+Alpha Global Sushi and Bar
1099 Richards St.
At the corner of Richards and Helmcken stands a small Japanese restaurant with an unusual name, + Alpha. As they point out, the term means "something extra" in terms of food and service and certainly whenever I walk in there for a bite, the place is buzzing with activity, the food consistently good and the service is always efficient and friendly.
As + Alpha is on our route home after class at Robson Square (see Gillian's Kitchen: bebida y comida), my friend and I have taken to dropping in for a late supper. Last Friday we tried the sinfully delicious ebi mayo Japon, deep fried nobashi prawns in breaded batter with tartar mayo sauce, and their mango Vancouver roll.
This week we were both feeling famished. I had not had time to eat before walking up to Robson Square for the 6:15 class. We had to wait a short time for a table and our appetites increased as we sipped our green tea and studied the menu. So we ended up ordering a dynamite roll, spicy tuna roll and a repeat of the mango Vancouver roll which we liked last week. Although I had no intention of imbing any alcohol, when the "would you like anything to drink?" question was posed it took both of us less than a second to put down our cups of green tea and order a beer and a glass of wine respectively.
Well it was a long and busy week - and a mentally demanding class. We left feeling sated and comfortably mellow with our diet consciences clear.
1944 West 4th Avenue
Living in downtown Vancouver, within walking distance of so many excellent restaurants, I tend to venture further out to eat in other neighbourhoods mainly in conjunction with other activities such as a play, film, exhibition or lecture. For my latest pre-theatre dining experience I decided to try Fuel Restaurant on West 4th between Cypress and Maple. Great choice.
Opened in January 2007 by Executive chef Robert Belcham and Sommelier Tom Doughty, this intimate 42 seat space has a warm and welcoming ambience, enhanced by the saffron-gold table cloths. I liked the structure of the chandelier with delicate silvery filaments reminding me of spun candy. We arrived early so we would not need to rush off to the theatre. Only one table was occupied but the place filled up rapidly over the next half hour.
I was interested to note that in this current wine listing as well as the general white wine list, Sommellier Tom devoted a whole section to Rieslings - one of my two favorite varietals. As I needed to be able to concentrate later on, I reluctantly restricted myself to one glass of the 2006 Selbach-Oster Halbtrocken from the Mosel region of Germany.
On Sundays after cycling around Vancouver, members of our cycle group often supplemented by a few non-cyclists, get together around 1 pm for a light lunch. On this occasion we decided to check out The Hurricane Grill that had opened a couple of months ago in a space previously occupied by at least three other restaurants. But this particular place is apparently a sibling restaurant of the Hurricane Grill on the North Shore, so presumably the owners should have figured out all the kinks in the system already.
Sweet tooth? Not I. I choose salami over strudel any time.So it is appropriate that the first supping experience I report occurred at SALT, a restaurant specializing in charcuterie and cheeses. Mmmmm. Just thinking about it sets my mouth watering.
Wandering with a friend around Gastown at lunch time, I remembered an enthusiastic report on SALT from my son on his recent visit here from New York. Making our way though a less than savoury looking lane , Blood Alley, we found ourselves outside the restaurant just as it opened for lunch. We were greeted by Curtis, friendly and efficient. Rather than sit at the long refectory style table which would be fun for a larger party, we chose a smaller table against the wall.
Curtis then explained how we would construct our order from the items listed on the large chalk board on the back wall of the restaurant.
Cheeses were listed in the left column, meats in the centre column and accompaniments on the right. We agreed to share a meat plate and a cheese plate. This meant that we had to choose three cheese items and three meat items and for each plate, three accompanying condiments. Listed in order of my favorites, we chose apricot marmalade, cipolini onions, Late Redhaven peaches, fig bread, cornichons and mustard.
As the flavour of the cipolini blended with blue cheese on a slice of bread, I was transported back 7 years to a farmhouse kitchen near Lucca in Tuscany, where on several evenings we consumed cipolini and gorgonzola washed down with several glasses of amazing Italian wines.
To accompany our savory meal we each had a glass of Joie Rose from Joie Winery in Naramata. The deep rose pink wine was an attractive visual complement to the attractively presented platters and a perfect lunch time sipper.
I was in savory tooth heaven when I left and I look forward to a return visit soon.