Showing posts with label French. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Manhattan's Finest: The Nomad

When I stepped into the Nomad restaurant at the Nomad Hotel with its nostalgic and upscale vibe, that was when I felt like I was a true grown up.  It was busy, with 40's + crowd, and everyone seemed like they'd been here before numerous times. Loud chatters filled the atrium as people sipped from their wine.  Dressed up parsnips seemed to be the  popular snack as they were flying out all night.  We were on a mission; to try their famous roasted chicken.   However, I ended up falling in love with other few dishes on the menu instead.

First off, we could not get enough of their artisan flatbread.  It was baked crisp and topped with sun-dried tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, and white beans.  It was hard to not fill up while waiting for the courses to arrive.

As you can see, I had no idea the marinated fluke would be a stunning art on a plate.  And yes, it tasted as amazing as it looked. The basil oil brought out natural sweet flavors of the heirloom tomato while the subtle acidity complement the fluke, making it the star. This was my favourite dish of the evening.  

Out of all the things on the menu, there's always a soft spot for poached egg, no matter what time of the day.  And this time was no different and it had to be included.  A perfectly poached egg peaked through a cloud of foam and brown butter with asparagus and crispy quinoa. When it comes to food porn, there's nothing that's more visually tantalizing than cracking a perfectly poached egg and watching the yolk slowly oozes out. Only this time, the yolk dripped down to a cloud of foam clouds. Although the sauce was a bit too high in sodium, it was an awesome comfort food no less.

Looking at this dish, comparing with other items we just had, we were not as wowed by the seemingly humble appearance.  However, the king crab tagliatelle with Meyer lemon and black pepper proved to be the underdog.  Frankly, it was a well executed dish.  The tagliatelle pasta, made in-house, had the perfect texture. It was lightly seasoned with lemony flavor, but it was enough to make an impression. Topped with succulent king crab meat, we gobbled it up the entire plate within minutes. 

When the suckling pig confit with pears cabbage and mustard showed up at the table, we already knew what we expected out of it; ultra crispy skin, a fatty layer with moist and tender meat.  

The star of the show, and what many come to the Nomad for, was the $79 whole roasted chicken with foie gras black truffle and brioche. It was the most pricey and fancy roasted chicken we have paid for.  It was presented to us fresh out of the oven before being carved up and prepared 2 ways (like a Peking duck).  It looked gorgeous with golden brown glistening skin with arrangement of fresh herbs.  But aside from that, the only other thing I seemed to notice was how small the whole roasted chicken looked compared to the size of that gentleman's hands holding it!

The different meat of the chicken was prepared two ways. Accompanied by white bean truffle puree, the breast, served skin on, was very tender but the truffle essence was very faint.   

Meanwhile, the dark meat had a more rustic take, served in a skillet with green beans and mustard seeds with a touch of acidity from vinegar. The crispy skin bits were a real treat.  Overall, the chicken was good, but in my opinion for $40-50, not $79.

Our food journey at the Nomad ended with 2 modern desserts.

I loved the artful presentation and play on 2 contrasting textures for "milk and honey".  You get the crunchy harder bits from short bread brittle with the sweet, yet mellow honey ice cream.

When it comes to taste, I thought this plum dessert was more unique than the rest.  There was a lot of flavours and textures going on in this dish; from sweet to tart to salty from the corn sabayon, spongy to rich to creamy, even temperature ranged from warm to cold.  While it was yummy altogether, I had a great time dissecting each component with each bite and trying to figure everything out.  It was unique, distinct, and special. A dish you wouldn't find at just about anywhere.

I would love to come back to the Nomad again for their creative takes on snacks, appetizers and desserts.

The NoMad on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 4, 2013

Manhattan's finest, Bouley by David Bouley


If you are looking for an exquisite dining experience in Manhattan, bring yourself and your loved ones to Bouley, a French contemporary restaurant in Tribecca and try their 5-course tasting lunch menu. I may advise that you either clear out your schedule for the afternoon or give yourself about 2.5 to 3 hours for the complete course.  Trust me, when you are seated in this luxurious oasis in Manhattan, you would not want to rush through your meal. 

My first visit was in mid September and the experience was exceptional from the moment you walked through the entrance corridor and greeted with the intoxicating scent of fresh apples. The waiting room was elegant with a sophisticated Old World vibe.  The boutique dining room with a lavender theme makes diners feel welcomed and relaxed. The service, as well, was impeccable. 

The amuse bouche of the day was a simple tomato gazpacho topped with yogurt and lobster, and a side of cracker with creme fraiche and black truffle.  It was gone quickly, but at Bouley, they do not leave their guests to starve. Before we could have time to peak through the back, looking for our first course, a man pushing a cart of daily-made artisan breads reeled the wheels to our table. The selections were endless. We tried as many selection as we'd like. 

Then, arrived the first course; fresh oysters paired with kiwi and New England Big Eye tuna.  I've never thought oysters and kiwi would work together and initially found it bizarre. It was no accidental experiment, though. The combination was a dynamite. The tartness and sweetness of the kiwi balanced out with the fresh-from-the-sea flavor of the oysters. 

My sister's Big Eye tuna was even more of a knock out dish. An extremely sophisticated dish, slices of fresh tuna were placed on top of a delicate and aromatic apple foam and topped with caviar. If the oyster and kiwi was a smart pair, this was Einstein.  My palate went into a frenzy trying to figure out what these new flavor combination  meant. This would be one of the dishes we would fly back to NYC for. 

Another dish that captivated my soul was the second course: the porcini flan. If I had to share this dish with anyone, it would be the ultimate test of my love and devotion for that very person. Inspired by traditional Japanese steamed egg pudding dish, chawamushi, this was a French spin on the Asian classic. The egg pudding was soft and delicate, disintegrating immediately as you take the first bite. The broth infused with porcini and black truffle was earthy, savory and fragrant. The meaty pieces of dungeness crab in the broth also elevated everything.  A very refined dish and one of my favorites. 

For the main course, I ordered the duck breast in the sweet, caramelized, and savory sherry date jus with clementine confit and polenta. My sister ordered the organic chicken baked "en cocotte", which was extremely moist and tender. It was served with emerald hued kale and roasted garlic. 

Moving to the fourth course, what I call an intermission, I had the white peach soup topped with sorbet, while my sister refreshed her taste buds with strawberries rhubarb and gelato. 

By the time the final dessert course arrived, we felt like we were entering food comatose state.  My sister ended her course with hot caramelized Anjou pear with Breton biscuit lemon verbena and delicious hot toffee sauce. The dessert also came with a side of Tahitian vanilla and lemongrass ice cream.  I indulged in the decadent chocolate soufflé accompanied by a white coffee cloud, white chocolate ice cream and a fluffy chocolate mousse.  We were one step closer to going to food heaven. 

Just as we thought we were finished, we were offered with more delectables...

If you are looking for a fulfilling gastronomic experience that will entice your every senses, make a reservation at Bouley. 

Bouley on Urbanspoon
Bouley Restaurant on Foodio54

Monday, January 28, 2013

Lily Mae's

One Saturday night, after we decided half an hour would be too long of a wait for dinner at an establishment in Gastown, we stumbled upon a lovely little spot just seconds down the block.  Lily Mae's was just as buzzling that night.  We had never seen or heard of this French-inpsired bistro before but decided to take a peak to satisfy our curiosity.  I would describe the ambience as warm, cozy, eclectic, and charming. Careful attention are placed in accenting decors with baby blue and white colour schemes.   Space is pretty limited, but I still find the setting quite lovely.  

We were first greeted by Armand, one of the partners of the restaurant.  He was very accommodating to us despite the bistro running at full capacity.  Our server, Natalie, was also very pleasant and, to be honest, we haven't received as attentive service as we did that night in a while.  

The menu has a list of comfort favourites such as the French onion soup, poutine, beef bourguignon,  while the prices are reasonable.  As Lily Mae's is still pretty new to Gastown food scene (it opened last October), some of the items on the menu are being tweaked.  Their winter 3-course menu for $25 is a steal and it includes an appetizer, a main, and a dessert.  You can't go wrong with that.


We chose crab cake and French onion soup as starters and neither one was a disappointment.  The crab cake was served on a bed of arugula and "ebi sauce", a punchy aioli.   What I loved about it was that aside from the crab cake being almost the size of a burger patty, it was actually packed with 90% crab meat.  It had golden crispy on the edges and was excellent with the sauce.  French onion soup was not covered with melted cheese as I had hoped, but it was tasty and comforting, nonetheless.  The crostini was baked with generous amount of cheese.  The broth was savoury, and had a lot of depth.  It was actually the star of the show rather than being blanketed by the bread and the cheese that accompanied it.   


Traditional mussels in tomato or white wine cream sauce replaced sizzling mussels on the menu and also an option on the 3-course menu.  The mussels were fresh and still a good plump size.  They didn't have that strong, distinct (almost rotting) aftertaste that some mussels have when they have been frozen or sitting around too long. I also hate to see them shrink from being overcooked down to particles.  The white wine cream sauce hit the spot and I drank it up like soup. Of course, I also used up the sourdough to soak up all the flavourful broth and they later expanded in my stomach.

Eggplant parmigiana was a great and hearty dish.  There were right amounts of cheese and tomato sauce.  It was like eating a home-cooked, low-carbs and meatless lasagna.  Armand told us it was his own recipe and they will be adding the dish to the regular menu.  
All the dishes were excellent but the rustic meatball risotto particularly  gave us an extra "wow" factor.  For some reason, the turkey and beef meatballs transferred me back to my adolescent memories.  The risotto was cooked just right, the porcini mushroom gravy was rich, earthy, and comforting; creamy but not overwhelming. 


For desserts, there were 2 options; triple chocolate Guiness cake or apple bacon cake.  Of course, without having to think twice, I pounced on the apple bacon cake.  Some may find me twisted but I have a thing for sweet and savoury, not sure why.  I leaned to the couple next to our table who just finished their desserts, "Pss.. which one was better?"  And without hesitation, the husband claimed, hands down, the apple bacon cake was really memorable.  They were both rocking back and forth, completely satisfied out of their minds.  I couldn't hardly wait for mine to arrive.   

When it did arrive, I dove in, making sure I have a good bacon:cake:ice cream: caramel sauce ratio.  



The apple cake was fluffy, buttery,  sweet with caramelized apple chunks, and moist from soaking in the caramel sauce.  The warm texture of the cake with ice cold, creaminess of ice cream, and a salty, crunchy bits of bacon and pecans just put everything together like a work of art.  I could not stop eating it.  So, to say it was good would be an understatement.

The triple chocolate Guiness cake with fruit coulis was also decadent and delicious.  It was rich and compact, but very subtle in sweetness at the same time.  

This dining experience was quite rare to occur where we enjoyed every aspect from the ambience, to service, and quality of the meal.  That night, Lily Mae's was impeccable.  Armand was also one of the driving forces behind creating this positive dining atmosphere.  He was very warm and personable.  I never realized how crucial it is for business owner, particularly in food and service industries, to create positive connection and interaction with their his guests, and thus, creating a good rapport.  Despite being incredibly busy, I don't think one customer felt neglected or unhappy because they waited for the food for too long.  

If Lily Mae's goal is to leave their customers feeling satisfied, then darn it, they were successful on that busy Saturday night.  I'm not just speaking for our table either.  I spoke with a couple next table, and they, too, just stumbled upon this gem and couldn't have left any happier.  Lots of hugs, lots of laughter.  Bravo.  Lily Mae's is definitely making her mark.

Lily Mae's Comfort Café on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dining with royal round 2; Secret Location

Secret Location's concept combines everything trendy from food, luxury, fashion, art, and contemporary design. Located right beside the ever-buzzling Chill Winston in Gastown, this not-so-secret spot is actually really hard to miss as its white open space with fluorescent lighting would turn heads for any passerby.  Not an average lounge in the city, it is worth stopping by if you want to indulge in the ambience of the glitz and glam.  Of course, when dining with His Majesty, one wouldn't expect for anything less. 


Secret Location's got great selections of specialty cocktails.  I ordered one which has the name associated with a kimono.  The cucumber taste was quite prominent, but I found it light and refreshing. Sir A&W ordered a very mean looking 'Arsenic', an indigo-coloured concoction served in a tall glass like the ones the evil queens drink from in fairy tales.  It was as mean and stiff as it looked, and worth every penny.

Plowman's Platter was a great plate to share with a group.  It arrived with a basket of  I'm not sure if I remember this correctly (the Kimono got to me), but I think it was 'duck tongue' terrine, which I really liked. It was smoky, sweet and salty like Chinese char siu pork.  The aged cheddar was sharp and wonderful, while the homemade mustard was delightful pairing with the other charcuterie.  The one lone pickled Romanesco broccoli was peculiar and fascinating to look at as it was my first contact with it.    
 The Qualicum beach scallops with parsnip and  bone marrow ravioli, chanterelle mushrooms, and carrot butterwas an art on a plate.  It actually looked prettier than it tasted.  The ravioli dough was on the extreme end of al dente.  Though His Majesty loved it that way, I found it too chewy and hard for my liking.   
This dish looked like it came straight from the garden; Italian burrata, Okanagan peach and nasturtium salad.  The grilled peaches were so sweet and juicy, it made me miss Okanagan and the summer very much.  The salad itself was crisp, the burrata was soft, yet incomparable to the ones served at Cru and Siena.  
Daily selection of canapes that night came with chicken consommé, quail, a dollop creme fraiche, and a cocktail shrimp.  That's the best description I could give.  The quail was very tender, but the other three bites were not so memorable.  
We loved the truffled organic deep fried egg and grilled asparagus, and fontina fondutta.  The black truffle was really faint, but the deep fried egg had a very crispy exterior and soft, runny yolk, which when mixed with the silky cheese sauce, was just delicious.
I stole a bite off Lady Chang's crispy skin Polderside duck, another art on a plate.  Cooked medium rare, it was very similar to the duck I had the previous night at L'Abbatoir, but with less sauce.  Again, when they say 'crispy' skin, I really wish they took it to heart and made it really crispy! 
My pick for main entree, grilled AAA striploin with peppercorn sauce and potato zucchini galette.  Though the striploin was much too chewy for my liking, despite being medium rare, I absolutely loved the zucchini galette.  Thin, crispy layers of golden brown potato pastry with even thinner alternating layers of sliced zucchini.  There were interesting components on there; the fava beans, and the pecorino stuffed squash blossom which strangely tasted very much like a dessert. 
Artichoke and black truffle gnocchi with English peas and Reggiano parmesan sounded excellent.  In reality, it was really dry.  The texture of the gnocchi was what's expected, and slightly on the chewy side.  It tasted great the first few bites, but, even with the truffle, it wasn't enough to keep us interested.  
Lady Chang finished her meal off with Petits Fours of the Moment, the passion fruit tart on the lower left corner won her over.  

At Secret Location, you can indulge on the aesthetics; elegantly presented food, and chic atmosphere.  
Secret Location on Urbanspoon