gracecheung604 | write on time: February 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Late dinner at Hamilton Grill

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I checked out Hamilton Street Grill based on recommendations from some of my Twitter friends, such as LRX350 and MissAboutTown. After the #ComedyFest, we headed down to Yaletown to check it out. I was surprised at the place once we walked in. I was expecting a bar-type atmosphere but was pleasantly surprised at the coziness of the place (cloth napkins)! I wasn't expecting that, nor the wine and water glasses on every table, but there they were! We were seated at a table by the window, and not made to feel like a nuisance, even though it was 10:30. 
As we were perusing the menu, our server came by to describe the specials of the night. We were there for steak, so even though the specials sounded good, we had red meat on the brain.

We decided to start off with half a dozen oysters, which arrived less than 5 minutes after we ordered them. This made me question how 'freshly shucked' they were, but they were good. However, I was surprised that they came with some greens, but not on ice. I was a little worried as to their freshness, but I really wanted oysters, so threw caution to the wind. One thing that was disappointing was the lack of fresh horseradish, which I really enjoy with oysters. Given the classic setting, I was surprised that no bread was served 'gratuit'. Oh well, guess we'll have to manage without.

We also got the Pork Chop and it was amazing! Juicy, moist and huge! This was one of the best pork chop I've ever had. And the gravy with the bacon? Over the top!

The Pork was really thick...this is a better shot of the thickness!

We were there for steak, so we got their New York Steak, which was described on the menu as Blackened. When the plate arrived, the steak was topped with onion fries, but the steak wasn't really blackened. It was cooked to a perfect medium rare, but the flavour was a little mild.
As you can see, the steak was really well-cooked, with a nice char on the outside and red medium center. So although it wasn't a 10 out of 10, I'd give it an 8 with an intent to retry, possibly earlier than 10pm. I thank my twitter followers for introducing me to this place, and I am delighted to have tried it.
Hamilton Street Grill on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lao Shan Dong - Noodly Goodness

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One cold wet day in December, we decided to try out Cattle Cafe in Burnaby. Unfortunately, the place was jammed packed with a 45 minute wait. We trotted over to Lao Shan Dong instead where the wait was a mere 5 minutes. This place has been around for years yet I never knew of its existence. They serve noodles primarily, but there are some other Taiwanese appetizers offered as well. We didn't try them this time around, but would likely be back to give their marinated stuff (pig ears, tendon or tripe to name a few) a try.

We didn't think just noodles would be enough, since we were pretty hungry. So we ordered a small plate of the Pork And Vegetable Dumplings. These are simply boiled and served without any soup. A small serving gets you 10 for $5 and a large serving of 15 will cost you $7.50. It's plain but they give you soy and vinegar to dip the dumplings in, but I opted for chili oil instead. These dumplings have a great mouth feel with a nice chewy skin and a good meat to wrapper ratio.

We tried their Ground Pork Sauce Noodle, which as you can see, is a non-soup, drier noodle. The ground pork is a little sparse, but the noodles were really good. You can tell these aren't store bought noodles, rather someone in the back is likely making them by hand. It's cooked to a perfect al dente texture and the porousness of the noodles really help it absorb the pork sauce. I just wish there was more of it!
I like a soupy noodle, so I opted for the Braised Beef Flank And Tendon with Noodle In Soup, Spicy, of course! The flank and tendon were quite aplenty here, much better than the pork sauce, I would have to say. Cooked to a nice meaty moistness, these were really well done. I liked the overload of green onions and a pickled mustard greens. It gave the whole dish a fresh and acidity that helps cut through the beef and broth.
Oh, and beware, cash only. 
Lao Shan Dong Homemade Noodle House ่€ๅฑฑๆฑ้บต่ŽŠ on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 25, 2012

fEASTVAN - Les Faux Bourgeois

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Although Dine Out Vancouver is the more popular Prix Fixe dining bargain in early 2012, another up and coming event is fEASTVan. With participation from East Van restaurants, $1 from every prix fixe dinner sold will go towards the Vancouver Inner City Back Pack Food Program. Great cause with Great Food! 
We tried their Assiette de Charcuterie, which features a changing assortment of cured meats, cheese with some dried fruit and nuts. This is one of my favourite ways to start of a meal. Lots of selection and salty flavours. Things like this really whet my appetite. 
For our mains, we selected the Canard Confit, which was a duck leg confit, with a load of du Puy lentils. Rounding out the plate were some green beans and a mustard jus. The skin could have been crispier, but the mean inside was nice and tender. Although I've never been a huge fan of lentils, their presence here gave this dish the comfort factor that I didn't expect. 
The other main we got was Le Steak Frites, a generous portion of hanger steak with frites. On the side is your choice of a red wine shallot jus or herb butter or green peppercorn cream sauce. We went with the red wine and was really happy we did. The butter or cream sauce would have been too rich for the steak, which was just gently seasoned with salt and pepper. Grilled to a medium rare, they let it rest and then slice it up for your enjoyment. And yes, the portion is really big, and definitely ample for one person. I've come here quite a few times with my parents before and it has slipped my mind over the past few months. But now, I remember and will definitely be back. It's a warm and cozy room and the wait staff really know their stuff.

Les Faux Bourgeois on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dine Out Vancouver - Cobre

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I've been meaning to try Cobre for months now, and finally, during #DineOutVancouver, I finally did it! They were ONLY offering their Dine Out menu, and nothing from their regular menu. I found that a bit odd, but that's how they decided to do it.
The first course was Tacos and we got the Pulled Duck and Prawn ones. Each appy comes with four tacos, so yes, definitely a generous portion! On the left is the Pulled Duck, and although I prefer my duck done in the Chinese way, like at Grand Dynasty, this version was pretty good too. They serve theirs with some crackling, scallions and roasted garlic, and the creamy garlic and crunch crackling made for a nice texture. The duck was well seasoned and you get quite a bit in one taco. The Prawn one was nice, but there was too much sauce from the roma tomatoes for my liking, but the horseradish gave this a nice kick. After four tacos, I was already getting full. 
For our mains, we both ordered the Grilled BC bison strip loin. Three generous pieces of sliced striploin each topped with some mushrooms and an empanada. The sauce was a lovely mole-based sauce and very fitting with the strip loin.
The empanada was stuffed with a bit of blue cheese and it reminded of a cheese filled dumpling. I really like the play of meat and cheese, so this was really delightful. I found the meat a little tough, but it was well seasoned and cooked to a nice medium rare. Perhaps it's the nature of bison? 
Our first dessert was a Tres Leche cake with a bit of lemon ice cream on the side. This cake was quite light despite being soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. The lemon ice cream was a nice accompaniment, as it served to further "lighten up" the cake
Our second dessert was a Phyllo Pastry with Coconut and Banana cream. This was very delicate in flavour, which was a good thing, since I'm neither a coconut or a banana fan. I much prefer the the Q4 version of Phyllo Dessert, with mascarpone cheese and cherries!
Although I don't agree with the "forced" Dine Out menu, what I tried was good and I'll likely return to try some of their regular menu items.  
Cobre on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lunch with Work at Mosaic

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I work really close to the Hyatt Hotel so on several occasions, we've had some working lunches there. Here is a compilation post of a few visits. Be sure to tell them you're there for a working lunch and they will show to you a larger than usual table, perfect for note-taking and spreading out papers.  
One visit in the winter resulted in a comfort food meal of French Onion Soup. It's hearty and cheesy. Not overly salty like some other places. They lose out to The Keg because they just didn't have the cheese that overflows and oozes over the bowl. The cheese was sufficient, but not excessive, which is what I liked.  
After having the soup, there was no way I could finish a whole sandwich. Fortunately, my co-worker also got a French Onion Soup, so we decided to split their Club House with bacon, and turkey. As expected, you get some tomatoes, cheese and lettuce. We both opted out of the mayonnaise but requested the garlic fries! Hey, we're healthy...not sadists!
On another even healthier occasion, I decided to get the Cobb Salad. I know it doesn't look very big, but it IS! Loaded with grilled chicken, bacon and egg...it was topped with some avocado, blue cheese and a lemon-dijon dressing. It's good if you're in the mood for healthy...and it's hearty too, I couldn't even finish it! 
Mosaic on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

#VeraceAmore - Love for only $15!

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Verace Pizzeria and Enoteca is launching their #VeraceAmore this week (February 22 - April 22, 2012) in conjunction with VANEATs.ca. I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the menu. You get 4 dishes for $15, there is a little bit of everything. This deal is a limited offer and you can only purchase it via VANEATs.ca. There is also a few chances to win this great package from their site too. 

Once we were seated, we were offered a choice of still or sparkling water, both of which are free. We opted for the sparkling...bubbles! I also ordered a class of Sangiovese and noticed that they have a special contraption that sucks the air out of the bottle once it's been opened, so it keeps fresher. It's on the top part above the bar

First of the food to arrive was the Burrata, a scoop of this rich and creamy cheese is a great accompaniment to their Rosemary and Grana Pandano bread. It was a nice way to kick off dinner. The lemon oil and the balsamic took it over the top.

The second dish to arrive was the Salati Assortiti, an ever-changing assortment of cured meats and cheese, vegetables, and marinated olives. On the day I went, we got Genoa Salami, Proscuitto, Brasaola, Fontina and Smoked Mozzarella. We also got some amazing beans, lupini and giacondi. And yes, plenty of olives too! What I really liked about this dish was that everything was room temperature, so that you really got to taste the ingredients. It's the first time I actually enjoyed Fontina...because it was actually creamy!

The Napoletana pizza the comes with #VeraceAmore is 8" Pizza, 100% handmade. Half of it is their Prosciutto e Rucola, with prosciutto and arugula on top of a tomato sauce with some mozzarella. The other half is their Funghi, made with balsamic onions, assorted mushrooms in a mushroom cream sauce. Both are topped with Grana Padano and EVOO. There was so much arugula I brushed some off and enjoyed as a salad! The proscuitto was plentiful too. I really like mushrooms, so that Funghi was perfect for me...and the balsamic little onions really sets the dish apart.

Not sure if one pizza was enough for the two of us to share, we decided to order another one off the menu. We went with the Srrento ($16.50) with smoked provolone, ham, peppers, fresh basil and the ever present grana padano and EVOO. This was a Biano pizza, so no tomato sauce here. But you really don't miss it, there are so many other flavours going on! 

What I enjoyed most about both pizzas is that despite the very thin crust, they don't come out soggy. Oh, and they didn't forget to cut the pizza, that's how they serve it here. Although there is less cheese than you are probably used to, it's under-statedness really lets the toppings sing. They serve all their pizzas with garlic oil, chili oil and chili pepper flakes. And just a heads up, just a few shakes will do ya.

The final dish was the Lemoncello Layer Cake. Two limoncello slightly soaked lady fingers with yummy layers of lemon curd and mascarpone cream, then topped with fresh raspberries. I loved this dessert and could have probably eaten another one. The lady fingers kept their crunchiness and were a great contrast to the filling.

We chatted with our server and he told us that next week, he will start to make gnocchi in-house! Can't wait to return to try!
So if you have been meaning to try Verace but haven't had a chance to, this #VeraceAmore deal for $18 is a great introduction. To learn more, take a look at this 30-second video.

Verace Pizzeria Napoletana and Enoteca on Urbanspoon

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