caprese included fresh roma tomatoes and basil infused olive oil with barrata mozzarella, flown directly from Puglia. It was delicious but messy, the way I suggested eating it above. So maybe take it in with knife and fork if you are trying stay cute for a first or newer date. But in my case I was comfortable enough with my guest to have the oil dribble down my chin in satisfaction. They used a lot of it and every drip was delicious.

Sadly, I wish we read the menu better as our next appetizer was fairly similar to the one above. It too was tomato heavy with greens seasoned in olive oil, but here Italian seasoning played a larger role and the bread was a lot tougher. “Bruschetta al pomodoro” prepared with oregano flown in directly from Calabria, served over top cherry tomatoes and garlic, and all coated in an extra virgin olive oil. It was a light refreshing start. But I would have liked it more as a side, to accompany our pastas following. Another hard to look cute while eating it dish, as the diced up tomato cubes were quick to take a stumble onto your plate below with each bite.

For one of our entrees we got the “Osso buco & risotto alla milanes”. This was a braised veal shank and saffron risotto that included bone marrow and carrot. The saffron was mostly noticeable in the bold yellow hue of the dish. In terms of taste, it was far less prominent, especially hidden by the tart tang of the lemon that over powered. The texture of the risotto was a great balance between firm kernels and a creamy rice dish. It was bright plate, both figuratively and literally. And easy to eat in small bites between light conversation.

I much more preferred the feeling of comfort from the “Spaghetti alla carbonara”. Although it is recommended that you not eat spaghetti during a date, as you are often caught slurping up saucy strands of pasta. The image of food hanging from out of your mouth may not be the one you want to cultivate. But I say go for flavour over image any day, because this way if the date is good or bad, your belly will at least be happy. This dish had delicious finely cured guanciale and their tender noodles coated in a free range egg yolk and peppered cream. It was made thick and creamy by the yolk. The fatty pork helped to cut into the chewy and slurp-worthy starch.

And here my date tip is to watch out for over eating, feeling unforgettable is no way to be on a date, especially if you are planning to go home to do other things. The solution is to simply doggy bag it all, cause pasta is just as good as leftovers when the sauces soak in to the noodles more. And best of all you can come back to it later, either hot or cold, when you work up an appetite. Plus this saves just enough room for your own full sized dessert to eat all of, or to share.

The tiramisu came highly recommended by our cheery server. Even to the point that she suggested that my guest and I both don’t like tiramisu because we haven’t had theirs. And I almost ordered it because of this comment, but the reason I don’t like the popular dessert is not because of its taste, but instead because of its texture. It is a soggy cake that is sharp in coffee flavour. Whereas I prefer my desserts lighter, to have something airy to end on, as we ordered below.

The “Panna cotta” was soft and delicious, the tawed frozen berries gave it its flavour. Although good, I can only imagine how even more satisfying this dessert would have been if the berries were fresh. And seeing as they aren’t currently in season maybe offering a fruit topping that is instead?

Similarly we had the “Mousse di fragole”. Strawberry mousse that was probably made from frozen strawberries. However it was less noticeable blended into such a luscious yogurt cream like this. I liked its milkier consistency and milder flavour than any chocolate mousse. Although for those who feel the opposite, they do also have a chocolate version available.

And with full bellies and the taste of sweetness on your lips, you can end the first half of your date night with smiles on your faces, checking it off as a success. Seeing as you are already down town, I suggest enjoying a walk around the neighbourhood and taking in some of the winter holiday lights that have already begun shining. This helps work off some of your food, in case you did end up overeating because everything was so good.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This is such a good value. Let’s work it out. $122 for all of the above. Typically, a bottle of wine ranges from $40-60. Let’s say it’s $40, if you take it out of the equation that leaves you with $82, split between 2 that is $41 per person for 3 courses that includes complimentary bread and olives. The appetizers run from between $9-15, appetizers between $18-27, dessert $7; with no stipulations on what you can choose. Therefore depending on how you choose your adventure you are saving with this deal, and allowing someone else to help plan you the perfect date night meal. Plus, there is nothing that impresses me more on a date than ordering a whole bottle from the get-go; that just screams a good time. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ROBBA DA MATTI
1127 Mainland Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 5P2
604-558-1174
yaletownlantipasto.com

Honey Salt, brunch

This weekend we were spending a night in “JW Marriott” at “Parq”, in celebration of my girl friend’s birthday. And after a late night of drinking, we decided a light and healthy brunch at “Honey Salt” the morning after, would be the best for our bodies.

I have been to the restaurant that was stylized like a tea parlour on one side, and a pantry on the other, once before. So to read more about that visit and the setting we enjoyed in depth, visit the link below.

Honey Salt, at Parq

 

Today we were seated in one of the booths, the lime green leather popped against the white walls and the restaurant’s name spelled out across it in moss. The placement of our C-shaped seating was cleverly done. We were essentially seated back to back with those to the side and back of us, thus allowing us privacy of seating, while maximizing the space.

To start, we had some drinks. Whereas my girl friend kept her hair of the dog at bay with their take on a negroni, I had some green juice.

Honey-groni. Bontinst gin, sweet vermouth, amaro averna, amaro montenegro, and honey syrup. It was a lot easier to drink than a regular negroni with the sweetness of the honey.

The “Green goodness” was a pressed blend of apple, cucumber, spinach, fennel, celery and ginger. It was spicy with the ginger and went down easy with the apple and cucumber. It was a great pick me up and a nice way to start the day.

To eat I had the “BC smoked salmon board” a build your own bagel experience with cream cheese spread, a mixed salmon and green onion spread, smoked salmon, sliced tomatoes and cucumber, capers, fennel, and half a boiled egg.

From here you spread and top as you please, and as you can see I got pretty creative with it.

My guest got the “Dungeness crab goddess salad” made with gem lettuce, watercress, potatoes, cucumbers, radish, and tomatoes. It was well dressed and deliciously done. Another great healthy way to start the day.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Everything was light and breezy, a nice snack option and a great place to enjoy it at. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

HONEY SALT
39 Smithe Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 0R3
778-370-8200
parqvancouver.com/restaurants/honey-salt

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