Birthday dinner #2 – forage

Forage was a restaurant I’ve always wanted to try so I took the opportunity of my birthday to ‘gently suggest’ to Fannypack to take me there on a separate occasion to celebrate (as that is our thing), so that brings us to birthday dinner #2!

As we were quickly told by the extremely attentive server, the plates here are meant to be shared (although you are welcome to hoard it all if you so choose to), so we (I) picked a few items to share.

On another note, Hitman lost these pictures too so the ones here are courtesy of Fannypack also! Lifesaver much??

forage: Kale and Apple Chips

First up the Kale and Apple Chips ($5).  There’s a mix of purple and green kale which created a very aesthetically pleasing presentation.  The chips were salted just right but I did find them a bit greasy as I suspected them to be deep-fried (I roast mine at home).  Found out from Mary’s blog post about Forage as I was writing this that they’re baked in a convection oven so that’s not so bad then.  I would be happier if there were more apple chips though.

forage: Marinated octopus

Next was one of my choices: Marinated octopus ($15) with roasted garlic crostini, gribiche, and pickled yellowfoot chanterelles.

The octopus was extremely tender and flavorful.  I liked to eat them by themselves as I found the gribiche (a sort of egg-based tartar sauce) too tart and overpowering when combined with the delicate octopus.  The gribiche presented itself like your usual egg salad.

Speaking of tart…the pickled chanterelles were quite up there!

forage: Foraged and cultivated mushrooms

I can eat mushrooms all day, so the Foraged and cultivated mushrooms ($12) was of course another one of my picks.  It had a mix of crimini button, chanterelle, shimiji and oyster mushrooms.  Topped with Happy Island goat’s cheese, it was served with caraway rye bread.

I much enjoyed the mushroom-y parts but I did think this was on the salty side.  It was also really rich.

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Tableau Bar Bistro

After weeks of planning and rescheduling, SheShe and I finally got together for brunch. She was really wanting to try chicken and waffles, which seem to have seen a rise in popularity as of late. I of course was not one to object… I mean it’s fried chicken come on! So we looked into the best in the city and decided on visiting Tableau Bar Bistro.  They were also one of the few that actually take reservations for brunch!

Tableau: Mimosas

What’s brunch without Mimosas ($10)?  We ordered some to start.  It’s your usual fare.

Tableau: Chicken and Waffles

The Chicken and Waffles ($15) were served with maple syrup.  I would’ve like the waffles to be thicker, perhaps the Belgian type.  The chicken was very nicely battered and crisp and juicy.  However as good as fried chicken was, I didn’t get the big WOW from this dish.  I think I was disappointed by the thinness of the waffles.

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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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The Ascot

The Ascot

For our monthly gossip session, Fannypack and I visited The Ascot with a Groupon in hand.  As we approached the restaurant we were impressed by the swanky hipster-looking storefront.  However it did look out of place for its location, as it’s near Richards and W. Pender.

The Ascot

Stepping in the hipster-factor was confirmed.  It definitely looked good and rustic with its huge brick-face wall and chandeliers.  Vintage would be the theme I supposed.  The night we visited happened to be a night where they had a paint class type of thing.  We were not part of it but we saw the group of people all learning to paint the same picture.

The Ascot: Halibut Ceviche

We were trying to decide between the Halibut Ceviche ($8) or the Cold Smoked Duck ($10).  Finally we picked the Halibut Ceviche since it’s supposed to be made fresh in-house everyday, and is therefore served in limited quantities.

Fannypack and I both decided that it was too tart and basically tasteless.  To me the fish was mushy and we definitely needed the pita chips to cut down on the acidity.  However towards the bottom of the glass it became less tart, so the sour start could be due to a squeeze of lemon or lime juice at the top.  This was definitely not my favorite of the night.  (Should’ve gotten the duck….)

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Petite Afternoon Tea at The Urban Tea Merchant

For the month of August, The Urban Tea Merchant is offering a petite afternoon tea service for $20 per person. Now afternoon teas are never enough food for a guy so I made Fannypack go experience this with me.

The regular price for this service is usually $28. Now I’m not actually sure that the promotion is really a promotion because you actually lose an item from the regular petite afternoon tea menu, the item being a macaron. And FYI, each macaron will run you $4 here.  That’s probably the priciest I’ve seen in Vancouver so far.

However, having tried the macarons in Hong Kong, I’ve come to decide that the macarons made here do NOT do the intended flavor justice.  On that note, I’ve decided not to eat macarons in Vancouver anymore.  Having said that, I was not too sad about losing that from the menu.

The Urban Tea Merchant

Upon entering the store from the W. Georgia side, we were welcomed by a nice looking tea shop.  We waited a little while for a server to seat us.  And when he did, we were led to the back of the store towards the tea salon.  I would’ve rather stayed outside in the shop as it looked nicer.

The Urban Tea Merchant: Mango and Cucumber chilled soup infused with Alfonso tea

While we were looking at the menu, we were brought a drinkable amuse bouche – Mango and Cucumber chilled soup infused with Alfonso tea (a black tea with rare mango and flowers).

It was very refreshing and a nice mix of mango and cucumber flavor.  A little bit of sweet, and a little bit savory.  The “infused” part though I felt was just the sprinkling of tea leaves on top.  Fannypack and I both decided that it was a rather licorice-y flavor.

Their tea menu is indeed extensive.  There was so much to choose from.  Fannypack and I read from front to back a couple times before deciding on a tea each.  The price of the tea set actually includes $8 towards a tea.  Which means anything above is extra.

We found one that was $78.  It was a Hawaiian Oolong.  I wonder how many orders of that they get a year.

The Urban Tea Merchant: Weekend in Moscow tea

For my tea, I decided on the Weekend in Moscow.  It is a blend of green and black tea with rose petals, bergamot and sweet almond.

Fannypack chose the Orange Blossom Oolong, with notes of orange blossom obviously.

When the teas arrived, they were poured for us in a circular manner into our respective cups.  When mine was poured, we immediately smell the aroma of roses and vanilla, which I will attribute to the sweet almond.  It was very pleasant and I was very satisfied with my choice.

However Fannypack’s was less exciting.  In fact, we couldn’t smell the scent of orange blossoms at all.  Plus we felt her tea (or both for that matter) could’ve been steeped a bit more.  We did not have a choice as they were steeped in the kitchen for us.

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