Brunch at The Oakwood Canadian Bistro

There comes a time in your life when it really dawns on you that you’re growing up.  Or old.  This is that year for my high school friends and I as we’re all turning 30 this year.  “Luckily”, my birthday isn’t until the end of the year so as of now I’m still the youngest of the bunch and I take every opportunity to milk that 😉

The Oakwood Canadian Bistro exterior

For Cat’s 30th birthday, she originally wanted to have a celebratory dinner.  However one of us had plans the evening of, so it got changed to a brunch instead.

Cat got to pick the restaurant and she chose The Oakwood Canadian Bistro in Kitsilano.  They don’t take reservations so be prepared to wait.  For the 5 of us we waited 35 minutes at noon.

The Oakwood Canadian Bistro Interior

Open Faced Corned Beef Sandwich with overeasy eggs, sauerkraut, dijon and home fries at The Oakwood Canadian Bistro

I picked the Open-faced Corned Beef sandwich, overeasy eggs, sauerkraut, dijon and home fries ($14).  First the good: it was LOADED with meat.  I mean, there was so much corned beef slices on there I could’ve easily made another sandwich.  It was pretty tasty and not overly salty as it could easily have been.

The bad: the bread was really dry.  And thick.  It was not very tasty to eat overall.  The eggs could’ve been runnier too…it was too well done for my liking.

The good again: The bread softened overnight (I packed it) and when I had it for lunch the next day it tasted much much better.

The Oakwood Canadian Bistro: Brioche Muffins with Maple Butter

I ordered a side of Brioche muffins with maple butter ($5).  They were served fresh and warm and fluffy.  A bit savory, and the maple butter wasn’t overly sweet.  I was full from this so I had my sandwich packed to go.

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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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Cork and Fin

It was Mom’s birthday this month so Pretty Sis and I took her and some other family members to a place interestingly called Cork and Fin in Gastown.  I guess by that name it means they specialize in wines and seafood??

They are a participant of the Let’s Go For Dinner program which gives you 50% off dinner certificates.  Use my referral code (RAF315892) if you are interested!!

The entrance is quite inconspicuous as it doesn’t really have the restaurant name stand out.  But it’s also not hard to find.

Cork and Fin: bread basket

The staff is actually very, very nice and helpful.  We were originally seated near the door in the middle of the restaurant, but knowing our Asian parents, they don’t like that.  So we asked for a more intimate booth near the back of the restaurant.  The staff were extremely nice about it and accommodated us well.

Another thing was, our aunt is a vegetarian, but they obviously didn’t really have strict vegetarian options here, so once again we made special requests and again the server was very helpful with his suggestions.

The bread, however, took quite a bit to arrive.  It wasn’t served warm as I would’ve preferred but it was soft and fresh.  I think it’s just regular bread as it didn’t taste much like sourdough to me.

A thing to note though is that this is mostly a share-plate type restaurant, so don’t expect big portions.

Cork and Fin: Market Salad

Now my aunt is quite the finicky and picky eater.  We sort of picked for her the normal Market Salad which came with walnuts, pear, and a creamy gorgonzola dressing.  That actually sounded pretty divine to us  however PS and I both knew without asking that she will complain about the intense (and delicious) flavor of the gorgonzola, so we just asked for the dressing to be changed to a regular lemon and olive oil one.

Cork and Fin: Seafood Tower

PS, Mom and I are more the foodie types.  We ordered the small Seafood Tower to share.  It was a good deal at $33 and it came with 4 portions of cooked clams and mussels, raw oysters and cooked shrimp.  Everything was very very fresh, especially the oysters, with its rich and flavorful brine it was easily the best part of the tower.  My next favorite were the fat mussels, which were both sweet and rich with such a satisfying bite.  The clams were ok, decent sized but not much to say in terms of flavor, and the shrimp was like a regular shrimp cocktail type thing.  The tower was served with a cocktail sauce, a garlicky lemon vinagrette, and a cucumber sunomono (which was just alright.  Presented well though.).

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Let’s Go For Dinner: r.tl – CLOSED

Update Aug 3, 2013: This restaurant is now closed.

It has been a while since I’ve been to r.tl.  I was first introduced to this restaurant when they held a foodie night early last year.  I had a good impression of the place but never got the chance to go back until now, as my good cousin came to visit from Hong Kong, Pretty Sis and I took her out for dinner in Yaletown.  Also since the introduction of the Canada Line, it’s much more convenient for me to get down there as I don’t have to worry about parking.

And as the title suggests, this is also a “Let’s Go For Dinner” participating restaurant.  If you don’t already know what this is, basically you can get gift certificates to certain restaurants for 50% off.  With a shameless plug…please use my referral code RAF315892 if you decide to sign up!  We’ll both get some goodies!

As mentioned before, they change up their menu approximately every 3 months (but I haven’t been keeping track for obvious reasons).  For this visit, they are featuring Basque (BQ), Morocco (MC) and B.C. (BC).

Regional Tasting Lounge: House made Moroccan Spiced Bread

Not sure if they serve bread at the beginning of the meal since we ordered a bread from the menu.  This is the House made Moroccan Spiced Bread ($6).  Weird thing was, the name clearly suggests Moroccan but the menu says it’s BC style.  Perhaps it’s a typo.

Anyways this was served with a caraway & cardamom butter.  It was very fragrant and the cardamom aroma suggests a sweet taste to the butter but it was just a mild sweetness.  In fact, I wasn’t sure if I was just imagining it or it was in fact sweet-ish.  Nonetheless it was very good.

The bread itself was also spiced and made perfectly.  It was served warm and the crust was lightly crisp which is perfect for me as I normally do not eat the crust of the bread served at these types of restaurants since I find them too hard.  But again, this was perfect, the insides were soft and fluffy.  However I suggest that you eat this up while it’s warm since it get kind of chewy and tougher as it cools.

Regional Tasting Lounge: Spikes served pintxos style

The menu also offers a 3-course $25 menu.  And the way you choose is that some of the dishes are numbered 1, 2, and 3.  You pick one of each number and that makes up your 3-course menu.  We ended up doing 2 of those and then picking 2 more items.

Above was a 1st course of the $25 menu.  They are basically skewers but is decribed as “Spikes served pintxos style (BQ)” (normally $3.50 each, which is pretty expensive but it’s Yaletown…).  They have 6 choices and we picked the Lamb Sirloin in a lime mint confit.

The meat was very juicy and tender.  The lime mint, however, was not very evident.  I did wish we had more though.

Regional Tasting Lounge: Bacalhau fritters

The other 1st course was the Bacalhau fritters (BQ) (normally $8) which is something we had before at Foodie night, only that time it was considered Portuguese style.  It is a deep-fried salt cod, potato and onion mash served with a pretty spicy piri piri sauce.

It was better this time for me, but I’m not sure why.  However we did comment on how dark it looked, almost as if it’s burnt (but it wasn’t, probably just old oil or dark spices).

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Let’s Go for Dinner and Aquarium! Part 2: Zin – CLOSED

Look familiar?

We planned to have dinner in Downtown after our trip to the Aquarium since we were going to be in the neighbourhood anyways.  We chose Zin Restaurant Lounge because I’ve heard of their $2 appys from 4-7pm.  They’re also a participant of the letsgofordinner.com “promotion”.

Zin Restaurant Lounge

It’s located on the corner of Jervis and Robson, so quite to the quieter side of Robson.  As you can see, they have a sidewalk chalkboard promoting their appy special.

Upon entering we were told that as it wasn’t going to be a busy night, we had a choice of either…

Zin Restaurant Lounge

the dining area,

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