Sunday, 31 January 2016

L'Abattoir: DineOut #3... Mini portions =(

Onto third and last Dine Out this year at L'Abattoir. Thanks for Adorables' connections were we able to get a table tonight! We sat at the back of the restaurant, which was quite cute but a bit chilly.

L'Abattoir Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoRestaurant: L'Abattoir (visit their website here)
Location: 217 Carrall Street, Vancouver
Cuisine: French, Canadian
Price range: $40/person (Dine Out)

Date of visit: January 31, 2016
Atmosphere: 4/5
Staff/service: 3.5/5
Food variety: 3/5
Food quality: 3.5/5
Buck worthy? 3/5

They had an option of bread service of $3 per person, but as we looked around and felt our tummies growl.. we decided to just wait for our dishes to arrive. For her appie GirlNextDoor decided on their Grilled Squid Stuffed with Pork and Herbs. I believe it was paired with a mint and cucumber creme sauce and squid ink. The plating was a bit bare, but neat and tidy. Squid itself tasted good and pork had lots of flavor, I had a giant grain of salt in my bite which was disappointing. Did I mention there were only 3 pieces of squid about the size of half a wine cork?

I ordered the Cauliflower and Boudin Blanc appetizer which was plated with foie gras, parsley, and crispy chicken chips. I feel this dish was quite nicely plated with the selection in the middle. The pickled cauliflower contrasted well with the fatty foie gras but was unexpectedly tart. Foie gras was rich and smooth, but not much flavor to it. I liked the boudin blanc, but it lacked texture besides being mushy. Strong chicken flavor! The chicken chips were great with the foie gras and boudin blanc, added some crisp to the soft items.

Adorables ordered the Roast Pork Belly with Crackling that included turnips and salsa verde. This looked like a messy dish with just veggies slathered over it, but the pork itself was rich, a bit heavy, but so flaky and melted in my mouth. Crackling needs more more crackle to it, but it wasn't the worst I've had.

I tried their Braised Veal Shank Tagliatelle with squash, chimichurri, and crispy shallot. GirlNextDoor got the same dish but hers was plated much nicer. Mines looked like someone attacked it and attempted to place it back on the plate. Pasta was al dente and the veal was tender, moist, and flavorful.... to the point where I found the whole dish too salty. The portion was very small as well. I'm pretty sure if I counted, there were approximately 7-8 strands of tagliatelle. Chimichurri was wasted as it was only there to decorate the plate and barely detectable. Didn't quite notice any crispy shallots on my dish-- maybe they forgot it.

MaCherie had the Saffron Crusted Pacific Salmon paired with lobster sauce, fennel, and pepper condiment. This was one of the better dishes of the evening, the salmon was lightly seared on the outside, with the inside being semi-raw and felt like smoked salmon. Crunchy on top, the saffron added flavors to the fish, and the lobster sauce sealed the deal. Delish!

Onto desserts, GirlNextDoor ordered the Lemon Tart with Raspberry sorbet and lime meringue. This was so pretty! I loved the tart flavors, it was creamy and not too sweet. The meringue was crunchy and light, great with the tart raspberry puree.

Adorables and I had the White Chocolate Cheesecake with graham crumble, caramel, and nougatine. This was a beautiful display, they looked like tiny mounds of white on a backdrop of the caramel. The cheesecake was smooth and creamy, couldn't taste the cheese strongly. Nougatine and crumble added some nice extra texture to the cheesecake. Yummy!

MaCherie ordered their Dark Chocolate Mousse with mandarin and chocolate cake. Basically it looked like... loose poop (excuse my lack of a better description). On the side was a chocolate crumble, sponge toffee, and a "spongified" mandarin orange slice. The mousse was smooth and rich, not very fluffy like the typical mousse.

We enjoyed each others' company this evening, but some dishes were disappointing, not to mention all of us left unsatisfied from the small portions. GirlNextDoor mentioned that the regular menu had much better portion sizes and quality. Kinda stumped that we paid $40 for this =( I liked how they served us all at the same time though (had two servers carrying two dishes each to serve all four of us at the same time).

Monday, 25 January 2016

Sushi Aria: Generically acceptable sushi

Craving sushi and saw this new place nearby, so we decided to give it a try! There's lots of street parking, both paid and free 2hr parking nearby. I wasn't noticed for a while before being seated, but did get a seat eventually (it was near empty) and the waitress was friendly.

Sushi Aria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoRestaurant: Sushi Aria
Location: 4018 Cambie Street, Vancouver
Cuisine: Japanese, Sushi
Price range: $10-15/person

Date of visit: January 25, 2016
Atmosphere: 4/5
Staff/service: 3/5
Food variety: 5/5
Food quality: 3.5/5
Buck worthy? 4/5

Similar to other Korean-operated Japanese restaurants, the menu offered reasonably priced sushi and I didn't expect anything super fancy. There were quite a few special rolls, and I saw others order it-- looked pretty good! I was debating between udon or rice, but the server recommended the rice, so I got their Al Bab ($6.95). It was rice in a hot stone bowl topped with tobiko, masago, pickled veggies, carrot, cucumber, and seaweed mixed in a light soy sauce. The bowl was hot and they mixed it for me, taste was interesting, never had something like it before but felt it wasn't as "delicious" as she sold it as.

Next to arrive was the Sashimi and Sushi Combo ($9.95) which had two pieces salmon and tuna sashimi, and one ebi (I swapped it to ika free of charge), tuna, salmon, chopped scallop, and masago nigiri. I was quite happy with the ika, it was gooey but had some spring to it. The others were equally average. Disappointment was the mushy tuna sashimi and "tendonous" (veiny?) salmon sashimi. Good portions though!

Last thing was a Deep Fried California Roll ($3.75). Considering the price, I shouldn't have expected much. It was crispy on the outside and topped with a tangy sauce + spicy mayo. The insides were average imitation crab and creamy avocado, but it was too warm and made it quite heavy. Adorables did not approve of it.

They give cotton candy instead of candies here! Fun =D

Overall it was hard to get service when you wanted it, but I guess it provides some level of privacy if you wanted it. They were good in making rounds to fill up our tea, and generally welcoming.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Cork & Fin: A fine DineOut #2

Onto Dine Out number 2! This time, we find ourselves in Gastown late at night (could only get a reservation at 9:30pm)! And here, introducing NotMooStachio, our newest member/mascot of the team!

Cork & Fin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoRestaurant: Cork and Fin (visit their website here)
Location: 221 Carrall Street, Vancouver
Cuisine: Seafood, Asian, French, Latin
Price range: $30/person (Dine Out)

Date of visit: January 22, 2016
Atmosphere: 4.5/5
Staff/service: 5/5
Food variety: 4/5
Food quality: 3/5
Buck worthy? 5/5

Their $30 menu caught my eye because it consists of a six course savoury menu with options for oysters ($29.00/dozen) and dessert on top. We were seated promptly and our waitress was very friendly. Also was the option of drink pairings with the meal. MaidKendra opted for the Mocktail Pairings ($12.00/3 pours). First one was a bit bland, but came in a cute cup! Second cup (tall cup) was too bitter, as reported by MaidKendra. Last cup (not pictured) was too sweet.

This was our Burdock Salad consisting of fried tofu, organic greens, and seven spice. The burdock was seasoned and acted like the meat of the dish, quite nice flavors there. Unfortunately all clumped together. Greens were fresh but the major disappointment was the tofu. Coming from a Chinese background, I grew up with deep fried tofu. This was by far the worst I've had, cold, bland, hard, and not even crispy. Those poor soybeans being tarnished.

Their Hamachi Carpaccio in apple-ginger vinaigrette topped with tobiko, on the other hand, was amazing. The hamachi was light and flavorful with the vinaigrette drawing out the fresh fish flavors. I wish there was more!

I mean, look at that beauty!

Crab Croquette arrived next with bechamel, potato on tomato ragout. This was crispy on the outside, fluffy and moist inside. Couldn't quite taste the crab, and we all felt that the tomato ragout was very herby. I didn't mind it, but can see how it can overwhelm the flavors of the dish. The size of the balls was quite uneven, look at NotMooStachio joining the rounds :P

Another favorite of the night was the Seared Scallop on a bed of kabocha puree and braised fennel. These were cooked perfectly, loaded with delicious scallop flavor. MaidKendra's had sand in it, which almost chipped his teeth and he said it was too fishy. Adorables said he didn't taste the kabocha in the puree.

I was lucky, mines was quite delicious, but gotta agree that the puree was lackluster.

We were pleasantly surprised by the size of the Seafood Gratin consisting of prawns, salmon, garganelli, and parmesan crema. First impression was the overwhelming buttery flavor. It was quite rich, but after a few more bites, got to love this creamy rich dish. MaidKendra found the prawns (sliced in half) to be just a wee overcooked, but acceptable. Forgot to mention he's our picky seafood connoisseur of the night xD

The other large dish was the Braised Short Rib with red wine, herb potato, and hot mustard vinaigrette. This was like a mountain of steaming meat drizzled with hot mustard.

I tore the tender mass apart for good portions to feed all three of us. Maybe it got cold when I finally ate it, but it was quite dry. It was a bit underseasoned, but I could taste the flavors in the fat. Potatoes were flattened and soaked up more flavor of the meat juices.

Couldn't stop there, had to have some sweet to end the night, so we ordered a Chocolate Cheesecake Mousse with Blueberry Compote ($8.00). This was very very very decadent, rich, and dense. It was smooth and chocolaty though!

Blueberry compote was too sweet to contrast the mousse. Adorables and MaidKendra ended up eating a couple spoonfuls and left the rest for me. It did get a bit much near the end-- came in such a cute Mason jar that I couldn't stop gushing about it. Too dense to be called a mousse, and couldn't really taste any "cheese". Love/hate relationship with this one =P

We enjoyed our experience here though, the service was great and they never pushed us to leave even though I knew they were closing/closed while we were trying to finish dessert.