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Everything posted by Explorer

  1. Why are your expectations so low? 8 out of 12 for a blind "trust me" $150 tab per person is not a good record. For a restaurant with the reputation of Tojo's, the top choice should be a flawless experience. Were the flavors not there, or was the execution not impressive? Omakase in Japanese means "surprise me". It's too bad that many North American customers don't expect more from great restaurants and great chefs. That's why many of them stall when they reach stardom. Contrast this with Europe or France for that matter where chefs know that on any given night 80% of their customers are discriminating customers. Here, in North America, the discriminating customer is the anomaly- 20% at best; typically 10% perhaps on any given night. Did you give them feedback? Was Tojo there? I noticed he has expanded his brand to a Vancouver disco with a sushi stand right next to the dancing floor. Maybe his marketing is superseeding his cooking.
  2. jc- sorry; i meant Brio (not Trio).
  3. How about Bojangel's Chicken and/or Cracker Barrel? Funny you're there, we were there 3 yrs ago, on the way from Charlotte to Jamestown- our destination was FurnitureLand, a 100,000 sqft furniture store.
  4. Friends of mine just raved about one called Trio in Victoria. Nothing more to add.
  5. For late night eating, how about Balthazar? On Bidwell/Davie; open til 2 am. I've never been there, but heard about it. The web site is self-explanatory. Balthazar
  6. Wow- Fat Guy has covered a lot of ground...and lots of tables. Bux- could you elaborate on your intriguing response? anything we can learn from? I am interested in hearing from restaurant operators about what really goes on behind the scenes and beyond our minds when they get specific requests, and how they assign them, etc... I have gotten a great table for no particular reason- and sometimes I've been given an unacceptable table even after asking- go figure. I've often wondered if it's the luck of the draw- if you get an inexperienced person on the phone that doesn't translate your request accordingly to the more senior person that does the assignment, then it's a recipe for disaster. And how about when they make a big deal when you ask for another table, and it looks like they're having a meeting to decide on that outcome- doesn't that irritate you?
  7. A powerful restaurant web site doesn't have to be with bells and whistles (read java & shockwave in techie language). Actually, the more factual it is, and the less hype it contains, the more effective it becomes. It's not a brochure- it should be a fact sheet, unless it's a tourist spot. Updated menus with prices, wine list, chef/owner's bio, relevant reviews and summary of purpsose/cuisine/setting. The key thing is that it has to reflect accuratetly what the restaurant is/is not- in real-life. Over-selling or under-selling is the worst mistake that can be done.
  8. Already did: New Topic "Getting the right table at a restaurant"
  9. What has been your experience re: getting the best possible table in high-end restaurants? What if you have requested a specific table, and when you arrive- the table offered doesn't meet your expectations, and they aren't flexible about it? Or they give you a table near the passage to the restrooms. Or one near the service station. From a restaurant perspective, which tables are considered better tables? Corners? By the side? Which are the worst? Near service station? On the way to the restrooms? What's the best way to request a specific type of table if you are not familiar with the restaurant layout?
  10. Hmmm...with all my respects, Carl- I am not sure I would agree with your assumption. I was there, and maybe I didn't say it bluntly enough- I called her bluff basically. There was no reservation for that table; and there were other empty tables around it- and it's pretty unlikely that on day #4 of operations, there's already a regular VIP that wanted that table. And that table was given to me without checking on cancelled reservations or anything like that. I am not saying that I was targetted specifically for a bad experience- we ended up having a great time; and I don't hold a grudge on something like that as long as they level with me. I am the type that comes-in low-key and unpretentiously in most places unless I know that I have to be arrogant to get good service. I must have misread Feenie's unspoken policy to give snobbish service- so when I adjusted my attitude, I got noticed better; it was obvious. And I am speaking from about 25 years of extensive worldwide dining experiences in the right places. I wonder if this isn't an interesting jumping point to a new topic on tips and experiences re: getting the right table?
  11. It sounds like a variation on the basic "taratoor" sauce which is typical for grilled or oven baked seafood dishes.
  12. If it gives me a heartburn, it's junk food. I agree with Katherine and would define "processing" a bit further: processing food with un-natural, artificial, chemical ingredients is definitely junk. Too much preservatives is junk food. Most foods that aren't cooked or eaten fresh are junk. Let's face it, most North American fast food is junk food. If it's bad for your body, and lacks essential nutrients; it's junk- what else would it be?
  13. The concept: A bar section and a dining room area, both with high noise level and music, offering a hip, happening atmosphere. Very young staff, attentive, yet inexperienced, eager to please, not afraid to make mistakes. Décor: Bright orange tones velvety/suede seats on restaurant side going up almost to the ceiling, and posh bistrot seats/table on the bar side. Patio seating on sidewalk. I figured they must have spent $800,000 to 1 million on décor. I called 10 mins ahead at 9:45 pm on the 4th day they were open, and they took our reservation, but when we arrived- I wanted that nice round table on the corner. The hostess (who later turned out to be the assistant manager) said the table was already reserved. So, we were seated elsewhere. Two minutes later, I became suspicious and asked her to keep an eye for us in case that table became available. As it turned out, they were saving it for nobody- and when I asked her if she was being really straight with me, that table suddenly became available, and they all started to really cater to us. The menu is divided as follows: Appetizers: $7-9 Charcuterie: 3 for $15 or 6 for $25 6 Cheeses all from Quebec: goat, cow, sheep Deserts: $6. E.g. apple tart, white choc crème brule, sherbet… Dinner: $18-20. E.g.: Wild salmon, ribs, duck, papardelli… 3-course: $35 Rob’s favorites: $12-25. Includes burger, sheppard’s pie, Feenie’s winny Side dishes: $5-9 It was late, and we only wanted some small plates, so the 2 of us went for: - Ahi tuna tartare with black & white sesame seeds, cilantro, & tomato glaze, $9: Really tiny portion, average tasting tuna tartare that didn’t jump with cold freshness I expect in ahi tuna tartare. - Grilled calamari salad with warm nugget Yukon gold potatoes in a spicy chili & lime dressing, $8. Best choice. Although chili taste was absent, the calamari was tender, tender, tender. - Grilled asparagus side dish, $7. I cook a better grilled asparagus on my Barbee. - Alsacian tart with speck bacon, onions & quark cheese, $9. Excellent combo of onions, cheese & bacon, but the pastry was undercooked and too soft on the bottom. By the Glass: Stellar’s Jay Brut, Sumac Ridge, $11 (a bubbly wine to its true meaning) Pinot Griggio, 2002, Mission Hill, $8 (perfect with tuna, not too much acidity) Pinot Noir Estate 2000, Cedar Creek $12 (smooth and well rounded, excellent vanilla aromas- a great wine) They have a very comprehensive wine list, favoring top end B.C. wines. We were not too impressed by the deserts, so we jumped to Lumiere next door for deserts in the bar section. So, what is Feenie trying to do with Feenie’s? Our take is that he is offering "simple food" appealing to the casual food customer segment (a la Earl's / Milestone's for those familiar with the Vancouver scene). That’s quite a few notches down from a Relais Gourmand level. But Feenie’s simple food is offered in a posh setting, with a rather expensive wine list to match that segment, and an unnecessary service attitude. By the look of the bar section, they want to attract a late night crowd that still wants to hip hop after midnight. That may be a narrow segment for a small market like Vancouver, but I think it’s still too early to tell whether the formula will be a winner or not. Overall, the place has enough excitement to warrant a second visit- assuming they fine tune it accordingly. (By the way- their new tel. no. is 604.739.7115, and the web site will be Feenie's)
  14. Maybe this should become a new thread on Feenie's. Feenie's had an opening for the press this Monday July 21st, and they are open this week "quietly". We'll check the local papers tomorrow to see what the reviews say. I am going there this Saturday. See you at Feenie's!
  15. Michael- One more thing I remembered; there's the pastry chef at Pangea as well (Sorry can't remember her name, but you can easily find). She was previously at Scaramouche. We went recently just for deserts at Pangea, and I must say that it didn't blow us away. Good luck.
  16. KM- I was referring to the 5Senses Pastry Shop, adjacent to the restaurant- since this was a thread on pastries. (sorry for the misunderstanding) But as you indicated, it is the same chef as prior (for the restaurant), and I once called the new restaurant too to inquire about a possible reservation, and got a very pleasant reservationist that was extremely accomodating. He almost read me the whole menu very patiently.
  17. Please check out my earlier post on pastries in Toronto. I think we beat that subject to death a few months ago. Rahier Patisserie. Quick recap: Rahier is still the best, if you can stomach the attitude Patachou is worth a visit Don Wuong is interesting and should be watched. (check out his web site) 5Senses in Toronto is not as good as Vancouver's. I've recently been to the newly re-opened 5Senses in the Metropolitan hotel, and it's definitely off-the map for me. They have the same old deserts with little variations, and it does NOT taste the same as before although it may look the same. Please let us know if you make any new discoveries. What city are you from Michael so we can better understand your vantage point?
  18. Great report, and pretty accurate. As a suggestion, next time, try En Japanese Restaurant- probably the most underrated Japanese place in Vancouver. I do believe that En is like Nobu transplated to Vancouver. (just referring to food, not decor)
  19. The web site used to say July 12, was changed to July 15. I called and they said end of July. I drove by there, and the Boleto sign is still on the window. Who has the latest scoop on the opening date?
  20. Perhaps if this thread doesn't get going with something more positive, there goes the message about Bishop's. Bishop's did get its fame in the early 90's when Vancouver didn't have a fraction of today's quality and quantity restaurants. Let's face it, there are lots of very decent choices in Vancouver today, although Bishop's might still rank at the bottom end of the top ten, depending on who is rating. I do believe that old timers that keep re-inventing themselves while staying consistent do get rewarded. The trick is to get that buzz going for that long. Unfortunately, it appears that Bishop's may have lost that buzz or excitment in the city, although their clever use of regional ingredients is still touted. My most recent experience at Bishop's (late 2001) was nonetheless a disapointment. I will preface this by saying that the previous 2 visits from the mid-90's were very satisfying. In either case, the details are lost for me to pass them around. What I remember on the last time, is that it was a Sunday and the restaurant was half-empty. We received poor, uninterested service. One of the main course I recall was a fish that was supposed to be discovered under a shell-like thin pastry. The dish was unfortunately visibly botched-up and overcooked. When I inquired, I received excuses, but no apologies or offers to re-do it; something like "that's the way it's supposed to be done". Well, that did us for coming back too. As Rover says, he hasn't been there in years, but I too, am still interested in hearing about recent experiences...if there are any?
  21. Thanks to all again for your quick responses. Actually, this trip is just a quick expedition out of Vancouver, for the purposes of discovering the Okanagan area. Although I agree that the Niagara region is more sophisticated, BC wine is superior by far. Niagara has become so touristic that certain reputable restaurants are not consistent anymore. (But that's another thread- I won't go there now). LL- Where are you a Chef at? Can we dine at your place? We booked God's Mountain- Steve: Thanks. It was intriguing enough, and I liked the concept. Just spoke to Ulric and it was a done deal. We will definitely visit Blue Mountain winery as per recommendation. As for dining, our short list is now (we are sticking to South Okanagan locations): Cobblestone dining room at Naramata Heritage Inn Granny Bogner's Magnums on the Lake at the Penticton Lakeside Resort Zias Stonehouse (I can't find any reviews on it) This list was helpful: Best Restaurants Okanagan Life 2003 As for wineries, I found out that most of them (except Burrowing Owl) are bistro style. The lunches being planned are: Day 1: Quail's Gate Day 2: Hillside (Barrel Room) Day 3: Burrowing Owl So, I will owe you all a report sometime in August, right here....
  22. Thanks Steve, Actually looking for luxury level with and/or unique cachet. In the meantime, I found out about Fresco and Montreuil in Kelowna, but still researching....On the hotel front, all I can find is those hotel chains... Looking for any tips based on experience.
  23. We are planning a 3 day tour of the Okanagan Valley wineries, a la Napa Valley. Hoping to hit Mission Hill, Quail's Gate, Sumac Ridge and Burrowing Owl. Has anyone had worthy dining experiences at the restaurants at Sumac, Burrowing and Quail's? Any recommendations for top 1) restaurants, 2) lodging in the Okanagan Valley? (anywhere from Kelowna to Ossoyous) Thank you.
  24. There is no sense being defensive about Lumiere's wine list. This isn't the first time I am reading this issue here, and have been to Lumiere 3 times and was challenged and disapointed every single time re: wine choices. If that's not enough feedback for somebody at Lumiere to notice and acknowledge this, then am not sure what might be more efficient to give them the message. Yes, there are some good choices; but there are some really obscure, unimaginative, bad and overpriced ones as well. If they feel so strongly about this, they should have the sommelier be on the floor defending his list and explaining it to us, then. Ae35- do you work for Lumiere or are close to them?
  25. The only tough thing about Birmingham, AL is getting there. The flight connections are dreadful. I have been there a few times for business reasons and it was much nicer than I thought. Hot and Hot was the place we kept going back to, although I heard good things about Highlands as well.
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