Thursday, December 30, 2010
These, casual establishments all have TV sets over their bars, always showing sports channels, well stocked bars with seating and friendly, efficient servers. With almost no wages and 20% the expected tip of course they are nice to customers. There is an attempt to serve food attractively and serves are invariably large. We enjoyed a very well filled pork sandwich with cheese, onion, a mass of cilantro and lettuce. After scraping off most of the cilantro, which I like only in small doses, it became a fine sandwich.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
with that extra flavour added not only by the smoke but also by the mayonnaise with dill and other herbs, A smoked salmon starter was moist but not mushy. I didn't eat it but our host said it was "perfect".
For mains we had maple syrup glazed salmon cooked to perfection on the mesquite fired grill.
A substantial serve of potato with cilantro was beaut and the escobeche salad a remarkable contrast with it's onion, cauliflower, olives and a complex set of herbs. Mediterranean sea bass,
here called Lu de mer, is an extremely fine white fish, here served with a large helping of slightly sweet carrot and potato was a coarse presentation but a tasty and sustaining meal. You would not do better at any bistro.
They are also BBQ and meat specialists which, regretably, we did not get a chance try
They have a small wine list that covers a reasonable range with a French champagne at only $11 a glass.
Service was prompt and friendly and the ambiance outstanding.
11777 San Vincente Blvd
We were lucky to get a reservation at the Brentwood store. Store is a term used by Americans sometimes when referring to restaurants. Designed renowned architect Phillip Starck, who also designed Asia da Cuba in New York, it offers a variety of seating. There are normal tables in the centre of the room, semi private banquettes along the side, a rectangular bar
at the far end separated from an open kitchen,
and a large side room, The Dragon Room, named after a back lit great dragon on the far wall. Able to seat over 160 patrons it was near full on Monday, their quietest night.
We were warmly, greeted, and seated, by the manager, Takeshi Salto. Moments later we were offered the menus and left to make our selections. Starters began with a dish of endame, ($10)
soy beans in their pods. Easily shelled, they tasted fairly bland but all the same were very moorish. A dish of cold seared chili rubbed albacore sashimi topped with fried thin sliced onions and ponzu sauce. ($16), part eaten by the time I took this photo,
the fish having extremely delicate flesh was in no was diminished by the mild chili. This was not actually what we ordered so our server offered to provide us with a crab,
the meat picked from the crab for us instead. They were also quite happy that we ate the finished the previous dish and removed it from the bill! A second very different appetizer of almond crusted scallops in a crisp but light batter, ($15.50)
made a nice contrast.
An even milder dish followed, 6 pieces of jumbo scallop sashimi served atop sliced kiwi then drizzled with yuzu vinaigrette and olive oil, and topped with yuzu pepper paste.($16).
This created a light sweet/sour combination that was very refreshing and would be easy to make at home. It will certainly get on our repertoire. The next dish was graphically called Lobster Dynamite ($23).
It was a half lobster, mushrooms and shrimp pan sautéed stuffed back in a lobster shell with dynamite sauce (a spicy mayonnaise) and baked. Again characterized by balanced tastes, despite the name, the cream sauce, mushrooms and sweet lobster meat were mouth wateringly combined. A Kobi beef and foie gras ($20) with a plum wine reduction,
was a total surprise on a Japanese menu and we couldn't resist. The tenderloin, known as fillet at home, was juicy and the lightly seared foie gras fabulous. For desserts we had a hot chocolate cake served with vanilla ice cream ($10)
and a and a profiterole,
mini cream puff's drizzled crème anglaise with chocolate sauce ($8).
I drank cold saki
and loved that too.
A really great meal.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
We've been to smorgasbords galore and we've been to brunches galore and we've been to countless buffets but this X'mas Day buffet brunch was beyond imagination. With only 780 guests to feed, on Mother's Day they catered for 1400, sittings began at 09.30 and continued until 2.00pm. The very large room, this shows a tiny section of it,
was filled with about a dozen tables each holding up to 20 or more different offerings with very little repetition.We came at 11.00 so many trays and platters were not at their full glory, though they were continually replaced as they emptied. There is an ice carved greeting on the first table
and another further down the room.
Some tables had signs
indicating the foods on them. Others had cards at their base and of course breads
are self evident. At the far end of the room three chefs made omelets on request,
on induction cook tops on the left of the room whilst two more carved beef on the right.
Before reaching them and the chef carving turkey,
there were platters of cold cuts including four different sorts of salmon
that is hot and cold smoked, gravilax and pate, a variety of vegetable salads, including white and green asparagus, potato salads leaf salads, tomato
and more. Hot dishes included fried fish, chicken legs, Indian butter chicken, Basmati rice, a mushroom vol au vent, several casseroles including beef stroganof, whatever that is. (When we queried what Stroganoff really is there were over 170 replies on Chowhound!) Of course there were also large silver drums over heat containing various sausages, bacon, scrambled eggs, eggs Benedick, macaroni cheese, a venison pie and much more. A few more chefs carved turkey and beef around the room.There were broad tables covered with a variety of breads and pastries on one side with fruit on the other. Another table with a chocolate fountain
was equipped with small two prong forks to pick up the surrounding marshmallows, cakes and a variety of fruit with a table of cakes nearby.
Close by was a substantial tray of cheeses. At the far end of the room, through an archway two more chefs were making a sort of light toffee to pour over fruit and were also serving ice cream. Opposite this was a huge table stacked with dozens of varieties of cakes and desserts. This was not a meal to write about the taste of this that or the other thing. Rather it was a display of enormous hospitality, of how to celebrate, with a glorious display of boundless variety which could not fail to delight. No X'mas can ever pass without us remembering this overwhelming event. Congratulations to the Fairmont and their staff for a superlative performance.
and very nice it was too. The sea food was delicate and blended well in this dish. We very often have sweet and sour dishes which can often distinguish the quality of Chinese cooking. With no great expectations we ordered a sweet and sour pork in batter.($14) Wow, it was tops. The batter was crisp and tasty and the vinegar/sweet sauce just right, although there could have been a bit more of it. Green and red peppers and diced pineapple added to the taste. A large serve of stemed rice was an other surprise at $5.00. When we left we got a fortune cookie. Mine said "Enjoy good health, eat out as much as possible". Just kidding.
They claim that here you will "discover exceptional Vancouver fine dining, .......(at the) Griffins Restaurant, the city’s most popular bistro, renowned for its fine dining, lavish buffets and dramatic décor, which are highlighted by arched windows overlooking the Vancouver Art Gallery."
We did have a seafood bisque
which was well stocked with sea food but, as with so many dishes here, far too salty. Half a glass of water helped though it made the soup a little cool. A risotto
was also over salted but bearable. There is a large display of desserts
and patrons could fill up their plates with whatever they liked. For the sweet toothed this was the best part of the dinner!
Score: Something like 13.25/20
Saturday, December 25, 2010
This crab grows off the west coast of Canada. It takes about two years to mature. It grows to about 20 cm across the carapace and is distinguished by a fine slightly sweetish flesh, SC is a Cantonese style restaurant at 1128 Alberni St. in the heart of the CBD. We had a simple meal. Beginning with dumplings
which were large and loosely filled with a combination of chopped seafood, pork and mushrooms, an ordinary appetiser. Then the crab arrived.
It proved to be exceptionally delicate,and sweet as promised. It must have been very recently captured because, as soon as these crabs are caught they stop eating, absorb calcium from their shell, which softens and the meat becomes spongy. Ours was perfect. After this a sweet and sour shrimp in batter
with the sweet sour sauce served in a separate bowl and a seafood vegetable dish
were, to use a cliche nothing to write home about.