Dine Out Vancouver: The Sandbar

The Sandbar actually extended their Dine Out menu to Feb. 8th which was when I went with my friends. Yeah it’s a little late to be posting it but you can always check it out next year! The restaurant actually has three floors and they also had a live pianist sing and play after a certain time that night which was really nice. It really added to the ambiance which was the dark and candle lit kind.

The Sandbar

We started off with some warm Complimentary Bread. It looks like a lot but it was for five people.

The Sandbar

This was the House Made Clam Chowder, a popular starter dish at the table. I tried some of this and it was rich and creamy! Not that much clam though.

The Sandbar

I had the Wok Charred Albacore Tuna with wasabi aioli, crispy wontons and pickled ginger. The tuna was lightly seared and crusted with sesame on the sides which gave it a slight nutty flavour. The tuna was really soft and almost melted in your mouth but the wasabi aioli could’ve had more of a kick to it. I avoided the crispy wontons though since they don’t usually taste like much. Wish there was more tuna though!

The Sandbar

This was the Raspberry Lemonade (not part of the dine out menu). Actually not very sour despite the ingredients in this! I thought it was well balanced and tasty.

The Sandbar

This was the Seafood Hot Pot with salmon, snapper, clams, mussels, prawns, scallop, and red coconut curry. Didn’t try this but we ordered extra complimentary bread so my friend could dip it in the sauce!

The Sandbar

This was the Wood Grilled Steelhead Salmon with tomato fennel broth, coconut jasmine rice and bok choy. Whenever I see bok choy, it makes the dish feel a lot more Asian! I could really taste the wood flavour in the skin of the salmon and it was a pleasant interesting flavour. The salmon was also not over cooked! It was moist and flaky and I could taste the wood flavour occasionally. I felt that the tomato fennel broth was a bit weak though and the rice felt too broken up.

The Sandbar

The more popular entree was the Braised Lamb Shank with rosemary, red wine, garlic mashed potatoes, and market vegetables. The lamb was very tender and fell off the bone easily while the mashed potatoes were creamy and buttery. I wish I had ordered this instead! But I was trying to be different…

The Sandbar

For dessert, here we have the Lemon Cheesecake with raspberry coulis. There was just enough lemon flavour present and you can taste the creaminess of the cheesecake. The cheesecake didn’t actually feel that heavy.

The Sandbar

This was the Chocolate Oatmeal Brownie served with a creme anglaise. The brownie was chocolatey and moist but may be too sweet for some.

The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Dine Out Vancouver: Diva at the Met

It’s Dine Out Vancouver time! This year I chose to go to Diva at the Met. I actually had no idea where the Met was before but it turns out that it’s right next to the Hotel Georgia and across from Four Seasons so it’s in a very convenient location. The restaurant has a separate entrance beside the hotel’s main entrance. The restaurant has 3 small levels separate by a few steps but it makes it feel rather grand when you’re walking to your table. I also got a great view of the open kitchen!

Diva at the Met

To start, we were served some complimentary bread with butter. The server said it was a whole grain bread and there was also an olive bread but I think they were all whole grain since they all looked the same to me. It was soft and served at room temperature.

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Dine Out 2014: The Teahouse

For my second dine out I went to the Teahouse at Stanley Park located at Ferguson Point. I believe it was built in 1938 and then they added an “observatory” section which is made out of glass so there would be a nice view all around. Unfortunately for us it was dark already and probably the foggiest night I’ve ever seen… so there was no view that stretched more than 5 metres ahead of me. The dine out menu was $28. I had also considered going to the Fish House which is also at Stanley park but their dine out menu is $38. However, the Teahouse does offer a $38 menu as well in the form of “upgrades”. So for your entree you can choose a sable fish or tenderloin instead.

The TeahouseWe were offered complimentary bread and butter. The bread was served warm and it was fairly standard.

The TeahouseThe Tuscan Salad with sherry vinaigrette, shallots and pumpkin seeds was a light appetizer and I liked the nutty flavour that the pumpkin seeds added.

The TeahouseThe Tomato Soup was served with goat cheese and I can’t comment much on this since I’ve hardly ever had tomato soup but I did like it.

The TeahouseWe also had the Stuffed Mushrooms with crab, shrimp and cream cheese. There was also an additional layer of cheese on top of the cream cheese. Now I have to say that I’m not a fan of mushrooms but I’ve heard a lot about stuffed mushrooms so I was willing to try them at least once! I mean I do eat mushrooms but I can’t say I like them. The crab and shrimp were pretty much lost in the warm cream cheese mixture. I wished that they had used larger mushrooms though. I mostly tasted the cream cheese so I did not mind eating these mushrooms. Also they seem incredibly easy to make yourself!

The Teahouse

The Slow Braised Lamb Shanks with roasted chickpeas was really tender! I don’t think it tasted gamey and the meat came off the bone really easily. Also the portion was quite large. The server explained that the lamb had come from New Zealand or something and was organic or specially raised…something like that.

The TeahouseThe Duck Confit with fig demi-glace. The skin of the duck was really crispy and the duck didn’t have that much fat. There was also a side of something like mashed potatoes but it was green… it was delicious though! There was also one piece of tomato which seemed kinda random. The fig demi-glace tasted really weird to me and I just didn’t like the flavour. I wish they had used something else instead. Or I just don’t like fig. There was also some broccolini but the ones I had at the Oakwood were much tastier. These were kinda bland but still alright. I think the duck confit I had at West Restaurant was better.

The TeahouseThe Raspberry Sorbet was full of raspberry flavour and not in a sour way. Well I like sour so it was fine to me!

The TeahouseThe Shortbread Lemon Bar with coconut macaroon and almond brittle was actually a tart. The macaroon was airy and filled with coconut. The tart had a layer of meringue and then lemon underneath. It also wasn’t too sour and I loved how there were two different textures going on. The tart part wasn’t that buttery though and it didn’t taste like shortbread to me. The almond brittle was crunchy!

I enjoyed my meal here but it didn’t blow me away. The service was very attentive though. The music was a bit loud though and it seemed more appropriate for a lounge. I’m sure it would be even better in the summer with a nice view of the water! I think the location and ambiance would make a return trip worthwhile.

The Teahouse on Urbanspoon

Dine Out 2014: The Oakwood

The Oakwood has been on my list of restaurants to try for a long time now and after going to Fable last month I decided that this was the perfect chance to try the Oakwood. The Oakwood’s dine out menu this year is pork themed!

The Oakwood

The OakwoodFor one of the appetizers we had the Smoked Seafood Chowder with oyster crackers. The flavour from the bacon was strong and someone at the next table said that it was too salty but I thought it was okay.

The OakwoodI had the Pork Terrine with maple cauliflour puree, pickled shallots and rye soil. I also got a piece of free oyster cracker because the server said it fell in but that’s ok! I wasn’t sure what to expect from this but the pork was really pressed together. My friend commented that it reminded him of spam hahaha… but not as salty but the shape was similar! I think it was just a little bland to me but the pickled shallots helped. You’re probably wondering what rye soil is and I forgot the description but it really tasted like a bunch of cookie crumbs? I think the seafood chowder was the better appetizer in this case.

The Oakwood

For my main I had the Porchetta with garlic broccolini, dijon spatzle and carmelized onion puree. I couldn’t taste the carmelized onion puree which was basically used to decorate the plate. The spatzle which I’ve never tried before was really good! It was crunchy but kinda soft in some parts? Sorry I just realized this is a terrible picture… but anyway the porchetta was on the dry side and not as tender as I’d expected. I was thinking it would be like the porcchetta from Meat and Bread. That is probably my only experience with porchetta. The skin was also really hard and not crispy and crunchy it was just hard and I didn’t eat it. The fatty parts were good though of course and the portion was quite big.

The Oakwood

The other enticing item on the menu was the Sable Fish with confit pork shoulder, pork rinds, lentils and carrot. The sable fish was melt in your mouth soft and very flaky. This was a great choice! =D

The table beside us ordered the pork crackling separately and man was it crunchy and crackly!

The OakwoodThis was the Creme Caramel with cranberry gel and shortbread in the shape of the maple leaf! Very Canadian. The texture was really smooth and soft and pudding-like. I thought it would be more solid? It was light and tasty though and slightly sour from the cranberry.

The OakwoodI had the Chocolate Mousse with coffee crunch. It was cute that they served their desserts in mason jars. The mousse was light but still rich in chocolatey flavour and the coffee crunch on top tasted familiar but I’m not sure what it was… It was a light and airy kinda crunch it reminded me of eating cereal or popcorn. Both desserts were good in their own way.

Okay so I guess there were some hits and misses for me but it was still a good experience and I would love to try their regular menu sometime.

The Oakwood Canadian Bistro on Urbanspoon

DOVF: Laziza Modern Mediterranean

For my other dine out Vancouver experience, my friend and I decided to go to Laziza. They had an interesting menu and we had never really tried Morrocan/Lebanese cuisine before so this would be a good opportunity. Laziza is located on Davie and Bute. On this cold Saturday evening we walked past it without noticing it oops! The interior is long and on the narrow side but nicely furnished with large mirrors on one side to make it seem bigger. Apparently they hired a top interior designer to design their Mediterranean atmosphere! There’s also a small bar area at the back as well.

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Funny story: while I was joking about how I might one day light something on fire by accident with the candle… it actually happened to the table beside me!!! O.O Someone’s tissue caught on fire but the server came over right away grabbed it and stomped on it phew! Hurray for quick reactions! It happened really fast too! IMAG0408We started our meal with some complimentary pita chips served with a side of salsa. The pita chips were surprisingly good! Very crispy and well seasoned with something sour so it was salty and slightly sour at the same time. The salsa was also quite tasty the chips tasted pretty good without it too. I wish we had more or I could buy them somewhere!

IMAG0409I ordered their famous crispy cauliflower. On their dine out menu description it said “Seasoned florets battered in corn flour, flash fried and accompanied by a sesame dip and pickles”. It was SUPER delicious for cauliflower!!! Damn too bad all my vegetables can’t be served like that!!! The cauliflower was pretty crunchy but well seasoned and the batter on the outside was very very light and crispy and it didn’t feel too oily either. The dip was more like a watery version of a garlic ranch sauce and it had a slight kick to it and it was served with pickled red cabbage on the side. I would love to order this again. I never thought I’d feel this passionate about cauliflower.

IMAG0411My friend ordered the Mezza Sampler “with Hummus, Baba Ghanouj and Tabouleh Salad, served with Pita bread”. Ok I really have no experience eating baba ghanouj or any of the aforementioned items so I can’t really comment that much but it all tasted good wrapped in the thin pita bread! I learned that Baba Ghanouj is eggplant that is mashed and mixed with olive oil and various seasonings. I really had no idea that it was eggplant when I was eating it! The hummus had a prominent garlicky taste to it and the tabouleh salad was flavoured with a vinaigrette dressing that I enjoyed.

IMAG0412For my entree I went with the lamb tagine which was “chunks of lamb  mixed with fresh seasonal vegetables, slowly cooked in aromatic tomato sauce, served on a bed of couscous”. This dish had a lot of veggies and they all soaked up the tomato sauce and ended up tasting like tomatoes. The lamb was very tender but the texture was not “fall off the bone” kind of tender. It actually didn’t taste like lamb to me and it didn’t have much flavour either. I like that there were a variety of veggies in this dish and the couscous was very tasty due to the tomato sauce. On the other hand, the tomato sauce was very dominating and that was all I tasted. The portion was really big and I didn’t end up finishing it.

PS. I ignored all the beans hehe =P

IMAG0413My friend had the seafood arabia which came with “East Coast Scallops, Prawns and Mahi Mahi, finished in a pomegranate reduction, accompanied by dry fruits and walnuts, nestled on couscous and drizzled with honey”. This portion looks a bit smaller from mine because mine had a lot of large vegetables that took up a lot of room. I tried the fish and it was cooked the same way as my lamb and it could have been more soft and flaky but it didn’t have a particularly strong flavour either. It was still on the bland side for me. The mushrooms and prawns tasted better though.

IMAG0419Finally we have dessert! My friend had the baklava which wasn’t on the menu but our server alerted us that it was an option and so we decided to try it. The flaky phyllo pastry was filled with pistachio and maybe some other nuts and it had a slightly sweet taste to compliment the crunchy texture. It was served at room temperature but I didn’t like it as much as my own dessert due to the hard texture. I like my desserts soft!

IMAG0418Meanwhile I opted for the Lebanese Konafa which was a “Crispy shredded pastry, stuffed with a lightly sweetened ricotta cream filling, topped with syrup and pistachios”. I really liked this because of the ricotta cream filling which was lukewarm warm, soft and slightly chewy. It had a cheesy texture but it tasted like cinnamon. The crispy shredded pastry didn’t really taste like anything but it was a bit chewy instead of crispy. It also held up really well and didn’t really fall apart either while the pistachio topping gave it a bit of a crunch. This was surprisingly good due to the interesting textures of the dessert.

Overall I enjoyed my experience here but the entrees didn’t really blow me away or anything but I loveeed the cauliflower! My favourite dishes were the crispy cauliflower and the Lebanese Konafa. Maybe I would have been more satisfied if I had ordered the lamb chops and prawns? The service was also very attentive but not intrusive. I enjoyed the ambiance and the music as well. They also offer gluten free and vegetarian options so be sure to ask!

Laziza Modern Mediterranean on Urbanspoon

DOVF: The Boathouse

It’s that time of the year again where participating Vancouver restaurants offer fixed menus for $18, $28 and $38 for the Dine Out Vancouver Festival. I had previously heard a lot of good things about the Boathouse and I liked their menu so my friends and I decided to venture to their English Bay location. There were many other interesting restaurants that I wanted to try but they all seemed to have $38 menus…

IMAG0369When we arrived, we waited about 10 minutes to be seated even though they really weren’t busy. They have a dining room upstairs and a downstairs area that had more of a sports bar vibe. When we were presented with the menu, it turns out that they also offer a $38 menu as well but we stuck with the $28 menu.

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For my starter I decided on the calamari. I love deep fried stuff! I found that this calamari wasn’t particularly seasoned but it was crispy and the texture wasn’t too chewy. The best thing was that it was served with a sweet and sour sauce of some sort. Usually it’s just served with a tzatziki sauce and  I found this one  to be quite mild in flavour.

IMAG0371My friend had the lobster bisque which I didn’t get to try but she said it was pretty good. Interestingly enough it came on a plate with the lobster in the middle and then the rest of the soup was poured over it.

IMAG0372Usually restaurants like this will serve you complimentary bread but they somehow forgot ours and we had to ask for it when we saw that all the other tables had some. It was sourdough bread served warm and straight out of the oven with some garlic butter.

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The other side!
The other side!

For my entree I had the lobster and prawn curry bowl. I was surprised that it was unlike traditional Asian curries that come with a lot of sauce. Okay I shouldn’t have been that surprised since this was a fusion type dish. This dish came with quite a lot of veggies including cherry tomatoes, snow peas, red peppers and onions. I like how the veggies added colour to the presentation of this dish. The prawns had a slight crunch to them but the lobster felt a bit too overcooked? Also it had too much of a charred taste on some parts so it wasn’t that great. Finally you may be wondering where the curry is in this dish. The Jasmine rice was actually infused with a mild curry flavour making it very moist and tasty but I wish they had used more of a traditional curry sauce instead. I enjoyed this dish and the portion was pretty big too.

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My friend had the cedar plank sampler which came with steelhead, wild salmon and pacific cod with mango salsa. There didn’t seem to be much mango salsa but the fish was very tender and moist. Actually to the point where it seemed almost uncooked in the middle … not sure if that was normal or not. The fish seemed a bit on the bland side and there wasn’t any particular flavour to it but I liked that it was super soft and flaky. My favourite was the wild salmon and then the steelhead was a close second.

IMAG0377My other friend had the 7-oz fire grilled sirloin medium rare. The mashed potatoes were delicious but the sirloin kinda fell short of my expectations. It was a bit too tough to chew despite being medium rare… I’m not a steak expert but that’s what I thought.

IMAG0379For dessert we all had the mocha mud pie with chocolate ganache and maple almond. Ok obviously I’ve never had a mud pie before because this was not what I was expecting. It was basically like a mild mocha flavoured ice cream cake with a crumbly chocolate crust topped with whipped creams and maple almonds slivers. The whipped cream was mildly vanilla flavoured and I wish the chocolate ganache was drizzled on top of the mud pie. I liked that this was a very light dessert because I was quite full after my entree. The almonds gave the dessert a nice crunch and I like the sweetness it gave the mud pie. On the other hand I was not overly impressed with this dessert either. 

Overall this was a pretty good meal but nothing really stood out to me that much. The service could have been more attentive too.

Boathouse on Urbanspoon

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