Birthday dinner #3 – Locals Restaurant at the Old House

We spent the holidays over on Vancouver Island this year.  There didn’t seem to be too many fine dining choices in the Comox Valley area, but it was recommended we go to Locals Restaurant in Courtenay, so for my official birthday dinner celebration with Hitman that’s where we went.  They’re known for sourcing their food locally whenever they can (hence their name).

It had a very warm and inviting atmosphere.  There was even a fully decorated Christmas tree at the entrance with stools for you to take pictures on.

However, some parts of the service left much to be desired. Read on to find out!

Locals Restaurant: Bison Tartare on Asian Salad Amuse Bouche

We were promptly seated as we had already made reservations.  While we were looking through the menu we were offered an amuse bouche of Bison Tartare on Asian Salad.  It was a bit tart, and I thought that covered any hint of gaminess the bison might have. The salad portion was an interpretation of an “Asian” slaw.

Locals Restaurant: Grains bread with chickpea spread

For the complimentary bread, it was multigrain bread from the local bakery Grains.  Alongside was Locals Restaurant’s house-made chickpea spread.  I wasn’t too fond of the spread as it was too bland for my liking.  Hitman really enjoyed it though and he even tasted hints of cumin in it.

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Dine Out Vancouver 2014: Siena Restaurant

OMG!  4 down 1 to go!!  It’s nearing the end of my DOVF dash.  I must say it’s been going good so far.

I met up with GRock and LockerBud who I’ve known for 23 years.  LockerBud and I go way back.  Like waaaaaay back.  We lived across from each other when we were young and went to elementary and high school together.  We were also locker buddies =)

Siena Restaurant Exterior

Not wanting to venture into the heart of Downtown, I picked Siena Restaurant on 12th and Granville for our meet up.

Siena Restaurant Interior

It was quite small in there.  It got kinda loud after a while but not overly so.  Our server Tim was extremely friendly and attentive but not over the top.  I liked him.

Siena Restaurant: Roasted Beet, Squash and Chèvre Salad

GRock’s appie: Roasted Beet, Squash and Chèvre (goat cheese) Salad with arugula, limoncello dressing, and toasted almonds.  Citrusy and refreshing.

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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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Dinner at Golden Sea City Restaurant: Snake Soup Starter!

Wendy’s parents recommended this restaurant for a recent family dinner since it’s one of her and Wendy’s favourite dim sum spots (see Wendy’s review here –sad to say that apparently they no longer have the food carts though).  I wasn’t planning on a review since it had already been done…until I saw an especially interesting menu item: snake!  I’m always up for trying new and exotic foods and this was both to me.

Golden Sea City Restaurant: Snake Meat with Bamboo Shoot and Fungus Thick Soup

The snake comes in a soup, Snake Meat with Bamboo Shoot and Fungus Thick Soup ($18.80 or $6.80 per head) to be exact.  You can season the broth with white pepper but it had enough flavour on its own for my taste buds, including small amounts of preserved orange peel.  The fungus and bamboo shoots were present along with a few morsels of pork and little slivers of ginger for a bit of kick.  There was cilantro and some type of airy wonton crisps which immediately changed texture when added to the soup and were a welcome addition.  As for the snake meat, the white portions tasted like chicken and the darker pieces where you could see the spine indentation like the one top right reminded me of eel.  Overall a dense, satisfying soup that was nuanced in flavour and texture.

Golden Sea City Restaurant: Bean Curd Sheets with Veggie in Fish Broth

The Bean Curd Sheets with Veggie in Fish Broth ($9.88) consisted of bok choy and mushroom along with the bean curd in a fish broth.  I always find these fish broths a bit bland but it did make the otherwise unappetizing bean curd taste pretty good when soaked in it, and it enhanced the flavour of the bok choy without smothering it.

Golden Sea City Restaurant: Pork Soft Bone with Bean Curd Sheet and Pickled Veggie in Hot Pot

The Pork Soft Bone with Bean Curd Sheet and Pickled Veggie in Hot Pot ($12.80) was an interesting dish, and one that not everybody liked.  Had the bland, milky pork been served on its own I wouldn’t have had more than a bite, but when combined with the strong taste of the pickled veggie it worked to an extent.  For me it was hard getting past the texture of the soft bone, which was somewhere between a tendon and a bone in firmness.  I thought it was the actual rib bones at first since that’s exactly what it looked like, but turns out it’s just cartilage that joins the ribcage to the spine.  Either way…meh.

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