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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Lickerish Lounge

lickerish lounge

Some friends headed out to celebrate a couple of birthdays on Saturday and decided to have the dinner and pre-drinks at Lickerish Lounge on Davie St.  Neither of us has been here but we have heard of it; the paintings of major urban music figures on the walls were what came to mind immediately.  We did a bit of reconnaissance online and came up with some pretty bad reviews, but we noticed they were mainly from previous years so we figured hopefully its changed for the better since.  And I’m glad we gave them the benefit of the doubt since our experience there was top notch!

lickerish lounge

We were running a little late so when we got there the party was in full swing; a diverse crowd packed the downstairs area and everybody seemed to be having a good time.  There’s an upstairs loft as well and apparently later in the evening both levels can get pretty packed on a weekend (they also offer an outdoor patio).  At this point in the evening rap music was pumping from the sound system to accompanying videos on the plasmas on the walls (including a giant 106″ HD screen above the DJ booth!), and although we didn’t stay late enough to catch the DJ sets they have live DJs Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights after 10 PM.

I recognized one of the waitresses as a former co-worker, and although she wasn’t the server for our section we did get a chance to chat about her new gig.  I know her as a straight shooter, and she had nothing but kind words for the owner and establishment.  She said she has a lot of fun working there and that the crowd is phenomenal, none of the sketchiness or aggression you might expect at a hip hop venue.  One of the main gripes it seems people had with Lickerish in the past was in the service department, but the current staff seemed very pleasant and capable, and handled our crowd without any complaints or hitches.

lickerish lounge: White Sangria

Wendy had a couple shots of Tavi tequila to start the night off with a bang: a newish entry into the premium tequila market, Tavi’s known for a clean taste, smooth finish and purported lack of hangover (and a gorgeous looking bottle!).  For her next drink she had a White Sangria ($7.50), which she thought looked quite pretty served with a couple of cranberries and a slice each of lemon and lime.  She didn’t find it very boozy, but sangria is usually deceptively easy to drink so it more than likely had the requisite amount in it.

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The American Grille

Taking my parents out for dinner one night, we wanted good steakhouse food without travelling all the way to Downtown.  I remembered having been to The American Grille before and had a good meal there, so I decided to take my parents there.

They are also in the Entertainment Book so there was all the more incentive to go!  Besides that, they are currently doing a “2 Courses for $28” promotion right now which we also took advantage of.

The American Grille: bread basket

The restaurant has a very understated decor.  Nothing fancy.  They’re also not particularly busy but there seems to be a steady stream of people coming in.  I love the bread here.  Soft, fluffy and warm.  They give you a type of poppyseed cracker thing, also white and multigrain baguette.

The American Grille: Steamed Mussels

The American Grille: 10oz Rib-eye Steak

For Mom, we took advantage of the promotion and ordered the combination of their Steamed Mussels (originally $10.50) and their fabulous 10oz Rib-eye Steak ($28).  Because of the mussels, it was $3 extra which was fine.

Now the mussels weren’t the best I’ve had.  They were pretty tiny and the broth (white wine reduction, garlic, diced tomato, warm filone bread) could be better, but it wasn’t bad.  It is still a pretty big bowl of mussels, very fresh and sweet.

The steak was done to a perfect medium-rare.  It was served with field mushrooms, Brew city onion rings, with rosemary jus.  It was a nice cut and hit the right spot that night.  Those onion rings were massive and Dad was very impressed.

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The Foundation

Now I’m a complete carnivore.  I don’t think I’ll ever become a vegetarian or live off veggies alone.  However like most people that like to eat, I’m open to pretty much anything, so when a friend came back from Japan and we were to meet up for dinner, her suggestion of The Foundation was a much-welcomed one.

My only other time to eat at a western vegetarian restaurant was at Bandidas, and I enjoyed it a lot.  Plus the rave reviews of The Foundation did not help in deterring me from it.

The Foundation: "Small" nachos

Now everyone RAVED about the nachos here.  Between the 4 of us we shared a small ($10 + $2 for guacamole) and it was HUMONGOUS.  We couldn’t finish it.

It was simply tortilla chips covered in melted cheddar cheese, black beans, and corn.  It was really good, but not especially exciting for me really.  But then I was never a big nacho fan.

The guacamole was thick and chunky and really good.  I didn’t really use the salsa or the sour cream though.

Foundation: Mango Forte

Next we shared the Mango Forte, which consisted of rotini(?) pasta tossed with broccoli, zucchini, mango chunks, and jalapeños in a coconut sauce.

My impression of this was not good.  First of all, the pasta was very bland, even after mixing everything together.  The sauce really didn’t have much flavor aside from being spicy and then suddenly you’re hit with the sweetness of the mangoes.  I wonder if this is more like a salad, even though it was served hot warm.  Again, I didn’t like this.

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Aoyama Cafe – CLOSED

Update Jan 8, 2014: This restaurant is now closed.

Aoyama Cafe

For O’s birthday she wanted to eat at the new Aoyama Cafe at Aberdeen Centre.  They advertise that they serve the Japanese brand of UCC Coffee’s, and that the LA branch was voted top 5 coffee shops over there.  Naturally, all of this makes you think they have excellent coffee right?  We’ll see.

UCC is famous for their “Blue Mountain” coffee, which probably explains the name of the restaurant- “Ao” means blue, and “Yama” means mountain!

Aoyama Cafe: Dinner special menu

We all opted for the Dinner Special since it seemed like a good deal.  The Siphoned Sumiyaki drink is actually supposed to be their most intense coffee.  Two coffee drinkers of our group picked this.  Another two picked Iced Tea with Milk, and the last two (me including) picked plain Iced Tea.

First up, service.  I guess it’s forgiveable since it’s only the second day they’ve opened the full-service dining area.  But our server didnt’ seem too familiar with the Dinner Special because she got it mixed up with the Lunch Special.  That’s ok though, she was friendly and she actually smiled.

Aoyama Cafe: Siphoned Sumiyaki Coffee

Here’s the Siphoned Sumiyaki Coffee.  They just bring it over like that and they pour it for you, you don’t get to see it yourself.  They’re probably afraid you’ll break it.  It kinda sucks that you don’t get to see the “siphoning” action.

Now it’s advertised as their most intense coffee.  However, upon trying it, we were told it was far from.  In fact, it was quite bland and watered down.  The addition of cream obviously did not help.

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