The #PopUpPatio at The Westin Grand is Back for Another Summer

Westin Grand Pop Up Patio 3

Above the bustling intersection of Homer and Robson is the sun-drenched poolside terrace of The Westin Grand, Vancouver. Once again this space has been transformed into the #PopUpPatio, a bustling rooftop patio lounge open Thursday and Friday evenings. Guests can unwind and refresh after a hard day of work in this relaxed atmosphere with soft seating, green gardens and live DJ music. Continue reading “The #PopUpPatio at The Westin Grand is Back for Another Summer”

Mancakes – Cupcakes Made For Men

chocolate wine cupcake
chocolate wine cupcake

I love a man that can cook and bake but they seem to be as rare as blackberry’s lineup of buyers. So instead, I happily turn to Mancakes, cupcakes with a distinctly manly twist, which doesn’t mean girls won’t enjoy it either.

Unique flavours that screams of Sunday football, buffalo wing cupcake with a swift kick, is what comes to mind. Cupcake was topped with hot sauce butter cream and crispy chicken sprinkles. There are 10 varieties to choose from including tequila pineapple, whiskey lime, and my ultimate favourite chocolate red wine.

You can purchase them individually at the store on Robson or buy them in a pack.

Mancakes - night pack
Mancakes – night pack

Day Pack – Buffalo Wing, Breakfast, Apple Brie, Pink Peppercorn Grapefruit, King Kong and Bacon Chili Chocolate.
Night Pack – Buffalo Wing, Breakfast, Rum & Coke, Whiskey Lime, Tequila Pineapple and Chocolate Red Wine

They also deliver, a man delivering boozy cupcakes to my door! Yes, please can I have some more!

ManCakes Bakery on Urbanspoon

JJ’s Restaurant – Best Lunch Deal

VCC culinary school is one of my favorite lunch spots and, definitely on my list of best lunch deals. It is delicious, cheap and usually booked up a week in advance. It took many attempts to get a table of 6. Apparently the buffet needs to be booked 2 months in advance. Yea, it’s that good.

What I love about culinary school’s or cooking schools is that they make everything from scratch, no processed shortcuts.

Appies…

Charred Vancouver Island Octopus, Chorizo and chick pea stew $4. A damn good deal! It was good and the portions were similar to Hawksworth entrée sizes.

charred Octopus

Roasted vegetable soup was hearty and healthy $2.50

Roasted vegetable soup

Salmon, prawn and scallion cake with Thai lemongrass sauce $4 had a nice layering of flavors.
Salmon cake

Entrees…

Scallops with truffled potato gnocchi and crispy artichokes $10. This creamy dish was very filing. My friend who can usually eat for 2 was full. I would have preferred if the gnocchi had more buoyancy, it was too soft.

scallops with truffled potato gnocchi

Slow cooked leg of lamb and pan roasted loin, rosemary jus $10. The meat was tender and flavourful. It’s $10 for lamb and loin!

Lamb leg and loin

I had to call attention to the sides, Cucumber and squash was pretty and delicious.

Cucumber & Squash

Related Lunch Deals:

Hawksworth at Georgia
Fairmont Hotel Waterfront – Herons
Joe Fortes


JJ's Restaurant (VCC) on Urbanspoon

Ensemble Restaurant – Featuring Canada Top Chef Contender

**update closed**

Ensemble Restaurant – Chef Dale McKay – Canada Top Chef Contender

Food Persuasion Level : [rating=3]
Value: [rating=3]
Service : [rating=4]
Ambiance: [rating=4]
Price: $$
Cuisine: Tapas West Coast
Location: Downtown, Vancouver
www.ensemblerestaurant.com

For the second day of Ensemble being opened this restaurant was busy. Every table was taken, luckily we made reservations.

The décor and layout remained pretty much the same as the previous restaurant Corner Suite Bistro.

All dishes are to be considered small plates and meant to be shared.  All dishes are under $20.

ensemble menu starter

Now the food…

We started with the sweet and sour eggplant stuffed with baba ganoush, yogurt and tomato -$7.50 My friend couldn’t stop craving about it. There was a teaser of mushroom and anise spread gave it a nice earthy licorice taste. We gave it a 4.5/5

sweet and sour eggplant
sweet and sour eggplant

Pulled pork sandwich, apple horseradish slaw, watermelon -$8.50. This was exactly what was written on the menu. I thought, “hey, watermelon that’s an interesting, how are they going to incorporate it in the sandwich. It was a freaking slice a watermelon on the side of the dish, like a garnish. The presentation was compared to a elementary school cafeteria This was disappointing, a 2/5. The sandwich itself was uninspiring and comparable to what we could have gotten from Re-Up (pulled pork sandwich food cart)

Pulled pork sandwich
Pulled pork sandwich

Five spice pork belly with cauliflower, pear and cashews – $13. It was a little sweet, probably due to the pear juices. The meat was tender and flavourful. Overall, this was a flavorful dish. 3/5

Five spice pork belly
Five spice pork belly

I really wanted to like this restaurant; they had a local heavyweight chef, Dale McKay, previous chef DB bistro and a Canada Top Chef Contender. They garnered a ton of hype and, generally prices are decent. The service was friendly and without pretension. Unfortunately, the dishes were a hit and miss, some we absolutely love others were average.

Ensemble on Urbanspoon

Japa Dog – Past it’s Prime?

Hot Dog stand Food Cart – Past it’s prime

Food Persuasion Level : [rating=3]
Value: [rating=2]
Service : [rating=3]
Ambiance: [rating= outside]
Price: $
Cuisine: Food Cart
Location: Downtown Vancouver, BC
Japa Dog

Japadog’s famous fries have been receiving so much hype, “it’s the best in Vancouver”, ” awwww it’s better than Mc’D’s”.  We decided to research the accuracy of these testimonials.

Japa Dog Menu
Japa Dog Menu

No complaints on the price $2.39  a container. It might have been due to the hype that raised my expectations to an unachievable standard but, what is the big deal with these famous fries? Kentucky Fried Chicken’s tastes better than this. Of course KFC’s fries are basked in chicken fat. mmmm… If you do end up ordering the fries, I recommend the wasabe mayo.

Japa Dog & Famous Fries
Japa Dog & Famous Fries

We ended up splitting the tonkatsu Dog-5.95. Hint of sweet plum sauce, as far as dogs go this was pretty decent. Now for the price at $6 a pop, it is expensive. That being said, it is an iconic Vancouver food cart, so you give it try.

Japadog (Robson Store) on Urbanspoon

O’Doul’s Restaurant & Bar – Where the Rib-eye’s are bigger than my head

Food Persuasion Level : [rating=4]
Value: [rating=2]
Service : [rating=3]
Ambiance: [rating=4]
Price: $$$
Cuisine: Hotel Restaurant and Bar
Location: Downtown Robson, Vancouver

www.odoulsrestaurant.com

Odoul’s Menu

For my little 2 year old neice’s birthday we decided onO’Doul’s Restaurant & Bar, part of Listel hotel with its rich and dark decor and live jazz music. We got seated in their private dining room.

Happy Birthday Paige-gu

IMG_1033
 

Now the food…

Amusebouche– strawberry jelly, Carpaccio. jelly not sweet. It was definitely creative, I could not decide whether I liked it or not, my buds were too confused.

IMG_1030
Dungeness Crab and Pacific Shrimp Cake – $14, pea shoots, celeriac and apple remoulade, mustard caper pure. We loved it; it had larger pieces of crab and shrimp.

Cortes Island Mussel & Frites – $13, Storm Scottish cream ale, tomatoes, leeks, shallots, pomme paille. This was disappointing, the texture of the mussels were rubbery, as if it was previously frozen. This was a full-fledged sodium attack, after a few bites it got bitter.

One of their most popular menu item, rack of lamb – $34, garlic and Dijon herb crust, potato and yam gratin, seasonal vegetables, natural lamb jus. Mustard rub great but, for that price I have had a lot better at a lower price.

IMG_1031

Dry-aged Certified Angus Bone-in Rib Eye -$39, roast Pemberton potatoes, shallot “marmalade”, seasonal vegetables, peppercorn sauce. This was huge! I had to share it with one other person and we still ended up taking ¾ of it home.

IMG_1032

Although I realize rib eye’s are quite marbled but, it was too fatty for my taste.

IMG_1035

Service…

Granted it was a large table and several dishes were ordered multiple times everyone’s left over got jumbled up. We had a hunch that would occur so luckily everyone did a quick switch. Overall the experience was pleasurable. Would I go back? Probably for the rib-eye which I would then split into 3. In comparison to other Hotel restaurants, Showcase at the Marriott Hotel, Prestons at Coast Coal Harbour Hotel, Griffin’s Restaurant at Fairmont Vancouver, Herons at Fairmont Waterfront and, finally the last of downtown Vancouver’s Fairmont’s, Lobby Lounge at Pacific Rim, this was one of the better options.

O'Doul's on Urbanspoon

Chau Kitchen and Bar – Traditional with a Modern Twist

Chau Kitchen and Bar – Traditional Vietnamese with a modern twist

Food Persuasion Level : [rating=3]
Value: [rating=3]
Service : [rating=4]
Ambiance: [rating=3]
Price: $$
Cuisine: Vietnamese Tapas Restaurant
Location: Downtown Vancouver, Robson St
Chau Kitchen and Bar

Chau Kitchen and Bar – Traditional Vietnamese dishes with a modern twist. If you ever have a hankering for Vietnamese food, which seems to be only a handful downtown Chau is your restaurant. The prices of the dishes are probably 10-15% more expensive than the usual traditional Vietnamese restaurants in East Vancouver. The portions are also smaller but, the plates are meant to be shared.

This is coincidentally my secret hangout for UFC fights. Their projection system is decent, picture and sound quality is passable. Of course, Chau will never have the rowdy atmosphere of a sports bar but, at least you’ll have a seat.

We started off with their paper rolls aka rice rolls in two varieties:

Black Cod & Mango with garlic-lemon sauce with nuoc cham sauce $3.50, the black cod was so small you could barely see taste it. Nem Pork & Mint with apple-lemon sauce $2.95, this was a bit too bland, either forgot to add the mint or the amount was so insignificant that my taste buds were unable to register it.

Paper Rolls - Chau
Paper Rolls - Chau

Crispy Pork & Prawn Wontons $5, were served hot and crispy.

Pork & Prawn Wontonw - Chau
Pork & Prawn Wontonw - Chau

Pacific Octopus – sautéed with grilled pineapple & onions $10, were slightly overdone which meant they were tougher. The pineapple added a hint of tang and a nice twist to  what otherwise be a very traditional and average

Lemongrass Chicken – vermicelli noodles & herbs $6, this was my fave dish in terms of taste and value. The chicken was juicy and tender, the vermecelli was a bit too undercooked for my tastes. All in all this dish was great with a lit of hers that added layers of flavour

Lemon Grass Chicken - Chau
Lemon Grass Chicken - Chau

Crispy Chicken Spring Rolls – lettuce & fresh herbs $10, came out steaming hot and were very crispy.

Crispy Spring Rolls- Chau
Crispy Spring Rolls- Chau

Coconut Pineapple Creme Brûlée, this was delish, with pieces of pineapple that added an interesting tang to it. The coconut was the highlight ingredient bringing a different texture and an exotic flavour to the dessert.

Coconut Pineapple Creme Brulee - Chau
Coconut Pineapple Creme Brulee - Chau

Chau Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon