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Dine Out Vancouver - The Topic (2002-2007)


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A friend and I went to Cassis Bistro on Thursday night. It was our first time there and we may not have tried this restaurant otherwise, as this is not a neighbourhood either of us frequents much.

The room was almost full when we arrived but we were greeted and seated immediately. We got great service throughout our meal, informed and efficient but never rushed.

The wine selection had several tempting options and when we hesitated between two whites, our waiter brought us a sample of one of them so that we could make up our mind. We ended up going with a lovely Alsace, a Pfaffenheim whose smoothness and fruitiness worked very well with our meal.

My friend and I ordered the same appetizer and main:

- beet salad with julienned arugula and a hint of blue cheese, very nice and refreshing

- bouillabaisse with a side of ratatouille. The bouillabaisse was not exactly authentic (it had prawns and scallops in addition to the white fish), but the broth was excellent and the seafood cooked just right. The aioli mentioned on the menu never materialized, alas, but the flavours in that dish were bright and clean enough that we did not really miss it. The ratatouille was quite good, with vegetables cooked slightly more "al dente" than usual, which I actually prefer.

We ended our meal by sharing a nice chocolate torte and a great creme brulee... both for the creamy taste and the silky texture, it may well be one of the best creme brulees I have had.

Very nice food, excellent service and interesting wine list. We will definitely be back, if only to sample the coq au vin and the boeuf bourguignon.

My only complaint is that the music was really loud, and with the place being packed, it was sometimes hard to hear each other.

Emmanuelle
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I am a fan of Cassis. The last time I dined there I enjoyed the coq au vin AND the beef bourgogne. Oh yeah and the gratin of potato and a side of the cauliflower gratin. And a french onion soup and a lemon tart. Packed up what i couldnt finish and enjoyed it the next day for lunch. With a whisky and a glass of wine it was about $80. I found it very good value. Service was friendly and very accomodating. I am looking forward to my next visit.

Tim Keller

Rare Restaurant

tim@rarevancouver.com

Metro Restaurant

timkeller@metrodining.ca

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My one and only meal for DOV was at Gastropod, as I was only visiting Vancouver for the day. Had the oysters with horseradish snow and Sauternes jelly--very nice, the "snow" was Paco-tized and not icy like granita. Tastiest item of the night. Also tried the foie gras bon bon--one sauce was maybe rhubarb/apple, and the other was pear, although I can't be certain as they are just guesses based on taste. It was OK. Way too much sauce with the amount of foie, and not too much complexity in the dish. The roast chicken was OK and the Israeli couscous with chorizo was not bad. The duck confit pasta was pretty good, and the kitchen sent out an extra little dish of duck confit when I asked them about their opinion about the process...(1 month age vs. 6 months). Desserts were pretty good as well--I enjoyed the toasted banana bread with cardamom ice-cream and the cheesecake. (We also got comped glasses of Sauternes with the dessert, if that makes a difference.) All in all, the service was really good--had a great time chatting with Paul (ex-C), had an awesome time at Fuel (pre-dinner drinks next door) and the food at Gastropod was not a bad deal for DOV. Food didn't blow me (or the bf) out of the water, but it was fine.

Edited by Ling (log)
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We had a great dinner at West Restaurant on Saturday night. Our first courses were the mosaic of chicken and foie gras and the endive salad. Next, we had the pork belly and sablefish for our entrees. They were both excellently prepared. However, we were not able to have our desserts because the power went out in the area, so the restaurant was unable to prepare them. West was kind enough to offer all of the dinners on the house to everyone in the restaurant. Wow!

What ticked me off is that some of the diners did not leave a tip for the servers. There was one table that was lucky to finish all three courses but left nothing on the table. Just because the restaurant will be comping the entire meal does not mean that the servers will be tipped by the restaurant also.

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Last night a group of us dined at Rare. The experience was fantastic all around. Delicious food, amazing service, great wine selection, and a very comfortable atmosphere made this the most memorable meal of our DOV experiences summed up over the years.

Thank you to all the people working there for a wonderful night.

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I was shopping on Granville Street when all the power went out down on the north side of the street as well as a bunch of other streets in the area. I noticed that West was in the dark (that was just before 7:00) were they able to keep going until the power came on or did they have to close?

As for those diners who didn't leave a tip after getting their meals comp'd because of what was obviously a city transmitter problem not the restaurants power, I say - you are the worst of those bad dine out customers and by not leaving a tip you show ignorance, rudeness and disrespect. Not to mention it shows that you and your table guests are cheap assholes!

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I tried out Central Bistro last Thursday with a group of friends (the group had dwindled down to 6 people). 3 of us had the chilled tombo tuna as the appetizer, 2 had the seafood broth, and 1 had the salad. The tuna was a bit fishy. The avocado & pear timbale didn't add much to it. It was ok. The seafood broth was apparently pretty good.

The mains were a different matter. It seems that I was the only one who thoroughly enjoyed my main, which was the cabernet-braised beef daube. I don't remember the double-smoked bacon confit though. The stew had great flavour. 2 of us had the lamb crepinette, which was lamb wrapped in filo pastry. I've had basically the same thing at Felico's, and really enjoyed it. I tried a bit of the lamb crepinette, and the meat was dry, with no sauce. Another friend had the red snapper, and another had the cuvee chicken. Not sure how those were. Everybody had a big rectangle of deep-fried potato, and I think I was the only one who liked it, as I used it to sop up all the juices from my stew. The worst main was the risotto with forest mushrooms & champagne, which 2 of my friends ordered. First off, it was barely warm. Secondly, it was mushy (between the consistentcy of soft rice and congee). And lastly, it was flavourless. All we could taste were the champagne and the mushrooms (which were also devoid of flavour, for some reason). We tried to flag down the waitress, but by now the room had filled up considerably. Soon afterwards, she noticed that my friend had barely touched her risotto and offered to have the chef make something new for my friends. They got the vegetarian pasta instead, which came piping hot.

Next up was dessert. 2 of us got the drunken bottoms-up banana cake, which apparently was really good. 3 of us had the French lavender panna cotta. I liked the crumbled shortbread base. However, the lavender flavour was too strong for me - I didn't like biting into the whole buds of lavender that were generously sprinkled on top. Another friend ordered the dark chocolate silk with mango curd (VEGAN option). I think she liked the first few bites, but she couldn't finish it. Admittedly, it was probably because she made the mistake of ordering a vegan dessert (she's not vegetarian). The last person got the pumpkin & quark tiramisu, which I seriously contemplated even though I don't like pumpkin. It was probably the best dessert - the espresso soaked layers were really intensely flavoured.

Anyway, I probably won't go back. The service was great (and they comped us the 2 risottos and pastas), but the food was pretty disappointing. We each received $25 gift certificates too (I think they gave gift certificates to all their Dine Out patrons), but I doubt any of us will be back for the food :sad:

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^ I was surprised that this year, my current favorite restaurant is Parkside. I went to C last night and although it was solidly good it wasn't mind blowing.

The scallops (HUGE) were perfectly seared and the duck consume (and I am no stranger to duck....mmmm duck fat) was a little on the lukewarm side and simply just not as rich and extravagant as I had hoped. The seared salmon was very well done with the inside just nicely rare. The desserts were a little disappointing (only two to choose from as well!) but hey I'm here for the fish and seafood.

Still, the service was always stellar and the coordinated plate drop (all 6 diners got their plate simultaneously. I can't say enough good things about this. When all diners get their food at the same time (and I mean SAME time) it removes that lag where polite diners will wait for their colleagues to be served as well. This means your food gets cooler and cooler by the second. When you drop everyone's food at once you get this wonderful ability to eat the food as close to the point as the chef wanted it eaten (at THAT temperature). Love it!

Wes

Edited by fud (log)

"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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The question is, why are people expecting mind blowing during dine out?

Expect mind blowing when you pay normal prices, have a reasonable amount of people in the restaurant, and the staff have the time to do things right.

Just my .02

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Went to Aurora Bistro tonight. My wife and I had:

Tasty but lukewarm cauliflower soup with white truffle oil and almonds.

Moist and meaty half cornish game hen.

Overdone veal cheeks.

Hospital cafeteria-worthy apple upside-down cake.

Edited by LordBalthazar (log)

www.josephmallozzi.wordpress.com

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The question is, why are people expecting mind blowing during dine out?

Expect mind blowing when you pay normal prices, have a reasonable amount of people in the restaurant, and the staff have the time to do things right.

Just my .02

Did I not "blow" your mind this weekend ?

Or was it good dinner at a great price ?

Seriously, I wonder the same thing.

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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The question is, why are people expecting mind blowing during dine out?

Expect mind blowing when you pay normal prices, have a reasonable amount of people in the restaurant, and the staff have the time to do things right.

Just my .02

Fair enough. I guess they were really impressive the last time I went and I had my hopes high. Can't expect a good mind blow at bargain prices all the time.

"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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The question is, why are people expecting mind blowing during dine out?

Expect mind blowing when you pay normal prices, have a reasonable amount of people in the restaurant, and the staff have the time to do things right.

Just my .02

Did I not "blow" your mind this weekend ?

Or was it good dinner at a great price ?

Seriously, I wonder the same thing.

Was my mind "blown", no. Was I expecting it to be? No. I wanted steak. I got good steak, and brownie, and tuna, and my husband got good short ribs, and tasty vanilla bean creme brulée. We were both happy. Your poor bartender was so worried that we couldn't see the hockey game through his head, and all we thought was,"Hey, great perk!"

Good dinner, great price. I don't go to "dine" during dine out. I just happened to have the night off, and was glad to get in somewhere.

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My wife and I went to West last night for DOV. First course I had SALAD OF ENDIVE AND CRISP PROSCIUTTO. She had MOSAIC OF CHICKEN AND FOIE GRAS. Both were average. My salad was heavily overdressed and hers lacked punch…pretty bland tasting. The crisp prosciutto was excellent though…kind of like a prosciutto jerky…salty and delicious.

We faired much better with the mains. We had the STAR ANISE BRAISED PORK BELLY, SAVOY CABBAGE PUREE and WILD MUSHROOM, SWISS CHARD AND RICOTTA RAVIOLI. The pork belly was very tender and flavorful. Her ravioli was great also…cooked perfectly.

Dessert was excellent. We shared DARK CHOCOLATE CARAMEL PARFAIT WITH MILK CHOCOLATE BANANA MOUSSE and GINGERCAKE WITH MAPLE PANNACOTTA.

Overall, it was a great meal. By the way, I called yesterday and got a res same day at 5:15pm if anyone is looking for an early dinner this week.

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The question is, why are people expecting mind blowing during dine out?

Expect mind blowing when you pay normal prices, have a reasonable amount of people in the restaurant, and the staff have the time to do things right.

Just my .02

Did I not "blow" your mind this weekend ?

Or was it good dinner at a great price ?

Seriously, I wonder the same thing.

My .02 is that if a restaurant cannot produce the same quality of food / service as they normally do, then what is the point ! So with that, I doubt I'll do DOV again after this year.

However, it is my impression that I have had DOV meals in previous years that have been true to the reputation and my expectations of the restaurant.

Maybe there is a trade off, but if so, then the restaurant might want to control how much of a trade off - e.g. perhaps fill fewer seats during DOV so that quality of food/service is maintained. Or if the concept of DOV is just to fill restaurant seats with sub-quality meals, then so be it, let them masses come and fill the seats. I ask if it is worth it - I seriously do not know.

This said, I have had several very nice experiences this year at DOV and expect my final DOV meal to be of impeccable quality and experience

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The question is, why are people expecting mind blowing during dine out?

Expect mind blowing when you pay normal prices, have a reasonable amount of people in the restaurant, and the staff have the time to do things right.

Just my .02

Did I not "blow" your mind this weekend ?

Or was it good dinner at a great price ?

Seriously, I wonder the same thing.

My .02 is that if a restaurant cannot produce the same quality of food / service as they normally do, then what is the point ! So with that, I doubt I'll do DOV again after this year.

However, it is my impression that I have had DOV meals in previous years that have been true to the reputation and my expectations of the restaurant.

Maybe there is a trade off, but if so, then the restaurant might want to control how much of a trade off - e.g. perhaps fill fewer seats during DOV so that quality of food/service is maintained. Or if the concept of DOV is just to fill restaurant seats with sub-quality meals, then so be it, let them masses come and fill the seats. I ask if it is worth it - I seriously do not know.

This said, I have had several very nice experiences this year at DOV and expect my final DOV meal to be of impeccable quality and experience

I agree that restaurants should limit the amount of people through their doors so that they can live up to expectations.

I just think that it is unrealistic to have "mind blowing" ingredients when you are getting a three course meal for $35 or less. So the restaurants are limited in what they can serve and still make profit with.

The other issue for restaurants, is that for some, the cheque average goes down with dine out, and they feel that volume is the only way to compensate for "the loss". But what they should be concentrating on, is the possibility of gaining these diners as repeat customers. Limiting seating will help to that end.

I just know, that for most restaurants, Dine Out is a bit of a crap shoot. I know one restaurant that isn't participating this year because the volume was ridiculous last year. And people were phoning and pissed off because they couldn't get a reservation.

Anyway, in general, I think that a lot of expectations are too high for dine out. But should you get a good meal at a great price, with good service? Yes. Mind Blowing? No.

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Went to Aurora Bistro tonight.  My wife and I had:

Tasty but lukewarm cauliflower soup with white truffle oil and almonds.

Moist and meaty half cornish game hen.

Overdone veal cheeks.

Hospital cafeteria-worthy apple upside-down cake.

LB:

Perhaps you should have tried ordering your veal cheeks medium rare, they would have been much tastier.

And I think you posted this on the wrong board. What you meant to say was "yummy!"

-- Matt.

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I think a lot of DOV restaurants end up with a higher proportion of bargain-hunting (fair enough), water-drinking (also fair enough) 10% tippers (no fair!) who want the four-star experience even if they're at a two- or three-star (that's not realistic at all) and will complain bitterly to all their friends if they perceive any slight or the meal doesn't live up to some lofty expectation (which is probably unreasonable as they likely haven't been to a four-star restaurant to receive that level of service anyway).

There's probably at least one of those for every good eGulleter who has a more reasonable expectation of a good meal for a good price.

I sneaked in one last DOV dinner last night, at HSG. That was a good dinner, well-prepared, hearty food, good portion sizes, and only $109 including tax for dinner for two including a half-litre of decent wine. A bargain, really.

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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Does anyone know which restaurants are extending the dates for DOV?

At Capones, we will be extending the dine out menu through Feb. 8th.

As of Feb. 9, we will be offering a Valentine's menu that will run through Feb.

18.

Ian

Ian McTavish

General Manager / Capones Restaurant & Live Jazz Club

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I went to Rare yesterday night for DOV with a couple of my work friends. I have to compliment on the fantastic service by the staff and particularly by our server. Our server was attentive and extremely knowledgeable on the menu, he discussed in detail every item on the list, talked a bit about the chef's concepts for the dish, and made spot-on recommendations. He truly made what was already a fine meal an excellent and memorable evening. Kudos to your wonderful team, Tim & Brian!

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Went to Aurora Bistro tonight.  My wife and I had:

Tasty but lukewarm cauliflower soup with white truffle oil and almonds.

Moist and meaty half cornish game hen.

Overdone veal cheeks.

Hospital cafeteria-worthy apple upside-down cake.

Hi LordB,

I'm sorry to hear about your experience. Fortunately, your experience does not seem to be the norm.

I'm curious if you asked to have your soup heated up. Also, what do you mean by the veal cheeks being overdone? Were they dry, or were they not pink in the middle? They are braised for 2 1/2 hours, so they are very cooked. As for the cake, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it. Most people have been loving it, but I guess it's not for everyone.

Jeff

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We capped of our DOV experience 2007 with dinner last night at Parkside. We originally discovered Parkside during DOV 2004 and have had many delicious meals there since, last night was no exception to the good food and good service that Parkside manages to deliver in a seemingly easy manner to all!

Service is professional and warm, food comes with layers of flavours that explode as you take a second or third bite to try and discover the exact spice and/or combination of flavourings, and with textures that are sublime, rich consumme, sweet to highlight the savoury, creamy, sometimes light with a hint of citrus - all in all delicious!

There were four of us, and we thought about each ordering one of the four choices and sharing, but there were some obstacles to that, NOT the menu! Each dish was tempting, and this was one of many nice features. I like that a chef / restaurant can create a menu that is tempting to a variety of tastes and has so many items that you are actually choosing which one you want most at that moment. I had the pumkin ravioli (pardon the lack of all the right descriptors here), not a spec of sauce was left on my plate! Others had the Alsatian onion tart which was stuffed with an amazing onion-y goodness and served with bacon and frisee and ... something nobody offered me a bite of! THe consumee with marrow dumplings was also on our table and lucky me got a huge bite! Oh my oh my oh my!

Mains included steelhead trout which came plated with a scallop tart, chicken with prosciutto and and and (I have to go look at the menu, I had two bites of this, very good!, served with some braised endive? YUM. I had the veal cheeks, wanted to try the things I would never attempt at home, it was amazing, with layers of flavour coming throught with each bite. I was still identifiying bits of braise flavourings as I ate the last bite - impressive meal all around chef!

Desserts, two of us had lemon tart with blood orange sorbet. Lemony without being overly tart, completely sublime texture in the tart! If you have not tried ice cream or sorbet at Parkside, get yourself down there! Us coffee adicts, had to try the espresso panna cotta - a new standard in cold coffee has been set! I am a bit fan of coffee that is cold, and this was the epitome of coffee and creamy goodness! I don't make anything like this, so I'm kind of in awe, and yes I kept eating it and enjoying each mouthful. The presentation of this dish also really wowed me because it really did look like a capuccino, except there was no way to get a sit without one's spoon. Heaven!

I'm wondering what I can do to work close by, so that in future I can stop in more regularly for a cocktail, a little food and some bites of dessert! Thanks, it was a good final DOV meal for me, and has renewed my desire to eat out more often, at Parkside!

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