Monday, January 21, 2013

Superb Dine Out Vancouver Value at Fray on Fraser

Fray on Fraser on Urbanspoon This year for Dine Out Vancouver 2013, I was determined to do only $18 menus because, frankly, in previous years, the higher-priced menus didn't always equate to better value or more interesting food.
I was super-pleased with Fray on Fraser's $18 offering.

Am I allowed to say that again?

INCREDIBLE VALUE. Full sized portions at almost 50% off.

Maybe I've been eating downtown too often, but I felt like I was ripping them off paying only $18 for their Dine Out Vancouver menu.

Fray on Fraser is a bit out-of-the-way at Fraser/24th, but very transit accessible being close to a major intersection and two useful bus routes, one of which connects to Brentwood Skytrain Station.
On the inside, it looks like a diner, and has kid-friendly written all over it, with colour pencils and a sheet of connect-the-dots game on the table. Stacks of board games everywhere. Interesting posters on the wall. The game stuff isn't up everyone's alley, I'm sure, and you don't have to participate, either, but watch out for event nights (nothing on at the moment, but in November they had card game night, karaoke night, trivia game night, and music trivia night).

On to the food! Their Dine Out Vancouver offering this year is:

  • Portobello fries (A Jenga stack of lightly fried and breaded portobello mushroom strips with sun-dried tomato aioli)
  • Steak and mushroom bites (Marinated chunks of AAA beef, sautéed in red wine with quartered mushrooms and chipotle lime aioli dipping sauce)
  • Superfood salad (Organic quinoa with kale, crispy chickpeas, kidney beans, beets, celery, herbs and seasonal super foods with a raspberry vinaigrette)
  • Pan-Seared Salmon (Wild pacific salmon with a creamy lemon dill sauce, spinach, roasted B.C. Nugget potatoes, seasonal vegetables and a white balsamic reduction)
  • Maple Bacon Jam Burger (7oz beef patty with sautéed mushrooms, Monterey Jack cheese, on a bed of our chefs secret maple bacon jam)
  • Pulled Pork Sandwich (A serving of slow cooked, candied pulled pork with tangy coleslaw and a sweet apple glaze)
  • New York style cheese cake
  • 5 layer mile high chocolate cake (with chocolate ganache filling and mixed berry compote)
I was catching up with a friend who'd just come back from rural India, so there were just two of us instead of my usual gang of dine-out buddies. Between us, we tried just about everything. I was also curious about their vegetarian quinoa burger, but luckily I didn't order it up front because we were both stuffed. I had to take about a third of the chocolate cake home. She gave up on the bun of her pulled pork sandwich and barely managed to finish her cheesecake.

Portobello Fries (normally $9.95)
  • Simple idea, and delicious. Crunchy crust on the outside combined with the very juicy portobello mushroom strip on the inside, and a nice dip makes this a winner.
  • At basically $10 it's a Yaletown price for the portion you get, but there's no denying this is tasty. Trust me, you want this.
Steak and Mushroom Bites (normally $8.95)
  • It's like a big bowl of beef stew, but with slightly chewy cubes (it's steak!) and mushrooms.
  • Comes with two small wedges of garlic toast which you really should save for last to get at the tasty peppery soup that's left.
  • There's some bite to this stew from the pepper. And it's savoury without being too-salty, which stews can sometimes be.
  • Comes with a dipping sauce with you should use because it really does enhance the flavour, although honestly, it's good enough without.
  • The portion you get could make a light meal all on it's own. If you'd gotten this outside of Dine Out Vancouver at the regular price of basically $9, it's still a good deal.
Maple Bacon Jam Burger (normally $14.95, served with house salad, crisps, or fries)
  • This is really "just a burger", except for the delicious maple bacon jam at the very bottom. It doesn't look like a super-generous amount, but the flavour makes itself clearly known in every bite (if you can fit this tall burger in your mouth!).
  • I opted for potato crisps, and there was a generous of what was basically made-in-house fried potato chips. Not greasy except for the odd oil-infused chip. If you can't handle deep-fried, go for salad. This ain't the healthy baked stuff.
  • As burgers go, this is basic, big, and served freshly made. The maple bacon jam elevates it from basically good to something great.
  • If you scrape some of the maple bacon jam off to sample it on its own, you'll find it quite smoky-sweet, and with actual bacon bits in it. This isn't just "bacon flavor". It's got bacon. Too bad they don't sell this stuff in take-home jars.
  • Considering you get salad, crisps, or chips, at regular price the burger basically weighs in at about $10 on its own, which is still a fair price.
Pulled Pork Sandwich (normally $11.95, or +$5 to add pulled pork to any burger or sandwich)
  • Pulled pork mixed with a bit of coleslaw. Nothing special here except it's "candied pulled pork", so there's a clear sweetness to this.
  • I found this a bit on the dry side, but many pulled pork sandwiches can be. I think also that if they'd put in more jus, it might have come out too sweet.
New York Style Cheesecake (normally about $7)
  • This wasn't as tall as a regular New York Style cheesecake, and maybe it was just that particular cake, but there was a funny flavour to it that we couldn't quite identify.
  • Regular sized slice of cheesecake. Nothing special here.
5 Layer Mile High Chocolate Cake (normally about $7)
  • A big slice of cake. Twice the size of my friend's slice of cheesecake. After a large stew and big burger plus side of potato chips, I couldn't finish this.
  • As chocolate cakes go, this didn't score top marks, but it's still a delicious chocolate cake. Deep chocolatey flavour and moist. Good amount of chocolate cream on it too, and the berry sauce on the bottom helped with the relentless amount of chocolate cake you had to work through.
A pot of tea was $2.

Go to Fray. They will feed you properly and very well for your money.

If your budget is tight despite the regular reasonable prices, grab the Takeout Menu. As of 2013-Jan-19 when I was there, they still had coupons on the back: Free Dessert with Meal, and Burger and Beer for $10. I uploaded scans of this to Urbanspoon.

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