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westside yuppie

Best & Worst of 2003

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Just came back from another superb meal at West and as the end of the year is fast approaching I was thinking about the highs and lows of my local dining experiences this year.

The high for me this year is a tough pick - so many good meals at Wabi Sabi, Feenie's, Au Petit Cafe, Cru, L'emotion, Diva and Le Crocodile - but eventually I decided it had to be having the mushroom tasting menu at West a few months ago. I was a little concerned about devoting the whole evening to a series of mushroom dishes, but the menu was full of variety and delights and as usual the wine pairings, the presentation and the service were impeccable.

Worst experience had to be going to Monk McQueens with some friends from out of town to enjoy a summer evening and having expensive cafeteria food - tasteless fish and vegetables that were either raw or mushy.

So what were your local dining high and low points this year?

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Highest point of many was early in the year at West, where Chef Hawksworth and his staff gave us the best experience of the year. A close second came last month at Union in Seattle, at less then half the price!

Best new place for me was Cru, then Parkside and Feenie's (where we all had burgers).

Also had many good meals at my friend's place Marine Drive. Had great Pho at Kim Phung, Le Do and Au Petit Cafe. A great meal at Gyoza King after seeing my movie of the year Lost in Translation, a great evening of Japanese culture. Great Bistro french in Seattle at Le Pichet and Cafe Campagne.

Had good experiences at Hermitage and Bacchus during Dine out Vancouver. Had a good burger at Peace Portal golf course after getting my butt kicked by my 13 year old (84 to 91).

This was also the year I discovered the fabulous wines of Castano and Telmo Rodriguez.

There were few bad experiences but I remember some bad entrees at Brasa in Seattle, a virtually inedible meal at The Salmon House (my parents paid so....) and some dodgy Pho at Pho Hoang.

The most enjoyable dinner with new friends was the Burger Club meeting at Moderne Burger. Happy New Year Redhead, Scout, Jerry A and Dubvader and Ling. All the best in the New Year Jonathan. As for the rest of you who I have not met in person, here is hoping we soon have an E gullet outing and I meet you in 2004.


Edited by Coop (log)

David Cooper

"I'm no friggin genius". Rob Dibble

http://www.starlinebyirion.com/

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Thanks for the response Coop, but hey no cheating with the out of town experiences :laugh:

We had a great trip to New York in the Spring with meals at Daniel, Nobu and Balthazar. If I have to include those too, my top pick gets really complicated.

Btw Gyoza King was a great dinner choice after Lost in Translation. When I saw the movie, which I loved, it reminded me of this tiny chinese place that my mother in law took us when we were in Shinjuku in Toyko that made these amazing giant gyoza, mmmmmmmmm. I'm still not exactly sure what they were called but damn they were good.

I must overdue for another visit to Gyoza King.

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Top Ten for the year would include at least 7 meals from West, and I completely agree that the Mushroom Tasting Menu was a true highlight.

Jay Jones from West introducing me to things like Ginger Beer and Rosé. Two items I have until now completely avoided.

Neil from Lumiere introducing Primitivo as a pairing to a gorgeous lamb dish with eggplant and confit tomato.

Les Amis de Fromage for pretty well everything in the shop.

Oyama's Strasbourg Terrine and Goose Prosciutto and everything in-between.

Le Crocodile for reminding me what great service can be and providing consistently beautiful Alsatian delicacies for twenty years.

Gyoza King, need I say more of this jewel?

La Petit France and their scrumptious Pain au Chocolat.

And every list should contain a nod to Barbara-Jo for providing a priceless resource for foodies.


"Expect nothing, be prepared for anything."

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Hey Johnathan,

Bang on with the pain au chocolat from La Petite France. Its so good!! And we live dangerously close by, so it requires a lot of discipline to avoid loading up every weekend.

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i have to admit though that the pain au chocolat from Sen5es is better.

Better pastry, more airy and buttery, and better chocolate quality.

But i really appreciate the overall quality and expertise found at La petite France.

They know their stuff !

"Un grand merci" to Salade de fruits. I go there about once a week and their lunch menu is a treat.


Edited by edm (log)

Eddy M., Chef & Owner

Se.ed Artisan Foods, Vancouver BC

Follow Se.ed's growth at: http://spaces.msn.com/members/fromseedtofood/

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Best dish of the year was a foie gras coarse with fennel and quince cooked by Sous chef Rob at C. The best thing I put in my mouth all year!

Five mult-coarse dinners at Zambri's in Victoria.All of them soul sating creative Italian dreams.

One three hour tasting menu at Taka before the chef split. A revelation in complexity and technique.Halibut jello comes in a close second to Rob's foie.


cook slow, eat slower

J.Chovancek

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First of all thanks to Coop for his wishes, and Happy New Year to all Burger Clubbers and BC Egulleters!

Now to the food. For me, when I think of the best of 2003 there are many individual dishes that jump into my mind, rather than overall dining experiences. The Ghee-braised short ribs and the lamb popsicles at Vij's, Organic chicken hash at Chef Bernard's, the foie gras and boudin at Lumiere, the pumpkin pancakes with duck confit at Joe's in Venice Beach (I know it's American but it is embedded in my memory), the shiso ramen at Kintaro (with extra pork 'cause Mrs. A doesn't eat hers), carrot-cardamom pudding at West, the lamb sirloin with gnocchi and the brilliant port and cheese course at Wildflower in Whistler.

However the number one dish and overall best experiences I've had have been at Parkside this year. The dish was goose done three ways, a sausage on a nest of sauerkraut, goose confit with thinly sliced potatoes, and foie gras on a bed of baby haricots verts all with a port reduction. I savoured and loved every bite of this and the sticky toffee pudding for dessert was great as well. The service there has always been fantastic (we have had the same server every time we've gone there and she is always absolutely great). I highly recommend Parkside and wish them great success!

As far as the worst of 2003, I know there were a couple but I think I chose to block them out of my mind because I can't really remember any specifically. If I happen to remember any, I will add them later.

Have a great 2004 everybody!!

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Great thread! :biggrin:

Thanks Coop for singling out Burger Club. Hopefully we'll see even more of you Egulleters at our next meet on January 9th. (Have we decided on Feenie's?)

My favorite dishes in the past year include the $25 Dine Out menu at West, where I had the foie gras and chicken liver parfait (with apple jelly and toasted brioche), some sort of stuffed chicken dish with chantrelles and wild rice, and an apple galette with sour cream ice-cream. I also very much enjoyed several dinners at Taka (my favorite thing to order is the sashimi sampler), a dinner at Ajisai (which included a delicious beef teriyaki roll, which I usually avoid. Unfortunately, my friend ordered this dish, so I only got to sample a piece. :raz:) I had an awesome goat cheese and grilled asparagus omelette (with toasted multigrain Ecco il Pane bread) from Chef Bernard's up in Whistler, and a lovely dinner at the Bearfoot Bistro that included a good (but not spectacular) goat cheese and candied walnut salad, slices of rare venison and a potato cake for my main, and (my high point of the evening) the tiniest wild raspberries and blueberries with cream, served in buttery lace cookie baskets. Each berry was tiny enough to fit on a fork tine. The uni I had at Wabi Sabi stands out as well.

My worst dining experiences this year included a dismal salad from the hotel restaurant (Portabello?) across from Chef Bernard's. It came topped with those cold, bland tiny shrimp that you get on your shrimp sunomono at an all-you-can-eat restaurant. The menu said that the salad included heirloom tomatoes, but I didn't get those.

I had dinner at this small neighbourhood restaurant in the Steveston area called Tapenade (because I found a coupon for a free entree). The food there was pretty disappointing. Even the bread was bad--cold(!!!) slices that had a weird cake-like texture.

The biggest disappointment was, perhaps surprisingly, Gotham Steakhouse. The ahi appetizer and the crab cake were OK, but my entree (filet mignon) was totally overcooked, as was my bf's (NY strip). We ordered our meat rare and both dishes came medium-well. My bf ate the sides instead of his steak. The sides (onion rings, this fried potato cake, and asparagus--all a la carte) were pretty ordinary as well. We were sorely disappointed because I had heard so much praise of this restaurant. In retrospect, I guess I should have complained. Did I mention we were seated in the bar area because the dining room was "booked" for the evening? (It was half empty when we got there, and still half empty when we left over 2 hours later). :angry:

But overall, 2003 was a good year. I tried many things for the first time, like frog's legs (at Salade de Fruits) and rabbit (I cooked that). :smile:

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I think that the fois gras and chicken liver parfait at West was the best single thing I ate this year. I'm not surprised to hear Gotham sucked. I think it's a place for Lawyers and their receptionists to be seen.


David Cooper

"I'm no friggin genius". Rob Dibble

http://www.starlinebyirion.com/

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I I think it's a place for Lawyers and their receptionists to be seen.

most lawyers I know...and "let me make this perfectly clear" I am not doing a mea culpa..may want to be with, but rarely want to be seen with their receptionists....

that having been said the whole steakhouse serving a "roast" with a la carte sides has never been my thing....the receptionist on the other hand.....

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High points of 2003 dining for me were Cru, Parkside, Quattro on 4th and C Restaurant.

Disappointing experience was Feenie's - thought it was just a lot of fluff but no substance.

The worst was the lunch at Joe Fortes when I took my boss there for his birthday. Everthing was bad from the word "go": greeting, seating, service, food and timing. (I hope it will not affect my salary review for this year.....) :sad:

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The Parfait of Chef Hawksworth's is indeed divine intervention with foie gras as was the Mosaic of Wild Game Terrine he had made some time ago. This one definitely needs to be revisited! Chef?

The Damier de Caribou et Foie de Canard aux deux Gellées done by Chef Emile Jung and Chef Michel Jacob at Le Crocodile's Anniversary Dinner is the one dish that jumps out for the year. Spectacular! And for those who did not have a chance to partake at that dinner, it is on the specials list at Le Croc as of 2 nights ago and is just as fabulous, albeit down to only one Gelée :biggrin:


"Expect nothing, be prepared for anything."

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It was a rather thin year for us in terms of restaurant meals -- these children are draining our bank accounts! -- but the stand-outs were probably our dinner at La Regalade, particularly the garlicky hot escargot starter, yum, and dessert at West (the molten chocolate tart with mandarin sorbet) and a plate of perfectly shucked, briny and delicious oysters at Joe Fortes (I kept calling one species George Inlet, but I think it's Gorge). Like Coop, we enjoyed the company at Moderne one night, and they serve a decent burger, too. The three-cheese macaroni at Seattle's Icon Grill was the most memorable comfort food of 2003. Here's hoping the budget will allow a few more restaurant forays in 2004.

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Shellback, be careful about what you say about J@# F@#%es on this board. It's a sore subject with someone from New York who thinks it's the finest place in our city.


David Cooper

"I'm no friggin genius". Rob Dibble

http://www.starlinebyirion.com/

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Favorites of the Year - The 7 course pasta tasting menu at Bis Moreno in December was fabulous with my favorite dish being the gnocchi with a nutmeg cream sauce drizzled with a 15 year old balsamic vineagar - yummmm. The burgers at Feenies were amazing in my opinion and good value for the price. Les Amis de Frommage is where I spend most of my favorite minutes on my sojourns into Vancouver, and I still love the Ramen at Ezo-Giku (spelling?) but have put the Gyoza King on my must visit list. Out of town, it is hard to compete with our hometown SOBO, with to die for seafood tacos.


Edited by tofino (log)

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I quite literally just got home from 4 days in Tofino. Unfortunately SOBO and Cafe Pamplona were both closed for the season. However, the dinner at Raincoast Cafe was divine. Looking forward to returning soon to enjoy the seafood taco at SOBO.


"Expect nothing, be prepared for anything."

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One of the best meals of 2003 was at Sun Sui Wah in Richmond. The tea! Probably some of the best dim sum I've had on the West Coast, along with Koi Palace and Mission 261.

Not the worst but definitely down there, was a small meal at an empty Joe Fortes. Oysters had been sitting on ice, not cut fully off the shell, and the cracked crab claws came frozen, but the dijon dressing was pretty good.


I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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I quite literally just got home from 4 days in Tofino.

Johnathon:

What about Shelter?

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I was told Shelter was closed as well and my understanding is that the chef that gave it such a strong start is in Whistler doing something else. Seems like all the great chefs from Tofino are on holiday or have packed up and split. Can't say I blame them when the skiing in Whistler is a wonderful alternative to a slow season in Tofino!


"Expect nothing, be prepared for anything."

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Lots of Laughs about the Tofino chefs - it is true January can be a difficult month in Tofino, but with a population of 1,800 we still have the Pointe, Long Beach Lodge, Raincoast Cafe, Schooner, Blue Heron and several great coffee shops. Yes the Shelter is going through the revolving door of chefs, most recently bringing in the chef from Cafe Pamplona while they were closed, ah, but do not fear, as of February we are back at full steam. Town is still pretty busy, its not summer, but its not Whistler in the summer either. Take care all - love this list of favorites and not so favorites!!


Edited by tofino (log)

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