Monday, April 28, 2014

Chef's Tasting Menu at The Fish House in Stanley Park

Fish House in Stanley Park on Urbanspoon Until 2014-May-17, The Fish House in Stanley Park is having a special 5-course Chef's Tasting Menu, priced at $85 per two persons.
  • Celeriac Velouté - prawn and black truffle fritter
  • Duck Terrine - Brome Lake duck, Sakura Farms pork, house-made preserves, moutard du monde
  • Butter Poached Haida Gwaii Halibut and Frisée Salad - sweet peas, cherry tomato, butter-fried crouton, warm bacon vinaigrette
  • Braised Beef Short Rib - 72 hour braised 8 oz boneless short rib, Dungeness crab and wild mushroom arancini, sweet crab bisque
  • Layered Brownie - rich fudge brownie, dark chocolate mousse, chocolate ganache
The Fish House is one of the few restaurants that still serve warm bread before a meal. You get a generous basket plus lobster oil mixed with black vinegar (in lieu of butter). The portions look kind of skimpy on each plate, but all taken together (especially if you aren't shy with the bread), it's a filling meal. Combined with great service, $85/2 is fairly good value for what you get.
While we were there, I also took the opportunity to try their Avocado Spring Roll, just to see how a seafood restaurant does vegetarian.

Avocado Spring Roll ($9 for 1 or $15 for 2) avocado mousse, chili oil, tamarind cashew sauce
  • Without the condiments, this was pretty boring, though nicely done: Packed thick and full with creamy avocado.
  • Make sure you get some of that cashew sauce on it, and it tastes great.
  • $9 is steep, but the spring rolls are on the largish side.
Celeriac Velouté
  • Rich, but not overly so. Not overly truffled either. Overall, nicely done, tasty, creamy, starter soup.
Duck Terrine
  • The actual portion of duck terrine is two grey slices with a small random number of blueberries (?), and thin, crispy, slices of baguette plus assorted accompaniments, such as mustard and cornichons.
  • Don't think of this as a course, but a small appetizer.
Butter Poached Haida Gwaii Halibut and Frisée Salad
  • This was kind of weird: The halibut was pulled / torn up and sprinkled generously over a crispy-on-the-outside-chewy-on-the-inside slice of baguette that we initially thought was a slab of seared fish. This, and the fact that the actual quantity of fish was pulled, made it easy to estimate that the wasn't a heckuva lot of halibut.
  • Buttery as advertised, but not so much that anything felt greasy.
Braised Beef Short Rib
  • Medium rare, thick cut lump of meat. Tender and with tasty sauce, but otherwise meat is meat.
  • I actually liked the arancini the best. It was really tasty!
Layered Brownie
  • Looked great, tasted great, but hard to eat. The darker bottom layer was very firm, almost hard.
  • Cut only. Until you have cut out a piece, do not stab it with anything or the thick bottom layer will hold fast your utensil. You get only a fork. You might want to ask for a knife or maybe a spoon.
We were there Friday night, and even on a later seating (8 PM), the restaurant was still quite busy. It's a rather spacious restaurant, so it is likely possible to drop in or take your time dining on an earlier seating.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lemony Sundae at Fable Kitchen

Fable Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Last Friday I finally got myself down to Fable. I hadn't prioritized it much before, but since added them to their roster of contributing charities, I bumped it up my list as part of organizing outings to all Lower Mainland restaurant partners.

Fable a rather smallish and tight-feeling place, and because they don't have that many seats and therefore probably can't absorb a bunch of people no-showing on them, Fable has rather severe reservation restrictions on larger parties (6+). Before you book your big all-girls-get-together or whatever, you'd best call first and inquire about the limited-choice menu for larger tables as well as the refund policy on reservation deposits.

Because it is a smaller restaurant, go for their second dinner seating at 8:30 PM if you can handle it -- That way, you won't get kicked out for eating slowly or lingering to chat with your friends because there's no third seating waiting behind you.

Food is good but prices are frightful for the portion -- like $29 for this lump of halibut my friend ordered. You have been warned. Menu changes according to what is available, but likely the lemon meringue parfait will always be there.

Chickpea Fritters ($9) pickled red onion, shoots, curry mayo
  • Five smaller-than-ping-pong-ball sized chickpea balls.
  • I think everyone at the table liked it more than me. I personally found the mayo a bit too sharp. It was otherwise a decently done deep fried chickpea appy.
  • $9 for 5 = about $2 each after tax. Ouch.
Ricotta Gnudi ($19, +$4 for pulled pork) BC vine tomatoes, basil pesto, yellowfoot chantrelles
  • Honestly, tasty enough but nothing wow here. One of the few veggie options on the smallish menu.
  • Also had very chewy lumps of what looked like croutons soaked in cheese (Huh? -- Yeah, I know. Weird, right?)
Mascarpone Cheesecake ($9) apple textures, chai caramel, almond brittle
  • The plating makes it look like there is more than there actually is. There's stuff on the plate, but the actual amount of cheesecake is embarrassing.
  • Tasty, but small cheesecake portion.
  • Light, soft, cheesecake. Won't leave you with a heavy fatty feeling afterwards.
Lemon Meringue Parfait ($12) streusel, tarragon ice cream
  • Very nice flavour touch with the toasted meringue on top. Remember to dig deep to get at all the goodies.
  • Doesn't look like much but strangely the combination is very good. Instead of a solid mass of ice cream with whipped cream on top, this is an interesting variant on a sundae.
  • Kind of a skinny sundae glass. It only looks big because of the meringue on top.
How they source their ingredients probably has something to do with the price. If you don't care about that, then Fable may not be a great place to go if you are going to have regrets about the bill later.
I ordered all four items above (yeah, we had two desserts -- we even had the parfait before our appy and mains) and it came to 51.45 after tax, before tip.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Yves Veggie Cuisine - Jumbo Veggie Dogs

Yves Veggie Cuisine - Jumbo Veggie Dogs

Compared with regular skinless hot dogsYves Veggie Cuisine Jumbo Veggie Dogs have a very well-duplicated good look and feel to them, probably because they don't have to try hard to look like unprocessed meat. The taste is rather bland in comparison, but also less salty if you are watching your sodium.

If you are going to use them just like hot dogs -- that is, put them in a long bun and smother the taste with condiments -- then this Yves vegan hot dog will give you the look and feel without significantly missing the taste.
However, if you really like the distinctive slightly sweet taste of hot dogs, then you will definitely miss that here. Whatever you want to say about the preparation of hot dogs, it does produce a reasonably tasty product, especially when lightly pan fried. If you focus on the flavour of the dog itself, then Jumbo Veggie Dogs won't be a good substitute.