Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie

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Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie has been around for many years now and has won many awards. I’ve hear many good things about the restaurant, but for some reason, I was hesitant to try it because I knew it wasn’t authentic Chinese food. Bao Bei is situated in the heart of Chinatown and is known for their modern Chinese dishes and cocktails. I had my hesitations going in, but honestly came out loving the food.

 

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The restaurant is good for small groups of 2 to 3. They do not take reservations, so be prepared to wait or come right at opening. We arrived at 6:30pm on a weekday thinking the wait wouldn’t be long, but we still waited around 45 mins to one hour. Luckily, the Keefer Bar is nearby so we could go enjoy some drinks. They take down your name and number and will call you when the table is ready. The interior is modern but has the traditional Chinese vibes.

 

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Dominion Cider

I ended up going with the Dominion Cider from Summerland, BC and this was refreshing and light. I will definitely come back to try some of their cocktails though!

 

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Beef Tartare
The menu consists of sharing style plates, so I’d suggest having 2-3 dishes per person. We started off with the Beef Tartare which was absolutely delicious! The tartare featured Cache Creek petite tender, preserved mustard root, crispy shallot, ginger, a quail egg, watercress, burnt scallion oil, and taro chips to scoop the tartare.

 

 

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Steamed Prawn, Scallop, Rockfish and Chive Dumplings
They have a variety of homemade dumplings on their menu, but I suggested to try something a bit more unique. The Steamed Prawn, Scallop, Rockfish and Chive Dumplings caught my eyes as we usually won’t find scallop or rockfish in our traditional dumplings. The filling was delicious and elevated to a more fine dining experience but I felt the wrappers were a little too thick. Unfortunately, these didn’t wow me.

 

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King Pea Tips
Time to get some veggies in so of course we all suggested to get the King Pea Tips. Pea tips are usually a favourite among the table and these did not disappoint. Simply flavoured with garlic and shoxing cooking wine, these were fresh and had a nice crsip. Portion was actually decent for $9 too given a lot of their other dishes were on the smaller end.

 

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Seasonal Vegetables – Squash and Fried Lotus

We chose another veggie dish and this was one of their Seasonal Vegetables. The Squash and Fried Lotus was flavoured with a curried black bean and salted duck egg yolk sauce. Lotus root is commonly used in Chinese dishes, but I have never had lotus root that looked like this! I believe these are called lotus rootlets and they are like baby lotus roots! Narrow cylinders compared to the usually ones we see, but just as crunchy. They paired nicely with the squash and asian flavoured sauces. Highly recommend ordering this!

 

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Sablefish in Lotus Leaf Wrapped Sticky Rice

Moving on to some larger dishes, we had the Sablefish in Lotus Leaf Wrapped Sticky Rice. To be honest, when I saw the dish arrive, all I could think of was how small this lotus leaf wrapped sticky rice was for thirty something dollars! But once I started digging in, I fell in love with this dish! The sablefish was so buttery and moist and the Japanese oyster mushrooms added a nice texture. This is definitely a next level lotus leaf sticky rice with the sablefish and well worth the high price!

 

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Crispy Pork Belly
Last but not least, we had the Crispy Pork Belly which features radish, cucumbers, pickled ginger, mint, and crispy potatoes. This is topped with a  Vietnamese cilantro root dressing. The pork belly had a nice portion of fat to meat and was very moist.
Overall, I was extremely happy with my meal at Bao Bei and would highly recommend it. Just keep an open mind that you are not coming here for traditional Chinese food, but the food actually tastes good and the fusion works! Despite the high prices, the quality is great here and I’d suggest coming here with a few friends so you can try a variety of dishes.

Pros:
– Well executed modern Chinese dishes
– Good selection of cocktails and drinks

Cons:
– Be prepared to wait even on the weekdays
– Seating is a bit cramped

Price Range: $40-60 per person

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

Food: 4.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Paid street parking or paid parking lots Overall: 4

 

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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RingSide Fish House (Portland Dining Month)

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When we visited Portland, it happened to be Portland Dining Month where many restaurants offered three course menus for only USD$33. This is essentially the same concept as Vancouver’s Dine out Festival. We decided to try RingSide Fish House which is known to be a classic spot among the locals. The restaurant is located in the Fox Tower in central downtown. The restaurant ambiance was very nice and service was spot on.

 

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RingSide Onion Rings

The RingSide Onion Rings were not included in the three course menu, but we decided to add this to start as the menu said that James Beard declared these as “The Best I’ve Ever Had!”. We also noticed many other diners were having this. We ordered the small size which was USD$10.50 and the onion rings were huge! The rings were lightly battered and not oily tasting at all. It paired deliciously with the ketchup and a aioli mayo sauce. I highly recommend getting this if you have a few people to share with!

 

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Soup of the Day – Butternut Squash Soup

For our three course menu, we started with the Soup of the Day which was Butternut Squash Soup. This was creamy with a medium to thick consistency and had flavours of Indian spices. Really good!

 

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Tender Steak Medallions

For our entree, we had the Tender Steak Medallions which were cooked to medium rare. These were served with whipped potatoes, broccolini and a Bordelaise sauce. The portion was actually very filling although I found the steak a little on the drier side. Decent for the price though. The whipped potatoes were also extremely creamy and buttery.

 

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Malted Vanilla Pot de Creme

To finish, we had the Malted Vanilla Pot de Creme which was topped with a sour cherry compote and vanilla Chantilly. The dessert was huge and we could barely finish half of it. It was creamy and not overly sweet.

Overall, we were quite happy with the Portland Dining Month menu at RingSide Fish House. USD$33 is a pretty good deal given the restaurant has a fine dining feel to it. Would recommend coming here for special occasions.

Pros:
– Good value for Portland Dining Month
– Onion rings were delicious!

Cons:
– Regular menu can be on the pricier side

Price Range: USD$33 per person during Portland Dining Month

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

Food: 3.5 Service: 4.5 Ambiance: 4.5 Parking: Free parking in Fox Tower Overall: 3.5

 

Ringside Fish House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Teahouse in Stanley Park

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Lamb Lollipops

Another late post, but we decided to celebrate Valentines Day later this year to avoid the expensive set menus and restrictive dining hours. S decided to take me to the Teahouse in Stanley Park which was a nice surprise as I had never been and the restaurant had stunning views of the city. Definitely a very romantic restaurant with the interior having a rustic feel to it.

To start, we shared the Lamb Lollipops which were topped with tomatoes and a salsa verde. The lamb was cooked to a beautiful medium rare and had a nice char.

 

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Mussels

For my main, I chose to have the Mussels which was in a tomato based broth, topped with artichokes, garlic, chorizo, corn, and a white wine sauce. I found the mussels were slightly on the tinier side but I didn’t have any closed mussels. There were slightly too many artichokes for my liking, but the tomato broth itself was good. We had complimentary bread to start and the waitress made sure I had enough to soak up the broth so brought over even more bread.

 

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BC Halibut

S got the BC Halibut which was oven roasted, and served with blistered tomatoes, roasted fingerling potatoes, broccolini, and salsa verde. The fish had a nice crispy on the outside while remaining moist inside.

 

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To end the night, the waitress provided us with complimentary chocolate dipped strawberries which was a nice surprise! She had asked what the occasion was for our dinner while clearing our table, so it was very kind of her to throw in a little something.

Overall, I highly recommend coming here for a special occasion. The ambiance is beautiful and although the views are slightly harder to see at night, it still makes a wonderful spot for a romantic night out. Portions of food were actually pretty good considering the price and venue. I was happily full by the end of the night. Would love to come back during lunch to enjoy the daytime views!

Pros:
– Romantic setting with scenic views of the city
– Friendly and professional service

Cons:
– Not transit friendly. You’ll definitely need to drive or catch a cab here.

Price Range: $35-50 per person

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

Food: 4 Service: 5 Ambiance: 5 Parking: Free parking right outside the restaurant Overall: 4

 

The Teahouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tetsu Sushi Bar

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Tetsu Sushi Bar is now one of my favourite sushi spots in Vancouver. The restaurant opened up earlier this year and is located on Denman near Robson. The spot is quite small and can only fit around 15 diners so be sure to make reservations in advance.

 

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The restaurant is known for their omakase which is reasonably priced compared to many of the other omakases in Vancouver. You can also choose to have chef’s choice of sashimi or sushi and can have this with or without the appetizers, udon and ice cream.

 

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They have a daily special menu depending on what’s fresh. At first, we thought that they only have this menu along with the omakase, but turns out they have an extensive menu with sushi rolls, dons, and appetizers. I was definitely surprised by the large menu.

 

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E decided to get the omakase set with 7 piece premium sushi for $62.75. First, you get 3 appetizers. The first was Black Cod Sperm. Yes, this was extremely weird to hear but I was curious to try it. It looked sort of like brain and didn’t really taste bad or anything. I honestly can’t really explain what I ate, but worth giving it a try if it’s part of the set anyways.

 

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The second appetizer was Sea Snail in a light broth with pea snaps. The snail was very tender and not tough at all. It sort of reminded me of escargot but had very clean flavours.

 

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The last appetizer was the Grilled Sablefish. The skin was crispy while the meat was super soft and moist. Buttery smooth! So good!

 

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K and I both got the Chef’s Premium 7 Piece Sushi for $42.75. The only difference with the premium vs. regular set is that you get Hokkaido Uni and Bluefin Tuna Kamatoro. E’s omakase set also came with the exact same pieces since he chose to get the 7 piece premium option as well. The majority of the fish were white fish but I always enjoy trying these as I would never normally order them on my own. From left to right: Bluefin Tuna Kamatoro, Bonito, Ika (Flying Squid), Masai (Sea Bream), Sardine, Spanish Mackarel, Hokkaido Uni. The sardine was probably my least favourite as it was more fishy but the ginger really helped. The favourites for me were the sea bream which melted in my mouth and of course the two premium pieces. The bluefin kamatoro which I believe the waitress said was the cheek area and is from Nova Scotia was definitely among our favourites as well. The fish was so buttery and creamy and just melted in my mouth! And of course the Hokkaido Uni was a no brainer. Sweet and fresh with a tiny bit of wasabi. So good if you are a uni lover. All the fish already come brushed with some light soy sauce so no need to dip any additional soy sauce on top.

 

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Since K and I did not get the omakase set, we decided to share the Inaniwa Udon which you can choose to have hot or cold. We chose to have it with the cold dipping sauce which was very refreshing and I can imagine this being perfect in the hot summers. I really enjoyed this thin and chewy type of noodles which the waitress said they order from an area called Akita in Japan and these are handmade in Japan. If you love udon, you must try this! I want to come back just for the udon!

 

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E also got to choose between the cold or hot Inaniwa Udon as part of his omakase. He chose to have it in hot soup and he said it was raelly delicious as well. I think the portions for the omakase are half the size though.

 

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To finish, E’s omakase also came with his choice of green tea or black sesame ice cream. Nothing too special with the green tea ice cream, but of course it’s nice to finish your meal with some ice cream!

 

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Overall, we were all very pleased with the food at Tetsu and cannot wait to come back. The highlights were definitely the nigiris and udon and I like the fact that you can order a la carte and also order rolls. Service was also extremely friendly and our tea was always filled up. I noticed there are quite a few regulars here so I really hope this spot is here to stay!

 

Pros:
– Really good nigiri and udon
– Service is very friendly

Cons:
– Very small spot

Price Range: $40-60 per person

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

Food: 5 Service: 4 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 3 Overall: 5

Tetsu Sushi Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Soy Fish Private Chef

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Sashimi Salad

Back in the summer, S invited me to join a couple of her friends for a private sushi dinner. We contacted Takuya Motohashi, the chef at Soyfish, who can prepare your meal at your house. We ended up doing it at a friend’s clubhouse which had a simple kitchen. He brings all his kitchen equipment, so don’t fret if you don’t have any kitchen equipment. Takuya began learning the art of sushi as an early teenager working for his father. In his early twenties, he left for Japan to apprentice for some of the countries’ masters. For over two decades, Takuya has developed and mastered techniques and styles that he has brought back to Canada to offer his clients, to create a private dining experience like no other. Our dining experience was $100 per person before tip. Depending on what you want as part of your menu, the price can differ.

As our appetizer, we had the Sashimi Salad which had pieces of snapper and blue fin tuna, raspberries, tobiko, and an apple vinaigrette to drizzle. Such a light and delicious start to our meal. Really loved this salad!

 

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Miso Marinated Black Cod

Our menu had some cooked food which included the Miso Marinated Black Cod on a bed of kale and bell peppers. This cod was absolutely delicious! Sweet and moist, with the skin charred to a beautiful crisp.

 

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Pork Belly on Mash

On the other side of the board was the Pork Belly on Mash served with a spicy Japanese mustard. The pork belly had the right amount of fat to meat proportion and sat on top of a creamy buttery mash. My favourite was the Japanese mustard. I think it was spicy because of wasabi! What a nice twist to the typical mustard.

 

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Nigiri

Next up was the Nigiri board! We had a large variety of nigiri to share including Golden Eye Snapper, Aji, Hotate Scallops from Hokkaido, Hamachi, Blue Fin O-Toro, and Albacore Tuna.

 

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My favourite had to be the O-Toro and Scallops. The fish was really fresh and the proportion of rice was just right. I also liked how he already brushed a light soy sauce on top of the fish before serving so you don’t need to dip it into soy sauce anymore. The amount of soy is already set so it’s just the right amount. Seriously such a luxurious nigiri meal!

 

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Aburi Sockeye Salmon and Blue Fin Belly

To finish, there was what I believe was the Blue Fin Chutoro which again was extremely sweet and melted in my mouth! We also had the Aburi Sockeye Salmon which wan’t close to what Miku was but rather was a very light sear on the salmon and topped with some mayo and jalapeno. Not as oily for sure.

 

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Aburi Blue Fin Belly

Last but not least, there was Aburi Blue Fin Belly which was seared with a sweet soy sauce. This melted in my mouth as well! So good!

Overall, we were all pleased with our meal with Soyfish. I believe he required around 30-45 mins of prep time ahead of time. During this time, you and your friends can linger around and watch him do his thing while enjoying some drinks. The dishes are served in sharing plates or long boards and he provides all the cutlery and plates required. The amount of food is just right for each person. The price is not cheap, but the ingredients he uses is also the top of the ranks. The chef was very professional during our meal but also was able to relax and have some fun with us near the end. He can be sociable and chat with your party if you want or he can just do his thing and leave you to your own party. I highly recommend Chef Takuya for your next dinner party if you want to splurge a little and you can contact him at http://soyfish.ca/ or DM him on Instagram.

 

St Lawrence

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St Lawrence, a sister restaurant of Ask for Luigi, opened up earlier this year. The restaurant is located next to Cuchillo, the Mexican restaurant, in not the best area in town, but once you step inside, you will forget about the exterior. S brought me here for my birthday and she had called to make reservations before the restaurant even opened to only score a 9pm reservation. Yes, this place is in high demand! We decided to go half an hour early to see if we could get a seat, and luckily were told that there was a chefs table seat!

 

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If you are into cooking or are a major foodie, I highly recommend asking if the chef’s table is available. We got to watch the chefs in action and the whole plating process. The menu offers classic French cuisine with Quebecois inspiration. The restaurant also offers some daily specials which change up daily.

 

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We started off with complimentary bread served with pork pate and grainy mustard. That pate paired with the grainy mustard was seriously so damn good. They need to give us more bread to clean that plate up!

 

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Ravigote Smoked Bison Tongue

The dishes at St Lawrence are great for sharing, so S and I decided to order a variety of dishes to share. Our server was very knowledgeable and gave us quite a few recommendations. For appetizers, we started with the Smoked Bison Tongue which was seasoned with Montreal spices and served with a ravigote herb sauce. The bison tongue was really tender with a nice sear and paired well with the slightly acidic sauce with capers.

 

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Fish Quenelle

The next appetizer was the Fish Quenelle which was served with mussels and a cream sauce. I had never had a dish like this before but apparently fish quenelles are quite the traditional French dish. It is sort of like a fish dumpling where the fish is very creamy. It was served with some puff pastry.  The appetizers here are seriously great for sharing between two so you get a good amount to taste. I think it is quite a lot and too heavy for one to finish the whole appetizer.

 

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Ratatouille

Moving on, S suggested we get some veggies, so we chose the Ratatouille. I haven’t had many ratatouille, but this was absolutely delicious! The mixed vegetables were served with a parmesan custard and when you break it apart, the creamy cheesy custard spills over the vegetables. Highly recommend this!

 

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Pork Chop

For our entrees, I suggested trying the Pork Chop since I had read good reviews about this. If you are going to order this, then you can probably skip the appetizers because this plate is HUGE. It can definitely feed two if you are going to have some appetizers beforehand. The pork chop is served with Oka cheese and a butcher sauce. The plate is $37 but given how large the portion is, this is a great deal! Normally, I don’t order pork chops because it tends to easily be cooked dry. However, this thick cut of bone in pork chop was seared beautifully with the inside juicy and tender. The pork chop sat on top of mashed potatoes which were buttery smooth.

 

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Duck Ballotine

The second entree we chose was the Duck Ballotine. The tender duck was wrapped around these leaves which gave it a very interesting flavour. Definitely my first time trying duck this way. The duck was served with crisp potato puffs and maple sauce. I loved the potato puffs! So crispy on the outside while the inside was smooth and creamy. I don’t see this dish on the current menu anymore though.

 

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Rice Pudding

To be honest, we were both beyond full becuase we definitely over-ordered. Even the chef was impressed by us and said we did a good job! He ended up treating us both to dessert which was Rice Pudding with salted caramel. At first, I wasn’t too excited because I’m not a fan of rice pudding. Clearly, I have been having terrible rice pudding though, because this was next level! The rice pudding had the perfect creamy texture with rice not clumping together at all. The salted caramel brought a slightly sweet flavour without it being too sweet. Now I know what good rice pudding tastes like!

Overall, I was very impressed with St Lawrence and can see why it is so hard to get a reservation. The meal was not cheap, but the portions are actually quite reasonable (especially the entrees). We ended up leaving with half of each entree packed up and it made a whole meal the next day for me! Definitely a great spot to celebrate a special occasion!

Pros:
– Well executed classic French dishes
– Chic ambiance and friendly service

Cons:
– Not in the nicest place in town
– Can be quite the pricey meal

Price Range: $50-100

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

Food: 4 Service: 4.5 Ambiance: 4 Parking: 2 Overall: 4

 

St Lawrence Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Botanist

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Botanist opened up earlier this year at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. It took over the previous location of Oru, which I quite enjoyed. Botanist has completely renovated the space though, giving it a beautiful and elegant ambiance. I’ve been wanting to try this restaurant for a while, and S decided to bring me here for my birthday.

 

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We were seated in the “Garden”, which has beauitful floral chairs and wooden tables. The decor in here is truly beautiful.

 

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We were told that the Garden has over 50 different species of plants, and you truly feel like you are in a garden. They also have a cocktail bar, dining room, and outdoor terrace garden.

 

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Botanist is known for their cocktails. If you sit at the cocktail lab, you can order some really fancy and sophisticated cocktails. I can’t find the name of the one I ordered anymore, but I remember it had gin and some lemonade in it. It was then topped with lavender. Light, sweet, and fresh.

 

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To start, we were given complimentary bread that was topped with poppy seeds and served with whipped butter. The bread is shaped like a leaf which follows the whole botany theme of the restaurant. Even the serving plate which is a piece of petrified wood adds to the theme. The bread was delicious with the whipped butter!

 

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Pan-Seared Scallops

To start, we shared the Pan-Seared Scallops. This was a beautiful work of art and featured onions, green apple, guanciale, brown butter, and snap peas. What made it extra special was that the scallops were wrapped with a thin slice of guanciale, which is an Italian cured meat. The scallops were cooked perfectly with a beautiful brown sear and not rubbery at all.

 

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Herb-Crusted Lamb Saddle

For our mains, S got the Herb-Crusted Lamb Saddle which featured green garlic panisse, favas, shallots, and natural jus. I am not familiar with this cut of lamb, but it was cooked to a beautiful medium rare and very tender! The panisse was very interesting. It is supposed to be similar to a polenta, but we found it tasted almost like fish cake. Overall dish was colourful and delicious!

 

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Duck Breast

For myself, I had the Duck Breast which featured spaghetti squash, rhubarb, and natural jus. After my first bite, I immediately thought it tasted like Chinese roast duck! The skin was extremely crispy, while the meat was a beautiful pink and tender throughout. The slightly sour rhubarb worked well with the meat along with the spaghetti squash. I really enjoyed the Asian flavours of this dish and it was executed very well.

 

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Meyer Lemon Polenta Cake

To finish, we shared the Meyer Lemon Polenta Cake which featured apple, honey, angelica brulée, lemon buttermilk ice cream, and a ring shaped polenta cake. The dish was expensive but the presentation was spot on. So many components, but everything worked well together. I found the polenta a little too dense for my liking, but the light ice cream helped balance it out.

Overall, I was quite pleased with the food at Botanist. I felt that every dish was presented like a piece of art. Although the prices are on the higher end (think Hawksworth prices), I found that the portions were very reasonable. The mains were all very filling although they will cost you around $40 each. Service was also spot on although I felt like the service was almost a little too attentive and I was being watched! Ambiance of course is perfect for any date night. Happy to have this new addition in the Coal Harbour neighbourhood!

Pros:
– Ambiance is beautiful
– Food was well executed and presentation was spot on

Cons:
– High end prices (not your everyday meal!)

Price Range: $60-100

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

Food: 4 Service: 4 Ambiance: 5 Parking: 3 Overall: 4

 

Botanist Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Christmas in November at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

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Disclosure: I was invited to a media preview and all food and beverages were complimentary. All opinions are my own.

Christmas in November? You must be thinking I’m crazy. Well Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge has been celebrating Christmas in November for many years and it is now the 29th year! This food and wine festival runs from November 3 to November 12th, 2017 this year and I was invited to a media preview a few weeks ago to learn all about it.

 

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The event is not just about food and wine. Instead, it gets you ready for the holidays with cooking, cocktail, and decorating classes where you get to interact with the chefs and experts at a personal level. Attendees will be wined and dined throughout the 3 days from breakfast to dinner, so fear not of being hungry.

 

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One of the most exciting highlights are the celebrity chefs that you will be able to meet including, Chefs Chuck Hughes, Vikram Vij, Ned Bell, and Anna & Michael Olson. They will be showing you many recipes and you can mix and mingle with the chefs at a whole new level. Not your typical demo and dine experience.

 

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At the media preview, we were luckily invited to Chef Vikram Vij’s restaurant to indulge in some of his dishes (which will be available at the event as well)! He shared his stories from last year and said that the experience is like no other and is perfect for both guests who want to just relax and rewind but also guests who are ready to mingle and have a party. Jasper National Park is the perfect place to get closer to nature, but you will also make some lifelong friends along the way.

 

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Of course we got to try some of Vikram Vij’s curries including this Chicken Curry which was packed full of flavour and paired perfectly with naan and rice.

 

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A Chickpea Curry was also served and the aroma of spices filled the room.

 

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So how do you attend this amazing event? There are 3 packages to choose from: 3-Night Weekend Package (November 3-6) from $1,049 per person, 3-Night Mid-Week Package (November 6-9) from $999 per person, and a 3-Night Weekend Package (November 9-12) from $1,110 per person. All these packages include accommodation, a reception on the first day, breakfast, lunch and dinner on the next two days, continental breakfast and brunch on the day of departure, instructional seminars and gratuities. There is also a VIP package which features private classes, meet and greet with the celebrity chefs, and a private kitchen party! For more details, check out https://www.christmasinnovember.com/