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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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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Merchant’s Oyster Bar

A mutual friend of Fannypack’s and mine was visiting from out of town and Fannypack had the task of choosing a place for dinner.  She then of course passed it on to me even though lately she’s been eating out way more often than I =P.

Upon googling I came up with Merchant’s Oyster Bar which is located on “The Drive” (Commercial Drive).  What drawn me to this restaurant was its high rating on Urbanspoon plus the affordable $29 Prix Fixe menu.  I later learned that this establishment is from the same owner as Cork & Fin.

Merchant's Oyster Bar

Merchant’s Oyster Bar has a great nautical theme going on and I especially loved the rope embellishments right on top of the bar.  It’s also a very small restaurant and apparently the largest party size they can accommodate is 6.

Merchant's Oyster Bar: Freshly Shucked Oysters

Between the whole group we were able to try most of everything I would’ve wanted to try here.  I of course went with the prix fix menu.  For the first course I picked the Freshly Shucked Oysters served with a Champagne Mignonette and fresh grated horseradish.  Three different oysters were served but unfortunately, aside from the usual kusshi oysters, I couldn’t catch the name of the other two due to the high level of noisiness in the small restaurant, more on that later.

However it was no matter to my unrefined oyster tasting palette 😉  All three tasted great and fresh to me.  One in particular though (not the kusshi) had a more defined alkaline lingering on the tongue afterwards, and that was my favorite part.

Merchant's Oyster Bar: Roast Bone Marrow

Fannypack and I also ordered the two bone portion of the Roast Bone Marrow ($13) served with the usual baguette slices, parsley and tomato salad.

I must say the amount of marrow served was not enough to even cover the two slices of baguette each.  Not even to thinly coat, and to actually taste the marrow goodness you can’t really thinly coat the baguette or else all you’ll taste is baguette.  So in the end it was only enough to cover half of each slice or one slice total each.

But whatever I was able to taste, tasted divine.  It was buttery and satiating.  I’ve tried recreating this at home before, without having tried it at a restaurant.  Now that I have, I think I’ll attempt it again.

The subtle acidity of the parsley salad as a palette cleanser balanced out the fatty richness of the marrow.  I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed the parsley salad as parsley is probably one of my least favorite herbs.

Anyway Fannypack and I tried to quickly finish up this course as the others had to wait until we finished this extra helping until their second course arrived.

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Cafe Sevilla, Downtown San Diego

Since we were down in San Diego, where there is a prominent Mexican population and restaurant scene, I originally wanted to try a Mexican restaurant.  However, some of my companions said that Mexican cuisine smells, so they didn’t want to try it.  So to please everyone, I had to pick something else.

Cafe Sevilla

I thought Spanish cuisine would be similar enough (although they are VASTLY different), just to satiate my craving for it.  So in the end we picked Cafe Sevilla.

Ooh interesting story.  Like most Downtowns, their is teeming with one-way streets.  O and I dropped off the other three and went looking for parking ourselves.  We were EXTREMELY lucky and found a metered parking spot….but it was parallel parking on the LEFT SIDE OF THE STREET!!!

Parallel parking is hard enough, but with a strange car, in a strange town, even harder.  But we managed.  We were about to do one final maneuver when a guy walked by and asked if we needed help.  I was skeptical at first because I wasn’t too keen on letting as stranger drive our rented car…what if he drove off with it!  But O already agreed so we let him.  Thankfully everything was fine.

Boy was this restaurant dark.  Please excuse the terrible photoshopping but I had to brighten the pictures to be able to see anything, so please bare with me.

This place requires you to leave your credit card number though to make a reservation, and if you’re a no show they’ll charge $20 to the card.  Needless to say we timed ourselves pretty well at San Diego Wild Animal Park.

They also don’t seat you until your whole party is present and ready to be seated.

Our server though, was extremely helpful and nice.  She gave us lots of suggestions and she sounded Spanish, so to me she must offer authentic advice!

I suggested that we order a pitcher of Sangria to share, and what a good idea it was!  The Sangria was wonderful!!!  It was potent though.  As I was driver I only drank half a glass.  I’m responsible y’all!

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