Dine Out Vancouver 2016 – Cork & Fin

I saved the best for last. This was my favourite dine out menu this year! I picked this restaurant because it had a 6 course menu which was different than the three course option offered by most Dine Out restaurants.

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Ambiance – 8/10. The restaurant’s layout is similar to a cafe. The tall open windows and seat cushions invite you to sit back, relax and enjoy the view of the busy Gastown street. The tables were evenly spaced so you did not feel cramped. The lighting, music and noise level were just right.

Food – 9.5/10. I enjoyed every single course on the menu!

I am usually not a big fan of salads, but the fried tofu in this salad really added flavour and extra crunchiness to the greens . The hamachi carpaccio was fresh and not too oily.

 

Next was the crab croquette and seared scallops. These two were my favourite. The crab croquette was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The potato filling was very creamy and delicious. I was surprised as fresh scallops usually have a very light taste. However, this one had the strong flavour of a dried scallop but the soft texture of a fresh one.

 

The entree was the short ribs and the seafood gratin. The short ribs were tender and the potatoes were cooked just right. The red wine sauce matched very well with the dish. There was also a light wasabi taste from the hot mustard vinaigrette. The seafood gratin was just a tad too dry but very creamy. I could taste the salmon flakes but definitely no traces of the shrimps.

 

We could not finish all 6 courses so we packed the entrees to go because we really wanted to try the dessert. We ordered the chocolate cheesecake mousse for an additional $8. I think this is one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. The chocolate was very rich but not too sweet. I always find mousses to be too filmsy and cheesecake too hard. However, this dessert had the right balance of both. It had the texture of ice cream except that it doesn’t melt! I am definitely going to order this when I come back!

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Service – 7/10. Servers are not assigned to particular tables.  This may explain why they are constantly busy and did not have time to make small chats with the customers. Our food and bill came promptly.

Good to Know! –  Come at least 15 minutes early to look for parking because parking is limited in this area of Gastown. We parked at the metered parking on West Cordova Street. The restaurant serves fresh oysters! Make sure you check out the special of the day written on the blackboard.

Overall – Definitely going to come back and try their regular menu! 😀

Dine Out Vancouver 2016 – Dockside

This was my final dine out this year! I came here on a Friday night with my coworkers after work.

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Ambiance – 8/10. The restaurant is located inside the Granville Island Hotel. You first walk through the grand hotel corridor. The night view of Vancouver downtown here is spectacular. There are absolutely no obstacles blocking the view. Make sure you request for a window seat!

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Food – 5/10. Was definitely a little disappointed here. The menu is $30 and food portions were decent.

My coworker ordered the legendary chili squid while I ordered the short rib croquette for appetizers. The squid was not fresh and my croquette was cold and hard. I also found the combination of short ribs and croquette a little odd.

For entrees, we ordered the flat iron steak and the sockeye salmon. My coworker said the sockeye salmon was pretty good. My steak was a different case. Frankly, it was perhaps one of the worst steaks I’ve had in my life. It was tough and evidently not fresh. The side dishes were ordinary at best.

We all ordered the same dish for dessert – apple tarte tatin. This was the best out of the three courses although I would not say it was delicious. The gelato, caramel roasted apple and whipped cream were decent. However, I felt that the proportion of the roasted apple to the puffed pasty was unbalanced. Less apple or more pastry would have been better. The puff pastry was also very hard. It was difficult to cut even with a fork.

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Service – 8/10. Our server for the evening was great. He was entertaining and promptly served our food. The food all came within an hour. The only complaint I have about service was the seating. When we made reservations, we had requested for window seats for four people. However, when we got there, we were told that window seats were only available for tables for two. If that is the case, why were we not informed when we made the request initially?

Good to Know! – The wine pairing for Dine Out was a really good deal. For $18, you got a 3/4 glass of wine with each course! There are free parking outside the restaurant.

Overall – I would probably come back to see the Vancouver night view and order only a glass of wine.

 

Dine Out Vancouver 2016 – Sylvia Hotel

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Ambiance – 8/10. The restaurant is in the Sylvia Hotel which has been in business since 1912. The exterior reminds me of the Empress Hotel in Victoria.

Given that it is a century old heritage building, it seems to attract customers similar in age (average customer there was probably in their 60’s that evening!). The restaurant was also undergoing construction when we went. Despite these factors, I still gave it a really high rating because our view of English Bay was spectacular (we had a seat right by the window). Furthermore, the live band kept the atmosphere animated and everyone there was having a great time (excluding me because I didn’t know any of the songs they were playing…)

Food – 6/10.  This one was a $30 menu. Given the prices on their regular menu, this was a really good deal, $20 savings per person. Food portions were moderate.

There were three of us and three appetizers. Therefore, we ordered all three to share. The house pate would have been better paired with crackers. It was too salty on its own. The baked brie (in the second picture) was too filling but the baguette was warm and crispy. Finally, the butternut squash soup was alright, no surprise there.

 

Once again, we ordered all three entrees on the menu. The braised beef was disappointing. The beef was too salty, the deep fried brussel sprouts were bitter and the spiciness of one of the veggies did not go well with the dish. The salmon dish was better. The mushrooms were fresh and paired nicely with the sockeye salmon. However, I felt the fish was overcooked. I am also not a big fan of beans. The mushroom ravioli was a pleasant surprise! The cheese inside the ravioli was just right, not overpowering the mushroom cream sauce and also not too filling. The sauce was delicious!

 

Dessert was creme brulee since I personally don’t like lemon served in desserts. The creme brulee was decent but the burnt sugar was a little bitter.

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Service – 6/10.  We did not know that the lounge and restaurant had separate entrances. We stood there waiting at the lounge for a few minutes until I asked one of the servers who directed us to a separate entrance. Our server was a kind old lady.  However, the food was served way too quickly. Before we even finished our entrees, our desserts were already being served.  They didn’t rush us after we paid though. We sat for a bit and enjoyed the live band (well, my mom did…)

Good to Know! – There is a live band playing every Wednesday and Thursday. One of the biggest perks is the free underground parking right underneath the hotel. Just register your license plate at the hotel reception.  I asked our server and despite its close proximity to English Bay, it’s not an ideal location to see fireworks because the tall trees will be blocking your view!

Overall – Probably won’t be coming back…unless my mom ask me to go with her :p

Dine Out Vancouver 2016 – Wildebeest

This is my sixth year of doing Dine Out and I still get excited about it each year! Dine Out goes from January 16-31, 2016 this year. I know lots of people say that food and service quality during Dine Out is subpar. However, why do I still do it? That’s because…

  1. It’s still a good ideal. On average, you will save at least $10-$20 per person for a 3 course meal.
  2. If you’re happy with a restaurant’s mediocre food and service during Dine Out, how much better would their regular menus be?
  3. There’s no better options to cure post-holiday blues in January in Vancouver. Other than complaining about the rain, eating is the next popular topic for Vancouverites  😀

Here’s a review of the two restaurants that I visited during the first week. I’ll provide the restaurants with a rating of 1-10 (1 being horrible and 10 being superb!) with respect to their ambiance, food and service. I’ll also include an interesting or useful fact about the restaurant called Good To Know! (GTK).

Wildebeest 

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Ambiance –  7/10. This restaurant has the typical gastropub vibe like others in Gastown – simplistic designs, bar chairs, moderate noise level. I gave them an extra point here as they had a back wall where you can put your jackets and purses. The wall went nicely with the decor and it was practical! Extra chair space is especially handy during the winter time when you’re dressed in layers.

Food –  6/10. This restaurant had a $40 menu. The chef had put in effort to design the dishes so they are aesthetically pleasing. However, when the food only occupies 1/3 of your dish, you can’t help but feel a little empty after eating it. I am sure your stomach will agree with you here.

 

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I had the albacore tuna crudo as the appetizer. The fish was fresh and I like how well it went with the grapefruit bits.

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For entree, I had the beef striploin. The mushroom sauce was very rich and creamy. The only complaint I had was some of the pieces from the edge of the steak were overcooked and therefore tough.

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I finished with the potato chip rice crispy square because it was the most interesting option. You can taste the potato chips which gave it a really crunchy texture. However, I felt the marshmallow at the top made the dessert too sweet overall. I would have preferred to have it without.

Service – 8/10. I came a little early than our reservation but was seated very quickly. Our server was friendly and did not disrupt our conversations. Had to ask to have our waters filled up a few times but no major issues. Our food was served all in one hour. Bill also came quickly.

Good to Know! – When our bill came, I noticed that it said “underbelly” as our server’s name. Out of curiousity, I asked our server about her interesting name…It turns out that the area that we sat in is called the underbelly. It is the basement suite of the restaurant that is normally used for parties. It is a nice venue for parties with the long tables and the seclusion from the rest of the restaurant. My friend has gone here before for a party and says the price is decent for a lot of food! For parking, I would recommend parking in the lot at the intersection of Abbott Street and West Hastings. Parking was $8.35 until 6 a.m. the next day.

Overall – I would consider coming back, but perhaps to try their party menu! 😀