downtown

Italian Kitchen by Glowbal Group Fall Menu by Jenn Chan

Italian Kitchen by Glowbal Group

 

There's no little old Italian lady in the back of this restaurant!

It's not that grandma's recipes aren't delicious and comforting, but they have a time and place and a trendy dinner on Alberni Street is neither of those things.  The stylish setting starts right from when you walk in the double glass doors and the hostess offers to take your coat.

The dim lighting is modern and a creates a romantic balance amongst the greys and metallics found in the remaining decor.  It's the perfect setting for an intimate date or birthday dinner with a group of friends.

Travel upstairs and you're transported to a slightly brighter setting with red walls and a central bar.  Great for business meetings or dinner with the folks.

Our meal started early on a Wednesday night to accommodate my newly adopted older lifestyle.  We sat near the floor to ceiling windows on the second floor where we could view neighbouring restaurants and the now famous Alberni Street and it's must see clientele.

First things first, you don't go for Italian food and get out of there without having a bomb ass red wine, which is exactly where we started.  We shared more than a few glasses of the Campofiorin (the 50 year celebration bottle) as recommended by our lovely waitress.   I've been a red wino for a while now and it's always nice to find a good bottle, with a fresh palette, and a fair price tag to boot!

Our first course was a delicious arancini with a spicy sauce.  The amuse bouche was amousing.  If you aren't interested in puns I'll do my best to keep them to a minimum but can't make any promises.

 

Amuse Bouche - Deep Fried Risotto Ball

Amuse Bouche - Deep Fried Risotto Ball

Masi Campofiorin

Masi Campofiorin

Masi Campofiorin

 

Round 2 of 4 was carpaccio.   The complexity of flavours created a depth you don't anticipate from/thinly shaved beef.  In my view the unique aspect of this dish was escalated with the crispy polenta,  pickled onions, and Dijon sauce that accompanied some more standard elements of a good carpaccio.  The true star of this dish was its ingenuity, too often carpaccio is served with day old crostini's which leaves a desire for creativity at the beginning of your evening.  Polenta with carpaccio!  It doesn't matter how fleet your resident Italian grandmother is, the only way she's serving your carpaccio with crispy fried Polenta is if the polenta's taking up space in her fridge.

 

Beef Carpaccio

Beef Carpaccio

Beef Carpaccio

 

Round 3.  We shared two mains the Wild Salmon and a Truffled Spaghetti & Signature Meatballs.  Did I mention the truffles?  Not just truffle oil, but real, fresh shaved truffles!!!  Topped of course with fresh shaved parmesan.  Have you ever gone to a restaurant and had your waitress ask you to "say when" while referring to fresh Parmesan?  On this occasion we definitely pushed the limit!  Cheese like snow on top of our perfectly cooked pasta.  Typically meatballs aren't my go to but these had such flavour and played perfectly with the marinara that I would definitely order it again.

I don't want to leave the salmon as second place because it deserves better than that.  Served with crispy skin and accompanied by golden beats, grilled onions, and olives with a agrodolce (Italian sweet and sour) sauce. The salmon skin was perfectly executed and not oily, the onions were sweet and tasteful but not overbearing.   You wouldn't think by glancing at the menu that this would be a full entree but it holds true.  The portion of fish was sizeable and at the end of the shared two entrees we were full (even took some to go).

 

Truffle Spaghetti & Signature Meatballs | truffle cream, herbed ricotta

Truffle Spaghetti & Signature Meatballs | truffle cream, herbed ricotta

Truffle Spaghetti with Meatballs
Wild Salmon | grilled onions, olives, golden beet, agrodolce, salmon caviar

Wild Salmon | grilled onions, olives, golden beet, agrodolce, salmon caviar

Wild Salmon

 

Dessert!  Even on a bad day dessert has an opportunity to steal the show.  Perhaps it's just the kid in us knowing that we shouldn't indulge but that no one can stop us.  I'm happy no one stopped us this night and even happier that we didn't pick the dessert ourselves.  Selected for us by Freddie the restaurant manager was the Zeppole - homemade chocolate ganache filled "mini" doughnuts.  The not so miniature doughnuts were a delight to all of our senses.  They looked and smelt so good the table next to us ordered theirs before we even tasted ours.  The taste and fun of cutting open a powdered doughnut filled with rich chocolate ganache was far better than any cheesecake in town...I'm willing to run the comparison.

 

Zeppole al Cioccolato | italian style doughnuts, chocolate gianduja, vanilla crème anglaise

Zeppole al Cioccolato | italian style doughnuts, chocolate gianduja, vanilla crème anglaise

 

Whether you're looking for a dinner, business lunch, or a fun night our with friends Italian Kitchen has got you covered.  It's upscale dining in a price range that means you can celebrate life's little moments and still afford to pay rent.  I recommend a reservation and if you're going with a big group inquire about the platters.  If you decide to follow my recommendations and order the Zeppole for dessert make sure you get an extra seat because I may just show up to share it!
 

 

 

 
Words: Amanda Scott
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Holy Crab! by Jenn Chan

Holy Crab Robson
HolyCrab Code & Selfie Sticks

HolyCrab Code & Selfie Sticks

HolyCrab Code & Selfie Sticks

HolyCrab Code & Selfie Sticks

As you walk into Holy Crab's bright, modern space you're struck by the casual atmosphere not usually associated with their high end fare. Crabs and clams and mussels and lobsters dot the tables as bibs and gloves adorn the smiling guests. Whimsical how-to videos play on a loop on the tv's around the dining room and comical instruction guides 15 feet high dominate the back wall, we're in for some fun!

The Holy Crab
The Holy Crab Drink Menu

The Holy Crab Drink Menu

The Holy Crab Menu

The Holy Crab Menu

 

Our lovely server Crystal was keen to introduce herself and get our culinary adventure started. Evelyn, the manager, was similarly eager to make our acquaintance and, uncharacteristically of us, we let her order our entire meal! Minus the Hurricane IPA I requested, which was delicious, and the Stawberry Pom Mojito Crystal suggested for Jenn; both delicious! Seconds after our drinks arrived the surprises started to come as well. Seafood Chowder, amazing, and Seafood Bisque were first up followed quickly by Deep Fried Frog Legs and Crispy Soft Shell Crab. The chowder has a slightly sweet broth and was packed with seafood and potato; delicious! The bisque has a nice, light broth with a distinct, fresh flavour.

 

Strawberry Pom Mojito

Strawberry Pom Mojito

Ready to get Messy!

Ready to get Messy!

Seafood Bisque & Seafood Chowder

Seafood Bisque & Seafood Chowder

Frog legs are good, they just are! Caked in an incredible Cajun spice these were the best I have ever had! Go now, we'll wait. Good, right? I've yet to ever have a bad soft shell crab. If you haven't tried them you owe it to yourself. There's no messy de-shelling, not that, that isn't super fun anyway, but you simply grab and munch.

 

Deep Fried Frog Legs

Deep Fried Frog Legs

Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab

Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab

 

 

Speaking of the fun of de-shelling crustaceans... Just as I pop a wonderful soft shell crab into my mouth out swaggers Crystal with the main event; a 2.4 LBs Dungeness crab which looked like he probably gave the fishermen trying to reel his crab pot in a fight. Sturdy. The young man was sturdy. As food bloggers we enjoy, and greatly appreciate, certain perks. Our favourite on this night was the opportunity to try all six of Holy Crab's sauces. Generally you'll make a decision and your prehistoric sea creature will be covered in one of their highly doggy-baggable sauces, but we were lucky enough to get a six pack and an explanation of each. I like it hot. Hot, hot, hot. So I tended, when not opting for the tried and true melted butter original, to hover around the super spicy sauce. When Jenn wasn't looking I tried to swap it around for the medium spice, but she eyed the colour difference and my prank, sadly, did not succeed. That failure aside the crab was amongst the best is ever tried. Fresh, well coloured and meaty! I highly recommend Holy Crab if the usual snottiness of high end seafood restaurants draw your ire or if you don't think your kids could behave long enough in one for you to finish. It's a modern, upscale test casual seafood experience and one the whole family can enjoy. Tell Evelyn that Jenn Chan Media sent you and you'll be glad we did!

 

Dungeness Crab

Dungeness Crab

Dungeness Crab, Shrimps, variety of sauces, Nugget Potatoes, Corn, Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab, Deep Fried Frog Legs & Lobster Bisque

Dungeness Crab, Shrimps, variety of sauces, Nugget Potatoes, Corn, Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab, Deep Fried Frog Legs & Lobster Bisque

Prawn-sized Shrimp

Prawn-sized Shrimp

How To Open a Crab

How To Open a Crab

How To Open a Crab
How To Open a Crab
How To Open a Crab
How To Open a Crab
The Holy Crab
 
 

Fusion Restaurants in Vancouver: Ebisu by Jenn Chan

Ebisu Exterior

 

When you walk into an Indian restaurant it's a good sign when there are tables upon tables of Indian families hunkering down over plates of simmering tika masala and ripping into fresh naan bread. It's no different in pho joints where Nguyen's and Ngo's slurp happily on big, steamy bowls or taquerias where most customers are obscured by large sombreros. Okay that last one not so much because Mexicans wouldn't be caught dead in gaudy tourist souvenirs, but you get what I mean. At Ebisu on Robson the Japanese have found their spot and staked their claim. It's a good sign, trust me!

 

Ebisu Interior

 

Our night started off, as good nights do, with a couple of cocktails: the DragonBall and Summer Dream. The former being a sake, mango passion Alize, peach Schnapps, Calpis and soda creation that takes the subtle bubble from the soda and melds it with the sweetness of the Schnapps and tartness of the sake perfectly. The latter a mixture of watermelon liqueur, peach Schnapps, Citron Vodka and tropical fruit punch mix... Yes, as good as it sounds! Not out of place in an upscale Japanese fusion hot spot or a Hawaiian beach.

 

Dragonball Cocktail & Summer Dream

Dragonball Cocktail & Summer Dream

 

All of a sudden out pops Yohei, our gracious host and Ebisu's manager, with the Supreme Sashimi Salad. Salmon, tuna, Ebi, hamachi and clam on a small mountain of organic greens with a rich, creamy dressing. Absolutely lovely. It was followed quickly by the Salmon Carpaccio which was a nice Atlantic salmon marinated in sou olive oil and topped with citrus white wine mayo and garlic chips. Top ten mayos of my life!  The salmon was tender, like pudding tender, and it had a nice lemon kick from the mayo. All in all a very, very good Carpaccio!

 

Supreme Sashimi Salad

Supreme Sashimi Salad

Supreme Sashimi Salad
Salmon Carpaccio

Salmon Carpaccio

 

A second course means a second cocktail and I went with the Angel: Blueberry Stoli, Cointreau, lemon lime mix and blueberry juice. The martini kick one would expect with very balanced flavours, very good! Just as I took a second sip out came the Hamachi Inferno and Cherry Blossom. The inferno, named for the at-table torching it receives I'd wager, is a Japanese Amberjack served aburi style on a brick of rice. The torching melts the mayo that covers it into a sticky, flavourful shellac. The Cherry Blossom is Red Ahi Bigeye Tuna layered with Japanese caviar, and has mango, avocado, sesame and poached prawns. The dish of the night! Topped off with wakame salad and ikura it is a a different taste per chew. The sweetness of the mango and avacado are tempered each time an ikura pops and the caviar compliments the elegant fish in a perfect way! Add to the mix Ebisu's famous Beef Short Ribs marinated in a "Korean influenced" BBQ with its cute, mini BBQ grill and the meal was a home run, a touchdown, a gooooaaaallll!

 

The Angel

The Angel

Hamachi Inferno

Hamachi Inferno

Cherry Blossom Roll

Cherry Blossom Roll

Beef Short Ribs

Beef Short Ribs

Beef Short Ribs

 

But we're not done! Out comes a Japanese crèpe that could have been a meal itself, football sized. A freshly made, near paper thing, light pastry enveloping a cache of fresh strawberries and delicious strawberry ice cream. Come on! Top it off with home made whipped cream on top and a drizzle of strawberry sauce and I will come back just for this dessert. I promise you that! Not knowing my choice could have fed a table of six Jenn ordered the Monkey Magic. Deep fried bananas, sweet red bean, a scoop of mango ice cream and a scoop of green tea ice cream drizzled with chocolate. Jenn was so enamoured with it that she went full Mary Poppins when describing the dish: "deep friend ban-o-na". She spat out a little bit of it in a fit of laughter, I laughed, other tables gawked. We win! In all the dining experience at Ebisu on Robson is near perfect. Excellent ambience, colourful, calm yet vibrant, and exceptional food. There will be something on the menu for everyone and you'll be glad you listened to us!

 

Japanese Style Crepe - Strawberry

Japanese Style Crepe - Strawberry

Monkey Magic with Matcha & Mango Ice cream

Monkey Magic with Matcha & Mango Ice cream

IMG_7939.jpg
 

Valentine's Day Menu: Notch8 at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver by Jenn Chan

Notch8 Valentine's Day Menu

Notch8 Valentine's Day Menu

 

Our server Kristina was a gem! Colloquial, but with a sophisticated edge and endless kindness. She suggested a couple of cocktails for us. JC had the Bubbles and Berries: Finlandia Vodka, fresh raspberries, fresh lemon, Sumac Ridge Sparkling White Wine. Champagne based cocktails are a crap shoot. Generally they'll mask the offensiveness of the $5 bottle of champagne with fruits and syrups and what-have-you, but Notch8 does things right and the result was a delicious, well balanced concoction. I had the Lilloet Daisy Zubrówka: fresh lemon, blueberry syrup and elderflower liqueur served in a tiki mug. It was sweet and absolutely delicious, elderflower is my bae!

 

Bubbles & Berries Cocktail

Bubbles & Berries Cocktail

The Lillooet Daisy Cocktail

The Lillooet Daisy Cocktail

 

The long weekend is owing to BC's newest statutory holiday, Family Day which, to my mind, will be Premier Christy Clark's only positive legacy. You'd be hard pressed to find anything else nice to say about her tenure. From being the only BC Premier to lose her own riding to her trying to sell the rights to mine our natural gas resources to foreign interests... you get the idea, I'm not a fan, but for letting us turn up on a Sunday we salute you. I guess.

 

The first course was called Roses by the Sea and for good reason. Rose poached shellfish, caviar, rose petal creme fraîche, green apples, rosewater mist. I had to stop Jenn a few times to alert her to the deliciousness of the bite I'd just had. Crab meat with caviar, shrimp with green apple or scallop with rose petal crème fraîche... that wasn't even all the incredible combinations in this one dish!? Amuse bouche... This was only the amuse bouche!? Right then I knew we were in for a good night! It was paired, quite elegantly, with a Kanazawa Sakura rosé. Strawberry notes dominate, but in a good way, not in a 14 year-old's first $5 strawberry wine kind of way.

 

Roses by the Sea + Kanazawa Sakura Rosé

Roses by the Sea + Kanazawa Sakura Rosé

Roses by the Sea - rosé poached shellfish, caviar, rose petal crème fraîche, green apples, rosewater mist

Roses by the Sea - rosé poached shellfish, caviar, rose petal crème fraîche, green apples, rosewater mist

 

 

Stop it Chef Will! Just stop. We came to Notch8 a few weeks ago to highlight their Dine Out Vancouver 2017 menu and Chef Will wowed us with his presentation; a frozen pond inspired oyster dish. Today he came out again, thanked us profusely for our previous post, and presented us with a 62 degree egg, beef tartare, uni and sea buck thorn gelee all served in a glass, smoked-filled globe. Stop it Will! It came with nori chips, they themselves would have been absolutely incredible in their own, and the tartare was hands down, no question, the best I've ever had! The egg, once pierced, oozed into the raw beef and formed a cacophony of savoury flavours. I mouthgasmed.


Chef Will Special

Chef Will Special

Chef Will Special
Chef Will Special
Chef Will Special

 

 

Reeling from first two dishes Chef Will brought out Notch's Savory Tart: foie gras, duck confit, sous vide quail egg, candied hazelnut and brandy apricot compote. This is not the slimy, bitter liver I was forced to sit at the table, as a young boy, until I ate it all. This is foie gras, fat liver. I know that translation isn't going to inspire a ton of food lust, but paired with a Meyer Family Pinot the two combined perfectly not unlike the Sedin twins or peanut butter and jelly or oxygen and human life. I would gladly choose to eat nothing else for the rest of my life regardless of the nutritional value. That's all I have to say, go get some!

 

Savoury Tart + Meyer Family Pinot

Savoury Tart + Meyer Family Pinot

Savoury Tart - foie gras, duck confit, sous vide quail egg, candied hazelnut, brandy apricot compote

Savoury Tart - foie gras, duck confit, sous vide quail egg, candied hazelnut, brandy apricot compote

 

To Share and to Savor: dry aged beef strip loin, cognac jus, black truffle, gold leaf butter and marrow roasted potatoes. Jenn called it the "best steak I've ever had". An inch thick, aged striploin bloody as can be and as delicious as any striploin I've ever had! I'll acquiesce to the fact that the mashed potatoes were definitely top five of my life. Bone marrow anything is delicious and this was the first time that flavour had been infused into mashed potatoes and it was triumphant!! This platter itself would have been enough for 3-4 people. The fact that it's just one of many dishes on this Valentine's Day menu at Notch8 shows the caliber of cuisine they're determined to push out. As previously mentioned we attended Notch for Dine Out. Unequivocally it was our favourite of the Dine Out festival and it will be a go-to for the rest of our lives. It's simply that good!

 

To Share and to Savour - dry aged beef striploin, cognac jus, black truffle, gold leaf, butter, marrow roasted roots

To Share and to Savour - dry aged beef striploin, cognac jus, black truffle, gold leaf, butter, marrow roasted roots

To Share and to Savour

 

And now to discuss the Chocolate Cave. About halfway into the grand ballroom that is Notch8 you smell it... it's not what the Rock is cooking it's chocolate. Maybe someone ordered something at a table nearby I thought. NO. It's an entire room at the back of the restaurant where the walls and every offering is chocolate. CHOCOLATE! I had to waddle down the steps due to over consumption, but there was still room for a chocolate chip cookie, red velvet cake, banana flambé, chocolate peanut brittle and truffles... omg you get it, they rolled us home! Luckily we live a 2 minute walk and no dogs had desecrated  the sidewalk so we arrived at our condo clean and satisfied. When I lay in my bed I'm blessed to enjoy a beautiful view of Hotel Vancouver's stunning architecture and knowing Notch is contained within those walls makes me smile. And hungry, it also makes me hungry! Do yourself a favour and pay them a visit!

 

The Chocolate Cave

The Chocolate Cave

The Chocolate Cave
The Chocolate Cave
The Chocolate Cave
The Chocolate Cave
 
 

Dine Out Vancouver 2017: CIBO Trattoria by Jenn Chan

CIBO Trattoria

 

A cozy, yet opulent atmosphere. Large, reclaimed wood beams line 2 walls supporting bottles and magnums of wines to get the imagination running. The floors are all original from 1908 and an exposed brick wall beckons from one side draped in an incredible 10 by 12 foot painting featuring a woman covered with various geometric shapes. Against the fourth wall a large gas fireplace, a gigantic mirror, that looks like it weighs 1,000 pounds, and a huge glass wine cabinet. We were warmly greeted by manager Mark and bubbly server Terri. Terri is a service veteran and it showed immediately in her kind manner and extensive knowledge of Cibo's offerings. She recommended for Jenn their Fallen Angel cocktail, Cutty Sark 'Prohibition' Whiskey, Falernum, Lemon & Denman Bitters. I decided to warm up with a glass of Domaine de Vedilhan Viognier, which was the pairing for the first course. It has a lovely note and is smooth and not too sweet, a credit to France! Mark popped out with some fresh baked, in-house daily, focaccia with a golden brown crust and it was very good and just what we needed to cure our incredible hunger.

 

Have you ever thought someone was staring at you, but weren't sure? My peripheral vision is, thankfully, incredible. It's one of the main advantages I have that helped propel me to Team Canada for ball hockey in 2000. Our gold medal in the 2000 World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic is a story for another time, but the affable Spanish couple, on their honeymoon, at the table next to us is today's yarn. Jenn kicked me and flashed her phone which was open to a picture of Adam Rodriguez from CSI Miami. Give it a google, they're doppelgängers! The couple was very sweet, but spoke next to no English. They were able to mime that they went to Whistler for skiing. We suggested Cypress Mountain only "trente minuta" from where we sat. I'm 50% sure they understand what I said. We tried to Google translate the menu for them, but they ordered before we could and we spent the rest of the meal miming and asking if their dish was "bueno?" The answer was always an enthusiastic nod!

 

 

Domaine de Vedihan Viognier & Fallen Angel

Domaine de Vedihan Viognier & Fallen Angel

 

The Cibo Trattoria offers a very nice menu for their 2017 Dine Out Vancouver. To start I ordered the Bolito Misto, a cold terrine of short rib and Cornish hen in aspic, mostarda and salsa verde. You know when you have a great meal and aren't able to finish it? You take it out of the fridge the next morning and maybe you're too eager to wait for a microwave or fearful what the radiation might do it. So you eat it right out of the container, over the sink, sometimes with your hands? No? Only me? Okay well this dish, served cold, is reminiscent of those delicious, sloppy fistfuls. The Cornish hen was succulent and the braised beef a hearty cut of grade A meat. The salsa verde was the perfect compliment and Jenn and I thoroughly enjoyed this dish! Jenn ordered the Mixed Chicory Lettuce, delicata squash, pumpkin seeds, Parmigiano-Reggiano and a very lovely, house made lemon vinaigrette. Chicory is widely eaten as a sleep aid.... zzzzzzzz... kidding, I'm awake! The tart yet sweet lemon vinaigrette envelopes everything and tricks you into thinking the slices of squash are sweet little chunks of lemon. Jenn said she "felt healthier after eating it." I only had a few bites so we'll take her word for it.
 

 

Bolito Misto - cold terrine of short rib and Cornish hen in aspic, mostarda, salsa verde

Bolito Misto - cold terrine of short rib and Cornish hen in aspic, mostarda, salsa verde

Mixed Chicory Lettuce - delicata square, pumpkin seeds, Parmigiano-Reggiano, lemon vinaigrette

Mixed Chicory Lettuce - delicata square, pumpkin seeds, Parmigiano-Reggiano, lemon vinaigrette

 

For entrées we ordered the Red Wine Braised Beef ‘Delmonico’ and Pan-seared Branzino. The beef spent a luxurious 4 hours braising in its red wine jacuzzi! It was served with polenta, roasted romanesco and parmesan and no knife is necessary. It jumps off the bone. It even seemed to crumble a bit when I glanced at it and it certainly came apart when the fork grazed it. The meat was flavourful and mixing the au jus with the palenta and a bite of the romanesco is amazing! Romanesco are Brussels sprouts cousin, but tastier. Roasted to perfection! I got to try one and then JC stole the rest. I managed to keep my fingers though, that's a win! Cibo paired their entrées with the Luccarelli Negroamaro and it was very nice; fruit forward, earthy and paired very nicely. The Pan-seared Branzino came with purple cauliflower, fagioli purée, roasted garlic chips and pickled fennel. The fish was crispy, well browned and deliciously flavourful. Jenn "doesn't eat the skin but it goes perfectly well with the meat". The fish probably thought they worked well together as well...


 

Red Wine Braised Beef 'Delmonico' paired with Luccarelli Negroamaro - polenta, roasted romanesco, parmesan

Red Wine Braised Beef 'Delmonico' paired with Luccarelli Negroamaro - polenta, roasted romanesco, parmesan

Pan-seared Branzino paired with Tolloy Pinot Grigio - purple cauliflower, fagioli purée, roasted garlic chips, pickled fennel

Pan-seared Branzino paired with Tolloy Pinot Grigio - purple cauliflower, fagioli purée, roasted garlic chips, pickled fennel

 

By this time we were feeling satisfied and this would have been one of those times when you politely decline a dessert menu and request your cheque, but this is Dine Out! Out came my Flourless Chocolate Cake and Jenn's Affogato, vanilla gelato and espresso, each served with a delicious 10 year old Tawny Port. The cake came with pickled berries and house-made mascarpone and was amazing! The Affogato was like a strong cup of coffee with a vanilla ice cream accompaniment and not vice versa. It was a very refreshing and invigorating dessert and it disappeared quickly! If you've never been to The Cibo Trattoria, Uva Wine and Cocktail Bar, Redcard Sports Bar and Eatery trio of restaurants attached to the beautiful Moda Hotel in the downtown core you need to go! Yesterday!


 

Flourless Chocolate Cake paired with Graham's 10yr old Tawny Port - pickled berries, house-made mascarpone

Flourless Chocolate Cake paired with Graham's 10yr old Tawny Port - pickled berries, house-made mascarpone

Affogato - vanilla gelato, espresso

Affogato - vanilla gelato, espresso

Affogato paired with Graham's 10yr old Tawny Port

Affogato paired with Graham's 10yr old Tawny Port

Affogato

Affogato

 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Spot Prawn Series: Coast by Glowbal Group by Jenn Chan

Coast, Patio

 

Alberni Street, between Burrard and Bute, used to be known as Lil Ginza owing to the upscale, and one time predominantly Japanese, shops and restaurants. Tourists from Europe and Asia still flock to Gucci, Prada, Hermes, Tiffany's, Louis Vuitton and Versace for low priced designer goods (relative to prices in Tokyo anyway).

 

Though no longer Japan-centric it is still a bastion for upscale shops, such as the handful I mentioned, and incredible, world class restaurants. Glowbal Group leads the charge in that department. They own and operate 3 restaurants on Alberni a stone's throw from each other: Coast, Black & Blue and the Italian Kitchen. We were fortunate enough to enjoy a wonderful dinner at Coast one sunny June eve. 

 

$4,800,000. That is what it cost to open Coast. $4.8 million dollars. Cash. Money. Where did all that money go? Take a visit, you'll know within 2 feet of the door; the space is modern, opulent and tasteful! We were seated on the patio, which coincidentally is about 100 feet from the front door to our condo, and greeted by Mr. Michael Moore, a part owner of the Glowbal Group and our official host for the evening. He was gracious enough to stop for a chat and give us the scoop on Coast. He could not have been more accommodating and pleasant and I have since plugged him into all my social media and consider him a friend. He stopped in on us several more times, in between brisk jogs between Coast and Black & Blue presumably to put out fires, metaphorically of course, and his warmth was genuine and his passion for his guests palpable. There's no better feeling as a customer than to feel respected and valued by a business' management. Or is there? 
 

Shortly after Mr. Moore left to perform some managerial duties he assured us we would be well taken care of by our waiter. He did not, however, mention that Executive Chef Mark Greenfield, a culinary ninja, would be at our table a few minutes later to let us know we needn't labour over our menus and that the feast he had planned for us wasn't on it anyway... A better feeling than an attentive management team? Yup!

 

Coast Decked Caesar

Coast Decked Caesar

 

Our first courses, well after a couple of Coast Decked Caesars which are near perfect 9/10's on the Caesar meter, were a sublime Spot Prawn and Ahi Tuna Ceviche and equally tasty Grilled Spot Prawn and King Crab. Ahhh the Spot Prawn. If you follow our food blog here on JennChanPhotography.com you know we have been indulging in the odd Spot Prawn, but I was not prepared, no even close to prepared, for the combination of Spot Prawns and Ahi Tuna. 

 

Spots Prawns are incredible, Ahi Tuna is marvellous and cooking things with fruit is nothing short of magical. Can someone even give me an explanation about how cooking in the ceviche style works without mentioning magic? I humbly doubt it. This was hands down the best ceviche I had ever had. The ingredients were so fresh I thought I saw a leg move at one point. And it did. It moved in a blur towards the lovely Jenn Chan's mouth. There was no stopping it. Does anyone not like crab? Do you know anyone? I can't think of a single person in my life who doesn't and I just spent 4-5 minutes pondering in hopes of ridiculing them in this forum, but to no avail. And when you're the king of anything that probably means you're really good, right? Or at least that your family stole power somehow generations ago, but that's probably a column for a different publication. King Crab is aptly named. It was delicious and served with a delicious dish of melted butter. You can tell that he met his end mere minutes prior to being presented to us; fresh, fluffy and flavourful! The grilled Spot Prawns were equally as fresh and they compliment each other brilliantly. The ceviche was paired, at our server's recommendation, with a lovely Riesling from Quail's Gate Winery in the gorgeous Okanagan Valley of BC and the King Crab a lovely Chardonnay from the Kendal Jackson Winery in California. We could have left then and still given Coast a glowing review, but we were only getting warmed up!

 

 

Spot Prawn & Ahi Tuna Cerviché

Spot Prawn & Ahi Tuna Cerviché



Chef Mark popped out to see how we enjoyed our first course and was genuinely appreciative of the adulation we bestowed on him. He is a savvy chef, but also a humble and remarkably nice man. His new wife, herself a manager at Coast, couldn't help but overhear our praise and beamed with pride at her husband. It was a magical moment and speaks to the team Coast has built and its laid back, family-like working environment. 

 

Grilled Spot Prawns & King Crab

Grilled Spot Prawns & King Crab

Grilled Spot Prawns & King Crab


 

Our main course was a Spot Prawn sashimi platter with beautiful Ahi Tuna, Salmon and Sablefish. It isn't hard to see why Coast regularity wins "Beat Seafood in Vancouver" or some other such award from some publication or another EVERY year. Seriously. Google it. It was paired masterfully with a Sauvignon Blanc from Duckhorn Vineyards in the Napa Valley of California. This wine immediately shot to the top of my list of favourite  Sauvignon Blancs, it is a must-drink! After our sashimi had been consumed the waiter whisked away with the Spot Prawn heads and returned with them deep fried in a nice, light tempura batter. I generally disregard the head, but it was so incredibly crispy and delicious we devoured the whole thing!

 

 

Spot Prawn Sashimi Platter

Spot Prawn Sashimi Platter

Spot Prawn Sashimi Platter
Deep Fried Prawn Heads

Deep Fried Prawn Heads

 

We were given no inkling what our dessert was to be so we sipped a lovely Port from the Burrowing Owl Winery in eager anticipation. It arrived with a flair and soon dessert was also a show! A lovely platter with Coast's famous Melting Chocolate Sphere and the equally decadent Coconut Banana Butter Cake. As they pour the molten caramel over the chocolate sphere science happens and it begins to melt and the flavours mingle and cascade down onto the lush vanilla ice cream inside. Close your eyes and visualise that for a moment. All I ask is that you please finish reading this before you go because I know you're going. I know it. Not generally a fan of coconut, but knowing Chef Mark doesn't make bad food I dove into the butter cake. Simply amazing! 

 

 

Dessert Platter: Melting Chocolate Sphere & Coconut Banana Butter Cake

Dessert Platter: Melting Chocolate Sphere & Coconut Banana Butter Cake

Dessert Platter: Melting Chocolate Sphere & Coconut Banana Butter Cake
Dessert Platter: Melting Chocolate Sphere & Coconut Banana Butter Cake

 

As our dishes were cleared we both agreed this was one of the best meals we had, had in 2016 and wracked our brains and could not come up with too many that rivalled it in our lives. Coast, while not the flagship Glowbal restaurant, is still a jewel, a bright, shiny jewel, in its crown. Go for the seafood, go for the service, go for the wine, but just go! You'll thank me!

 

 

Coast Restaurant
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan