Showing posts with label Canadian/American. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canadian/American. Show all posts

Friday, June 14, 2013

Gudrun Tasting Room

While waiting for our table at Ichiro one Friday night, our party decided to roam around finding a place to sit down for a round of drinks.  As we came across Gudrun Tasting Room, the storefront seemed so intriguingly inviting that we just had to pop in.  The modest, but trendy spot looks like another promising one which you may often find if you were in Gastown.  So, to find a place like this in Steveston was really something else.

Here, you will not only find comfort food, but dishes that were designed to pair well with wine.  Cheese and charcuterie plates, cheese fondue, soups and sandwiches and the main staples here.  Although, if you love variety, you will find that some items on the fresh sheet are changed daily.  This is to keep up with the limited storage space and maintain ingredient freshness.

So rather than order a drink or 2 and some appies, our party ended up ordering a full-blown meal, trying almost everything on the menu.

I've visited Gudrun once more a week after my visit and both times I must say that the quality of the food is consistent.   The salads are always tasty and refreshing, even to those who prefer meat over veggies.  On my second visit, we ordered the cheese fondue which consisted of 3 types of cheese (I believe 2 of them were Gruyere and Emmental).  We were delighted dipping cubed baguette and whole  wheat bread into the smooth, bubbling, cheesy sauce.
Crab cake with refreshing corn salsa; simply delicious.
Meat sandwich with new potato salad
Toulouse sausages with smashed potatoes, roasted tomato and caramelized onion

Sure, chestnut mushroom, swiss chard tagliatelle with duck confit and parmesan reggiano sounded simple, but that was probably one of the best pasta I've had, next to the spot prawn carbonara at Mosaic restaurant. The sauce was cheesy and creamy, yet not over-whelming.  The duck confit was tender, not dry, and was perfect with the dish.

My absolute favourite dish here will always be the sticky toffee pudding, which is always featured on their fresh sheet.  The rich caramel sauce, the light fluffy whip cream over the moist sponge cake is seriously to die for.

It was really nice to discover that Richmond has a gem like this and I definitely look forward to visit Gudrun Tasting Room again.
Gudrun Tasting Room on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dine Out at The Oakwood Canadian Bistro

Our first dine out this year led us to the Oakwood in Kitsilano.  I've always been intrigued by their rustic, yet contemporary spin on Canadian comfort food using local ingredients. So, I was happy we made this place one of our destinations.


Pork ravioli was the most visually appealing dish.  Wasabi butter was a beautiful emerald green while pork rinds and radish sprout gave a decorative arrangement to the plate.  The texture of the ravioli was quite thick, reminding me of asian dumplings.  The pork was shredded, much similar to pulled pork texture.  The wasabi butter, I found, didn't quite help amplify the flavour and I wish they used a sauce that was thicker and richer to help enhance the flavours of the ravioli.  
Confit albacore tuna, white bean puree was served in a jar and on a wooden block for an extra rustic feel.  Altogether, the combination made a very smooth spread on the crisp garlic crostinis.  The taste was slightly acidic, but refreshing enough that you don't get sick of eating it after a few bites.
Smoked cheddar cauliflower soup was a great comforting dish on a cold night.  It was creamy with a slight sharpness. The tang from tomato foam just lightly diffused a little bit of acidity into the soup and brightened things up.   Happily floating thyme croutons added crisp texture.  


Fish seldom blow me away, but their maple smoked sablefish was really a winner.  It was fried to crisp on the edges, while the meat remained flakey and buttery texture with a sweet hint of maple.  Cod brandade croquettes were pretty dense and I wish they had a lighter sauce than the puree to dunk it in.   I've never had these cute looking patty pans before.  They had a neat flavour and texture, like hot peppers without the heat.  
The second main to arrive was wild mushroom risotto with truffle oil and baked provolone gratine  served in a skillet.  Okay, it was really cheesy, and since I love cheese so much, there was no such thing as too much cheese.  Or....was there?  It was really filling and I found myself sitting on the sideline digesting after eating more than half of it.  There was a faint hint of truffle oil, and the risotto was really "saucy".  
B ordered sous vide lamp shank to go with her red wine. The meat was fall-of-the-bone tender and juicy from soaking up the tomato nage.  The garlic mash did a great job soaking up all the flavourful broth also.


There were 2 types of Canadian favourite desserts to choose from; 'Nanaimo bar' custard and apple crumble.  Both were served in jars.  I think jars are great as containers and presentation, but switching things up wouldn't hurt anybody.

Warm apple crumble was  home-style, like how we used to make in Home Economics class.  The vanilla bavarian sitting on top was rich and creamy.  The crumble was crispy and buttery, while the caramelized apples had both tartness and sweetness with a hint of cinnamon.  
Initially, I found the Nanaimo bar custard to be a bit too sweet.  But my palette may have adapted because I couldn't get enough of the vanilla custard after.  It was really filling, though.  The ganache had large coconut chunks which gives you more texture to chew from aside from being just smooth and creamy.  

Overall, their $28 3-course menu is a great deal with fair size portion for everything.  For $10 $15 more you can also upgrade to a ribeye steak.  If you are looking to try out the Oakwood for dine out, it is worth a try.  I would recommend the tuna as appetizer, lamb shank as main, and apple crumble for dessert.  

The Oakwood Canadian Bistro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wildflower Grill

I was cordially invited to a birthday dinner of a good friend of mine in Edmonton.  It was a really nice occasion and see the good friends I haven't been able to spend much time with after all the moving around this year.  Her dinner was held at Wildflower Grill, a popular fine dining restaurant I haven't yet visited in town.

The awkward moment happened when several friends including myself walked up to a table and mistakenly thought it was our party.  See, the stereotype that asian people look the same doesn't just fly with other race, but even asians get themselves mixed up too.  Rather, it was more like, "ooh a group of asian girls our age, MUST be our table!".   If you think that was presumptuous, I have walked in at another fine dining restaurant in Edmonton.  After a hostess greeted us and I let her know we were with a party but didn't say who, she immidiately jumped the gun, "Oh! you must be with this table! Follow me!"  While I appreciated her enthusiasm, once I walked up to the table, it was a bunch of asian strangers I've never met. In fact, I wasn't even meeting up with my asian crew that night.  "No...that is not my table", said I with a look of disdain.  Her face turned, another moment of awkward silence ensued before she led me to the correct table.

At Wildflower Grill, nobody had made that same assumption about us coming in.  In fact, the staff were extremely professional and offered a great service while we there.  The only point I would take away from the ambience is that it was really loud, mostly from diners getting too excited and shouting rather talking.  We weren't at the club yet and I wondered why we were shouting this early already.

Serving redefined Canadian cuisine, the menu at Wildflower Grill is divided into several sections; small bites, light fare, and mains.  I wasn't too hungry but wanted variety, so I ordered 2 light fare and that was a filling meal for me.  Once the meal arrived, to my surprise, my peers were understanding enough to allow me to take photos of their food before anyone can touch it.  I know taking pictures when dining can get annoying, so I really appreciate my friends showing their support without me having to even ask (T^T)

The brioche was served in a sauce pan, a really cute idea and it made the bread look like a mushroom when you cut it.  Arrived warm and fluffy, no doubt the bread was a big hit amongst us who were starving.
Amuse bouche of the night was a smoked salmon canape with a tropical twist.  It was tasty enough that we were tempted in ordering a couple more.  There was also a gluten-free option available for one of our friends.
Christina raved about their potato gnocchi, which looked like they were sauteed 'til slightly charred, served with sweet pea puree, shredded basil and diced bacon.  The Serrano pepper was just there and didn't really give off any heat at all.
I looked over to Corey's appetizer and I was jealous of his jumbo scallops over butter leaf lettuce, golden beets, peas, and drizzled with white grape emulsion and bacon mustard vinaigrette.  The scallop was cooked perfectly.

I also got to sample Lan's appetizer, a sashimi-grade tuna tower with mango, pineapple, bruschetta jam, sweet hunan vinaigrette.  It was served along with mesquite grilled prawn.  This was a perfect summer dish.  It was really tasty, and refreshing.  I will definitely order it next time.
Another enticing entree, mesquite grilled sockeye salmon medallions stuffed with lobster and king crab with seared prawns and scallops, asparagus, and ice wine emulsion.  Again, I wish I would've ordered this too seeing both Corey and Lan who each ordered it finished it all.
Here is the first of my 2 light fare, Polynesian surf and turf, from the specials, 2 pieces of crispy pork belly over beet gallette, and seared scallops.  The pork belly had crispy edges with a sweet glaze which was really good especially with the fatty part.  It's definitely one of those guilty pleasure dishes.  This obviously can't be healthy if you eat more than 2, but it was so worth it! 
The second light fare was a three mushroom ravioli with smoked gouda fonduta, asparagus, piave vecchio (super aged cheese).  Right away, my olfactory sensory was greeted with a my favourite aroma, truffle.  The ravioli pasta was a thin delicate pouch filled with earthy mushrooms and cheese.  The sauce was thick, yet delicate with a tangy ending note from the "super aged" cheese.  It was nice, but I was still envious of people eating the salmon medallions.

Christina's birthday entree was a medium-rare, extremely juicy looking, peppercorn-crusted bison tenderloin with butternut squash puree, and blackberry sage reduction.
Nav ordered B.C. sable fish with grilled mesquite prawn, parmesan risotto, green beans (did I forget to mention mesquite grill is their specialty?).  The fish was really tender and flakey, and she enjoyed it very much.

Christina was presented with a wonderful complimentary birthday truffles at the end of the meal.  We all shared a splendid and very loud evening together.  It was revealed that Lan's friend, sweet little Meghan, had the true iron stomach while the rest of us were waving white flags.  Not only did she finish her main with an extra side of potato, she was also the only one who ordered dessert at the table and finished it all by herself.  As a result, someone at our table was "really impressed" with her that night. Aww, I love it when food brings people together (tear).

Food: 4/5
Price: $$$$
Ambience: 3/5
Service: 3.5/5
Value: 3.5/5

Wildflower Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A must stop in Whistler, Aura at Nita Lake Lodge

Located at Nita Lake Lodge resort, Aura is an elegant lakeside restaurant, which the moment you step in, radiates  a warm, cozy vibe and a stunning view of nature.  We settled in cozily for the Saturday's brunch during a quiet mid day. Since it was off-season, the area was really secluded and so the whole place was pretty much ours to enjoy for the moment.

 Now, it's rare that I would say this, but the service was just outstanding. We were warmly greeted and the staff remained proactive, professional and attentive throughout the service. It was a stark comparison to our later dinner service at Alta.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cute Pig's guide to best food and wine of Okanagan

Like Napa Valley, Loire Valley, and Tuscany, the Okanagan Valley is no less and one of the most beautiful places Canada has to offer. Frankly, I can't think of a better place to be around here during summer time.  Dry climate, picturesque scenery, and abundant in vineyards and orchards.  The fresh fruits from the Okanagan are some of the sweetest and best tasting you'll ever find.  I recently made my second trip this past May Long weekend and hope to come back for some fresh peaches and cherries.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

West restaurant

Last weekend, a few of us gathered together for an early Christmas dinner at the ever busy West restaurant on south Granville.  Miss C actually copped a great gift certificate deal from Top Table; purchase $250 gift certificate and receive another $50 extra.  The certificate can be used at any of the 5 restaurants within the Top Table group.  It was my first visit there and I hoped to get the most out of this experience.  

Decorated with silver ornaments and icicles, the interior of West was transformed into a sophisticated winter wonderland.  Aside from having an extensive wine selection, but they also offer a long list of cocktails and spirits.  After sampling a few, their specialty cocktails are now my favourite part of this restaurant.

When I saw kaffir fling on the drinks menu, it was something unique and I had to try it.  It was the right move as it turned out to be the one of the best cocktails I ever had.  If you love Thai food and the alluring aroma of kaffir lime leaf in Thai dishes such as Tom Yum Kung, then you would fall in love with this drink.  It was a stimulating concoction of citrus and vodka, the kaffir lime was fragrant and exotic with gentle egg white foam floating on top.

P's spiced pear and pomegranate cocktail was colourful and bubbly.  It was consisted of tanqueray gin, soda, lemon juice, and the bottom had sweet pomegranate liqueur.
Miss C fell in love with Gingerly, only available for winter season.  It also came floating with pomegranates.  Had citrus juice, gin, jasmine green tea and a very spicy gingery flavour.

We were served mini bread roll with butter and extra virgin olive oil.  After dipping the bread, I was pleasantly surprised at how pure the olive oil was.  It was fragrant, like fresh olives, very light and refreshing.  It didn't take us too long to decide what we wanted.

Our amuse bouche, parsnip soup with foam, arrived in a shot glass. It had a natural sweetness from the vegetable stock that was reminiscent to our home-cooked vegetable soup.

For starter, I got ambitious and ordered the Thiessen quail stuffed with herb mousse.  It was a rustic dish and rather filling with half a quail egg stuffed inside, which was kinda eerie to think about (they're re-united!... -_-).  The bird was served over creamy celeriac remoulade and tart caper raisin marmalade.  I was already half full by the time I finished it and must complain that there were a few tiny bones which kept jabbing me in the mouth.

P ordered duck rillettes with orange emulsion as her starter.  Similar to pates, the rillettes had a rustic nature with smooth, shreddy texture and salty flavour.  I was quite surprised there were no accompanying toasts with this dish. The orange sweetness livened the dish up a bit, but it was not as enjoyable as it could have been.

Miss C's motto when dining out, 'go-big-or-go-home' landed her the special of the day.  For $40, she enjoyed a poached quail egg over heirloom tomato salad and topped with 2 g. of shaved white truffle (normally going for $18/g!).  No photo available, it came and gone too soon.

A&W's seared foie gras was a part of his elements course, which, to my understanding, consisted of numerous small plates from different category.  The foie gras was beautifully presented and had extremely soft, rich and buttery texture. It was served over beets and contrasted by the tartness of the accompanying fruits.

The second type of foie gras had a smokey flavour and firmer texture, which reminded me of chinese barbeque duck.  The slices of foie gras was served with tart pickled strawberries.

Mmmm....crispy pork belly balanced with quince compote. The pork belly was crispy on the edges, savoury, smoky with tender fatty layers.

More from the elements menu; foraged mushrooms and agnolotti. The mushrooms, thyme, and garlic arrived wrapped and baked in wax paper.  The mushrooms were cooked perfectly, maintaining moisture with a lot of earthy flavours.  Agnolotti, squared shape stuffed pasta, was tossed in rich double cream sauce, a hint of black truffle, and shaved parmigiano reggiano .  It was the ultimate comfort dish; creamy and very aromatic.

P's main, herb crusted lamb loin had juicy and tender centre sided with lentil, daikon, and roasted garlic.

My main entree, buttermilk roasted chicken, was an interesting take on traditional roasted chicken.  It was tender, moist, and crusted with herbs, crispy bits similar to crushed up chips, and small chunks of  caramelized fruit.   It served with dollops of thick, creamy puree-like sauce.  I'm not quite sure what it was made of, but from the vibrant colour, I would guess butternut squash.  The rest of the components to the dish include wilted baby romaine and chopped pancetta, and purple fingerling potatoes.

I found a lot of their dishes were more rustic, yet refined.  The portion sizes were quite fair and I was very full after the entree.  Nonetheless, I still had to try out their desserts.  The experience was memorable.

My dessert was pineapple brioche tartine with coconut shavings, coconut macaroon ice cream, and passionfruit sauce.  It was a high-end, fancier version of those pineapples bun from your local chinese bakery. The whole combination of texture and flavours was absolutely delicious.

P's apple cake was a delectable and I almost would rather stare at it all night.  The apple cake had a layer of cranberry curd, topped with cream cheese ice cream and had filo pastry.  Resting beside it were sliced apples, and drizzled with butterscotch sauce.

Miss C's chocolate tasting came in 3 cute samplings.  The first on the far left was a warm and fluffy chocolate cake filled profiterole.  The dark chocolate gave a slightly bitter flavour that big kids like us love, and it was not too sweet.  In the middle, the raspberry chocolate almond cake layered with milk chocolate semi-freddo with crunchy top layer was our favourite.  Last but not least, chocolate ganache with raspberry compote and ice cream were both rich and refreshing.

After the bill, which came to around $460 altogether $_$.  More treats arrived to end things on a sweet note, caramel popcorn truffles.  They were delightful. Caramel popcorn bits coating the dark chocolate with gooey centre, yum!  The pastry chef, Rhonda Viani had done an excellent job here.

Actually, West restaurant has a great team of experts and professionals who bring exceptional dining experience for their patrons.  The servers were professional and informative, while the manager paid close attention to the patrons despite the restaurant being insanely packed.  I would definitely return, especially for the amazing cocktails and I must give props to the bar manager and great mixologist, David Wolowidnyk, for coming up with such exhilarating and tasty concoctions.  That kaffir fling is definitely one drink which I'll always remember.

West Restaurant on Urbanspoon