A DAY TRIP TO CHILLIWACK

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It finally dawned on me that this was the last weekend of the summer so I try to cram as much outdoor activities as possible to make sure I fully utilize the sunshine before it is gone! Weather forecast for Chilliwack that week was a little like the stock market; one day it showed rain, the next sunny and the day after, cloudy. Since all the activities I planned for the trip were outdoors, we would need a plan B if it was to rain. With a final verdict of a cloudy forecast, we decided to take the risk and head to Chilliwack anyways.

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After a 1 hr 10 minutes’ drive on Highway 1, we finally arrived at our first destination, the Sunflower Festival! We bought our tickets online the night before, saving us each $5 a ticket!

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Although it was a Saturday, it was not as crowded as I had imagined, possibly because it was still early in the day and because of the cloudy forecast. The sun was peering through the clouds so my photos turned out not so gray after all!

 

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We had a great time wandering through the sunflower fields, taking photos with various props provided by the farm and with the beautiful mountain backdrop. They even had an area where you can pick your own sunflowers home for $2 a stem. The greedy me picked the baby sunflowers so I could maximize their life spans in my vase at home!

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Unfortunately, there is very little sunshine in my patio so my sunflowers still have not yet fully bloomed ☹ Since it was the second week already, some of the taller sunflowers were already withering away. The farm had great facilities – clean, portable washrooms; two food trucks; picnic area and a playground for the kids. Parking was free and admission prices were reasonable. This is the first year of the festival and I think it was a great success!

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Our next stop was a 10 minutes’ drive into town for high tea at Dickens Sweets & British Museum. At this location, they have a shop which sells teas, teacups and other British sweets.

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Next to it is a high tea room and a small collection of British artifacts! Reservations are recommended for high tea during the weekend as it can get busy.

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For $15, we each got a choice of tea, a scone, some finger sandwiches and some baked savoury pastries. The food was delicious, fresh and served relatively promptly.

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After a good meal, we navigated through the British museum which features a full display of a British pub, a grocery store and a computer hardware shop. There was also an Expo’86 collection as well. The owner’s collection was well organized and displayed!

Before we left, we also purchased some tea and British Cadbury chocolates. They also sell their high tea pastries in the store as well but since we were full, I just picked up two Madeline cakes for the road!

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After a delicious meal, it was time to do some exercise to burn off those calories! We headed for the Bridal Falls Provincial Park to see the waterfall.

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Since I am not a huge fan of hiking, this trail was perfect for me as it only took 40 minutes in total.

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However, it still proved to be a challenge as going up was a steep uphill climb and it was a little hard to find footing at times when climbing up closer to the falls on the loose rocks. However, the effort was all worthwhile as we got some amazing pictures!

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Another 30 minutes’ drive took us to the Cultus Lake Provincial Park.

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The sun has come out fully at this point so the park was busy with families playing in the water and also set up for picnics.

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The scenery at the park was very beautiful with bristling waters, tall trees and luscious mountain.

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We had a great time playing in the water and relaxing on the floating deck. This defines a perfect summer day in Beautiful British Columbia!

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Before heading for dinner, we made a stop at Tap-Ins Putting Course to do some putting. They also have a golfing range next door but for a golf amateur like me, putting was good enough! For $15, you get access to 18 holes and equipment rental which is a good price. The course is also very family friendly and easy to follow. Not to mention, the scenery was absolutely amazing and breathtaking. I’ve played mini golf several times before but all of them were indoors. This was my first outdoor experience and I had a great time! Although I did a horrible job (+56 from par) but it was the participation that mattered the most!

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Our final stop before heading home was at Bubba’s Big Bite. This was one of the most highly rated restaurants in town on Yelp and most importantly, opened until later! It is a small hole in the wall in a small plaza, but surprisingly we had an awesome experience. Everything is made fresh to order and done in house.

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The shop is ran by a couple who named it after their son’s nickname, Bubba. The owner was very nice and came over to make recommendations for their menu and made small talks with us. Although they were busy handling a take out order, the wait for food was not too long. We ordered the vegetarian calzone and the Meatball Oinker to share.

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The signature sandwich also comes with soup and the soup of the day was the hamburger macaroni.

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The proportions were very generous that I had to pack half of it home and the taste was delicious. I like how hot the food was and how fresh it tasted as well. It was so good I actually got a triple meat calzone for lunch the next day!

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Finally, it was time to head home! It was really nice to get out of the city to enjoy the beautiful scenery of our province and enjoy the fresh air! At first, I was afraid that there will be nothing to do in Chilliwack as I have never been out there except for that one time many years ago for the corn maze. However, when I was doing my research on the Chilliwack tourism website, I realized that there were so many things to do that it was impossible to fit them all in one day! I realize that sometimes you don’t have to go on a plane or travel far to enjoy a nice vacation. Even when you drive an hour or two out of the city, you may discover another world that you have never seen before! Chilliwack is definitely more than just corns but don’t forget to pick up some fresh, juicy and sweet corns before heading home!

 

VICTORIA BUG ZOO AND RESTAURANT REVIEWS!

We made our second attempt to Victoria this weekend and thankfully the weather was much better this time! The weather was still pretty windy but at least we had some sunshine in there! I’ve blogged about my past Victoria trips before so I’ll just focus my review this time on the Bug Zoo which I visited for the first time and also on the new restaurants that I tried in town.

Victoria Bug Zoo

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The bug zoo is located in downtown Victoria so it is very accessible. The admission is a little pricy for $12.60 per adult and operating hours are not very long (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) but it is definitely worth a visit if you are into bugs. The zoo is not very big but if you do look at each exhibit, read up on the facts and touch the bugs, you will need at least 2 hours. The guide is very friendly and knowledgeable about the insects.

She took us around to the different exhibits and let us touch the insects that were gentle and did not fly away (i.e. prying mantis, Australia stick insect, hissing cockroach).

I was very scared at first but after a while, I was feeling much more comfortable to actually hold a few of them in my hand. I am not a huge bug fan but I still had a good time learning about the different types of insects and the warm enthusiasm of the staff working there touched my heart. I was sad to hear that their ant exhibit was dying as one of their queen ants had died. I hope it will pick up soon! They also have a gift shop as well but we did not get a chance to visit as they were already closed.

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Il Terrazzo

We had dinner here the first night. I picked this restaurant as it was rated the #1 Italian restaurant in Victoria on Yelp. The restaurant is located on the outskirts of downtown in an area similar to Gastown in Vancouver. The main entrance of the restaurant is a little hidden in the alleyway so it was difficult to find. The restaurant was relatively busy for a Sunday night at 8 p.m. We made reservations but there were still tables available.

I ordered the paella della casa and K ordered the fusilli con sugo di manzo. Our two friends ordered the linguine con fruitti di mare and another pasta dish. The food was served very promptly; it felt like we waited less than 10 minutes! I was very surprised as most Italian restaurants actually take longer than typical restaurants to cook their dishes. The proportions and prices were very decent. They included a generous portion of seafood as well.

The server was prompt to ensure our waters were filled. However, it was a little annoying how he checked with us a few times to see whether we were ready to pay. Perhaps the restaurant closes at 10 p.m. so he was ushering us out. Overall, I had a good dining experience so I do recommend this restaurant for others to try.

 

John’s Place Restaurant

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We came here for lunch on Monday afternoon. The restaurant was not too busy as we had a late lunch at 1:30 p.m. We also picked this place as it had great reviews on Yelp. The restaurant‘s walls covered with signed photos or posters by various celebrities. It was neat to go around and see the owner’s collection.  I love how the restaurant serves all day breakfast so I could still order my favourite breakfast item, Belgian waffles! The restaurant was showcased on Food Network’s “You Gotta Eat Here” in 2011 and they highlight on the menu which items were shown on that episode.

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I ordered The Odd Couple which is a Belgian waffle with two eggs and three piece chicken strips. This dish was showcased on the Food Network. The chicken strips had a good amount of batter, the eggs were buttery and the waffle was crispy. Overall, the dish was well prepared. K had the Nemo’s Fish Tacos which came with a side of fries. He also ordered a cappuccino which tasted quite delicious as well. Proportions were decent sized and well priced for a restaurant downtown. The servers were very nice and they seem to know all the regular diners there by name. Parking in the area is a little difficult to find but if you circle around a few blocks, you should be able to find a spot. If you are downtown, I do recommend grabbing a quick lunch here.

Nautical Nellies Steak & Seafood House

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Originally we had plan to go to Ferris’ Upstairs Seafood & Oyster Bar but since they were closed on Mondays, we decided to give this restaurant a try since it was rated the top seafood restaurant in Victoria on Yelp. The ambiance of the restaurant was decent and we had a nice booth seat by the fish tank. It is not right on the water so there is no view of the pier unfortunately. Service was prompt and friendly.

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However, the most disappointing was the food!  K ordered the one piece Atlantic cod fish and chips. The fish and the fries were both over-fried. In fact, they were over-fried to the point where you can simply tell by looking at the colour even before eating it. After trying it, the fish and fries were both very dry and the fish became crispy and shrunk half the size. We sent the dish back to the kitchen and the second attempt was better but still over-fried. When you are paying $17 for this dish, you would definitely have expected better quality from the top seafood restaurant in Victoria!

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I ordered a bowl of the lobster bisque and the blue crab brioche roll. The lobster bisque tasted decent but the texture was a little gritty which is odd for a bisque.Usually a bisque is creamy.

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As for the brioche roll, the roll was really delicious as it was very soft and buttery. There was a generous proportion of the crab meat but they seasoned it way too much. They put so much black pepper on it that it made it way too hot and covered the freshness of the crab meat. We had such high expectations for this restaurant and it simply just did not live up to its ratings on Yelp. If you had to pick a seafood restaurant in Victoria, I would highly recommend trying Ferris’ instead!

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VANCOUVER FISH COMPANY – DINE OUT VANCOUVER 2018

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As usual, Dine Out season goes by super quickly! Can’t believe this was already my last one! It is funny because we were telling our host that we were sad that Dine Out was ending but he said it was a relief for his team as it has been so busy. I just want to take this opportunity to thank all the hardworking hospitality staff for putting up with us fussy customers during Dine Out! You guys have made it such a fun and exciting experience for us!

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Ambiance – 6.5/10. The restaurant is located at the entrance of Granville Island and has a nice view of the dock with some outdoor seating. The interior though is a little dim and there is not much of décor. There was also a washroom stench when we first came into the restaurant that was slightly unpleasant. They may need to do some work on their ventilation system.

Food – 8/10. We had the dine out lunch menu for $29 per person. K ordered the tuna tataki tacos for appetizer and I had the seafood chowder.

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Both were delicious and tasted fresh.

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For entrée, K had the seafood linguini and I had the sockeye salmon. The seafood linguini was loaded with a variety of seafood and proportions were generous.

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The salmon was fresh with no fishy taste but I actually enjoyed the lobster risotto the most. It was very creamy and there was a generous amount of lobster meat.

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For our final course, K had the chocolate cheesecake and I had the apple crumble. The chocolate cheesecake was very creamy and the texture was more like a mousse.

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I enjoyed the apple crumble as well as there was a good ratio of the apple, ice cream and cookie crumbles. This time, the apples were not too sour!

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Overall, proportions were good and well worth the $29 lunch price.

Service – 7/10. Service overall was good. Our server kept mixing up our orders but it was not a huge deal.

Good to Know! –  It can be difficult to find parking in Granville Island. Allot at least 15-20 minutes for parking time!

Overall –  I didn’t get a chance to check out their regular menu but I believe it would be similar to other seafood restaurants on Granville Island which is on the slightly pricier side. Food and service was decent so I wouldn’t mind coming back again in the future.

WHISTLER – DAY 2

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After a good night’s rest, we packed up our stuff and checked out of the hotel. Then we headed over to Crepe Montagne for breakfast around 9:30 a.m. We wanted to sit inside as it was a little chilly so we waited outside in the outdoor seating area until a table was freed up. Options are relatively limited for this restaurant and prices are moderate but the crepes are absolutely delicious! At first, I was a little skeptical about how good the crepes could be given that it is a French dish served by a Japanese owner…

However, I completely fell in love with the crepe after my first bite! I’ve had crepes in Paris and Quebec City before but I think this one was by far my favourite! I ordered the Rockies which comes with 2 free range eggs and a choice of ham or bacon with a side of chicken. What makes this crepe so unique and fluffy is the touch of green onions that they sprinkle on top and the positioning of the egg as a layer in the folds of the crepe. It is also made with buckwheat and white flour which I’ve had elsewhere but the texture of this one is a lot smoother unlike the ones which have a grittier taste.

We also ordered a maple sweet crepe, a side of toast and hashbrown (actually potatoes) and they were also very good! The house coffee is also amazing and there are free refills! As the restaurant is very busy, we quickly left after we finished our food and headed over to Nita Lake Lodge for our massage appointment!

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I came to Nita Lake Lodge two years ago for their massage and I had a great time so we decided to come back. The prices are very reasonable (by Whistler standards!), they have a selection of massages to choose from and I love how you get unlimited time access to their sauna and Jacuzzi. Parking is free and also the view from the Jacuzzi is amazing! Just make sure you reserve online at least two weeks in advance so you can get the time slot you want. They will send you an e-mail to confirm your reservation a few days before your appointment as well.

After you arrive, they give you a key to their changing room where you can change into their robe and slippers. They also give you a free locker for you to put your personal belongings. After you get changed, you can sit and relax in the lounge area until they call you for your appointment. My friend and I both wanted to do the RMT and since they had only one massage therapist, we had to take turns. I was up first! I had a kink in my neck from my poor sleeping posture the night before and the massage therapist really helped to loosen it. The 60 minute massage was really relaxing that I think at some point I probably fell asleep…After I finished the massage, I changed into my bathing suit and spent some time relaxing in the sauna and then the Jacuzzi. The spa was not busy at all that day so I had the sauna and Jacuzzi all to myself. It was a busy week for me and I was really glad I could unwind here!

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After receiving a relaxing, pampering treatment, we headed off for lunch at La Cantina back in the village. The taco bar was very busy so we waited a bit to get a spot. Since it was casual dining, you have to order up at the front and they will bring the food to you.

My friend ordered the tofu burrito with added guacamole and a Cubano taco. I had the pork cochinita, pork carnitas and sweet pork tacos with a side of guacamole. I am not a huge fan of pork but the reason why I only ordered pork tacos was because they were the only ones that were not spicy!  Proportions were not very big for the tacos and it can become a costly lunch when you add it all up. Food was decent but we paid close to $20 per person!

After lunch, we started our journey back to Richmond! Our last stop before heading home was the Shannon Falls Provincial Park. The Park is closed after this long weekend so we decided to go see it before it was shut.

The Park is located right next to the Sea to Sky gondola in Squamish so it was about an hour drive from Whistler. The Falls was a little disappointing as there was so little water and you can only see it from a faraway distance. I suppose that the Falls would look much nicer in the summer when the water is flowing more abundantly! We spent about 30 minutes here and headed home.

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The drive along the Coquihalla Highway is very scenic so make sure you stop at the stopping points to get pictures of the beautiful mountains, lakes, and blue skies.

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Just a reminder that effective October 1, 2017, you must have winter tires installed on your vehicle to travel on designated highways such as the Coquihalla Highway, around the province. This requirement is mandatory until Spring!  Although the trip was a short one, it was just enough for a quick getaway for the long weekend and relax for a bit until the chaos pursue the week after!

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WHISTLER – DAY 1

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For the Thanksgiving long weekend in October, I did a quick trip up to Whistler as I got a pretty good deal for a hotel room.  We left Richmond around 9:30 a.m. and got to Squamish at around 11 a.m. Our first stop was the Sea to Sky Gondola. You can save $3 by purchasing online but you need to purchase the tickets one day in advance. The gondola is a little pricy so another option is to hike up the mountain which I would only recommend if you are an experienced hiker…For lazy people like myself, I like to stick with the easy way out J As it was a nice day and a long weekend, the line-up for the gondola was a little longer than I expected but it was moving quite fast. The 10 minute ride up to the top is very scenic but make sure you get the side facing the water because there is nothing to see if you are facing the mountain.

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This is my second time going up the gondola but last time I did not do any of the trails. I am so glad I did this time because the views are breathtaking!! After you get off the gondola, you will need to cross the suspension bridge to get to the trails. The view on the suspension bridge is amazing but it is super hard to get a photo without being photo bombed as there are always people crossing from both ends.

There are several trail options for you to choose from and the big map in the center tells you the level of difficulty and approximately how long it takes to complete the trail. I love how they place look out points in various points on the trail so you can get a really nice view of Howe Sound. If the weather is good, you get blue skies against blue water!

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After we finished “hiking”, we grabbed lunch at the café. There is only one café up top so it can get busy during lunch hours. There are plenty of food and drink options and prices are relatively reasonable. There is a large sitting area both inside and outside but I would highly recommend getting a seat outside so you can enjoy your lunch against a beautiful backdrop.

After lunch, we took a few more pictures and headed down the gondola. The line up to go up was much shorter now since it was later in the day. It can be quite chilly and windy up top so make sure you dress warmly! There is a gift shop at the bottom of the mountain but I did not see anything that was particularly interesting.

 

From Squamish, it was another hour drive up to Whistler. Our first stop was to check in to our hotel. Finding the hotel was like a scavenger hunt. The google map address took me to their sister hotel’s lobby where there is a phone you can call on to get directions to where their actual lobby is. They guided us to this back alley and told us we can park there while we check in. Once we got the keys, we had to drive somewhere else again to park our car! Even the signs for the hotel elevators were so confusing because several hotels share the same parkade! After 45 minutes, we finally made it to our hotel room. The hotel could really use a renovation as the décor looks really dated and the furniture looks worn out. However, the location is very convenient as it is located in the heart of the Village. For $89 on Social Shopper, I couldn’t really ask for more though! The room comes with a queen bed, fireplace, small balcony and a full kitchen. Although their website says my room comes with a view of the Village, all I could see from my room was the back alley where we checked in!

After we dropped off our stuff, we went for a stroll in the Village. Since I visited Whistler 2 years ago, many new stores have opened including supermarkets, restaurants and liquor stores which makes Whistler a lot more accessible. Although it was very cold, we still got ice cream at Cow’s which you must visit if you love a treat! Another popular store is Purebread which sells baked goods and coffee. They have a very interesting and large selection of baked goods and I always want to try everything! There is always a line-up here and is a little pricy!  I got two pieces of cakes and they were completely devoured before I had a chance to even take a picture…

There are also souvenir and retail shops along the way which I think are worth visiting. Make sure you also visit the famous Olympic rings which are a landmark commemorating the 2010 winter Olympics. Behind the rings, you will find a large kids’ play area which is always quite busy.

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It was very busy in the Village today as it was the last day for mountain biking. Many people were just heading down the mountain as it was getting dark. By chance I ran into a friend of mine who lives up in Whistler! We chatted for a bit and made plans to grab breakfast together the next morning. As my friend and I finished our stroll in the village, we headed back to our hotel room to change into our bathing suit for the hot tub. The hot tub was apparently located in the sister hotel so we had to run to the next lot in our bathrobes which was quite embarrassing…and what was even more weird, was that the hot tub and swimming pool was located right next to the restaurant so the diners were basically just staring at us while they eat their meal.

The swimming pool was also heated but it was just too cold to be switching back and forth from the hot tub. It was quite breezy that night so we had to submerge our whole body under water to stay warm. It was my first time sitting in a hot tub when it is only a few degrees outside! The walk back to the hotel was even more brutal as we were now soaked so the cold was so much more unbearable! We quickly changed and headed out to grab dinner at Stonesedge Kitchen.

The restaurant was not too busy that evening so we were seated right away.

My friend ordered the daily soup and a Caesar salad while I had a duck confit bruschetta and scallops entrée. We shared the London fog cream brulee. The soup of the day was a Thai coconut soup and my friend said it was very delicious.

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My duck confit bruschetta blew my mind because it was loaded with duck meat and I never realized how well duck meat pairs with salsa and flatbread! I tried my best to salvage this picture but had no luck! However, I still wanted to throw it in there so you can get an idea of how it looks like! :p

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We had to send back the Caesar salad and the scallops back to the kitchen though because they forgot the seasoning on my friend’s salad and my scallops were just way too salty!

However, their customer service was really good and they had our dishes corrected immediately. They were even nice enough to give me a 15% discount on my bill because of the screw up! The London fog cream brulee was also pretty decent.

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Despite the little mess up, I would still highly recommend this restaurant as the prices are very reasonable, restaurant is very beautiful and it’s conveniently located right in the Village! After dinner, it was already 10 pm so we decided to go back to the hotel and call it a night!