RSS Feed

Category Archives: Restaurants

Burdock and Co

Posted on
Cherry Leaf Cured Scallops, shiso rice crackers, cracked cherry pit ice

Fresh Oysters, finger lime caviar, fresh breakfast radish, chickweed, apple & verbena sorbet, kasu emulsion

Trying a brand new restaurant is just about our family’s favourite thing to do and when the chef/owner happens to be Andrea Carlson (Sooke Harbour House, Raincity Grill, Bishop’s, etc), who is not only an a fantastic cook but a long time friend, we get downright excited! So, we made sure the three of us were at the corner of Main and E 11th Ave for the very first public service of Burdock & Co.

2702 Main Street

2702 Main Street

After admiring the space (the former home of Cafeteria), we sat down and ordered some drinks. I had one of the two non-alcoholic cocktails, from a list designed by Lauren Mote of Kale and Nori Culinary Designs, the Cascadian Cooler.

Apple & Fenugreek, Lime, Mint, Denman Bitters, Gingerbeer

Apple & Fenugreek, Lime, Mint, Denman Bitters, Gingerbeer

The menu featured dishes showcasing local and seasonal ingredients in imaginative combinations that made it difficult to narrow down our selections, so we ordered almost the whole menu to share family style!

Cherry Leaf Cured Scallops, shiso rice crackers, cracked cherry pit ice

Cherry Leaf Cured Scallops, shiso rice crackers, cracked cherry pit ice

We started with the scallops and oysters (both requested by our 10-year-old son, Young Fresh Chef) which were delicate and delicious like a cool spring morning on the West Coast. We even nibbled on the cherry blossoms as instructed by our charmer of a server.

Urban Digs Egg, wild cress, hazelnut & blue cheese granola, brown butter & potato vinaigrette

Urban Digs Egg, wild cress, hazelnut & blue cheese granola, brown butter & potato vinaigrette

The flavour and textural combination of the poached egg and the savoury granola was my favourite of the night and I may have Mmmmmmmed out loud more than once! The peppery wild cress presented a nice contrast to the luxuriousness of the rest of the plate.

Fire Roasted Green Farro, spruce tips, black garlic, sorrel

Fire Roasted Green Farro, spruce tips, black garlic, sorrel

The vegan farro dish was my meat-loving husband’s top pick of the meal and the plate was scraped down to the ceramic glaze. The depth of flavour from the black garlic was earthy and sweet adding a soulful umami element to the farro.

Fried Chicken & Pickles, crispy skin, charred chili vinegar

Fried Chicken & Pickles, crispy skin, charred chili vinegar

Our son most enjoyed the fried chicken and he said that he could taste the love that was put into the preparation. The crispy skin was like chicken bacon and the accompanying pickled vegetables helped cut the richness of this dish.

Harvest Pork Belly Ramen, Candied Bacon, nori, fried egg

My husband and I were slowing down at this point, but the boy went full boar (pun intended) into the bowl of ramen.

Wheat Berry Risotto, sunroot, mustard greens, castelvetrano olives, Farmhouse 'Fermiere', smoked crema

Wheat Berry Risotto, sunroot, mustard greens, castelvetrano olives, Farmhouse ‘Fermiere’, smoked crema

The risotto was delicious and since the smoked crema would be good with almost anything, it just made the dish that much better. While this was a vegetarian dish, the dairy components gave it a rich taste and mouth feel.

Halibut, braised spring radish and hop shoots, pine mushroom and burdock tea, fried burdock, hop salt

While we should have been getting full after so much deliciousness, my fellas had their forks into the halibut before I could take a single photo! Like everything we tried, the dish was a tantalizing combination of ingredients with an excellent balance of flavours and was seasoned to perfection.

Gluten Free Cookies

Gluten Free Cookies

We still had a bit of room for dessert and we really enjoyed the gluten-free cookie selection by the soft glow of candlelight.

IMG_2728

We left with full bellies and hearts already plotting our return.

 

Burdock & Co

Open 7 days a week

from 5pm for dinner

no reservations

2702 Main Street

Vancouver, BC V5T 3E8

604-879-0077

email: eat@burdockandco.com

twitter: @burdockandco

website: www.burdockandco.com

Which dish pictured appeals most to your taste buds?

Advertisements

Hilltop Diner Cafe

Posted on
Family Lunch Order at Hilltop Diner Cafe in Langley, BC

Family Lunch Order at Hilltop Diner Cafe in Langley, BC

Sometimes you just want the classics: a clubhouse sandwich with roasted turkey, a juicy burger or a straight up breakfast. On a lazy Sunday, when this mood strikes us, we pile into the car as a family and take a leisurely drive to the Hilltop Diner Cafe in the middle of nowhere part of Langley. Picture perfect enough to be a constant shooting location for TV shows and movies, they even have a scrap-book that they love to pull out and show off, the food is just as authentic. But it’s the service that makes it the real deal, it’s casual but caring. They are a busy bunch being open 7 days a week from 8:00 to 2:30 since 1946. Their full breakfast menu is served until 11am and then they still have a small list of morning staples available, as well as their crazy mega burgers (with names like Everest burger and Anarchist burger they are ridonkulous) until they close.

Eggs, Farmer's Sausage & Toast at the Hilltop Diner Cafe

Eggs, Sausage & Toast at Hilltop Diner Cafe

Since it is a bit of a drive for us, and it’s hard to hurry on Sundays, we haven’t made it for the full breakfast menu yet. I think I’m stuck on the clubhouse because of the in-house oven-roasted turkey that is so thinly sliced and nestled in the lightly toasted bread with the perfect amount of lettuce and tomatoes and beautifully crisped bacon. I switch between the excellent french fries  and the impressively fresh side salad.   All the sandwiches and burgers that we’ve tried have been exactly as we would want them to be. Their milkshakes and floats are fantastic and big enough to share and share and share. My other regret about the menu is that we STILL haven’t tried any of their amazing looking pies as we are always too full after our sandwich and burger feast. I guess we’ll have to keep going and keep trying things, it’s a tough life!

Hot Turkey Sandwich with Gravy and Cranberry Relish at the Hilltop Diner Cafe

Hilltop Diner Cafe

23904 Fraser Highway

Langley, BC

(604) 514-9424

Open Daily from 8:00 to 2:30

Full Breakfast Menu served until 11am

Closed on Holiday Mondays

Urbanspoon Reviews

Follow Me Foodie Review

Yelp Reviews

Dinehere Reviews

I’m Busy Eating Review

Feast and Fare Review

What’s your favourite classic diner?

Maui Maniacs

Posted on
Maui Maniacs

Maui, Maui, Maui! I’ve been hearing nothing but lovely things about this island since I was a little girl. Last Spring it was finally my turn to see for myself. After scouring the internet and reading all the reviews I booked a one bedroom suite at the Hanua Kai Resort and Spa in Kaanapali. Then began the restaurant research, I emailed friends and family for recommendations and tried to read through the lines of online reviews. Going on vacation can be a lot of work!

The resort was gorgeous, right on the beach and well maintained. Duke’s Beach House is on the resort property between the three pools and the red sandy beach. We ate once at Duke’s and the best thing I can say about the food is that it was forgettable. Wish I could say the same for our first meal in Hawaii at Maui Tacos. Good thing that the resort was so fabulous, because the food hadn’t been that impressive. But, these choices had been more about convenience than anything.

While the grocery store across the road had decent local produce, there was a nice selection at a farmer’s stand by the ticket booth for the Sugar Cane Express. We took the Sugar Cane Train from Kaanapali to Lahaina for the day, another disappointing lunch at one of the interchangeable ocean front restaurants was fixed by a trip to Hula Cookies & Ice Cream where you get to design your own ice cream sandwich that can be enjoyed in the nearby park under the banyan tree.

On other visits to Lahaina, we enjoyed brunch at Mala Ocean Tavern and a lunch at a mixed plate place, can’t remember the name but we wanted to go to Aloha Mixed Plate. For afternoon treats we sucked back some Jamba Juice and couldn’t get enough froyo at Island Froyo. One more meh place and then we’ll move on to the good stuff: David Paul’s Island Grill looked good from the outside, but you shouldn’t judge a menu by its cover.

When we headed over to the fancy side Maui to check out Wailea our luck changed. We tried out a brand new restaurant called Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman. The decor was bright and fresh, the service was professional and warm, we felt right at home. The food was locally sourced, clearly fresh and prepared with care.

Based on our positive experience at Monkeypod, we made a reservation at Merriman’s the upscale sister restaurant located in the Kapalua Resort. It was a delightful experience with a completely open dining room and top notch service provided by our server, J.J. Again, the freshest ingredients treated with respect.My husband, Exec Chef, enjoyed it so completely that he bought a gift certificate on the spot for family members that would be honeymooning in Maui a few weeks later.

Another hit in the Kapalua Resort was the oceanic treats of Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi, fantastic local fish and great service in a busy room. After some memorable meals we feel like we are on a roll, hitting our stride and walking on sunshine.

Our best brunch of the trip was worth the 45 minute wait in the balmy ocean breeze. The Gazebo is just that, a round roof over tables and a kitchen right on the beach. The fluffy pancakes are served with coconut syrup and I have to recommend  the fried rice as a must share plate.

One of our favourite spots on Maui was a little town called Paia. We had a nice dinner at Milagros Food Company, but the best part was shopping at Wings Hawaii, a lovely shop filled with beautiful jewellery and clothing all made in Hawaii.

We ended our trip on a high note with a dinner at Mama’s Fish House in Paia. It was a picture perfect setting for an Elvis movie and it’s been around since he was the king. While the view was amazing and the food was excellent, it is the only time I’ve heard Exec Chef say that a dinner was overpriced!

 Mahalo!

Estrella’s Montreal Deli & Cafe

Posted on

While the restaurant review website Dine Here is mostly good for laughs, rather than reliable restaurant recommendations, I have made a couple of welcome discoveries.

I haven’t yet had an opportunity to visit Montreal, but I feel I’ve somehow come a little closer since eating at Estrella’s Montreal Deli & Cafe in Langley. Their Reuben is fantastic, stacked high with their own smoked meat and stuffed with swiss cheese and sauerkraut. The Dijon gives it a kick and the rye has that touch of chewiness that keeps it all together. The pickle spear has a nice crunch and a well-balanced brine. The coleslaw is shredded finely and slicked with a sweet/vinegary dressing.

Young Fresh Chef and Exec Chef are both fans, but Little Chef skips the mustard. They both know to hand over their pickle spears to me immediately. Estrella’s has a selection of beverages, but Little Chef goes for the Cherry Coke. Yep, it’s a smoky slice of Montreal right in Langley.

Estrella’s Deli & Cafe

5932 200 St

Langley, BC

(604) 539-9988

Open Monday-Saturday 9:00-5:00

Closed Sundays & Holiday Mondays

Yelp Reviews

UrbanSpoon Reviews

TripAdvisor Reviews

Caesar Seizure

Posted on

Caesar Seizure

When I met my husband, he was not yet the Executive Chef I know and love today. He was an apprentice line cook at a semi-veggie restaurant in our provincial capital. I loved taking my friends and family on Wednesday nights to sample his latest dish that he had created for their weekly appetizer special. My best gal, Lassette, STILL talks about the corn broth with cheese filled raviolis, even though it was over a (gulp) decade ago that she sampled it.

One of my favourite things about those days was when my boyfriend (tee hee) would call me at the end of his shift to see if he could bring me anything. Most nights I would reply with,”Oh, you know what I want, baby.” And he did, and he would deliver. He’d come home, I’d hear his key in the lock and cross the room to the door before he even had it open. I’d give him a kiss hello (if I remembered) and grab the bag from his hand. I’d already have our only mixing bowl out on the counter with utensils nearby. The first container held fresh, crisp romaine leaves that almost filled the bowl. Next, a smaller container chockfull of house made croutons, that started their life cycle as focaccia bread and then where blessed with copious quantities of garlic and olive oil. After that came the dressing (two containers if I was extra lucky), thick, creamy golden goodness to be scraped out over the leaves and croutons. Then I tossed it all together gently, to spread the dressing around in order to delicately coat each leaf and crispy cube of golden bread. Finally, the last container holding freshly grated Romano cheese was sprinkled over the slick surface.

Forgoing plates, and armed with forks, we’d take the single step to the couch and eat directly from the bowl. Those were the good old days, before we had a car, a kid or a clue. I think of those days fondly, and when I get to reminiscing, I am usually seized with a craving for that Caesar Salad of yore. Fortunately, the restaurant published a cookbook with their Caesar Salad dressing recipe. It’s pretty much the only way I can get my Chefs to eat salad without complaint (or conversation, we are all to busy enjoying). I usually add chicken to make it the full meal deal.

The croutons themselves are snacktastic. I don’t make them from focaccia, I use either sourdough (left over from making French Toast) or Italian (the bottom half only, the top gets used for garlic bread). I’ll freeze the cubed bread if I’m not using right away and let it fully thaw before letting them soak in olive oil flavoured with garlic, salt and pepper. I tend to snack on them while making the dressing, just the ugly ones of course.

I have the ingredients for the dressing memorized: roasted garlic, fresh garlic, olive oil, parmesan cheese, dijon mustard, capers, anchovies, salt and pepper. The roasted garlic is easy to do: cut off the tops of two whole heads, place it in the centre of a square of aluminum foil, douse it in olive oil and s&p liberally, pop it in the oven at 450 for 45 minutes (I love the symmetry of those numbers). I measure everything else by taste. Once the roasted garlic is ready it goes into the blender (well, right now I’ve been using my immersion blender, apparently I wore my pastel yellow Kitchenaid blender out). Half a lemon gets its juice squozen in (yes it’s a new word, feel free to use it), one large, or two small sliced cloves of fresh garlic, a nice pile of parmesan falls gently from the grater, a squidge (second vocab word of the day) of dijon mustard, five or six capers,one single anchovy (oops, suddenly not vegetarian), a few grinds of pepper, a generous pinch of kosher salt and a splash of olive oil. Then the blending/tasting/blending/tasting begins! The quantities are never exact because the flavours change with the season, or the brand. Somtimes I use oil packed capers and anchovies, sometimes salt packed. This changes the intensity of the flavour and the impact to the dressing. Lemons can be sweeter or drier, garlic can be subtle or strong. This is where the tasting comes in.

Once the first round of all the ingredients are in and all blended together, a tiny spoon drops a taste on your tongue. Whatever ingredient you can taste individually doesn’t need to be increased. So, just keep adding more of everything you don’t taste until it’s a beautifully balanced blend of all the players. The best way to tell when you’re done is when you just start eating, rather than tasting, the dressing (you just may be too hungry to care, but that’s fine). Leftover dressing makes a great dip for carrot sticks or croutons the next day. Just kidding about the croutons, they wouldn’t last more than a day around my house!

Dim Sum Dilemma

Posted on

Dim Sum Dilemma

My first introduction to Dim Sum gets major points for ambiance, but negative twenty for actual taste. On our first trip to San Francisco (do NOT call it ‘Frisco or San Fran, everyone who lives in Northern California just calls it “The City”) we wandered through Chinatown and soaked in the atmosphere. There were boxes of live frogs squirming together like a plague just waiting to be released, turtles patiently climbing over one another and giant sized vegetables of every description. Stores extended past their doors and windows to encroach on the sidewalks, almost forcing people to walk in the streets, or run the risk of accidently placing  your foot in bucket full of glistening eels. The size, density and variety made Victoria’s Chinatown seem like the tiny little corner that they added into Old Towne in the Royal BC Museum.

Overwhelmed by the hoi palloi, we slipped into some random restaurant and pointed to some Dim Sum items through the finger prints on the menu. My memories of this first Dim Sum consist of a few sensory impressions: cold, dry, greasy and stale. So, it was a dining option we didn’t explore further until years later.

Fast forward about four years when I began venturing out in Vancouver to explore the diversity of Dim Sum, as there are plenty of options. This time I did some research and tried out Sun Sui Wah on Main. A big banquety space with carts racing around and the chatter rising up to fill the high-ceilinged room it was worlds apart from that first random incident. The cart approach is good for first-timers and large groups. You just take a whiff and a glance then point to what you want to try. The hard part is trying to remember what you liked for the next time. It’s a lot of fun with large groups of adventurous friends, or somewhat picky eaters who are looking to expand their horizons. I’ve taken a few Dim Sum Virgins to Sun Sui Wah and everyone got into it. It was fun first foray, but the carts were starting to lose their appeal.

My husband, the Executive Chef of my heart, told me about the Imperial on Burrard. He’d been there with some co-workers and he liked the dishes better than Sun Sui Wah. Wanting to do it right, I organized an upcoming birthday do for my two friendettes with back to back birthdays for a Dim Sum adventure. The Imperial is in a beautiful old building down by the water with a typically gorgeous Vancouver mountain/ocean view. The room was more elegant than Sun Sui Wah and without the perils of being run over by runaway carts. Ordering from the menus wasn’t the sensory experience of having everything brought by for inspection, but allowed more discussion and planning. A word about my friendettes, they get just as giddy over food as I do and it just makes me love them more than I would anyway. My b2b b-day girls were my Sushi Friends back in the day and could always be relied on to join me in a couple of rolls whenever the desire struck.

Back to the Imperial, well I did go back a couple times and the food was better, but I still wanted something more. I liked all the flavours and textures, but I still wasn’t finding the freshness. Eliminating the middle men running the carts was a step in the right directions. But, I was looking for more umami , something that would curl my toes and turn my raincoat red (I don’t know what that means, I just like the alliteration. Also I don’t know that I really want curled toes).

Exec Chef knew a guy who was related to a guy who ran a Chinese restaurant called Fisherman’s Terrace in Richmond (of course! I should have been looking in Richmond all along.). We went for dinner one night and had this amazing crab dish that was a whole crab covered in a dry “sauce” of  crunchy bits of goodness. I could see the glint in his eye that means Exec Chef is gathering inspiration that will result in a new dish. All the dishes were tasty, but what really impressed me was the bright and fresh quality of the flavours. We went there a couple more times for dinner before it dawned on me to try their Dim Sum!

The next time we found ourselves near Richmond around lunch time we headed to the Aberdeen Mall for Dim Sum and Daiso. We had our son, Young Fresh Chef, with us and we had to wait with the rest of  crowd that spilled out into the mall. When we finally got a table and a pot of Jasmine tea, we were presented with a paper menu list and a pencil. I ticked the items that tickled my fancy (including sticky rice and shrimp dumplings for Young Fresh Chef) and passed it to Exec Chef for his perusal. While waiting for the food, they boy and I wandered over to the fish tanks to check out their residents. The restaurant is huge and busy, the atmosphere a cross between Sun Sui Wah’s hustle/bustle  and Imperial’s dignified calm. Back at the table, when the food arrived, I was overcome by the heady scents. I dove right in and only came up for air to help Young Fresh Chef unwrap his sticky rice and give him a shrimp dumpling refill.

This was it! This was what I was looking for! The flavours were big, bold and balanced (the 3 B’s of flavour, according to me). The fried items were hot and crisp, the BBQ Pork Buns were clouds of dough filled with sweet and smokey goodness. There wasn’t a clinker in the lot. All the classics I’d had before were the best version I’d had and the “doughnuts” in a noodle wrapper were a revelation. It’s hard to describe in print, it made me want to laugh and cry at the same time. It shouldn’t be good, but it is, IT IS.

%d bloggers like this: