Dine Out Vancouver 2014: Ask for Luigi

Ask for Luigi Vancouver

For my third DOVF event this year, Hitman and I were invited by Sharon of Eat, Drink, Travel to join her at Ask for Luigi. Theirs is the $28 menu. I was especially excited to try their homemade pasta.

Ask for Luigi: Interior

It was very very small in there, and only had one bathroom. Good thing we made reservations (even though Dine Out’s website says Ask for Luigi doesn’t take them, this seems to be a mix-up) because when we arrived as they opened at 5:30pm, we overheard the staff telling the people who didn’t have reservations that it would be a 1.5-2 hour wait.  Here’s the official word from Ask for Luigi’s website: RESERVATIONS ARE AVAILABLE AND WALK-INS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

Ask for Luigi: Buffalo Mozzarella

Hitman is still recovering from gum graft surgery, so he picked the softly textured Buffalo Mozzarella with Castelvetrano olives (Hitman loved these), fresh basil, and house-made bread. He says there was just the right amount of cheese for the homemade bread, and that it was well seasoned with just olive oil, salt and pepper. I tried a bite too; it was soft and mild. We both especially liked the sprigs of baby basil…Super cute!!

Ask for Luigi: Carpaccio

I got the Carpaccio with Salsa Verde, Piave Vecchio and crispy shallots. I thought there were too much going on as you can see… The combination of Salsa Verde and copious amounts of capers made the dish quite salty and tart, and overwhelmed the thin slices of beef so much that they couldn’t be tasted. The texture of the beef was retained though.

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Dine Out Vancouver 2014: L’Abattoir

L’Abattoir has successfully cinched its place in my heart for favorite restaurant.  Honestly, I’ve never thought I would name one as my favorite, but L’Abattoir has done just that.

I made Fannypack come with me for their $38 Dine Out Vancouver menu.  In my opinion this was one of the better bang-for-your-buck restaurants as an entree easily runs you $30 here, and now you get a full meal for a mere $8 more.  Food quality should also be dependable, even during Dine Out, but mind you I’ve only been here once, so I guess we’re about to find out!

L'Abattoir: Roast octopus and fennel salad

Once again Fannypack allowed me first choice on food.  I had my eye on the octopus here ever since Awkward Diner told me how amazing it was.  So I picked the Roast octopus and fennel salad for my appetizer.  It was accompanied by slices of green olives and smoked pepper squid ink sauce.  Presentation was beautiful.

Even more beautiful??? The taste.  My tastebuds were once again amazed.  The octopus was extremely tender and meaty (nothing like the octopus served at sushi restaurants…tough and chewy!!).  You could slice them with a butter knife (which was what I had) and was soft yet retaining some chew.  The sucker parts were also roasted to a slight crunch.  It was marinated perfectly.

I’m also a fan of fennel.  They seem to be just lightly tossed with seasoning so they were mild, which was perfect as they didn’t take away from the awesomeness of the octopus.  This was my favorite dish of the night.

L'Abattoir: Homemade duck pate

Since I picked the octopus, Fannypack was left to get the Homemade duck pate.  Served on top of sourdough and topped with vegetable pickles and mustard, the tartness easily cut through the richness of the pate.  The ducky “aroma” wasn’t very prominent though, and if we didn’t know it was duck it would’ve been hard to tell.  Some might not like that, Fannypack did though as she wouldn’t have been a fan of too much “duckiness”.

Oh, and since she had originally wanted the octopus too, I made her eat some of mine 😉

L'Abattoir: Veal picatta

Finally I was able to get Fannypack to make the first choice for entrees. She picked the Veal picatta with saffron risotto and mushrooms a la greque. She commented that the sauce was a bit sour. However that seems to have subsided as she dig into her meal. A Google search later reveals that “a la greque/grecque” means cooked in vinegar or lemon juice. There you go.

The veal was a bit tough to cut, but it wasn’t to eat. The risotto was creamy almost like creamed corn.

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L’Abattoir

Wendy had heard good things about L’Abattoir, a French/West Coast restaurant so we trekked to Gastown to try it out. It was amazing!

L'Abattoir sign

I had planned to take a shot of the signage when we left but forgot so this one’s stolen from the restaurant’s website.

L'Abattoir interior

Once inside our jackets were hung and we were led upstairs to a table with a good view of the action at the well-stocked bar.  The menus reflected this as the drink menu was lengthy and varied while the food menu was just a single page.

L'Abattoir: Bread Basket

The complimentary bread included a buttery bacon brioche, some twisted parmesan bread with a barely detectable hint of anchovy, and a thin crispy flatbread sprinkled with sesame and cumin seeds.  All were interesting and enjoyable.

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Irish Heather

Woohoo!!! Mr. ESL is getting married!!! To commemorate his last days as a bachelor Ms. Awkward Diner organized a fantastical and super fun stag for him. It all started with dinner at The Irish Heather. Or was it the Salty Tongue??  I say this because although we had reservations at The Irish Heather, we were seated in a communal table at the latter, and the restaurants were side-by-side.

Both restaurants are really just one long corridor each, but I guess that’s true with most Gastown establishments.

On to the food!

Irish Heather: Steak and Ale Pot Pie

I had the Steak & Ale Pot Pie ($16.75) which came with choice of fries, masoed (mashed?) potato or Kale Caesar salad.  I picked the kale caesar as it sounded interesting.

Their pot pies came in a vegan version also and they differentiate them with either a doggy or an acorn!!!  Aren’t they darling???

Both pot pies were huge.  The meat version came with au jus and there was a lot of filling.  Upon cutting into it gravy came pouring out to mix with the jus so it basically was one big delicious mess.  The steak pieces were tender enough and were mixed in with chunks of celery and carrots.  My only gripe was that the crust wasn’t cooked through: the top was cooked while the inner layer was pretty gummy and doughy.

Irish Heather: Kale Caesar

The Kale Caesar ($8 for a small) was absolutely delicious.  I always thought that kale would be too tough to eat raw in a salad, so I’ve always just made kale chips.  But the kale here was cut into a chiffonade so it was tender and easy to chew.  There was just enough dressing to cover everything without being overly rich and satiating.  I finished this over the pie.

After having this I was even inspired to make my own kale salad at home!

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Dine Out Vancouver 2013: Judas Goat Taberna

Wendy and I managed to secure a reservation on Dine Out Vancouver‘s opening night this year for one of the more intriguing of the $18 menu hosts; Judas Goat Taberna in Gastown.  For those unfamiliar with the Dine-Out concept, it’s a 17-day annual food festival where many local restaurants set a 3 or more course menu for $18, $28 or $38 per person.  Many of these can be really good deals compared to the restaurant’s usual pricing so it’s a lot of fun for bargain hunters like ourselves.

Dine Out Vancouver 2013: Judas Goat Taberna

Judas Goat turned out to be an interesting choice.  Nestled halfway down Vancouver’s notorious Blood Alley, it’s a tiny 28-seat single room tapas space.  And when I say it seats 28 that’s not 28 seated comfortably…they cram you in there pretty tight.  Thankfully we seemed to get the best seats in the house for the claustrophobic, a wrap-around seat corner next to the open kitchen.  Wendy tried to spot the methods used for cooking in such a small space from her vantage point, and it seemed as though the meals had been prepared elsewhere and then reheated prior to serving (sous-vide) which made sense since we couldn’t see a proper stove back there.

Apparently the atmosphere is normally quite lively in there, but on this particular evening it felt just a little awkward to me.  I think it may have helped if they had turned the music up a notch, but I felt like it was too easy to eaves-drop on conversations at neighbouring tables and vice versa.  And it does draw a crowd so reservations are strongly recommended; we saw some people turned away for lack of reservations while we were eating.  Using the washroom here is a “bit of an adventure” as our server put it, so be prepared to walk down a looong hallway for about half a block if you need the facilities (they are shared with the surrounding shops).

Speck with House Made Apricot Mostarde at Judas Goat Taberna

Our meal was 3 course, so we sampled one each of the appetizers.  The Cured Meat Plate: Speck with House Made Apricot Mostarda came with two thin slices of house made baguette and 4 thinner-than-paper slices of prosciutto (San Daniele if I remember the waitress’ spiel correctly).  Also a few cornichons.  Small but delicious, and fit well with the restaurant’s normal theme of tapas.

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