2-for-1 Dinner at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

Polly and Vincent invited Suanne and I out for dinner last month. Polly wanted to check out the 3-course dinner at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA). The PICA is located at the entrance to Granville Island and is an accredited, private culinary institute.

The settings at PICA is alright … it’s not exactly classy, this being a training institute after all. But they do have a great view of the marina for sure. Get a table by the windows, that is the best. For us, we only have a table next to the entrance to the kitchen.


We chose Monday only because it’s a 2-for-1 night for their three course dinner. We had been meaning to try this but never gotten down to doing it. This dinner is actually organized by Polly and Suanne.

I was so glad that they had scheduled a weekday too. I just enjoy a good meal … and a drink … after work these days. Work had been demanding these days for me. Although I don’t really have to work long hours, the work day had been hectic — I did not even have the time these days to hang around the water cooler as much as I like.

After an order of drinks (I had the Granville Island Pale Ale which was pretty good) came the bread basket. It was a hit and miss … the sweet buns were better than the others. Hey … is there a right way to eat buns? Maybe it’s just me but I think to the Chinese, they will naturally use the knife and slice the bread, spread the butter in between, and then eat it like a sandwich.


Our strategy is simple, Suanne and I will order different appetizers, main dish and dessert and share it between the two of us. That way we can try as many different dishes as possible. Polly and Vincent did that too but they did not say out loud. Yes, we have no problems with that because it is what I call, being practical.

The first appetizer we ordered was the White Navy Bean Soup. The plate was large but if you really look at it, it was really a small serving. Oh, at a glance the pepper sprinkles on the plate looked like someone dropped some cigarette ash on our plate!


Vincent and Polly ordered the Butter Lettuce Mimosa. It contain crumpled hard-boiled eggs, chopped parsley and Dijon Vinaigrette dressing.


Both Polly and I ordered the same thing since there were only three appetizer selection on the menu. The Baby Shrimp Saffron Risotto stuffed Yellow Bell Pepper is served with basil pesto. The shrimps are small and the pepper is too big — I would have preferred it the other way round. The plate was beautifully presented though. I like the contrast of the colors, especially with the single strand of chive … beauty.


On the main entree section there were also three choices: a chicken dish, a pork dish and a fish dish. Weird … on the fish item, the menu said that PICA is working together with the Vancouver Aquarium on some sustainable fishing thingy. I can’t understand this … the Vancouver Aquarium promoting eating of seafood? We all went for the the chicken and the pork dishes.

The chicken selection has a long name: Stuffed Chicken Breast with Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese serves with Leek-caper sauce, Corn and Wildrice and Fresh Vegetables. The chicken was really a disappointment to us. It sort of break aparts when cut into, not firm. Perhaps it was over-cooked or something.


For me, I ordered the Grilled Pork Tenderloin Medallion serves with Garlic-honey Star Anise Sauce, Mushroom Rice Pilaf and Seasonal Vegetables. I thought medallion is like pork loin cut into disc shapes but this is more like a pork CHOP. Having so used to 12oz steaks, this one is so tiny. It was alright.


Well, it goes without saying what Suanne and Polly will order for desserts. They can’t resist cheesecakes for anything in the world. The Cheesecake with Blueberry Compote was delicious and looked mouth watering.


Vincent ordered the fancy named Choux with Coconut Chantilly. This looked like a fancy type of cream puff to us.


I had the Praline and Cream Cake with Creme Anglaise. Oooo … too sweet for me. So sweet it made me shudder!


Between us, we also ordered a red wine, a beer and an Espresso. The total bill came to $121.44 which include an automatic service charge of 15%. So that makes it about $30 per head. Not bad. I enjoyed the company more than the food. So, Polly/Vincent … lets do this more often?

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  1. Aja Peters-Mason

    In your blog you said:
    “… on the fish item, the menu said that PICA is working together with the Vancouver Aquarium on some sustainable fishing thingy. I can’t understand this … the Vancouver Aquarium promoting eating of seafood? We all went for the the chicken and the pork dishes.”

    Of course the Vancouver Aquarium is promoting eating fish. It seems that at your event, they were likely trying to raise consumer awareness about choosing sustainable seafoods. It appears their message was lost on you.

    People shouldn’t stop eating fish, they should just try to choose fish that aren’t being overharvested and aren’t harvested in a manner that is destructive to ocean habitat. You can read about the Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise program here: http://www.vanaqua.org/conservation/oceanwise/sustainable-seafood.html

    Also, search “sustainable seafood” on google. That should clear up the rest of the confusion.

    I haven’t had a chance to read the rest of your blog, but I hope that, as a food lover, you have and display an understanding of the value of consuming locally produced and sustainably harvested food products.

    I wish you well,
    Aja Peters-Mason

  2. Ed Lau

    I’ve eaten there too. It’s good but not mind-blowing.

    You’re totally right…the pepper looked like someone ashed a cigarette. They should’ve thought out the plating better. A scattering of pepper around the rim rather than just in one spot would’ve looked less out of place.

  3. Ben

    Hi LotusRapper: Thanks for the tip!! Being someone who always get a kick out of cheap deals, this is surely something we are gonna plan to go to someday.

    Hi All: Anyone wants to join Suanne and I for dinner at JJ’s? Let us know and we can plan sometime next month. Serious, I am not kidding.

  4. LotusRapper


    You know how to reach me. So if the JJ’s dinner comes up, send out your invites to interested Chowtimers 😀

  5. HM

    For the month of Jan/2010, PICA offering “Market” Promo Mon-Thurs; lunch @$15 and dinner @$20. Sample menu (subject to change weekly) as follows:


    1)Beer, Bacon and Potato Soup with Melted Blue Cheese & Chives
    2)Baby Arugula Salad with Prosciutto Wrapped Honeydew Melon
    3)Paupiette of Trout with Ginger Baby Shrimp on Sauteed Spinach


    1)Pan-Roasted Lamb Sirloin, Mint Jelly, Mushroom Risotto
    2)Pan-fried Sable Fish, Star Anise Sweet Chili Miso Sauce, Homemade Pasta
    3)Oven-roasted Duck Leg, Orange Gastrique Sauce, Roasted Garlic & Sundried Tomato Polenta


    1)Chocolate & Orange Eclair Duo
    2)Lemon & Yuzu Cheesecake on Pistachio Sable with Cherry Compote & Yoghurt Sorbet
    3)Tiramisu with Blood Oranges, Orange Saffron Jelly, Brown Sugar Streusel & White Chocolate Ice Cream

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