r.tl Regional Tasting Lounge
1130 Mainland Street, Vancouver, BC
Ph: 604-638-1550 or Online Reservations
This is the second time I have eaten at r.tl but as the previous occasion was a spontaneous visit I did not have my camera with me, and I felt the attractive presentation of the dishes warranted visual rather than verbal images. My first visit was a few weeks ago: while walking back from the theatre. My friend and I wanted to continue our discussion of the performance over a light meal, and on the spur of the moment, dropped into r.tl. It was a little late in the evening for eating, by my standards anyway; from years of arriving home from work famished I am usually ready for dinner before 6 pm! But we were warmly welcomed by Alain Canuel, operations director and Sommelier, who explained the concept behind the menu. I enjoyed the couple of dishes we had so much that I vowed to return with my camera, and learn more about the regional tasting concept.
db Bistro Moderne
2551 West Broadway
Ph: 604-739-7115 or Reserve Online
In the past I have enjoyed several great dinners at Lumiere and also enjoyed eating at the bistro a couple of times. However that was ages ago before the new incarrnation as db Bistro Moderne. So even before setting foot in the Bistro my mouth was watering in anticipation of an excellent meal. Billing itself as a blend of " traditional French cuisine, New York Haute Cuisine and the bright flavours of the Pacific North West" - the place has a lot to live up to. The remodelled space is much larger and lighter than before.
Hamilton Street Grill 1009 Hamilton Street Vancouver, BC Ph: 604-331-1511 or Reserve Online
Since this is my "hood" I felt it was time to re-explore more of Yaletown's fine restaurants. We were going to the Arts Club at Granville Island to see The Real Thing but instead of re-visiting one of the places I have already reviewed and walking to the show, I decided to try the "dine and dash". No, in my lingo that does not mean leave without paying - but eating more than a short walking distance away and then zipping over the Granville Street bridge to the theatre.
The New Bohemian 3162 West Broadway, Vancouver Ph: 604-736-7576 or Reserve Online
Continuing my exploration of the dining scene in the Kitsilano area I decided to check out The New Bohemian before going off to see The Idiots Karamazov at the Freddy Wood Theatre at UBC. It has been open about a year, I was told, in the location where Fiction had been previously. I appreciated that they opened up the wall between the lounge and bar area - the place seemed larger and more open than I remembered. We recognised scenes from The Graduate projected on the wall as we entered.
Cassis Organic Bistro
420 West Pender St,
Phone: (604) 605-0429
This review covers my latest two visits to Cassis Bistro although I have been there several times before. Cassis is about two blocks away from the Vancouver Playhouse so it is very convenient for pre-show dining. On previous occasions at Cassis I always opted for their entree of Muscovy Duck braised with oranges, so I thought it was time to try their other dishes.
The last time I was there we were going to see The Drowsy Chaperone. Since we arrived early at the restaurant we decided to try their special Pre-Show Menu. They started us off with an amuse bouche, attractively presented in a long dish: sliced pickled cucumber, olives and an antipasto-like mixture. Delicious but a little difficult to scoop it out of the dish.
The first course was a half cured smoked salmon on fennel salad with basil oil which was very light and tasty. It was followed by citrus marinated sable fish with a potato pave. The sable fish was melt-in-your mouth tender and also quite delicious. The next course was smoked pork served with potatoes in a dijon jus. I usually enjoy charcuterie but this was not my favorite dish of the evening. The piece de resistance was the satisfyingly creamy, vanilla bean creme brûlee and lemon tart dessert. Overall I thought the pre-show menu was good value and well presented.
My most recent visit was prior to seeing Toronto, Mississippi, also at the Playhouse. My companion opted for the pre-show menu choosing the tomato -basil soup, the daube de boeuf served over pappardelle pasta. The dessert was a crepe with strawberries, blueberries and cinnamon, flambéed and served with ice cream. More about that later.
I somewhat self-righteously decided that three courses would be a bit too much for me after my decreased level of activity for the last 3 weeks in California so I chose the lobster bisque served with halibut cheek crepe and house made ricotta, followed by a crepe filled with duck (what can I say - I like duck), orange preserve, goat cheese and mozarella. We were also served slices of fresh tasty baguette accompanied by a puree which tasted of creamy mushroom. Very nice. A creature of habit, I sipped on Wild Goose Riesling which went well with everything.
Trattoria Italian Kitchen 1850 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver Ph: 604-732-1441 or Reserve Online
For our second ladies' night out exploring the restaurants along 4th Avenue, we chose Trattoria. They don't take dinner reservations so we planned to arrive early, just after 6 pm. We were seated promptly, and when one of our party asked to move away from the the proximity of the windows, we were rapidly relocated to a more central table.
We chose a bottle of Merlot from Markham Vineyards in Califonia; the "Glass Mountain 2002", smooth and mellow, which went down well.
When I really really really enjoy the first taste of a dish, I sometimes spontaneously break into an odd little shoulder-jiggling dance accompanied by sounds of appreciation that I don't quite know how to spell. Sort of like - uhuhuhuh! Jiggle,jiggle, jiggle -uhuhuhuh. When I realized some time ago that I have this tendency I worked hard to control it - It's not very dignified to be making incoherent sounds of bliss when you are trying to be objective in your approach to evaluating your meal. Still every now and then I forget - the food is great- and the jiggle appears.
At the first taste of the smoked bison carpaccio appetizer at Boneta - uhuhuhuh- jiggle, jiggle, jiggle. It could have been embarrassing but seated opposite me, my dining companion was reacting to his first taste of the carpaccio in the same way. Hmmm. Maybe it's a universal sign of appreciation. Served on a bed of arugula with a sherry vinaigrette, the carpaccio was accompanied by shavings of parmesan, walnuts and quail's egg and was really quite delicious.
As we waited for our next courses we admired the way in which the menu is projected onto the wall. It is very clear and easy to read - and I imagine easy to change if need be at the drop of a hat. Our server brought us bread, warm from the oven. It was a buckwheat sourdough loaf, very tasty. And the butter was at a spreadable temperature.
Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts
1505 West 2nd Avenue
It is probably more than 10 years since I had dinner at this location and it has been on my list of places to check out for ages. So finally, before heading off to a play at the PTC stage I reserved a table. Although my dining companion described the decor as somewhat minimalistic, I liked the spaciousness, the simplicity and the ambience. The tables are a reasonable size and spaced comfortably apart so that one can converse easily. The student chefs, who work as servers one night each week, are polite but not intrusive.
The restaurant offers a Prix Fixe menu for $36.00 with a choice of appetizer, main course and dessert. Somehow I had missed the fact that in February they were having a 2 for 1 special so that in the end our meal, 2 glasses of wine and 2 coffees cost under $40.00 each including service charge. Having said that it seems a little bit chintzy to comment on the fact that my scallop and salad appetizer came with a single small (nicely cooked) scallop. I would have expected a couple more. His minestrone was served in an attractive soup bowl but could have done with a touch more flavour.
Piato Estiatorio 1835 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver Ph: 604-568-2929 or Reserve Online
More than thirty years ago,the first time I sailed on the Aegean Sea, I fell under the spell of the Aegean islands. Much later when our oldest child was in his final high school year, as we planned a vacation in Europe with our children,the first component of the trip that we all agreed on was to go sailing among the Greek Islands. The image of white washed homes reflecting sunshine against cerulean waters has always stayed with me - and made me into an interior decorator's nightmare. In my home I always end up painting the interior walls stark white to recapture the sense of light and airiness.
And then there was the food. Sailing up to a taverna and eating freshly caught fish or calamari while inhaling an enchanting mixture of salty sea air "perfumed" with garlic.
888 Nelson Street
Ph: 604 -669-1962
Visit 1: Chilled by the icy wind and still stunned by the film we had just seen, (the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) we settled gratefully into the comfortable booth we were offered and began to thaw. It was not quite 5:30 and quiet so we had the opportunity to chat to Tracey, our charming server, about the restaurant and menus. Although I was tempted by many of the other a la carte items on the menu, the Prix Fixe special that offered a soup or salad, an entree from the fresh sheet, and a dessert or cheese plate, was too good value to pass up. And it was a good choice too.
We both started with salads; he had the house salad and I took the caesar salad. Very tasty and satisfying, with plenty of parmesan shavings. A glass of 2007 Pentage Gewürtztraminer was a nice sipping choice. Our mains were excellent; a seared duck breast cooked to perfection and a mocha crusted sirloin served with gnocchi and asparagus in a parmesan cream sauce.
He chose apple pie but I couldn't pass up the two-cheese plate. I picked the featured Guiness Cheddar and Cambazola. When Tracey brought the cheese, apricots, candied walnuts a couple of grapes and toast slices served on an attractive slate, she noticed that instead of the chosen Guiness Cheddar there was a different cheese. She promptly brought an additional side plate with some Guiness cheddar. Nice touch.