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Dine Out Vancouver 2007 – Herons Restaurant & Lounge – The Fairmont Waterfront

The Dine Out Vancouver 2007 event is held from January 19th to February 4th. One can enjoy delectable three-course prix fixe (fixed price) menus at some of the hottest restaurants for $15, $25 or $35 per person. We went to only one event last year (see here). This year we planned for quite a few. This is our series on Dine Out Vancouver 2007.

The first restaurant we went to was the Herons Restaurant and Lounge. It is at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel which is located just across the street from Canada Place.

Herons Restaurant & Lounge - The Fairmont Waterfront

Locating the place is easy but finding an affordable parking space is not. Count on paying something like $10. We booked for a table two weeks in advance for a 5:30pm seating.

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We have never been here before. Herons is quite large with tall ceilings and windows all with a view … of the street! They opened at 5:30 pm for dinner. We were the first there.

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Table setting were elegant. We noticed that even the table cloth is embroidered with the Fairmont Hotels logo. The service was prompt and attentive, despite the fact that we are one of those “water only” customer. I always hated to see the service change when we did not order drinks. This place is different.

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We started off with the usual basket of bread. The butter was perfectly soft.

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For appetizers, I ordered the Wild Mushroom Cappuccino. This is served in a unique dual plate — with one “cappuccino soup” and the other a brioche shaped like a spoon with watm mushroom salad.

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The waiter came by and described in detail what is it that was served and told us how to eat them. We were to put the brioche spoon with the mushroom salad into the soup. This gives extra texture to the soup. The soup is foamy and had a hint of hazelnut. This is one of the best appetizers we had.

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Suanne order the Butter Lettuce Salad with Oven Roasted Pears, Walnuts and Blue Cheese. It was a pretty ho-hum salad. The blue cheese tastes terrible. We are not a fan of blue cheese and as hard as we try to enjoy it, we just can’t understand why some people consider this a delicacy. We’ll stay away from blue cheese next time.

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For the second course, I had the Roasted Strip Loin, Mushroom Ragout and Chestnut Bread Pudding. The bread pudding is flavourful, made from broiche and egg white. We were told that the Mushroom Ragout (pronounced ra-goo) took 30 hours of reduction of Veal stock and Chardonnay. The color of the ragout looked very appetizing with the mushrooms and asparagus.

The plates were hot when served and I mean really hot.

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The AAA quality strip loin were a bit too tough and lean for us. Are strip loin supposed to be tough? I thought that they are one of the better cuts and tender.

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Suanne ordered the Pan Seared Artic Char with Roasted Fingerling Potato, Briased Cabbage and Gribiche. This one looked so good when served. We moved the plate too fast and the decorations fell over.

Never heard of Char before today. Apparently, it is a kind of trout with a salmon-like pinkish flesh. The char is pan seared and then finished in the oven to lock in the juice. This gives the outside a hard crusty and chruncy texture.

The Char is topped with Creme Fraiche and Artic Char Caviar. The rich gravy us made of corn chowder with baby root vegetables and fennel. This dish was absolutely delicious.

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We had no choice for dessert. The dessert today was the Chocolate Mint Dome with Crystallized Spearmint and Matcha (powdered green tea) Creme Glace. The Green Tea ice-cream was OK but the chocolate dome was something else.

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The outside is a chocolate mouse with a chocolate cake base. Inside the dome is a creamy, minty filling with some black tasteless “thingy” — can’t figure out what it is exactly but perhaps is just some chocolate sprinkles to add texture. This is garnished with a crystalized spearmint.

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We had a great time out. The service was top-notch. We were always addressed by our names which I felt was a good touch on their part. The waiter was really patient and offered to explain the food presented to us. This really help us appreciate the food better. The food was great for some part but admittedly is unexciting in others.

The total bill including tips came up to $85.

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Cream Puff Cafe on Broadway

Update: 1-Jun-09; this cafe is closed according to urbanspoon

Polly and I had visited four cheesecake shops and believe it or not, I think we have run out of cheesecake shops to visit. Well, not quite right … there are tons of cheesecake places all around the Lower Mainland but most of them are opened only in the evening. Polly and I could only find time for lunchtime.

But there are a lot of other places too. Last month, I found a Cream Puff place in one of the blog links I had. I am not sure where I found it at, could be tasteof604.com or Urban Vancouver or FoodVancouver. This place is simply called Cream Puff Cafe. It is located on 3416 West Broadway in Vancouver.

The Cream Puff Cafe is a small and cozy neighborhood cafe. It was easy place to find even though we don’t normally go by this side of the city. Anyway, one can never get lost along West Broadway, can they? The Cream Puff Cafe is a corner store with a very distinctive greenish sign.

Creme Puff Cafe

The Cream Puff Cafe has only been opened for a few months. This is a small and neighborhoody cafe place with about four or five tables. It was very quiet when we were there. When we walked in there was only a lady buying scones to go.

They charge by the number of cream puffs you buy. I can’t remember how much it was but it was like the more you buy the cheaper it is. We want to try everything. They have a Sampler which includes every kinds of cream puffs. There are 15 different types in all and the Sampler box costs $12 (about 80 cents each). A bit on the expensive side but they do look very delicious.

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Each of the cream puff is delicately hand made and perhaps that’s why it costs so much. Below is the Brazilian Real Coffee Buttercream cream puff.

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More…

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Just Peanut Butter and Cream Cheese

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Coconut and Banana Cream

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Japanese Pumpkin Cheesecake

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Tuna Melt

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Salmon Mousse rich in onion flavour

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So Good Lemony Curd

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To Die for Tiramisu

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Mango Madness Mousse

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Crunch Crunch Hazelnut

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Addictive Chocolate Mousse

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Classic Real Vanilla Bean

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Goofy Orange chocolate Pudding

We missed 2 cream puffs from the Sampler list which is the Ham, Corn and Potatoes and Super Rummy Custard. They told us they have ran out of them.

For those who loves cream puffs, Cream Puff Cafe is certainly a place to go for their vast varieties. The Cream Puff Cafe also offers a variety of desserts, snacks, soups, sandwiches, and coffees for the Kitsilano area.

Sigh … now Ben wants me to check if I have the recipe for Cream Puffs.

Cream Puff Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Trees Organic Coffee – Best Cheesecake in Vancouver

A few weeks ago, Polly invited me to join her in search for the best cheesecake in Vancouver. We both loves cheesecakes a lot. So, we did some research and found this place called the Trees Organic Coffee from the internet. Polly’s friends also recommended this place.

Trees Organic Coffee is located on Granville between West Hastings and Pender in Vancouver. The shop was decorated warmly with tables inside and outside of the shop. It is a trendy boheniam cafe. We decided to sit inside at a window sit to enjoy our cheesecake as the weather is a bit too cold for us that day.

Yup, they did put up a sign saying that they have the “Best Cheesecake in Vancouver”.

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We were there before 11:00 am and there was not many customers at the time. After browsing through the cheese cakes on display, I decided to order the New York Cheesecake. The New York Cheesecake was really creamy and just melted in your mouth. Most of the slice cheesecake cost $5.60.

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I also ordered a grand Cappuccino to go with the cheesecake. The drink cost $3.55.

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Polly ordered a slice of Mocha Cheesecake. The Mocha cheesecake has a chocolate crust which goes well with the Mocha flavour cheesecake.

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Polly also ordered a grand Latte for $3.55. The bitterness in the coffee compliments well with the creaminess of the cheesecake.

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I noticed that the shop uses organic and fair-trade coffee bean as there is a huge bag of coffee bean with the fair-trade label on it. As in any great coffee, they are roasted in-house.

At around noon, there was a steady crowd of customers coming in for lunch like panini sandwiches, quiche, subs, etc.

Polly and I had a good time enjoying our cheesecakes and coffees. We chatted about everything from work, kids, families and even about our retirement, :-). We decided to have this get together every other Tuesday. Our quest is to find the best of cakes in Vancouver.

Anyone care to join us? Send me an email at chowtimes@gmail.com.

Trees Organic Coffee on Urbanspoon

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Feenie’s

Update: 29th May 2009 – this restaurant is closed.

Suanne’s favourite TV channel is FoodTV (or was it Food Network?). Among her favourite show is the Iron Chef America. Vancouverites are proud that one of the winners of the Iron Chef is one of our own — Rob Feenie. Rob Feenie beat no other than Masaharu Morimoto in the Battle Crab.

Feenie owns two award winning restaurants in Vancouver. The Lumiere and Feenie’s are located next to each other on Broadway in Vancouver. It would take a very special occasion to have a meal at the Lumiere — well, it’s because their signature menu, oh, costs only $160 … per person! The tips for a dinner for two is more than what I would normally spend for a nice meal for the whole family.

Cheapskate as we were, we went to the cheaper bistro next door to the Lumiere … Feenie’s. You gotta make reservation at Feenie’s because they are almost always packed. We booked a table for two through Feenie’s website (http://feenies.com). They called me the afternoon on that date to confirm our reservation.

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We deliberately booked an early time ar 5:45pm before the dinner crowd starts coming in. By the time we got there, half the restaurant was already filled. We were shown the inside table, promptly seated, and given the Feenie’s menu.

We were served bread with soft butter.

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For appetizer, we decided to share the Steamed Local Mussels. They are cooked with white wine, garlic, lemon grass, ginger, red and yellow peppers with garlic toast on the side. This dish was fabulous. The mussels were fresh and the soup base went perfectly with the toast. Great dish to start off the night.

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This dish costs $12. We were so afraid that the waitress will come and collect the dish and we wanted to finish off every single drop of the soup. So, we deliberately left a few mussels on the plate while waiting for the waitress to bring more bread!

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For myself, I ordered the Poisson du Jour which is the Wild Spring Salmon for today. The waitress recommended this and I did see a couple of table having it. The salmon were pan seared and very crusty on the outside with moist soft flesh inside — and simply flavoured with only salt and pepper. The salmon is served with mint risotto which gives a very unique flavour to the rice and blends so ever so nicely with bourbon sauce.

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We read about Rob Feenie’s Shepherd’s Pie and how people love it. So, Suanne ordered this which is prepared with duck confit, mushroom duxelles, corn and truffle-scented mash potatoes. This is very rich. Certainly much much different from the normal Shepherd’s Pie we have tried elsewhere. Frankly, despite how nice this is, I felt this dish is over-rated. Dish costs $16.

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For dessert, we shared the Daily Brulee which is an orange lacquered brulee made with a bit of coconut. The crust were brittle and orangey in taste. As any creme brulee, it is sweet. One thing we do notice is that Freenie’s has this certain uniform richness through out — he he he, know what I mean?

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The total damage was $70 including tips and taxes. It was a good night out away from the boys. The service was good, the food was great. What is missing was Feenie was not in the restaurant that night — or else we would have asked for a photograph with him!

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Duffin’s Donuts on Main St.

This restaurant had closed, updated on 11th Oct 2008

I can’t really describe this place. Duffin’s Donuts had been an icon in Vancouver Eastside for a long time. Driving past a Duffin’s Donuts, one gets the impression that it’s a shop selling donuts only but when you get into the store, you’ll find that it’s definitely much much more than just donuts.

Duffin’s is actually a Cambodian family owned joint, originally located on Main and 33rd. They are famous for their homemade fresh donuts and Vietnamese subs. But then they also serve all kinds of food from Mexican Tortas, bubble tea, fried chicken, Chinese rice and noodles, — the selection is amazing.

We went to the Duffin’s Donuts on 41st and Main.

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Arkensen ordered a double cheese burger for $4.79. The burger looks juicy. I like the buns in that it’s does not look dry at all.

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Suanne ordered Machaca sandwich for $3.50. The hot sandwich is made up of shredded beef, lettuce, tomato, slice onion, pickled pepper, avocado on a crusty roll — tasty and filing.

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Nanzaro ordered fried rice noodle with honey pork and chicken. They were just ho-hum but I guess Nanzaro just wanted some dry noodles and did not care much about what sides it came with.

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For me, I ordered a seafood chowmien which is loaded with prawn, squid, pollock, fish, sweet pea and carrot. The seafood portion were surprising large considering that it costs about $8.

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We also ordered a coffee mocha with pearl to share.

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It’s not in any sense elegant dining but for us, this place sure beats McDonalds for a fast, and cheap meal.

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Pho Tan Restaurant on Main and 30th

We did not have a specific place to eat out on a Saturday afternoon. So we tried to cruise down Main St in Vancouver knowing that there are a lot of cheap eats all along that street. We came upon this “new” restaurant called Pho Tan along Main and 30th Ave. We remember that there was a Chinese restaurant in this lot we tried many years back.

Click here for the Google Map of this restaurant.

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We took a peek into the restaurant and saw that the decor was not bad at all. Most importantly, there were a lot of people in the restaurant — the food must be really good. We had to wait about 10 minutes for a table, which is rarity for a Vietnamese restaurant.

For starters, we ordered the Stuffed Boneless Chicken Wings (Cinh Ga Rut Xuong). There are 3 wings in all. The skin were crispy and is stuffed with the kind of things you find in spring rolls. This dish is $6.50. It was very good and we recommend this.

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Arkensen ALWAYS ordered the Pho with at least beef balls. So, this time he ordered the Pho with Sliced Rare Beef and Beef Balls. This pho was pretty much the same pho you get anywhere. This costs $5.85 for a large serving.

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Suanne decided to go for something different. She ordered from the House Special menu — the Pho Ga Satay which is a satay chicken with rice noodle soup. The soup is made with peanut sauce and coconut milk. The soup has a slight sourish taste and had a strong hint of lemon grass. This is a spicy dish and costs $6.50.

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For me, I ordered the Hu Tiu Mi (Kho Hoac Nuoc) which in English is Cambodian Egg Noodle. You have a choice of having this in soup or dry noodles. I ordered the dry version. There were a lot of big pieces of seafood: prawns, squid and imitation crab meat. The egg noodles tasted very fresh and lingers in your mouth. The large serving costs $6.50.

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We will definitely make a return visit to Pho Tan. The food is good, the prices cheap, the place is clean and there are more on the menu we definitely want to try.

Pho Tan Vietnamese on Urbanspoon

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Vera’s Burger Shack

Last weekend we attended the HSBC Celebration of Lights fireworks finale night. As usual, we went very early just so that we can get a good place to park the car. Since we had over 3 hrs of wait we normally would eat out for dinner. We thought it would be great for the blog to dine out at the outlet that serves the “best burgers in Vancouver”

Vera’s Burger Shack had been operating since 1977 in a really small shack by a couple called Frank and Vera. They are no longer operating the shack but has since grown into quite a famous chain. There are a total of 6 Vera’s outlets throughout the Lower Mainland.

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Since we are watching the fireworks from the Vanier Park, we went to the Vera’s in Kitsilano (1925 Cornwall Ave).

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Nanzaro ordered the Chicken Fingers from the Kids Menu. There were 3 large pieces of real chicken meat, not breaded. The Chicken Fingers came with some fries.

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Suanne ordered the Thai Me Up Burger — which happen to be the winning entry in Vera’s “Build a Better Burger Contest”. The burger was very juicy with Thai Chilli Sauce, harvati, fried onions, bacon, sauteed peppers, mayo, mustard, lettuce and tomato. The burger was too tall for Suanne’s mouth!

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Arkensen ordered the Vera Burger which is the basic burger on the menu. Despite comparing with the other burgers, the Vera Burger was really good too. You can see the juiciness of the patty.

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I ordered the Power Burger which is a classic burger loaded with CHEESE, FRIED EGG and FRIED ONIONS. This burger is simply awesome. I love the egg especially. Hmmm … all the colesterol!

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We also ordered a serving of homecut fries. This is one of the best fries we have every tried — very crunchy. Suanne does not really care much for fries but for this one she took quite a bit of it.

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The total bill came up to $35 which is expensive for self-service burgers but it was a really good meal for us. We were really stuffed.

We’ll blog about the Mexico’s firework presentation tomorrow.

Vera's Burger Shack on Urbanspoon

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Red Star Seafood Restaurant

Andy Lai and family from Portland visited Vancouver this week. Andy was Ben’s primary and secondary school mates. They only found each other back last year through the wonder of internet. Andy and Ben has not met one another for more than 25 years. It was very unfortunate for Ben as he was in London this week and unable to meet up with Andy.

Nevertheless, Andy met up with me and the kids while they were in Richmond on Wednesday. We went shopping at Parker Place and Aberdeen Centre. Andy and family love to come to Vancouver for shopping and food. According to Andy, there is not many Chinese restaurants in Portland. Andy will go all the way to look for good food.

After a day of shopping, we went to Red Star Seafood Restaurant on Granville St and West 67th Avenue for dinner. Andy’s friends, Tom and Marina recommended this restaurant.

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Andy and Tom ordered a lot of dishes that evening. Here are some of the dishes they ordered.

Lobsters stir fried in ginger and green onions.

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Crispy Chicken.

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Spicy long beans.

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Mushrooms braised with scallops.

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A fish dish on a platter of vegetables.

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There were more dishes like a pork chop dish, deep fried sea bass with melon salad and a pork and herbal soup. The dinner ended with a green bean dessert soup with some cookies and sesame seed fried dough.

It was a scrumptious dinner. As Andy said, nothing beats good food with good friends. Thank you Andy and Kathy.

Red Star Seafood on UrbanspoonBusiness Hour

Mon to Fri: 10:30 am to 3:00 pm; 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Sat & Sun: 10:00 am to 3:00 pm; 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm

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