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  1. IMHO, the best measure of a dish is the unconscious. When a dish seeps into my consciousness weeks after I've eaten it means that a dish has set a standard whether I like it or not. That happened with Gastropod's duck sous-vide. Had this as part of the wicked $42.50 prix-fixe, one of the best deals in town. A rare well-done dish (isn't that sous-vide's bag?) in which each flavour and texture showed well AND worked nicely together to finish strong. I like char-grilling as much as the next (er, previous) guy, but that Maillard Reaction really would have gotten in the way of those Mallard flavours. A char would have killed the subtle flavours and the nuances they pulled from the accompanying wine. It was a plate that deserved a sports metaphor. That's it. Go to Gastropod if you want some boundaries pushed. If not, the nearest Keg is at 1499 Anderson Street on Granville Island.
  2. If it was a CFD chain forced casualness would be apt description - Major marketing types deciding that that what the kids want these days and forcing the waitrons to comply. But putting Salt in the context of the design (and the neighbourhood), it's a bit OTT. There are two major sneaker shops, Live Stock and A-Life, just around the corner. Kicks from these stores range from about $60-$1000 with 1-offs, special editions and artists' interpretations. Seeing a server sporting these rather than the ubiquitous black shoes is refreshing. The sneakers are way quieter, too. Those damn acoustics engineers have been telling me that floor and the roof are the most important noise zones. The clatter of fancy shoes would get amplfied pretty quick.
  3. Alright, let's not drag James Joyce into this. Sure he's a bit obtuse at times, but he's the best food writer that ever lived: "A fat brown goose lay at one end of the table and at the other end, on a bed of creased paper strewn with sprigs of parsley, lay a great ham, stripped of its outer skin and peppered over with crust crumbs, a neat paper frill round its shin and beside this was a round of spiced beef. Between these rival ends ran parallel lines of side-dishes: two little minsters of jelly, red and yellow; a shallow dish full of blocks of blancmange and red jam, a large green leaf-shaped dish with a stalk-shaped handle, on which lay bunches of purple raisins and peeled almonds, a companion dish on which lay a solid rectangle of Smyrna figs, a dish of custard topped with grated nutmeg, a small bowl full of chocolates and sweets wrapped in gold and silver papers and a glass vase in which stood some tall celery stalks. In the centre of the table there stood, as sentries to a fruit-stand which upheld a pyramid of oranges and American apples, two squat old-fashioned decanters of cut glass, one containing port and the other dark sherry. On the closed square piano a pudding in a huge yellow dish lay in waiting and behind it were three squads of bottles of stout and ale and minerals, drawn up according to the colours of their uniforms, the first two black, with brown and red labels, the third and smallest squad white, with transverse green sashes." -From the short story "The Dead" Who knows what Joyce would have thought of the Offal dinner at Elixir the other night. He likely, though, would have described it something like this (possibly the best words ever written, even better spoken aloud, drawn from memory): "Mr. Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods' roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine". -opening lines, chapter 4, Ulysses. Food is the axis in Joyce's work around which all of human depravity and epiphany spins. Whether Gill, Maw, Morrison, Laba or any food critic, taking notes from Joyce on this major axis should be a prerequisite to the food writing game. Go Oil!
  4. I was missing watching the Oilers' on the big screen at the Elephant & Castle pub on Whyte Avenue while the Canucks were missing the playoffs on Thursday. I don't have a television and was wondering if there was an Oiler-friendly haunt somewhere within the lower mainland. Back in the 'chuk, Overtime, BP's on Whyte and the Metro were all great places. But here in Vancouver, the Oiler-friendly spots seem a little thin... Any suggestions?
  5. The dark-haired guy was likely Graham Versailles. Has a glint in his eye that holds the knife edge between exuberance and insanity. He's married to a neurologist who's expecting their second child. Otherwise, he cooks, thinks about food and watches the muppets DVD with his beautiful 4-yr old daughter.
  6. Had the eggs benny last saturday for breakfast. One of the best I've every had. The raging hangover has obscured the details, but here goes, in all my purple prose: "Right from the chicken" eggs (no cartons allowed!) poached slowly oozing gilded with gustatory gold leaf hollandaise on top of thick cut cured ham crispy, soft and sweet, bedded upon what some may call "a biscuit" but what in reality was a twice-cooked fork heaven of exploding dense flakiness. I can't remember what they came with, but it doesn't really matter. The scones were pretty damn good, too.
  7. The Fish House and the Cannery were sold to Canadian Hotel Income Properties Real Estate Investment Trust, announced January 26 here as part of a deal for a Victoria hotel. It'll be interesting to see if new directions are taken, particularly as Stan Fuller is on the board at CHIP REIT.
  8. Decided to go for the full-out masochism treatment for Dine-Out this year. Closed for two weeks to do major renovations. Installed a new hardwood floor, baseboards, trim, new prep kitchen, new mural on one wall, fresh coat of paint inside, new table legs and sliders, new computer system, new food running system, etc. It was good to have a nice, slow summer Monday evening to make sure that all the renovations were done and that all the new systems worked properly. Oh wait a second...it was the first F**KIN night of Dine Out Vancouver. And the Nickelback concert, which lent an, um, interesting dynamic to the room. Ah well, that's how we roll. Gettin' burned settin' it on fire. The new floor went 56 minutes before a (lovely) lady went head first into the expo station. Someone forgot to put beer in the fridge. Lost the champagne, the gooseberries and the valet several times through the night. Printers died, others were resurrected. Someone puked in the urinal. Truthfully, tonight I was a pig in shit. Great to get away from the renos and the office work (how do people do that 8:30am-5pm office hamster wheel?). The staff killed it, the kitchen was great, and the egullet-inspired (although if anyone asks I'll deny it) non-alcoholic drink tasting menu was a smashing success. Congrats to Aurora and Adesso for the first dine out and to the other participants. See you Feb 3. Until then, I'm forwarding my calls to the Bosman.
  9. Muse kitchen is headed by Cam Dobranski. Very talented young chef, ex- of Hardware Grill (Edmonton). Cooked in Switzerland for a year and brings some of that continental polish to a great, funky room. His former sous, Paul (can't quite remember his last name) is opening up a place with Ritchie Breen (ex- of Teatro) in or near the Holiday Inn just off 1st & 12th SW. I'm excited to see this place go off. Paul's got just the right mix of experience, creativity and emotional instability to become an amazing head chef. Ned Bell is apparently putting together a new spot on the red mile. With Vintage hitting its stride as a chophouse and hosting Brangelina private parties, the money should be plentiful enough to do some really cool things at a good price point. Showed his polish and potential with small(er) plates at Lumiere's 10th anniversary guest appearance. My guess is that it's going to fill that good plates for $20 void that seems to exist in Calgary. Mike Joseph and the Penny Lane guys are opening Belgo, a new Belgian-themed restaurant/bar unrelated to-, but likely modeled after the eponymous joints in London. They've been diligently doing their research but expect more pretty Stellas and big Ho(e)'s than Flemish red ales. Happy to see the mayor of Capitol Hill, Jimmy from A&A foods, moving downtown to bring the people what they really (should) want. Haven't been to his new spot yet, but I'd sell my 1969 Lincoln to subsidize an A&A foods (Vancouver division). Place has amazing Shwarmas and even better banter. As for the food at the Saddledome (as this is a regional, food forum), like the food at Edmonton's Rexall Place or Vancouver's GM place, the burger tastes pretty much the same whether or not the Canucks lose in regulation, OT or a shootout. Happy Holidays!
  10. Hear, hear. Great to see Aurora not get swept up in the NYE overindulgence wave. Interesting to see that most of the rooms are celebrating epochs just on the brink of total destruction... See you at New Year's Day Brunch at Aurora. I hope Kurtis waives the 'no coffee refills' clause in his contract.
  11. Thanks for the kind and lyrical words, Mr. D-A (et al.). Pastry Chef is Eleanor Chow, formerly of Blue Water and Lumiere. Very talented and whimsical. An acoustic engineering firm has promised me a visit for the last 3 months, but apparently over-running costs on Olympic projects is a little higher priority... We'll be closed for renos Jan 8 - 17, hopefully with sound dampening in the dining room part of that. The beer offer stands until Karri fires me for freely intoxicating the unwashed egullet masses. Q.
  12. We put in Open Table about six months ago. All in all, a pretty great product. Easy to learn, fairly efficient. Most of the pros/cons discussed above. A couple of things, though. The database tool is probably the most helpful. Having someone's name/number appear before they tell you expedites the reso interaction. I think some people are a little sketched by this, though. The flags are handy, but I find we're using them less and less. Great if you're changing hosts regularly, pretty useless if you have someone solid and long-term on the door. Like many technological tools, there seems to be a slavish devotion to what the computer says. If the computer says we're full, then we're full, even if a quarter of the restaurant is unsat. The 'status' button seems like too much information. Somewhere like Joe's or huge places I'm sure it's essential, but the hostesses can spend a lot of time running through the rainbow of dining phases which essentially mean nothing if the table lingers for 30 minutes over a port and the cheque. There are some features that OT cannot do. We still use paper for making maps for the evening and determining availability. OT is great at generating numbers, but is pretty useless when it comes to finessing a busy night. Don't expect a waterfall of web resos. I'd estimate less than 5% of our resos are web resos. We end up phoning them anyway, as there are things we usually need to tell them (i.e. theatre, traffic, tables, etc) that can't be conveyed in a one line email tagline. I'd expect that number to fall as more restaurants sign up and the 'unique' aspect of being on OT disappears. Good tool for reducing paper, but I think expensively extraneous if you've got a solid door crew that work well with the staff. see you at the lamplighter tonight.
  13. I think it was John De Lancie's character in Star Trek who said: "If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you oughtta go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross; but it's not for the timid." -- (from the episode "Q Who?") Today's review was great. Managed to weave in post-essentialist feminist themes, questions of sex and excess, give props to a small, less media-savvy restaurant, and wind up with a very gracious and well-informed mea culpa. All with that particular sexy-fiestyness that (with all due respect) I never want to read from Mr. Maw, Mr Morrison, or Mr. Pawsey... My favourite, though, was the sidebar. A skilled dig couched in "reporting on the reporting". Very nice. If I see Ms Gill at the Lumiere tasting bar, I will definitely buy her a tasty (and surprisingly reasonably priced) cocktail. BTW, Poutine sales are WAY up...
  14. Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Haines Junction, Yukon is home to the Raven Hotel, one of the 19 Where to Eat in Canada 3-star dining properties (among the likes of West, Lumiere, Susur, Toque, etc). Amazing meals in the land of the midnight sun.
  15. I eat at Wink a couple of times a week. Lurking there, as is my nature. It is what it is, a decent little hipster-neighbourhood vegetarian spot with the cutest girl ever (Sarah) working the counter. It's pretty simple. You go to the counter, you point at what you want to eat, you pay for it (Interac, fortunately for Ms. Gill, is within arm's reach), and Sarah brings it to you when it's ready. She perhaps has more enthusiasm than culinary training, but what the hell. A chickpea salad, soup or grilled sandwich with a happy planet juice doesn't need a red seal or sommelier's ticket. They do their biggest sales on Sunday night when improv comedy takes over the stage/dining dais. The food is a bit hit and miss, but for six bucks, it's better than the wraps up the street and a good foil to budgie's colon blockers. Secret crushes on Sarah aside, I quite like the place. This was just a stupid review. I don't know how she found Wink or what she thought the dining experience was going to be, but it's obvious she did little pre-visit research. It's like giving the family-run falafel place on Denman Street a bad review because your "snooty drunks club" buddy had to go to the counter to order mediocre wine. Are you kidding me? Anyway, I hope this gets me Sarah's phone number...
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