Sipping and Supping

 DBGB Kitchen and Bar
299 Bowery
New York
Ph: 212-933-5300

As mentioned in Part I of my  New York 2009 travelblogue our lunch visit to DBGB Kitchen and Bar was spur-of-the-moment as we walked by the restaurant en route to pick up our luggage before heading off to Brooklyn Terminal for a four night Labour Day Getaway Ballroom dancing cruise. On hearing that we had only a short time for lunch,  the staff seated us  at a comfortable table, promptly brought water, bread and the menu, and assured us that whatever we ordered would be right up.

We were seated in the outer bistro section. The decor was simple with a minimalistic style that appeals to me. The menus were painted in white on large wall mirrors round the room.  Our waiter, Frank, told us that this bistro in the Daniel Boulud group of restaurants, had only been open since May.

We decided to share four appetizer dishes, all of which were quite delicious.

The tuna tartare was served with a sesame-harissa sauce. Harissa is a hot red chili pepper sauce of North African origin, and it added a nice kick to the dish. The tuna tartare  was served with sliced cucmber, radish and crispy rice.

Our other fish choice was  the DB smoked salmon with crispy potato latkes and sour cream - nice but the portion seemed a bit small. Or maybe the plate was too large!

Braai
329 West 51st Street,
New  York
Ph: 212-315-3315

My attention was caught by the name of this restaurant when I was deciding which of the many eateries I should sample in this too short 7 day theatre and food visit to New York. Braai is a South African term for barbecue, and just reading the name evoked pleasurable memories of my childhood. So how could I not try this? My reservation was for 6 pm and I was heading to the theatre for an 8 pm show. 

I almost walked past the entrance, but then noticed the steps leading down below street level to the restaurant with a small courtyard adjacent. There were three small tables in the courtyard and I was seated at one of them. I liked the touch of fresh rose petals scattered around the candle holder.  To expose the public to a wide selection of South African wines, they feature three white wines by the glass and change the selection each night. I chose a glass of 2008 Steenburg Sauvignon Blanc.

The sliced bread came with olive oil for dipping, and an interesting blend of Malay spices called dukka  - in this case, sesame, fennel and cumin seeds in a light curry powder. Nice.

I was amused by the menu headings which were in a sort of pidgin English/Afrikaans mix. There were the Istatahs or appetizers and the Main Kos or entrees. They also offered a prix fixe with choice of appetizer, main course and the ubiquitous (in South Africa) Malva pudding (a cake-like pudding flavoured with apricot jam and served with warm custard) for dessert. 

I was specially interested in the game dishes. They offered sosaties of ostrich and venison as well as chicken.  A sosatie is the Cape Malay term for skewered marinated meat,  blending the terms sate for skewer and sous  for spicy sauces.

Apricot-glazed duck confit with cranberry salad

Glass House Tavern
252 West 47th Street,
New York.
Ph: 212-730-4800

One of my missions on this 7 day theatre and food trip to New York was to find new restaurants in the theatre district that served contemporary fresh and light cuisine of the kind that is now everywhere in my home city of Vancouver, British Columbia. It was a pleasure to discover the Glass House Tavern just around the corner from the Longacre Theatre where I was going to see  Burn the Floor. According to their description, Chef Craig Cupani provides contemporary American cuisine, emphasizing fresh seasonal ingredients. Sounded just what I was looking for.

Gaspacho

 The Brasserie in the Seagram Building
100  E. 53rd St.,
New York
Ph: 212-751-4850

For a late-morning brunch in Mid-town Manhattan, my dining companion suggested The Brasserie, as much for the look of the restaurant  (see New York, New York: Part I) as for the brunch menu.

As I followed the hostess down the green glass steps, I appreciated my friend's choice.  We were shown to one of the booths lining the wall. Each booth comfortably seats four and pale green leatherette walls create the illusion of  privacy..  I admired the foam green resin tabletop which my  friend  told me  a class mate of hers from Parsons Design School had a hand  in making.

Soon after we were seated, our server brought water and a whole crisp baguette with a mound of butter.

Potato salad -A frequently used derogatory reference when I was growing up - eons ago before more graphic terms became common usage - was "he is too dumb to  walk and chew gum at the same time."  The implication being that not only could the maligned victim not multitask, but he or she couldn't even multitask at two such fundamental activities.

 I thought about this as I stood in my kitchen sadly surveying the potatoes I had just boiled for potato salad. I actually can't remember the last time I made a potato salad -  it is that low carb thing - but I wanted to make something for our strata barbecue and I did not want to make yet another green salad or roasted vegetables - my usual contributions.

Into my mind popped the fantastic potato salad my friend Jan made during our Reunion Weekend on Vancouver Island, and the thought would not go away no matter how much I tried to reject it. Well,  potato salad it would have to be. And it would have to be the perfect potato salad.  I still have not got over that drive for perfection although I had better work harder at it, as you will see.

Caramel Napoleon: see the fork to the  right

Twisted Fork Bistro

1197 Granville Street,

Vancouver

Ph: 604-568-0749

One of the best kept secrets in Vancouver is a little gem of a restaurant that is located on the south side of Granville Street between Helmcken and Davie Street. It has a warm and welcoming ambience, great service and excellent food at reasonable prices. I have eaten here on two occasions now and both experiences have been great.

We came across Twisted Fork while walking along Granville after seeing a movie, and wanting a light supper, we decided to try it out. We were greeted by partner/bartender/maitre d' Mike Leslie, a delightfully affable host, who invited us to sit wherever we felt comfortable. Although it was later in the evening there were not many empty tables but we  found a  comfortable booth and settled in.

Fish and ChipsBay Moorings Restaurant
6330 Bay Street,
Horseshoe Bay
Ph: 604-921-8184

While waiting for our ferry sailing from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, we stopped off at Bay Moorings Restaurant for a light supper.  We left our luggage in the conveniently located rack near the front desk - I guess they do a roaring business with travellers waiting for ferry sailings.

Our table on the patio overlooking the harbour was shaded and pleasant, despite the warm weather. The servers were cheerful and efficient.

We both opted for the cod  with fries and a Greek salad. The cod came in a crispy batter which was thin and delicious, and was accompanied by tartare sauce. The fries were also great - it was hard to stick to my resolution to leave a few on the plate.

My impression was that this would be a good restaurant for a family meal and I would definitely consider stopping off for another meal before boarding the ferrry next  time 

Vancouver,  a food and wine lover's paradise During my long career in medicine, I would make a point of visiting  hospital laboratories, especially in children's hospitals, whenever I visited a country or a city that boasted of  a paediatric  hospital. And generally I returned to Vancouver with a renewed pride in the quality of care we provided in the laboratories of our own Children's and Women's Hospital here in BC.

Now that my second career centres on theatre, food and travel writing, I likewise take every opportunity I can to see theatre, and wine and dine in great restaurants wherever I travel. Each time I return to Vancouver whether I have experienced superb meals in London, Capetown, the Languedoc or on my recent trip to Chicago,  I realize anew how lucky we are to have the fresh food bounty from earth and sea, that we have here in British Columbia.

Prompted by an absolutely outstanding dining experience with the Chef's Table selection at Goldfish Pacifc Kitchen last night,  and looking back on the variety of restaurants I have reviewed  since I began posting my reviews to Supping in Vancouver, I realized that I need to develop some sort of a rating scale to distinguish an outstanding dining experience from an excellent or a merely really good meal.

Salmon sashimiGoldfish Pacific Kitchen
1188 Mainland Street,
Vancouver, BC
Ph: 604-689-8318 or Reserve online

Vancouver is a truly a foodie's paradise. Top quality ingredients daily are sought out by innovative chefs to produce a bounty of fresh taste sensations. So much so that I rarely have a restaurant meal that I don't enjoy. But every now and then along comes a dining experience that stands head and shoulders above even the many excellent meals  I have recently enjoyed. Completely unexpectedly, last night I had such an experience, thanks to the "Chef's Table" concept at Goldfish Pacific Kitchen and the magic touch of  new Food Development Chef, Ryan Mah.

Goldfish restaurant has been open at least as long as I have lived in Yaletown and I have previously enjoyed both  dinners  and lunches there.  But looking back on the restaurant reviews in my archives on ReviewFromTheHouse.com, I realized that  I had not dined there since I introduced the Sipping and Supping section of the website.  It was time to review this restaurant, I thought.  Planning a relatively early supper, I noted that Goldfish was once again offering a prix fixe meal between 5 pm and 6:30 pm.  With a choice of an appetizer, an entree and a dessert for $25.00, it seemed like really good value, so we thought we would check it out.

b1BOKA Restaurant and Bar.

1929 N. Halsted Street,

Chicago

Ph: 312-337-6070 or Reserve Online



Day 3 in  Chicago- July 2009  was the only free evening I had to see a play. Fortunately we were able to get two tickets to Up at the Steppenwolf theatre. The show time was early - 7:30 - and my friend was driving in after work, so I would be dining alone. I decided to see if I could get a table at BOKA, across the street  and a little up (no pun intended) from the theatre. After an excellent dinner the night before at  Perennial, their sister restaurant  I had checked out the BOKA  web site and the menu of executive chef, Giuseppe Tentori, looked great.  



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