Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bridges (February 2, 2006)

Two reviewers: ts and cw

At first we were wondering why we didn't get any butter. The bread still was tasty as it was flavoured with vinaigrette and topped with salt... AND it was warm!

8/10 (with butter, might be 9/10)

Micro Surf & Turf ~ grilled tenderloin, seared digby scallop & madeira cherry glaze
Baked Cambozola ~ cranberry onion relish, reduced balsamic

I chose the Micro Surf & Turf. And it was micro indeed! There was a piece of steak slightly larger than the scallop. It was a steak-scallop tower, presentation-wise. Kinda cute. Anyway, this dish was well-executed. Steak was tender, not tough. Ditto for the scallop. I'm not really a fan of that cooked cherry taste, but good thing the cherry glaze did not overpower the beef & scallop in any way. 8/10

I generally like scallops and steaks, so of course, I enjoyed this dish. My only complaint was that it was true to its name, MICRO! I only got 1 scallop placed on a cube of steak. The cherry sauce wasn't bad, but I'd rather have another scallop or two in its place. 8/10

Grilled Arctic Char
red thai curry butter, pineapple & cilantro salad, baby shrimp risotto cake
Pan Seared Free-range Chicken Breast
shiitake mushroom demi glaze, baby arugula & roasted red pepper barley risotto
Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni ~ macadamia nut pesto & roasted garlic tomato sauce

Char for me. All in all, this was pretty good too. The Red Thai Curry Butter tasted like the usual "thai" curry that abounds. Too bad there weren't that many pieces of pineapple in the salad. Cilantro, of course, is GOOD! ( =P ) Actually, there were only maybe 3-5 leaves of cilantro in the salad; mostly there was slightly wilted pea shoots (very young pea shoots, younger than the usual dou miao). Oh, by wilted, I mean on purpose. Those were *very* good. The risotto cake: the exterior was breaded and was crisp enough, but the interior was a bit mushy in texture. I'm not sure I could distinguish actual grains of rice. But it was OK. The arctic char was nicely grilled. Perfect criss-cross grill marks. =) It was also very nicely seasoned (every bite had flavor) and not "fishy." Very well-executed. 8.5/10 (or 9, if not for the mushy risotto cake)

I had the chicken. When the server put my plate on the table, I immediately thought of shake 'n bake. So guess what, on my first bite of the chicken skin, it DID taste like shake 'n bake. The chicken breast itself was cooked just right, and most importantly, it wasn't dry. The risotto was really good, and was a good pairing with the chicken breast. I really enjoyed the dish. The sauce was just enough to flavour the chicken and wasn't very overpowering. 8.5/10

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte ~ orange mousse & whipped cream
Baked New York Cheesecake ~ kirsch & morello cherry compote

Torte. Very dense, very hazelnutty. Good as well. I tasted the cheesecake and it was also good. Perhaps I was more in a cheesecake mood; I haven't had cheesecake in a while, and I could've used the slight tang in my dessert. 8/10

The dessert was really good until I noticed some fingerprints on the chocolate. A bit on the sweet side, but still good. 8/10

Really enjoyed the restaurant and its food. We had a window table, and from my seat, I had a great view of False Creek, the sailboats, and Burrard Bridge. This would be a fine choice for special occasions, as entrees on their regular menu start at $35 or something!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Savory Coast (February 7, 2006)

Two reviewers: ts and cw

Decided to forego the dessert, hence went a la carte!

Foccacia Bread w hummus

As they advertised the bread to be house-baked and such, I had high expectations. But, it wasn't warm, and it was too dense for focaccia. As far as foccacias go, the one at Bridges was REALLY good. (And the ones from Calabria Bakery too -- ie, the ones we get.) Yeah, disappointing, this. Also, the hummus was very bland. 5/10

Warm Goat Cheese Salad; baby greens, olive vinaigrette $9.00

Lo and behold, I ordered a salad! I figured baby greens will be green leafy vegetables I was familiar with. My first thoughts when the plate arrived.... "WOOO! The cheese is pungent!" and that not in a good sense. Nor did I expect my salad to look the way it did. The goat cheese looked more like thin piece of fried egg white. Anyhow, I mixed it up with the greens and ate it up, except for the purple leaves and the olive bits. I accidentally consumed an olive bit and that threw me off for a bit because I didn't enjoy, nor expected it. I was tricked into eating it, because it was hidden in the purple leaves whatever they were! 7/10

Crispy Deep Fried Whole Calamari w/ spicy tomato caper sauce $9.00

I was expecting this to be "crunchier", but it wasn't. Basically, instead of the battered exterior like in Greek calamari, this just some seasoned coating on it. The seasoning was quite nice, though. It had a kick to it too -- although I'm not sure if the squid itself had some heat, or if it was because of the "spicy tomato caper sauce." The squid's doneness: it was all right. I wasn't sure if I could detect a slight rubbery texture or not. But, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. All in all, not bad at all. And I liked the kick of it. 7.5/10

Mushroom Pizza
shiitake and oyster mushrooms, pesto, goats feta, fontina, spinach $15.00

I ordered this for the mushrooms, and didn't realize I'd be consuming even more goat cheese. Ah well, it was a thin crust pizza with a very crunchy crust. I've never had such a crunch pizza crust ever. It was like eating fried wonton wrapping or something like that but with a thicker texture!

However, the pizza itself wasn't bad. I liked the mushrooms, but the pizza itself reminded me of the pizzas from Earl's. Upon returning home, that's when I realized how thirsty I was... even though I had a couple glasses of iced water at the restaurant. 7.5/10

Grilled NY Striploin, mashed potatoes, asparagus, brandy peppercorn sauce $20.00

Mashed potatoes were TOO SALTY!! I managed to eat some of it, because the overseasoning of it was tolerable when eaten together with the beef. Steak: I haven't had steak in a long time, as previously mentioned. So this hit the spot in that sense. It was OK as well. Tasted like beef. =) But yeah, it was cooked to the doneness I asked for; not unnecessarily tough/well-done. The asparagus: there were only 3 stalks!!! =( Also, as the picture shows [picture no longer available], they were thin (overly peeled) and limpy. However, when tasted, they were actually quite good: firmness-wise, they weren't actually as "limp" as they looked. Also, they had a nice grilled aroma and flavor.

4/10 (coz c'mon, they really shouldn't be messing up ANY component in this dish)

Flourless Chocolate Truffle Cake $6.00

It was served with some pitiful-looking banana slices (not sure if they were caramelized), some whipped cream flavored with some liquor (eck), and caramel sauce. I scraped off the whipped cream, but no points off for that, coz I just don't like liquor-y stiff in general (w/ the alcohol not being cooked out). The cake wasn't bad; it was "OK." I mean, no real comments about it. 4/10

[cw did not order dessert.]


I didn't like the table very much because half of my view was of the wall and the other half was of Robson street. The restaurant itself wasn't very special, just dark and Mediterranean looking. 5/10

In theory, the space should actually be quite nice, but I don't get that feeling at all. And I can't really pinpoint what is wrong with the space. I think that perhaps it's the "bad luck vibe" it's giving out. To explain, this space was formerly Settebello. cawong & I actually went to dine-out at Settebello last year -- and the results were disappointing. In this instance, there was a whiff of the same sort of "disappointment" or even "loser" essence in the air. I think the next owner of this place (hmm, am I saying that there will probably be a new place to replace this one? Maybe.) should RENOVATE and just change the appearance of the space.

Also, the restaurant was actually quite large and spacious, and more or less had high ceilings too. But for some reason, they chose to pack the table really tightly! There were only a few tables what were occupied, but our table was so cramped! Why not just add more breathing room around each table?



The guy came by a couple times when we didn't need him, and wasn't around when we actually needed him. So, in conclusion, he didn't really do much beyond expectations. 6.5/10

No real comments. OK, I guess. Although, the space being large, the waiters were congregated on the farther end of the restaurant (to give diners some space, I guess), and therefore, unless they were looking specifically in our direction, they would have no way to know if we wanted some service from them. But, I was never wanting for water! Woohoo. 6/10


I'm not sure if the $35 dine-out menu would have been worth it. I'm glad I opted out and was dessert-free. The other restaurants offered more value for the $$. 6.5/10

Yeah, there's something off about the restaurant that I can't put a finger on. Somehow it kind of dampens the mood. But maybe that's just me. 3/10

Would you recommend this restaurant?
[cw] Not really.
[ts] No.

Would you return to this restaurant?
[cw] Probably not.
[ts] No. There are LOTS and LOTS of other restaurants in Vancouver!

Oh, attached are the three pictures taken w my cell phone. cawong told me I should take pictures, as per Jojo's numerous reminders. Since we had no camera, the cell phone had to do. As you can see, these are THE MOST PITIFUL AND SORRIEST PICTURES **EVER**!!!! They look like those hidden camera pictures -- which make it seem like we're trying to capture a picture of something "bad" or "illegal" or something. Enjoy! haha.

[pictures no longer available]

Raincity Grill (February 6, 2006)

Dine-Out Menu $35.00

Good for them for trying to do something a little different w the usual bread. The naan was all right, although it tasted a bit too flour-y. Also, perhaps because of the "flour-y" taste, they tasted a bit "bland" (pakla), and needed some salt. But then, the salt wouldn't really stick to the naan because there was no moisture on them. A plus, though: warm!!! 6.5/10

manilla clam & minted wheat salad, eggplant, cold pressed canola oil, yogurt

They spelled "manila" wrong. Anyway, I assumed that the items would remain the same as the menu posted online (which is what I'm copying & pasting for each food item), but they weren't! In reality, I believe it was something like this:

Grilled Albacore Tuna w/ (some sort of radish? or something else "salad") and something-dumplings in dashi/konbu broth

Presentation: The 2 pieces of dumplings were fried first, and then put into the broth. The broth/dumplings was in a separate small bowl, but on the same rectangular plate as the rest of the items. The tuna was grilled on the outside only (ie, rare), and rested on the "radish?" salad.

The dumplings were not bad, I guess. But I'm not really a dumpling person. The broth wasn't bad either. It was "earthy" tasting, actually, instead of seafood-tasting. So perhaps there was no bonito flakes in their version of dashi? Or maybe it was something else completely that they just called dashi. In any case, it wasn't objectionable or anything. Am not too big a fan of such "earthy" flavors, though.

The tuna was quite nice. I mean, it's tuna. I know it's the fashion to have it rare, but I would've preferred it to be cooked a little more because 1) the texture would've been firmer, as opposed to mushy, and 2) the tuna taste/flavor would've been stronger as well. I could really taste the nice tuna flavor on the outside grilled surfaces.

The "radish" salad: Basically there was a white one and red one; each "radish" was cut into thin strips (like angel hair pasta in appearance). They didn't really have that much flavor at all, but served as temperature and texture contrast (since they provided a little crunch). Also, I must reiterate, I don't know what they were! They didn't have a radish flavor at all, but radish seems to be the most likely candidate.

All in all, this was a pleasant enough dish. Although it may seem like I have a lot of "issues" with the dish from the comments above, I don't really have any complaints. I guess I'm not sure of all the elements go together well (ie, dumplings and broth accompanying the tuna). But then, when I eat, I usually take separate elements and combine them anyway. So it wasn't "weird" for me in this instance.

TUNA: 8/10

apricot brasied duck leg, garlic kale, turnip cake

Hmm, I think in this case the above was what actually came to the table. My comment: I should've gotten the beef instead!! I was trying to remember when the last time I had beef was. But then I thought, beef is common enough, so I should opt for duck, which one doesn't really find in normal places (ie, "casual" dining, or to buy and cook at home). Mistake.

Duck Breast: There were 3 small slices of duck breast. I asked for medium rare, but those 3 pieces were not. I think maybe medium well, their doneness was. Because of the well-doneness, the meat was very "game-y" tasting. Also, the skin wasn't crispy at all!

Duck Leg: Ugh!! I must say, "yuck"!!! I really hate this specific duck taste: the gamey-ness was strong! Basically it tasted like a Chinese dish where it seems the duck is boiled in soup. As Maria commented, it tasted like "leftover duck meat from those Chinese soups." So, not pleasant. I didn't finish the duck leg. And oh, as a note, I kept looking for the apricot flavor, but failed to find it. Maybe it's just me with my aversion to this specific duck taste, but, yeah, yuck! I have a feeling that maybe other people won't find it "yucky" like I did.

Garlic Kale / Turnip Cake: These 2 were good! I didn't know what the turnip cake was (again, I disregarded the menu altogether since I was counting on the online menu), but I knew it was good! =) I didn't expect it to taste this way, though. This "cake" basically had the texture/consistency of creme caramel, and the top even looked like the top of creme caramel. Also, the cake was slightly sweet. Very good. The garlic kale was great! It wasn't over-done at all. I really like the texture of it. These 2 elements actually saved the dish for me. Without them, the entire dish would've been a complete disaster.

(3 because of the kale and turnip cake. They by themselves would've actually warranted a higher rating -- perhaps 8/10 -- but then, this *is* a DUCK dish.)

whipped crème fraiche, fig caramel

Excellent! The chocolate part was actually a chocolate pate. The "hazelnut" part of the terrine was something so familiar -- I've tasted it before but I don't know what it's called! Anyway, it was very good too. The creme fraiche was nice; there was a tuile served with the dessert; the figs (sort of like stewed figs) were good too. Nothing was too sweet (well, maybe the figs, a little, but then, they *are* called "figs caramel"). Actually, usually am never impressed with desserts. In this case, however, the dessert was noticeably "good." So, good. Good end. 9/10
No complaints. I only saw the little corner in which we were situated, though.
Didn't even get to check the "facilities", hehe. =D We were at the corner window,

Rating: 8.5/10
Again, no complaints. But then again, I'm so low-maintenance. =D Water was refilled constantly (I was never wanting), so that's good enough for me! Oh, the food came in a timely manner as well.

Rating: 9/10 (not 10 coz I didn't really ask for much "service.")

Besides the "yucky" duck, everything went smoothly at Raincity Grill. So I guess the total experience was a positive one overall.

Rating: 8/10

Would you recommend this restaurant? (y/n) Yes

Would you return to this restaurant? (y/n) Yes. I would want to try the rest of the items in their regular menu. Although, I guess I'm not dying to go back right away.

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