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Dahlia, happy hour

Today we were at AZUR Legacy Hotel, the new boutique hotel in downtown Vancouver, and I was gobsmacked. I wondered how I have yet to see this newer property, opened as of fall of last year. I was curious what was in the space before because the transformation was stunning and all the details succinct. I hated myself for not knowing about them sooner.

As taken from the press release, “The AZUR is the first and only property in Western Canada to be part of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World portfolio that includes more than 400 boutique, luxury properties across more than 80 countries worldwide.”

The restaurant/bar was but a smaller space, given the narrow hotel itself. And this open lobby lounge opulent with deep navy walls, gold details, and a crystal chandelier. On this warmer day, the front entrance was open and the dining room transitioned into the patio seamlessly. And the two together reached out into the streets. This is sure to be a hot spot come summer.

We were all enamoured by the individual place settings with cloth napkins folded like a kimono and plates branded with their giraffe logo.

Today we were in to try their new happy hour menu, but it is worth mentioning that they have also launched a Business Lunch menu available from 11am-2:30pm and it includes a Lobster & prawn roll, a classic Croque Monsieur, and a Chicken & Apricot Brochette.

Happy Hour was from 3-5pm and it had a similar tone of refined classics, made more readily available. We would explore the entire menu to report on it here.

But first drinks. Their cocktails are listed on a folded sheet designed to look like a newpaper. Double sided with black and white photos and “articles”. Creative and whimsical, but hard to discern for those who want to “make it quick”. The drinks parallel the food in terms of elevation, all from the experiences and creative mind of their bar manager from Dubai.

I had the Life’s a Gas. Its name plays on the literal smoke that is added to the cocktail. And what looks like an on-trend Old Fashioned is actually a sweet dessert in a glass. Something you would not catch just looking at it, but revealing in the ingredient line up. Elijah Craig Small Batch infused with Graham cracker, Chocolate bitters, Creme de Cacao, and Cherry wood. This was delicious and I highly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t like a stiff drink or drinking in general. This will covert you, and you won’t believe your eyes.

Their specialties are their drinks named after flowers, similar to the restaurant’s moniker; and each as floral as you would expect. The Peonia is Campari, House Bergamot liquor, and fluffy blood orange juice. It was designed to mirror the garden peony’s fragrance. It starts orangey and ends woodsy and floral, like a romantic fragrance. The real standout was the violet jello set in an orange peel. It didn’t have much of a flavour or really added anything to the cocktail, but it was just such a special garnish to take in and admire.

As for food we skipped over the marinated olives and the truffle fries with gruyere chives and truffle aioli; and moved right on to the oysters. Served as a half dozen with the option of pomegranate mignonette, cocktail sauce, and horseradish for self dressing. The oysters themselves were sweet and delicate, and the condiments gentle enough that they accented, and not hide any of the natural briney-ness of the oysters.

Next, we had chicken ‘coxinhas, where up to this point the menu felt very French inspired, it was now more international with these
Brazilian urban bites. Deep fried croquettes in a nduja and zesty aioli. Each traditional teardrop shaped nugget was evenly breaded and crispy, the chicken shredded so fine that it simulated paste. And the aioli gave it a zesty red pepper taste.

Similar in its deep fry is the salt cod fritters. It honestly didn’t read all that appetizing, and if I didn’t have it here I would never have thought to order it. Although I am glad I did, as it turned out to be the most memorable of all the dishes to come. The fishy filling was salty, but treated with the same whipped smooth process above, giving it a lovely contrast to the crispy shell. And the remoulade and lemon caper oil were crucial in balancing out all the salt with acidity and cream.

We then kept with the deep fried theme and had the cocktail churros. Bite sized dough stuffed with chocolate and tossed in cinnamon and sugar. Served with a side of vanilla ice cream for dipping. This was a classic done right, but not a dessert I would expect from such a luxe establishment. Although for happy hour it seemed alright.

Now the escargot vol-au-vent felt more in line with the setting and the rest of the Parisian style menu. Served downing in a herbed butter and topped with a small circle of puff pastry. You don’t get any specific taste from the snail, just it chewy body in salted oil. The pastry here offered a more enjoyable texture to chew through.

With the grilled lamb merguez you saw their dedication to the presentation. Each sausage carefully spaced out in the sea of
labneh, topped with sunflower seeds and their lemon and mint drizzle. The dish was well balanced between textures and the sauce helped to temper the saltiness of the sausage. I just wanted a base or some carbs to have with it. Like pita or chips as a base or to dip into. As it it felt like it was missing some substance.

And we also shared their french onion burger with its available side option of either sea salted fries or a green salad. I liked the idea here, but found the execution lacking. The caramelized onion stew was quick to make the bun soggy, making this a burger you had to eat with knife and fork, with the texture of meatloaf.

The flavour was there and it did taste like a French onion soup in burger form. However, it would have been nice to have the jus on the side as a dip instead. It was also very heavy, like soup in a bread bowl. Here the pickles helped to combat the flat taste with acidity, I just would have liked more and maybe some gherkins on the side as chase.

In truth I had high hopes for this menu, given how stunning the space looked. There were a few hits, but more misses. I would like to see if a regular lunch or dinner would fair better, without the discounted price and disjointed small plate offering. I however, would highly recommend them for drinks at a bar.

833 W Pender St. Vancouver, BC V6C 1K7

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