Maille Flavour Studio: Make Your Own Mustard

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NOTE: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are based on my own experience.

Last month, I was invited to the Maille Flavour Studio at the Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest. La Maison Maille has been around for amount 300 years now and originated in Marseille, France. They have boutiques around the world including London and New York, but unfortunately not in Vancouver. You can find select items in Loblaws or Urban Fare though.

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Other than their classic dijon mustard, they also carry cornichons and flavoured mustard. The flavoured mustards are great for pairing with pretzels and crackers. Some of the flavours include Parmesan Cheese and Basil, Blue Cheese, Pesto and Arugula, and Mango and Thai Spices.

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Peach Chutney Glazed Waffles with Honey Mustard Fried Chicken

When I think of mustard, I automatically think of hot dogs. But after attending the Maille event, I was amazed at all the recipes that mustard can be incorporated in. First up was these bite sized Peach Chutney Glazed Waffles with Maille Honey Mustard Fried Chicken. I loved how the honey mustard came in the little pipettes and you squeezed the mustard into the chicken as you pull it out.

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Steak, Coleslaw and Honey Mustard Sliders

Another favourite was the Steak, Coleslaw and Honey Mustard Slider topped with a cornichon.

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Smoked salmon and mustard also pairs very well!

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Vanilla and Maille Mustard Poached Pear

Wait, dessert and mustard? Yes, apparently you can use mustard in sweets! Served in verrine with bourbon mascarpone mousse and a pommery mustard praline topping, these were a delicious treat!

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Okay, so mustard can be used to make desserts, but what about cocktails? Yes! This was definitely a huge surprise for us.

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Le Moutarde

K loved the mustard cocktail called Le Moutarde. Slightly sweet with a shot of Vodka, this got us curious what was in it. The following is the recipe to make Le Moutard:

  • 2 tsps. liquid cane sugar
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz white cranberry juice
  • 4 cucumber pieces
  • 1 tsp. Maille à l’estragon mustard
  • 1 oz lemon flavoured Vodka Absolut
  • ice

You can find more recipes for cocktails and other dishes on their website!

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Halfway through the event, mustard sommelier Harry Lalousis showed us how to make a mustard vinaigrette perfect for salads. He knows everything about mustard and I’m amazed at all the recipes he’s made with mustard!

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Then we got to the fun part! We got to make our own mustard! At the event, the public was able to do this for $2 which is a pretty good deal!

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The stations are set up with a variety of ingredients that pair well with mustard including fruits and herbs.

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Everyone gets their own mortar and pestle.

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For my mustard, I decided to add rosemary and lemon juice. You really have to grind up the rosemary leaves!

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You can then choose to add either the Old Style Grainy Mustard or the smooth Dijon Mustard.

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I decided to go with the grainy mustard since I love this paired with meats and cheese on a charcuterie board.

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Mixed it up a bit and there you have it! My own creation of mustard! K made a raspberry infused one and it was surprisingly very good as well. We’ve already been using our mustard with our dishes including pairing it with our rack of lamb. Delicious!

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Overall, it was lots of fun learning all about mustard and the ways you can incorporate it in your dishes. You won’t want to go back to the generic brands after you try this gourmet brand of mustard, Maille!

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Le Crocodile (2016 Valentine’s Menu)

For Valentine’s this year, S spoiled me with a fancy five course dinner at Le Crocodile. Le Crocodile has been around for over 30 years now and is known to Vancouverites for being the classic fine dining spot featuring French cuisine. This elegant restaurant is known to impress.

Surprisingly, the restaurant was quite brightly lit, although they did dim the lights later in the evening. Many couples had already been seated when we arrived. I don’t know if the seating is as tight on normal nights, but I found that we were quite close to the other couples next to us, so it wasn’t the most intimate experience. Perhaps they tried to fit more people in during this night to maximize capacity.

Dinner started off with complimentary bread, which featured both white and whole wheat. Slightly warm but not the best I’ve had. I found it on the harder side.

Dungeness Crab Cake Lady Purse

Our first appetizer on the menu was the Dungeness Crab Cake Lady Purse which was served with a heirloom tomato and fennel salad with lemon and yam aioli. The presentation was beautiful with the puff pastry shaped into a beautiful fan. However, it got quite messy as the pastry got everywhere on the table when we began to eat it. The crab cake itself was pretty good and I really enjoyed the salad which has a nice acidity to it.

Wild Mushroom Ravioli

Next up was the Wild Mushroom Ravioli served with thinly sliced duck breast in a foie gras veloute. The duck was nicely cooked to a medium rare and I loved the earthy flavour of the mushroom filling paired with the foie gras sauce. However, I did find that the ravioli was slightly undercooked for mine. The edges were still quite hard. Not sure if they did that on purpose.

Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Roasted Lobster Tail

For our mains, we could choose between the Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Roasted Lobster Tail or Sablefish with Tagliatelle Pasta and Grilled Alaskan Scallops. However, S and I both ended up choosing the Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Roasted Lobster Tail. This was served with a pinot noir and black truffle reduction. The tenderloin itself was quite a large portion and I liked the crispy edges. However, I had asked mine for medium rare and I found it to be slightly more of a medium. Only the very centre was more rare. S’s was cooked on point though. The lobster was slightly too salty for my liking. However, I really loved the red wine and black truffle reduction. I couldn’t stop dipping my meat into it!

Pineapple and Vodka Sorbet

We were then served a palette cleanser which was the Pineapple and Vodka Sorbet. It was really refreshing and definitely cleaned our palettes from all the previous flavours.

Valentine’s Dessert Creation

Lastly, for dessert, you get to share their Valentine’s Dessert Creation. This was perfect since we were already really full! It came with a delicious coconut soufflé. This was super light and fluffy! My favourite of the three. In the middle was a chocolate brownie with maple caramel ice cream. On the very end were two lemon curd tarts topped with raspberries. I found these a little too tart for my liking.

And of course dinner ends with their signature crocodile chocolates (one milk and one dark). Nothing too special about these to be honest…

Overall, we enjoyed our evening at Le Crocodile with a great fine ding experience and service. However, I had higher hopes for the food and left feeling everything was good but nothing “wowed” me. You know that feeling when you want to go back already and have the dish again? That didn’t happen based on the dishes on the Valentines’ menu… I guess they settled for dishes that could be easily executed during the busy night, so I think I will have to come back again on a regular day to get the full experience and choose dishes they are famous for. Plus for $98 a person, this was quite a hefty dinner.

Pros:
– Consistent and good quality dishes
– Professional and attentive service

Cons:
– Expensive, although portions are very reasonable
– Dishes from the Valentine’s menu were good but nothing amazing

Price Range: $98/person (Valentine’s menu)

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3.5 Service: 4 Ambiance: 4.5 Parking: 3 Overall: 3.5

Le Crocodile Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Top 10 Restaurants I Tried in 2015

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As 2015 is coming to an end, I thought it would be fun to look back at the restaurants that I’ve tried during the year to pick my top favourites. These are restaurants that I discovered in 2015 of which I personally enjoyed and now frequent or would love to revisit again in the near future. I couldn’t pick my top favourite so they are randomly ordered. I’d also like to take this chance to thank all the readers who have followed me this past year and I can’t wait to share my food adventures with you all in the new year! Happy New Year!

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Sushi by Yuji
Cuisine: Japanese (Sushi)

A hidden gem I discovered this year is this tiny Japanese run sushi spot offering fresh sashimi and eye-catching nigiris. Good quality and reasonably priced.

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Café Salade de Fruits
Cuisine: French

A longtime restaurant I only discovered this year is this cozy French bistro hidden inside the French Cultural Centre in the Fairview area. The mussels are plump and juicy and portions are generous.

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Tacofino Taco Bar
Cuisine: Mexican

Expanding past their burrito shop earlier this year, this taco bar is my go to place for a good taco and their must-order nachos. Fun ambiance with great food and drinks in the Blood Alley of Gastown.

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Chef Tony
Cuisine: Chinese (Dim Sum)

A new addition to the vast Chinese restaurants in Richmond in 2014, I only visited the restaurant this year and was very impressed. Elevating simple Chinese dishes by incorporating luxury ingredients like truffle and abalone, this spot is sure to impress your guests.

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Chatime
Cuisine: Taiwanese Bubble Tea

2015 marked the addition of this Taiwanese bubble tea chain which has expanded rapidly over the Greater Vancouver. They offer quality and consistency in their drinks as well as a large variety of choices. Also one of the few bubble tea shops that allow you to customize sugar and ice levels. The must order here is the grass jelly roasted milk tea!

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Hawksworth
Cuisine: Westcoast

Awarded Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants in 2015, David Hawksworth carefully prepares dishes which feature the best ingredients of B.C. With a stunning ambiance and exceptional service, this upscale restaurant is perfect for special occasions when you want to splurge.

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Pho 37
Cuisine: Vietnamese

This hidden gem in the Richmond Ironwood Plaza may look underwhelming on the outside but the clean, well-kept interior and friendly service always impresses me. It’s now my go to place in Richmond for pho.

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Yah Yah Ya Ramen
Cuisine: Japanese (ramen)

There are very few choices for ramen in Richmond, but I discovered this Japanese run ramen shop this year. They specialize in their pork bone broth. Diners are able to customize the firmness of noodles, heaviness of broth, and amount of oil. I find myself returning here whenever I want ramen but too lazy to travel Downtown.

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Temper Chocolate & Pastry
Cuisine: Desserts

Tucked away in the village of Dundarave in West Vancouver, this chocolate and pastry shop is perfect for those with a sweet tooth. Owner and chef, Steven Hodge trained under Thomas Haas, so you will find many chocolates and pastries inspired from his training there.

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Ask for Luigi
Cuisine: Italian

In a tiny white house past the bustling Gastown shops towards the Railtown area, you will find line ups at this spot at all times. Be sure to get here early or expect a wait at this casual Italian family style restaurant offering delicious fresh pasta and other goodies.

 

Cafe Salade de Fruits

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I’ve always wanted to try Cafe Salade de Fruits, but I thought that it would be a bit of a walk from work. We decided to head over there anyways, and surprisingly, it was only a 10 minute walk, so it’s not too bad. This is such a hidden gem, since the restaurant name isn’t really obvious and there aren’t too many restaurants in this area. It’s tucked away in the French Cultural Center.

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They have interior seating, but since it was a sunny day, we sat outside in their patio.

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The spot is as French as it gets. All the employees have a thick French accent and many of their diners also speak French. This is the spot to go to if you want casual French bistro food.

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Lunch starts off with complimentary bread and butter. The bread was extremely soft and fluffy.

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Sandwich of the Day: Steak Sandwich with Fries

All the guys went for the Sandwich of the Day, which was a Steak Sandwich for $10. This came with your choice of green salad or fries. They all went for the fries. They were warned that they do not serve ketchup with fries, but rather mayonnaise only. That’s the way the French do it! Some of them wished that there was ketchup, but they had to make do with the mayo. The portions are huge! You get a good amount of steak and it was cooked to tender. Most of them couldn’t clear their plate of fries!

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Moules et Frites (Regular)

Although I wanted to try the Steak Sandwich too, I had heard great things about their Moules et Frites. So, I spent a bit more for lunch to try this dish out and I couldn’t be anymore happier. I got the regular size for $16 and it was a huge pot! The mussels were one of the most fresh and plump mussels I’ve had. There were no empty shells. You can choose between some broths, and I went for the classic white wine and shallots. All the guys tried some and said they were delicious! It also came with a huge order of fries again. These were skinny and crispy. I ended up dipping them into my broth. I wished there was more bread to do so as well.

Overall, we were extremely pleased with Cafe Salade de Fruits. I think these are some of the best mussels I’ve had in Vancouver! They also offer a variety of soups, sandwiches, and quiches. A must try!

Pros:
– Mussels are fresh and plump
– Portions are huge and price is reasonable

Cons:
– Not much parking in the area

Price Range: $10-20

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 2 Overall: 4

Cafe Salade de Fruits Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

MoMa Contemporary Bistro

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For my birthday this year, I decided to do a small birthday dinner and wanted to stay in Richmond. The foodie inside of me told me that I needed to try something new though. And so I looked around and finally decided on MoMa Contemporary Bistro, which is in one of the oddest location hidden next to a printing company on Cambie Rd., hence most people don’t even know it exists.

The two chefs are Asian but have extensive culinary experience in Italian and French cuisine, so MoMa offers a fusion of that. The interior is small, but can fit probably around 30 diners. Simple ambiance and definitely bistro style. On a Friday night, it was rather empty. Service was a bit disappointing as our server was almost too quiet for our large group and was difficult to hear the specials. She also had to read off her paper, which didn’t seem too professional.

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Steamed Clams

Anyway, onto the food. Our server had warned us that the dishes are quite small, but are meant for sharing. How are you supposed to share when the dishes are so small though…? Well SF got the Steamed Clams and this had a sake-miso broth, wakame, and scallions. I almost wished this came with bread or fries, since it seemed like a rather small portion to get full. I had a taste of this and the broth was quite good with the clams being fresh.

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Prawn Fritters

MC and K shared the Prawn Fritters which are crusted with seaweed and came with a MoMa chili aioli. Again, the portion was quite small for around $11.

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Seafood Bouillabaisse

Their special of the day was the Seafood Bouillabaisse. It had clams, shrimp, and peas. My friends said this was just alright. I also found it sloppy that the rims of the dish wasn’t cleaned since they seemed to focus on appearance here.

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BC Sablefish

For myself, I shared with S a few dishes. The first dish was the BC Sablefish, which came with farmer’s vegetables, spaetzle, and a soy marinade. I really enjoyed the salad as the dressing was slightly sweet with a hint of citrus. The fish was cooked sous vide and was moist, but the portions were quite small given it was $25. Seemed more like an appetizer, but priced as an entree.

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Fresh Chorizo Linguine

A got the Fresh Chorizo Linguine which features their house made marinara sauce. He said it was good but quite average. Didn’t blow his mind.

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Slow Braised Veal Cheek Pappardelle

ML got the Slow Braised Veal Cheek Pappardelle, which was also an item I was eying. It’s topped with parmigiano cheese and he said it was quite good.

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Portions were quite small again though, but price was more justifiable at $17 since Ask For Luigi prices and portions are similar.

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Mushroom Tagliatelle

MC and K also shared the Mushroom Tagliatelle. It features truffle oil and a mushroom raga. Not bad.

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Scallops

Next, I shared the Scallops with SS and it was beautifully presented. For a dish like this, I don’t mind paying a little more if they take the time to plate it nicely.

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It came with a celery root puree, potato chips, peas, and MoMa bacon. The scallops were seared nicely and there wasn’t any gritty sand in it. I also quite liked the celery root puree and those homemade potato chips.

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Pemberton Meadows Beef Striploin

Lastly, SS and I shared the Pemberton Meadows Beef Striploin. The dishefeatures a 8oz grass fed natural beef striploin, roasted potatoes with snap peas and a black pepper jus.

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We asked for medium rare, but I felt that it was closer to a medium. I also really disliked how there were these fatty parts still stuck on the rims which were chewy. I ended up cutting most of that off. It was alright, but definitely not worth the $28 given the beef was rather chewy.

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Overall, my friends and I found MoMa to be quite disappointing based on that nights service. I came here knowing that portions were going to be small and pricey, but I would have been fine with it if the food was executed well. My favourite dish was probably the scallops, but many of the other dishes were just average and I wouldn’t pay that price for it. Service was also very disappointing since the server had took down our orders based on where we were seated, but for some reason, our dishes were being placed in front of the wrong people. There was also an 18% gratuity as we had a larger group, but when we gave her more cash than what was on the bill, she did not return any of our change until my friend asked. Quite a disappointment overall, but I guess they are doing something right since they have been around for a few years.

Pros:
– Most plates are presented quite nicely
– Some decent dishes and many dishes use local ingredients

Cons:
– Small portions and average food for high prices
– Felt that service we received that night was unprofessional

Price Range: $30-40

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3 Service: 2 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 2.5 Overall: 2.5

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Twisted Fork Bistro

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Twisted Fork is a busy little bistro on the Granville strip in downtown Vancouver.  No reservations mean long waits, but as we arrived at the restaurant around 6:00PM, we managed to get seating almost immediately.

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The restaurant features an open kitchen concept with seating that features an ample amount of pillows. In a word, it’s “chill.” Service is friendly.

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The menu features a “fresh sheet”, featuring dishes which may change daily (updates are provided on their website).

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The complimentary bread was average, suffering from being both cold and tough to the chew.

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Duck Confit

S ordered the Duck Confit with bacon braised cabbage, jus and pickled pumpkin. He said that it was “not bad.”

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Mussels with Frites

I got the Mussels with Frites, which feature a pound of mussels tossed in cream sauce and topped with fries. I think the fries were actually yam fries, so that’s always a plus. However, the fries were quite soggy. The mussels were small, but sweet. Quite good

Pros:
– Quality food
– Cozy ambiance with friendly service

Cons:
– Bread was disappointing
– Usually long waits and no reservations

Price Range: $20-30

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3
Service: 3
Ambiance: 3
Parking: 3
Overall: 3

Twisted Fork Bistro on Urbanspoon

Mon Ami Gabi – Las Vegas

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Over the long weekend, I headed to Las Vegas for a girls’ trip. On the first night, we decided to try Mon Ami Gabi, which is located in the Paris Hotel. Right next to the Eiffel Tower.

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The restaurant is famous for their patio, since you can people watch, but I had made reservations online, which was only for indoor seating. That was fine with us, since the patio seating would mean long waits. We were seated right away since we had reservations, so be sure to do so if you don’t mind indoor seating.

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The restaurant is dimly lit with a bar on one side. Mon Ami Gabi specializes in classic French cuisine. Our server was very friendly and made me laugh with his enthusiasm and thick French accent.

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Complimentary Bread and Carrot Salad

Dinner came with complimentary bread and a carrot salad. Bread was soft and fluffy, but the carrot salad was just average. Nothing too special.

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Sangria

We decided to start the night off with a pitcher of Sangria to share. A mix of red and white wine with fruits, this was tasty and great for sharing. You get at least two glasses each for three people.

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Chilled Seafood Platter

For appetizers, we decided to get the Chilled Seafood Platter to share. The great thing is that it’s one set price, and you can share it with everyone. Much better than what happens in Vancouver, where you need to order a minimum of two orders and the platter is made specifically for the number of people. Anyways, the platter came with a whole Maine lobster, jumbo shrimps with cocktail sauce, market oysters with mignonette and lemon, and salmon tartare with baguette chips. My favourite were probably the oysters and salmon tartare. The tartar was mixed with avocado and went great with the chips. The platter also came with some seaweed salad, which I enjoyed, but nothing too special. Overall, the seafood were decent, but I wouldn’t say they were extremely fresh compared to what you get in Vancouver.

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Caramelized Sea Scallops

For entrees, SP got the Caramelized Sea Scallops. The scallops were cooked perfectly and were very fresh. However, we found them slightly too salty. It also came with a side of butternut squash puree and brussels sprouts, which SP loved.

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Mussels Mariniere

For myself and SK, we both got the Mussels Mariniere. You can get half an order, but we got the full order for double the price. It ended up being a huge plate! The mussels were rather small, but they were still decent. It came with a white wine sauce with herbs. We both found the sauce slightly salty again. It seemed like everything in the States is just on the salty side.

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Signature Hand-cut Fries

The full order of mussels also came with a side of Signature Hand-cut Fries. These were extremely thin-cut and very crispy. I loved dipping it into the white wine sauce. But again, way over salted.

Overall, Mon Ami Gabi had some pretty good dishes, but we found everything too salty. Service and ambiance was also pretty good. Prices are actually pretty reasonable for Las Vegas, but it can add up with all the drinks and appetizers.

Pros:
– Good French dishes
– Great ambiance and service

Cons:
– Dishes are on the salty side
– Seafood may not be the freshest compared to what we have in Vancouver

Price Range: $40-50

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4
Service: 4
Ambiance: 4
Parking: N/A
Overall: 4

Mon Ami Gabi on Urbanspoon

Trafalgar’s Bistro

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Trafalgar’s Bistro. Located on West 16th, just West of Granville, this rustic, inviting restaurant sits next to the popular Sweet Obsessions.

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The restaurant is small, with an interior that is both intimate and warm. On a Friday night, it was surprisingly quite empty. We also found that we were probably the youngest diners all night.

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On top of their regular menu, they have a fresh sheet that changes daily depending on the seasonality and what’s available locally.

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Complimentary Bread

Dinner starts with complimentary bread and butter. The bread was crispy on the outside and soft inside. It ended up being great for dipping in my entree’s broth.

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Parsley Crusted Haida Gwaii Halibut

S got the Parsley Crusted Haida Gwaii Halibut, which came with roasted lobster mushrooms and spinach puree. S commented that the dish was visually unique, to which I concurred. Furthermore, the fish offered a supreme moistness complemented by the crispiness of the parsley crust.

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Salt Spring Moules with Bistro Fries

For myself, I got the Salt Spring Moules. This mussel dish is on their appetizer dish, but you can upgrade it to an entree portion size. The mussels were tender and fresh and the cream broth was flavoured with leeks, shallots, white wine and garlic. I also upgraded the fries to Bistro Fries, which are double fried and tossed with truffle oil, Parmesan and fresh herbs. It also came with a house made garlic aioli for dipping, but I didn’t find the need for it as the fries were already very flavourful and well seasoned.
In conclusion, Trafalgar’s Bistro was a pleasant dining experience.
Side note: street parking is amply available.

Pros:
– Fresh sheet changes daily based on what’s in season locally
– Quality eats and presented nicely

Cons:
– Portions are on the smaller side
– Service was there, but didn’t feel friendly

Price Range: $25-35

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4
Service: 3
Ambiance: 4
Parking: 4
Overall: 4

Trafalgars Bistro on Urbanspoon