Dine Out Vancouver 2014: The Observatory – Grouse Mountain

Near the end of a grey, cloudy day Wendy and I ascended to The Observatory for our first Dine Out Vancouver meal of 2014 on the Skyride from the base of Grouse Mountain. To our wonderment when the tram broke through the clouds we were treated to an absolutely stunning sunset of epic proportions, with the beautiful mountains surrounding our fair city as the backdrop.

Grouse Mountain

The slopes were busy with skiers enjoying the sun. Neither of us has much skiing experience but maybe next time we will give it a go.

Sunset viewed from Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, BC

We headed to the observation decks to capture this beautiful moment together.  I was glad I took the advice of the restaurant and arrived at the base of the mountain half an hour early so that we had time to enjoy the scenery.

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Birthday dinner #1 – Mosaic Grille

For my big three-o celebration, I had gotten together with some friends for dinner at Mosaic Grille at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver.  Hitman had taken pictures but due to a technical difficulty, they are no longer available =(

Good thing I have friends that also take pictures of their food even though they don’t blog. The following pictures are all from Fannypack.

We were a sizable group so we divided into 2 long tables back to back, which really isn’t the best arrangement I thought.  The whole dinner I had my back to the other table so I had to turn and crane my neck to talk to the others.  I wished they had informed me of the arrangement when the reservations were made.

Hitman and I dined with a VanEats voucher. For $27 we got a three course meal.

Mosaic Grille: Smoked Salt Scones

Everyone got to start with some of their Smoked Salt Scones though.  Our table thought they were REALLY really good, so good that when a friend noticed that the adjacent table had left without touching theirs she jokingly suggested we steal them for ourselves.  So we did!  Then a few minutes later to our chagrin another complimentary plate was brought to our table 😛  They were warm and buttery, and smokey too.   But then our taste buds could’ve been skewed by the fact that we were actually half an hour late to the dinner (the rest of the party waited for us) because of traffic…and we were starving by the time we arrived.

Mosaic Grille: A la Minute Smoked Skuna Bay Salmon

For starters we both had the A la Minute Smoked Skuna Bay Salmon that was served with kale nori and wasabi cauliflower puree.  When it was brought to the table it was covered with a clear glass dome and you could kind of see the smoke swirling inside.  Not sure if it really adds anything to the salmon though…or maybe that’s what the ‘a la minute smoked’ meant….smoked for a minute 😉

When the dome was lifted we were met with a whiff of smokiness though.

My piece of salmon was a bit more cooked than I like.  Hitman’s though was thicker and cooked just to my liking, so he switched his with me.  This indicated to us that there may be some inconsistencies in the preparation.

Mosaic Grille: Seared Baja Ocean Wise Scallops

This was Hitman’s entree: Seared Baja Ocean Wise Scallops with sweet potato, figs, and prosciutto.  From the bite that I had I thought the scallops were done perfectly with the outside cooked and the inside just raw enough.  They were sweet, big, and meaty.  The figs and prosciutto went well together as always.  Hitman had fun playing with the various combinations.

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Miura Waffle Milk Bar new location launch

Miura Waffle Milk Bar exterior

Miura Waffle + Milk Bar has just moved to its new Main & Broadway digs and they kindly hosted a pre-launch tasting event for the folks who had written about them in the past.  Wendy reviewed the old downtown location a while back, so we got an invite and figured this time I could give a second opinion on the place.  We got to sample literally every food item on the menu plus a few new drinks!

Miura Waffle Milk Bar interior

The newly reno’d interior was clean and sported bar and table seating with a view of the kitchen in the back.  Now for a word about the “yoggys” and “sandos” on offer here: this ain’t your momma’s waffle shack.  Miura’s motto is “NO FORK & KNIFE, NO SYRUP”.  They make waffle sandwiches here, both savoury and sweet, and sando is short for sandowicchi (the Japanese pronunciation of sandwich), and are meant to be eaten with your hands.  Yoggys are yogurt-y milk drinks which are slightly thicker and tangier than regular milk.

Miura Waffle Milk Bar: Miura Shakes

First we tried some items from the Miura Shake menu.  These are all new items launched with the location change.  Clockwise from top left are the G8, Corny, and two Cara-Misos.  The G8 (stands for 8-grain) is the health-conscious one of the group with a blend of red, green, and mung beans, brown and black rice, and wheat berries plus a couple more we forgot.  It definitely tastes healthy with a kind of rice-y malt flavour.  If you can imagine a drink version of Sugar Crisp cereal you’ve hit the nail on the head.  The Corny is sweet corn with vanilla ice cream, and the Cara-Miso is Miura’s fusion take on classic salted caramel treats, but they combine their house-made caramel sauce with red miso (?!) for the salted portion.  Trust us, it tastes like HEAVEN and was the star player here.  These were sample sizes with the standard 16 oz. versions going for $6.49.

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Raincity Grill

Raincity Grill

Groupon had a tasting menu deal for Raincity Grill, a place I had yet to visit, where 2 can dine for $95.  Wendy had taken her mother out for a previous Groupon tasting menu at Raincity and really enjoyed the meal, and since my mom was coming to visit I decided to do the same.  My mom has never been to a small plates restaurant so I’ll pass the review over to her for a fresh perspective on the evening:

Raincity Grill Buns

I was pretty excited when I found out what type of meal this would be. The first plate to arrive was of course the bread and butter, little buns that could have been warmer but were nonetheless very tasty. The dish of salt was a nice surprise but maybe a tiny spoon to scoop it with would be helpful. Could be my inexperience but I wasn’t sure how to get just enough.

Raincity Grill: West Coast Oyster with raspberry & shallot mignonette

West Coast Oyster with raspberry & shallot mignonette

This is a little embarrassing to admit but I had never tasted a raw oyster before. I wasn’t about to get squeamish so I quickly slurped it up and it was amazing, so fresh with a hint of tartness from the raspberry. Alas there was only one but I could become a devotee of the oyster.

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Maenam

I’ve been wanting to try Maenam for a while now since I’m a big fan of all things Thai and was curious about trying Thai food with a gourmet twist, which is exactly what Maenam offers.  The first thing I noticed was the warm, inviting atmosphere, made apparent through use of light and colour.  I really dug their tabletops as well 😛 (see pics).  We had made reservations for the Chef’s Royal Thai Dinner ($47.50/person) in advance, a 3-course, 9-dish tasting menu of on- and off-menu selections which changes occasionally.  I’m not sure how often, but this one had started just that week.

satay gai, pork rinds, tempura fern, nahm jim, and crispy fried oysters at Maenam

First up was an appetizer platter featuring free range chicken satays (satay gai), tempura made with some thin type of fern, crispy fried oysters (hoi tort), prawn cakes and a couple pork rinds and cucumber wedges.  The sauces included standard homemade peanut, a red chili one, some watery cucumber relish and my personal favourite: the house sauce, nahm jim.  It embodied all of the Thai taste senses: sour, sweet, salty, and bitter (spicy).  Each bite made me forget my surroundings a little at a time, daydreaming of bustling Bangkok streets teeming with the pungent aromas of various mobile food carts.

The oysters were the highlight for me, and the nahm jim worked perfectly with them.  The fern dish was very bland although an interesting idea, and the chicken was just your usual Thai streetfood variety, but were on the dry side.  The pork rinds seemed out of place and had some inedible-y chewy hard bits in them.  But everything tasted good enough when dipped in the nahm jim I suppose.

Maenam: Thai and Ginger

For drinks Wendy ordered a virgin Thai and Ginger which consisted of passionfruit and cassia bark topped with gingerbeer.  She was expecting a bit more kick from the gingerbeer than what was delivered but still enjoyed the drink.  I ordered a pot of lemon ginger tea.  I found it a bit mild as well, but pleasant enough.

Maenam: Mussels

The next course consisted of soup, salad and mussels.  Wendy regrettably forgot to take photos of the soup which is unfortunate since for me it was one of the high points.  It was a hot and sour (tom yum) ling cod soup w/ Thai basil and oyster mushroom.  Needless to say it was tom yummy!  I think I enjoyed it a bit more than Wendy since she didn’t finish hers.  I did notice the absence of any big chunks of ginger or lemongrass which I normally like in this type of soup though. But I guess that’s kind of the point here, this ain’t your traditional Thai food.

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