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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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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Tamam Fine Palestinian Cuisine

Tamam Fine Palestinian Cuisine

One day on our way to Bo Laksa King’s we drove by the bright yellow awning of Tamam.  Hitman caught the text reading “Fine Palestinian Cuisine” and we were instantly intrigued.  We took a look at their menu online, and found enough items of interest so we made a date to go there for lunch.  Prices are very fairly set too.

Tamam Fine Palestinian Cuisine

It was very inviting and welcoming.  We liked that it was unlike your usual hole-in-the-wall type of shawarma/Afghan/Persian establishments.  I know, I’m making assumptions and generalizations, but honestly I don’t know the differences well enough yet to tell Middle Eastern foods apart from one another.  But after this feast, I’m very eager to learn more.

Tamam Fine Palestinian Cuisine

It was such a nice day the day we went.  I tell ya, if you do go on a sunny day, make sure to sit in the sun room.  Mind you, it’s just a space between their building and the next, but it’s so clean and bright and cheery and COVERED that you feel like you’re on a patio.

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Home-cooking: Al-Salam Halal Meat’s Lamb Testicles

On the hunt for bones to make pho with our usual location was all out, so we decided to check Al-Salam Halal Meat.  I phoned ahead (twice) to confirm price and stock etc. and both times was greeted by a very friendly sounding man who called me “Brother” after every sentence.  I could hear some bustle in the background of the calls, but it didn’t prepare me for all the stuff going on when I arrived.

Various butchers cutting huge slabs of meat to order, people standing waiting around the store, guys coming in to pick up orders, people coming up and down from the grocery store upstairs (which I didn’t get a chance to explore this visit) etc.  I’m guessing they serve a lot of the restaurants in the area since there are many middle eastern and African restaurants that must create a significant demand for Halal products.

I found the shank bones fairly quickly, already prepackaged and cut up into discs and only 2/3rds of the price we had been paying elsewhere!

But something else caught my eye off in the corner…

Home-cooking: Al-Salam Halal Meat's Lamb Testicles

….some big-ass ballsacks!!!

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