Saturday, October 30, 2010

Another dinner at the Wallflower


Wallflower Modern Diner on Urbanspoon

Hi Everyone!

You may remember that I recently went to The Wallflower Modern Diner and found the most super-awesome dessert ever -- Vegan Chocolate Cake!

Well, last last week I brought a couple of friends over to try it, and have dinner as well. This was, of course, to make up for the embarrassing show of muddy Gingerbread Pudding at the Hamilton Street Grill where the same friends had been recommended (by moi) to try it.
I felt badly at how it turned out, and hoped that Vegan Chocolate Cake would make it up. And it did!

The rest of our dinner there broke down as follows:

  • Stuffed Yorkies - $10 - roast beef stuffed yorkshires, horseradish mayo, au jus
  • Shrimp Bacon Avocado Wrap - $11 - shrimp, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, mayo, with fries, soup, or green salad
  • Vegan Portobello Burger - $11 - grilled portobello, balsamic, lettuce, tomato, onion, eggplant, with greens, soup or fries
  • Vegan Hummus Melt - $12 - foccacia, hummus, spinach, onion, mushroom, vegan mozza, with greens, soup, or fries
  • Peach Bread Pudding - $6

Stuffed Yorkies - Very dry beef, so you needed the jus for sure, except the yorkshire was larger than the little metal cup, so we got a spoon. The yorkshire sucks up the juice, but is spongy, so when you bite into it, it tends to be squished out. Everything's a bit chewy, so pass on the knife and fork and eat it like finger food, unless you want to end up butchering it on your plate. Sad to say, definitely not worth it, even if it were half price.

Shrimp Bacon Avocado Wrap - You get a HUGE wrap. Watch out! The biggest plate by far and for a lighter meal, one plate of this (the wrap is cut in half) could easily be shared by two people, especially if you go for the (baked) fries. This wasn't my order, but there looked like a goodly amount of shrimp on the inside. Taste-wise good, but not outstanding.

Vegan Portobello Burger - Deceptively big because of the puffy bun, but as meals go, it's a burger and it's average. Nothing too special here to write home about. It's a mushroom, one full cap.

Vegan Hummus Melt - I'm biased against that creepy-tasting vegan Daiya cheese, so I'll probably go for the normal version next time. This place is a fair sized serving of generous hummus on large wedges of foccacia. What they don't tell you is the heavy garlic taste. It's like having hummus on garlic bread. On the up side, the garlic taste helps with the funny cheese. If you're not into garlic, be careful. At $12, it's a fairly large plate, too, especially as it comes with a side. Of everything I've had at the Wallflower, I still have to go with this one as my favourite entree.

Fries - Get this at least once. Nothing special in taste, but as far as baked fries go, if you're not paying attention, you might well think they were your typical deep fried french fries, crispy on the outside. There's a difference, of course, but you might not notice it, and in any case, baked is better than deep fried as far as health goes. Downside: It's still potato and it still goes straight to your hips. If you don't need any more padding there, go for salad.

Peach Bread Pudding - Tough bread. Tastes like bread. The peach is on top and sort of token. Even with peach slices and some sort of juice all over it, this dessert was surprisingly bland. Give it a pass.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Taste of Yaletown 2010 - Milestones


Milestones Grill and Bar (Yaletown) on Urbanspoon

Go with a buddy.
When I was there earlier tonight, the in-restaurant menu reads one appetizer TO BE SHARED between two people. We also got just the one apple crisp TO SHARE. The bill was still $25 per person, so it's ONE appy, two entrées, ONE dessert for $50.

I just got back from Milestones, and I immediately checked the menu online again. As of 2122h, October 19th, 2010, the menu still doesn't say anything about sharing:

2010 Taste of Yaletown Menu
$25.00 per person (excludes taxes, gratuities and alcohol)
Appetizer
Yummy Yam Fries
Yam frites cooked to order and served with specialty mayo
OR
Crispy Honey Phyllo Shrimp
Crispy coated shrimp lightly fried & served with our honey chipotle glaze for dipping
OR
Milestone’s Famous Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Creamy spinach dip with artichoke hearts & imported Italian cheeses. Served with sour cream, fresh cut
salsa and warm red tortilla chips
OR
Roasted Garlic Caesar
House made ciabatta croutons, Reggiano cheese and our signature Caesar dressing.
Topped with shaved Asiago and roasted garlic
OR
Baked Goat Cheese & Slow- Roasted Garlic Flat bread Plate
Warm flatbread, roasted garlic, spiced cranberry relish, roasted corn and onion salsa,
fresh papaya and roasted red pepper salsa

Entrée
Grilled Mediterranean Chicken
Grilled skinless chicken breast, layered with goat cheese, on a bed of Asian greens, chickpeas, roasted
grape tomatoes, and pomegranate molasses.
OR
Certified Angus Beef Top Sirloin
With a trio of signature steak sauces, house made Worcestershire, Kobe mustard & Gaucho sauce
OR
California Spring Salad
Baby greens, mild goat cheese, fresh sliced strawberries, red onions, spicy glazed pecans with your choice
of grilled chicken breast or fire-grilled shrimp skewer.
OR
Grilled Sweet Soy Salmon
Our Wild Pacific Coho salmon grilled, then brushed with sweet soy sesame glaze. Served with seasonal
vegetables and jasmine rice topped with infused basil oil and cilantro
OR
Cajun Shrimp Diane
Sautéed Louisiana style shrimp, scallions and roasted mushrooms in a lightly spiced garlic sauce with
Reggiano cheese. Served with seasonal vegetables and jasmine rice
topped with infused basil oil and cilantro

Dessert
Caramel Gingered Apple Crisp
Slivered apples stewed with brown sugar, ginger & spices, topped with premium vanilla gelato
buttery caramel and walnut crumble

(cut and pasted from the PDF).

For the appetizer, we settled on the supposedly signature spinach and artichoke dip. Typically the recipe for this comes out a bit tangy and sour, but the Milestones version is slightly hot -- not enough to be spicy, but just enough to have a bit of a brief bite each time to whet your appetite -- and comes with some salsa on the side. If you aren't skimpy with the amount of dip per chip, there was just enough tortilla chips to clear the entire dish of dip.

It's tasty, and although it was just the one appetizer to share, the portion was fair for two at the price it works out to.

For the entree, my companion chose the salmon. It sounded boring, and looked boring on the plate. The one excellent aspect to it, however, was that the salmon was very moist. Salmon can often come out dry and wooden, but not so here.

I chose the salad for its intriguing mix of ingredients, and was not disappointed. It looks big, but the salad is fluffed by tossing and has volume. Wet, and maybe a slightly bit heavy on the vinegar for my personal taste, but the mix of flavours, with strawberries, cheese, nuts, and chicken (or prawns if you preferred) kept every bite different. If the other items sound boring, go with the salad!

There were two choices for dessert (although only one was listed on the Taste of Yaletown PDF). We went with the apple crisp, and it came still slightly hot, so apparently it was prepared fresh. The dessert was definitely sized for one, but it was so sweet that a couple of bites would do you just fine.

Meet Jennifer Howard, who has kinky fantasies involving you

NO pictures exchanged, and yet Jennifer Howard, responding to my Craigslist ad, already had a fantasy about me. I wonder how she imagines I look...

Email #1: (from nicoleaguererroof114c4@yahoo.com)
Hey just saw your post r you around?

My Reply:
Yup! (^_^)

Hmm... You're up pretty early!

Email #2: (from "Jennifer Howard" (brianakrulxc888g7@yahoo.com))
Oh hi! Thanks for writing, I was just having a little fantasy that you were starring in. *grin* So, exactly what are you up to? I've been hanging about on Meetup but there's no one to play with and I'm bored stiff. Want to register and join me? I have a video cam and I would personally be more than pleased to show you the ropes (or handcuffs, or blindfold, or anything your heart dreams). Come on, let's have some fun. It's free, just keeps us protected from the kiddies who would like to see free porn. Send me your user name when you're ready. 

The link to "Meetup" redirects to xxxmatch.com, but there is incidentally a legitimate site called Meetup, at http://meetup.com . This site has thousands of little local "clubs" or "meetups" organized by locals, for anything from hiking and dining to specialized meetups for specific interests -- such as The Art of Loving in Vancouver (BC), which hosts seminars on how to improve your sexual skills (I'm not kidding!).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dine Out at the other end -- Zest of New West

Probably everyone knows about Taste of Yaletown by now, which kicked off on October 13th and will run till the end of October. Maybe having less hoopla around it (and certainly less participating restaurants) is what appears to be New Westminster's equivalent, Zest of New West (just one week, from October 15th to 24th).

The twelve participating restaurants offer $15-$35 three-course menus (with the exception of the Terminal Pub and Drink Urban Lounge):

menu - $9 / $10 / $11, ONE item - The Terminal Pub
menu - $15 / $20 - Gino's Restaurant
menu - $15 lunch, $20 / $30 dinner Taverna Greka

menu - $20 - Aldo's Pasta Bar
menu - $20 / $30 - Drink Urban Lounge
menu - $20 - RedBar Lounge (in the Starlight Casino)
menu - $20 - the Met Bar and Grill
menu - $25 - La Spaghetteria Ristorante

menu - $35 - La Rustica
menu - $35 - Boathouse Restaurant
menu - $35 - The Heritage Grill
menu - $35 - The Orange Room Tapas

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Taste of Yaletown - Hamilton Street Grill


Hamilton Street Grill on Urbanspoon

Hi Everyone!

As you know, Taste of Yaletown 2010 started last night (October 13th) and will run until the end of October.
It looked like a bit of a slow start because it was a hockey night (I passed by a couple of restaurants at ~7pm with just two diners at one table!), though larger places with TVs looked like they did alright.

I pulled a couple of friends along to the Hamilton Street Grill, as they'd never had the supposedly famous Gingerbread Pudding. This turned out to be horribly embarrassing... but that later.
Steak is steak so I gave the $35 menu a pass to try the bourguinon.

2010 Taste of Yaletown Menu
$25.00 per person (excludes taxes, gratuities and alcohol)
Appetizer
Choice of

  • Red lentil soup with a corn and chorizo salsa
  • Beef tenderloin Carpaccio with crisp capers, Dijon aioli, parmesan cheese, crostini
Entrée
Choice of

  • Chicken stuffed with brie, sun-dried cherries and pecans, chicken jus and pinot reduction
  • Certified Angus Beef Bourguignon, nugget potatoes, garlic bread, organic greens
Dessert
Choice of

  • Warm gingerbread pudding with caramel sauce, pumpkin and ginger gelato
  • Vanilla Bean Crème Brulé
  • Baked Cheesecake with fruit compote
  • Belgian Chocolate Mousse
  • Apple Tart with rum raisin gelato

We were started with tender, warm bread, though probably nowhere close to recently-oven baked -- and considering a lot of it probably gets thrown out, I suppose this practice of pre-dinner bread will probably disappear even more than it already has as time goes by.
In any case, if you do go for the bourguinon, you'll want to leave the bread alone for later.

I had thought to try the red lentil soup, but both of my companions chose that, so capraccio it was. Turned out one of my companions hadn't had it before, so I was happy to share it with her. Curiously, the crostini turned out quite salty for an already salty item.

The chicken was frozen out of our table, unfortunately. It did sound interesting, but I had had my heart set on the beef bourguinon so our table had the same entee all around. It came with a small salad on the side, two wedges/slivers of garlic bread (basically about a 6" long and about 1" wide at the base), which tempered the portion of food, but didn't help nearly enough with the salty bourguinon. This stew came in a rectangular dish filled to the brim -- the volume was approximately that of one brick of butter. Wet and thick with beef -- you could get away with using just a fork and leaving maybe 1 teaspoon of stew in the dish too tricky to extract with a pronged utensil -- even though the very largest items you can fish out of it was halves of nugget potatoes.
It was tasty, but definitely on the salty side. If you had the soup and you're on the petite side, your stomach might balk at using more bread to help with the saltiness.
My recommendation would be to not touch the bread at the start, go with the carpaccio for the appy, and go slow with nibbling at the garlic bread. The bread of the table definitely goes bite-by-bite with the stew.

For dessert, it was gingerbread pudding! Just one of us got cheesecake just in case the pudding didn't wow them. Turned out it was horrid.

Way back, when I first had gingerbread pudding, I suppose I was lucky enough to have had it done "right" -- or maybe that was the one mutant preparation that turned out to be the best way.
The first time I had it, the gingerbread was cut into small cubes, toasted enough that you could feel a crunch on the exterior, slathered with the (too-sweet) sauce and served immediately so it didn't reduce to a goop while sitting in the sauce.

The second time I had it maybe a year or so later, they goofed it up even though I was the only diner in the restaurant at the time (I ducked in as a walk-in before 6pm). The gingerbread came in a lump that was still cool at the core. The server admitted that this wasn't the way it should have been.

Last night, our gingerbread pudding came with the usual pumpkin and ginger ice cream scoops, the generous sauce, but the gingerbread itself was a mound of sauce-soaked mud, excessively sweet. Warm, but no toastiness whatsoever.
The server chalked it up to Taste of Yaletown mass production, which was unfortunate, as this was the Hamilton Street Grill's signature dessert.

If you do go to the the Hamilton Street Grill for the Taste of Yaletown, you'll find the gingerbread pudding on both menus. I would suggest you ask the server to make sure the kitchen gets it right, and possibly have just the one plate to share (as it is, well done or not, a very sweet dessert).

None of us were drinkers, but if you are, don't be daunted by the new blood-alcohol law. Instead, leave your car at home so you don't have to deal with crazy downtown parking, and instead take advantage of the Taste of Yaletown taxi voucher program.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Best Dessert Ever - Vegan Chocolate Cake


Wallflower Modern Diner on Urbanspoon

Hi Everyone!

If you know me, you may know that for a long time I've had a special fondness for the Hamilton Street Grill's Gingerbread Pudding ("Warm gingerbread pudding with caramel sauce, pumpkin and ginger gelato", available this year on BOTH their Taste of Yaletown $25 and $35 menus).
For a while I was also surprisingly wowed by the Triple Chocolate Brownie at Sip Resto Lounge.

Tonight, however, I must have had The. Best. Dessert. Ever. Not only does it involve chocolate, but foodies of all species can enjoy it as it is vegan.

The Wallflower Modern Diner on Main Street (near 8th, between Kingsway and Broadway) is not strictly vegan, but does feature vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menus.

Their plainly labelled $6 chocolate cake has a very rich feel. Very dark chocolate but not bitter. The chocolate smothered over it is very thick and hardens quite quickly, adding to the overall chewiness of the cake.
The actual cake portion is not very cake-like as cakes go, but more in between a chewy brownie and a thick pudding. It's also moist and slightly chewy without being wet.
Overall the taste is chocolate, but without being over-the-top in taste, in the way that too much chocolate or chocolatiness can give you a very heavy feeling or even a sickly buzz. (If you've ever drunk hot chocolate at Mink, you'll know what I mean).

For $6, the portion is somewhat small, definitely less than the slab of (probably non-vegan) chocolate cake you an get at Topanga's. But as just two bites will probably do, it's great to share with even three people.

If you like, you can wash it down with mint tea ($3). The small candleholders on the table sit on small saucers which can conveniently be used to cover your mug while your tea steeps.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Taste of Yaletown Menus

So I finally check to see if the Taste of Yaletown menus are posted, and they are!
HURRAH!

I'm on Facebook and the link provided, http://yaletowninfo.com/events/taste-of-yaletown/menus/ opens a blank page.
BOO!

I Google around, and fortunately Miss604 has linked to the PDF menus.
YAY!

Thank you Miss604!