The menu offered a three course option - a selection from the starter, main and dessert course menus but we decided to be adventurous and try the tasting menu with wine pairing. Our server, Quentin, explained that it was a five course tasting menu and we would not know in advance what the chefs were preparing. We told him about food allergies - I avoid clams and mussels - and he asked how we like red meats prepared - medium rare, and then he whisked off to the kitchen and we sat back to contemplate what would be coming.
The first interesting touch was the sparkling wine that was served in the most unusual, exquisite champagne flutes. Steve, the sommelier came over to tell us about the Sumac Ridge Tribute - a non-vintage 100% chardonnay-derived sparkling wine made in the traditional method. Apparently Sumac have made this particular Tribute wine on only two occasions, one to celebrate the Millennium year and one specially for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
We were given an amuse bouche of cured cellar-aged Wagyu beef short rib with truffle vinaigrette and goat cheese. A delightful mouthful.
Next Steve appeared to pour a Clos du Soleil Baessler Pinot Blanc from the 2010 Growers Series. The Growers Series are wines made from a single vineyard by this boutique winery in the Similkameen Valley.
This wine paired beautifully with the first dish, a lightly seared piece of salmon served with tiny pieces of pineapple, slivered carrots, grapefruit and a coconut panna cotta.
Ensemble, which opened in Vancouver a couple of months ago, was on my "must visit" list and finally, before going to see Anything Goes at Theatre under the Stars, I managed to organize a pre-show dinner visit.
Like many of my local foodie friends I had followed the ups and downs of Chef Dale Mackay's television journey to the title of Top Chef Canada, and we were all curious to see what concept he would bring to his own new establishment.
When we arrived shortly before 6 PM the place was not just bustling- it was packed and in the 75 minutes we were there, several of the tables turned over.
So Ensemble has obviously captured the attention of local diners. We soon found out why.
The tables were reasonably spaced so that although the animated conversation of happy diners was at a moderately high decibel level, we could comfortably enjoy a private conversation. We also liked the little touches such as the silver bolts that held cutlery, and the in-house bottled carbonated water.
We picked Le Bistro for our pre-show meal before heading into Stanley Park to see the Theatre Under the Stars production of Bye Bye Birdie in Malkin Bowl. This was my first visit to this restaurant although it has been around for a long time.
1037 Alberni Street,
Ph: (604) 687-2858 or Reserve Online
We were going to be treated to a Mother's Day brunch at Italian Kitchen but at the last minute, had to cancel due to illness. So we were very happy to be able to reschedule to a later date. There were five of us who arrived for the Sunday lunch.
Diva Restaurant and Bar at the Metropolitan Hotel,
645 Howe Street, Vancouver
Phone (604) 602-7788 or Reserve Online
For our pre-show dinner, before seeing Bridge Mix 2011, a site specific theatre production at the Metro Parkade on West Pender, we went to Diva at the Met Restaurant.
It was a pleasant twenty minute walk to Granville and Howe, and we noticed that on a few of the boards covering broken windows from the previous evening's mayhem, people had written comments expressing the anger at the rioters and support for the city and our Canucks.
Whet Kitchen.Bar.Patio 1517 Anderson Road, on Granville Island Vancouver
Ph: (604) 696-0739 or Reserve Online
As a very regular theatre reviewer of productions at the eight or so theatre venues on Granville Island, who also writes about my pre-show meals, I am always being asked for pre-show dining recommendations. So I keep a lookout for new places to eat on Granville island - especially those that I have not recently reviewed.
Culinaria Restaurant - at the Art Institute of Vancouver
100 - 609 Granville Street, Vancouver, B.C.
Ph: (604) 639.2055 or Reserve Online
We enjoyed a delightful dining experience at Culinaria before strolling down Dunsmuir Street to The Queen Elizabeth Theatre to see Vancouver Opera's La Traviata.
Culinaria is a fine dining restaurant that showcases the skills of students at the International Culinary School of the Art Institute of Vancouver. Among the programs offered are Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry Arts, Restaurant Management and Sommelier training.
Fortune Garden Restaurant
1475 West Broadway
Ph: (604) 736-6868
The essence of enjoying a banquet of Chinese food is sharing it with family or friends. A group of us headed to Fortune Garden Restaurant for a banquet which started off with two dishes of Alaskan King Crab - a delightful beginning to our meal. After showing us the uncooked crab pictured above, they whisked it away to pepare the dishes.
In the meantime we settled in to drinking tea, white wine (Lindeman's Bin 65 Chardonnay) or red wine (2008 Mouton Cadet from Bordeaux ) or beer.