Milestones Summer Menu – Not Your Typical Chain

Milestones Yaletown
source: Eurolite.com

I was invited with several other passionate foodies to preview Milestones Summer Chef Tasting Menu. 6 dishes paired with 6 wines from Constellation Wines.

Milestones have really stepped up their game. Within the past 8 months, Chef Russo and his Culinary Team have created and launched around 15 new menu items with another 10 rolling out in the coming months.
Their efforts to be more food driven has really revitalized their menu and speaks volume to the creativity and quality of the dishes on their menu. Now don’t scoff, I realize being a chain with over 50 restaurants across the country usually does not go hand in hand with culinary creativity. I used to be one of those people, chain restaurants would be the last place I think about going to. In fact, I might have used the term “fah-’actus” once or twice on Food Persuasion.

**Personal note** I’ve f’g accidentally deleted the folder containing pictures from my Milestone dinner from my drive and it’s disappeared. Ack! I’m still sore about this. I was going batty, the pictures were awesome. Enough bitching…getting over it, back to Milestones.

I sat beside Chris Meeds, Milestones Regional Manager, past Milestone’s Chef and, he said something that really peaked my foodie interest. Generally, the menu is the same throughout the chain but, each Chef is encouraged to give their own personal spin to it. They are local, they know their patron’s palette, know what they like, fostering culinary creativity and experimentation. “You are a chef, so be a chef” was the advice Chef Russo gave to Chris when he was a Milestone’s Chef.

Their drinks menu will be the next to roll out. Keep an eye for some delicious craft beers and, local wine on tap.

About Milestone’s private dining room in Yaletown, it is gorgeous. I don’t know why I never think to throw dinner parties here. F’g, NO PICTURE

6 Dishes from Milestones Summer Chef Tasting Menu

Wine pairing review to come…

Crispy quinoa shrimp with chimichurri aioli and vegetable slaw. The quinoa is raw, washed with egg and then quickly deep-fried. So instead of the crispy, greasy texture you get with battered almost anything, this is crunchy. A creative use of quinoa, the chimichurri aioli, was delicious. I would have loved it more if the quinoa battered didn’t fall apart once you cut into it.

Panko Blue Crab Cakes, the batter was too overwhelming, the filling itself was decent but a very typical dish. I guess the menu has to include the staples to satisfy the non adventurous palettes.
Spicy Thai Basil Stirfry, rice noodles, shrimp and coconut milk. Alright, show me a chain restaurant that does Asian cuisine well? One of their more popular dishes, I didn’t expect it to be authentic. Overall this was good, the sauce was a little too gluttony for my liking but the flavours were great. It’s a western take on a classic Thai dish.

Grilled Japanese Tuna Tataki, with asparagus and fennel slaw, topped with mandarin dressing. Bravo Milestones for stepping above and beyond to ensure the quality of the tuna is superb. It is cured in-house, which makes a big difference in flavor, then lightly seared for a nice carmalization. It was perfectly cooked, a second over, it would have been over cooked. It was prepared so well it looked like it was sous-vide, with very fine charred rim. The Tuna tataki was my favourite dish of the night.

Surf and Turf, a duo grilled flat-iron and lobster fricassee. Mmmm lobster fricassee was amazingly decadent, served with a tempura battered onion ring. People tend to forget about the quality of the flat-iron steak, very flavourful. You could also upgrade to the striploin or sirloin.

WTH! Not on the menu yet but, they definitely should add it. Never a huge fan of tarts, Milestones, Avocado and lime tart sitting on a bed of bourbon pecan chutney and topped with Tequilla Chantilly cream. Holy shit! Yea, that’s all I have to say. Paired with Inniskillin Riesling Ice Wine.

BAM! Awesome end to the night.
Wine reviews to come….it’ll be epic

preview:

Constellation Wine Piarings Review
Constellation Wine Piarings Review

Chef Thomas Heinrich – Chef’s Table

Chef Thomas Heinrich of Mosaic Bar and Grille hits it out of the park once more. I was invited to try out their tasting menu, 5 dishes and 5 wine pairings.

The first two items are not part of the tasting menu.

Crab ravioli and avocado terrine with yuzu sauce.
crab ravioli

Smoked salmon brined in smoked paprika for 7 hours, paired with cucumber jelly, sour cream and young fresh pressed olive oil, fried leeks and caviar. Young fresh pressed olive oil reminded me of fresh cut grass and unripe fruits. My description is a little odd but it gave the dish a nice robust finish.

smoked salmon

Chef’s Thomas Heinrich – Chef’s Table

On Chef’s Heinrich’s menu…

Roasted sweet corn bouillon, tomatoes, local chantrelles and topped with feta foam. This is a great summer soup. The roasted corn gave the dish a hint of sweetness and lots of texture. Feta is usually over powering however in a foam form it was very subtle.
roasted sweet corn bouillon

G.B.E. Farms Heirloom Tomato Salad, basil gel, pickle okra, and aged parmesan. Tomatoes were quickly sous-vide to intensify the tomato flavor. My favourite part of this dish was the tomato chips, deep fried tomato skins that were crispy. I always thought tomato skins were tough but when you deep fry them they become delicately crispy.heirloom tomato salad

Skuna Bay sockeye Salmon, sweet garlic gnocchi and sorrel mushrooms. Skuna Bay is a local salmon farm known for their excellent farmed salmon standards. The salmon is sous- vide to medium rare and quickly seared. The sweet garlic is pureed and then added to the gnocchi dough. The sorrel mushrooms are naturally a little sour. This was my favourite dish of the night.sockeye salmon

Taleggio D.O.P with fig jam and pistachio tuile. The granola reminded me of breakfast. Taleggio is an Italian cheese, stinky with a brie like texture. However stinky it was the flavor was mild. Melted down, topped with toasted granola and fruits.
taleggio granola

I will be replicating this dish this weekend. The fig jam is the glue of this dish, you can’t skip this ingredient.

fig jam and crustini's

Watermelon panna cotta with black pepper and lemon sorbet. The panna cotta is made out of soy, I can imagine you scrunching up your face, however you can’t taste the soy. This was light and refreshing. I hope they keep this on their menu for the summer it is a perfect summer desert.watermelon panacotta

Finished with salted chocolate caramels and macarons
sweets

Thanks Chef Heinrich for another amazing meal.
Mosaic Bar & Grille on Urbanspoon

Edible Canada – Seasonal and Local Ingredients

Granville Island is one of my favourite neighborhoods in Vancouver. There is so much culture, travelers and of course fresh and local produce.

I can’t believe I haven’t written about Edible Canada, I’ve been there so many times! This may be slightly overdue but, I promise it will be good.

They have a little gourmet snack and spread section at the back of the store carrying an array of delicious candies, spreads and, more sweets. The layout reminds me of Manzo at Eately in New York

The patio wraps around from the front to the side. As much as I love patio’s be wary of sitting close to the flower beds during bug season. There was a huge clusters of flies, not so appetizing. I always ask for a table inside. I’ll tell you about the horrific bug experience at Minami’s patio another time. I must warn you, it was so disturbingly graphic that I downed two shots of vodka to make me forget and that is saying something, I’m not usually a shots kinda girl. No really, not lying, I can hear you skeptics.

Edible Canada features a mix of local seasonal produce and seafood.

I just love it when I snap pics and you catch people discreetly checking each other out. In her case she had bug eyes and a smirk, not so discreet. I wonder if she got the guy?

Started with Togarashi Rice cracker crusted wild albacore tuna, warm fingerling potatoes, peas, kale, wild mushrooms $15. This was refreshingly pleasant on the palette. The dish was simply flavored, which allowed the quality of the ingredients to come through. 4/5

Togarashi Rice cracker crusted wild albacore tuna
Togarashi Rice cracker crusted wild albacore tuna

Sloping Hills Pork Duo, Slik spice crusted grilled 8oz pork chop, braised pork belly, hot & sour vinaigrette $24. A huge dish, the braised pork belly was so tender and flavourful. The grilled pork chop was a little over cooked making the meat a chewy. 3.5/5

Sloping Hills Pork Duo
Sloping Hills Pork Duo

PEACE COUNTRY BRAISED LAMB PASTA, rigatoni, wild mushrooms, peas, sorrel. $22 Lamb pasta was yummy, our favourite dish of our meal. 4.5/5

PEACE COUNTRY BRAISED LAMB PASTA

PEACE COUNTRY BRAISED LAMB PASTA

KASU & BIRCH SYRUP SABLEFISH, fava beans, asparagus, peas, northern beans, Swiss chard $26. Sable fish was silky smooth. I would definitely re-order this dish 4/5

KASU & BIRCH SYRUP SABLEFISH
KASU & BIRCH SYRUP SABLEFISH

LOIS LAKE STEELHEAD SALMON local Dungeness Crab croquette, wild salmon caviar, smoked tomato vinaigrette. We ordered this because they had crab croquettes. Apparently, it was very delicious I didn’t even get a chance to try it. I did try the salmon, which was very fresh 3.5/5

LOIS LAKE STEELHEAD SALMON
LOIS LAKE STEELHEAD SALMON

I’ve been back a few times already and the food has been fairly consistent. The service was a slow, it took 10 minutes to get our water refills.

Edible Canada at the Market on Urbanspoon

Fable Kitchen – Top Chef Canada Runner Up Trevor Bird

Appies

Canned Tuna – preserved lemon, salt canned in-house  Fable Kitchen’s server rightly described it as “The best canned tuna you’ll ever eat” and, she’s right. It was bit on the heavier side but, the flavours were creative blended well together.

Canned Tuna

Chickpea fritters, pickled red onion, shoots, curry mayo. This was good but not the highlight 3/5

Spaghetti and meatball, Duck meat ball, tagliatelle, mushroom sauce in the middle. 5/5. I rarely give 5 ‘s but, this dish deserved it. I understand why they made this an appie instead of an entrée, it is very heavy. My friend remarked, if he could dunk his head in this  it’ll be the best thing EVER.

Spaghetti and meatball

Entrees

Duck Breast, scallion pierogi, fiddle heads, cauliflower. 4.5/5

Duck

Steak, an asian inspired sauce, ginger, black bean, soy sauce. 4/5
Steak

Potato Crusted Chicken and ratatouille. The crust had an interesting texture, reminded me of potato hasbrowns from McDonald’s. It’s not a bad thing just different. Chicken itself was tender. 4/5

potato wrapped chicken

Featured Entrée Slow cooked local salmon with Gnocchi, kale, leeks, spinach puree. The gnocchi was doughy and dense. The salmon was good, the dish other aside from the gnocchi was executed nicely. 3/5

Slow cooked local salmon

Desserts

Lemon Pot de Crème, lemon granita, gin foam. Holy cow this was soooo good. A nice refreshing end to our heavy meal. 4.5/5

Fable Lemon de pot cream

Peach Melba, sable. Sable which I apologize to my highschool French teacher translates to shortbread. Of course!! 2.5/5
Peach Melba

Fable Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Merchants Oyster Bar – Truffle Baked Oysters

Merchants Oyster Bar, a cozy new oyster bar on Commercial Drive, will seem familiar to some. That’s because it’s the sister restaurant of Cork in Fin in Gastown. Similar in concept and design, the menu is a bit different. From when I walked in to when I left, the service was warm and helpful.

Merchants Oyster Bar

Our server Doug was very knowledgeable, he knew exactly how our food was cooked to where it was sourced. I love that, we’ve all been to restaurants where servers weren’t sure of the ingredients in the dishes they were serving, embarrassing.

My main take away from my experience at Merchants Oyster Bar, was that their ingredients were fresh and every dish was prepared with care. Their dishes were simple and on the lighter side and, it suited me just fine.

Starting with raw oysters, of course we had to order oysters it’s an oyster bar. It was fresh and absolutely scrumptious. I love oysters of any kind, so I could be bias.

Raw oysters

Baked truffle oysters were amazing. My eyes actually rolled when I popped it into my mouth, I absolutely recommend the baked oysters. There are other styles, miso baked oysters was good but, the truffle was excellent.

Truffle baked oysters

Flat Iron Steak, butter poached with potatoes.

Flat Iron Steak

The cooking method was interesting, I forgot the term. They submerge the vacuum bagged steak in water in controlled temp water, ensuring that the meat is evenly cooked throughout. You can tell how evenly cooked it is by the edges of the steak and, how it is still pink to the very edge.

steak cooking method

Pomme Au Gratin, not as heavy as traditional French gratins but still creamy.

Pomme au gratin - potatoes

Bison Tartare, cornichon, homemade mustard, a simple flavored dish.

Pork belly with Provencal salad. I would have liked a bit more flavor to the pork belly. Overall this was a nice light dish. Usually I don’t associate pork belly with refreshing but with the combination of the light flavors from the salad this is a good summer dish.

Pork belly salad

Roasted Bone Marrow with parsley salad was delicious! I could eat this all day.

pork belly with salad

bone marrow

Overall, it was a generally nice experience. I would definitely go back again.

Merchant's Oyster Bar  on Urbanspoon

Tableau Bistro Loden Hotel – Old School Comfort

Tableau Bistro, located inside the Loden Hotel serves a locally inspired French menu.

I’m sorry, I haven’t been blogging for a while, I was dying of exhaustion. It took me 12 hours of sleep on Sunday to fully recover from a week-long binge of drinking, eating and debauchery. Vegas is not a relaxing vacation spot. ;I’ve been thinking of going on a cleanse but, seriously who was I kidding, how could a restaurant blogger go on a cleanse and still be able to blog??

Now, I’m back!

I’ve been going to Tableau a lot these past couple of weeks. I always, love coming here, if I ever wanted to relax in a comfortable and nice environment, Tableau is the first place to come to mind and, admittedly it’s one of the closest restaurants to where I live. To my friends outside of downtown…I’m sorry I made you trek all the way downtown but, aren’t you glad you did?

This is a good first date spot. If your date turns out to be a bore you would also have other first dates around you for entertainment.

The service was attentive and the food for the most part was delicious. There were a few dishes that were off but, generally they rated 4/5. Tableau makes one of the best TWENTIETH CENTURY cocktails in Vancouver gin, white chocolate syrup, lillet, lemon and, egg white.

Absolutely DELISH!

I recently went to Bottleneck on Granville, review to come, I ordered the same cocktail and they came back with some disgusting licorice mouthwash concoction. Arghhh gag I can still taste it.

So on to the food….

Lamb chops – we all loved this dish. Unfortunately, this is a seasonal dish and is no longer available on their summer menu. The meat was so packed with flavor and the smokiness really came through. 4/5.

Lamb chops
Lamb chops

Mushrooms on toast, I know, I was skeptical at first, it’s mushrooms on toast, how phenomenal could this be? Our server told us this was one of their popular appetizers so we decided to give it a try. ;I was pleasantly surprised, this was good! ; Expensive for what it is but, I’m a big fan of mushrooms and this is now one of my favourite dishes on the menu 4.5/5

Mushrooms on toast
Mushrooms on toast

French onion soup, crouton-less, the fragrant was amazing. This rich soup was so flavourful, after I finished the bowl, I was pretty much full.

French onion soup, crouton-less
French onion soup, crouton-less

Burger and fries – Gruyère cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato. I rate burgers by the quality of the patty and the condiments. The patty was juicy and the bun was toasted. Other than the Gruyère there wasn’t much that set this burger apart from every other burger. 3/5

Burger and fries
Burger and fries

Rabbit Dijionaise pan-fried, although it tasted like it was braised. The meat was a sopping mess. 2/5

Rabbit Dijionaise pan fried
Rabbit Dijionaise pan-fried

Beef tartare, the quality of the meat was superb. 4/5

Beef Tartare  with quail egg
Beef Tartare with quail egg

Gnocchi pan-fried was nice and buoyant, often gnocchi’s are doughy, this was perfect. 4/5

Gnocchi pan fried
Gnocchi pan-fried

Garganelli pasta with meatballs was simple and delicious. 4/5.

Garganelli pasta with meatballs
Garganelli pasta with meatballs

Steelhead trout with quinoa 3.5/5

Steelhead trout with
Steelhead trout with

Banana cake and peanut brittle and carmalized and chocolate ice-cream. They ran out of peanut brittle, and cake itself was hard and too dense. 2/5 I was looking forward to the peanut brittle too.

Banana cake with peanut brittle
Banana cake with peanut brittle

Coffee cheesecake, light in texture and also in flavor. 2.5/5

Tableau Bar Bistro on Urbanspoon

My Homage to Home Cooks Everywhere!

This post is dedicated to all the home cooks who continually feed our stomachs and warm our souls.

I have not cooked a meal for 2 months now, no I am not lazy. My fridge is empty except for the necessities, wine, pepperoni sticks and cherries.  Funny, I don’t think I’ve ever ate so well these past two months.  Luckily, I have friends who are passionate about cooking and love to entertain.  This post is a big THANK YOU to all the home cooks who generously share their meals to feed our stomachs and warm our souls.

I just love home cooked dinners, friends coming together to share fresh and delectable meals over great conversation.  The cook is always on hand to explain, where the food is sourced and, we “oohh” and “ahhh” over their pain-staking prep work.

A glimpse of into my home cooked culinary adventure:

Simon, he is best is known for his relentless quips, his love for cooking and, his 4 ft stack of empty Pilsner’s hanging out in the corner of his living room. He spent several painful hours shelling fresh peas for the pea puree.

Spot Prawn Salad with Cucumber Broth, Cilantro and Arugula.  We used the cucumber broth, cucumber juice and red wine gastrique to create delicious gin cocktails after dinner.

Herb-crusted Halibut with Pea Puree and Coriander Vinaigrette. This was so rich, check it out, the pea puree had tons of butter, peas, potato, mint, thyme, whipping cream and BACON.

Permanent resident ‘Nunzilla’ with sparks shooting out of her mouth.

Araxi Style home cooked dinner
Araxi Style home cooked dinner

Gio’s a financial piranha who was definitely a chef in his past life and Paul, whose resume resembles Madonna’s closet, big and only luxury designers.

My Tuesday’s dinner, saffron (real saffron, I’m spoiled), herb crusted game chicken with wine jus and an amazing pasta dish. I have no idea what was in it but, it was delicious and the pasta was cooked to perfection.

Italian home cooked dinner
Italian home cooked dinner

Norman, a chef with a flare with meats, whipped up a fabulous meal. The ribs were cooked in indirect heat for hours. It was so juicy and paired well with his homemade raspberry BBQ sauce, made from real berries.  His rub is legendary, now if only I cook I would request some.  It’s been a while since my last dinner at your place. I’m impatiently waiting for another invite.

BBQ home cooked meal
BBQ home cooked meal

Tai, a local chef specializes in Viet fusion.  Sigh…he’s back in Viet.  Cured meats, his famous chicken wings and, beautiful oysters.

Viet fusion home cooked meal
Viet fusion home cooked meal

Finally, just before Maho left back for Japan I was given a 101 Japanese cooking class.

Japanese Home cooked dinner
Japanese Home Cooked dinner